Saturday, June 22, 2013

Destroyer and Cruiser Shortfall

According to their own calculations, the Navy is facing a serious shortfall in the number of destroyers and cruisers over the next decade or so.

As reported in the recent CRS report on the DDG-51 and DDG-1000 programs,

“A January 2013 Navy report to Congress establishes a cruiser-destroyer force-level objective of 88 ships.”

However, the report goes on to state,

“… Navy projects that implementing the FY2013 30-year shipbuilding plan would result in a cruiser-destroyer force that remains below 88 ships for more than half of the 30-year period, and that bottoms out in FY2014-FY2015 and again in FY2034 at 78 ships.”

Curiously, though, the report also points out that the shortfall was significantly greater only a year ago.

“The projected cruiser-destroyer shortfall under the FY2013 30-year shipbuilding plan is not as deep as the projected shortfall under the FY2012 30-year  shipbuilding plan. Under the FY2012 30-year plan, the cruiser-destroyer force was projected to reach a minimum of 68 ships (i.e., 26 ships, or about 28%, below the then-required figure of 94 ships) in FY2034, and remain 16 or more ships below the 94-ship figure through the end of the 30-year period.”

“The projected cruiser-destroyer shortfalls is less deep under the FY2013 30-year plan than under the FY2012 30-year plan in part because the January 2013 Navy report to Congress reduces the cruiser-destroyer force-level goal to 88 ships …”


Shortage Coming
Did the force level requirement for destroyers suddenly change in one year from 94 ships to 88?  That seems highly unlikely.  Far more likely is that the Navy is playing games with the stated requirements so as to reduce the apparent shortfall and the negative publicity that would result.  This is yet another example of force level planning based on public relations and politics rather than strategic and tactical requirements.  This is a failure of leadership by both the civilian and uniformed levels but especially by the upper levels of uniformed Navy leadership.  While the Navy can’t ignore the budget limitations imposed by the government, it has a duty to make the consequences of those limitations abundantly clear and truthful.  In the final analysis, if the government is embarking on a path that threatens national security, Navy leaders must do everything possible to prevent it, including mass resignations along the lines of the Revolt of the Admirals.  When it comes to the nation’s security, duty and integrity are more important than job security.

Moving on, how does the Navy plan to address the destroyer and cruiser shortfall?  According to the report,

“The figures shown in Table 1 reflect a Navy cost-saving proposal in the FY2013 budget to retire seven Aegis cruisers in FY2013 and FY2014, more than a decade before the end of their 35-year expected service lives in FY2026-FY2029.”

So, faced with a destroyer/cruiser shortfall, the Navy’s plan is to retire 7 Aegis cruisers more than a decade before the end of their service lives.  How does this make sense?  Even Congress sees the problem as evidenced by the report’s quote from Senate Report 112-196

“… For the Department of the Navy, the Committee does not concur with the recommendation to prematurely retire nine Navy ships…”

“The Committee is concerned with the apparent disconnect between the Navy’s publicly stated priorities and the Navy’s fiscal year 2013 shipbuilding budget submission which, as compared to the fiscal year 2012 plan, reduces planned ship procurement for the next 5 years by 16 ships and eliminates funding for one Virginia class attack submarine, one amphibious ship, and three oilers.”

When Congress, which is epically out of touch with reality, says you have a disconnect from reality, you have a real problem!

(1) Congressional Research Service, “Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer
Programs: Background and Issues for Congress”, Ronald O'Rourke, March 27, 2013


  1. Which is why the US Navy should scrap the DDG-1000 and build a Burke CG based off the Sejong the Great-class destroyer.

    1. Nicky, how would that alleviate the shortfall? The Navy is only going to build three of the Zumwalts. Even if they were to scrap the three Zumwalts and start over with three new Sejongs that wouldn't have any impact on the shortfall. The three Zumwalts are already factored into the shortfall numbers. Swapping them for three Sejongs won't change the numbers.

      If you're suggesting building many more Sejongs in numbers sufficient to alleviate the shortfall, you're missing the reason for the shortfall (or one of the main ones, at any rate) which is severe budget limitations. The Sejongs, built in US yards to US standards will cost as much or more than new Burkes so, again, there's no benefit as regards the shortfall.

      Am I missing something, here?

    2. What I am thinking is building up the Burkes to Flight III can call the the Burke CG

    3. Frist Euro Frigates, now KD III. don't you like American engineers?

      Frankly I am suspicious of the Burke III concept. You really can't force the AMDR electronics size down without risk of failure and great cost. It time to go too a larger basic hull anyway, just to make room for all the automation new ships need. I know the bean counter believe they can save money by using existing designs and avoiding engineering cost, but when have that ever pan out.

      I say let the Navy start build 18K ton cruiser hulls with four shafts, powered by IPS or Hybri-drive. Reuse those systems designed and tested for the Zumwalts but keep the hull design simple to reduce risk and prevent complains.

    4. The fact is, we can build a Burke III based on the concept from the Sejong the Great-class destroyer. If you look at how many missiles the Sejong the Great-class destroyer packs vs the current Burke IIA's. It packs way more than a Burke IIA. The Sejong the Great-class destroyer could be considered a version of a Tico.

      The fact is, I would rather build a Cruiser based on a Burke hull. We did it in the past with the Spruance class hulls that became the Ticonderoga's. We can do it with a Burke IIA hull or apply the concepts from the Sejong the Great-class destroyer to the Burke Cruiser.

    5. Nicky, you have a real obsession with foreign ship designs (possibly with at least some good reason)!

      Let's look at a few points, though, before we leap into a Sejong-inspired Burke cruiser which is what you seem to be suggesting.

      First, whether we build a Sejong/Burke cruiser or not does nothing to alleviate the coming shortfall which was the point of the post.

      Trying to build a Sejong-inspired cruiser on a Burke hull has severe disadvantages and problems.

      The Burkes, as "simple" destroyers, are extremely overcrowded and trying to fit even more equipment and people into the hull will only make a bad problem worse. In fact, recent Burkes have had equipment left off due, in part, to lack of space.

      The Burkes are under-constructed from a structural strength point of view. They've had to undergo a remedial program of hull strengthening patches as a stop-gap measure. Trying to add extra equipment (meaning weight) to an already structurally weak hull is only going to make the problem worse.

      Your example of making a Tico cruiser out the Spruance destroyer hull was only very marginally successful. The hull did not have enough room to accomodate the desired number of VLS or desired size of flight deck. Further, there was insufficient space for the Aegis equipment which resulted in overly large and tall deckhouses which made the Tico class very top heavy and unstable. In combat, taking damage, these ships would have had a nasty tendency to capsize from relatively minor damage and flooding. Worse, in order to deal with the top heavy issue, the superstructure was made of aluminum which has been a persistent problem in the form of cracking and represents a severe combat risk in the face of fire, as the Navy learned the hard way.

      So, all in all, the Ticos were a very marginally successful cruiser adaptation of a too-small Spruance hull and, as a result, wound up being a severly compromised vessel in terms of capability and combat resilience.

      With all that said, the obvious lesson is that trying to adapt the Burke to a cruiser is a poor approach.

      Further thoughts?

    6. Take the lessons from The Sejong the Great-class destroyer, Burke IIA's, Tico cruisers and apply them to a Newer class of Cruisers. I would think if we looked at all the lessons learned from those ships, we can build a cruiser based on ships we studied from.

      Heck, I wouldn't mind having a Modern Cruisier that is heavily armed as a World war 2 Alaska & Atlanta Class cruisier. I just wonder what would a Modern 21st century version of an Alaska & Atlanta Class cruisier would look like with Aegis and VLS.

  2. Follow the money! If a shortfall is created thena new ship class will have to be started leadin tot $Bs to defense contractors that the Admirals will all go work for. Not to mention the Defense Contractor "Employee" PACs that contribute to the Congressional assistance in this scheme.

    1. Anon, "follow the money" is always a good investigative technique but I'm missing your point as it relates to the dest/cruiser shortfall. What are you suggesting?

    2. I am suggesting that the reason the 7 ships are being retired early is so that they can manufacture a need for a brand new ship design that will cost $Bs. Look at ddg 1000 24? ships down to 3 with a great design on a program that is executing fantastically.

  3. I think the real question is why not just use the LPD-17 platform to get the functionality of the burke FLT III. The ship has the size to easily handle the AMDR system without reductions. There is plenty of room available for additional power generation systems and fuel. It could easily pack more VLS than any current DG or CG. HII's proposal includes 18 8-cell Mk 41s for a total capacity of 144 VLS slots can certainly has the room for even more.

    It has plenty of room for future expansion and upgrades. Replacing the FLT III with FLT IIs would be a significant cost savings.

    1. Slight Correction, a closer look at the proposal shows that it is actually 18 banks of 2 8 cell Mk 41s for a total capacity of 288 VLS slots. Seems a bit extreme...

      Plus it looks like it has a 5" and a 57mm Mk 110 and a whole lot of RAM launchers.

      The more I think about it, it would really make a great CG next design.

    2. The problem with the LPD is that it is not exactly a fast ship to go in harms way.

      IF the AMDR was going to be solely a BMD platform protecting the continental US, I say go for it. But we know the Admirals, correctly, will insist that the carriers also be protected by our most advances missile ships. And that will require ships that can easily go 30 knots, and cruise at 24 knots. This will require a cruiser type hull, not a fat merchantman shape like the LPDs.

    3. ats, just a minor point ... I think that what looks like a 5" gun in the proposal is a placeholder for a rail gun, according to the descriptions I've seen that go along with the proposal model. It doesn't change your point one way or the other, just shows HII looking a bit to the future!

    4. ats, the LPD-17 BMD proposal is interesting. It certainly has the room to accomodate the desired equipment. On the other hand, it may lack the required speed (I'm not sure) and may have insufficient stealth form considering the role it would fill. You'd hate to have your main BMD/AAW vessel killed early on because it didn't have enough stealth. Still, it's a concept worth consideration.

    5. The LPD-17 hull can certainly go faster, they simply didn't design the LPD-17 originally with enough engine power because it wasn't required. The 4 engines in the LPD-17 make a combined 40KHP. The 4 turbines in the burkes produce 108KHP.

      Replacing the 4 diesels in the LPD-17 with either a COGAG or CODAG system will significantly increase speed of the vessels. 4 LM2500+G4s would result in a quite absurd 190K SHP. Using 2-3 LM6000 would result in 114k-170K SHP. Both solutions would provide plenty of spare power for AMDR and future upgrades.

      As far as Stealth, I'm pretty sure the LPD-17 has better stealth features than the burkes or Ticos do.

      The only way you are going to get better stealth from a CG/DG is to base it either off a DDG-1000 or a new from scratch design.

    6. ATS, there is more to making a ship fast than horsepower, the shape of the hull control how much resistance the has as it passes through water. Another way of thing about it is the amount of force require for a ship to keep moving at a given speed.

      That force is applied to the whole ship, the bow to the props, and everything between, shaft, gears, etc. Your multiplying the horsepower by 5 will likewise increase those forces. Unfortunately the LPD hull is only design to handle the 40k horsepower. Therefore, unless you are suggesting a major redesign of the hull, something will have to break.

      On the bright side of this if you have to redesign the hull, you can also do things to reduce the force require by improving the ship line, making it thinner, with a longer bow and stern. In fact you can reduce the force needed enough that you can get by with only 2/3 of the power you wanted to use.


Comments will be moderated for posts older than 7 days in order to reduce spam.