Thursday, April 5, 2018

Alternative Survivability

We just discussed alternative methods of achieving stealth (see, "Alternative Stealth").  Well, survivability follows along similar lines.  For this discussion, note that I’m referring to survivability as the ability to avoid taking a hit rather than the ability to recover from a hit which is damage mitigation and control.

Many people consider survivability to be all or nothing, meaning armor or nothing.  When we consider survivability, we tend to think of, for example, a single ship versus a single enemy ship, sub, missile, torpedo, mine, or whatever and if that match up produces an unfavorable result we all too often conclude that there is nothing we can do to enhance survivability short of adding massive amounts of armor which many people erroneously believe is not feasible, having completely forgotten that we did this routinely in WWII ship design and construction.  But, I digress …    

The “torpedo is instant doom” crowd exemplifies this thought process.  They look at, say, a destroyer and observe, correctly, that it cannot completely shrug off a torpedo so they conclude that the destroyer is not survivable and there is nothing we can do to make it so.  In fact, many of these “thinkers” go a step further and conclude that since we can’t make the destroyer invulnerable to a torpedo, there’s no reason to apply any armor or protective measures whatsoever!  Of course, we’ve already disproven that notion (see, "Armor For Dummies" and "Torpedo Lethality Myth"). 

Now, for a one-on-one scenario, that view of survivability is not totally unreasonable, however, ships and aircraft do not fight in one-on-one scenarios.  Thus, their survivability can be provided by means other than their inherent survivability characteristics.  Survivability, like stealth, can be achieved by alternate means.

For example, an amphibious naval gun support vessel's survivability can be provided by a combination of tactics and "jointness" rather than armor. The WWII rocket equipped landing ship, LSM(R) (see, "LSM(R) - Fire Support Ship"), was an example of an unarmored, thin-skinned, slow, naval fire support vessel that was tactically protected in that it was not committed (exposed) until after battleships and cruisers had thoroughly softened up the defenses and, even then, only when the assault waves were on the way in and a curtain of large caliber shelling was in place and aircraft were systematically bombing the assault site. No effective return fire was possible so the ship was protected and its survivability was reasonably ensured even though the ship, itself, had no special survivability characteristics.

Stealth and Alternative Stealth (includes EW/ECM) – Stealth is certainly a major aspect of survivability and we discussed it in the previous post.

Suppressive Fire – As described in the preceding example about the LSM(R), there’s nothing like the ability to keep an enemy’s head down and preoccupied to ensure one’s own survivability.  While the obvious example is suppressive barrage fire during an amphibious assault (setting aside the fact that we don’t actually have that capability!) the concept can be readily applied to any operation.  A task force attacking an enemy base can use a constant barrage of cruise missiles to keep the enemy from assembling and executing a counterattack.  An enemy submarine base can be subjected to attack to damage subs and delay/preclude their deployment while they undergo repair.  The damage doesn’t even have to be particularly serious – it just has to delay deployment which enhances the survivability of our ships.  The same applies to suppressing the aerial operations at an airbase.

Area AAW – Not every ship has to be able to singlehandedly fight off entire aircraft and missile attack waves.  We have specialized Aegis ships to provide area anti-air defense.  Many/most ships only need medium range (out to 20 miles) air defense to deal with leakers.

Enhanced Close In Defensive Fire – Our current ship design philosophy decidedly minimizes the close range defensive AAW capability.  The Burke class destroyer, our major surface ship and the backbone of the Navy, has 0-2 CIWS.  This is woefully inadequate.  Every ship should have at least 2 CIWS and major classes should have a minimum of 4 along with multiple SeaRAM close range missile launchers.

Size – Submarines are loathe to give away their position by wasting a torpedo against a small corvette.  They’d rather wait for a larger, more valuable target.  Thus, small size can confer a degree of invulnerability under certain circumstances.  Conversely, larger size makes a more attractive target and an easier one to locate and “lock” on to.  No matter how much stealth we apply to a ship, the fact remains that larger ships are easier to detect than smaller ones.  We should carefully factor this realization into our unending pursuit of ever larger, ever more multi-purpose ships. 

There are perfectly valid reasons for large platforms.  For example, a very long range, very heavy payload, air supremacy fighter can’t help but be big.  That’s fine.  On the other hand, the Burke class, which tries to combine every function the Navy can think of into a single vessel doesn’t need to be that big.  The Burkes should be broken up into smaller “chunks” as we discussed in a previous post (see, "Break Up The Burkes").  “Chunk” ships make poor business cases but good combat survivability and effectiveness cases.

Escorts & Numbers – Simple statistics assures us that greater numbers of ships or aircraft translates to enhanced survivability for any individual unit.  Let’s be honest, though, that’s not an actual increase in survivability, that’s just more favorable statistics.  Where numbers do enhance survivability is in sheer presence.  For example, if a submarine is stalking a carrier and only has to elude a single escort to make the attack, the sub’s job is a lot easier than if it has to account for a dozen escorts.  Or, another example, four Aegis escorts can provide better AAW protection than three, or two, or one.  Numbers matter and the more escorts we can provide, the greater the survivability of the ships being escorted.

Air Cover – This is an obvious means of enhancing survivability.  If we can provide sufficient air cover then the survivability of the entire fleet increases.  This suggests that our current level of half-strength air wings and only nine functional carriers is misguided in the extreme.  The carrier not only provides strike capability but survivability for the fleet.  We desperately need more air cover and that can only come from larger air wings and more carriers.

The conclusion is that protection doesn't have to come from armor or special construction which is costly and has to be repeated for every ship. With good tactics and proper fleet force structure we can provide protection to all ships without having to build it into every ship.  However, don’t misinterpret that as a statement that armor has no place in ship design.  ComNavOps believes that armor is vital and should be part of every ship, to the degree appropriate for its role, as was done in WWII.  The point is that armor does not have to be the sole provider of survivability and that survivability can be greatly enhanced through alternative means that can complement and supplement armor.

When we discuss ship designs we almost invariably do so in isolation.  If the proposed ship can’t fend off every threat known to exist by itself then we conclude that it’s a poor design.  How many times have I heard people state that a small, cheap ASW corvette must have short range and close in AAW protection plus anti-ship missiles?  These people consider the corvette in isolation and want to make it capable of handling every known threat instead of recognizing that the corvette’s survivability can be ensured by alternative means.

It’s somewhat ironic that our WWII fathers understood the value of smaller, individual ships with unique, specialized functions and built those ships in appropriate numbers while we, today, with the benefit of all that institutional knowledge, have chosen to build only one type of surface warship that attempts to combine every surface warship function into a single, large, expensive hull.  Similarly, we’ve chosen to build only one type of carrier (how many types did we have in WWII?).  And so on.

We are deliberately decreasing our survivability.  This is just stunningly stupid.


  1. The emphasis on the single ship and it being an all singing and dancing ship, with every possible gizmo for every known situation, the ships become more complicated, costly and take years longer in build, the numbers go down. Reflected in Navy's total failure to come up with realistic plan to achieve a 355 ship fleet, current ship designs, Burkes and Fords are just too costly even though Congress funding Navy to new highs.

    So agree with your conclusions of a higher numbers of smaller specialized ships, but would argue contrary to your thinking that modern commercial ship automation be embraced to bring crew numbers down, the Navy has difficulty now in recruiting necessary personnel and would help control the O&M budget for the larger numbers of ships in fleet.

    1. A few things:

      1. We could build ships today that only require a dozen crew members but they would be useless, one-hit kills in combat.

      2. You either didn't read or have already forgotten the post on the Navy's manpower history. For example, in the Reagan era we had a fleet that was twice as big and had no trouble manning it. Here's the link so you can refresh your memory.

      Naval Manpower History

      3. The Navy has, historically, had no problem meeting much higher recruiting goals. If there's a problem now, the answer isn't to automate, it's to fix whatever issues are discouraging recruits/retention and we've addressed those issues in these pages: lack of identity and purpose, failure to execute basic seamanship safely, extended deployments, lack of warfighting mentality, mandatory up-or-out policy, focus on non-warfighting issues, etc.

    2. Manpower costs are one of the main cost drivers of Navy, need to be held steady.

      An example, the new Korean Aegis KDX III Batch II destroyers, a larger ship than Burke Flt III, with 128 VLS cells. Three ships to be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) with crew 200 v. new Flt III crew 300+ and forced to put accommodation on rear weapons deck on this old design to fit every thing in. Over the planned buy of 22 Flt III ships if Navy could have matched Korean crew numbers a saving of 2,200+, say for argument one sailor costs $40K? per year in pay, benefits, training etc, etc $40k x 2,200 x 35 years = ~$3B, one in three sailors serve aboard ship, so $3B x 3 = $9B? Total guesswork but think gives the payback possible.

      Global birth rates are said to have halved since 1960, assuming applicable to US, but as you say Navy has no history problems in recruitment.

    3. "x 35 years = ... $9B"

      You didn't quite finish the math exercise. The next step is to divide the $9B by 35 years to see what the annual budget hit would be.

      $9B/35 yrs = $257M/yr

      The Navy's annual budget is around $180B. $257M equates to 0.14% of the budget. That's almost round off error in the Navy's annual budget. That's as close to zero as you can get and still be spending any money at all.

      That's a savings (or cost, depending on which way you want to look at it) that's almost not worth the effort of keeping track of in the accounting ledgers.

      If you want to make a personnel cost argument, you'll have to do way better than that.

    4. Plan for 355 ship Navy, 22 Flt III ~ 6% of fleet equal $257M, 100 % equals saving of ~ $4.3B per year, 2.3% of 180B, a small improvement :)

      PS The CVN 78 berthing capacity is 4,660, this is more than 1,100 fewer than Nimitz class, though doubts remain on ability to hold to target due to known problems with EMALS etc. requiring extra manning.

    5. "Plan for 355 ship Navy, 22 Flt III ~ 6% of fleet equal $257M, 100 % equals saving of ~ $4.3B per year"

      I didn't follow that calculation at all. What are you showing?

      Actual cost numbers aside, it's clear that the Navy has plenty of money for all the manning it needs IF it would spend it wisely. We could buy a LOT of manning for the $30B or so that we're wasting on the LCS, and the $24B+ that we've spent on the Zumwalt, and the $8B or so extra that we're spending on each Ford instead of just building slightly improved Nimitz'es. Those fiascoes alone would fund Navy manning for decades.

      Most importantly, though, the Navy is not a business case. As I've stated, we could build a fleet that is operated by crews of one or two dozen, as is done in the merchant shipping business, but they would be incapable of fighting, conducting damage control, or surviving the first minor hit. It does no good to save a few dollars if the result is a fleet that can't fight.

      Finally, to again repeat myself, we've operated and manned 600 ship fleets before and there is no reason we can't fully man our current 285 ship fleet or even the hoped for 355 ship fleet.

    6. My thought if the political climate changes and the Budget Control Act/Sequestration enforced on the Pentagon in future Navy would have more options if they could contain the personnel costs, one of their main cost drivers. As said if current new tech embraced as it has been in the new Korean Aegis destroyer enabling them to reduce crews by one third, and applied to future new Navy ships substantial savings would accrue over the out years assisting Navy to fund the additional ships and O&M required to achieve a larger fleet numbers.

      Would agree on the Navy self inflicted damage caused by the tens of $Bs wasted by the Navy on the Ford, LCS and Zumwalt, but that's now history. Looking forward as you say to "smaller, individual ships with unique, specialized functions and built those ships in appropriate numbers" the focus should be on payloads not expensive and limited number of platforms.

      Re. my numbers from rom guesstimate of reducing personnel costs by ~$4+B a year, taken from the saving of $257M p.a. if Burke Flt III crew was the same as the Korean ship and then applied similar savings of one third reduction in crew across all ships. Flt III class 22 ships that would be aprox. 6% of a 355 fleet (22/355=6.2%) . $257m/6.2 x 100= $4,145M. The Ford reduction of 1,100 crew from the Nimitz class is based on a near 20 year old design, Ford has been design/build for so long, sure current design would be able to bring even lower numbers.

      If war comes you could always bulk up crew numbers if berthing margins built in for DC etc., but the ships would be available, not on a Navy powerpoint presentation.

    7. Nick, I know you've been following this blog and Navy news, in general, so I'm wondering why you're not seeing the overwhelming evidence that the Navy's current minimal (they call it "optimal") manning is, literally, destroying the fleet? Entire classes of ships have been retired early because minimal manning resulted in poor maintenance. Minimally manned crews were directly linked to the grounding of the Port Royal Aegis cruiser, the two recent collisions, and the grounding of the Antietam, among other incidents.

      The evidence is overwhelming that crew sizes are too small now and you want to make them smaller still???

      The notion that we can instantly upsize the crews if war comes is nonsense. Today's ships require highly trained crew at all levels. Even "simple" damage control is a highly trained specialty whose operators need to know structural reinforcement, load bearing and distribution, fire fighting techniques, hazardous gas (all fires generate toxic gas) operations, hazardous material containment, and a host of other skills. These are not taught in an overnight session.

      A modern ship cannot be "surge" manned.

      Your desire to further reduce manning is baffling. Why do you want to do so? I've already demonstrated in comments and posts that the Navy has more than enough money to fund full crews for the entire fleet if they would stop throwing money away on idiotic programs.

      You seem to be proposing a solution for a problem that shouldn't even exist and isn't real. That $257M annual figure ... If we forego one LCS that would pay for 2-3 years worth of the extra manning!

    8. CNO, thanks for reply

      My argument is that the high manning required in Navy ships, e.g. Burke, is that its an old design with old high maintenance systems and is 'dense' as more and more equipment was fitted making it a nightmare to maintain. An item requiring a five minute maintenance would require many hours to access, may be delayed if the other equipment in use or if manning hours limited and not maintained and then fails with major consequences.

      New ships if designed by designers with the necessary expertise and experience with maintenance in mind, with easy access built in with panels/hatches and so not requiring the cutting steel to gain access, spacious passageways to enable movement of larger items of equipment, not requiring equipment to be broken down and then re-assembled. Spacious engine rooms with gantries to support overhead cranes enabling much easier repair/maintain.

      The Ticos superstructure was built the 'wrong' aluminium so continually cracking and so high maintenance.

      That's why Navy need new generation of ships hopefully with current tech/thinking and resulting in lower manning. Other navies are progressing but not the US.

    9. We can certainly design ships to be more maintenance-friendly. You're quite right about that and the Navy is very slow to adopt such modifications. If ease of maintenance results in the need for less crew, that's fine ... TO A POINT. That point is determined not by maintenance requirements but by combat and damage control requirements.

      In combat, we need available replacements for the inevitable attrition, we need hugely excessive crews for damage control, we need extra crew for the stress of long, drawn out battle stations watchstanding (you've got to get some sleep and food some time!), etc. Combat conditions are going to require far greater crew numbers than maintenance requirements. Thus, while we can design a major ship to operate during peacetime with only 24 sailors, it will be incapable of combat and, as I've already pointed out, we can't surge crews for a war.

      Thus, while I fully support ease of maintenance (actually, I support even more, ease of repair!) efforts, they won't have any impact on required crew size because that is determined by combat requirements. Remember, our Navy is supposed to be prepared to fight immediately, not in a year or two after we've had time to train more crew.

      Reduced manning is a red herring, the folly of which will become instantly apparent in combat.

  2. Great post. So much good stuff that it will be hard to stay on topic of just, "survivability".

    As is often the case I don't disagree with any one point you make. But it does depend on how the different variables we blend with a platform or strategy. Some of the points you mention can conflict with each other.

    An example, you mention the torpedo myth. While I agree with you in principle we can't forget that we can make a ship small enough and with incorrect armor, water tight compartment/size of ship ratio where a commonly seen Russian/Chinese torpedo could sink the ship.

    So we can take risks with smaller ships, but we also can make them one hit wonders that mitigates some of the distribution aspect of survivability. Obviously it's a balance.

    As I think you alluded to, any ship we intend to sail alone needs some type of anti-air self defense. But a layered defense is more time sensitive to the leakers. So if I have searam only and it's down or gets overwhelmed in a saturation there is no hard kill to catch the leakers. Multiple searam isn't going to go far with that due to time. So most analyst I've read suggest essm and searam as a frigate sized escort minimum and anything else must be escorted and should have searam only. I think that's sort of what you were saying?

    So we can see that each of these conflicting ideas drive up the lighter corvette slightly. Traditionally for the Navy that meant it ended up being a frigate. I don't see anything that would change my mind about those dynamics. I think there is a better way that doesn't put as much risk on our sailors.

    When the Navy decided they wanted the LCS to go from a glorified Navy cutter(peacetime) and mcm surge ship to a frigate, I wouldn't want to be on it. Even if the program had been run perfectly. It's not a frigate and wasn't meant to be one. Because the Navy even suggested that made me worry that times might be changing to accept too much risk.

    So to be fair I'll follow up in a few minutes with another comment on what I'd suggest.

    1. "we can't forget that we can make a ship small enough and with incorrect armor, water tight compartment/size of ship ratio where a commonly seen Russian/Chinese torpedo could sink the ship."

      Huh???? I didn't understand that at all. Try again?

      Actually, I didn't understand most of your comment. You've obviously got a point in mind but I'm completely missing it. Take another shot at it.

    2. Traditionally, at least since the 80's when I was a young air squid, the Navy has just ridden out the recessions. The fleet would atrophy and hollow out a bit but would usually bounce back when money was available again. But that was with normal manning and 6 month cruises. So when we had to step it up we just had to work harder for a bit longer. Now there is no give. Working longer hours means crashing the ship, etc.

      If a person believes that we can just put the manning back to where it should be and buy a few more hulls to pick up the missions that we've been missing, then I would think they wouldn't want to change a thing.

      I am of the opinion that we will not be able to give the Navy enough money to get back to, "normal" and the next recession will just drive the problem down and down.

      If we buy a good frigate and use it to relieve the stress on the Burke's we still need more Burke's to fill those roles. Again if we can just spend more money then sure, buy more Burke's and problem solved.

      My suggestion is to do what others have joked about. "If we need a frigate that is so well armed that it is a mini-Burke and cost 1.5 billion why not just buy a Burke?" That's my suggestion. Don't buy a frigate and bust up the Burke.

      Build BMD Burke's. Separate out some of the Tomahawk mission to other ships in the ARG. But instead on continuing to buy flight IIA Burke's it is better to descope the IIA.

      The Navy doesn't like that because it's not efficient manning, vls and can complicate tasking. What does it save? A light destroyer can use CODOG and save on fuel and logistics. Before optimal manning the IIA was around 325(?) people if memory serves. I suspect a smaller Burke could run around 250. It can be used in places where sm-3's and sm-6's (or not as many), are not needed.

      Using distributed lethality the 16 vls on the LXR can be filled with Tomahawks and even some essm as they will be getting the easr radar also. The other small deck amphib can be retrofitted with the 16 vls but get Tomahawks only. The Tomahawks have an easier integration and so it's cheaper to do. Pairing the mini and ARG lessens or eliminates the Tomahawk deficit.

      I would go further. The Navy is going to keep some cruisers around to add to the Carrier groups. I think that actually should become a tradition. Place a BMD Burke and the rest mini's with the carrier. Add the older cruiser or older Burke's as they retire as an arsenal Tomahawk ship. It can also just hold enough sm-2/essm for self protection in case the president wants just the arsenal ship to leave the group for a few days and position itself to Tomahawk a small country.

      Taking the idea of a peace time navy where we sacrifice some capacity and then have a plan for war where we can supplement that lost capacity when it is needed is a good middle ground between a hollow force and hi/lo mix where the lo is a sitting duck for our sailors.

  3. "
    "we can't forget that we can make a ship small enough and with incorrect armor, water tight compartment/size of ship ratio where a commonly seen Russian/Chinese torpedo could sink the ship."

    Huh???? I didn't understand that at all. Try again?

    Actually, I didn't understand most of your comment. You've obviously got a point in mind but I'm completely missing it. Take another shot at it."

    I was just giving examples of how different surviveability techniques actually fight against and tend to counteract each other.

    So people take the statement about your torpedo myth to heart. Cool they are not instant death bombs. Then they go about advocating for smaller ships and similar ideas. They jump right on the distributed lethality/numbers technique.

    When we explain to them that there is actually a science behind the modern armor and ships like the that actually has a ratio of hull type/material and subsequent watertight compartmentalization. They then understand if we want a survivable ship that can take a torpedo we end up with a certain size and shape of ship that simply can't be made to survive a torpedo. There is a lower limit. At that point the chance of sinking goes up.

    Sometimes we look at what the Navy does and we think, "Are these people crazy?" Sometimes I suspect they are. LOL. But sometimes it's just our ignorance. Sometimes what we think is going on is just not actually happening.

    With that in mind it requires a bit more thought when applying techniques from you list.

    1. I'm still not completely sure what you're getting at but you seem to be saying that we can't build small ships that are invulnerable? That's absolutely true.

      The point of the post was that there are other ways to confer survivability. The ship that is too small to survive a torpedo hit can be made survivable by other techniques. Don't misunderstand, though - a small ship, if it is hit, is going to sink. It's the job of the naval commander to ensure that the small ship is used in such a way as to enhance its survivability - like the LSM(R) in the post example. If we take that same LSM(R) and unwisely send it out on solo missions against the enemy battle fleet, it won't survive ten minutes.

      I'm also not arguing for small ships, if that's what you're thinking. There's a place for big ships and small ships. I'm merely stating that we don't have to condemn a ship design (like the small ASW corvette) because it can't fight an entire enemy fleet by itself and survive which is the criteria so many people want to apply.

      If that didn't address your concerns then I'm still not understanding what you're trying to say.

    2. My point was just that. Not every technique is the same. So making a cheaper hull is absolutely doable. But at some point one might as well go with a small crew as damage control isn't going to help all that much. Large explosions such as mines and torpedoes become a ship killer. At that point we, through design(or lack of design) have made the ship killing torpedo myth a reality.

      Those design standards have a tendency to add weight. They require the right compartmentalization. But when we try to work with ships of smaller dimensions we have to remember the size of the Russian or Chinese torpedo didn't shrink. So if we want to follow the survivability standards of the Navy there absolutely is a certain size of ship that is the cutoff.

      Please understand, I'm not trying to make any assertions about you with this line of thought. I only bring it up because most people have no clue that modern day Navy ships such as the Burke are armored. They are just not armored in the same way as was in the past.

      When some people advocate for very small ships I believe it good to talk about the fact that there is a large likelihood that the ship could sink if hit by a torpedo or a tanker. For some that is a game changer. They often ask, "Is there another way?" And of course there is. It's usually called a frigate by the Navy.

    3. "But at some point one might as well go with a small crew as damage control isn't going to help all that much."

      I think you're illustrating my point about armor and that some people believe there's no point applying any armor if it can't stop every weapon in the world.

      Totally stopping a weapon is not the purpose for armor (well, it is to a point). The purpose is to MITIGATE damage. The anti-armor people inevitably conjure the largest weapon the enemy has (including up to nuclear weapons!) and then lament that if the largest, most powerful weapon can't be completely stopped then there's no point to having any armor. That's absurd.

      The point of armor is to stop what it can and mitigate what it can't. The reality is that most hits a ship will take will not come from the largest, most powerful weapon an enemy has but from smaller, less powerful weapons. A ship is less likely to be hit by a million ton, hypersonic anti-cruise missile than a surface-to-air missile fired in anti-surface mode and having just a 15 lb fragmentation warhead. A reasonable amount of armor can stop that. Even if the largest weapon hits, armor will mitigate the damage and give the ship a better chance of survival and continuing to fight.

      The same applies to manning levels. Yes, if a corvette takes a heavyweight torpedo hit it's likely to sink. However, if it takes a lesser hit or a near miss (there's a lot more near misses in combat than hits!), then damage control becomes vital.

      If you haven't already, go read the old post on armor. The link to it is in my list of "Best". It explains the purpose of armor.

      Beyond some anti-shrapnel Kevlar type armor, the Burkes are unarmored and thin-skinned compared to a WWII Fletcher. I believe the VLS is armored but not to prevent a hit but to direct the damage from a hit upward. When compared to an equivalent size/function ship from WWII, I consider the Burkes to be unarmored.

    4. That's fair enough. All I can do is explain it to you how it was explained to me and then agree to disagree. i.e. I've read your armor post. I and the engineers simply think your wrong.

      When looking at the history of armor and the ballistic qualities there are a couple things to keep in mind:

      1. As you know WWII steel and modern steel have different hardness for a given thickness. So a half inch(?) thick hull of a Burke is equivalent to a thicker hull in WWII. We need to make sure we're comparing apples and apples.

      2. Over time engineers playing with armor realized an epiphany. Making the ship militarily useful over the range from, thick hull/smaller weapon load to thin hull/bigger weapon load had a very bad similarity. They both tended to blow a hole in the hull using the torpedo and fuses of the day. That hole was big enough to rapidly flood the compartment. Tending to kill anyone in the compartment.

      Once we accept the flooding is going to happen the ratio of hardened hull steel/blast mitigation of hull form combined with non-hardened steel water tight lateral bracing allows for what we see as modern armor.

      As far as some blasts occurring farther from the ship...For torpedoes and mines that's simply not true. We know what fuses are on modern weapons. The range of contact to how far modern fuses detonate can and is taken into account when balancing hull thickness and water tight wall thickness and spacing.

      So in the end balance the survivability properly to the Navy's standards(before they were rewritten for LCS). Man the boat properly to account for fire mitigation systems and flooding control. Call it a frigate or hell call it a corvette, what's in a name.

    5. "So a half inch(?) thick hull of a Burke is equivalent to a thicker hull in WWII."

      Not only is that untrue but the reverse is true. Find me a reference that supports your claim. Naval engineers have often lamented the fact that we've lost the expertise to make the type of hardened armor we used to.

    6. "As far as some blasts occurring farther from the ship...For torpedoes and mines that's simply not true."

      You know that modern torpedoes and mines don't generally explode in contact with the target, right? They are proximity fuzed, not contact fuzed. If you think otherwise, read up on it.

    7. "using the torpedo"

      You seem to be exclusively focused on torpedoes. You understand that most weapon hits in modern naval combat will be missiles and relatively smaller ones at that (just because there are more smaller, cheaper missiles than bigger, more expensive ones), right?

    8. "'So a half inch(?) thick hull of a Burke is equivalent to a thicker hull in WWII.'

      Not only is that untrue but the reverse is true. Find me a reference that supports your claim. Naval engineers have often lamented the fact that we've lost the expertise to make the type of hardened armor we used to."

      WWII STS alloy had a yield strength of 75-85 ksi and an ultimate tensile strength of 110-125 ksi. WWII Class B armor had a yield strength of 68-90 ksi and an ultimate tensile strength of 92-120 ksi. Class A armor was face-hardened, but had less toughness. Hardness isn't necessarily a good thing. Sometimes toughness is more important.

      Modern HSLA-100 has a yield strength of 100-120 and an ultimate tensile strength of 123-151 ksi. Some alloys are even stronger but significantly more difficult to weld.

      What is true is that we no longer have a lot of experience heat-treating 16"-24" steel plate. But what's the point of that these days? When a hit could occur at essentially any time, at any location, and from any direction, how much sense do the armored belts of yore make?

    9. "HSLA-100"

      Armor makes a great deal of sense but we'll set that aside.

      You failed to note that we don't actually use HSLA-100 in ship construction to any appreciable extent. The cross sectional diagram of the Burke class, for example, shows mainly 15# and 17# HY-80 plate and no HSLA-100 anywhere.

      The only HSLA type is some scattered HSLA-80 used in a few areas of the main deck.

    10. "So a half inch(?) thick hull of a Burke"

      The Burke hull is actually not a half inch thick. As shown in cross sectional construction diagrams, the sides of the hull are 15.3# and 17.85# steel plate which are 3/8" and 7/16" thick, respectively. Interestingly, there is a 20.4# "strake" on the bottom, underside of the hull that is 1/2" thick.

      The Burke compares poorly to the WWII Fletcher.

    11. A comment was deleted for obvious reasons. Keep it polite and impersonal.

    12. "All I can do is explain it to you how it was explained to me"

      Either it was explained incorrectly to you or you misunderstood what was explained to you or failed to get your point across (I'm still not quite sure what your point is!).

      Regarding comparative hull thickness, yes, I understand when you are rounding but it's important to note that the "average" Burke hull thickness, if there is such a thing, is less than 1/2" and the average Fletcher, to which I assume you were comparing it, was around 3/4".

    13. "You failed to note that we don't actually use HSLA-100 in ship construction to any appreciable extent."

      Remember that the HY series and HSLA series are made to specific mechanical properties such that HSLA-80 can, more or less, directly replace HY-80 and HSLA-100 can directly replace HY-100. The 80 and 100 represent the required minimum yield strength (i.e., 80 ksi and 100 ksi, respectively). HY/HSLA-80 are roughly equivalent to STS. The advantage of the HSLA series over the HY series is largely in weldability.

      I chose HSLA-100 because it is a certified structural alloy that can surpass WWII non-face-hardened armor. From what I understand, HSLA-100 was going to be used in the CVN 21-class but they opted for the newer, stronger HSLA-115 to save weight. I don't have good data on HSLA-115. I believe HSLA-80 and some HSLA-100 is used in the Zumwalt-class.

    14. The other important factor in armor is thickness. It doesn't matter how hard a material is if it's too thin. Here, again, the modern ships compare very poorly with equivalent WWII ships. The Burke "averages", if there is such a thing, less than 1/2" and the Fletcher, though significantly smaller, had an average of around 3/4" which is significantly thicker despite the ships being 130 ft or so smaller!

      Do you happen to know the "average" hull plate thickness for the Zumwalt or Ford? I've not seen anything on them, as yet.

      I know you know all this. I'm stating it for the benefit of readers.

    15. "Do you happen to know the "average" hull plate thickness for the Zumwalt or Ford? I've not seen anything on them, as yet."

      Solid information is hard to come by. I haven't seen anything on the dimensions of the Zumwalt hull plating. Anecdotally, I've heard that the Nimitz/Ford have plating up to 4 inches thick in particularly high stress areas, but I doubt it's more than an inch thick, two at most, where they can get away with it. Welding structural plate more than 2 inches thick isn't really practical on a large scale in an open-air shipyard because of the pre-heating needed to ensure adequate weld quality. Battleship and cruiser armor was generally bolted or riveted onto the underlying, welded structural steel. While class B armor was considered as adding to the structural strength of the ship, it was still attached in this manner.

      In this day in age, I'd rather put more of my weight budget into strengthening the structure throughout the ship as opposed to a traditional all-or-nothing or "armored citadel" scheme. It would be interesting to see how a Burke and a Sumner of Gearing class destroyer compare in terms of the ratio of weight of structural steel and armor to displacement.

    16. I've got a conceptual armor post in the pipeline that I'm sure you'll find interesting. Basically, it asks/answers the question, if we did want to armor a ship, how would we do it conceptually given the threats we face? Look for it in the not too distant future.

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    1. The Soviets did something similar with larger vessels to what you describe.
      The Sovremenny-class destroyer was anti air anti surface orientated , and the Udaloy-class destroyer was anti submarine orientated.

      The common thing - they both shared the hull design an some similar systems.

    2. Just a point of clarification, the Sovremenny and Udaloy hulls were completely, markedly, different designs. A glance at photos will confirm this and a comparison of hull dimensions/displacements will further verify it.

      They did share some common electronic systems, a few weapons, and some ancillary equipment but, on the whole, they were remarkably dissimilar for two ships that were conceptually paired.

      That aside, they are an example, to an extent, of the separation of tasks that I've promoted. On the negative side, they are both as big or bigger than a Burke so the separation of tasks, as executed by the Soviets, didn't achieve much savings.

    3. Well, Soviets weren't exactly having savings as a prime driver in a shipbuilding program, and they are bigger that Burkes because they are late 70ties designs .

      One modern big navy that actually practice separation tasks in the way you describe is the Japanese.

    4. While the Soviet execution and quality left much to be desired, their is much that I liked about their designs and concepts.

  5. Has anyone ever dug into the mass of weapons and armor from a WWII ship compared to a modern warship of comparable displacement? Like something along the lines of a comparison of armor and ordnance weights between an Atlanta/Juneau-Class and a Burke-Class (basically both anti-air light cruisers)? I'm really curious what is eating up all the displacement on modern ships. What is the weight breakdowns for the various major components such as fuel, sensors, defensive systems (including armor), powerplant, and crew accommodations?

    The Freedom-class LCS is the biggest glaring example of this that comes to mind for me. Minimal sensors, not designed for large crew for long deployments, no armor, minimal weapon systems, yet has greater displacement than a Fletcher which was not only armored, but was also armed to the teeth and equipped for a crew five times larger.

    1. Great question and, unfortunately, I know of no such study.

    2. " a crew five times larger"

      And i can't imagine the living condition of that crew on a vessel of this size.

    3. "And i can't imagine the living condition of that crew on a vessel of this size."

      My guess is that it was cramped and austere! So, here's the question, why can't we do this today?

      Your immediate reply will, no doubt, be that we won't be able to attract recruits and yet, historically, we've never had a problem. Why would we have a problem today? What's different today? Here's what's different:

      -We didn't use to do routine 8-12 month deployments. People will put up with cramped conditions for a short period.

      -We've taken away the allure of the Navy: see the world, put into exotic ports and get drunk and have a fantastic liberty. Now, if you're not a choir boy, you're in trouble.

      -We've taken away job satisfaction. No one wants to get pushed around by foreign countries. No one wants to spend their time sitting in yet another mandated sensitivity training session.

      -We've lost focus. People used to join for some action. Now, we hand out meals at disasters. That's commendable but it's not what a warfighting organization should be doing. Now, we're more concerned with green environmental issues than combat. We're more concerned with inspections than readiness. We're more concerned with social engineering than combat engineering!

      Recruitment is not a matter of comfortable living conditions, it's a matter of offering a challenge. We want the people who live for challenges. The Marines used to understand this although they've lost their way now.

      "A global force for good"???? Any recruit attracted by that is not someone we want!

      Storm, there was nothing wrong with your comment. It just gave me a springboard to answer a question that you didn't ask! Sorry about that.

  6. Oh, im not arguing over anything you said, thing is that it's 2018 and you've got to work with the mindset of a potential 18 year old who you are requiring, selling the idea that he will be on a overcramped vessel is a no go.

    The soviets had to learn the idea of crew comfort hard because they had some mutinies, so they made they vessels more comfortable, to that extent that to this day the Typhoon class had the best living conditions compared to other subs

    So not to leave this post empty check out the gallery

    1. "The soviets had to learn the idea of crew comfort hard because they had some mutinies"

      Let's be fair and recognize that "comforts" were not the main cause of Soviet crew issues. Lack of pay, lack of food, etc. were far more important factors!

  7. 1) Replace Hawkeye with a faster (yet still subsonic) aircraft (CSA). Hawkeye's slow speed makes it awfully vulnerable to long range missiles. A higher speed would make their no escape zone smaller and them more dependent on mid course updates by (jammable) radio datalink.
    Slow AEW is tolerable where it's unavoidable; with helicopter AEW. CTOL AEW should cruise at M0.7...M0.9 on wartime patrols.

    2) Increase survivability by replacing land attack cruise missiles with AAMs (and a few more ASROC VL).

    3) Prepare your ASW helicopters for a submarine launched anti-air missile threat (ASROC VL as backup to helicopter delivery of LWTs).

    4) Don't oversleep technological progress by 15+ years all the time. The introduction of LFASS and active radar seeker SAMs into general service was terribly late.

    5) Get over AEGIS already. It's not optimal for BMD and its SPY-1 radars have never been an adequate primary sensor against attacks as the Super √Čtendard/Exocet very low altitude/sea skimming attack combo which was public knowledge 35 years ago already, when AEGIS/SPY-1 was still brand new.
    Area air defence requires either many more dispersed surface unit sensors or AEW that's reliably effective against LO threats in a large radius.

    1. I particularly like your faster Hawkeye suggestion. If we don't do something to make E-2's more survivable, we'll lose them or see them rendered useless.

  8. I think a bigger issue than the do-it-all-ness of designs is the insistence that aviation facilities be on every combatant.

    I dare say you could get 2x 5" fore/aft, 32 self defense VLS aft and 32 strike VLS forward plus 2 CIWS fore/aft on a 120m long hull or smaller, if you eliminate hangars, large landing zones, massive overkill radars that are useless in EMCOM. Use a integrated mast type sensor suite for compactness like CAEFAR.

    Basically arsenal ship meets cheap corvette escort. Keep the lines straight, simple rectangular deck house and mass produce them. NGFS, strike, anti-ship with outside sensor queing, anti-boat, short range AAW escort, ASW. There are a whole range of missions that dont require helicopters and Aegis.

    Some modern designs are practically un-armed after devoting so much of ship space towards massive sensor suites and aviation. 8-24 warshots plus a Gun.

    1. "I think a bigger issue than the do-it-all-ness of designs is the insistence that aviation facilities be on every combatant."

      You're preaching to the choir and the choir approves!

    2. I looked at your 4-instead-of-1-Burke piece, and there's something very central to your concept: The notion that an AAW ship is expensive because of hugely expensive (+ heavy well above waterline) radar equipment.

      You know my AAW piece; it takes an AEW-centric approach to provide area air defences against sea skimmers, SPY-1 can't cheat its radio horizon. Lower cost sensor equipment can detect seaskimmers at a slightly better distance than SPY-1 (see APAR installation examples) and active radar seeker SAMs need no dedicated long range illuminators (and 10+ nm range can be easily be achieved for ESSM Blk I against sea skimmers with a multifunction radar as illuminator).

      So once you accept that new (mid-90's tech) AAW paradigm you end up with hardly any extra expenses other than more VLS cells and SAMs for turning a ASW ship into a GP (ASW + AAW) ship.

    3. "there's something very central to your concept: The notion that an AAW ship is expensive because of hugely expensive (+ heavy well above waterline) radar equipment."

      No, that's not even remotely the rationale for breaking up the Burkes.

    4. I didn't write "rationale", but "central to your concept: The notion(...)". That was meant to point at a central assumption.

      Look at that article of yours; the AAW vessel was vastly more expensive than the other vessels in your opinion. Furthermore, you specifically mentioned the AAW vessel would be an AEGIS vessel. There's really no other cost driver in your AAW vessel concept other than AEGIS electronics and VLS count. The pricings of the vessels appear to be without munitions, after all (see ASuW vessel).

      So again; I think you're stuck in the obsolete AEGIS paradigm of AAW. Active radar seeker missiles and their beyond/below radio horizon engagement capability changed AAW radically (and belatedly). Airborne radars (AEW) have been drastically elevated in importance, while shipboard radars have lost much of their relevance in area air defence.


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