Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Congress Proposes Additional Carrier

Here’s an interesting little tidbit from the current Congressional draft version of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.  The Act proposes increasing the legislatively mandated aircraft carrier level to increase from 11 to 12. (1)  There are a number of interesting issues associated with this proposal.

  • We currently don’t really have 11 carriers.  One is always in long term overhaul so our effective carrier level is 10+1.  Further, the USS Ford is non-functional and looks to remain that way for a few more years, at least.

  • We currently only have 9 air wings.  That means that the maximum number of combat capable carriers we can field is 9.  The cost of an air wing is on the order of $6B [65 aircraft x $90M per aircraft (just a ballpark average for discussion purposes) = $5.85 billion] !!!!  There is no mention of Congressional funding of any additional air wings.  Adding carriers without air wings is illogical and pointless.  Congress would be better to mandate and fund additional air wings prior to mandating additional carriers.

  • Combat experience indicates that carriers should operate in groups of 4 during war.  That might suggest carrier levels that are multiples of four although we can certainly mix and match during war depending on availabilities.  

  • Prior to the current shipbuilding budget, our annual shipbuilding budget was around $16B.  A single Ford costs around $15B in actual costs.  Every carrier we purchase costs an entire year’s worth of new construction of other ships unless Congress is prepared to provide an additional $15B for the mandated carrier.  In other words, with no additional funding, we would gain one carrier and lose around ten other ships.  One has to ask whether that is worth it especially given the lack of an air wing and the small size of the existing air wings.

  • The Administration is opposed to an additional carrier.  “The administration objects to a proposed increase from 11 aircraft carriers to 12, “which may not be sustainable” under the Navy’s current budget.” (1)  This is odd given that Trump, himself, has called for 12 carriers from time to time.

  • The runaway costs of the Ford class suggests the possibility of “small” carriers instead of $15B Ford class ships.  “Small”, of course, is a relative term and refers to Midway to Forrestal size carriers, as I use the term.

I have not seen any detailed explanation for the Administration’s opposition to additional carriers.  ComNavOps believes that the Navy needs around 15 large carriers but would only be in favor of a mandated increase if it comes with mandated air wings and funding.  

ComNavOps also believes that the Ford class is unnecessary and that updated Nimitz class carriers are more than adequate.

ComNavOps also supports smaller Midway to Forrestal size carriers which could carry essentially a full air wing and cost half or less of what a Ford costs.  Given that the Fords are twice the cost of the last Nimitz class carriers built, this seems eminently feasible.


(1)Defense News website, “The White House wants 37 items gone from the NDAA”, Joe Gould, 23-May-2018,


  1. Could not agree more I would welcome Ford capped a maximum of 6 then biuld another 6-8 forestall or even Kitty Hawk class that way you a balance of 6 carrier's per ocean in peacetime and a good high Linux in wartime would go one step further there and develop some purpose built and dedicated ASW carriers say 4 total primarily using helicopters and vertical lift aircraft drones or at a maximum of the MV22 class if aircraft I k8nda wonder if you think a MV 22 could be converted to a useful ASW platform

    1. I think that the availability rate of the MV22 is pretty atrocious.

      I'm still annoyed at the loss of the Viking, and the way ASW was allowed to atrophy.


    2. "MV 22 could be converted to a useful ASW platform"

      It can't. This was actually studied and rejected. The MV-22 has slow speed (not really an issue for ASW), and very poor endurance compared to the fixed wing ASW aircraft and cannot operate in the hover mode required of helo-type ASW work.

      Remember that the the V-22 is NOT a helo. It is a conventional aircraft that can BRIEFLY enter hover mode for the purpose of take off and landing. In hover mode it is very difficult and dangerous to fly and consumes fuel in astronomical quantities.

      The V-22 is entirely unsuited for ASW work.

    3. What do you see your asw carriers doing?

      The UKs invincible class were designed primarily as stores and refit vessels.
      The as then envisioned type 2 frigates were much smaller vessels, carrying only basic facilities for helo operation.

      A 20,000t or more vessel with 20 helicopter is a poor asw platform

    4. "A 20,000t or more vessel with 20 helicopter is a poor asw platform"

      Huh??? It's an excellent ASW platform assuming the helo is your primary ASW asset! Combine an ASW carrier with a few ASW corvettes and you have a pretty good ASW hunter-killer group.

      One can debate whether a 20-helo ASW carrier is the optimium size versus, say, a 10 helo carrier but the concept is the same.

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    6. "How about junking both the Ford class AND the LHA/Ds,"

      I'm all for dropping the Fords and I've stated that I see little need for Lxx vessels. However, given that the LHA/D role is assault and they carry ground combat units, how do you propose using a conventional carrier to replace them?

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    8. "Consider supplementing amphibious shipping with commercial LKAs/RoRos."

      This is the real gem of your comment. The core of our amphibious capability in the WWII was the attack transport, PA/APA, which was, essentially, a commercial liner converted (or purpose built) for troop transport. We did not maintain any large amphibious fleet prior to the war. I see no reason to do so now if we're willing to plan ahead for a commercial troop transport if/when needed.

    9. "It can't. This was actually studied and rejected. The MV-22 has slow speed (not really an issue for ASW), and very poor endurance compared to the fixed wing ASW aircraft and cannot operate in the hover mode required of helo-type ASW work."

      Your argument makes little sense. An MV-22 has way more endurance and payload capability than an MH-60. Those are both very good things in the ASW mission.

      You also don't have to hover in order to conduct ASW. The last time I checked - neither P-3s or S-3s could hover!

    10. Cont'd.

      I think you're thinking about V-22 for ASW the wrong way.

      Frankly, using it like a helicopter would be a very stupid idea. From what I've read, V-22s spend very little time in VTOL mode.

      Hovering is only a requirement in ASW if you are using dipping sonar. Sonobuoys, radar, MAD and other sensors do not require hovering.

      I envision that V-22 ASW would be more like an S-3 than an MH-60. Kind of a mid-range patroller. Not ideal but better than relying on slow, short-range helos.

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    12. "An MV-22 has way more endurance and payload capability than an MH-60. Those are both very good things in the ASW mission.

      You also don't have to hover in order to conduct ASW."

      The US employed two forms of aviation ASW: fixed wing (S-3, P-3/8) and helo. The V-22 is a very poor facsimile of a fixed wing ASW aircraft. It lacks the speed, range, and endurance of the S-3 and P-3/8. It is also a very poor facsimile of an ASW helo. As you note, helos employ dipping sonars as their main sensor and the V-22 cannot do that at all. The MAD sensor is not even in service anymore, as far as I know. Thus, the V-22 is a very poor ASW aircraft. The Navy's studies and evaluations rejected it outright. Given the pressure to make the V-22 fill every role in aviation, it had to be pretty bad at ASW to be so thoroughly rejected.

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    14. "So the CVH55 has more room in its hangar than the LHA has in its hangar, cargo areas, and vehicle areas."

      You lost me in your reasoning. A large carrier is bigger than an LHx. Right. Not even remotely in dispute.

      Are you suggesting embarking a MEU on a CV55? If so, given the lack of a well deck, you would be limited to helo-transportable light infantry. Is that what we want in the way of amphibious assault?

      I think I'm missing some aspect of your thinking.

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    16. RE V-22 ASW. I am not aware that Navy ever considered it. Do you have sources?

      You are correct that V-22 lacks range and speed of P-3 and P-8. However those are land-based aircraft and would likely have to transit very long distances if supporting the Fleet.

      I completely agree that a V-22 using dipping sonar is a non-starter. However, that cargo hold could fit a lot of sonobuoys.

      Note: MAD is still resident in the Fleet on the soon-to-be retired P-3. It used to be employed in a tow configuration on the old SH-60B - which might also work on V-22.

    17. "I am not aware that Navy ever considered it. Do you have sources?"

      I have the report somewhere in my files. I'll see if I can dig it out but don't hold your breath. I've got hundreds of reports and no good organization.

    18. "Huh??? It's an excellent ASW platform assuming the helo is your primary ASW asset! Combine an ASW carrier with a few ASW corvettes and you have a pretty good ASW hunter-killer group."

      Which was pretty much the example I gave.
      A largeish vessel acting as a mobile port for smaller vessels that actually do asw is idea that has been considered in the past.

      Using a 20,000 ton vessel with 8-20 helicopters to try and hunt submarines is madness

      As an asw flotilla command ship, with 4/8/12 whatever asw corvettes that actually engage, makes sense.

      Helicopters, although great, suffer from shockingly low availability and extremely high flying hour costs*.

      Even in war time you would struggle to maintain a single helicopter airborne 24/7 from a fleet of 8

      Helicopters are only really used during terminal attack, or if the submarine breaks contact and the ships need to rapidly relocate to set up another kill box.

      The day to day search is carried out by hull mounted, towed, or disposable sonar.

      *im not sure if I have the document anymore, but god, back in 05 maybe, the MoD reported that the helicopter on an asw frigate cost more to operate than the actual frigate it operated from.


    19. B.Smitty "How about junking both the Ford class AND the LHA/Ds, and building a single class of medium-large (60-80,000t), conventional, CTOL carriers that can swing-role as LHAs (LPH)."

      I agree with Smitty!

      CVs and LHA/LHDs are different in more ways that flight deck and well decks, the CV also lacks magazine and cargo capacity.

      That said, you can add LSDs to get more well decks, and cargo ships to boost sealift.

      A CV added to a gator fleet for the odd amphibious operation, and gain a valuable tool for fleet operations for the 99% of time you are not doing forceable entry operations via vertical envelopment. An LHA/LHD is an expensive, one trick pony in a conventional war.


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    21. The U.S. Army certainly is willing to conduct forced entry operations from CVNs – two of which transported the 10th mountain division and a number of SOF units to Haiti in Operation Uphold Democracy. USS Boxer CV-21 transported all 205 helicopters of the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division to Vietnam - the aircraft were in “layup” and not operational.

      Older CVs like CV-21 were converted into the first LPHs and the Marines demanded specializations, which killed the concept in favor of special built ships. I continue to believe this is short sighted.

      If we want to maintain a continuous colonial enforcement presence, then the USMC issues like ammunition storage, sleeping arraignments, and so forth are an issue.

      If we need to put together a forced entry operation against a peer competitor, an aircraft carrier works just fine. Screw the sleeping arrangements, no self respecting infantryman should cry alligator tears over temporary improvised sleeping for two weeks.

      If you want the full background, Dr Freidman's definitive book on USN amphibs is a great reference.


    22. One more point on ammunition storage, carrier magazines are designed to support different munitions than typically used by ground forces.

      Also ASW carriers have different aviation fuel and munition storage requirements compared to general purpose aircraft carriers.


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    24. "If we were to get rid of LH*s in favor of CV55s, we would have to work out how to berth Marines aboard "

      Why are we talking about berthing Marines on a carrier? Doing so negates the value of a carrier which is supporting fixed wing operations. Troop transport can be achieved via slightly modified commercial "liners" for a fraction of the cost while preserving the value of the carrier.

      The same applies to ground combat vehicles. There is no ready means to load vehicles on a carrier and no means to offload them during an assault except one at a time, painfully, for the lightest ones that can fit on/under a helo/V-22. No tanks. No heavy vehicles. No SPGs. Nothing of real value to an assault.

      Troop transport seems a colossal waste of a carrier, regardless of the size of the carrier.

      Now, flexing a carrier from standard strike/fighter air wings to assault oriented helo/F-35B might be worth doing, if circumstances called for it but, even then, why not just use F-35Cs and Hornets for the ground support portion?

      If we really want a dedicated helo ops carrier then a tanker design with a flat deck would be perfectly suitable, again at a fraction of the cost.

      It seems like we're trying to make this more complicated than it needs to be. Commercial transports are far cheaper and more capable of troop and vehicle transport.

      Leave the carriers be and let them do what they do best.

      For the cost of a single CV55 (presumably, around $8B?) how many commercial attack transports could we build? A dozen? Two dozen?

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    26. "The ESG presence and forward deployment mission hasn't gone away."

      Because we have sails and have always used sails doesn't mean that we shouldn't switch to steam. Because we've traditionally (only semi-true) used the deployment model doesn't mean we should. I've addressed this thoroughly. See,

      <a href=">Deployments or Missions?</a>

      Presence has, historically, proven nearly useless. Not a single hostile act has been prevented by our presence (admittedly, very difficult to prove a negative). Russia certainly hasn't been deterred by our presence. China laughs at our presence. NKorea doesn't care about our presence. Even lowly Iran seizes our boats and crews and harasses our ships and aircraft. So much for presence.

      So, if the presence and forward deployment mission hasn't gone away, it should since it serves no demonstrable purpose.

    27. "Cheap, converted commercial ships may be useful for surge aviation capacity, where Marines are aboard for days or a couple weeks, but are less suitable for presence and forward deployment missions, where they're aboard for months."

      That's the crux of the issue. We maintain a fleet of 30+ hugely expensive amphibs so that Marines can float around for 6-12 months without doing anything. That's insane.

      We have Army/AF units capable of aviation assault anywhere in the world. We don't need Marines floating around. What's the odds that they'll even be in the right spot at the exact right time? It's a pretty big world.

      What we need is an idled fleet of commercial transports, home based in the US, with home based Marines. If we anticipate a problem severe enough and imminent enough to warrant intervention then we load up and sail. That way, we don't have to choose between tanks or planes, tanks or no tanks, artillery or UAVs, and so on. We just take everything! The carrier limitations don't even occur!

      Your whole argument seems to boil down to comfortable, long term deployments. I've laid out the case for no deployments - just very short term missions. Thus, your argument doesn't even apply.

      There is not a single demonstrable benefit we get from deployments and a lot of demonstrable harm to the training, maintenance, and readiness of our fleet and crews.

    28. "once you start factoring in facilities for maintenance and upkeep of aircraft, and their aircrews, as well as communications needed for mission planning and execution, the cheap ship becomes far less cheap."

      Are you really going to try to tell me that a tanker with a flat deck and a few maintenance sheds is remotely in the same cost world as a CV55????

      You want mission planning or comms? Take a page from the LCS book and add a containerized module.

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    30. "I've read enough of your posts to realize this is something we'll have to disagree on."

      It is the crux of the discussion. Within your frame of logic where deployments are required, the existence of a CV55, with Marines comfortably embarked, is logical. I'll give you that. On the other hand, if deployments are not required, then neither is a standing amphib fleet or CV55. I hope you'll acknowledge that my concept is also internally logical.

      As you say, we'll disagree (except that I agree with the need for a smaller Midway/Forrestal size carrier though, perhaps, for different reasons) and move on.

    31. "It's also having combat ... power near potential trouble spots"

      That's an interesting aspect and one that might be slightly persuasive if we had two things:

      1. Actual combat power. Evidence indicates that we can't even execute basic seamanship. Do you really think we're combat ready? Ironically, our deployments and forward presence have sapped our combat power!

      2.Combat power is useless without the will to use it. When we allow Iran to seize our boats and crews, and China to seize our aircraft and UUVs, and so on, it becomes clear to other countries that the "threat" of US combat power is illusory. Until we actually demonstrate that we're willing to use it, having combat power on hand is pointless. Now, to be fair, the current Administration has twice demonstrated a willingness to use combat power in strikes on Syria so that perception of unwillingness may begin to slightly turn around. I hope it does. We'll see.

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    34. "We have flown ACTUAL combat sorties daily"

      I'm referring to combat power as a component of deterrence, not a "declared" war. I'm pretty sure you knew that.

  2. The navy won't admit defeat and build older designs like midway and Nimitz. They'll go for a new baby Ford design, with most of the same problems and issues but in a more confined space.

  3. I would be fine with a smaller Ford class if as you say all of the bugs are worked out and that price comes way down air wing of say 40-50 in size them build the ASW specialized carriers would not be a bad idea at all to me

  4. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems we base needs on peacetime realities not what we would need in a war; and we don't properly account for attritino. I really, really think we need a lot more than 9 airwings, or at least a study into what the optimum number of airwings is. Assuming we operate a 4 carrier battlegroup, and that battlegroup is out doing dangerous things and having a high tempo of flights while it is performing missions, airwing attrition could happen much faster than it currently does.

    It doesn't make much sense to have 10+1 carriers even if in a real war we soon are running short of aircraft.


    1. Agree with JFW.

      I would prefer we spend more money on having a few "spare" air wings then 12 carriers with 9 air wings. That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.

    2. "It doesn't make much sense to have 10+1 carriers even if in a real war we soon are running short of aircraft."

      Quite true. While the F6F Hellcat of WWII was an outstanding aircraft in terms of performance, it's main characteristic was its low cost and speed of construction. We could replace aircraft losses endlessly. Japan couldn't match that. Trained pilot losses are, of course, another matter.

    3. That's why in my opinion, and I think you've touched on it in a past post, we need a surplus to requirement in airwings. Several by reckoning for attrition, maintenance, and training. The training airwings can use older model f18 if need be.

      I've noticed the airforce seems to have a retention problem with pilots. It amazes me that the navy hasn't made an effort to poach those discontented pilots.

  5. One in long term overhaul is likely optimistic as time goes on.
    Added shorter term refits drag more off the line, and again, they'll get longer and more frequent as the nimitz class ages.
    As the Ford is little more than a shockingly expensive stosl carrier,that further depletes the theoretical 11.

    The rule of 4 may or may not be valid
    In korea I believe they operated in 3's
    Modern carriers are simply bigger and better equipped, capable of maintaining a far higher tempo for far longer, it remains to be proven, but the QE carriers were designed for a 5 day campaign, then pulling out to rest and rearm.

    In extremis, any large shipyard in the world can build a forrestal esque ship.
    Precisely two can build nuclear carriers.
    With time, a few nuclear submarine yards could convert over.

    It makes sense to build quality now and quantity then.
    Air wings are similar, current facilities could be expanded to churn out hornets far quicker they could be expanded to churn out nimitzs

    1. "current facilities could be expanded to churn out hornets far quicker they could be expanded to churn out nimitzs"

      Quite right. It takes 5+ yrs to build a carrier and another year or two to make it operational. We can build Hornets in a matter of months. The challenge with aircraft is less the construction time of the aircraft and more the training time to produce new pilots. Currently, it takes 2-3 yrs or so to produce a pilot. Of course, that would likely be accelerated in wartime.

    2. "The rule of 4 may or may not be valid
      In korea I believe they operated in 3's"

      Korea was not naval combat. It was just airstrikes from relatively stationary points and the carriers simply rotated on and off station as resupply dictated.

      Naval combat requires four carriers, especially given today's greatly reduced air wings.

    3. "One in long term overhaul is likely optimistic as time goes on."

      No. "Long term overhaul" refers to the PLANNED midlife nuclear refueling and updating overhaul that carriers undergo. It is a planned event that requires around 2-3 yrs. It is not based on the carrier's age. The overhauls are planned events and scheduled years in advance in such a way that there is always one carrier in long term overhaul. There are never two. This is not an event that increases in frequency as the fleet ages. It is an event that is planned for when the ship is first delivered. As each ship reaches its planned overhaul date, it cycles in and out of overhaul in turn.

      Updates and refits can occur any time and are a matter of convenience. They do not remove the carrier from active duty as opposed to the long term overhauls which do.

    4. "the QE carriers were designed for a 5 day campaign, then pulling out to rest and rearm."

      That may be for a "peacetime" standoff and conduct land attack strikes in a permissive environment but the QE carrier (there is, apparently, still debate about whether the second carrier would be commissioned or sold/laid up) is nearly useless in a peer war unless it were to team up with US carriers and even then it offers relatively little capability.

      A carrier must be able to conduct strike and self-defense simultaneously. There is no substitute for numbers and the QE carriers simply don't have enough numbers to effectively do both. Worse, the lack of mission tankers, electronic warfare strike aircraft, and Hawkeye-like AWACS cast serious doubt on the ability to even conduct a peer-opposed strike.

      Finally, the ski ramp, as opposed to a catapult, limits the combat load of the aircraft, I believe. Someone correct me if I'm wrong about this.

      Sad to say but the QE carriers are a low intensity design, at best.

    5. "Naval combat requires four carriers, especially given today's greatly reduced air wings."

      I disagree with that premise because WWII was a unique time where we had 20+ fleet carriers and several hundred major escorts. Combining 4 carriers with 25 to 30 cruisers and destroyers today would be a major strain on available resources.

      As opposed to building more aircraft carriers, instead build more aircraft and enlarge our carrier airwings. At a minimum, add another Hawkeye, a few more Growlers, and another squadron of Super Hornets. And, until the MQ-25s are ready, another 6-8 Super Hornets for air-to-air refueling. Then operate them in two-carrier groups to allow for round-the-clock operations.

    6. "combining 4 carriers with 25 to 30 cruisers and destroyers today would be a major strain on available resources."

      Of course it would!!!! However, you don't plan for a peer war based on available resources, you plan based on the resources you need to win and then you figure out how to get them.

      There's not really any dispute about carrier groups. Four carriers are needed to carry out the wartime combat requirements AND TO ALLOW FOR A DEGREE OF ATTRITION.

      We had 20+ carriers in WWII because we determined that we needed them!

      Trying to operate smaller carrier groups just because we don't have as many carriers is just going to result in lost carriers. Study the Cold War carrier operations, planning, and training. They used 3-4 carriers per group and that was when the air wings were almost twice the size they are today!

      We need four carriers per group because that's the optimum and because our air wings are so much smaller. I'm almost tempted to call for five-carrier groups but there simply isn't the airspace to efficiently operate that many as a group.

    7. " is nearly useless in a peer war unless it were to team up with US carriers"

      Well thats the key isnt it, the UK is going to be fighting any peer conflict, in support of a US led coalition, the list we might fight alone is much smaller and much less potent.
      We might fight China as part of a US led coalition, but if the US said they weren't getting involved, 5 powers treaty be damned.

      Even middle tier powers like India would struggle to hunt down QE in the wide open Indian Ocean, even if they could spare squadrons from their borders with Pakistan and China to search for and attack her.

      There simply aren't that many powers with extensive deepwater search and attack capability.
      A carrier can quietly slip in, launch an attack, and bombs are going to be falling before anyone even knows its there, potentially out of position alert fighters might try and attack, but apart from blindly chasing the retreating fighters in to a probable ambush, there isnt much they can do.
      Carrier sails off safely out of range, and a few days later, attacks another target 300 miles along the coast.

      Less impressive than destroying the entire military on day 1, but we cant all be America

    8. "Study the Cold War carrier operations, planning, and training. They used 3-4 carriers per group and that was when the air wings were almost twice the size they are today!"

      The Cold War as been over for nearly 20 years, we don't have that Navy anymore. I'm not sure what current thought is, but I found only a few instances since 2006, where three carriers trained together.

      Exercise Valiant Shield 2006 featured the the carriers Kitty Hawk, Lincoln, and Reagan. It was the largest military exercise conducted by the Navy in Pacific since the Vietnam War.

      Exercise Valiant Shield 2007 included the carriers Stennis, Nimitz and Kitty Hawk.

      Last fall, the Navy operated the Reagan, Roosevelt, and Nimitz in the Sea of Japan as a show of strength against North Korea.

    9. "Exercise Valiant Shield ... Last fall, the Navy operated the Reagan, Roosevelt, and Nimitz in the Sea of Japan"

      I'm aware of Valiant Shield but I don't know the details of how the carriers trained/operated.

      The recent collection of three carriers was just a photo op and political message. It did not involve carrier group operational training.

      To the best of my knowledge, we have not trained as carrier groups since the Cold War.

    10. I couldn't discern the details about the Valiant Shield exercises either. I agree that last year's exercise was a photo op and a message to North Korea, which might have worked to some degree.

      If the Navy plans to use multi-carrier task forces in combat, it's certainly not evident in the training. There is obviously some value in how we trained and operated carriers from WWII through the Cold War and hopefully those lessons aren't lost.

      On a side note, I just read the Navy reminded China that we have experience taking over small islands.

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    1. ASW can be done better by AW101-style helicopters than CTOL aircraft. Helicopters can employ low frequency dipping sonars.
      The best design for an ASW carrier is ARAPAHO.

    2. "The best design for an ASW carrier is ARAPAHO."


      ASW aircraft are good for prosecution of contacts, but not very efficient for establishing datums.

      If you are going to build a dedicated surface ASW platform, the JMSDF Hyūga class is a good start.

      You want a deep draft vessel for sound isolation and hull sonars as deep as possible to minimize self noise. You also want towed array sonar and a dipping sonar - they have very different uses driven by sea state.

      There is an excellent design analysis from a decades old Proceedings article that compared Soviet and U.S. ship design philosophy wrt sea state and other environmental factors.



    3. I think you misunderstood something. I wrote about an ASW carrier, not ASW DDG.

      ASW carrier is not exactly a ship category that one associates with being the primary sonar emitter of a convoy. Other ships would be the primary LFASS users.

    4. @SO
      You are confusing me. :)

      The JMSDF Hyūga-class helicopter destroyer is actually a 19,000 ton *ASW aircraft carrier* that embarks up to 18 aircraft.

      I never made any point about the carrier being the primary sonar emitter. I do think a ship like the Hyūga should be equipped with towed array and variable depth sonars – more to follow.

      The physics of sonar and sea state in the Pacific Ocean highly favor large hulls.

      ASW is about continuous operations in a very hostile environment - about 15-20% of the time the Pacific Ocean you are going to face speed limiting sea states that limit that affect not only safe transit speeds of traditional destroyers and frigates, but also the speeds that they can operate aircraft, dramatically reduce the effectiveness of *all sensors*, particularly sonar, and even weapons. Then there is the small matter of trying to replenish ships in high sea and wind states. The northern Pacific and Artic oceans are worse.

      On the other hand, high sea states have significantly less impact on the speeds of even *small* commercial ships like a 5,000 TEU PANAMAX hull (950 feet (289 meters), ~52,000 DWT tons).

      Unlike warships commercial hulls are rated for continuous speeds in real ocean conditions; warships are rated at max speeds in protected waters and often in overload engine power ratings.

      I remain shocked by how much discussion of warfare blissfully ignores the weather, and planetary conditions! ASW is a 24/7 grind: unlike WWII submarines that spent most of their patrols on the surface like their prey, modern enemy submarines operate submerged, and are not much affected by sea state 5 and gale force winds.

      This is why variable depth sonars, hull mounted sonars, and some sort of modernized ASROC, and even surface launched torpedoes are still relevant, even if aircraft and towed array systems are preferred ASW systems.

      All of which means that modern commercial convoys are going to move 24-27 knots – slowing down in an era of high speed diesel submarines, and even higher speed nuclear submarines is death.

      Post script:

      Small surface warships may or may not be able to keep up with modern convoys, and they may not even be able to fight. The Spruance class was roundly criticized for their size, but they were absolutely a step in the right direction. The cost of steel is nothing in the 21st century; warship cost is not very dependent on size. We live in an era where 90% of world’s trade is carried on commercial containerships that are now averaging 1310 feet (399 meters) in length - a functional warship capable of convoy operations with these modern commercial hulls needs to be big. Get over it.


  7. What would 11-15 CVNs instead of 9 amount to in wartime?

    One may need one CVBG in the South China Sea or even as far back as Indian Ocean and another in the Western Pacific. The former might need a rotation scheme to replenish munitions at Perth or Diego Garcia, but the Pacific one would only need to be backup to land-based air power and could sprint to intercept what surface battlefleet breaks out of the blockade to the SE.

    This sounds like 3 CVBGs required to me, and the needs drop quickly if you optimise them for and limit them to air/sea battle rather than land attack.

    And then there's the issue that an inferior navy holed up in port tends to hit hard with submarines, as they can still operate where hostile air power sweeps the surface clean. CVBGs do almost nothing for ASW other than self-defence, and there's practically nothing available to protect shipping against PLAN subs from Seattle to San Diego, CONUS-Pearl and San Diego-Panama. One would also need a protected Pearl-Inland Sea line.
    The entire bet is on port airstrikes and SSNs, I find that very reminiscent of the USN's ASW attitude of 1941.

    1. "This sounds like 3 CVBGs required to me"

      This is not even remotely how carriers have operated in war, trained for war, or will operate in future wars. However, you have some ... unusual ... views on naval operations and are not receptive to learning about this so I won't belabor the point. In fact, I mention this only for the benefit of other readers who may be unfamiliar with carrier combat operations as I don't want them to be misguided.

      Carry on.

    2. CV TFs have operated in many different ways, including many single CV actions that you don't consider sensible.

      My assumptions were
      - land-based (Japan, Australia) air power is preferable, so no CVBG needed where you have land bases at acceptable distance
      - this leaves two exits for PLAN, into the Indian Ocean and SE into Pacific
      - Indian Ocean blockade would be so far from Perth & Diego Garcia that a rotation of two CVBGs would be needed to guard that route (replenishment of munitions, minor repairs)
      - Pacific route would partially be better in range to PLAF air power, so CVBG there should be a bit stronger
      - no rotation required in Pacific because there are enough sheltered anchor points usable for munition replenishment and minor repairs and blockaderunners that slipped by could be intercepted later, as they have a long way to a relevant neutral port
      - no sea/land strikes were assumed, for those could be executed from japan
      - a USA-PRC war without Japan siding with USA is going to be an official defeat for the USA anyway

    3. A follow on CV-67 (non nuclear) would also stand in nicely for an LHA/LHD.

      The Marines will scream of course, but it makes a lot more sense to build a $6-8 billion dollar multipurpose non nuclear CV that can operate the full spectrum of aircraft, particularly AEW aircraft, than to build a $3.5 billion dollar LHA/LHD that is highly limited in the numbers and type of air wing it can operate. LHA/LHDs are also slow and cannot even keep up with modern commercial ships (container hulls have the ability to run at 24-27 knots, some like the Maersk E-class are reputed to be capable of operating at sustained speeds above 33 knots) which make them unsuitable for ASW escorts.


    4. GAB, towed sonar arrays cannot be used at 20+ kts anyway, so they do put an upper limit to convoy speeds. Bow-mounted sonars simply don't suffice and to rely entirely on dipped VLASS is too risky a bet.

      You need to establish a double lane of VLFASS tugs that create a secured lane if you want cargo ships to cruise fast and quite safe from subs. That's feasible on the most trafficked routes only.

    5. "towed sonar arrays cannot be used at 20+ kts anyway, so they do put an upper limit to convoy speeds."

      No they don't. A towed array isn't streamed continuously. It's deployed for a period, retrieved, and then the ship sprints out ahead to a new location and redeploys. A variation of "sprint and drift" (sprint and tow?). This is also why we had S-3 Vikings, to conduct the far forward searches. Vikings, of course, would not be present in a convoy but, presumably, that's the role that P-3/8s would fill.

      Nothing limits a convoy speed except the max speed of the slowest vessel.

    6. The sprinting approach (which I wrote about in February) becomes quite impractical when escorting a 22...25 kts ship. The sprinting sonar ship would be extremely loud while sprinting at 28+ kts (quite easily located and identified target for a sub), it would consume a huge amount of fuel (crossing the Atlantic at 30 kts in sprints is hardly feasible for any escort without refuelling) and such sprints are impractical at high sea states (which affect escorts more than the huge cargo ships).

      There are some more peripheral issues with this, but those are a topic of their own.
      S-3's MAD was of little use against deep subs with non-magnetic hulls and its radar mattered little in ASW as well. It was little more than a sonobuoy dropper. Fine for going after contacts, but no efficient choice for screening. On top of that it took away valuable flat top capacity, whereas helos can be operated from escorts and even cargo ships.

    7. SO,

      The deck is stacked in favor of the submarine.

      Sonar function certainly degrades precipitously at high speed, but even hull mounted sonars - sonars with the highest self noise, remain of some use above 20 knots.

      It is possible to build warships with the capability to cross the Pacific without refueling, this was done in WWII. Yes it is fuel inefficient. Yes it is expensive. Yes we have the petroleum reserves to do this if needed.

      Even at 15 knots, a surface warship is easy for a submarine to detect. The fact that 99.9% of commercial hulls are diesel propelled makes a convoy absolutely detectible. The idea of hiding amongst the shipping lanes and not travelling in convoys is suspect - the global insurance market is likely to essentially shut down global trade in the event of a major peer war that features submarine warfare.


    8. "The sprinting sonar ship would be extremely loud"

      Such are the risks of war. Besides, it's not like there's only one escort ship. While one is sprinting, others are drifting/listening. The act like a team and "cover" each other as they leapfrog forward.

    9. Governments would simply provide re-insurance to keep shipping active, and crews would get hazard pay that no Filipino sailor is going to say no to.

    10. @SO - speculative.

      Markets may indeed react as you suggest in the long-term, but the short-term disruptions seem likely to trigger catastrophic effects in the global economy.

      Many countries are net food consumers, and apart from the service sector, most industries have adopted "just in time" delivery supply systems.

      Look at the effects of the 1973 oil embargo and the Iraq, Iran war, just on the energy sector.


    11. "Look at the effects of the 1973 oil embargo and the Iraq, Iran war, just on the energy sector."

      Of course, since then the US has become essentially energy independent from OPEC (we still import oil from Canada, among others) so we have reduced our vulnerability to oil disruptions.

      It is this same theme that we've addressed in discussions about rare earths and which Trump is attempting to deal with in steel tariffs.

      Great observation, by the way, about "just in time" delivery systems. I note that reports indicate that the just-in-time spare parts system for the F-35 is failing miserably.

  8. As i habe said earlier a specific designed ASW carrier could have catapult or non catapult if it has catapult then something like the Charles De Gualle class or smaller would be ideal

  9. I would have thought that building 4 or 5 QE type carriers but with full cats and traps whilst the Fords are finalised would be a good idea.At least they are affordable and relatively quick to build (and easier to man).
    The problem is that by the time they are designed and the first is built the Fords could well be fixed.
    They would in my opinion still be ideal except that once it is proven that nuclear carriers are not required there would be no way back.

    1. Dave, your idea sounds appealing on the surface of it. As a thought exercise, why don't you add up the numbers of various types of aircraft you think such a carrier needs and see what size air wing that results in. I think you might be surprised. The air wing size, of course, impacts the carrier size and capabilities so you can see where I'm going with this.

      To help you, here are the various types of aircraft and roles that you need to account for:

      Roles: strike (how many aircraft for a strike effort?), self-defense (how many aircraft for carrier self-protection?), ASW

      electronic warfare
      airborne early warning

      Let me know what you come up with and whether it changes your thought about QE-type carriers or not.

  10. Would be interesting to hear if we can man these carriers and especially train enough pilots? I'm afraid the pipeline is pretty small for just current requirements. Again, I would prefer 10 air wings active for 10 carriers and maybe 2 or 3 reserve, retired pilots kept in reduced currency but could be brought back up to speed fast. That's another reason USN and USAF getting rid of so many older jets just cast away plenty of good pilots. There should be a program for USN and USAF were you could keep a reserve of pilots apart from ANG, something maybe more flexible, USG spent so much money training these guys and gals, seems stupid then just to lose them like that.

  11. Currently the only US made ASW helicopter that is better than the Seahawk in terms of endurance is the CH-148 Cyclone, it should be a now brainer to adopt them in USN.


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