Monday, January 11, 2016

The "Real" Goals for the Navy

I reviewed and strongly criticized the Navy's goals and objectives in the last post.  OK, so what should the goals be?  Well, here's my list.  Anything you'd add or modify?

  • Terminate the LCS
  • Initiate a true frigate design
  • Initiate a dedicated MCM vessel design
  • Intiate a dedicated, small ASW vessel design
  • Develop a long range, supersonic anti-ship missile
  • Reinvigorate offensive mine warfare
  • Terminate the F-35 and initiate a new fighter design
  • Reactivate the S-3 Viking for use as ASW and tanking

  • Increase maintenance
  • Publicize INSURV results
  • Make training exercises more realistic
  • Reduce deployments to 6 months max

Leadership, Integrity, and Accountability
  • Overhaul the broken command selection process
  • Institute long term program acquisition assignments to foster accountability
  • Re-establish the General Board and BuShips
  • Reduce Admiral count to 30

  • Establish a standing surface and subsurface OpFor
  • Establish a Top Gun-like training program for surface and subsurface warfare
  • Establish unbiased, free form wargaming

Project Management
  • Generate realistic cost estimates and link directly to career penalties
  • Assign program-long managers with career penalties for poor performance
  • Re-establish Congressional trust and transparency
  • Establish routine audits of acquisition programs

Compare this list to the Navy's.  Remember I asked how the Navy would be improved if, somehow, the entire list could be magically accomplished and the answer was it wouldn't?  Now, look at my list.  If all those could be magically accomplished, what would the Navy look like?  It would be a much improved, combat ready fleet.  'Nuff said.


  1. I'd take a long look at the Kennedy, and what we're getting out of the Ford class. The emphasis should be what can we dial back in order to get a usefull CVN but one that doesn't cost $12b/copy.

    1. The reasons for the high costs are the navy shipbuilding is about all thats left of american shipbuilding, then there specific carriers issues like a whole new nuclear plant just for the Ford class ( plus very little left of civilian nuclear plant construction). The large steam turbines, who uses those for ships anymore, so they are specifically designed and made in very small quantities

    2. Ztev, the items you mention are, undoubtedly, factors in the cost but don't come anywhere near to explaining the costs. Nuclear issues, for example, don't explain why a Burke class DDG, in serial production for decades, still costs $2B+.

      Dig deeper. You might also peruse the archives for some articles on shipbuilding cost factors.

    3. I think it is worth considering the possibility of cancelling the Ford class altogether due to a lack of cost effectiveness.

    4. The construction time for a Burke DDG build is estimated to be 5 million man hours- down from 9 mill for the early builds. Even at $50 per hour that comes to $250 mill. Then there are the raw materials, essentially steel plate.

      Not easy to find a breakdown in major costs, such as , hull/superstructure, propulsion machinery, auxilary machinery/electrical, masts and radars, weapon systems ( I think the 5in gun is around $60 mill each), computers radios.
      When you see block contracts such as the 2013 one to Newport News for 5 ships for $3.3 bill and Bath $2.8 bill, Im thinking shipyard work is around $650 mill and the extra costs are due to propulsion and weapons systems.
      Cant see much reduction in shipyard costs, its the combat systems and their computer code that costs an arm and a leg.

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  2. Oooops you mentioned the F35. let all hell unleash.

    Besides that. Very nice.

    I hear the LCS has yet another abbreviation

    "Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC)"

    Yay another re-branding, that should help !

    Saudies are less than impressed.

    1. Re-branding - the key to naval success!

      Good one.

  3. "Intiate a dedicated, small ASW vessel design" DARPA has one in development, but it won't be adopted because (A)it wasn't designed by one of the big defense contractors, & (B) its unmanned.,d.eWE

    1. I've seen that concept. It's interesting and might make a useful aid in ASW. My goal was geared at a more conventional ASW ship that could both detect and engage a sub as opposed to the DARPA unit that can only track.

  4. whoops! messed up the link. Just search for ACTUV (ASW Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel)

  5. Agree with all you ideas, but also: Scrap two carriers! And we'd still be short of carrier aircraft and escorts. Build the CAWs back up in numbers. The fleet needs rebalancing and in a serious war, our Navy won't let carriers go near potential threats. Best to clear the seas with long-range airpower and subs first.

    1. I disagree about the carriers but I note that you at least have an integrated plan to compensate with air and subs. Your idea is worth further study.

      I completely agree with your suggestion to increase the CAW size!

      You're also correct about our reluctance to risk carriers. While you conclude from that that we should decrease the number of carriers, I conclude that we should look at smaller carriers (Midway size) with much longer range aircraft which achieves the risk reduction while still maximizing the benefits of carriers.

      A good comment.

  6. I would also recommend introducing a fleet of diesel submarines onto the list. Their small size and comparatively low costs (compared to nuclear powered submarines) may make them useful for coastline operations.

    Plus they can be quieter when on pure battery. I suppose a nuclear submarine on purely natural convection can be very quiet as well, but diesel has the cost advantage here.

    1. I'm on the fence on that one. I certainly think we should have some diesel subs at least for training purposes if no other reason. How big a "fleet" of diesel subs we should have is something I haven't come up with a good answer about.

    2. More than enough diesel subs with close allies to do any training- works both ways-. Plus the best way is for US navy to have the best nuclear submarines and stick with that mission rather than try to play in the diesel area as well and be an also ran.
      The differences in scale now are so huge and the development of AIP moved the goal posts.
      Money would be a problem but a small nuclear boat would be more desirable, maybe back down to the Skipjack class ?

    3. While diesel subs makes a lot of sense for most navies around the world, they make much less sense for america. They are hard to deploy far from home, and their main purpose is to defend against surface combatants.

      The problem with modern submarines is that they are so super silent, that you cannot expect to find a submarine with a submarine. You need active sonar.

    4. Anders, excellent observation about active sonar. Of course, the flip side of active sonar is the broadcasting platform gives up its location to the enemy.

      I see a possible use for diesel subs in navigational chokepoints and to defend US harbors. The main advantage is cost. If we can build 2-3 diesel subs for that type of duty for the cost of a single nuclear sub, that might be worth it. Diesel subs would be a complement to the nuclear sub fleet not a replacement. What do you think?

  7. Another consideration is to build smaller carriers and consider the possibility of building conventional powered carriers.

    The big issue I see is that nuclear powered carriers have immense costs in construction, they don't solve the logistics problem (since fuel, ammo, and parts have to be sent to the aircraft anyways), and they have other huge costs (such as decommissioning).

    If you want a fully nuclear fleet, then the entire CVBG and the logistics tail has to be nuclear too or the speed advantages of nuclear go away. That would be very expensive.

  8. Scrapping LCS is a noble goal, but seems unlikely. I am definitely in favor of figuring out what sort of Small Surface Combatants the Navy needs. Probably a frigate and dedicated MCMs.

    I would add develop a new ASW weapon to the list. Or at least start figuring out what is needed.

    The MK-48 heavyweight torpedo is a superb weapons but also long in the tooth. And it has been exported, so safe to assume our adversaries understand it.

    The information available from open-source DOT&E report indicates that the MK-54 lightweight torpedo is not operationally effective. Need to fix that ASAP.

    1. Completely with you on the new ASW weapon!


      ASW should have high priority for the navy

    3. Navy goals for distributed lethality...

  9. Hi everybody, this is a completely different tangent but I wanted to raise the subject of the USN in the Arctic and seek informed opinion/advice about that. Leaving strategic/SSBN issues aside, what surface or air operations are envisioned in a changing Arctic and what new capabilities needed? I have followed reportage on the "Icebreaker gap" but have a hard time finding anything at all on how USCG icebreakers would operate with the USN--only that they are important to ensure resupply of sometimes-icebound Arctic installations, that they support the military in some undersea charting, and that they do their own interdiction. But what are, if any, the scenarios under which they (USCG icebreakers) engage in any combined or direct support operations with the USN? Where can I learn about this? Any and all insights, suggestions, are appreciated.

    1. That's a great question with no easy answer. I've long wondered about the military value of the Arctic other than as an SSBN/anti-SSBN area. The short answer is that I'm unaware of any strategic usefulness for the area. Now, there may be strategic resources (minerals and whatnot) that would make the region of strategic value but I'm not aware of any.

      This may be worthy of a post. Thanks for bringing this up. I hope we'll hear more from you.


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