Tuesday, August 29, 2017


In a recent post, we discussed the Chinese multiple launch rocket (MLR) frigate for fire support (see, "Chinese Fire Support Frigate").  The main point of the post was that the Chinese were willing to experiment.  They took a retiring frigate and converted it to a prototype to try out a concept.  Whether the concept is deemed a success or not is irrelevant.  The point is that they prototyped the concept and were able to operationally evaluate it.

Contrast this with the US Navy’s near absence of prototyping and related practice of early retiring ships and getting no further use out of them. 

When was the last time the Navy built/converted a ship into a prototype?  The last example I can recall was the “conversion” of the USS Ponce to a mine countermeasures mothership and that wasn’t really a conversion, just more of a temporary change in assignment/mission.

I’m sure the Navy will tell us that prototypes are too expensive to build.  They’re one of a kind and we just can’t afford to build one-of-a-kind vessels.  Well, we can’t afford to build one-of-a-kind vessels after the Navy gets through gold-plating them, that’s for sure!  But, why don’t we use retiring ships as prototypes?  The ship is already built and paid for and conversions, no matter how extensive, are hugely cheaper than new ships.  Why not get some further good use out of retiring ships?

Here’s a list of possible worthwhile prototypes that could be constructed on existing or retired/retiring ships.  These prototype conversions could be done today.

  • Convert a retired amphibious ship (the Tarawa class comes to mind) to a UAV carrier.

  • Convert a Zumwalt to a laser/rail gun ship since it no longer has a useful gun.

  • Convert a retired Perry FFG to a dedicated, specialized, shallow water ASW vessel.  Load it with shallow water optimized equipment and try out shallow water ASW tactics.

  • Convert a retired amphibious ship to an ASW hunter-killer mothership to explore the tactics of shallow water hunting of submarines.

  • Convert a Cyclone PC to a small missile boat and find out whether we can successfully and usefully operate the type.

  • Convert an LCS (how about LCS-1 or -2 since neither is considered deployable) to an armed intel/surveillance ship for use in the South China Sea and off NKorea.

  • Convert an LCS (again, LCS-1/2) to a fire support ship with MLRS launchers.

  • Convert an old, smaller amphibious LSD-41/49 to a large caliber naval gun support ship with, perhaps, three dual mount 8” guns.

  • Convert an amphibious LSD-41/49 to a mine countermeasures mothership.

  • Convert a retired amphibious ship to an LCS tender to support a deployed LCS squadron.

Understand that these conversions would not result in perfect, optimized fighting machines.  They would be prototypes intended to study the main concept.  If the concept proved out then an optimized version could be designed and built.

For example, a Tarawa class UAV carrier conversion might be vastly oversized for the function but who cares?  If the concept of a UAV carrier proved out then an appropriately sized UAV carrier could be designed and built.

What I’m saying is, don’t bother writing a comment telling me how one of these conversions isn’t perfect for the role.  They’re converted prototypes – none of them are perfect for the role!  They’re just intended to demonstrate a concept.

There’s my list.  What conversion prototypes would you like to see?


  1. I would like to see some retired LHD converted into a missile ship with 2-300 VLS cells.

    The other one I would like is to see an LHD hull fitted with an angled deck and catapult

    1. "LHD converted into a missile ship with 2-300 VLS cells"

      Sounds like the arsenal ship concept. Is that what you're driving at? What would this ship do?

    2. "LHD hull fitted with an angled deck and catapult"

      We have those, they're called aircraft carriers! What are you thinking would be different about this? What kind of aircraft would it operate and how many? Would there be enough room to store, maintain, and launch/recover the aircraft on a LHD size hull? What would be the purpose of the ship?

    3. Yes, I'd like an arsenal ship concept, because IMO I think tasking BMD to DDG's is a additional burden that ship doesn't need and really too small to perform the mission properly.

      US CVN's displace 90K tons, I'd like to see a smaller one, LHD sized, but not limited to needing VSTOL aircraft

    4. The problem with an LHD sized "carrier" is that the air wing is likely to be too small to be combat effective. Do the calculation yourself. Ask yourself how many aircraft you'd always want to retain for CAP and self-defense, how many you'd need for tanking, how many EW aircraft (if any) you'd have, how many AEW (if any) aircraft you'd have, how many helos for plane guard and SAR you'd have, add those all up and then see how many spots you have left for strike (the real reason for a carrier). I'm betting you'll find that you're well beyond the aircraft capacity of the LHD "carrier". Give it a try and let me know what you find.

  2. Navy does/did do prototypes of ships, GAO reported LCS R&D spend of $3.3 billion to 10/2016, $0.7 billion to complete, first four ships?

    Not something instill confidence in Navy's choice of ships for prototyping.

    1. The LCS is/was a class of 55 vessels. Despite some revisionist history claims on the part of the Navy, the first two LCS were never identified as prototypes. That's something the Navy came up with after the fact to try to deflect criticisms of the LCS.

      The first two LCS were always intended to be full up members of the class, not prototypes. They're no more prototypes than the Ford is a prototype for its class. If you define prototype as the first of a class, then, technically, yes, but not in the sense that we're talking about prototypes in this post.

    2. CNO sure you are correct, but though not prototypes the Navy did fund the first two LCS ships from R&D and Congress agreed. As said it does nothing to instill confidence Navy will use the R&D budget appropriately, not as additional funding for new build or hide overspends as highlighted below with total LCS ship R&D now at $4 billion.

      CRS report Oct. 28, 2004 - Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS): Background and Issues for Congress - Ronald O’Rourke

      "The Navy intends to procure the first and second LCSs through the Navy’s research and development account rather than the Navy’s ship-procurement account. The Navy plans to procure LCS mission modules through the Other Procurement, Navy (OPN) account rather than the Navy’s ship-procurement account."

      "at least $1.4 billion in general research and development costs for the program"

      The budget from 2003 to 2009 was first two ships for a of total $429 million!! and other $1,358 million for which no breakdown given, total RDT&E of $1.8 billion.


      GAO March 2017 Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs quotes LCS R&D cost as of 05/2004 $962 million, 10/2016 $3,971.6 million. Not sure if spend includes first two ships or is just the other, modules R&D costs not included.

    3. Yes, the Navy funded the first two LCS with R&D money. However, they were never intended as prototypes. A prototype is a one-off vessel used to demonstrate and experiment. The LCS was a committed 55 ship build BEFORE THE FIRST ONE WAS BUILT! That's not a prototype. The Navy was just playing accounting games.

  3. Would be interesting to see some kind of UUV's mothership made from old LPD. NAVY could try to come up with some underwater drone swarming scenarios for both offensive and defensive operation.

    1. That's some outstandingly creative thinking and an ideal use for a prototype.

      The only drawback to an underwater swarm is the very low speed of the individual vehicles, at least relative to missiles. The launching vessel would have to be either very, very close to the target or willing to wait a very long time for the vehicles to close with the target. If the latter, the vehicles would have to be guided because the target would, presumably, be moving all the while.

      You mentioned defensive swarm. What did you have in mind?

      Excellent comment!

    2. Instead of an LPD how about an LA class sub. Insert hanger for UUV that could do mine sweeping or mine laying. Their stealth would compensate for the slow UUV speed.

    3. Yep, Sub would be maybe better choice whent it would come to real deployment. But in terms of prototype platforms surface ship is, in my eyes, better choice because you have pretty much space for doing all the background work and you could use much more personel.

      When it comes to defensive swarm I can imagine some kind of inteligent minefield which is able to move or select its targets accoring to its value. This could be set for example in or in very close proximity to choking points. I think that power and command and control would be biggest problems but hell.. we are speaking about trying new things.

    4. "When it comes to defensive swarm I can imagine some kind of inteligent minefield which is able to move"

      Now that's an interesting thought.

  4. Tarawa class as...wait for it...a battleship.
    * reinstall the 5 inch guns then upgrade to 8 inch when availible.
    * 4 x 60 cell VLS loaded only with tomahawks. 16xHarpoon, 4xMLRS, 4 x SeaRam, and 2x 8 cell VLS (1 each for and aft) only for quad-packed essm.
    THe weight that would have went for marine vehicles, LCS's etc becomes tons and tons of armor.

    1. Hmm ... Interesting. An offensive strike platform. A version of the arsenal ship, essentially, with a bit more thrown in.

      The "tons and tons of armor" might be a challenge since the ship was not structurally designed to handle the load. However, as a prototype, the armor wouldn't even need to be added to prove out the concept. We already know what armor does.

      Good thought!

    2. And some of the "armor" could simply be space.
      Empty outer chambers for missiles to detonate in. An armored CIC deep down in the hull would be a simple start that shouldn't affect weight margins. The roomy hull also means we can have redundant cables and other connections to the weapons so that it would take multiple hits to sever them.

  5. Cyclone converted to an inshore fire support ship with
    1x 120mm AMOS or NEMO, 1x 40mm DPG (AD turret from the CV90, has its own radar) 1x 127mm MRL (HIMARS is to big, not enough reload cap.)
    2 or 4 7.62mm GAU stations plus MANPADS stations.

    1. Nice idea. The MLRS would provide some useful range. AMOS is pretty short ranged even if the vessel is at the shoreline but it could provide some useful support to troops in contact near the shore.

      The main disadvantage would be reloads for the MLRS. It would be a challenge to do at sea in the constrained space of a crowded deck. It might not even be possible witout designing a complete magazine and reload mechanism but, hey, that's what prototypes are for!

      Good thought.

    2. That would make a great Riverine combat ship.
      We always forget about river combat such as we experienced in Vietnam.

      The weapons load seems high but the old PHM-1 hydrofoils only weighed 255 tons but carried 8 harpoon missiles in back and a 76mm Oto Melara on the front plus a couple .50 cals.
      So a 120mm mortar on the bow and a say a HiMars (which is roughly half an MLRS) might work. Especially if we are just talking about a prototype.

  6. How about the the Independence class LCS as a surface torpedo demonstrator. We could test putting torpedoes under the "wings" that connects the three hulls. They could be on a modernized version of the old drop collars of PT boats. Space is enough you could put mk48 in these wing slots as well conventional triple tubes on deck. This is NOT an effort to "save" the LCS, just a prototype.

  7. As for converting the Cyclone to a missile boat, why bother. We built 4 missile boats for the Egyptian Navy less than 10 years ago. About twice the tonnage of a Cyclone, the Ambassador class (Ezzat class) are decent patrol ships, many of their features meet or exceed the LCS's already, though not all of them. But if what I've read is correct, footprint wise, the 8 Harpoons could be swapped out for the Naval Strike missile or LRASM's; then remove the CIWS, put a small hanger for UAV's, (possibly the being developed TERN), put the Mk-31 RAM on top. Put a slightly more raise flight deck on the back (again UAV sized) with a RHIB CCRS (similar to what’s on the Cyclone today) underneath it.
    So that gives her a 76mm gun, 8 ASM's, 21 RIM-116's, 1-2 UAV's and a small RHIB. Maybe throw on 4-8 Griffin SSM’s or Hellfire like the LCS for small boat defense in addition to the main gun. Base some out of Japan to patrol the Sea of Japan and East China Sea, with a 2m draft they could even use some ports in the southern Japanese islands which would also let them cover a portion of the South China Sea. More to cover the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and Arabian Sea. Not to mention other areas. And it would leave the ‘big boys’ to handle more peer and near peer contacts.
    Definitely not a cure all by any means, but I think worth at least looking at and thinking about. From what I’ve read, smaller and cheaper than the LCS…and that was for only 4 hulls. Obviously not really capable of ASW or Mine countermeasures, but some of the conversion ideas above could cover that. One thing I’ve been pissed about for years is throwing away perfectly serviceable and re-usable platforms for the newest and shiniest toys.

    1. And I'm not saying toss the Cyclones in the crapper. I like them, wish we'd built a lot more. But they were originally designed and built with a 15 year lifetime if I remember correctly, and several I believe have had hull cracking issues. Put them on anti-piracy patrols, anti-drug patrols etc.
      If they’re capable of being kept on the ‘frontline’ maybe put a harpoon or two on each side and see if that works. Or some VLC for the Hellfire that have been experimented with on the LCS, that would be a slight upgrade from the Griffin. Upgrade the gun to 30-40mm maybe even a 57mm, though I doubt the framing was ever designed for something that big.

    2. "As for converting the Cyclone to a missile boat, why bother. We built 4 missile boats for the Egyptian Navy"

      As a general idea, your comment is fine. As a specific response to the post, it's exactly what I said I didn't want. Here's the quote from the post,

      "don’t bother writing a comment telling me how one of these conversions isn’t perfect for the role. They’re converted prototypes – none of them are perfect for the role! They’re just intended to demonstrate a concept."

      Now, to address your "why bother" remark, there are two reasons. First, we don't have any Ambassador missile boats so a PC would make a usable substitute. Second, the point of a prototype is to demonstrate feasibility and work out tactics, among other things, to demonstrate whether the concept is useful within the context of the overall fleet and our naval missions/needs.

      I trust that answers the "why bother" question.

  8. "Convert a retired amphibious ship to an ASW hunter-killer mothership to explore the tactics of shallow water hunting of submarines."

    I like the concept of the ASW aircraft carrier (CVS). The core problem is we don't have the right aircraft to really make it work.

    All we have right now that can operate off an ex-amphib is the MH-60R. The Romeo is a great helo - but way to short-legged for littoral ASW. Or rather it's short range would put the CVS right in the littorals.

    So I think there's some first-level experimentation that needs to be done looking at V-22 for ASW. The V-22 is certainly not a perfect aircraft, but it's got way more range and payload than a Romeo. It could be a good ASW aircraft if you could develop/acquire/modify the right sensors.

    1. You may be missing the mission of a ASW hunter-killer carrier or you may have a different idea in mind. An h-k group is a relatively short range group that would use helos to find and kill subs in a local area in conjunction with ASW corvettes or some similar type of low end ASW surface ship. The ASW carrier is not meant to be a far ranging, fixed wing (or MV-22) platform. We have P-8s for that and had S-3s, once upon a time.

      A h-k group is a low end group asset rather than a high end one.

    2. Historically: ASW airwings embarked much longer range aircraft than the MH-60R. SBDs and later S-2 Trackers.

      The problem you (almost) hit on was we got rid of the S-3. We've got lots of helos, but they just don't have the range or persistence of a fixed-wing. We lack a mid-zone searcher/pouncer.

      Helicopters are also not very good at 'finding' submarines. Due to their limited range/payload, they are used more for localizing contacts generated by their host ships sonar. Which your ex-amphib does not have...

      If you really want detection (search) capability, you need an aircraft with range, speed and payload. Given that you propose an amphib, a V-22 is about the only viable, near-term option.

  9. For a prototype LCS mothership I think we could pull the USNS Supply out of mothballs. Meant to service a carrier group, it already has the capability of refueling the short range LCS while underway. Convert some of the huge storage areas into bunks for relief crews and machine shops. Add ESSM fore and aft and SeaRam amidships. If this prototype works then other conversions could be made or new built ships ordered.

  10. DARPA developed Sea Hunter as a prototype unmanned surface vessel to detect and track submarines. Apparently, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is now involved and plans to conduct additional tests.

    Sea Hunter is 132 feet long and displaces 135 tons. I'd like to see the Navy prototype a larger, armed ISR USV using a Cylone boat as a test vessel. Such a vessel could operate a few hundred miles from a carrier or surface action group to scan for ships and subs. Operating closer to shore, such a vessel could be used for signals intelligence or search for mines ahead of an assault.

  11. Straight up arsenal ship conversion of T-AOT 1122 Paul Buck and T-AOT 1123 Samuel L. Cobb. Down graded to non retention in 2018. Install vertical launch cells in the tanks, Pour some concrete for armor and foam the spaces between the vertical launch cells. Work on some arsenal ship tactics. Then try to sink a giant foam filled ship.

  12. I like the idea of using retired destroyers as "bait ships" described here:


  13. More a true prototype and not a conversion.

    But build a new survivable hull test platform to test some ideas we have discussed here, foam filled spaces, double thinner hulls with lattice behind it.

    You could convert a hull and put in a foam filled section and shoot at it maybe.

    Also look at engines, convert a hull to take the electric pods from Cruise ships.

    1. The idea is good but I don't think we need to build and sink actual ships. What is normally done to test armor and survivability is to construct hull panels and subject those to whatever explosions or stresses you want to test. I cited some research reports using that methodology in the post on torpedo myths.

      I do agree, though, that we need a much more robust hull/armor/protection research program. Good thought.

    2. I agree with you that is how we do it, but nothing says it REALLY works until yu see a ship get hit.

      Unfortunately there is too much hiding or delaying testing so that is why I frankly do not trust only panel testing.

      Build a prototype hull, hit it, and see what happens.

  14. 1) A coastal defence/fire support like the 3900 ton finish Ilamrinen (had 4x10" and 10x4").
    1.1 A commercial or old LST with 3-4 5", 2x2/4x2 HIMARS, 4 RAM, 24 ESSM, torpedoes/countermeasures, sonar, UAVs
    1.2 A smaller commercial/LST/anything that can fit 1x5", 1x2 HIMARS (or space reserved), 1 RAM, sonar, torpedoes. A Baltic "patrol" boat.
    1.3 A coastal demonstrator on OHP, 5", 1x2 HIMARs (in place of 3"), 1 hangar for reloads, or one more 1x2 HiMArs on the heli deck (deployed from hangars?)
    1.4 a new Skjold+ (that's not old though) with 5" and 2x1/4x1 HIMARs and RAM.

    2) OHP "come get some"/proper "modular design"
    5" forward, 3 RAM (forward and instead of 3" and Phalanx), both hangars for VLS (ESSM, ASROC, Tomahawk, SM3/6 (Burke guidance), retain helipad.

  15. It's not exactly a "ship," but an AAV7 with a 120 mm NEMO mortar for use in BOTH direct and indirect fire.

    1. Nice. Actually I always wondered about taking off the tracks and related gearing and putting the full horsepower into pure water propulsion to up the speed to say 12-15 knots: in other words making it an armored patrol boat for river duty.

    2. I think we win (at 0:50):


  16. Cracking, absolutely Cracking.

    Unquestionably sensible idea ( so it will never happen )

    I like the make your own prototype idea, getting lots of interest and comments there.

    For me the FFG ASW ship is the one. And I’m not going to volunteer a spec.

    I think your point is, get a reasonable hull. And take a guess then refine and refine and refine, learn how to build a modern ASW platform with modern tech and modern challenges.

    Kit it up send it to play catch with our best SNN and SSG figure out what the best config is, hull sonar, towed, ASROC vs Helo, multi statics.

    Blue, Green, Brown water.

    Run it again and again and again with different configs.

    THEN commit to a design project.

    Technology around submarines and ASW has moved forward so so fast. The whole subject requires redefining the CONOPS. And without firm CONOPS you can’t design a ship.


    1. Using a converted Perry is what we should have done with the LCS Modules BEFORE putting the LCS into full production. Then we could have compared the ASW or ASuW package against a standard Perry for an Apples to Apples comparison. We might still have ended up with the other problems the LCS has, but at least the modules would have gotten properly checked out.

    2. "Using a converted Perry is what we should have done with the LCS Modules"

      Absolutely correct.

  17. This may sound a bit too out of the box, but what about an armed oceanographic exploration ship with the prototype build off an LCS. We have had our research vessels threatened recently. A lot of good intelligence on the seafloor, deep ocean, currents etc. are vital to our subs especially and it is an asset worth protecting, as well as one that provides scientific knowledge to the world.

    Take the Lockheed hull, pull out the unneeded turbines and put in a second APU and more fuel. The Hanger would lengthened to provide housing/Lab space with provision only for a smaller helo for support/rescue. It would have side-scanning sonar, and other oceanographic sensors. The vehicle bay would be modified to provide support and launch for manned research submersibles like the Alvin, UUV's, or the DSRV sub rescue vehicle. It would also have a small decompression chamber for divers, and a larger crane. There would be a 660mm torpedo tube (same diameter as Seawolf) for launching small UUV’s, as a diver access chamber, or for testing torpedoes. It would be referred to as a UUV launching chamber to avoid being treated as an offensive weapon—although it certainly could be used as one in wartime.
    The 57mm would go replaced by a self-defense length (ESSM not quad-packed) for a dozen ESSM, thus emphasizing the weapons are defensive while maintaining limited short range anti-ship capability. They would also maintain 30mm as defense against pirate/terrorist attack.
    The ship would be reclassified as an MSC ship with a mixed crew of MSC mariners, a small naval detachment for the weapons, and NOAA scientists. If the prototype works out, then a production vessel would be better designed for crew quarters, double the torpedo tubes, full SH-60, and better endurance using what was learned. Science (and intell) in peacetime but in wartime the support chopper is swapped with an ASW chopper, and the “UUV launching chambers” launch Mk48s.
    Task the prototype with environmental studies, and you have a ship both the Left and Right can love.

    1. "Take the Lockheed hull, pull out the unneeded turbines and put in a second APU and more fuel."

      I don't understand why everyone blames the turbines. I blame the insane idea of a gearbox that has to mesh a turbine, a diesel engine, and a prop shaft. I don't think we can ignore the potential that turbines have for more thermal efficiency than diesels because the combustion gases perform work at significantly higher temperatures. Even using a simple cycle, you have to factor in the weight and volume saved vs a diesel. And fuel is arguably the easiest consumable to replenish while underway. It'll be interesting to see what we learn from the Zumwalt-class's IPS.

      And simple cycle is just the beginning. Someone needs to get around to building another intercooled and recuperated turbine generator, but you know, one that factors equatorial sea temps into the design, unlike the RR WR-21. While its true that extra components like intercoolers and recuperators start to eat into the volume advantage over a diesel, you still retain a mass advantage and a higher theoretical thermal efficiency. Mark my words, supercritical CO2 combined-cycle turbines are coming and will be a boon to whoever fields them aboard naval vessels first.

      Progress in high-speed alternators, solid-state power-electronics, and cryogenic superconducting and non-superconducting electric motors, and cryogenics is occurring rapidly as well.

      We should build a prototype with the state-of-art in these fields and see what happens!

  18. "Convert an LCS (again, LCS-1/2) to a fire support ship with MLRS launchers."
    Of all that is the easiest task , here the Israelis did something similar recently:

    On June 20, 2017, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said it had successfully test-fired its Long-Range Artillery (LORA) system from a containerized launcher on the back of a truck sitting on the deck of a cargo ship.


    "Convert a Cyclone PC to a small missile boat and find out whether we can successfully and usefully operate the type."

    US already builds nice missile boats


    "Convert a retired amphibious ship (the Tarawa class comes to mind) to a UAV carrier.''
    And this
    "Convert a retired amphibious ship to an ASW hunter-killer mothership to explore the tactics of shallow water hunting of submarines."
    You could mix Up by using dedicated variants of MQ-8C and a unmanned Seahawk modification in the ASW role .

  19. Step 1: Select any steel-hulled ship over 2,000 tons.

    Step 2: Use a finite element analysis suite to figure out how much you can grind down and cut holes in the bulkheads, beams, and framing such that the ship would still hold together when flooded with X gallons of water and exposed to fires of Y temperature for Z minutes. Keep a few bulkheads non-perforated to act as fire/water barriers.

    Step 3: Cut and grind as warranted and apply fiber-reinforced composite paneling over the weakened steel members until you reach a desired level of "robustness."

    Step 4: Riddle the ship with 76mm and/or 127mm projectiles. If ship sinks, raise ship.

    Step 5: Give a salvage team a whole bunch of composite paneling and some steel and see how fast they can patch the ship up.

    Step 6: Acquire knowledge.

  20. Why not take one of the Ro/Ro or container ships in the NRDF or RRF and convert it a cross between an LPH and a CVE. Install a flat top with hangers space for 6 and deck space for 10-15 more. Then test it carrying ASW choppers in conjunction with destroyers to keep a steady operating tempo. Then test it with Marine or Army helos as an LPH.

    If it works in either purpose then we can do such a conversion in time of war as a CVE (H) for a rapid ship build up. If it falls then you still have a cargo vessel with extra landing spots for supply helicopters.

    1. What would that tell us that we don't already know from operating various LXX's? Just the ASW part? Something else? I'm missing your intent on this one.

    2. The intent is mostly on proving the converting of merchant hulls rapidly as a viable option. In the event of a war with a peer opponent--or worse multiple opponents--we will need more ships at a faster rate and lower price than our current production.
      I guess I emphasized the possible missions too much in my description.

    3. We converted an awful lot of merchant ships in WWII so I'm not sure how much of a mystery that is although maybe some of the technical aspects have changed a bit as technology has evolved.

      China has the right idea. Their merchant ships are built with military features to facilitate easy conversion to military use.

      Now, taking your idea, the construction of a prototype merchant ship intentionally built with military features to facilitate conversion might be a useful exercise. In fact, having the US govt subsidize a series of readily convertible merchant ships might not be a bad idea.

    4. Absolutely. So how much space do they need to make provision for and what equipment will fill that space. And we don't want the LCS module fiasco again, it needs honestly tested.

      Also remember that unlike WW2, today's big merchants are containerships. So what would a containerized CVE be? It would need these questions answered:
      * How permanent is it? Can it be simple matter of assembling special containers.
      * If the deck is attached to the top of containers what would their load bearing be? If it is a heavy CH-53, maybe the containers beneath need to be custom support ones while SeaHawks might not.
      * Housing containers should be easy but how many men per container? Doe we have separate officer and enlisted containers? And toilets--container ships aren't set up for waste management for hundreds of men. Do we need latrine/shower units? Or is that something that would need built in? Do the Navy unit need to carry their own water supply?
      * Repair hangers: How big do we need, and can they be "double wide" containers or does it need to be built onto the hull?
      * Armament handling: Storing munitions in containers is easy, but getting it from a container several levels down might require special cranes or permanent elevator.
      * Does the built in features include the needed radar (it is a carrier) or could it be simply an antenna and then hooked into containers.

      The more that can be simply containerized the better, as that means less built in military features that might reduce the ship's civilian performance which make for an easier sell to the merchant companies. And if the container systems work then some parts can be used on any naval vessel able to carry containers such as the LCS. The housing units put on a retired amphib for temp housing in a disaster like Harvey for example.

    5. The Air Force already does something like this with the Strategic Aircraft Reserves. Lots of the big transport jets use by companies like FEDEX are partially funded by the Air Force and can be called up in an emergency.

  21. Medium sized container ship converted to a merchant raider. Russians already have containerized weapons systems ( ie. cub and kaliber cruise missles as well as S300 SAM). Containerized gun system (see new 120mm NEMO container system). Smaller caliber weapons hidden around the ship as well as 21" LWTT. Would also ad in a drone system for long range recon as well. A couple of Rhibs for special shore raiding and boarding operations (you gotta steal your food and fuel) should round out the mix. Maybe a letter of Marque as well.

  22. Check out the Russian promo video on u tube.
    its under Club K container missile system. Pretty slick stuff, thinking about buying one for the backyard.

  23. I would also like to see the Navy experiment with one these as a sort of self-propelled pier:


    And then try using one of these:


    to build one or two of these:


    out to it.

    Now imagine this with 8-10, or more, legs and a bunch of C-RAMS:


    Then maybe we don't need to take and hold a port? Links to this website may have already made appearances on the blog over the years, but it's worth checking out for more of this sort of thing:


    1. The 20+ part series by Think Defence has been referenced prominently in comments and posts on this blog. It is an excellent piece!

  24. A large seaplane aerial refueler

    1. Where would this seaplane operate from in, say, the Pacific theater? It would have to fly hundreds or thousands of miles just to reach a refueling position. That doesn't seem practical.

      Also, it would be a large, non-stealthy, non-survivable target, unlikely to survive a mission!

    2. Is that any different than the air force's refuelers? At least with these you don't have to worry about your runways. I don't see any reason they should not be able to fuel from the navy's fueler ships. And isn't finding out what is possible the point of prototypes. I'd use one of the commercial models that is used as a fire-fighting water bomber, modify it's tanks, and add the refueling equipment (it can't be that complex if a F/A-18 can carry it). Shouldn't be too expensive for proof of concept/ trouble-shooting type trials.

    3. Fair enough and, yes, that's exactly what a prototype is for!

  25. How about fitting one of those Sea Base ships with an angled deck (no catapult) large enough for prop planes to land and take off from?

    Ever since I stumbled on those videos of a C-130 landing and taking off from a carrier unassisted in the 60's I have been fascinated by the possibility. Since the Sea Bases are meant to be supply and logistics hubs, why not try and make them capable of handling the military's #1 supply workhorse? The new C-130J's should be able to land and take off much easier than their 60's counterparts, too.


    1. How long a "runway" do you think it would require and how does that compare to the length of the MLP (I assume that's the ship you're referring to)?


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