Well, that was interesting. Starting with the Zumwalt and the AGS, we managed to meander into the battleship issue! So, with that background, here's a timely post about battleships but not the way you think.
After the LCS, one of the most contentious naval questions is the fate of the battleships. Critics call them outdated dinosaurs that are too expensive to operate. Proponents see them as mammothly powerful vessels, unmatched in today’s world. Well, we’re not going to debate that. The issue has been decided, for better or worse. Instead, we’re going to look at what lessons can be gleaned from the battleship question and actions that were taken.
Once WWII began, it was fairly quickly realized that the heyday of the battleship was over. Initial, fairly easy, sinkings of various battleships, both Axis and Allied, made clear that the battleship no longer ruled the waves. Aircraft and the aircraft carrier were the new masters of naval combat with a strong nod to submarines. Despite this early realization, the
continued to build battleships through the end of the war and had plans
to evolve the type even further with the US class.
Why? If the battleship was seen
to be no longer supreme, why would we continue to build new ones and plan for
even more powerful versions? Why didn’t
we simply stop building battleships when the ones that were already started
were completed? Wouldn’t that have been
the logical thing to do? This brings us
to the first lesson. Montana
The first lesson is that even if the battleship was no longer ruler of the waves, it still had immense combat capability. In WWII, its guns absolutely pulverized enemy shore positions. Just as impressively, its 20x 5” guns, 80x 40 mm Bofors guns, and 49x 20 mm Oerlikon guns constituted the Aegis AAW system of the time. The battleship also possessed an anti-ship capability that could sink any opposing vessel. All this capability was housed in a ship that was the most heavily protected and armored ever built. To this day, battleships possess more destructive capability and better protection than anything now afloat. The generalized lesson is that just because a platform or system may no longer be the foremost weapon system in one’s inventory, that is not a reason to discard it. A secondary system can still provide immensely valuable service. The Navy in WWII recognized this and not only continued to build battleships but had embarked on even newer designs when the war ended.
Contrast the Navy’s treatment of battleships in WWII with their treatment of the Spruance class. Because the Spruance/NTU (New Threat Upgrade) was seen as an inferior technology (even though, arguably, it was superior to Aegis when the latter was first introduced), the Navy not only retired the Spruance class but, literally, sank them all. Of course, the real reason they sank the Spruance class was because it represented a threat to the Navy’s desired funding of the Aegis program. This leads us to the second lesson.
The second lesson is that no system is a threat to another’s funding if that other system is worthwhile. The battleship was not a threat to carrier funding in WWII. Quite the opposite. We built as many as we could of both. The battleship and the carrier complemented each other. A carrier group with battleship support was a truly powerful group. Today, with China and Russia building new submarine forces and lesser countries investing in SSK’s, we could sure use the Spruance class, couldn’t we, especially given the failings of the LCS which was supposed to provide ASW but is woefully inadequate for the role.
Let’s move on to the post-WWII treatment of the battleships. Unlike so many ships that were summarily disposed of at the end of the war, the battleships were retained. The Navy, remembering the value and combat power of the battleship made sure to keep the battleships in reserve. What do we do today? We’ve retired supercarriers, LHA’s, Perrys, Spruances, etc. with none of them kept in reserve. As documented in a previous post, our reserve warship fleet is about a half dozen vessels.
What ultimately happened to the battleships? They were brought back multiple times when war occurred, as it inevitably does. This brings us to the third lesson.
|Lots To Teach Us|
The third lesson is that war always comes and one can never have enough combat power when it does. Ships (and aircraft) that can no longer serve on an active basis but still possess credible combat power need to be kept in reserve. They will be needed. It’s just a matter of when. When both side’s first line assets are mutually destroyed, that second line asset will look awfully good.
How did the battleships perform when they were brought back from retirement and thrown into combat? In a word, stunningly. The battleship’s 16” guns provided devastating firepower wherever they were used. This brings us to the fourth lesson.
The fourth lesson is that devastating firepower has a tactical and strategic value all its own. Mammoth area explosives have a way of solving many tactical problems that would otherwise cost US lives. This kind of firepower also has a strategic impact. As the story goes, removal of the battleships from the firing line was a pre-condition from the North Vietnamese for peace talks during the Vietnam war. Similarly, the Soviets were said to have feared our battleships more than our carriers.
We have forgotten this lesson in our quest for zero-casualty combat and the subsequent movement towards smaller, more precise firepower. There’s certainly a place for small, precision weapons but, equally, or more, there’s a place for massive, devastating firepower. Once high end war comes and US soldiers begin dying in large numbers, we’re going to quickly stop worrying about chipping the paint off someone’s shrine that a sniper is hiding behind and we’re going to frantically start looking for area-wide, high explosive firepower. We’ll relearn how to wage war and then we’ll remember why the battleship existed.
Did the battleship’s contributions go beyond war? Yes. Throughout their service lives, our allies constantly requested the presence of a
battleship to help settle unstable regions. There is no better deterrence than a
battleship sitting off some potential hotspot.
This brings us to the fifth lesson. US
The fifth lesson is that deterrence does not work because of good wishes, peaceful gestures, or appeasement. It works because there is an implied threat of force – the greater the potential force, the greater the degree of deterrence. Further, the threat has to be visible and present. The theoretical threat of a strike by a bomber based in the continental US is not effective. The threat has to be up close and personal and there is nothing more intimidating than a battleship. History has shown that. Let’s face it, the LCS is not going to deter anyone from anything. A battleship, however, offers a huge degree of deterrence due to the huge degree of force and visibility it represents.
The battleship, though gone, still has much to teach us and, in that respect, is still a valuable asset. Now, we just need to be open to the lessons.
"Once high end war comes and US soldiers begin dieing in large numbers, we’re going to quickly stop worrying about chipping the paint off someone’s shrine that a sniper is hiding behind and we’re going to frantically start looking for area-wide, high explosive firepower. We’ll relearn how to wage war and then we’ll remember why the battleship existed.ReplyDelete
Amen to that and I would add cluster munitions, cheep throw away mines, aircraft payload capability, artillery, big guns missiles bombs in general, etc....
Something else to consider is the fact that cruise missiles the bane of all large expensive equipment may be nearing the other end of the pendulum. Lasers yes those space scifi things that are starting to actually bear some real possibility could if big IF pan be that check. We maybe approaching a day were lasers can swat missiles aircraft out of the air at enough range given the required power requirements. Those MASSIVE power requirement will mean nuclear, large turbans, backed big heavy amplifiers and finally big heavy power storage. What if the future ends up repeating were floating forts again are only threatened by massive non-mobile shore counter battery. While the smaller support vessels are highly vulnerable if not escorted to the lightest of enemy attacks. I would guess that battery probably moving to the rail guns but as your previous noted massive calibers with necked down sabots and high pressure long barrels could very well be a more feasible now solutions.
I'm struck that some of the complaints against BB's back in the day: weapons too short ranged, vulnerability to air attack/ASCM's, vulnerability to submarines, etc. could also be applied to today's CVN's.ReplyDelete
To me the lesson is the same: Most of the BB sinkings (POW, Bismarck, etc.) that happened in WWII happened with ill prepared (not enough AA) ships that were sailing alone or with insufficient escort.
These ships aren't useless, they just have to act as part of a combined arms team.
The same could happen today to a CV with our poor ASW, and the need to move the CV in close because of the lack of legs of the airwing.
I had a friend that was in Beirut in the late 70's early 80's. He said that the militias would be raising all sorts of hel blasting one another. That is until a battleship would come bobbing along over the horizon. She would clear her multiple 16" throats and it would be quiet! And that quiet would last until a couple of days after she disappeared over the horizon.ReplyDelete
He loved those 16" guns!!!
Some interesting comments in this old article:ReplyDelete
"During an interview about the 1944 Normandy landing published in "The German Generals Talk", German Field Marshall von Rundstedt said, "Besides the interference of the Air Forces, the fire of your battleships was a main factor in hampering our counter-stroke. This was big surprise, both in its range and effect." German General Blumentritt remarked that US Army officers who interrogated him after the war did not seem to realize what a serious effect naval bombardment had on German defenders. In Korea and Vietnam, the battleships boldly cruised just off the coast destroying targets whose air defenses had downed hundreds of US attack aircraft."
And the article links an old Proceedings article about the value of 16-inch guns for missile defense. Imagine a 2000 lbs airburst round? What about a battleship following a carrier to protect against mass antiship missile attacks. Fire a 16-inch airburst in the middle of them. Or pull alongside and let them blow up against its solid steel hull.
I'll just say this in regards to your high low assessment.ReplyDelete
The times or wars as you call them that the battlewagons were called out of retirement for were all colonial warfare, against inferior forces, and these served as floating untouchable artillery. In all the cases you stated.
If you're talking high end, then theres a reason why these big boys keep getting retired. You always talk about near peer, well, in a near peer scenario, these floating hulks would be death traps, which is why they're retired. The difference between one of these and all subsequent outmoded ships that are retired, is that while these big boys would surely die in a real shooting war, they'd do so slowly, and more than likely most of the crew would get off.
Conversely, a legacy ship, with outdated defences, would fold up like the tin can it is, and take all its sailors to a watery grave. Hence the rush to retire outdated platforms.
Obviously freeing up funding for newer shinier toys also plays a big part.
My 2 cents.
This is the ultimate in low end, slipshod analysis. It's okay to believe the battleship has no place in naval warfare as long as you have a valid reason.Delete
To fault the battleship, the most survivable, heavily protected ship ever built, for being a "death trap" means that every carrier, cruiser, and destroyer in the US Navy is even worse and that if you believe the battleship shouldn't be used then you also believe we can't use a navy of any kind.
If that's your position, then say so loudly and proudly. If that isn't, then you just haven't thought the issue through with any logic.
I'm strongly tempted to delete this comment as failing to rise to the level of data and logic that this blog demands. Give me a reason why I shouldn't.
My guess is that this poster is referring to incidents like the sinkings of the Bismarck, the Tirpitz, the Musashi, and the Yamato as proof that the battleship is obsolete in the face of naval aviation and submarines. Those sinkings (along with the attack at Pearl Harbor) are often held up as proof of the battleship's worthlessness, but I'd say that attitude doesn't take into account the historical realities.Delete
Remember your article about armor on warships? The armor, compartmentalization, and damage control on the aforementioned battleships didn't make them invulnerable, but it made them sink a lot slower than they would have without. It's something that doesn't appear to be appreciated much by battleship detractors.
Nonsense and other comments. I said legacy tin cans get retired because they dont have the ability to defend themselves in modern near peer warfare. Spruance were canned for many reasons but one was the fact the to replace a legacy retiring SAM wouldve cost a very significant amount of money. As spruance was nothing more than a destroyer and its one function was the one it became outdated to perform, it got retired.
A floating gun battery is always still a floating gun battery, so added SAM's or strike missiles notwithstanding, the Battlewagons could still always do what they were built to do. Throw a bloody great big shell very very far.
Maz, not really, those battlewagons suffered because they weren't under fighter cover.
WW2 didn't prove that theres no use for battlewagons, it showed that they weren't 'ships of the line' and couldn't survive alone.
When tasked in company with Carriers, US battlewagons played an active and effective role in naval warfare right up till the end of the war. I never said theres no use for them today either. As floating artillery, nothing comes close. in the history of warfare i think theres been precisely one battle fought out of sight of land. In the history of ground warfare, only the advent of the deuce and a half allowed battles to be fought away from shores (read naval supply lines). So i think there is still use for a ruddy great big battle wagon. I just dont think anyone could fund one any more. it is a bit of a one trick pony. Conversely flat tops provide fleet defence, ASW capabilities, as well as Strike. Which is why no one build anything else any more. When it comes to capital ships that is.
"As spruance was nothing more than a destroyer and its one function was the one it became outdated to perform, it got retired."Delete
Where did any mention of Spruances come from???? That aside, do you know what the "one function" of the Spruance actually was? Because it didn't become outdated!
"in the history of warfare i think theres been precisely one battle fought out of sight of land."Delete
????? Midway, Santa Cruz, and Coral Sea come to mind. Any of the Constitution's battles. The sinking of the Bismarck. And so on.
Midway was over a piece of real estate and only just over the horizon.
Bismarck was hit numerous times over many days and most of those occasions were in sight of land. I dont even know how to define or class such a 'battle' pretty much an entire navy hunting after one ship...
Still, my points that we almost never fight out of sight of land, and fleet finding fleet in the great blue only happened once and thats thanks to games theory.
Battlewagon as huge fire support is why those ships are still afloat and not decorating a coral reef somewhere.
Spruance, no, not its ASW roll, the fact it couldn't defend its own airspace, its radar had become legacy. Still, not getting into should have shouldn't have, just, it was.
I still marvel at all this analysis which doesn't address a basic fact. Neither a navy or an air force exist except for one thing. Supporting troops taking land points. If you don't own the land you can't win the warReplyDelete
The navy isn't going to be pointlessly floating around hitting precision targets with low sortie rates. They will be fighting to land troops or destroy attacking troops and support apparatus
The navy needs a multi tool approach upon which one major leg is lacking. Naval fire support doesn't exist and low sortie rate airplane and missile attacks will not take a heavily defended objective with 10,000 troops entrenched
NFS isn't going away its only become non effective. You shoot at me with a 5 inch round and I'll be at the bottom of my bunker outlasting your ammo
The battleship provides something lacking in today's navy. Firepower, endurance and a flexibility to engage almost any target. War with a near per won't be precise it'll be bloody
Amateurs discuss tactics and admirals discuss logistics. The battleship provides a lot of logistics.
What is your point and how does it relate to the post?Delete
The navy need a mix of weapons and options in order to deal with their potential enemies. Overly focusing upon technology does not make a more capable service only one that is easily defeated due to reliance on gadgets instead of people.Delete
IMO a modern battleship is worth exploring. Sure it won't rule the seas, but it will be the most powerful shore bombardment platform available.ReplyDelete
There is another problem with many gold plated systems - they have lead times of years.
I've linked this before. They managed to run low on bombs simply by going to war with ISIS:
The author does raise a point - if the US is running out of bombs fighting ISIS, what happens if something happens against a serious opponent?
Good point. Which is exactly what happened, in a combined Anglo/Franco effort to depose Gadafhi, in a month of fighting, against Lybia, LYBIA! those 2, ostensibly 2 of the 5 most powerful militaries in the world, ran out of war stocks in a month of fighting. They needed to call Uncle Sam to buy emergency supplies. not to defend themselves, just to keep waging a pissant colonial war. Shows how well they'd do if they ever came under a real threat.
I've said before we need to get on the other side of the economic balance. Precision strike and data integration important tools in the tool box; but they aren't everything.ReplyDelete
If we fire $1 million missiles off of $130 million jets to destroy a $30K truck, or even a $4 million fighter, but they have 50:1 advantage in those $4 million fighters we can bankrupt ourselves. Or, just preparing for it, we get in this meta death spiral we are in where we can't afford to modernize entire fleets because the 'replacements' are all X-wings and Star Destroyers.
That was kind of the point I was trying to make by bringing up the BB. Sure, they might be inefficient, but by trying to go for the 'uber' tech, we ended up spending the same $$ and getting a ship arguably not as useful as a Flight I 'Burke; with NO capability in NGFS.
This to me is truly a national security issue. We will spend ourselves into a military that can't train, doesn't have working equipment, and doesn't have enough of that equipment to be truly effective. I don't understand why the Admirals and Generals that run things seem to act more like Marsha and Jan Brady than educated professionals who love their nation and their military.
As to capability, sometimes, many times, things like simple and cheap artillery can still be the queen of battle. Ask the Russians and Ukrainians.
A modernized battleship, that was kept within certain standards (keep the big guns. Give them the ability to target things at sea as well as land. Don't worry about being able to shoot the wings off a fly with them. It doesn't have to be AEGIS equipped. It doesn't have to have Uber Stealth, etc.) could have been well affordable with the budget given to DDG-1000. And we'd have a bloody ship rolling off the line that can do a mission.
For those that say its a sitting duck; well, so are our CVN's if they aren't escorted. So are our 'Burkes when they steam alone vulnerable to submarines.
War at sea on the surface nowadays is as much a combined arms effort as war on land.
My fear is that we can't do anything evolutionary anymore. Look at the Boeing tanker project. That was supposed to be cheap and do-able by using existing technology and we managed to turn that into a mess.
"I don't understand why the Admirals and Generals that run things seem to act more like Marsha and Jan Brady than educated professionals who love their nation and their military."Delete
I can think of a reason.
The Navy did an analysis on battleship survivability in 1991 after the First Gulf War. This effort suggested that smaller antiship missiles like the Exocet and the Harpoon would merely damage upperworks and unarmored spaces. A large, supersonic Soviet weapon like the SSN-22 Sunburn with a shaped charge warhead might however penetrate a BB's 12 inch main belt with catastrophic results. BB's are essentially 1930's era technology. Their 16 inch guns remain potent weapons, but armor development has not kept pace with that of weapons. Development of the Zumwalt assumed a fairly benign threat environment that no longer exists. Zumwalt may not be a suitable NSFS choice, but 70+ year old BB's that require huge crews are probably also not an ideal choice.ReplyDelete
Perfect is the enemy of good.Delete
I've frequently noted the lack of naval armor evolution in various posts so I quite agree with you about that. However, to write off battleships (or any armored, gun ship) because they aren't the "ideal choice" is to deprive ourselves of a viable option.
If we eliminated from service every platform and weapons system that wasn't the "ideal choice", we'd have precious little left!
A battleship is far and away the best existing choice for naval gun support and will remain so until something better comes along - and, as you point out, it wasn't the Zumwalt!
"BB's that require huge crews are probably also not an ideal choice."Delete
Why do you say that a battleship would require a huge crew? You're not alone. That's a common claim and oft-cited reason for not bringing back battleships but is it true?
Why do you believe that battleships require large crews? Probably because they had large crews in WWII. However, much of the crew size was dedicated to 20 mm, 40 mm, and 5" guns. Those weapons were manpower intensive. Today, we don't operate 20 mm and 40 mm guns and would likely only operate a few highly automated secondary guns. That alone is a significant reduction in crew size. And, of course, every less weapons person is a reduction in needed support crew (food, laundry, etc.).
Replace the boilers with Navy standard turbines and the engine crew could be significantly reduced.
Toss in some judicious automation and further reductions are possible.
The WWII crew size was 2700 and the 1980's crew was 1800.
I'm going to offer a wild guess that we could operate a battleship today with 500. Who knows?
We may want to consider operating with a large crew today though. Damage control is better with a large well trained crew.Delete
Another is that we may want to consider keeping developing some sort of anti-missile system for shooting down incoming missiles. The end result may very well be that we will see the decks covered in some sort of anti-missile system designed to shoot down incoming missiles. That may or may not (with modern automation) require heavy crew counts.
I'd argue that an anti-torpedo system, if it ever becomes practical should be developed.
The battleship gun crews of ww2 were mostly marine artillery men. A true modernization of the systems would ultimately reduce crew size by quote a bitDelete
> Lazarus : "A large, supersonic Soviet weapon like the SSN-22 Sunburn with a shaped charge warhead might however penetrate a BB's 12 inch main belt with catastrophic results."Delete
The reports I have read indicated that the larger Anti-Ship missiles would be rejected in the first compartment, almost like a barely passed through 16in Mk8 AP shell.
This was considered to be in the margins of acceptability for the Iowa-class battleships, considering that they were designed to accept pass-through of 16in Mk8 AP shells.
In other words, you are correct in that the main belt of the Iowas would be defeated, but it would NOT outright sink an Iowa, instead taking multiple hits and still remaining combat capable.
However, the just one of the same missile was predicted to probably sink a Nimitz - which is exactly what they were designed to do.
> Lazarus : "BB's are essentially 1930's era technology."
Any ship is bound to its date of hull design.
This goes regardless of if the ship in question is the mighty Iowa-class, the Gallant Essex, the Noble Yorktown, the Humble Fletcher, the vaunted Nimitz, or the boastful Arleigh Burke.
They were designed for an era, and live for that era.
That does not mean they are incapable of operation in other eras, but judging them against the threats of later eras is intentionally misleading.
Just because a single ship hull becomes obsolete does not mean that the entire concept has become obsolete.
Compare the Mighty Iowa of 1938 (design) to the theoretical Battleships that would have replaced her:
The Montana-class of 1940 (design) or even the Super-Montana-class of 1943 (design).
The Iowa, a 887 foot long, 57k ton speed demon with a general purpose all-around AA battery (that ended up being made much heavier).
The Montana, a 925 foot long, 70k ton slugger with a heavy AA battery comprised mostly of heavy AA machine-guns.
The Super-Montana, a 1200 foot long, 104k ton monster with a massive radar directed, centrally controlled heavy, armored AA machine-guns and a very heavy DP battery of 28 x 5"/54 guns in 14 twin mounts, also radar directed and centrally controlled. And it was actually projected to be FASTER than the Iowa.
Each of these ships were more powerful than the last, and built for a what was essentially a different war with different threats.
And the same would be true of a modern battleship, which would be designed to fight a major war visible today.
Battleships are inherently a platform for 'next-war-itus', as some people call it.
A modern Battleship would essentially take the Super-Montana and 'Super' it yet again. (thus, Ultra-Montana)
And this is entirely possible with existing technology.
- Ray D.
> Lazarus : "but armor development has not kept pace with that of weapons"Delete
Ironically, it has.
Just because a capability has not been unitized does not mean that the capability has not been developed/simply does not exist.
As a matter of fact, it wasn't but last year that the US essentially developed what is, according to some, literally the last word in armor : Carbon Nano-Tube Armor.
According to initial tests, the material (in thicknesses of over 3 inches) is approximately 18 times more effective verses kinetic impact than Class A face-hardened steel. So, theoretically, just 3 inches of the material would be as effective as 4.5 FEET of steel; and the effective thickness is non-linear, at greater thicknesses the effective thickness is actually much greater.
Now, that particular type of armor is not currently at practical production levels yet, and realistically won't be for 10 to 20 years (IF we actually continue to push its development, which the DoD actually seems to intend on doing).
However, as far back as 2004, 'Laminated Carbon Heavy Steel Alloy' has been a thing in actual (small scale) production. It's one of the most costly of all materials, which ended up excluding it from consideration for the (now canceled) new land fighting vehicle competitions, but when you are talking ships that already cost billions of dollars, a few million more for a massive increase in durability (which protects the billions you have already put into the hull) doesn't quite feel nearly as painful to the wallet.
We just haven't done anything with it in that regard because the logical thought train conclusion (for congress, etc) would end up with less admiral slots, longer serving ships, less expensive repair jobs given to the contractors, etc...
> CNO: "Why do you say that a battleship would require a huge crew?"
To this day, the Iowa-class Battleships are the Gold Standard of Damage Control capabilities.
They rate the supercarriers against them, and the carriers come out wanting.
At a MINIMUM to have Battleship grade damage control, you want 1 Damage Control specialist AND (at least) 3 other sets of hands per 140 square feet of deck space, ideally at least that many per 100 sq. feet.
The Iowa-class was designed with 3x3 16"/50 guns, 10x2 5"/38 DP guns, 15x4 40mm Bofors AA guns, and 60x1 20mm Oerlikon AA guns.
Their Crew Compliment was only meant to be 1,921.
They ended up piling on more Light AA until they ended up with 20x4 40mm guns and 49x1, 8x2 20mm guns, and 2700 crewmen.
1800 was the crew size they decided upon in the 1980s, despite the fact that the remaining equipment did not need that many people to function.
The reason for this was simple - that was the minimum damage control crew for a ship of that size.
A modern battleship would probably not be any smaller than an Iowa (as a matter of fact, they would probably be larger to fit the reactor complex they would probably end up using), and would therefore end up with at a minimum of 1800 crewmen even if they had to just have people 'spit-washing' the bulkheads as they did in the '80s.
Personally, I see a crew of ~2,300 to be perfectly reasonable for super-capital ships like a Battleship.
- Ray D.
> AltandMain: "Another is that we may want to consider keeping developing some sort of anti-missile system for shooting down incoming missiles."Delete
I feel it worthy of mention here that the Navy themselves seems to be reversing their verdict on the naval guns and Anti-Air/Missile Defense concept.
This from the 'High-Velocity Projectile' (HVP) project, which seems to have essentially replaced the Railgun project which it was born from as a more realistic cost-effective solution.
They seem to believe that this HVP system will be capable of striking down Hypersonic Missiles AND striking land targets at ranges of up to 48 miles away for very little relative cost.
Who would have thought 'Hey, let's ask an army development team which actually works with artillery every day and has been for 30 years for advice" would work out?
The result is said to have been a laughably simple "You know this fancy railgun 'bullet' thing you have here would do almost the same exact thing if you just fired it out of one of your 127...er, 5 inch guns, right?"
The wonders of what can happen if the branches put aside their inter-service squabbling and work together for the common good.
On top of this, I have read (non-developer) articles on the Leonardo DART system for the 3in(72mm) guns we already use (we use the guns, not the DART system) that seem to conclude that the system actually is extremely viable against missile threats, albeit probably not at the manufacturer claimed 3-shot/missile ratio (the article, from my memory, seemed to think that 5/6-shots/missile would produce a ~95% chance of a successful interception, which is the same rate that the RAM enjoys).
The author of that article also seems to have believed that a 5-inch variant of the DART could be developed easily enough, but HVP seems to negate the need.
(I apologize for not linking to the article, try as I might I could not find it)
> AltandMain: "I'd argue that an anti-torpedo system, if it ever becomes practical should be developed."
The systems have been being installed on US CVs since that time, they are being phased into the fleet as we speak.
> Howdypartner: "The battleship gun crews of ww2 were mostly marine artillery men. A true modernization of the systems would ultimately reduce crew size by quote a bit"
Not if you mean the 16in guns.
About 80 is the lowest that they can get, unless you want to compromise the flash protection of the system.
The 5 inch and 3 inch guns also have the same basic crews if you count the manning required to actively reload the drum magazines.
- Ray D.
Hi Ray DDelete
What existing tech could be used in a modern Ultra Montana?
I'm thinking specifically of main guns, what's big and powerful enough today to be used without major development?
"just one of the same missile was predicted to probably sink a Nimitz"Delete
I flat out don't believe that. No single missile could sink a Nimitz just due to the sheer size and compartmentation of the vessel. This is especially true when you consider that an anti-ship missile would not likely produce an opening below the water line. That leaves fire as the main problem and there is nothing in the world as capable of fighting fires as a carrier. This was demonstrated by the Enterprise and Forrestal conflagrations.
Give me a link to some kind of supporting documentation.
"The 5 inch and 3 inch guns also have the same basic crews if you count the manning required to actively reload the drum magazines."Delete
I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this so forgive me if I'm misunderstanding.
A typical dual mount 5" gun on a battleship required a crew of around 15, including the crew in the magazine. Navweaps website lists the modern 5"/62 gun as having a crew of 6. A significant crew reduction. Further, a modernized battleship would likely only have a few 5" mounts compared to the traditional battleship 5" mounts, further reducing crew requirements.
"To this day, the Iowa-class Battleships are the Gold Standard of Damage Control capabilities.Delete
They rate the supercarriers against them, and the carriers come out wanting."
Do you have a reference for that?
> CNO : "I flat out don't believe that. No single missile could sink a Nimitz just due to the sheer size and compartmentation of the vessel."Delete
I cannot provide you documentation, as I no longer have it.
However, I can speak from a slightly-more-than Basic Naval Architecture viewpoint. If you will hear me out, the logic bears fruit.
When considering for potential damage to a warship (in Naval Architecture), you must calculate for what is referred to as the 'Absolute Worst Case Scenario' - literally the worst thing that could happen to the ship. It doesn't matter if there is only a 1% or less chance of it happening, if the result is catastrophic you must figure for it in the ship design (and war planning).
In the heyday of US design, we tried to plan for the enemy Magic Bullets.
In the case of an Iowa, the Absolute Worst Case Scenario was a Boiler Strike. This was most likely to cause catastrophic damage to the ship considering the massive pent up force in those high-pressure boilers. However, we designed for that, and it would actually take 3 (of 8) Boilers being struck to cause the Iowa to snap in half.
In the case of a Nimitz, the Absolute Worst Case Scenario is a Reactor Strike. There is basically nothing we can do to stop a Reactor Strike once it happens, and the Nimitzes are not actually built to stop those from happening (instead they relied on their escorts because back then our escort fleets were top notch). I also must point out that the Reactors are large targets on those ships, about ~150ft long, ~80ft wide, and ~35ft tall, and there are two of them.
This is why weapons such as the P-270 Moskit, P-700 Granit, and DF-21 were/are so feared by the US Navy. They are all sea-skimming missiles designed to attempt to strike the reactor complex; particularly under the overhang of supercarriers like the Nimitz (that just serves to guide the missiles into the proper height).
The P-700 Granit, for instance, can tear a 49ft deep hole into the side of a ship, including numerous (lightly armored) bulkheads. This is more than enough to hit the Reactor of a Nimitz or the Boiler of an Iowa. The real difference here is that only one of those two ships can survive that.
(A modern nuclear battleship would have a much heavier armor scheme for the machinery spaces to prevent this, which is why they would weigh as much as a supercarrier)
Of course, while an Absolute Worst Case Scenario is entirely unlikely; if there is any lesson to be learned from combat, it's that Murphy hates you and loves your enemy, so you have to consider this.
> CNO : "Do you have a reference for that?" (Damage Control)
That was effectively a reference to something that the Late Captain Mike Eagen, who effectively wrote the book on modern US Navy damage control, said.
Unfortunately, there is only so much weight that my anecdotal references can carry; but the logic is simply that the Carriers, by virtue of being Carriers, have mass amounts of wide open spaces, which is a fire/damage/flooding hazard.
The engineering/machinery spaces are also huge and open (read: poorly compartmentalized), which is a huge positive for maintenance ease and costs, but a huge negative for damage control.
Essentially, some things that the carriers can do nothing about, because they are 'flawed' by design.
This was done this way because the Nimitz-class design was made when nuclear capital ships were still in their effective infancy, with only the Enterprise preceding them in that role. Today, ~40 years later, we could compartmentalize the nuclear engineering/machinery spaces with relative ease, and the A1B was actually made for it, but from the sounds of things the Ford has gone the same route as the Nimitz for ease of service in peacetime.
The Iowas, on the other hand, had so many redundant bulkheads and watertight doors that, as mentioned above, even a worst case scenario wasn't seen as likely to sink the ship in one go. On the other hand, peacetime maintenance of the ship was a comparative nightmare.
- Ray D.
> CNO : "A typical dual mount 5" gun on a battleship required a crew of around 15, including the crew in the magazine."Delete
My mistake on the 5 inch gun, you're correct, I misremembered the crew size of the respective guns (for some reason, I had the number as 15 total for a legacy twin mount, when that is a legacy single mount); although with the 3 inch (76mm) gun I was closer to correct in my 4-men/gun estimate (factoring only for the gun crews themselves, not for local control), the historical guns were 6/gun (including local control crew).
> CNO : " Further, a modernized battleship would likely only have a few 5" mounts compared to the traditional battleship 5" mounts, further reducing crew requirements."
While I agree with you in that such would LIKELY be the case, given our recent warship design choices, I do not see it as a logical design choice.
When dealing with swarm tactics, there is nothing quite like throwing lead into the air, because when you stand to lose thousands of lives and billions of dollars, overkill looks underrated.
In addition, the 5in guns are slowly returning as Air-Defense assets, as I mentioned above.
However, their weakness in this role will always be their rate of fire, which beyond a certain point can only be made up for by simply adding more guns.
I still see Battleships and Carriers operating in concert with each other, as both happen to be the other's near-perfect guardian, so I still see the Battleships as massive AA/ASuW Batteries.
In the end, of course, it quite comes down to personal opinion on that one.
- Ray D.
> Mark Adams : "What existing tech could be used in a modern Ultra Montana? I'm thinking specifically of main guns, what's big and powerful enough today to be used without major development?"Delete
Essentially, you could run along the gamut of weapons systems from missiles from Cruise Missiles to ICBMs or guns from 12" to 20".
All of these are reasonably possible to bring to bear in today's time with sufficient (but not protracted) development time.
It depends on how you desire to use the ship.
Keep in mind, the Battleship is not its guns, it is its role.
The Battleship, in and of itself, was not actually a Land Attack/Shore Bombardment (Attack) ship, nor was it an Anti-Shipping (Strike) Ship per se, it was primarily an Ocean Control asset.
That is to say, its role was to defend the battle line.
Cruisers or Carriers (and for later Navies, Submarines) would push the battle line forward, then the battleships would move up to defend the new battle line.
Essentially, Battleships only engaged in direct combat when the two sides' battle lines met (usually by one side moving their own battle line to spearhead into the enemy's battle line in an attempt to break it).
Battleships could then bombard the enemy shores itself when their battle line actually reached the enemy's shores, but this was a secondary role.
Their primary role was to defend the more vulnerable elements (carriers, tenders, repair ships, supply ships) that were taking shelter behind the battle line.
While times have changed, in raw simplicity, Naval Warfare has not. While most people would say that the days of the battle line are gone, in practicality those lines still exist, they have just grown a lot larger to the point that people no longer see the forest for the trees.
Take a hypothetical Sino-American war for instance; right from the get-go, the battle line is drawn at the first or second island chain. If things get worse between now and then, the Battle Line is drawn at Okinawa. From there, it would be the US Navy's job to push that battle line back to China.
Today (and ever since man learned to fly), the battle line also includes elements of the A2AD (something we are poorly equipped to fight in).
This limits the utility of Carriers in the land strike role.
It is for these reasons that I see the Battleship-Carrier relationship in the way that I do, and the reason why I stack the Battleships with the weapons systems that I do.
But in the end, it all comes down to the role you mean the ships to carry.
A Strike Battleship (which is to say a Surface Warfare Battleship) would be designed vastly differently than an Attack Battleship (which is to say a Land Strike/Shore Bombardment Battleship) which in turn would be designed vastly differently than a Ocean Control Battleship (which is just a Battleship).
That being said, if you want the extreme end of what is possible today, as in ready to produce (excluding the time it would take to build the infrastructure), 16 inch 'Scram Jet Guided Projectiles' are possible and have been prototyped (the project was canceled in the 90s due to the retirement of the Battleships).
These are effectively Hypersonic Tomahawk missiles, except with only a third of the range and cost. (Which is to say a ~Mach 7, ~460nmi, ~$500k/shot projectile).
Considering that the 90s project was bearing fruit, it is reasonable that they could finish the project without much difficulty.
For greater cost savings and more functionality, the HVP program findings could be applied to the 16in projectiles, which would return a ~90nmi quad-purpose Land Strike, Anti-Ship, Anti-Ballistic Missile, Anti-Satellite projectile for comparative peanuts.
And other programs like these have existed, a few mentioned in CNO's previous article (Long Range Naval Guns).
Of course, if we were going to bring back the Battleships specifically to use these weapons, I would insist we finish these projects BEFORE we bother reactivating any battleships or building new ones.
- Ray D.
A single hit may explode an aircraft carrier filled with aviation fuel, missiles, and bombs, alongside 6000 sailors.Delete
One hit below deck and the ship may blow up like an ammo ship - killing everyone! Or carriers may be sunk by a single lurking submarine, or a volley of long-range cruise missiles, or any commercial ship whose captain decides to ram a carrier in a harbor, which would cause fires and likely set off that floating powder keg. In 1969, a small rocket fired off an aircraft aboard the supercarrier USS Enterprise. This set off a series of 18 explosions, blowing eight holes into the flight deck and beyond and killing 28 sailors, with 314 injured and 15 aircraft destroyed. Accidents happen, but amid tightly packed fuel and munitions any minor explosion caused by an attack can be catastrophic.
Recall the USS Forrestal was nearly destroyed by a errant 5-inch rocket.
"I cannot provide you documentation, as I no longer have it."Delete
Ray, my general concern is to ensure that this blog is based on facts. I receive a steady, if infrequent, stream of incorrect statements and I have to vigilant to not allow incorrect or unsubstantiated statements to be presented as fact.
I do not require references for generally accepted facts (the Earth is round, for example, is a generally accepted fact) but I do require references for statements that are not generally accepted or seem unlikely (the Earth is flat - I need a reference in order to let that statement stand).
I understand that we can't always produce a reference link. I've read lots of things that I know to be true but can't produce a link for. That's okay, to an extent, if the source can at least be generally described. For example, I read in the USNI Proceedings magazine that ships float; I just can't recall and cite the exact article. That's not as authoritative as the actual reference but it's not unreasonable. The problem is that the more unlikely or counterintuitive the statement, the greater the need to authoritatively document it.
So, given the statements you've made, I'd prefer to see some actual documentation. Failing that, describe the source that leads you to make the statements. It might be training/education you've had, conversations with experts, a book you once read, or whatever.
I delete incorrect statements but I don't want to squelch a discussion that might be valid even if it seems unlikely.
The sense I get is that your statement is based on your own views. If so, say that rather than present it as fact. I have no problem with speculation if identified as such.
I hope that makes clear my views on documentation. You'll note that I provide a reference in my posts for any main point that is not common knowledge!
"just one of the same missile was predicted to probably sink a Nimitz "Delete
Based on your subsequent discussion, it seems clear that what you mean is that a single missile COULD sink a Nimitz if the right set of circumstances occurred. That's true of any ship and any weapon. A 0.50 cal machine gun bullet COULD, under the right set of circumstances, sink a Nimitz. The likelihood is so remote, however, that no reasonable person would make the claim that a Nimitz could be sunk by a machine gun bullet.
Similarly, a missile of the type you mention would require just the right set a ciccumstances - a set that is quite a bit more likely than for a machine gun bullet but still nowhere near a sure thing. A hit anywhere forward or aft of the reactor, according to your own description, would NOT result in a sinking. Given the length of a carrier, random statistics on the strike location would ensure that the likelihood of sinking is well shy of certain. Of course, the strike location may not be random. The missile might have a tendency to strike center mass, for example. No one knows about this because no such missile combat strike data exists.
So, unless you can produce a definitive source, I consider your statement to be incorrect, though fascinating.
" Enterprise ... Forrestal"Delete
If I'm interpreting your comment correctly, that you're claiming the carrier is vulnerable, your statement contradicts itself. The examples you cite to demonstrate the vulnerability, the Enterprise and Forrestal conflagrations, actually demonstrate the incredible resilience of the carrier.
The Enterprise was "hit" by multiple rockets and several bombs of various sizes. Burning jet fuel flooded below the flight deck. Despite this, the fire was extinguished in 4 hours.
Similarly, Forrestal suffered the equivalent of nine 1000 lb bomb "hits" as well as exploding and burning fuel. Despite this, the fires were controlled within 3 hours.
So, both ships suffered exactly the kind of disaster you describe and yet regained control in a few hours and did not sink.
"5" gun ... While I agree with you in that such would LIKELY be the case, given our recent warship design choices, I do not see it as a logical design choice."Delete
An Iowa had 10 dual 5" mounts for a total of 20 5" guns. The 5" guns were used for both anti-surface and anti-air. Today, there is no 5" gun that is capable of effective anti-air. Might there be in the future? Perhaps, but there is not, now. Thus, given the unlikelihood of anti-surface action and the ineffectiveness of 5" anti-air, it is highly unlikely that a modern or modernized BB would have more than 4 single 5" mounts (5"/62, undoubtedly).
On the other hand, the Navy's capacity for stupid decisions never ceases to amaze me!
CNO, it's late and I'm tired, but you are someone I respect so I'd rather get this out before turning in, I apologize for any level of crassness you may detect in this post, it's entirely unintended.Delete
Firstly, I feel the need to point out that the anonymous post above was not from me, just in case you didn't realize that.
That being covered...
You say I need to post my sources, the problem is that I basically did.
"However, I can speak from a slightly-more-than Basic Naval Architecture viewpoint."
I am speaking from the perspective of one who has studied Naval Architecture, that is my education, and at one time intended to become a Naval Architect, before real life decided to throw medical problems in the way.
I try not to bring this up, in fact I go so far as to discredit my education on the topic, because what good is A and B without C, D, and E to finish the basic assumed requirements?
Regardless, I then proceeded to try and explain the problem in what I believed to be a clear and simple manner to back up what I was saying, but there is only so much you can do with only 4090-something characters when you are trying to explain concepts they write entire textbooks about.
I see I failed miserably.
Here, to vindicate myself, I will actually post more than once on this issue just to cover the topic in brief.
What I was speaking about was fairly basic 2nd Year Naval Architecture: Damage at Sea.
Today, we use 'Probabilistic Damage Assessment' to determine the survivability of a ship when damaged, but that covers everything including the probability of something even happening in the first place.
This doesn't let you assess the survivability of a ship against a specific threat, especially hostile action, once it has already happened.
For that reason, this thing called 'Threat Index' is used with warships.
In theory, the concept is simple:
Threat Index = (Vulnerability) x Lethality
Vulnerability is something that actually takes its own formula to arrive at, but it's basically the probability of X, Y, and Z all falling in line for the threat to be realized. In this case, it's X being hit by Y, while ignoring any possible resistances, which is a simple thing to figure for.
Lethality is the damage to the ship it causes. Basically, it's the probability of whatever causing the ship to sink.
You can get a rough guesstimate of the severity of the situation (or get a risk assessment) by using the Threat Index:
If the value is over 0.03, you have minor problems.
If the value is over 0.05, you have have cause for concern.
If the value is over 0.10, you start praying.
If the value is over 0.20, you panic.
If the value is over 0.25, you write the ship off as lost.
In the case of a missile strike on the Nimitz, we have to make a few assumptions, because we either just don't know or shaving off the edges for ease.
1) The missile can defeat whatever protective scheme the ship has where it hits. From publicly released information (we are assuming Nimitz isn't secretly carrying around more than the ~2.5 inches of Kevlar protection that is claimed), the listed missiles all can.
2) Each Reactor Complex is 150' long. This is assuming that the internet is correct on the length of those reactor complexes (which is larger than the actual reactor), and I will admit the internet is usually wrong (I have seen figures that put the reactors at 70 feet, but that was not including the rest of the open compartment, which is also in the vulnerability zone).
3) The missile's aim is entirely random along the length of the ship. This is wrong, because of the character limit I cannot get into this in depth, but basically every homing missile zeros in on the center of return, which is typically the meta-center of the ship, and many modern AShMs have seekers that further refines the aim to vulnerable areas. This is why they have accuracies listed in meters, not kilometers.
(cont. fm above)Delete
Also, just to be clear, I am grossly simplifying this.
So, the vulnerability zone is approximately 300' long, counting both reactors. The Nimitz itself is 1,092' long, so the the vulnerability zone is roughly 27% of the length of the ship.
Therefore (Vulnerability) is 27%.
In the case of a Reactor Strike, which is what the aim of the missile (flooding is a secondary benefit), the Lethality is a certain thing.
So, Lethality is 100%.
The Threat Index of a the aforementioned missile strike against a Nimitz is therefore 0.27, which is above the 'lost cause' threshold of 0.25.
In Naval Architecture (and in preliminary wargaming as done by the Navy, according to the instructor), at least by the Threat Index, the ship is already written off as lost in this circumstance.
Yes, the Threat Index is a probability; and yes, ships are considered lost (the risk is too great, etc) in strategic planning and ship design at 25%.
Because, would you really want to risk the lives of 5000+ people to a pair of coin flips?
25% is 'probable', not 'likely' or 'certain'.
Because, again, if there is any lesson to be learned from combat, it's that Murphy hates you and loves your enemy, so you have to consider this.
Now, compare this against the Iowa's Absolute Worst Case Scenario against that Missile Strike:
For the Iowas, we actually have their Booklets of General Plans, so we know the actual dimensions of the targets in question.
The Boiler Room is 32' across, and there are 4 of them along the length of the ship (with another set of 4 on the other side of the ship).
This gives us a vulnerability area of 128'. The Iowa itself is 887' long, so the vulnerability zone is roughly 14.4% of the ship's length.
As stated, the ship is designed to endure this damage, so it's not actually lethal (it is catastrophic and potentially mission killing, though). But let's just assume for sake of argument that this is a magic bullet that totally destroys the ship in one hit.
This 0.144 Threat Index, while concerning, is better than the .27 of the Nimitz.
However, and as I said, the missiles' aims actually are not entirely random, they do know where the vague area the reactors are and try to hit them.
On top of this, of course, in reality the actual assessment would look a lot different. There are many elements that I just skipped over for the ease of illustration.
The real Threat Index verses this hypothetical missile strike would be a lot higher for both of the ships.
Why did I call it unlikely earlier? Because with any luck, the missile would first have to pass through the ECM and Air-Defense zones of at least 3 different ships (including the carrier itself) before it could hit the carrier, and will hopefully be shot down or drastically misled.
Because at a certain point even I look away from the mechanical specifications of the equipment involved and the declining quality of my nation's equipment, close my eyes, and refuse to give up blind, unreasonable hope.
- Ray D.
"I apologize for any level of crassness you may detect in this post, it's entirely unintended."Delete
Don't apologize. This is one of the better discussions I've had on the blog!
You're making points that I simply needed to understand the degree of credibility to attach to them. You've got some training and you're extrapolating from that. That's fine and it's much more authoritative than pure speculation (also fine if identified as such).
I'm enjoying this one. Read the rest of the comments and you'll see why.
"the vulnerability zone is approximately 300' long, counting both reactors."Delete
This is one of the aspects of your premise that warrants further discussion. I understand your dimensions. However, I suspect that's simplifying things to the point of unreality.
While the maximum end-to-end dimensions may be 300' (I don't have a better dimension so I'll accept that), I'm sure that not all of that is actual reactor. The reactor, itself, is not 300' long - you even alluded to that. So, perhaps a third of that is actual reactor? Just guessing. Would a hit on associated piping cause the same guaranteed sinking as a hit on the reactor? I doubt either of us know.
You've portrayed the vulnerability zone as being a fraction of the length of the vessel. From your premise, that's arithmetically correct, however, it neglects the fact that the reactor is not laying on the deck of the carrier waiting to be hit. That's not the case, in reality. The reactor is below the flight deck. It's below the hangar deck. It's buried in the guts of the ship and "protected" by other ship's spaces. In other words, a missile could hit dead center of the vulnerability zone, directly centered on a reactor, and not actually penetrate to the reactor, itself. This might especially be true if the missile were to hit at an angle rather than perfectly perpendicular to the ship's side. This would seem to have the effect of decreasing the apparent vulnerability zone.
Armor is also a factor. I have no idea whether a carrier reactor is armored or not and, if it is, to what degree. If there is armor, that would again decrease the apparent vulnerability.
So, for these reasons, I think the vulnerability rating that is based strictly on dimensional ratio is vastly overstated.
What do you think about this?
"In the case of a Reactor Strike, ... Lethality is 100%."Delete
Why? Why would a reactor strike be 100% lethal?
Are you defining lethality as sinking or as a mission kill? I could pretty much agree that a reactor strike would probably be a mission kill but a guaranteed sinking I'm not so sure about.
If the missile doesn't put a hole in the ship below the waterline, there is not immediate sinking danger. Subsequent uncontrolled fire might eventually lead to sinking but that's hardly a guarantee.
What about a reactor strike leads you to believe it's a 100% lethal outcome (assuming you mean sinking)?
"the missiles' aims actually are not entirely random,"Delete
I agree and I made the same statement. Missiles are certainly designed and intended to strike center mass from what I understand. HOWEVER, the limited historical data does not support that conclusion.
The somewhat recent missile attack on the Israeli ship Hanit by (C-80x ?) resulted in a hit on the aft end of the ship and, likely, just barely hit. This was against an unawares ship and should have been a textbook missile attack and yet the result was barely a hit, well aft rather than center mass.
The few available videos of Navy Harpoon exercise shots seem to show a nearly random strike location. Again, these are conducted under ideal conditions and should show near perfect strike locations and yet they don't.
As I said, there is very limited data so drawing a conclusion is risky. However, the limited data clearly shows that the strike location is not anywhere near a guaranteed center mass hit.
I'd be inclined to treat the strike location as random chance until some better data to the contrary comes along.
Ray, here's the million dollar question that your premise raises: should we be building nuclear powered ships that will see combat?Delete
Setting aside my disagreement with aspects of your premise, your premise seems to suggest that a nuclear powered ship is too big a risk in combat. A hit on a turbine is not a guaranteed sinking so a non-nuclear ship would seem to be a better choice. What do you think? If your premise is correct as stated, why do you think the Navy accepts that degree of risk? This is a pretty significant question? Your thoughts?
"Development of the Zumwalt assumed a fairly benign threat environment that no longer exists. "Delete
Whoa.... I'm missing something then. I was in college reading usenet alt.sci.military.naval when the Navy started developing the SuperHornet, and came out with 'Forward, from the Sea'.
As time went on from that point the Navy did seem to assume a more benign environment where they owned the sea and the littorals. They also were assuming a time when budgets would constrict due to a lack of a large coherent enemy. That is, I'm assuming, the time period you mean when the Zumwalt was starting its design.
All well and good, but then the design doesn't match the environment you mention. Why build an NGFS ship with:
* Mk. 57 VLS along the outside of the hull designed so battle damage would allow the ship to continue the fight.
* AGS which allowed the ship to sit farther offshore
* Originally Air Defense and Ballistic missile defense.
That seems way, way overkill for a benign threat environment. Why not design a much simpler, and cheaper, ship from the get go? Especially in light of the budgetary problems predicted when the peace dividend was proposed?
> "Would a hit on associated piping cause the same guaranteed sinking as a hit on the reactor?"Delete
> "Why would a reactor strike be 100% lethal?"
Now, I want to be clear here that Nuclear Power was only briefly touched upon in my studies, power and propulsion was above my grade, so my understanding is limited to what I have heard.
But from what I know, the major threat of a Reactor Strike is not the reactor itself being disabled (which can actually happen for many other reasons than being hit, and is a mission kill), it's that a massive explosion inside the actual reactor chamber itself has a very high chance of triggering a nuclear meltdown or, in worst case, nuclear detonation.
As you can guess, neither case is highly desired.
Of course, this is just what I was instructed in the brief area that this was covered (again, Damage at Sea). They quite literally said 'the problem with a nuclear powerplant is that everyone dies if they (any hostile actor) manage to hit it with a heavy enough explosive.'
The reactor chamber on the Nimitz-class specifically (not the subclasses) is, from my understanding (and I obviously do not know, this is merely what I have been told), one giant water-tight chamber, which risks everything if that chamber is hit.
This comes about as a result of the limited amount of experience with super-capital nuclear reactors of the time the Nimitz-class was designed and built.
From my understanding, this problem was actually fixed with the later Theodore Roosevelt sub-class (and Reagan sub-class) of the Nimitz Carriers through actually compartmentalizing the reactor chamber and reinforcing the containment chamber.
This still leaves the risks of a reactor strike, but it makes it a lot harder to happen, leaving only the base Nimitz-class as excessively vulnerable to this.
On top of this, from what I have been informed (which in the end means diddly-squat on classified material such as this), the Ford-class' A1B reactor is virtually immune to this issue (aside from the obvious loss of power) because the A1B can actually be hit without detonating, the impacted section merely collapses in on itself and seals itself off as part of the inherent safety features.
Of course, this would require them to have not used the Nimitz-like layout of the reactor complex (again, just something I heard... from people that work at Newport News), but it at least prevents a catastrophic detonation.
Something that is not commonly brought up is that (from what I have heard) the A4W reactor of the (entire) Nimitz-class can actually be refueled a second time, meaning that they could rather easily get another 25 to 30 years out of their hulls with sufficient TLC.
However, they insist on getting rid of at least the first three (Nimitz, Eisenhower, and Vinson); no if, ands, or buts.
This is why, from what I understand.
Also, from my (limited) understanding, a hit on the piping would just cause radioactive leakage into the ship and radiation poison the entire engineering crew actually down there at the time and probably half of the damage control teams that respond. But this is (from what I have heard talking to Nuke Techs) literally something they tell you to expect when you sign on to work the nukes, so it's probably protocol. This is how one reactor complex can be split among multiple water-tight compartments in the Nimitz sub-classes.
- Ray D.
> "I think the vulnerability rating that is based strictly on dimensional ratio is vastly overstated."Delete
> "I'd be inclined to treat the strike location as random chance until some better data to the contrary comes along."
Your question of angling, armor, et all is actually correct, and all of those points are valid - this is the basis of compartmentalization.
The problem lies in the fact that, quite simply, everyone that has a remotely decent navy knows this and has designed their weapons to counter this, to varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, at some point your general opinion on this sort of thing is very, very correct - we just don't know.
How powerful is the warhead? We don't know.
How fast is the missile? We don't actually know.
The same thing with a system's accuracy - we just do not know.
At some point in designing threat protection or in naval war planning, you just have to take the (potential) enemies' declarations of capabilities at face value and prepare to deal with those threats (or worse) accordingly.
If the statistics are overblown and the threats are a lot more benign than we prepared for, then all I can say is 'good'.
With any luck, it means more of our boys make it home as something more than a memory.
One thing you really take home from defense planning is that, if there is any lesson to be learned from combat, it's that Murphy hates you and loves your enemy.
If you want to win a war, you don't plan to go in with the advantage. That is how you get arrogant, cocky, and complacent; and that is how you lose wars.
If you want to win a war, you plan to go in as if against all odds.
The enemies' weapons may not be able to penetrate sheet metal, and they may not be able to hit the broadside of a carrier, we just don't know.
That's why we plan to counter the worst and hope the enemy is at THEIR worst whenever we actually do have to fight them.
So, from a completely neutral position, you are mostly correct.
As I said previously, the actual chance for a Reactor Strike is 'low', but the danger is catastrophic.
Now, in reality, they have a good chance of squeaking by with a non-lethal injury, and they know this; but the potential risk is not worth it to them, so they plan ahead as if this event would be a certain sinking.
This was also the same argument that was being used to prevent the Iowas from approaching the shoreline, you may recall : the risk.
This is the product of a naval environment that isn't prepared to actually fight wars, and instead just want budget pie. They are not willing to risk pretty much anything (except actually winning a conflict) for fear of losing their slice of the pie, despite logic clearly indicating that being fully honest about the realities of combat, the need for more capable hulls, and the inevitabilities of losses would actually get them more sympathy from the people who write their checks.
I was using their logic, but that doesn't mean I fully agree with their conclusions.
As you have said (in gist) multiple times before, the propensity of the (modern) US Navy to stupidity never ceases to amaze.
- Ray D.
> "Ray, here's the million dollar question that your premise raises: should we be building nuclear powered ships that will see combat?"Delete
Any time you send a Nuclear ship into combat, you stand a sizable risk, but you also stand to make great gain.
The Nuclear Powerplant provides a ship with advantages that are hugely beneficial, so much so that I honestly believe it to outweigh the risks.
While we may not be able to fully mitigate the damage once it happens, we can EASILY reduce the chances of it happening in the first place, through hard-kill methods such as destroying the threat, soft-kill methods like ECM (which we need to pay more attention to), or even last ditch efforts like armor-plating.
The last one I think, and I know you agree with me, is vastly underrated.
It would not have been any real difficulty or cost for them to have to actually armored the machinery spaces of the super-carriers, adding approximately 6000 tons to the weight of the hull. Extra weight that the ships are more than capable of floating as it is, so no real design differences would have had to have been made beyond reinforcing the outer hull - reinforcements that should have been done regardless of if the ship was to carry armor or not.
As a matter of fact, I personally think that they should give serious consideration to a full nuclear powered escort for the Nuclear Carriers just to take advantage of their capabilities, but that is off topic.
Also, I glossed over this earlier due to the more pressing issue, but...
> "Today, there is no 5" gun that is capable of effective anti-air."
The Russians are convinced that their 130 mm/70 (5.1") AK-130 gun system is fully capable of shooting down any missile in their own arsenal, excepting the Brahmos family.
From my understanding, during the era of the USSR they at least once actually tested live missiles against a live, fully manned Russian Destroyer armed with this gun system. The destroyer and his crew survived the exercise, with the gun obtaining at least three splashes.
The 130 mm/70 (5.1") AK-130 is still in active service today, and is quite possibly the best 5" gun system in the history of man ever actually produced.
For that matter, the Russians are also convinced that their 100 mm/70 (3.9") AK-100 system works exactly as advertised for similar reasons, I am told..
Of course, I cannot attest to the factuality of this event, but it does stand as reasonable given the then standard Soviet Practices.
- Ray D.
"a massive explosion inside the actual reactor chamber itself has a very high chance of triggering a nuclear meltdown or, in worst case, nuclear detonation."Delete
I am not at all a nuclear expert but nothing I have read supports the idea of a nuclear explosion being possible from a hit on a reactor. One of the challenges in nuclear weapon design was to actually trigger the explosion. It's very difficult and requires precise, focused explosions (okay, now my knowledge is spent!). I flat out don't believe a nuclear explosion can be triggered from a missile hit.
"That's why we plan to counter the worst"Delete
This is wise, up to a point. The problem is that if we assume the absolute worst case (for instance, that a carrier can be sunk with a single missile) then we're likely to unduly and unwarrentedly(?) hinder ourselves. If we assume a carrier will be sunk by a single missile then it would be stupid to build carriers. If we assume that every enemy missile will unerringly impact its target (us) then we can't win.
Planning for the worst possible case is self-defeating. Planning for the worst REASONABLE case is wise. It is not reasonable to assume a single missile will kill a carrier.
"The Russians are convinced that their 130 mm/70 (5.1") AK-130 gun system is fully capable of shooting down any missile"Delete
The Russians are famous, to put it mildly, for making all kinds of fraudulent claims so I give zero credit to that claim.
Regardless of the Russian's gun and claim, the US Navy's 5" gun is considerably less capable. The US makes no serious claim that the 5" is an effective AAW weapon and history conclusively demonstrates that it is a marginally effective gun for any use. Consider the Vincennes incident. The Vincennes fired somewhere around 80 rounds at the attacking (?) boats and achieved no hits. Hitting a boat moving at 30 kts is worlds easier than trying to hit a high sub-sonic missile and yet our 5" guns couldn't achieve even one hit. Throw in the low rate of fire and there is no practical hope of effective AAW performance from a 5" gun.
All that said, I'm a fan of the AK-130 based on what little I know of it.
"From my understanding, during the era of the USSR they at least once actually tested live missiles against a live, fully manned Russian Destroyer armed with this gun system."Delete
I very closely follow Soviet, and now Russian, naval matters. I've never heard this story. Do you have a reference?
Nuclear reactors will not "explode" in a nuclear detonation but however will still explode. Do you know the difference between Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. Its six inches of concrete.Delete
Nuclear pellets produce a lot of heat which instantly flashes the water to steam which then acts like an explosion. Chernobyl's nuclear fuel amalgamated into a uncontrolled reaction ball and hit the water table which then produced a steam overpressure event which blew the roof off the building.
Using this example and knowledge that steam expands under ideal conditions at 1:1700 times volume if a reactor core that is under a nuclear process producing power in the vessel and a breach of containment is made it only takes seawater entering the containment vessel to produce a flash then boom from steam pressure. This is more than mission kill this will probably sink the vessel. Again a nuclear explosion from steam only comes with containment breach while the reactor is reacting producing power or low on coolant.
CNO, I did not say that a Nuclear Detonation WOULD happen, just that it was the WORST (theoretical) CASE POSSIBLE.Delete
The major threat I was speaking of was a Nuclear Meltdown. A "Nuclear meltdown" is an informal term for a severe nuclear reactor accident that results in core damage from overheating.
This typically happens because of the coolant systems/the containment chamber are damaged/destroyed by something, typically an explosion or an uncontrolled fire in the reactor complex, but worse examples can happen when the reactor is forcibly heated beyond safe limits (such as an explosion/fire in the chamber), which can also cause a super-criticality event and possibly (just possibly) violently explode. Yes, the 'highly likely' event conclusion is a localized steam eruption which then begins venting radioactive steam into essentially the entire ship, irradiating everything.
The result is essentially the same as if the entire thing had just blew up in an atomic ball of fire: everyone on the ship dies and the ship sinks (even if it remained afloat, it would be wrote off as lost, which is an effective sinking), and you potentially have a nuclear fallout issue because of the radioactive steam that escaped to the atmosphere.
However, if the chamber is properly subdivided, the reactor is unlikely to undergo such an event because essentially everything has to fall into place at the same time.
If just the piping is destroyed, that is bad, but not 'everyone on the ship is dead' bad. It could also be an economic loss of the ship, but theoretically the ship would be able to last out a battle.
But when everything is in one compartment, a large enough explosion in that compartment will destroy basically all of the safety features on the reactor (at the same time). This includes the Nuclear Technicians actually in the compartment, who would be the only people that could shut down the out-of-control reactor in time.
In a properly subdivided chamber, the controls would be much harder to destroy and the crew much harder to kill, let alone the safety features.
Also, you seem to have taken what I said out of proportion.
The Nimitz-missile-hit scenario assumes that the Nimitz is hit, it does NOT deny that the missile could be evaded or shot down.
The question posed was never a 'would X missile hit the Nimitz', my answer to that is 'Assuming a competent escort and the ships are actually ready for combat, it's very unlikely'. The question was 'What if the missile actually does hit?'
The unfortunate answer is that the ship will 'probably' (in Threat Index terms, not practical terms) be lost (if it is in combat) unless the missile deviates from course (which is likely, unless the ship is blindsided). And I really don't care what ship (currently in service) it is, if the missile does its job that ship is dead, and the Iowa is only moderately better off.
Modern Naval Warfare has devolved into Sudden Death Warfare where everything is final unless reality is otherwise notified. That is why the US places so much emphasis on shooting down the incoming threats or, as with the Zumwalt (original design), avoiding them. You know as well as I do that the US Navy has practically abandoned surviving damage overall in their single minded obsession with not being damaged in the first place.
"I've never heard this story. Do you have a reference?"
You will notice that I immediately followed it with "I cannot attest to the factuality of this event"; it came from one of the instructors, a ret. Captain.
As for the guns, I don't actually have the time (given the time of night I am replying to you) at the moment to do this justice, but I am not sure what incident you are referring to. During the Iran Air Flight 655 incident, the USS Vincennes's 5" guns (along with those of the USS Elmer Montgomery, also 5") were credited with sinking 2 Iranian gunboats and damaging another.
- Ray D.
How much of the Iowa's internals is made of STS?
I wonder on a future battleship if you could still make STS and make the internal structure out of it.
From what I've read of STS built ships it seems like a heck of a way to go if you want that ship to keep fighting, and to limit damage.
From my estimates, which came from pouring over the Naw Jersey's booklet of general plans from the 1980s, about 30% was constructed from Special Treatment Steel (STS). A majority of the rest of the ship was constructed from High Tensile Steel (HTS), and the remainder was 'Mild Construction Steel' (MS) - which is ironically equivalent to our modern High Strength Steel (HSS).Delete
The modern equivalent of STS is HY-100 steel, but HY-80 is usable in the stead of HY-100 because that is what we build our Submarines out of and we really don't want to slow that production down any. The primary difference between HY-80 and HY-100 is yield strength, which is mostly pressure related, so you do not take a very sizable loss from dropping a grade.
To get the most basic image of what a difference HY-80 makes compared to HSS, just look at CNO's earlier entry about the USS Cole incident:
And you are correct, building a ship out of STS (or HY-80/100) would produce a ship that is a lot more durable to combat damage than modern ships.
- Ray D.
"To get the most basic image of what a difference HY-80 makes compared to HSS, just look at CNO's earlier entry about the USS Cole incident:"Delete
I'm impressed that you remembered that!
So does that mean we should start looking at making real battleships again, this time with rail guns, lasers, but still plenty of armor?ReplyDelete
What's your opinion?Delete
As it stands, rail guns and lasers for shooting down missiles belong in a lab until they are proven to work reliably.Delete
I do agree that rail guns and lasers are still at the prototype stage, but they are being tested extensively by the navy. They are past the testbed stage, and moving into prototype style development. I think in the long run the US Navy is going to need a large surface combatant with solid active and passive defenses (aka armor). Both weapons systems are going to take a lot of power. That is going to require a large ship, with an extensive power production system. I'm sure at some point there will be a debate on whether to field a deployable railgun in one weapon per platform on something like the Zimwalt, or a large dreadnought style platform. When railguns hit the potential for the over the horizon firing of hypervelocity projectiles the Navy hopes for, that weapons system's platform is going to become a target on the scale of a fleet carrier. A carrier you can keep well across the theatre and let the air wing do the work. A railgun platform is going to have to go in harm's way to get its mission completed. That is going to mean needing a lot of survivability. Active defenses help, but I think necessity will force us to look again at the days of heavy armor surface combatants.Delete
Hi Ray D,ReplyDelete
Just wondering, do you by any chance have a link for the 1943 Super Montana design? I did a search online and was not able to find anything about it. We're basically talking about a battleship with the displacement of a Nimitz class carrier here.
Why would a strike vs shore vs ocean battleship differ? Are we not talking about a battlecruiser (rapid for strike) vs fast battleship (like the Iowa) vs classic slow battleship (like the Montana)?
> AltandMain: "Just wondering, do you by any chance have a link for the 1943 Super Montana design? I did a search online and was not able to find anything about it. We're basically talking about a battleship with the displacement of a Nimitz class carrier here."Delete
Unfortunately, I don't, and I have never actually seen the actual fully-fleshed out designs (that is one thing I would love to see before I die).
Essentially, it's like the American equivalent of the German H-41 Battleship paper design (that I honestly believe was just a design study to see what the Germans could actually build), and as a result it was a fairly popular joke among the more jingoistic naval wargamers in the 90s.
That being said, there are a few catches when looking for the information. 'Super-Montana' wasn't the actual name of the design, it was merely called such because of the... sizable difference from the base Montana design to differentiate it from those base Montana designs - a completely unprofessional after-the-fact effective nickname.
For the first of the 'Super-Montana' designs, look for the 'Montana-class 1940 Design Study Scheme 8'
(or just go here : https://track3.mixtape.moe/tbdbhe.jpg )
As far as I am aware, this was the only one of the actual official design sheets (a mere spring style) for the would-be 'Super-Montanas' ever released to the public, but a wide assortment of information can be gleaned from tertiary information, such as the fact that at least one of the later Super-Montana designs called for 18in guns. Around 1942, it is admitted that the US Navy began performing tests again with that 18"/47 Mark A gun (see the NavWeaps page for this gun). The only logical reason for the US Navy (as opposed to the US Army) to be experimenting with a large-bore gun like this back then is if they intended to put it on a ship.
This would have added quite a bit of weight to that Scheme 8 hull, which coupled with the increased barbette and framework, would add up to an extra ~10k tons right there.
Also, the 104k ton weight I mentioned was the supposed loaded weight. I do not know what the supposed standard weight was to be, because it's wild mass guessing at some point.
But overall, I digress.
> AltandMain: "Why would a strike vs shore vs ocean battleship differ? Are we not talking about a battlecruiser (rapid for strike) vs fast battleship (like the Iowa) vs classic slow battleship (like the Montana)?"
Understand, I just used those terms just to differentiate a few various roles (ConOps) that a Battleship could conceivably be designed for today (I probably should have clarified that).
But, yeah, they are just a few various Concepts of Operations which would potentially result in vastly different ships.
Say, for example:
'Strike Battleships' being optimized for Surface Warfare, perhaps meant to penetrate deep into the heart of the enemy A2/AD zone and deny the enemy use of their A2/AD assets (perhaps crater a runway) while fighting off enemy ships and air power, and then flee as fast as it can get out of there. It probably would suffer in the littorals, like many other Anti-Air ships.
'Attack Battleships' being optimized for Shore Bombardment, probably to the near-complete disregard of Anti-Air capabilities. A floating artillery division of various shell sizes, ts zone it the littorals; the primary threats it would be designed to counter would all be land based, such as artillery, rockets, land-based Anti-Ship Missiles, and mortars. For this reason, it's defensive suite would be primarily C-RAM and Counter Battery Fire. However, it would have to be employed under the cover of allied Air Power, being pretty much helpless in that regard.
Vastly different roles, but both are Battleships.
> AltandMain: "Now that I think about it, would adding a longer calibre barrel work out?"
Simply put, yes, if you are willing to have a substantially heavier gun.
- Ray D.
Thanks Ray, that does make some sense.Delete
I wonder though if Attack Battleships should have some AA though. Land launched aircraft might be a big problem.
Will take a look at those Super Montana designs.
"'Attack Battleships' being optimized for Shore Bombardment, probably to the near-complete disregard of Anti-Air capabilities."Delete
I have a different take on a modern battleship. A battleship has only one role and that is to deliver massive quantities of high explosives to the target. Whether in an anti-surface role or a land attack role, the BB will not have an anti-air capability beyond short range self-defense (ESSM and RAM/CIWS). A BB will always operate with Aegis AAW escorts so there is no need to duplicate those capabilities and raise the cost of the battleship.
Including AAW as a battleship capability is to fall prey to the Navy's obsession with every platform being capable of winning a war single-handed. That's how every recent acquisition program has gotten so badly over budget and schedule.
Our ships don't fight in isolation, one BB against China, so logic would suggest that we let the specialized Aegis AAW ships do their job and let the specialized battleship do it's job which is, pure and simple, to deliver massive firepower. This is also why we wouldn't put ASW capability on a BB.
CNO, that is your (labeled) opinion, and even though I disagree with it, I respect your opinion.Delete
But I must say a few things:
A ship with one purpose is a ship with no purpose. A ship with no purpose will never be used. A ship that is never used will never be trained for. A ship that is is not trained for is a dead ship.
In the entire history of the US Navy, there has never been a single-purpose Capital Ship.
Ever since Flight the Battleship has been the most powerful AAW platform afloat; and the first AEGIS ships, before AEGIS was a thing.
You are describing a monitor, especially with low crew limit you require.
The Battleship presents a unique opportunity for AAW, because of the required massive powerplant and the equally massive energy surplus.
Did you know that an Arleigh-Burke-class DDG cannot maneuver at flank speed and act as a missile screen at the same time?
I could try to explain why in full, but suffice to say that operating the AEGIS system et all takes enough power that it doesn't let the Burke operate at nearly flank speed when stressed. On top of that, the AN/SPY-6 system makes the AN/SPY-1D(v) look like a light eater, so the Flight 3 Burkes are even worse to the point I suspect they will not be able to maintain 15kts under load.
What platform likes to get up to about 25-30+ knots at weird and random times in order to do its job?
What platform runs off and leaves its escorts behind basically every time it does so?
What is the single worst thing that a Carrier can do in combat?
Run off and leave its escorts behind.
The carrier needs a powerful escort that can not only keep up with and outrun the Carriers while in full operation, but also sit there where it's going and dare anything in the world to try to challenge it or its charge while the escorts catch up.
You may recall that this was the task that the Iowas were originally given in WW2, and this was where they performed their best.
In my vision, the Modern BB would essentially replace the Ticonderogas, which are currently being used in every role that I would put the BB into anyway and we desperately need a replacement for them as it is. Tasking the Capital AAW to BBGs would allow our DDGs to begin transitioning back to a combined Fleet ASW/AAW role (emphasis on ASW), such as we sorely lack, and it would keep the BBGs in active training service.
The Iowas were built with ASW in mind.
The SU Radar set, standard on all of the Iowas, was capable of detecting a Submarine's Periscope at ranges of up to 15nmi. It was believed at the time that a Submarine would have to come to Periscope Depth and hunt for targets visually, so this would give an Iowa sufficient time to bombard the submarine with HC shells (and direct escorts to the location). The SU was essentially only useful to the Iowas for this function, they had better backup navigation radars.
The 16" HC shells, by the by, were estimated to be effective as depth charges at depths of up to 400', beyond which the fuse would be crushed by water pressure.
However, the massive increase in the manning requirements of the AA armament cost the ships their ASW specialists, rendering that mechanical capability a moot point - but they still built the capability into the ships' designs.
They actually called the Iowa the 'All-Spectrum Warship', and one of the best warship designs of all time.
Yes, warfare modernized and left the Iowas behind, somewhat. But the 1980s plans were to return the Iowas to this role (attempting to counter basically everything), with development of such things as Anti-Satellite shells ( http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a119308.pdf ) the program for which eventually broke off into Anti-Ballistic Missile shells as well, and new ASW shells (COMNAVSURFLANT 041446Z DEC 86). Some plans even intended to give the Iowas sonar (source : R.A. Langraff mentioned that he drew up plans for the installment of two sonar domes on the ships).
- Ray D.
"CNO, that is your (labeled) opinion, "Delete
Yep, and I recognize it's debatable. Which you're doing. And reasonably so. That's tremendous. I hope we're providing informative reading for everyone!
"A ship with one purpose is a ship with no purpose. ...Delete
In the entire history of the US Navy, there has never been a single-purpose Capital Ship."
The Ticonderoga Aegis cruiser has one purpose and one only (it's today's capital ship).
The Arizona BB and its various near-brethren had one purpose and one purpose only - to duel with enemy ships of the line.
The Gato submarines (if you consider them capital ships) had one purpose only.
The Atlanta class cruisers (if you consider them capital ships) had one purpose only - AA.
The Civil War Monitor (of Monitor and Merrimack fame) (if you consider it a capital ship) had one purpose only.
The USS Constitution had one purpose only (to defeat British frigates).
Stop me when I've made my point.
Even the Iowas had one purpose only. I'll cover that in the next comment.
"In the entire history of the US Navy, there has never been a single-purpose Capital Ship."Delete
The Iowas were a single purpose ship. Their purpose was to duel with enemy battleships. Their WWII AA role was only vaguely anticipted when they were designed. Design work began in 1937-8, if I recall, well before anyone knew that WWII would evolve into an air war. Yes, the Iowas became a superb AA platform but that was more fortuitous than planned. Yes, there was some recognition that an AA self-defense was desirable but it was not a primary function. The Iowas were built to fight other battleships.
Having demonstrated that the Iowas were, indeed, single function ships, let me now repeat what I've said in many posts and comments. There is nothing wrong with a platform (ship or plane) taking on a secondary function as long as that function does not impact the primary design. Thus, the Iowa's ability to take on the secondary role of AA was fine. It did not impact the primary role of delivering massive firepower and, in fact, enabled that primary role!
"Did you know that an Arleigh-Burke-class DDG cannot maneuver at flank speed and act as a missile screen at the same time?"Delete
I have never heard that. Do you have a reference for it?
"In my vision, the Modern BB would essentially replace the Ticonderogas"Delete
Again, I have a different take on this. An Aegis battleship would be a waste of the firepower side of things. I'm all for a heavily armed and armored Aegis ship that can perform AAW, absorb damage, and stay in the fight like a battleship. However, an actual 16" gunned (to pick a gun size for sake of discussion) Aegis AAW ship would waste the firepower. It would be an immensely costly ship and we would only have a few. Thus, there would only be enough to barely meet the escort need (probably not enough, actually). In order to perform the firepower delivery role, the Aegis-BB would have to leave the carrier and approach land quite closely. No one is going to allow the vital and immensely costly Aegis-BB to go wandering off to perform bombardment. Thus, the firepower would be wasted. That's what happens when you try to combine two primary functions and that's why I argue so strenuously for single function platforms. You even alluded to it in your comment about training!
CNO, I apologize for the long period of silence, I've had some pressing matters that have taken the majority of my spare time recently.Delete
That being said, I must contest, as the specific points you have made here are mostly wrong.
Firstly, however, something I appear to have been wrong on, myself:
>> Arleigh-Burke-class flank speed/missile screen issue Reference
I was certain I had a copy of the document which I got that from (in pdf form), but try as I may I can't find it.
The premise was that the ships' GTGS are unable to support more than one array fully active at the same time (peaking power), that rapid hand off of a contact between arrays is impossible, forcing the ship to slow down and not aggressively maneuver in order to allow only one array to engage the contact.
This also, according to that report, hindered the ability of the ship to advance in a straight line if the threat would pass between the detection cones of two arrays. With the AN/SPY-6, this problem was only made worse as radar strength is almost a direct function of the power applied, so 6 mW of Radar Power is always 6 mW of Radar Power, and the 6 is capable of so much more in so much less space.
However, I cannot find the document that I was drawing this information from, so even I am beginning to question the validity of this now.
Okay, now, onto the main issue.
I do not mean to come across as rude, crass, or as an ungracious guest, and I fully understand if you want to delete/not-approve these posts, but in the spirit of healthy discussion, I continue.
Personally, and I believe history agrees with me, I am pretty sure that every single one of the ships that you claim were single purpose were in no uncertain terms not single purpose.
First off, however, there is a bigger issue with what you have said:
> "The Atlanta class cruisers ... had one purpose only - AA."
This claim (which is entirely, and painfully obviously, wrong) is in direct conflict with your later claim of
> "Their WWII AA role was only vaguely anticipted when they were designed. Design work began in 1937-8, if I recall, well before anyone knew that WWII would evolve into an air war." (Speaking of the Iowas)
The Atlanta-class Cruisers were designed in 1936.
Two years earlier.
So, either the US was well aware of the coming Air War - enough to use up the very limited and precious Treaty Tonnage on these (you claim) specialist Cruisers - which would mean that the Iowas WERE designed for Heavy Anti-Air (which is extremely obvious by their extremely heavy secondary armament of anti-air weaponry that was ALWAYS massively larger than the Atlanta-class')... or, I suggest a evaluation of the scales you're using to judge if a ship was or was not single purpose.
To make my point, you say the Atlantas were a single purpose ship, and that purpose was Anti-Air.
By requirement for this to be true, they would have had to have been designed with literally no other capability but Anti-Air and just happened upon every other capability later.
ANYTHING else in the original design would make them a multi-purpose ship by design in this context.
Pause for a moment to consider that they were literally the only (then modern) Cruisers in the US Navy at the time designed with Sonar, Depth Charges, and a full compliment of Torpedoes - and had been designed with such from the beginning (the Sonar and Depth Charges were added during the war, but you do NOT just cut a massive hole in the keel [which is basically the spine] of a ship to add sonar to it, it HAS TO be designed for it).
I fully doubt they intended these to be used against underwater aircraft.
In other words, they were never Single Purpose Designs!
- Ray D.
(2, cont fr. above)Delete
Likewise, let me go down the list here...
> "if you consider (it/them) capital ship(s)"
In US Navy parlance; CAs, CGs, CCs, CVs, BBs, and dedicated Command Ships are Capital Ships.
This extends in retrospect to the so-called 'Super-Frigates'.
Contrary to Wikipedia, the US Navy does not and never has considered submarines of any type to be Capital Ships (because they lack the ability to command and control battle groups); while CAs and CGs are generally only 'local' Capital Ships, assuming such role only when they are commanding a local battle group (generally a Surface Action Group).
Admiral Spruance was an oddity in that he preferred to command from a CA.
Firstly, the Ticos are only Capital Ships in the same way that the Burkes are Destroyers - in name only; they are horribly unsuited to the role. Recall that they were originally designated as Destroyers, themselves, seeing as they were the Anti-Air Spruance.
3) Shore Bombardment.
All three purposes, in the design, from the very beginning.
The Ticonderoga was indeed designed for AAW as its primary role, but the secondary role of Surface Warfare was always present in its design (Harpoons and Surface Targeting Radar), with Land Attack (Shore Bombardment) assuming a Tertiary role (from the design stage).
This makes the ship a multiple purpose ship, by design, from the very beginning.
1) Scout Ahead for the Battle Fleet
2) Harass and Delay Enemy Surface Combatants,
3) Seek and Destroy enemy Merchant Shipping,
This was always the clearly stated role of the Fleet Boats, from conception, as part of the Fleet Boat Doctrine that spawned them.
In practice, they got the order of priority wrong, but the boats filled all three of the roles/purposes admirably.
They were never a single purpose design, not only from design but from concept.
The Early-Ironclads were built to engage enemy (wooden) ships, bombard enemy river fortresses with relative impunity, and to control river choke-points.
This is hardly a single purpose design.
> USS Constitution
The USS Constitution and her sister Super-Frigates, USS United States and USS Constellation, were built to deal with the Barbary Pirates and French Corsairs.
In order to handle the mentioned threats, the Super-Frigates had to fill the roles of Coastal Raider, Ocean Raider, and Primary Combatant.
A combination Corvette, Frigate, and Ship-of-the-Line - thus Super Frigate, the Battlecruiser of their day.
They were by absolutely no means single purpose designs.
Also, they were not designed to 'defeat British Frigates', this is like saying the Iowas were built to counter the Russian Kirov-class Large Missile Cruisers - entirely the wrong war.
- Ray D.
(3, cont fr. above)Delete
> only exist to fight battleships
This is a commonly assumed stance; but it's nonfactual, not holding water against the standing naval war theories/strategies of the times.
The simple thing is, Battleships of all nationalities were always heavily influenced by the works of Alfred T. Mahan. By Mahanian Theory, a Battleship's purpose was clear:
1) Command and Control the Main Battle Line (also 'Third Line')
2) Defend the Main Battle Line, neutralize any threat that drew too near the Main Battle Line.
3) Under dire circumstances, assist the Second Battle Line in engaging and repulsing the Enemy's Second Battle Line.
4) If all else fails, directly engage the Enemy Main Battle Line.
This is the school of thought that created ALL American Battleships.
Mahan was one of the US' main Naval Theorists, and his theories are STILL the primary go-to war plan for what the US SHOULD be doing. The man even predicted CV and SS operations.
By doctrine, the Iowas were designed on paper to counter ANY threat that the ships may face. Literally anything that the designers could think of (realistically in 1938) was given a good hard think on how the Iowas were to counter them.
This meant Torpedo Boats (an accurate, fast firing secondary battery)
This meant Destroyers (a heavy secondary battery)
This meant Cruisers (an accurate main battery and a capable secondary battery)
This meant Battleships (a POWERFUL and accurate main battery)
This meant Aircraft (a powerful, accurate, and fast firing dual-purpose secondary battery and a heavy small AA-Gun suite - consideration was even given to using the 16" main battery as dual-purpose guns!!)
This meant Submarines... it may surprise you, but all 10 of the American Fast BBs had plugs in their keels where Sonar was designed to go, and designated areas to be converted to Sonar Rooms.
See, the thing is, they designed these ships to do everything, then let the Naval War College worry about how they were going to doctrinally be used (which in 1938 was Mahanian as well), which then decided which of the features were going to be installed by default; the various systems which were not installed initially could rather easily be installed later as they saw fit if such a thing was needed, as a balloon refit.
The massive balloon in the AA Guns was also planned ahead of time in 1938.
These kinds of balloon refits are planned ahead, they have to be; this is similar to how the Flight II/A Burkes have the hard-points for Harpoon Launchers, but don't actually have them installed - that is a balloon refit.
In the case of the Iowas, they had already plotted out the various hard-points and their respective firing arcs.
Because you DO NOT just add 1000 long tons randomly all over a ship willy-nilly - every pound you place has to be considered, it's bad enough you are going to have supplies, ammo, fuel, and crew moving around in there messing with the meta-center of the ship...
Only minor modifications were made to the balloon plan in order to switch from the 1.1" Chicago Pianos to the 40mm Quads.
By design, multi-role, multi-purpose.
They were NOT designed JUST to defeat enemy Battleships or duel with enemy Ships of the Line.
They were designed to deal with ANYTHING they could possibly encounter within reason.
Essentially, the A2/AD (sea control) ships of their day - the best defensive wall on the seas a ship could ask for, shy of a BB AND a CV on Air Superiority.
That is basically where they got their poetic title of the 'Queens of the Seas' from, they projected their 'Dominion' over all they could see.
They left the actual 'pushing the line' part to their plebs (Cruisers, Destroyers), dogs (Submarines), and cohorts (Carriers, via Aircraft).
I only wish I was making those terms up.
- Ray D.
> "There is nothing wrong with a platform (ship or plane) taking on a secondary function as long as that function does not impact the primary design."Delete
You seem to have misunderstood my stance.
I believe that a ship should have one or two designed Primary Roles, one or two designed Secondary Roles, and a number of Tertiary Roles that are made available by the equipment required for the Primary and Secondary roles (if any).
In the case of Primary Roles, two roles should be given only to Capital Ships, with one of those roles being Command related.
Training would be possible through as we did in wartime - system commonality, crew rotation, and actual diligence.
Controlling the AA platform on a destroyer would be similar to controlling the AA platform on a Battleship, with only utilization being the differing factor - something that is relatively easy to pick up; thus we could (and did) pull Destroyermen to Battleships and vice versa.
This is how I believe successful warships were designed in the past, and this I hold to be the successful formula for a successful warship today.
That being said, I'm not foolish enough to conceptualize a ship without considering its escorts.
As it stands, the present US Navy has a very poor fleet for basically any purpose, in my honest opinion, let alone giving a proper escort.
At the present rate, our fleet will soon be comprised of almost nothing but Light Cruisers (Burkes), General Purpose Carriers (Nimitzs, LPH, etc), not enough submarines, a large amount of semi-moving semi-floating expensive targets (LCS, Zumwalt, Ford), and a few odd auxiliaries that cannot keep up with the fleet.
For this reason, the entire US Navy almost HAS to have a complete fleet overhaul for any major Naval War after about 10 more years.
I think we can agree that a massive fleet overhaul and expansion is needed, and this is not something the present-day navy is even remotely considering.
Unfortunately, that leaves us in the field of opinions, opinions, and more opinions; because all we can do is speculate and hypothesize as to what should be instead of what is.
That being said, while we are on the subject of opinions.
For the hypothetical ships I design, I (tend to) do so with a heavy amount of leeway and liberty in regards to the required escorts, auxiliaries, and essentially every other ship that is needed. That isn't to say I design my ships in bubbles and assume that the existing screen/escort system is going to work every time the first time; instead I design my ships with theoretical escorts and cohorts in mind.
The fleet I would call for would be virtually self-capable, needing little to no assistance from foreign powers to counter virtually any reasonable threat - in this way, any allied help is a blessing and actually makes the war easier, not a requirement which slows the saving of lives down.
My proposed fleet consists of BBBs, BBFs, CBs or CCs, CVBAs, CVBs, CVLs, CAs, CLs, DLs (Oh, I'm sorry, these are 'CLs' now...), DDKs, DDAAs, DEs (oh, I'm sorry, 'FFs'), SSNs, and SSBNs.
(If you cannot tell, I harbor a certain large amount of disdain for the 1975 ship reclassification and doctrinal changes)
This is the direction that I think the fleet needs to head, and I conceptualize the ships I speak of specifically for these roles.
In order to make this work, the ships would share as much in design and part commonality as possible - from the DDs, CAs, BBs, and CVs. This would also allow the ships to have slightly expanded roles, because certain elements of training would be almost fleet wide (such as operations of the 40mm Bofors and 5"/38cal guns were in WW2).
I am well aware of the expense of the fleet I am proposing - somewhere between 'ouch' and daisies - but that is how far we have let our fleet deteriorate in my honest opinion.
- Ray D.
Now that I think about it, would adding a longer calibre barrel work out? I remember the HARP gun testing was with a lengthened 100 calibre barrel. You'd have to strengthen the barrel and likely the upper section would have to be in 2 pieces (to replace the barrel because barrel life would not be good), but it should still offer the benefits of range.ReplyDelete
The HARP gun was two 16 inch surplus barrels welded together. Actually they are abandoned and still in place in the caribbean. The main problem with upping the pressures in the 16 inch gun with the HARP program was barrel wear which then affected accuracy.Delete
In response to several comments, I agree that a BB could be manned by 500 people, but that would require an extensive modification to/replacement of the manpower-intensive IOWA steam plant. A BB might survive multiple heavy ASCM hits, but one could sink it as did Roma.ReplyDelete
Check my 11-Nov 2:31PM comment for the list of changes necessary to get to a crew of 500 (or thereabouts - just speculation on my part!). They include replacement of the boilers with standard Navy turbines.Delete
Didn't Roma suffer two or three guided bomb hits? I'm not sure - just trying to recall off the top of my head?