Friday, August 3, 2018

Ship Magazines - Do The Math

One of the recurring fears among some naval observers is the inability to reload VLS systems at sea.  We’ve just recently debunked the concern but the fear lingers (see, "War Deployments").  Well, here’s yet another perspective on the issue that proves reload capability is not needed:  the math!

A carrier group, for example, will consist of 3-4 carriers (4 is ComNavOps preferred number) and 20+ escorts (25-30 being ComNavOps preferred number) (see, "Carrier Task Force").  Let’s assume that each escort is a Burke with 96 VLS cells and that 50 are Standard missiles, 30 are quad packed ESSM, and the remainder are Tomahawks and VL-ASROC, neither of which are relevant to this discussion.

So, let’s do the anti-air warfare (AAW) math.

Standard Missiles:  20x ships X 50 Standards per ship = 1,000 Standard missiles

ESSM Missiles:  20x ships X 30 cells X 4 ESSM/cell = 2,400 ESSM missiles

Total = 3,400 AAW missiles

This ignores any SeaRAM point defense missiles the group might have.

So, in order for reloads to even be required, the group would have to fire off well over three thousand missiles!  Given that the enemy’s anti-ship missile inventory is limited just like ours, does anyone really believe a single battle will see the enemy bring over three thousand anti-ship missiles to bear on a single carrier group????

Let’s do some more math.  The average modern warship carries somewhere around 8 anti-ship missiles and possibly up to a dozen or two.  For sake of discussion, let’s use the higher number of 24.  How many ships would be needed to launch three thousand missiles?  Well, 3000 missiles / 24 missiles per ship = 125 ships.

The enemy would need to assemble a force of 125 ships to launch 3000 anti-ship missiles!  No navy in the world can do that and even if an enemy had that many ships it couldn’t assemble that many in range in time.  A reasonable assembly of enemy ships opposing a carrier group might be 12-24 which would give an anti-ship missile inventory of 96 – 576.

Well, you say, the enemy can also launch anti-ship missiles from aircraft.  Yes, yes they can!  Let’s assume, say, 4 anti-ship missiles per aircraft – I know, there are some aircraft that can theoretically carry more but the impact on aircraft range and endurance is significant and that load would be uncommon.  So, 4 missiles per aircraft is a reasonable average.  Thus, the number of aircraft needed to launch over 3000 anti-ship missiles is, 3000 missiles / 4 missiles per aircraft = 750. 

The enemy would need to assemble, in short order, a force of 750 aircraft (of the right type!) to deplete our carrier group’s defensive missile inventory!  Not possible.

Of course, this analysis is simplistic.  Defending missiles aren’t launched one-for-one at attacking missiles.  A ratio of 2:1 is more realistic.  That means that the defending force in our example can only engage 1,700 attacking missiles.  Go ahead and rerun the math.  That’s still way, way beyond the attack capacity of any actual enemy.

A more realistic scenario is a single engagement with, perhaps, a dozen surface ships and/or a few flights of 10 or 20 attack aircraft.  Of course, the attackers would have to get past the carrier’s defensive aircraft before missiles even come into play but we’ll ignore that aspect.  We see, then, that a realistic scenario likely involves only a few to several dozen attacking missiles versus the defensive inventory of over 3000 missiles.  Depletion of the ship’s missile inventory is simply not conceivable and, therefore, reloading at sea is not a requirement.

Recall the old Soviet attack plan against US carrier groups?  Regiments of bombers would launch a couple of anti-ship missiles each for a total of 70+ attacking missiles.  Again, not even remotely near depleting the ship’s defensive missile inventory.

Here are the salient points to keep in mind regarding ship’s missile inventories.

  • The enemy’s inventory of attack missiles is just as limited as a ship’s inventory of defensive missiles.

  • Assuming even a small amount of surprise, the enemy has to assemble their attacking forces with little notice and can only bring a small fraction to bear in time.  This assures that attacking missile numbers will be small and manageable.

  • Ship’s don’t just stand in one spot and slug it out.  They appear, execute a mission, and retire.  Typical missions (the combat portion) last hours or a few days.

  • Ships don’t fight individually, they fight as groups and it’s the group’s missile inventory that matters.

Missile depletion is simply not a concern and, therefore, at-sea reloading is not a requirement.


  1. Missile depletion is more of a concern for Tomahawks and other offensive weapons.

  2. I kinda agree with the premise that reload at sea is not necessary, but I disagree on two counts:

    (1) Reload from ship to ship is desirable, so reload is possible in all ports (and many atolls).
    (2) The reason why reloading is not important during a battle or single patrol isn't your math, but the suspicion that defences would be overcome long before the escorts in the path of the attack would have their VLS depleted of SAMs. Defences would not be overcome by attrition of SAMs, but by stealth (surprise), speed (too short reaction times), evasive manoeuvres, standoff jamming and decoys.
    (3) National missile stocks very likely don't suffice anyway; almost all up-o-date missiles are carried in VLS already.

    1. "defences would be overcome long before the escorts in the path of the attack would have their VLS depleted of SAMs."

      If I understand what you're saying, you're correct. A battle is not going to be ended because of missile depletion (at least not defensive missiles) but by combat performance. In other words, the defenders will either repel the attack(s) with plenty of defensive missiles left or will be sunk, again with plenty of defensive missiles left. The engagement windows are just too brief to allow expenditure of many missiles either way.

    2. Yes. A TF commander may abort a patrol for lack of munitions reserve and individual escorts may be sent home early or be drawn from outer defences to very close CV escort tasks due to largely emptied magazines. I don't consider it a probable scenario that a battle would be fought to exhaustion of SAMs (unless the attacker seeks exactly this, by providing gazillions of decoy drones as targets).

      The low stocks of missiles outside of VLS are the much bigger issue than the reloading process, and both LWT and HWT stocks torpedoes may be insufficient as well. LWT stocks are certainly insufficient if the Mk 46 / Mk 54 propulsion turns out to be insufficient against SSNs, which is rather likely.

  3. Don't forget the anti-ship missiles that would be spoofed and jammed by soft-kill methods. Whilst using EW and decoys in mass saturation attacks maybe problematic, it represents another 'barrier' to a successful anti-surface strike.

    Iron Duke

    1. That's a prime concern for quasiballistic ones and for hypersonic ones. Sea skimmers on the other hand would simply recognise that they had been deceived and search a new target. This makes them more vulnerable to CIWS than during the initial approach, but soft kill alone will rather not defeat them.

      Decoy ships could soak up missiles as decoys, of course - but civilian ships would slow a task force down to about 25 kts.

    2. Use Maersk B-class container ships. They can manage 30+ kts. Other fast cargo ships could be employed. Sven, you do have point about sea-skimmers. Perhaps we need to experiment with layered soft-kill systems, similar to the layered approach to AAW.

      Iron Duke

    3. "Don't forget the anti-ship missiles that would be spoofed and jammed by soft-kill methods."

      Very good reminder although their use wouldn't significantly affect defensive missile usage since soft kill methods take effect after the defending missile layers.

    4. "soft kill alone will rather not defeat them."

      The historical data indicates that soft kill is quite effective. Whether a decoyed missile might find another target is a concern only for groups of ships and, even then, given the narrow field of view of missile seekers, the spread out nature of naval groups (a convoy might be a different situation), and possible range limitations, the likelihood of a decoyed missile finding another target is not great. Further, if a missile was susceptible to decoy once, it is likely to be susceptible again even if it finds another target.

      So, while decoyed missiles still present a threat for a time, to say that soft kill will not defeat them is not at all true. Perhaps I've taken your statement too literally. If so, and if you already know all this then just ignore this.

    5. "layered soft-kill systems"

      Interesting. What did you have in mind and how would you do it?

    6. Actually, the more I thought about layering soft-kill, the more convinced i've become it won't work. Yes, you could use directed IR lasers and radar jammers/spoofers, but the clutter would be ridiculous. Better to concentrate on improving existing examples.

      Iron Duke

    7. Regarding re-targeting
      Although historic missiles had limited capabilities

      There is no reason a missile could not be programmed to turn around and make a second pass at the same target, although there could be issues with fuel and turning circles.
      Even without that, your carrier group would consist of some 35 vessels, plenty of targets if the first is missed.

      As for Soft Kill, in a group setting it would likely be highly inappropriate.
      Throwing out vast clouds of smoke, chaff, and flares, would certainly blind incoming missiles, but would blind the launching ship and its neighbors.

    8. "Actually, the more I thought about layering soft-kill, the more convinced i've become it won't work."

      I'm inclined to think you're right. The problem is that soft kill is, generally, very short ranged and only deflects, not kills, a missile. So, you'd have to transport the ECM (via EA-18G?) to an outer layer but, even then, it wouldn't stop any missiles, just momentarily confuse them and then they'd probably resume course.

      The concept of layered soft kill is appealing but the practicalities may preclude it?

    9. "carrier group would consist of some 35 vessels, plenty of targets if the first is missed."

      Again, theoretically possible and even somewhat likely; wild guess - 20% chance of reacquisition?? Note, however, that even a large group of 20-30 ships would be spread out over a 40-100 mile diameter circle. That's not exactly packed together. A missile that is decoyed from its first target is quite likely to never see another in its field of view.

    10. I hadn't thought of those SAM numbers. You bring up good points, even if we are assuming 3-4 missiles/intercept we still have quite a few (assuming we send a task force with enough AAW ships; and the ability to do that also plays into your cheaper, more focused ship design).

      One thing I don't understand, and a lot of this is I don't know what I don't know, is why (it seems) have we spent so little time/money on soft kill options. Iron Duke makes a good point about soft kill but how long did SLQ-32 hang off of ships un-upgraded? It's 70's tech, and it's hard to believe it's as effective as it was.

      I'm convinced by you that we'll have enough missiles, But to me we still have an issue with being on the wrong side of the cost curve, and maybe still have a reaction time issue in just firing the things fast enough.

      According to Wiki (caveat emptor) the SM3 is about $18m/copy. ESSM is ~ 1m/copy.

      So to outfit that task force it's going to be 18billion for the standards and 2.4 billion for the ESSM.

      I know war isn't cheap but that's a crap load of money to shoot away.

      They are now starting to update SLQ-32, but if we could have spent a little more money up front on keeping the standards relevant (like we have) *and* keeping our soft kill options razor sharp, it seems a more affordable way of making our ships survivable.The soft kill options might also make our hard kill more effective.

      Yes, a missile might turn around (Though, at the super/hypersonic speeds that they are going at this sounds easier said than done), but even if it does you just gave the SAM's that much more time to react.

      I know this seems too bean-counterish, but I'm a firm believer that 'money is the sinews of war'. The Navy has a ton of money now, and it has to be more efficient in the way it spends it, and maybe that would be a way.

      Maybe there is a valid tactical reason we haven't (radiating to jam missiles might invite a HARM shot, for instance), I don't know.

    11. One other thing... and this may not be strictly relevant.

      What is the shelf life for an SM stored in a VLS at sea, or in a warehouse somewhere?

      Given the Navy's general lack of maintenance on it's surface vessels is it unreasonable to think that maybe its not doing what is needed to keep it's SSM's in shape and ready to fly?

    12. "SLQ-32"

      There is no good reason why the Navy hasn't kept its electronic warfare up to date. There is no good reason why the Navy hasn't provided effective ground fire support. There is no good reason why the Navy has deferred ship maintenance to the point of having to retire ships early. There is no good reason ... You get the point. The Navy makes many (all?) decisions that are wrong and baffling. No one knows why.

      As I've described in various posts, the best AAW is a combination of ESSM and ECM. Long range (and expensive!) Standards are a limited, niche capability. Why we aren't designing for that, I don't know.

      As far as jamming as a tactical action, once the missiles have found you, there's no point not radiating. Jam away! Deal with HARMs by doubling or tripling the number of CIWS and shoot them down.

    13. "What is the shelf life for an SM stored in a VLS"

      I have no idea but I note one of the major reasons for sealed canisters is to eliminate dirt, corrosion, and maintenance. There is still a shelf life but I have no idea what it is. I would guess 5+ years and then just diagnostic tests to find any replace any problems but, hey, that's a really wild guess.

  4. What about surface action groups (say 8 to 10 cruisers and destroyers) performing other missions? Assuming a similar loadout, such a group would have up to 500 SMs and 1200 ESSMs. Such a group might benefit from reloading at sea they would be susceptible to the same threats.

    1. What kind of battle do you envision that is going to deplete 1700 missiles????

    2. Well, once you've used up your allotment of Standard Missiles, you've lost the ability to defend yourself at long distances. You really want to defend your fleet with just ESSMs?

    3. In what realistic scenario are you going to use up all your Standard missiles????

      And, yes, it's quite likely that the majority of missile engagements WILL BE ESSM due to the sea-skimming - meaning late detection/targeting - nature of modern missiles.

  5. "Thus, the number of aircraft needed to launch over 3000 anti-ship missiles is, 3000 missiles / 4 missiles per aircraft = 750."

    As you've said, amassing 750 aircraft is impossible. But, a hundred aircraft launching 2-3 strikes a day would be able to deliver 3,000 missiles in a few days time.

    1. Did you seriously think about this before you replied? I don't want to be unduly harsh but there is not a shred of reality to this comment.

      No one has 3000 air launched, anti-ship cruise missiles in their inventory. No one has anything remotely approaching that.

      Even if you had 3000 anti-ship missiles, for your scenario to work they'd have to ALL be miraculously located in one fairly central location, ready for use, at the exact moment that the ships appeared. The reality is that the available anti-ship missiles would be distributed across the enemy's entire military, at every base that might need them. At any one or two bases that might be in range of the target ships, there would be only dozens or perhaps a hundred available.

      The same comments as above apply to the aircraft. No one has a hundred maritime strike aircraft sitting in one location. Aircraft are distributed across many bases across thousands of miles of territory. Any individual base might have one or two dozen. For your scenario to work, you'd have to have a hundred maritime attack aircraft sitting at the exact right base at the exact right time, ready to go. Utterly ridiculous.

      Modern aircraft can't run non-stop, consecutive missions for days on end. They'd be lucky to run two sorties in a row. Modern aircraft demand maintenance. There's also attrition. Aircraft aren't going to attack a large surface/carrier force and suffer no casualties.

      Please reconsider your comment and delete it as utterly unrealistic and save me the trouble.

  6. Out of curiosity, have you looked in to how many missiles were fired during the falklands war?
    I had a quick search, but couldnt find a count

    Although an ideal mission may be, in, bomb, out,
    The battle of Pearly Harbour lasted a single day, Midway 3 days, and Coral Sea 4 days.
    But Iwo Jima lasted five weeks, and Guadalcanal 6 months.

    There simply may not be the option to halt the war, return to a safe port, and reload.

    1. Falklands - I looked at this once when I was looking at surface to air missile efficiency but I've now forgotten. My recollection is that it was a few to several dozen missiles.

      Guadalcanal lasted for months but the naval battles did, in fact, consist of periodic engagements followed by return to base for both sides with fresh ships being thrown in to the battle as they became available. So, it exactly proves the single engagement model.

      Iwo Jima lasted for weeks due to the land battle. There was no significant naval battle. Ships were in the area for weeks but that was just patrol and ground fire support.

      Naval forces simply don't stay at sea much past a single engagement. Hence, my call to readjust our thinking about wartime naval operations.

    2. Re Falklands
      I know the kill percentage was quite low, but the methodology was pretty inconsistent.
      Exactly what missiles were fired at what targets and under what circumstances they were or were not counted do not seem to be easily verifiable, likely by design.

      But, there were incidents of single aircraft were engaged by at least 4 missile systems, with the possibility of more than one of each missile type.

      My point re Guadalcanal was primarily that you may not be in control of the pace.
      In a purely naval engagement, both sides reasonably have the expectation of breaking the engagement at will.

      But once it becomes a combined operation, that becomes a lot more complicated.
      The enemy could, at least in theory, organise a situation in which you either deplete your batteries and abandon thee ground contingent, deplete the batteries and remain, or risk rationing weapons.

      As I ( think I ) said, actual reloads are likely to remain a bigger problem than reloading per se, but I just cant get the image of sailors belting ammunition in their bunks out of my head

    3. You might be interested in the data from an older, May 2013, post.

      "Historically, there have been very few combat AAW missile launches so there is not much of a database to draw conclusions from. The best data set that I’m aware of is from the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina. During that conflict, at least 26 Sea Dart missiles were launched. Wikipedia reports that of 5 missiles launched against helicopters or high flying, relatively slow aircraft, 4 hits were achieved. By contrast, there were only 2 hits out of 19 launches against low flying aircraft. The Falklands totals for the Sea Dart, then, were 6 hits out of 26 launches (23% success). Wikipedia further notes that an unspecified number of launches were made without guidance in an attempt to break up low level attacks as a result of limitations of the missile system. In addition, the Sea Wolf missile, designed for use against low level targets, achieved 2 kills in 8 launches for a 25% success rate, according to Wikipedia."

      Not a lot of data but it gives some indications of success rates against fairly easy targets, at least compared to anti-ship missiles.

    4. On further thought
      Reload of VLS at sea wouldnt solve my problem, it would still be necessary to leave the area to meet a stores vessel.

      How quickly are rail launchers reloadable?

    5. "Reload of VLS at sea wouldnt solve my problem"

      Okay, good that you recognize that but what problem are you looking to solve? We've demonstrated that there is no reasonable scenario in which ships can exhaust their missile inventory so what problem are you looking to solve?

      Much of the overall discussion has focused on how to do reloads rather than acknowledging that there is no need for reloads. The general discussion is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist!

  7. @ComNavOps: "Recall the old Soviet attack plan against US carrier groups? Regiments of bombers would launch a couple of anti-ship missiles each for a total of 70+ attacking missiles. Again, not even remotely near depleting the ship’s defensive missile inventory."

    Just to piggyback off this (you may know this already, but this is further context for the benefit of the audience): back in the Cold War, sending regiments of Backfires to throw missiles at CVBGs was still a viable proposition, not because of missile magazine sizes, but because back in the day USN ships were using the one arm bandit and twin rail launchers, which had pretty low rates of fire all things considered. A Mk 26 Tico can put 16 Standards into the air in 32 seconds; a VLS Tico can put 64 Standards into the air in those same 32 seconds*. Plus, if there's a missile failure, you now need to jettison and clear the missile from the rail, whereas with VLS being both magazine and launcher, you just move on to the next cell.

    *(This is ignoring how that Tico doesn't have enough guidance channels for all those 64 missiles though. :P)

    1. While rail launchers versus VLS is a valid concern, it's a minor one in such an attack. The concept was that defending missiles would be launched - ideally at the bombers rather than their missiles! - while the targets were a hundred miles away. Thus, there would be plenty of time to fire off all the needed defensive missiles. A few seconds difference in launch rate is meaningless given those kinds of distances.

      Now, if attacking missiles "pop up" over the horizon then launch rate is critical. Of course, even then one can make an argument that a trainable launcher is advantageous in that the missile starts off pointed directly at its target instead of having to go up, tip over, and acquire. Which launch method is better in the quick reaction case depends on how many attacking missiles you face. If just a couple, a trainable launcher is probably better. If many missiles, a vertical launch is probably better.

    2. Oh, definitely, but what I was getting at was that in that era, there was a window where the Soviets' offensive missiles could outweigh the defensive fires put up by the desron, particularly given the limited numbers srsface AAW ships; though, as you said, the ranges and times to target involved mean that the desron had more than a fighting chance.

    3. " if there's a missile failure, you now need to jettison and clear the missile from the rail, whereas with VLS being both magazine and launcher, you just move on to the next cell."

      Well well, remember the recent VLS missile launch that failed on the German frigate, indeed if you have a launch failure directly over the VLS cells you might expect not to launch anything from that cluster . .

    4. @Storm Shadow: maybe, but from what I recall of photos of Saschen's VLS, the affected cell is utterly fucked up, the blast doors on the immediately adjacent cells have scorch marks on them, but it's hard to determine what damage if any is suffered by the rest of the VLS cells.

      Also, when I said missile failure, I was talking about a missile that failed to fire. In the same scenario as what happened to Saschen - the missile blows itself up because something went fucked somewhere - you're now out the missile *and* the twin arm launcher, so operationally you're still just as fucked - albeit that because Burkes and Ticos have bigger VLS clusters, the law of numbers means that there's less chance a single catastrophic hit fucks the rest of the missiles.

    5. "I was talking about a missile that failed to fire."

      I think you know this but just for everyone's benefit, the rail launchers "ejected" the missiles and then the motors ignited as opposed to the motors igniting and "flying" off the rails.

      I recall seeing a film on TV about Desert Storm and it showed a Perry single arm launcher launching a missile (don't recall what type of missile). Unfortunately, the missile motor never ignited so what happened was the missile ejected about twenty feet and then just dropped into the sea!

      This illustrates a potential advantage of a rail launcher. The missile always separates from the rail and can't drop back down on the launcher. A VLS launch could, I suppose, drop back down on the VLS cluster. Theoretically, it shouldn't explode but could probably still cause a bit of damage.

      Overall, VLS seems a better way to go but it's not quite as overwhelmingly cut and dried as it might seem. An alternative approach might be to use rail launchers but use several of them, each with their own mini-magazine. Just a wild thought.

    6. Yeah, that's what I mean with the whole jettison process - if the missile fails to fire on the launcher, you've got to spend time to jettison the missile and draw a new missile from the magazine, which can be a make or break deal depending on the situation (not so much of an issue with TLAM shore bombardment, a bit more urgent when intercepting sea skimmers). Note the following videos, btw, of Perry and Tico missile shoots - it looks a lot like the missile rides the rail, instead of being jettisoned and fired. Unless the delay between separation and rocket motor igniting is a lot shorter than on air-launched missiles, I suppose.

      USS Gary Mk 13 firing

      CG-51 Mk 26 firing

      At the end of the day it all boils down to pros and cons and the tradeoffs therein between the two and whether the operator considers the tradeoffs acceptable. That said, unless things change I don't think rail launchers are coming back though; everyone is either buying VLS, or making their own systems. VLS is just so much more efficient in terms of space and volume: on the Ticos, the space where they fitted a Mk 26 and a 44-round magazine now fits 64 VLS cells - that's almost a 1/3rd increase in missile throw weight!

  8. Or a simpler question before asking " hey why can't we reload at sea" ask, hey who else can reload at sea ?

  9. To also point out your Phalanx and 5in guns killing missiles close in.

    Hmm. Could we have the new cruisers/Destroyers as some sort of modern atlanta? Maybe replace those 2 AGS on the Zumwalts with 3 5 in guns for some.

    Can the MK71 be used for AA?

    1. "A gun-based anti-air ship? Interesting but I don't think it's viable. Manufacturer's claims aside, no one thinks a gun is a viable anti-air weapon. The rate of fire is way too slow. To the best of my knowledge, the Navy doesn't train for gun anti-air and doesn't even pretend it's viable. Are you aware of any navy that actually trains for 5" gun anti-air?

      Compare the guns that are actually built for anti-air to larger naval guns. The true CIWS-type guns have insanely high rates of fire and many have dedicated fire control radars.

      Having said all that, I've actually got a post coming that proposes a 16" anti-air projectile! So, under a particular set of circumstances, your idea is not impossible. Wait for the post. You'll enjoy it.

    2. I'm reminded of a story a Singaporean buddy of mine related: he's assigned to his Patrol Vessel, and he asks, "Hey, what's our CIWS in case the Malaysians fire AShM at us?"

      "Man the .50 and shoot it down."

      "...I'm good, but I'm not THAT good."


      Theoretically you could use 5-inch and 76mm to intercept missiles, but for that to work you really, really need guided rounds, you can't do that with dumb rounds, even with VT fuse. OTO Melara keeps shilling their DART smart rounds, and Raytheon's been claiming that Navy Excalibur Block 2 will turn 5" into smart homing rounds, but I'll believe it when I see it - not that I don't think it can be done, but it hasn't been provably demonstrated yet.

    3. I've wondered if the LCS could be converted to an Anti missile ship- It has a lot of space above deck, and also below deck.

      Please forgive my very amateurish attempt, but I've cut and paste the 57mm gun several times, on the independence class LCS, so that such a ship would have x6 57mm guns. If we assume it can do what, on paper, BAE says it can, surely x4-5 57mm guns would be useful in anti missile defence.

      Please don't comment on the mismatched lines- I had to do it using a free app on my phone, and then screencap it, since it wasn't easy to find the folder it gets saved into!


    4. I couldn't get the link to work. But FWIW I believe that for both the odd and even class the LCS is electro-optically guided using the SAFIRE system.

      I don't think that system has a chance of hitting a missile.

    5. The UKs 113mm naval gun prioritised first round engagement speed over rate of fire to give some anti missile capacity

      I cant see it working these days though, the missiles are just too fast, if a stream of heavy 30mm projectiles hitting head on dont stop it, its hard to imagine a few shotgun or canister pellets doing it.

  10. Interesting analysis, and I think pretty valid for open ocean engagements or "Hit and run" attacks against shore targets. I do wonder if we might occasionally find ourselves in a prolonged littoral engagement, wherein the enemy had the ability to replenish his stocks, but we did not? That would, it seems, leave us with the choice of rotating ships back to a base or not maintaining the engagement or risking our ships, none of which are good choices. My history muse seems to recollect that the USN developed rearming at sea to address exactly that dilemma off Okinawa during WW II, since the transit time back to "Base" (Ulithi) was unacceptable. Of course that was mainly shore bombardment ammo vice AAW, but it would seem to me the analogy is still valid.

    1. You correctly identify a key distinction. It's quite alright to run out of ammo while conducting planned fire support and, presumably, having planned replacement ships to rotate on and off the firing line. That's not running out of ammo, that's a planned and managed usage.

      A prolonged littoral engagement is not something a commander would even enter into unless he knew he had, again, a planned system to rotate ships in and out.


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