Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Conceputal Armor For Modern Ships


Modern navies have all but abandoned armor for ships.  ComNavOps has demonstrated the fallacy in this approach.  The overall situation can be summed up thusly:  we are building multi-billion dollar ships that are susceptible to one-hit kills (literal and mission) due to lack of armor.

The arguments against armor, such as the one-hit killing power of torpedoes, have been debunked.

What is left now is to design a conceptual armor arrangement for modern ships that takes into account modern threats.

Let’s start by looking at the threats.

Large Anti-ship Cruise Missiles (ASCM or just ASM) – These are the heavy weight, generally supersonic missiles such as the BrahMos (Mach 3, 6000 lb, 28 ft long, 440 lb warhead) or SS-N-22 Sunburn/P-270 Moskit (Mach 3, 10000 lb, 32 ft long, 660 lb warhead).  These present a threat to the ship’s side and upperworks as well as having significant penetrating capability to internal compartments.

Small Anti-ship Cruise Missiles – These are the smaller, generally high subsonic missiles such as Exocet, Harpoon, or C-80x.  They typically carry 350-400 lb warheads.  These present a threat to the ship’s side and upperworks as well as having significant penetrating capability to internal compartments.

Mines – There are all manner of mines but for our purposes we can categorize them as contact or influence fuzed – the difference being the distance and depth at which they explode from the ship’s hull.  A contact mine is typically the venerable floating or near surface mine that would contact the ship’s underwater hull side.  An influence mine is more likely to explode under the ship’s hull but offset well to the side.  These present a threat to the ship’s structural integrity below the waterline but generally above the bottom of the ship.

Torpedoes – Generally, torpedoes are designed to explode under the ship’s hull.  These present a threat to a ship’s structural integrity at the bottom of the hull.

Artillery – Guns, whether ship or land based, are generally guns of up to 5” (127 mm) or 6” (155 mm) size.  Depending on the range, artillery shells present a plunging threat to the upper works and decks of a ship.

Close Range Missiles – These are small, close range missiles such as Hellfire.  These present a threat to upperworks and the sides of a ship, depending on the launcher height relative to the target.  They do not, however, have a great deal of penetrating power.

Fragmentation Missiles/Shells – These are generally small warhead missiles or shells intended to destroy exposed upper works and equipment.  A typical example is an anti-radiation missile intended to destroy radars and sensors.  These present a general shrapnel threat to upperworks and a specific threat to sensors and nearby equipment.

Miscellaneous – These include machine guns (0.50 cal, 20-30 mm, etc.), rocket propelled grenades (RPG), rockets up to 5” in size, etc.  These present a threat to upperworks and the sides of a ship, depending on the launcher height relative to the target.

I’ve intentionally left out anti-ship ballistic missiles because there are no sensor systems of sufficient range to make them viable threats.  A 5000 mile anti-ship ballistic missile is useless when the sensor/targeting range is on the order of hundreds of miles.

Having defined the scope of threats, it is now necessary to consider the likelihood of each threat.  In the inevitable tradeoffs of armor design, the likelihood of a threat will help determine where best to place our armoring efforts.  In order, the likelihood is
  1. Small ASMs.  Modern naval combat will be mostly missile based and small ASMs are the most numerous and likely to be encountered.
  2. Fragmentation missiles and shells will be commonly used to attempt to blind ships by destroying their sensors.
  3. Large ASMs.  While potent, these are far less numerous and, therefore, less likely to be encountered.
  4. Torpedoes are potent but less likely due to the simple fact that submarine attacks are challenging to set up.
  5. Mines will be ubiquitous but are easily detected en masse and will be avoided with generally good success.
Everything else is relatively unlikely due to the short ranges required to launch the weapons.

In the normal course of armor design consideration, we would also include an assessment of the lethality of the various threats, however, we’ve already noted that every weapon is ‘lethal’ (mission or ship kill) to today’s lightly built ships!  Therefore, this is almost pointless and we’ll ignore it.

As we enter the meat of the discussion, note that I am not an armor expert.  Therefore, our discussion will be limited to conceptual arrangements rather than specific armor types, thickness, or specifications.  That’s a job for a naval engineer.

As we begin to contemplate the actual armor arrangement, we note from the preceding discussion that a ship has several distinct zones or bands that are each susceptible to different threats.  The main “bands” are:

  • Upperworks – the upperworks are susceptible to horizontally impacting missiles
  • Deck – the deck is susceptible to plunging artillery fire and plunging missiles that have executed a pop-up maneuver
  • Side above the waterline – the above water side of the ship is susceptible to sea-skimming missiles
  • Side below the waterline – the side below the waterline is susceptible to influence fuzed mines and torpedoes
  • Bottom – the bottom is susceptible to torpedoes
  • Internals – this includes the critical combat related command and control spaces, fire control, engineering, computer facilities, etc.
  • Special mention: electronics and weapons – electronics and weapons are particularly susceptible to shrapnel in addition to direct impacts from all manner of shells and missiles


Having identified threats and their likelihood and recognized key zones of a ship, we are now ready to discuss the armor arrangement.  The arrangement is predicated on understanding the reason for armor.  While it is simple enough, it bears stating.

The purpose of armor is to maintain the ship’s combat capability (enable it to keep fighting) for as long as possible and to enhance the ship’s survivability.  The purpose of armor is NOT to grant total immunity.

Recognizing the purpose, this gives us some guidance as to how to design our conceptual armor. 

We need to protect the ship’s structural integrity and mitigate the main threat which is flooding (fire is actually the main threat to a ship but that’s more of a damage control issue rather than an armor issue).
We need to protect the ship’s weapons, sensors, and command so that the ship can continue fighting.

With those two goals in mind, here is the armor concept for the various zones.

  • Upperworks – the majority of upperworks are devoted to a ship’s daily operational tasks such as small boat handling, replenishment, anchoring, and the like.  As such, they require only fragmentation armor protection.
  • Deck – the deck is susceptible to plunging artillery fire and plunging missiles but these are less common occurrences.  Therefore, unlike WWII ship armoring, deck armor can be significantly reduced – perhaps needing only a couple of inches.
  • Side above the waterline – the above water sides have been identified as likely targets and will need heavy armor bands sufficient to resist small anti-ship missiles and low level, horizontally launched rockets and small missiles.  Depending on the size of the ship, this is where several inches of armor should be placed.
  • Side below the waterline – while the potential for damage is large from mines the likelihood is very low.  This area needs only enough armor to mitigate the effects of torpedoes which explode below the ship’s hull.
  • Bottom – The bottom of the hull needs v-shaped, shock absorber mounted armor plates, multiple void spaces that alternate empty and liquid (foam, maybe) filled, and modified structural elements that are designed to absorb more than resist torpedo explosions.  Scaled down battleship torpedo defense designs and construction techniques are a good starting point and should be built into every ship.  This is less a question of pure armor and more an issue of proper structural design.
  • Internals – the critical combat related command and control spaces, fire control, engineering, computer facilities, etc. require substantial armor in ‘cubic’ form – meaning, all around the compartments as opposed to just on the sides.
  • Special mention: electronics and weapons – Weapons need to be armored to the point that only a direct hit can incapacitate them.  I believe that VLS systems are armored around the sides to direct blasts upwards but are not significantly armored against hits from above.  This is semi-informed speculation on my part and could be wrong.  If correct, we need to add topside armor to the VLS systems sufficient to protect against plunging shellfire and small anti-ship missiles.  The 5” guns need protection against shrapnel and near misses.  The WWII Fletchers had up to 2.5” of armor on their 5” guns and today’s guns should have a functionally equivalent amount.  Sensors are a challenge to armor because armor generally interferes with their function.  What can be done is to provide armored screens around the backs and sides of sensors and, for those that rotate, make the screens rotating with the sensor.  Thought should be given to housing the sensors inside armored pockets until needed and then extending when in use.  Precedent exists for such arrangements as observed in some of the more extreme stealth ships.

Compared to WWII armor designs, plunging fire is much less of an issue and armor should be concentrated more on the sides and less on the decks, on a relative basis.  Thus, we see a modern armor design that features a single, very heavy side band of armor combined with significant protection of critical internal compartments.  The hull bottom is every bit as critical but requires less in the way of pure armor and more in the way of structural design modifications, as we’ve addressed in previous posts.

Hand-in-hand with armor is intelligent ship design.  For example, outer compartments should be non-critical functions such as berthing, storage, machine shops, and the like with all such compartments designed to contain shrapnel and localize damage.  To an extent, the upperworks and outer compartments are sacrificial.  Being non-combat-critical, their purpose in combat is to act as ‘crumple zones’, to borrow an analogy from the automotive industry, and shrapnel sponges.

As with WWII armor, a ship’s side armor should be designed to detonate missiles as early as possible rather than allow deep penetration prior to detonation.  WWII armor research developed some very specific techniques (de-capping, for example) for the purpose.  Whether those would apply to detonating missiles or not, the concept remains valid – detonate the missile as far ‘out’ from the ship’s core as possible.  That, combined with locating non-critical compartments and functions in the outer areas should provide substantial sustainment of combat capability during battle.

Again, the goal is not to provide total, 100% immunity to all known weapons but to prolong the effective combat duration of the ship in the face of damage.

Below is a drawing of a Burke class destroyer illustrating the concept just described.  The heavier green is heavier armor with lighter green areas being lighter armor.  Note that the entire ship should be constructed of heavier material than is current practice.  Also, the ship's critical internals should be armored, as discussed.  The yellow band of the underwater hull represents a combination of armor and structural redesign for torpedo resilience.

Conceptual Armor Scheme

136 comments:

  1. As usual, well said.

    I have nothing to disagree with. The real issue is getting the Navy leadership to make a big course change and stop accepting ships that are not War Ships!

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    1. "I have nothing to disagree with."

      Well, that's not very interesting! Okay, how about the opposite approach? What would you add? How would you design a ship for sustained combat - assuming you even would?

      A ship that can last twice as long in combat (or ten times as long or a hundred times) is a force multiplier. The logic behind making ships resilient is elementary and yet beyond current naval leaders. Can you imagine a WWII Iowa BB being intentionally designed to lose its combat capability after taking a single hit?

      The lack of armor on modern ships is one of those (many) concepts that I truly cannot understand. The logic for, and benefits of, armor are overwhelming!

      Anyway, hope you enjoyed the post.

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    2. I think the biggest problem is after so many decades of not installing armor on it's ships PLUS the added sense of ridicule you can bet will be raised by people that don't have a clue about weapon systems, history,etc....there's no way USN will seriously look into this UNTIL half the fleet has been disabled or resting at the bottom of the ocean....

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    3. Let's face it, CNO is talking WAR and USN has a hard time doing maintenance in peacetime!!!

      https://breakingdefense.com/2018/12/three-attack-subs-not-certified-to-dive-navy-f-35s-at-15-percent-readiness/

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    4. Every warship should have armor protecting critical areas. The Battle of Jutland happened 100 years ago and showed the fallacy of designing ships with great offensive capability and not enough armor to stand in a fight. Armor is the basic, passive defenses for a ship. Missiles, decoys and elec. countermeasures should enhance the safety provided by armor, not replace it.

      But, none of this is new information for you or most of your readers. The navy has been using ceramic plates to break-up bullets, which limits their penetration. Steel foam is a promising technology. I hope the Navy begins testing cold rolled armor to create the foam. The foam combined with layers of armor plate might be an light weight means of stopping at least 155mm artillery and 5" shells.

      I keep shaking my head and get angry every time people die needlessly because of poor ship design and lack of realistic testing. But there seems to be no avoid repeating history.

      I would rather be on a slower ship with armor, than a faster ship without armor. Both ships will get hit, but one is more likely to survive.

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    5. "I would rather be on a slower ship with armor,"

      That is an absolute fallacy and I'll keep repeating it. For a properly designed ship, armor does not impact speed. In WWII, we had 30+ kt destroyers, cruisers, and battleships, all with armor.

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    6. Yes, but where's the graft in properly designing something? Isn't it better for the bottom line to fix things at twice the price (if you're extremely lucky) than to have done it right in the first place? My God, man, it's like you expect retired admirals to live like plebes! Where's your heart?

      It makes me think The Punisher had the right idea, at times. :(

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  2. The extra armor also affects the ship's stability and maneuvering capability, which is hard to characterize without a good model of the ship to work with. But, on whole, what affect do you think the extra armor has on top speed? And, do you think the propulsion system needs more horsepower?

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    1. Probably need more horsepower but I wonder if using new design techniques plus we have made some progress in ship building since 1940s if some of this armor could be incorporated instead of being an add-on belt that you see on old BBs. If it's designed in from the start, yeah, it would be heavier but I think the sea keeping part could be maintained and even the total weight could be held down to a reasonable total. My 2 cents....

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    2. "The extra armor also affects the ship's stability and maneuvering capability"

      That's absurd. We had this all figured out in WWII. Those ships weren't just wallowing tubs that couldn't move. The were uniformly fast and maneuverable with greater range than today's ships. Go back and examine the specs on WWII ships.

      As far as speed, you design a ship for whatever speed and armor you want. If that requires a larger motor, that's fine.

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    3. A repurposed Fletcher design with some mix of guns, VLS ASROC (or better), ESSM, plus CIWS, SeaRAM, ECM/decoys, would be many times more effective than our worthless LCS at 50% the weight! Different armaments for different models that have different purposes except for basic self-defense.

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  3. In regards to the misc class of threat, would you add friendly fire from CIWS to that? It is my understanding that it can be a problem. I believe in first Gulf war an UK ship shot up the chaff cloud the Missouri(IIRC) used against a missile attack.

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    1. Friendly fire is always a concern but that's what training is for. That's probably also a good reason for not trying to artificially force cross-navy operations between different countries.

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    2. If you're designing a belt to withstand hits from ASMs, then 20mm probably isn't going to be that tough of a problem.

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    3. That's not quite right, it was the CIWS on a US ship (the USS Jarrett) that fired on Missouri. No injuries, but one bullet did penetrate the bulkhead (https://gulflink.health.mil/du_ii/du_ii_refs/n52en417/8023_034_0000001.htm).

      Meanwhile the British ship (HMS Gloucester) shot down the Iraqi missile - it was the first ever successful missile to missile engagement at sea during operations. Quite an interesting incident actually.

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    4. Ah, got my story mixed up. Thanks for the link.

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    5. I believe the Phalanx rounds self detonate now to avoid that scenario.

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    6. The land based C-RAM rounds self-detonate but I'm not aware that the ship version does. The land munition is a high explosive incendiary tracer with self-destruct. The sea version uses tungsten armor piercing rounds and, to the best of my knowledge, does not self-destruct. Do you have a reference indicating otherwise?

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  4. I wonder how much weight and cost armor like this would add to a ship. Well I did some readings Flight III burkes are coming in at around 700 million just for the hull without radars or weapon systems. From what I've read Flight 3 Burkes are 510 ft long, so assume we cover 75% of that length with just standard steel plate (No idea what type of armor the navy would want). Now I'm not sure how wide this plate should be, but say maybe, 30 feet up from the waterline and about 3 inches thick? With some rounding you end with an extra ~1,287 tons of armor for the sides. Granted this calculation isn't accurate since it's been made for a single giant plate of standard metal but hopefully it can serve as a base estimate. I have no idea how much military grade warship armor would cost and I'm sure those dimensions above are not representative of how a "battle" burke would be armored or even how additional weight would impact the ships speed. I'll leave that to people smarter than me for now.

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    1. As a data point, the Atlanta class cruiser was 30 ft longer than a Burke and had a 7000 ton displacement with up to 3.5" of belt armor (on top of thicker side plating to begin with!) and 1.5" deck armor.

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    2. Atlanta's were also over 6 feet narrower at the water line and 1-2 less draft. The block coefficient between the 2 are about the same. .502 vs .505 - .5066. The weight goes for the C4I now.

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  5. I disagree with your assessment that ASBM are not a viable threat.
    In regards to the Chinese problem, they're quite viable. They offer an immediate counter-strike and deterrence to both CVBG and raid style strikes, more so with CVBG then raids, which I will briefly comment on later in this post.


    1. There is no realistic plan of depriving China of vision, in regards to its non-military naval or aviation assets. Their fishing fleet numbers close to 246,000 vessels and they have demonstrated with their territorial clashes that they have installed communications equipment that is long range and compatible with their military comms.
    As to aviation, we have limited ourselves to BVR engagements, both in doctrine and equipment. Any aircraft on our side making interdiction on an unknown aircraft, is an indication that we have CVBG in the area. It also wouldn't surprise me if they have surveillance aircraft disguised as private or commercial aircraft, further compounding the identification targeting and destruction of them.


    2. Any successful strike on a Chinese target runs the risk of having the attacking force fight path, either on the way in or the bounce, triangulated back to a point of origin. They then can launch multiple ASBM as they feel is necessary to saturate a suspect location. Raid style attacks, just due to reaction times alone, aren't quite susceptible to this.


    3. The dreaded "what-if"... is a distinct possibility. "What if" they develop a more credible means of targeting and are able to retro fit most of their inventory to this new standard and we now have a fleet that is unable to attack with out high loses? Like you've said, we have no such weapon of are own and are quite ignorant of its capabilities, either real or imagined.

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    1. "I disagree with your assessment that ASBM are not a viable threat."

      I think you're constructing a worst case scenario that is not operationally realistic. I say this in spirit of discussion more so than argument. Here's my thought process - see what you think of it.

      You're correct that China's fishing fleet is just an extension of their military - no question about that. They will report anything they see. However, in a war, our carrier groups will begin operating a thousand miles out from the first island chain. There won't be any fishing vessels out there (they haven't got the range) and, if there somehow were, we'd sink them as a matter of course, at our leisure. The carrier groups (and the entire US military would begin rolling back the first island chain defenses (and fishing boats) in a gradual process. Thus, there would never be an instance where a fishing vessel would have the opportunity to see a carrier group. The same applies to disguised commercial aircraft. We're not going to operate a carrier group on a war footing within seeing/sensor range of a commercial aircraft. In a real war, there won't be any commercial aircraft flying through a war zone and, if there are, it would be incredibly obvious that they were spies and would be avoided or shot down.

      Triangulating back is what waypoints are for. Missiles or aircraft never approach a target on a straight line basis. They take circuitous routes exactly to thwart such backtracking so, not an issue unless we're tactically stupid.

      What if they develop a magical sensor? Well, what if we develop a magical anti-ballistic sensor or a magical sensor countermeasure? No one can argue with or plan for unrealistic what-if's. If a totally out-of-the-blue, magical, what-if device suddenly appears then the Chinese win, I guess.

      Does any of that alter your thinking at all?

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    2. I advocate from a worse case perspective not cause I believe that's how its gonna turn out. I advocate from a worst case scenario because no one believes its a credible threat, a parallel that I liken to that of early naval aviation.

      Can we be 100% they will not work? If not, we should plan accordingly, we should devise measures and develop equipment, to deal with the threat. Which no one is doing or even acknowledging. We rather dismiss them as expensive fireworks.


      Likewise, in regards to the civilian fishing fleet/ aviation threat. What are we doing to ensure we are successful in that endeavor? Are we going to launch a $1.4mil tomahawk to sink a fishing boat, every time we see one? Will we close to use the main gun? Will we fire BVR at targets or will the Navy require VI? What forces will we take from our strike forces to do this duty? How much ordnance will be slotted for this purpose?

      These are the questions, that have no historical reference point from which an answer can be copy & pasted, simply because of the sheer numbers of the problem.

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    3. "Can we be 100% they will not work? If not, we should plan accordingly,"

      The problem with designing for the absolute worst case scenario is that it drives costs way, way up for an event that is unlikely. We simply can't afford it.

      The solution is to stop trying to build ships that will last 100 years and have to include every threat countermeasure we can imagine but, instead, to build ships for a 15-20 year life and then build new ones to deal with any new threats that have developed.

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    4. "These are the questions, that have no historical reference point from which an answer can be copy & pasted,"

      Of course history has an answer! In WWII, we sank every Japanese vessel (fishing or otherwise) that we found and we did so with destroyers mounting 5"/40 mm/20 mm or aircraft with guns or whatever weapon was handy. What we lack today is the smaller, true destroyer (a Fletcher) with a smaller set of weapons. Regardless, the cost of the munition expended is irrelevant if it protects a multi-billion dollar ship from being targeted.

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    5. For an ASBM to hit a moving target without a nuke requires terminal guidance which makes it prone to counter-measures. We don't have to kill them, we just have to avoid being hit by them.

      This is over and above the initial target acquisition issues. Here I agree with ComNavOps that there is no way a CVBG goes anywhere near enemy controlled space without clearing out or jamming the recon assets.

      And consider the relatively simple ruse of outfitting a cargo ship to look like a CV. If you can get your enemy to target a decoy TF you have gotten your enemy to show their cards as well opening themselves to counter-attacks.

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    6. "What we lack today is the smaller, true destroyer (a Fletcher) with a smaller set of weapons. Regardless, the cost of the munition expended is irrelevant if it protects a multi-billion dollar ship from being targeted."

      Wait, can't the LCS just swamp them with it's wake? ;-)

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    7. To both Jay Kay and CNO, since no one is acknowledging ASBM are a threat due a complicated targeting matrix, we're aren't developing counter-measures, equipment or doctrine wise.

      That is the point I'm making.

      Hence the "what-if" of them making ASBM operationally viable thru technological advancement, equipment and doctrine wise a more realistic outcome then our "what-if" ways of defeating them. Even in the initial post, ASBM's were intentionally left out on a theoretical discussion on defense. We can start by taking a look at our ships currently employed in ABM defense, both their weapons systems and use, and see if we can't derive a solution from that to cover this protentional threat.


      CNO, as to the "civilian" fishing, merchant, and aviation problem... Our methods in regards to the IJN are the correct concept. However, we must address the modern elements that cause this to be a unique issue now. During WW2, we operated under prize rules when possible, except when there existed the possibility of enemy radio communication, then they were treated as "warships"... sunk without warning. All ocean going vessels are required to have communication equipment now, undermining the legality of that claim of "warship". If we are to use that definition, we need to address BVR and develop weapons that can economically address the number of vessels we will have to sink, while not detracting from our stores of sophisticated, expensive AS missiles/bombs.

      Likewise, We also have Protocol 1 of the Geneva convention now to contend with, which forbids the deliberate targeting of civilians, while in acting in civilian occupations. How will we reconcile the required actions we must take in regards to that legal document?


      Like the IJN of that time period, I foresee the Chinese worrying little about losses. Unlike the IJN, the Chinese have nearly 25 times the amount of fishing vessels then the IJN did (according to the few estimates I found of that time period). In regards to merchant shipping, the IJN lost nearly 10 million of ships in gross tonnage during the war, The Chinese have an estimated 60 million today. We have to contend with less available units today then we did then, while destroying more, to achieve the same result.


      Don't confuse me for a fearmonger or a defeatist, I just wish to have on discussion on these points. What can we do to mitigate this issues and have a successful outcome in our favor and I would like to have this discussion now, before war and not during.

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    8. "as to the "civilian" fishing, merchant, and aviation problem."

      You seem not to be grasping just what an all out peer war with China will entail. There won't be any fishing vessels (true civilian or clandestine military) venturing very far from the Chinese mainland coast. They'll stay where it's safe. Any few that venture out past the first island chain can be safely assumed to be military and sunk at will.

      You seem to have a vision of hordes of fishing vessels surrounding every naval task force we put to sea. This is just not realistic.

      The same applies to commercial airlines. NONE are going to fly through war zones! If we see a 'commercial' aircraft we can, again, safely assume it's actually military.

      As far as legal concerns, again, you aren't grasping what total war is and how little it cares about legalities. If a few truly innocent fishing boats are destroyed in our efforts to protect our ships, that's too bad and it's the fault of the fishing vessel for venturing into a war zone. How many uncounted millions of civilian structures were destroyed by all sides in WWII? Total war is a grim business. Trying to run a war for survival (that's what a war with China will be) as a legal exercise is a recipe for disaster and defeat.

      There's nothing wrong with doing some R&D-type work focused on ballistic missile defense but to do more than that is pointless since the threat simply doesn't exist in any effective form nor does any reasonable possibility exist of it appearing in the foreseeable time frame.

      If anyone ever solves the 1000-5000 mile targeting challenge then, yes, ballistic missiles will be a threat. However, to the best of anyone's knowledge, that's not even a remote possibility unless you employ pure magic what-if - in which case, we also need to prepare for invisibility, anti-gravity, matter transport, warp power, etc. because, hey, what if China has secretly developed those? No one can disprove it!

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    9. "you seem to have a vision of hordes of fishing vessels surrounding every naval task force we put to sea."

      Not grasping the situation... No, I've been calling for a more economically way to sink this vessels as well as stating each encounter we have with said vessels is a breach of security. The Doolittle raid was launched early on just such a incident. As to commercial aviation, I brought that up as an illustration of the BVR/VI issue. As we both know, the military in general is known for putting out very restrictive ROE regardless of its implications... I'm not to sure our military leaders in the Pentagon will be able to grasp the finality that is Total war, like we do.

      "There won't be any fishing vessels (true civilian or clandestine military) venturing very far from the Chinese mainland coast. They'll stay where it's safe."

      They'll go were the fish are and they'll go where their told. Losing several thousand small fishing vessels on keeping the food coming is worth it. That it might provide them intelligence they can act on about our movements, is a bonus. I find it surprising your expecting individualist self-perseverance to overrule a culture that doesn't place much value on the concept to begin with.

      CNO, in regards to the legalities of necessary action, where in my comments have I said we shouldn't do it?
      In fact, quite confidently, I'm probably the only commenter to bring up their fishing fleet in a military context, and the only one advocating for its complete destruction (mandatory prelude to strikes closer to the Chinese mainland.) I just stating we need to think of all sides of the issue such as economics, logistical, and legally in such a manner to reduce our own risk, during and after the conflict has concluded.

      Thank you for acknowledging we need to study the ASBM threat and how to defend ourselves from it. Now here's the rub, do you think the navy is? From all I've read about it (Navy-matters isn't the only defense outlet I read, sorry), it is completely ignored, for the same reasons you have given... there is no discussion of counter-measures, defense, or mitigating the risk.


      "What-if" the "What-if" isn't a technological Breakthru on their part, but technological failing on our side? How detectable is the EMF signature of the Gerald Ford? How detectable will our advance networks be? Maybe the Chinese wont even try to jam our networks cause they stole the technology to listen in to our communications and now have a good idea on our fleet movements.


      Here's a quote from me earlier:
      "I just wish to have on discussion on these points. What can we do to mitigate this issues and have a successful outcome in our favor and I would like to have this discussion now, before war and not during."



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    10. "I'm not to sure our military leaders in the Pentagon will be able to grasp the finality that is Total war, like we do."

      They may not on day one of a war but they certainly will by day two!

      "they'll go where their told"

      China's leaders aren't going to send their fishing fleet out on a suicide mission. They'll send them where they can safely gather food. Might an odd vessel or two be sent on a long range scouting mission? Maybe but we have more than enough assets to find and eliminate them. It's just not a problem.

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    11. " it is completely ignored,"

      It's not being ignored. The SM-3 was designed specifically for ballistic missile defense. Now, one could reasonably argue that's not the best approach but BMD is being pursued.

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    12. "what if"

      Fine. Go ahead and start it off. What solution, countermeasures, whatever do you propose for this non-existent threat?

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    13. Hey, I hate "what-if" just like you do. A discussion can be "what-if" in an infinite amount of ways.

      My solution to ASBM is an echo of what you've said in regards to most unknowns... Test it. We develop a similar weapon or drone for target practice, your choice, and we test it realistically and how we think they will use. We can then test the SM3 to see if it is a suitable defense for a weapon with that attack profile. Until we start testing our weapons against a suitable substitute, unfortunately, the ASBM threat will still be a wildcard.

      We can eliminate as many unknowns and "what-if" as possible now so we reduce the surprises later.

      I think we have two opinions of china's leader that are at odds with one another.

      I see a china that is capable of incarcerating 1.2 million people to "re-educate" them, based on a cultural heritage that is at odds with the patriotic, nationalistic party line. A leadership that is trying to control and shape their populations views and thinking by controlling and shaping the way information is created or some would say, indoctrination. Their even creating an Orwellian nightmare with data collection and personal social rating schemes straight out of 1984... an attempt at removing individualistic thinking, or at the least, making it very difficult to share it publicly.

      History shows us what a nation is capable of once its citizenry becomes nationalistic zealots. The Imperial Japanese Army never had a military unit surrender in mass during WW2.

      In fact, if it wasn't for the Emperor commanding the nation to surrender, the people of Japan might have committed suicide by banzai on invasion day. It only took japan around 70 years to indoctrinate their citizenry.

      Delete
    14. "I think we have two opinions of china's leader that are at odds with one another."

      I don't disagree with anything you've stated about China's treatment of their citizens!

      Delete
    15. " Test it. "

      This is being done. There have been around 7 ABM tests involving the SM-3 with around 4 being successful to varying degrees. I can't attest to the fidelity of the surrogate ballistic missile targets. One can also question the extremely small number of tests. All that said, testing is being conducted.

      What is not being explored, as far as I'm aware, are alternate methods of anti-ballistic missile engagement. If anyone is looking into this, it's not being made public. For example, I've advocated a much more extensive and aggressive electronic countermeasures effort against both cruise and ballistic missiles but the Navy seems content to plod along with minor upgrades to its existing meager ECM capabilities.

      Delete
    16. There's a couple of problems here.

      The SM-3 isn't a point-defense BMD system. It doesn't defend a fleet of other ship. It's an exoatmospheric interceptor which targets the missile while it is outside of the atmosphere on a ballistic course so it can't maneuver. The BMD ships have to be stationed along the missiles flight path in order to intercept them after boost and prior to re-entry.

      And the targeting issue with a ballistic missile is terminal targeting if the target is moving and the warhead isn't a nuke.

      Finally, there is the nuclear threshold danger of launching a salvo of ballistic missiles eastward from China. Since these could be nuclear armed, how long does the US wait before retaliating? I'm not confident that in the heat of a shooting war, the US is going to take a chance if the weapons are conventional ASBMs aimed at a carrier or nukes aimed at Hawaii (or both?).

      The key is good intel on Chinese and Russian doctrine and deployments. If the Chinese only have a handful of these missiles, they are probably a deterrent to keep US CVBGs as far offshore as possible. That makes a lot of sense as it greatly reduces the air wings sortie rate, response time and general effectiveness.

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    17. And, if we're smart, we don't publicize our doctrine or low profile counter-measures to ASBMs. ECM, decoys, etc. are all much easier to keep under your hat until the shooting starts so why tip your hand?

      Developing a costly new weapons system isn't easy to keep under your hat.

      Delete
    18. "And the targeting issue with a ballistic missile is terminal targeting"

      Partly, yes. However, the initial targeting is even more of a challenge. No one is going to shoot ballistic missiles off blindly - they're too expensive, for one thing. A launch requires a precise initial target location and trying to get an initial target location on a target that's one to several thousand miles away is a problem that no one has solved.

      There's also the issue of response time. People seem to think that if, say, an aircraft does spot a target that the ballistic missile will launch a couple of seconds later. That's just not how it works. An aircraft's report of a target is going to be on many true and false contact reports flooding into an enemy's HQ during war. Getting someone to verify and accept the report takes time. Making the decision to attack takes more time, especially when it involves ballistic missiles which can be misinterpreted. Then, getting the targeting data out to the actual launch unit takes more time.

      It will likely be hours, at best, before anyone can use any targeting data and execute a launch. All the while, the target is moving away from the initial location.

      Finally, there is the terminal targeting issue you mentioned.

      I find the initial targeting to be a much bigger challenge.

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    19. @Purple Calico:

      Trying to use DF-21 at its 1700km range from shore is near-impossible for China, because China doesn't have sufficient sensor platforms with the range and loiter to search for a carrier group 1700km from the chinese shore.

      Furthermore, in addition to the challenge of searching that much ocean, there's also the problem that even assuming the search asset - which is going to be one of China's few, prized AWACS assets - has located the CVN, for it to detect the CVN means it's entered detection range of the CVN's E-2, and China doesn't have enough tankers to push out land-based fighters far to escort its AWACS on a long range search.

      So, great, the AWACS found the CVN, and let's assume that the missiles were launched instantly. There's still a 10 minute flight time for DF-21 to hit its target. That's 10 minutes the AWACS has to stay alive inside the E-2s detection range, where escort DDGs can take an SM-6 shot, or carrier fighters head up to shoot it down.


      @JayKay: On one hand, China has publicly stated that their nuclear weapons posture is "no first use", meaning they're not going to open up with nukes right from the get-go. On the other hand, China says many things. It depends on what they're doing and their cost-benefit analysis, but there's an opinion among observers that China will abandon no first use if they think the benefits outweigh the costs, or if they feel they can eat the political costs of a nuclear strike.

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    20. "That's 10 minutes the AWACS has to stay alive inside the E-2s detection range,"

      I assume you're referring to the AWACS providing mid-course guidance. To the best of my knowledge, there are no ballistic missiles that use mid-course guidance and they have their own terminal guidance. Once the initial detection occurs, the scout is free to leave.

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    21. @Wild Goose

      My understanding of the DF-21, and presumably the newer ASBM's that have been developed, is that it can be "fire and forget." Once it's been launched on its attack vector, with a glider/warhead searching a 250-500 mile diameter along a path until it acquires target or failing to do so, self destructs.

      1700km, Why would they have to launch at max range? F35 has a operational of range 1100km (one way 2200), give or take from that 1100km for loiter, waypoints to and from objective, F18 refueling assets, etc.


      If you find the DF-21's 1700km range nonsensical, how do you feel about the DF-26's 3-4000km listed one?

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    22. @ComNavOps:
      "I assume you're referring to the AWACS providing mid-course guidance. To the best of my knowledge, there are no ballistic missiles that use mid-course guidance and they have their own terminal guidance. Once the initial detection occurs, the scout is free to leave."

      That works okay for hitting stationary targets, but the CSG is always in motion. The problem with inertial guidance and terminal radar homing is that the travel time gives a large search area that the seeker has to search, and it's got very limited time to make that search. A CSG at 30 knots travels 9.25 kilometers in 10 minutes, which means a potential search area of 268.8 square kilometers, or 103.8 square miles. Supposedly DF-21 and DF-26 have the capability to receive midcourse guidance, in order to mitigate this problem.

      It should also be noted that the Chinese have not actually tested DF-21 and DF-26 against moving targets on the open sea. They talk up alot about the capabilities of their ASBMs, but as credible antiship weapons, these weapons are untested. (Some speculation by China observers is that the PLAN is experiencing an internal turf war between the carrier aviation faction and the rocket artillery faction, but I think that's a little unlikely. Still. To turf war is human nature.)

      However, if you note, the Chinese have admitted that DF-26 can carry warheads other than conventional ASBM (and DF-21D is a warhead swap from a nuke MRBM). Swap the conventional warhead for nukes, and you've got yourself an MRBM. I'm of the opinion that China is talking up DF-26's role as an ASBM in order to distract form how they're using DF-26 to recapitalise their MRBM arsenal.



      @PurpleCalico
      "My understanding of the DF-21, and presumably the newer ASBM's that have been developed, is that it can be "fire and forget." Once it's been launched on its attack vector, with a glider/warhead searching a 250-500 mile diameter along a path until it acquires target or failing to do so, self destructs."

      Do you have a source for those figures? I'm interested in seeing it, because that conflicts with other defense speculation I've seen, which figures the DF-21's seeker cone to be on par with the Pershing II.


      "1700km, Why would they have to launch at max range? F35 has a operational of range 1100km (one way 2200), give or take from that 1100km for loiter, waypoints to and from objective, F18 refueling assets, etc."

      I'm using the max range figure because ASBM proponents like using the max range of DF-21 to argue that it can attack a CVN with impunity without being threatened by carrier aircraft. The 4000km range of DF-26 is even more pointless, because China doesn't have sensor assets that it can push out that far, and, again, it has not actually validated DF-26's antiship attack capability.

      However, you don't need sensor assets to do targeting at 4000km out, if you are aiming at stationary targets. Swap out the conventional warhead on DF-26 for a nuke, and, as I said above, you have yourself a nuke MRBM.

      My speculation with regard to the range is that China is well aware that it can't push sensor assets far enough to attack carrier groups away from chinese soil. But if you assume that it's going to use ASBMs as part of its A2/AD strategy in chinese waters, then what the 1700km range lets you do is put your transporter erector launchers far inland. It's much easier for China to maintain sensor coverage 500 km out from its shores, and keep its ASBMs 1200 km inland, where they're safe from counterattack. Any CSG trying to force open the taiwan strait must then deal with Chinese surface ships, ASuW corvettes slinging AShMs, fighters in the air, and now ASBMs raining down from above.

      Delete
    23. @Wild Goose

      I'll provide the link at the bottom after I clear up the 250-500 miles statement. It has a kill radius estimated between 19km to 40km. Converted that makes 11 and 24 miles. The 250-500miles I've been throwing around is low end projections for the kill radius, math-ed up to the area of a circle and converted.


      As for it self destructing if it fails to find a target, that's speculation on my part, thou it is standard procedure with most guided ordnance (at least for the US military.)


      I disagree with your assessment that they will put their launchers far inland. It makes since with their fixed launch points, but the mobile ones would be quite safe near the coast.


      https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1796&context=nwc-review

      While tracking down the above link, I came across this one as well. I haven't finished reading it myself, but you may find it interesting.

      https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Erickson_Testimony.pdf

      By the way, can you provide the links to the "other defense speculation" you seen?



      Delete
    24. "By the way, can you provide the links to the "other defense speculation" you seen?"

      Unfortunately, no. It was a local defense magazine that I read at a newstand a year ago, which I didn't buy for archival purposes. The author's speculation was that DF-21 would have a ~40 km2 search cone, similar to Pershing II, based on the missile size. I guess it depends on the wordings used: my understanding is that the seeker cone can search an area of 40 square km, but your understanding seems to be that it can search a radius of 40km, which means 5,026 square kilometers, which seems a bit much. *shrug*

      Fucking words, what do they mean, argh! :V

      Interesting reading anyhow, your links are.

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    25. "I'll provide the link at the bottom after I clear up the 250-500 miles statement."

      You didn't clear anything up for me! What is a 'kill radius' and where do your figures come from?

      Ballistic missiles don't follow a path search path. They follow a ballistic exo-atmospheric trajectory (hence the name), re-enter, and then perform terminal guidance. The old Pershing supposedly performed a pull up maneuver after re-entry and then glided 30 miles just prior to its terminal dive, if that's what you're referring to. However, I've seen nothing that attributes such a behavior to the Chinese ballistic missiles.

      The DF-21 is rumored to have all sorts of near-magical capabilities and none of it is confirmed or even semi-authoritative speculation.

      Let's all stick to facts or label speculations as what they are!

      Delete
    26. The kill radius is that terminal guidance phase. My source is the fist link, which is speculative in nature. Its circa 2009 I believe. The figures I've listed, are the surface area of that "kill radius" as if it was a circle. Imagine a circle with a "Kill" radius of 11 miles. The diameter would be 22 miles. That nets you with a total surface area of 380 miles squared. I've low balled those figures I've been stating to cover the lowest that's been theorized. IF, and I highly doubt this IF, you use the upper limited of a 40km(24 mile) kill radius, that nets you a surface area of 1809 miles squared, in which the warhead can track targets during the terminal guidance phase. Again, my apologies for the confusion. My original wording made sense in my head...


      Delete
    27. "My source is the fist link, which is speculative in nature. ... The figures I've listed, are the surface area of that "kill radius" as if it was a circle."

      Lots of problems, here!

      The article is highly (totally) speculative and not very well grounded speculation, either. Nothing wrong with that as the author makes clear that it is speculation. The caution for us to also treat the information as highly speculative.

      Many of the article's sources are Chinese and, because of that, highly suspect. They may be more propaganda than scientific.

      Figure 2. in the link you provided makes clear, I think, that the kill "radius" is not a radius in the literal sense (half the diameter). The figure shows the target at the center of a "radius" of 40 km with 20 km on either side of the target point. That would make the true radius 20 km. Further, 40 km was the high end cited with 20 km being the low. For 20 km (true radius = 10 km = 6.2 miles), the detection circle is around 300 sq.km (115 sq.miles).

      The article also notes the difficulties associated with getting a radar to function upon re-entry due to the extreme heat and a phenomenon referred to as 'plasma shield'.

      The mid-course guidance comments in the article were 100% speculative and barely even theoretical and, again, were acknowledged as such.

      And so on.

      In short, I see nothing that suggests that the Chinese have an actual functional anti-ship ballistic missile or that such a weapon is even technically possible at this point.

      Delete
    28. Thanks for pointing out Figure 2. I didn't notice that and I assume kill radius was similar to the army's blast radius terminology.


      As to the technical speculations and general theorizing of the article, I can't and won't dispute that. This is a 2009 study... the DOD hadn't even acknowledged the Chinese had an ASBM reach IOC until 2010.

      This will be my last post on ASBM in this topic.

      Delete
  6. My solution to 1 is draconian but simple, with some further elements necessary for successful implementation. The fishing fleet must be destroyed, which economically isn't viable at this time with our available assets, Hellfire missiles probably cost more then then their smaller ocean going vessels. We need to create small, minimally manned boats armed with large autocannons (25mm) to engage these potential threats. Your mothership concept both as you wrote and how it was historically implemented, is the solution to this issue.


    As to the aviation issue... re-develop BVR capability, declare a literal no-fly zone for any aviation but our own, to include private & commercial aircraft and actually enforce it

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  7. Yay! Of course the Burke example is a basic potential layout of armor. So what about an armored conning tower? Or internal armor plates like the old turtleback design used in protected cruisers or most infamously the Bismarck. What if bringing back the battleship and armored cruisers starts another naval arms race based on larger caliber guns? Would be have to armor against those potential threats as well? Like making sure a ship is resistant to its own guns and missiles?

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    1. And what can we do now to start armoring our ships and getting your fleet structure into practice? At least if you had that power. Like bringing the Iowa’s back in to test the waters for a couple of decades to test the waters. Or backfitting Tico’s with armor?

      Delete
    2. Oh would all or nothing or incremental armor schemes be best against the threats we face?

      Ex for All or Nothing is Iowa and Ex for Incremental is Bismarck.

      https://forum.worldofwarships.com/topic/96846-battleship-forward-bulkhead-armor-thickness-values/

      http://www.kbismarck.com/proteccioni.html

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    3. "So what about an armored conning tower?"

      Yes and no. If you have an actual conning tower (bridge) then, yes, you'd want to armor it as the WWII US battleships did. However, with modern sensors, cameras, EO devices, etc. there is no need for a conning tower (bridge) on a modern warship. All navigation and ship's control should be done deep inside an armored box supplied with 360 deg optical scanning. Given the incredibly cheap cost of cameras, we can mount dozens of them so that even if bunches are damaged in combat, dozens more will be left. A modern warship should retain a bridge only for peacetime maneuvering/docking evolutions and to allow the Captain to enjoy the view and weather.

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    4. "And what can we do now to start armoring our ships"

      Nothing. Our ships are so lightly constructed that I doubt it's possible to back-fit armor. We need to start brand new designs.

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    5. Modern composite tank armor is a lot lighter than steel for any given volume, and offers substantial protection against chemical energy and kinetic threats. Fitting some modular Dorchester plates to critical areas like engines, VLS, and CIC on a Burke is better than nothing, given that we're going to be operating Burkes for decades. Not ideal, but a start.

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    6. Tank armor..

      Tank armor is designed to defeat 2 specific threats, high velocity sabots and shaped charges. Neither of these apply to ships. Tank armor is also not very resilient, one "hit" kills the armor in that section, but alerts the crew that someone is shooting at them:)

      Delete
  8. "Torpedoes are potent but less likely due to the simple fact that submarine attacks are challenging to set up."

    Wow. Talk about assuming away an inconvenient threat.

    A torpedo attack can be very diffificult - say if the ship are moving unpredictably at high speed.

    If the ship isn't doing that (say in confined waters or during an UNREP) it can be a very easy TMA problem.

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    1. Wow. Talk about overinflating a threat.

      Submarines can't cover every square inch of the ocean. UNREP is not conducted in the middle of a high threat area. Ships pull back to safer waters.

      Consider the number of submarines an enemy like China could put to sea. Say, ten at a time? Maybe 20? Now consider the size of the ocean and do the math on coverage. Statistically, there is almost no chance of a random meeting between a sub and ship. Of course, the situation isn't quite random so the odds increase somewhat due to anticipating operating areas but not by that much.

      Sure, if a sub does get lucky and a surface ship stumbles, unknowingly, across a sub then the sub likely gets a win. It's war. It happens.

      Consider history. How many US warships were actually sunk by Japanese subs in WWII? We operated thousands of warships and yet only a very few (half a dozen, maybe?) were sunk by subs.

      You also noted that I didn't say we shouldn't protect against torpedoes. I said that the protection would take the form of structural design modifications more so than pure armor - - - so what are you actually arguing against?

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    2. Submarine success tends to scale with the inability of ASW to cope with them. Case in point early war ASW against U-Boats in the Atlantic allowed U-Boats to interfere with allied shipping even as far as the East Coast. As ASW improved those successes started to drop off. Meanwhile in the Pacific US Submarines did well through most of the war due to poor Japanese ASW. Especially near the end. I tend to think Submarines are best used to interfere with enemy shipping and diverting critical warships to protect those convoys. Thus weakening enemy task forces.

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    3. "Submarine success tends to scale with the inability of ASW to cope with them."

      Of course! Convoys have little ASW capability and follow predictable routes. Warships have a fair amount of ASW and their movements are, essentially, unpredictable by design.

      Delete
    4. My Dad was a CPO in the submarine service in WWII and did 13 war patrols. CNO is absolutely correct about how big and vast the ocean is and the likelihood of seeing, running into any opportunities. They mostly came back to Pearl with torpedoes...

      Delete
  9. More thought needs to be given towards shock protection of the electronics; a warship cannot take hits and continue fighting if it is deaf, blind and mute.

    Consider the Exocet attack on USS Stark; the 1st missile impacted, warhead did not detonate (but it caused rocket fuel fires). The 2nd missile detonated, and the shock of the explosion knocked out the electronics, making Stark unable to retaliate against the Iraqi fighter.

    Either that, or the CIC computers and systems need to be made more modular, more plug and play, to a greater extent than present, so that if they *are* damaged, you can have a helo fly out replacement equipment and quickly swap out the broken electronics in situ. In my current workplace, if a computer breaks, I could source replacement parts and build a new computer in about an hour... or I could call for a spare unit and have that installed and running in 5 minutes.

    On the other hand, an argument can be made that any ship that's taken this much damage would be pulled off the line anyway to get fixed up by a tender or drydock, so I suppose the amount of shock protection the electronics need should only be enough to keep going after eating one or two missiles.

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    1. Strictly speaking, admittedly this is not what one would think of when one considers armor, but it's an area of warship design and survivability which I think is not really thought about much by commentators on the internet.

      Delete
    2. Back in earlier days, many electronic systems were modular... Whole cabinets could be swapped out, and/or circuit cards were replaced within them, and ships kept a supply of replacements on board. (Although if one of everything was carried, or more likely, just the ones that were more likely to fail during regular use were stocked i cant really say, so hopefully the enemy only shoots holes in the regularly faulty boards LOL...) But how many of the modern systems like Aegis are like that, I cant say, as only the Ticos were in service while I was in, and I never was aboard one...

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    3. That's an option, although my concern is that keeping spare equipment onboard might not be best utilisation, and given how sensitive electronics are, any shockwave that's going to break the computers in CIC is probably going to break spares stored onboard, idk.

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    4. "More thought needs to be given towards shock protection of the electronics"

      We've discussed this extensively in past posts and comments, noting examples such as the Port Royal which had its Aegis and VLS knocked out of alignment by simply rocking gently while grounded. That kind of delicacy is unacceptable in combat.

      We've also noted the Navy's extreme reluctance to perform shock testing on ships likely due to the fact that they know what the outcomes will be and they won't be good.

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    5. " have a helo fly out replacement equipment "

      The point of this discussion is enabling a ship to continue fighting IN THE MOMENT. Flying parts to a ship is not an option while missiles are still in-coming. We need rugged parts that can withstand shock combined with redundancy and simplicity.

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    6. "IN THE MOMENT"

      I'm aware, I was thinking more of when the battle had been won, and immediate emergency repairs were being made by ships crew. Otoh maybe it would just be better to limp to a tender and let them do the repair work.

      The problem with protecting against shock, to me, is that shock is trasmitted feom the point of impact throughout the ship. Can't fight physics. It strikes me that the only ways to mitigate against that are to build larger ships - all else being equal a 10,000 ton ship ought to handle the same shock better than a 5000 ton ship - and look into way of making electronics shock protected. Idk. Shock absorbers for each computer cabinet, maybe? Solid state hard drives instead of platters? This isn't an area that seems to have had much thought put into it.

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    7. "Can't fight physics"

      Of course we can and we've done so in ship design throughout our history, at least up until the last few ship classes where we've abandoned shock hardening.

      Shock hardening standards were written into the old survivability standards, for goodness sakes!

      We knew how to do this. It's not magic, just good design - which we've abandoned in the pursuit of fractional percent savings as we attempt to run the Navy like a business instead of a combat organization.

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    8. I think to an extent part of the challenge comes from how modern electronics are smaller and more capable than their WW2 counterparts, but more susceptible to shock because of their construction. The mechanical gunnery computer on an Iowa would probably endure you hitting it with a sledgehammer. Drop a CIC computer for an Aegis DDG from desktop height and it's probably broken.

      It doesn't really seem like reasearch into new shock damnpening technologies/methods is being done, apart from maybe mounting equipment to shock absorbers.

      Delete
  10. For a void filling you might consider some type of waterproofed aerogel. Most types are about 20% the density of air.

    Randall Rapp

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  11. There are new options for armor as well besides old-fashioned steel available now. Metal foams are showing themselves to cut the weight but retain the strength of steel and other metals. According to a Popular Mechanics article, the Army is looking at a composite metal foam that could replace 21 tons of tank armor with only 4-5 tons of metal foam.

    For ships designed with armor in mind, this means you can double or triple up on the armor--imagine ComNavOps' battleship but instead of the 12 inch belt of an Iowa class, it has a yard-thick belt of armor with no increase in the design weight. Or you could flip that and give a battleship the same amor protection but at a quarter of the weight improving the already respectable 33+ speed to 35-37 knots.
    That kind of lightweight protection also means that existing ships could be retrofitted with armor(with proper placement) or added to the VLS cell lids without needing heavier machinery to lift them.

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    1. "There are new options for armor as well besides old-fashioned steel available now."

      The initial reports are encouraging but aren't they always? I'm not at all saying this isn't good stuff but how many things have we heard initial glowing reports about only to have them fail to develop? So, let's watch this with a little hope and excitement but also with a degree of realism. The largest experiment I could find information on was a test of a 23 mm round. The test was impressive but a 23 mm round is a far cry from a supersonic, heavyweight anti-ship missile!

      Recall the Zumwalt's wood-composite superstructure that was going to provide all kinds of magical benefits? The third Zumwalt dropped the magic wood and reverted to standard metal. Just saying, reality has a way of rearing its ugly head.

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    2. My understanding is the Zumwalt balsa wood/composite/steel 155 feet long x 60 feet high 1,000t 'light' deckhouse dropped on cost grounds for the third and final ship, Lyndon B Johnson, due to "sufficient weight removal" Navy speak for the cancellation of the installation of the S-band SPY-4 volume search radar with its three large 160"H x 152"W x 30"D 22,500 lbs flat panel antennas with its new generation top heavy T/R Modules built into them, as over budget and late. Zumwalt left with the small X-band SPY-3 radar. Replaced with cheaper all steel deckhouse as stability concerns alleviated

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  12. As armour cannot grant total immunity is gathering many missiles into a VLS in a single location really a good idea? Placing armour on top of the VLS is of course possible but is it practical? Also a VLS explosion may be directed upwards but it would still leave most ships impotent. Would multiple old fashioned missile launchers fed from magazines deep in the vessel be a safer option?

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    1. All good questions for which I have no answers. Answers would require detailed knowledge of sympathetic blast likelihood of VLS missiles, blast characteristics (fuel versus warhead), detailed armor characteristics, etc.

      A VLS cluster is, essentially, a missile magazine laid out on deck. If that's safe, then why do we even bother with missile magazines on carriers, for example? Why not just store the missiles on the carrier's deck and save all that elevator anguish?

      Good questions, no answers!

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  13. So this post inspired me to do some theoretical engineering. As a basis for a new (old) design I chose the Cleveland class cruisers, as they had an identical beam to insure all the modern propulsion would fit, and an armor scheme that seems fairly appropriate for use as a template. A side note I found is that a Cleveland had double the range of a Burke at 20kts!!!
    I used full load specs...
    Arleigh Burke- 500x66ft/9200 tons
    Cleveland CL - 600x66ft/14000tons
    I started removing weight, four boilers vs four gas turbines saved 280 tons.
    Four 6in turrets/ammo 800tons
    Six 5in turrets/ammo .440tons
    28 40mm guns/ammo . 100tons
    10 20mm guns/ammo . 2
    Reduce 5in bulkheads by half to 2.5 in saves between 400-600 tons
    Four 6in barbettes 560 tons
    So that brings us down to 11318 tons.
    We dont need a 600 ft ship since all the modern gear fits on a 500 footer, and we dont have 4 barbettes and a seaplane hanger to make room for in the hull, plus "steel and air arent free"!! I used a simple length to weight ratio to cut her down to 500ft. Now we have an unarmed, sensorless 500 foot ship with
    3.25-5in armor belt
    2 in deck
    2.5in bulkheads
    5 in conning tower (eliminate??)
    Triple bottom
    And a weight of 9431 tons.
    Add in 200 tons of VLS cells, load them with another 200 tons of missles, and then add the 45ton 5in gun... 9876 tons.
    I couldn't find data on weights for Aegis system, its refrigeration plant, or the smaller aaw/ decoy/ew systems, but i think that we could add them for 1000 tons, which puts us barely over the 10700 ton mark for a Flight III Burke...
    Now admittedly im not a naval engineer and this is all speculative, and done with internet sources, but the point of my exercise was to try and meld old platforms and building styles and their armor with new capabilities. Obviously we wouldnt build a Cleveland hull and then try and fit all the new widgets into it(or would we??) A new design would be necessary,but by weight and dimensions, it certainly seems feasible to build an armored ship built to WWII specs without it growing to BB proportions. Significantly more weight savings would be found by replacing steel armor with steel/kevlar, laminates etc and an overall thinner belt could be used if moved inboard.
    Since we are building an "ideal" ship, we could eliminate the ASW peices as well.
    So although admittedly this is a grade school level analysis, it lends credence to the ability to build a survivable warship...


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    1. One thing i forgot to mention is that hundreds of tons more could be removed from figures by removing the steam turbine weight also. This could offset the weight of the cooling plant for the Aegis...

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    2. " we wouldnt build a Cleveland hull and then try and fit all the new widgets into it(or would we??)"

      The major issue with the Burke Flt IIIs is that they're too small to accommodate the required cooling and utilities for the full size AMDR so, as a result of this limitation, the Navy is settling for an AMDR that is sub-standard by their own defined requirements. So, yes, we ought to build a Cleveland size hull!

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    3. " Significantly more weight savings "

      There are more weight savings to be had.

      The Cleveland had a crew of 1200 versus the Burke's 300. That's 900 fewer people (around 80 tons), and less berthing, galley space, heads, food storage, water storage, etc. I have no idea what weight those things contribute.

      The fire directors of the Cleveland were large, heavy, mechanical devices. No idea what weight.

      The electronics of the Cleveland were bulky and heavy - even simple wiring. Today, we use fiber optics and thinner, lighter wiring. Whatever the weight differential is, it gets multiplied by the hundreds (thousands?) of miles of wiring in a ship. The same applies to piping.

      Every device made today uses lighter weight materials than in Cleveland's day (not always a good thing!). Every table, ladder, desk, chair, rack, tool, locker, etc. is lighter today.

      And so on.

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    4. "So this post inspired me to do some theoretical engineering."

      Very nice effort! Thanks for the contribution.

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    5. Thank you!! I just want to say that i love this blog, and its just the kind of forum i was searching for. For years ive been watching the Navys developments and have been extremely distraught over it... Many of your ideas are very much like mine, and I just wish someone in the leadership would start using common sense!!

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  14. Agreed... I didnt take the time to include all the details (directors, crew etc) but those did occur to me and I did that to help pad the numbers and not make it a 3 day/ zillion word post here haha...
    Of course the contradiction to this is: should we build a 600ft Burke?? Honestly Id say no, because Im a believer, like you, in the elimination of multi-purpose ships, and I think that an AAW or ASW ship with a Cleveland-esque toughness could be fit in the 500-ish foot hull, which is a main point and somthing else I forgot to mention...

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    1. "AAW or ASW ship with a Cleveland-esque toughness could be fit in the 500-ish foot hull,"

      Okay, your next challenge would be to conceptually lay out the required size (forget about armor) of a pure AAW vessel or pure ASW vessel. I think you'll find that the size is a LOT LESS than you think. I've discussed this before but the 500 ft Burke, if you eliminated everything non-AAW (like flight deck, hangar, etc.) would give you a ship around 350-400 ft long!

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  15. Some excellent posts!

    In my opinion, we cannot prevent ships from getting hit by missiles and we cannot prevent missiles from entering the ships interior and exploding.

    Mitigating the effects of an explosion by designing ships to channel the explosion to reduce damage seems plausible.

    Start by moving the engine rooms apart by 25m and harden each compartment. Use the space between them for non essential gear. This will reduce the likely-hood of a single missile damaging both engine rooms. Put an armor deck at the waterline that spans the width of the ship and between the engine rooms. Another armored deck at the weatherdeck covering the same areas fore and aft, but not full width. Build blow-out panels into the main deck near the hull. Channel the explosions away from the ships interior. Even if part of the hull is lost, the hard deck at the waterline will reduce flooding.

    Having an armor deck between the engine rooms and the full width of the ship will allow the space under the armor to be used for fuel near the bottom and perhaps crew quarters, galley, etc. above the fuel tanks.

    The superstructure can also be designed to channel explosions out, rather than hold it in using the same principals of hard decks and transverse bulkheads.

    We don't need to achieve 100% effectiveness to greatly increase the amount of damage a ship can sustain, and continue fighting.

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    1. You're thinking on the right conceptual track.

      One of the major gaps in knowledge (at least public knowledge) is to what extent today's anti-ship missiles could penetrate armor. They can certainly penetrate today's thin-skinned ships with ease (so can large fish!) but what would happen as they encounter varying thicknesses of armor? We had armor in WWII that could stop the penetration of large caliber naval shells. What would armor do to stop missiles, if at all? There are no documented studies that I'm aware of.

      I suspect that armor would be even more effective against today's missiles than WWII shells if, for no other reason, than today's missiles are not designed as armor piercing whereas WWII shells were.

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    2. @kh Although at some level, blow out panels could work, the problem is that those darned incoming missles probably wont hit where we want them to. A missle that hits a panel and penetrates, now could have voids or passages that channel the force deeper inside...(?)
      My thoughts on armoring arent new, but I feel that armor belts (and decks, although harder to design into smaller ships) should be internal, with a compartment between it and the thinner outer skin of the ship. Ideally the outer skin would detonate the incoming and spend a reasonable portion of its energy before hitting the actual armor. This is a historic approach used before in the form of voids, water or fuel filled tanks/blisters etc.
      A true analysis of modern plunging fire threats would dictate if a weather deck or the deck below should be armored, as a whole decks worth of expendable compartments is a lot of space to fill with nothing important...

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    3. Missile penetration.

      Let's compare a 16" shell and a ASHM. The 16" shell has a diameter of 16" and weighs 1900lbs for an AP shell. Muzzle velocity was about 2700 ft/sec. Assuming a terminal velocity of 2250 ft/sec gives it mach 2 at impact. We know that shell could penetrate the 18" of armor on the Yamato. More modern armor will likely be better, but not by much!

      Anti ship missiles are a lot more diverse. Let's use the Russian Kaliber for comparison. Diameter is just under 21", weight for the lightest variant is 2860lbs and speed is listed as about mach 2.5.

      The biggest unknown is how well the Kaliber will hold up to armor. There is certainly enough kinetic energy to punch a hole through 18" of armor, but there is no way to know if the warhead will still detonate.

      I agree with Jj that we need to bring armor internally and protect key components instead of trying to prevent penetration. I could be completely wrong. Several layers of armor may be able to defeat the supersonic missile. Testing is needed!

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    4. "There is certainly enough kinetic energy to punch a hole through 18" of armor,"

      I strongly suspect this is not true. Why don't you do a quick kinetic energy calc for the missile and see if it's even in the ballpark of what's needed.

      There is a huge difference between an AP shell and a modern anti-ship missile. The AP shell was designed to penetrate armor whereas missiles generally have no designed penetration structure.

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    5. "The AP shell was designed to penetrate armor whereas missiles generally have no designed penetration structure."

      But, we change the design of existing weapons or come up with new designs to meet new threats. In Desert Storm, we needed a better bunker buster and used old 8" artillery barrels for the GBU-28 Bunker Buster. If we fielded a battleship, China and Russia would udoubtedly modify some of their existing weapons or come up with new ones in response.

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    6. " If we fielded a battleship, China and Russia would udoubtedly modify some of their existing weapons or come up with new ones in response."

      Undoubtedly! What's your point? Is it that we would then have the Chinese at a decided disadvantage until they could adapt? Is it that we would be forcing the Chinese to react to us instead of the other way around? Is it that the Chinese would have to spend large sums of money to modify their weapons or build all new ones? Is it that the Chinese would be forced to reduce the size/amount of explosive in a missile in order to add armor penetrating mass? Is it that the Chinese would have to use many more missiles to accomplish the same results?

      What's your point?

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    7. Armor penetration is nowhere near as simple as looking at the KE of the penetrator. And determining the damage a penetration inflicts is more complex still. There are numerous stories of WWII destroyers having large caliber shells go completely through them and not causing significant damage.

      Most of the best known sinkings (Hood, Arizona, Jutland) involve magazine explosions. Others (Yamato, Prince of Wales) were due to flooding caused by multiple torpedo hits. There is still argument about what actually finished off Bismark.

      The purpose of armor is to keep the ship in combat. I propose the following prioritized list of protection requirements:

      -Crew - no crew = no fighting and no damage control. This is particularly true for command crew.
      -Hull - you can't keep fighting if a single hit causes catastrophic flooding.
      -Sensors - you can't fight modern weapons without sensors.
      -Weapons - you can't fight without weapons.

      My biggest concerns would be ensuring the ship is shock hardened. If a single hit knocks out critical crew functions or sensors, you are done. Note I regard the Norwegian FF sinking as a failure of basic seaworthiness. That would have sunk any ship and isn't really battle related.

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  17. Although not a Navy person, I thoroughly enjoy this blog.
    Doesn't this post, and the one on the myth of torpedo lethality, support the modernization of the Iowa class ships?

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    1. It certainly does although my preference would be for new design / new build battleships.

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    2. Or at least new ammunition. Part of what scuppered the Iowas was the Navy's cover-up of the Iowa turret explosion and the pointless cause of it. It also backs up CNO's point about training and personnel being critical to combat readiness. Why would you carry out experiments with a poorly trained crew?

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  18. When you consider how much money was wasted on 3 Zumwalts and especially LCSs, just think how many one off designs and trials USN could have done....there's no reason some ideas proposed on this website couldn't be tried and tested and easily fit within USN budget if we didn't waste so much time and money. Building a one off new moden BB with just regular electronic fit really shouldn't cost a fortune, it's all steel, some composites, some new construction design and just throw on there some off the shelf fully developed radar and electronics. I bet it would be cheaper that 1 Zumwalt or a couple of LCSs. Plus, it would be a USEFULL test bed for years to come compared to what USN is going to get from Zumwalt and LCS.

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  19. I think it's worth considering fuzes on missiles/torpedoes. The further away you can detonate the missile, the less impact it has (although for fragmentation, the more the shrapnel spreads). A form of slat armour (like on Stryker) might be effective in detonating missiles early and reduce penetration.

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    1. I've heard the idea of slat armor for ships before and I've always been dubious about the concept. It's one thing for slat armor to detonate an RPG or maybe even an anti-tank missile. The armor is large and heavy relative to the rocket or missile. Compare slat armor to a multi-thousand pound missile. The missile wouldn't even notice the armor. Now, if you want to make slats that are the size of telephone poles then, maybe, but then it's no longer simple, light slat armor, is it?

      It would be like using a sheet of paper to detonate a rocket. The rocket wouldn't even notice the paper. It would simply pass through, unaffected.

      Do you see what I'm saying?

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    2. "I think it's worth considering fuzes on missiles/torpedoes. "

      Where I thought you were going on this was an electronic countermeasure to attempt to electronically detonate a missile pre-maturely (like a mile or half mile out!). That would be worth some research effort.

      The opposite approach would be to disable the fuze, electrically, by frying its circuits with some kind of focused microwave or some such. Yes, the missile might still hit you but if you could prevent detonation, you'd be way better off. Of course, mechanical backup fuzes are a possibility but those fail regularly, on their own!

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  20. I was ignoring decoy effects to try and keep on topic! I was thinking more like the old torpedo nets - 20 feet before it hits the ship's side would make a significant difference. Magnetic, proximity and crush fuzes should all get triggered. In WW2, they even had a rocket launched net system to down enemy bombers - it didn't work then but a modified version might give extra distance? An electrified version might detonate missiles too - the theory was certainly tried for minefield detonation.

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  21. Kinetic energy calculations.

    The 16" shell has a KE rounded to 481 million ft lbs.
    The Kaliber missile is rounded to 789 million ft lbs.

    The biggest difference, as you said, is the construction of the two. Which is why I also said that testing is needed to determine the actual outcome.

    A missile may "melt" like a bug hitting the windshield before the armor melts. The warhead may be damaged beyond function. Both of these would be better than I could hope for, but the only way to know is through testing. This is something the Navy could do that's not high cost or has a high risk of failure if something goes wrong.

    Thank-you for making me think!

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    1. Having some numbers, now we need to assess them, to the extent that we can.

      Our 'known' data point is the 2000 lb, 16", AP shell of WWII. Battleship armor was designed to defeat those shells. On the flip side, those shells were designed to penetrate armor (hence, AP). I'm talking, now, about the Iowa class as opposed to any of the various pre-war, older BBs that didn't really have the best armor.

      So, the conclusion is that a 16" AP shell had a chance, though not a great one, of penetrating BB armor (depends on the specific thickness the shell encountered, the angle of impact, etc.). Thus, a reasonable conclusion would be that a Kalibr missile, with no armor piercing structure or mechanism (that I'm aware of) would have very little chance of penetrating battleship armor despite having a greater KE. I'm of the belief that penetration was a function of the AP aspect far more so than the KE aspect.

      Further, I suspect that, lacking any AP aspect, the missile would have a hard time penetrating any significant armor at all. Thus, it could be that the missile might not even penetrate a few inches of armor. Pure speculation on my part. This is where our discussion ends and testing ought to begin.

      What do you think of my 'analysis'?

      "Thank-you for making me think!"

      'Thinking' is what I try to apply to my posts and what I try to encourage in readers. Good work! Salute to you!

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    2. Conclusions

      I wholly concur.

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    3. You guys don't know how armor works at all. Kinetic energy between those two on impact are: 469.6 MJ for the Russian Kaliber missile compared to 211.1 MJ for the 16" shell (1300kg@M2.5 vs 900kg@2250ft/s) making assumption on what speed impact would be. That doesn't include the ~400kg warhead releasing unknown damage but is likely equivalent to the Tomahawk warhead explosion(also around that mass).

      You do realize that ATGM basically kill tanks right and those are pathetic in terms of penetration capability. The amount of armor needed to stop one of those missiles is ridiculous and as you said in other posts armor doesn't always stop a weapon but rather decreases damage. That is what anti-missile/projectile systems do, they mitigate damage.Example A javelin missile is design to penetrate 800mm+ RHA... that is 31 inches and it is light enough to be carried by a foot soldier with supposedly an 8kg warhead travelling who knows how fast.

      And you think a tomahawk style missile couldn't handle 16" of RHA. Penetration is all about material collisions and concentrating KE. If it didn't go "straight" through the armor, it would explode pretty far simply by the amount of energy and then the warhead would just help make it bigger.

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    4. "You guys don't know how armor works at all."

      And, clearly, neither do you! I am not at all an armor expert but it's clear that you are neither an armor nor weapons expert.

      For example, the Javelin penetrates tank armor by using a tandem warhead to form narrow penetrating jets of metal. This is sufficient for destroying a tank but would produce little effect against a ship since the resulting penetration and explosion would be so small relative to the ship. Perhaps it might be possible to scale Javelin up to anti-ship size - I have no idea. Currently, no anti-ship missile that I'm aware of uses a Javelin type penetrator. There are non-authoritative reports of a shaped charge Russian anti-ship missile but that's unconfirmed. Russians claim all kinds of things.

      If you can cite some data, test, or report that proves a Tomahawk missile could penetrate battleship type armor, I'd be very interested to see it. Otherwise, you're simply speculating and, I suspect, incorrectly.

      A Kalibr missile, by the way, would likely have its KE reduced by half or so at impact since the weight of its propellant fuel would have been spent during the flight. The mass term in the KE calc would be reduced by the amount of the lost fuel.

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  22. @CNO After diving into creating my specs for separate ASW/AAW ships, I found some things that I think are discussion worthy. Should I put them on a different topic post, like the "Multifunction Ship" from last month?

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    1. Go ahead and lay it out here. More people will see it. I don't mind a bit off topic.

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  23. Hypersonic weapons are available and likely to be more prevalent, unless they are destroyed at range they will still damage the target in some way. Perhaps these weapons can be designed in such a way as to be predictably viable as "flying wreckage" in the event of close range interception (even if the warhead explodes).
    All the more reason for armouring.

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  24. "Large ASMs. While potent, these are far less numerous and, therefore, less likely to be encountered."

    While they are far less numerous, short of a nuclear-tipped bomb or torpedo, a large ASM is the best weapon today to use against an armored ship. And, since we're most likely to encounter an enemy's front line ships equipped with such weapons, the likelihood of defending against a large ASM is rather high. Personally, I think it is a certainty.

    For example, China's Type 055 and 052D are both equipped with the YJ-18 with its supersonic terminal attack capability. Between the 2 classes, China has about 30 ships in commission or under construction. And, at the rate China is building ships, they could have double that number in 10 years.


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    1. One of the overarching themes of this blog is to get people to think operationally rather than individually. It's not a question of one missile against one ship. It's a question of how will naval forces be used and, during the course of that use, what threats are they likely to encounter?

      Naval forces are unlikely to engage in actual surface to surface battles. This was true in WWII and will be true in future wars. Why? Because if your ships are in range to strike the enemy, the enemy is in range to strike you. That's an even battle and no commander wants an even battle. Most naval engagements will be air-to-surface or unlucky smaller vessel against larger vessel. When we hunt Chinese naval forces it will be with air power to the extent possible.

      Thus, the likelihood of encountering very large surface to surface anti-ship missiles is actually quite low. Even in the event of surface to surface contact, most missiles launched will be Harpoon-ish or SAMs used in surface mode.

      For the US, which will hold a commanding advantage in carrier air power for some time to come (though not as long as we think!), it is our carriers that will hunt surface ships. Operationally, THAT'S what a future surface to surface engagement is likely to be.

      Think operationally in assessing threats.

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    2. While no one wants a fair fight, the strength of the Chinese Navy today is its surface fleet. It's naval air arm is nascent and submarine fleet is too few. And, as in WWII, land-based aircraft fighters and bombers would be involved in a future naval engagement. China's Air Force is threat and their newest H-6K bombers can carry 6 antiship missiles, but they would be limited to fixed sites in the South China Seas.

      If war were to break out in the near term, China would have to commit to their surface fleet and attack our carriers in concert with their lamd-based fighters and bombers. And, given their range and ability to manuever in flight, determining the launch point of a large antiship missile is not an easy feat. It all comes down to what you can see without being seen. And, command of the air is not a certainty.

      There is no better conventional weapon to attack a carrier or an armored ship, than a large antiship missile.

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    3. "There is no better conventional weapon to attack a carrier or an armored ship, than a large antiship missile. "

      And there is no more difficult target to find than a carrier or surface group a thousand miles away.

      Think operationally!

      The US Navy isn't going to agreeably sail into the South China Sea so that the Chinese navy can line up to shoot missiles at us. Our surface forces will start a thousand miles beyond the first island chain and begin to roll back the Chinese A2/AD zone. Any Chinese ship wishing to engage will have to sail a thousand miles out, with no air support, and no idea where to look. They'll be sunk long before they get a chance to use their anti-ship missiles.

      Think operationally!

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  25. So, in looking at design of single purpose ships, I found great templates, again in the past.I started with an ASW ship, and considering building high/low capability ships, I ended up with multiple quandries. The first I envisioned was a high end ship with a CONOP of CVBG protection.
    I found a 390x44 ft hull, which I lengthened to 420 for reasons Ill get to...
    Twin gas turbines replace the boilers, and with the shp increase will give 30+kts on a single screw, and a 4700-ish nm range. Borrowed the bow sonar and towed array from the Burke. A VLS with 24 cells fwd, filled with ASROC. A triple torpedo launcher is fitted on each side for snapshots needed near the minimum ASROC range. The usual EW gear is fitted, as well as Prairie/Masker and a Nixie. Two CIWS/SeaRAM comprises local air defense. I didnt even see a point in having the 5in gun aboard. By replacing old systems with new, the Brooke class DE/FF seemed to have the space and hullform to work well. The hull was lengthened to accomodate a larger flight deck and helo hanger. Now here comes my first quandary. I envisioned these ships as moving fwd,3-5 ships abreast,sanitizing the path ahead of a CVBG, with the helos even further ahead. But they must move at the same speed. So how good of a job can they do at 25+kts? And to be sufficiently far ahead of the carrier, wouldnt they be at the fringes of Aegis protection? Would we have to take a Burke and have it up with the ASW ships to protect them?? And maybe thats ok... But it seems that they need to be far enough ahead to be able to develop and prosecute a contact before the CV comes over the horizon.
    Now, the truly big quandry. In researching, I found a problem. ASROC has about a 12mi range, with the torp adding 7 for 19-ish total. Sub launched torps have around 30% more range. So the ships are at a handicap of being heard and potentially shot at long before they can reply, especially banging along at 25+kts.(this is even worse if they have ASM capabilities) So the helos now are mandatory to extend the detection, as well as attack range. This makes smaller helo-less ships of questionable value, as Id considered a mix of them in this role under my CONOP, but now it seems a poor idea, and in fact Im completely questioning the value of an ASW ship without a helo. I know you are a proponent of smaller ships without them, but how do we overcome the range disparity?? I read that extending the ASROC range was somthing that the Navy looked at but abandoned. Maybe my tactics are wrong...idk, but this seems like a big issue to resolve. So CNO do I have this all wrong?? What do I have right? I think im in the same place that the Navy should be in... Figuring out all the answers to operational questions BEFORE I build my ship...

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    1. You're close but missing the mark just a bit in the concept. Review the Fleet Structure page on the blog and you'll see what's needed.

      Yes, we need an ASW escort for fleet work. This would be the rough equivalent of the Fletcher with helos.

      We also need a very low end ASW corvette (no helos) for convoy escort, chokepoint patrol, harbor protection, and similar missions. This vessel only requires around 20 kts.

      Returning to the fleet escort ASW ship, note that naval groups do not, generally travel at 30+ kts for reasons of fuel and noise. Thus, the escorts do not need to be 40-50 kts! A 25-30 kts escort is sufficient.

      Tactically, a line abreast out in front of the group is not how ASW is best performed. Unless the group literally stumbles directly over a sub, the sub will be offset left or right of the path of travel. Thus, the escorts need to be positioned in an immense arc across the group (need some rear guards, too!).

      Generally, initial submarine detection is provided by passive sensing from escorts (towed array and sprint/drift tactics). Helos are then dispatched to 'pounce' on the contacts. Passive sensing can and does occur over many dozens of miles so it is not necessary to position the escorts 50 or a hundred or two hundred miles out in front. Given convergence zones, an escort just a bit out in front can sense many, many miles further. Of course, there's no guarantees. A sub could approach without being detected. It's war. It happens.

      As far as weapons ranges, I've kind of already given the answer. The helos provide the ranged weapon delivery. ASROC is used for the contacts that are attempting to penetrate the escort screen which means the contact is closing the range!

      Note that sonar detection CAN'T occur while a ship is at speed. Flow and self noise make it impossible. Thus, detection occurs when the vessel is moving very slowly (sprint and drift).

      Hopefully, this gets you started and pointed in the right direction.

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    2. "Very low end ASW corvette (no helos) for convoy escort"
      So would we add a high-end ASW ship to each convoy so that helos are present to engage the subs at arms length or(?) Are we entrusting convoys to just ASROC ships? I see the low end ships for coastal duties but convoy duty seems to require the "Fleet ASW ship" also... In your Fleet Structure I didnt see a layout for convoy composition

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    3. "So would we add a high-end ASW ship to each convoy so that helos are present "

      You add what the threat dictates. Convoys from the west coast of the US to Pearl Harbor likely need only a minimal ASW corvette escort. A convoy from Pearl to Guam would likely need a Burke for AAW and ASW helos (this may be where the small, helo hunter/killer ASW carrier would be useful).

      There is no "standard" convoy escort. It's whatever the threat requires.

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    4. I found a 390x44 ft hull, which I lengthened to 420 for reasons Ill get to..."

      If you want 2+ helicopters, a AN/SQS-53, presumably a low-frequency VDS (e.g., CAPTAS 4), and a couple of line arrays you might as well go with a Burke hullform and just remove the unnecessary AEGIS system and perhaps some or all of the aft VLS cells. You're basically describing an overloaded OHP. That might work for slow/medium convoy escort, but it ain't going to keep up with carriers or a fast convoy in anything but the calmest seas and still have a functional crew. Seakeeping is too often overlooked.

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    5. Why not put heavyweight torpedoes on your escort?

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  26. It does... Im finding this to be a wonderful exercise, as defining missions, then balancing levels of capability with ship size and cost, isnt easy, even at the vaguest levels of detail... But having said that, I even moreso now wonder how we ever ended up with an LCS or Zumwalt!!!
    "the escorts need to be positioned in an immense arc across the group"- funny thing is thats exactly what i had doodled out, with slightly overlapping circles of weapons ranges, I just didnt relate that well here!!
    "Note that naval groups do not, generally travel at 30+ kts for reasons of fuel and noise."- Although my template Brooke FF had a 27kt speed, I wanted to see 32kt minimum(which a much higher shp and lengthened hull should allow) I envisioned that in war, a carrier is going to want to get to her next station, or move away from an evolving threat asap, and fuel consumption would largely be pushed aside. As such, the ASW ships would need high speed for the ability to sprint/drift and stay ahead.
    So would it be a good assumption be that the helos will do 75%(more/less??) of the attacks then? Because if thats the case I feel like I want to rethink my notional ship and its capabilities/size etc...

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    1. First just to note as a rule of thumb to increase ship speed by 4 knots you need to double the power, speed is relatively expensive, just look at both LCS ship classes and power required for 40 knots.

      Secondly GTs are most efficient at max power, at lower rotational speeds the pressure of the compressed air drops and thus thermal and fuel efficiency drops dramatically and they become gas guzzlers e.g. Burkes.

      Burkes records show they spend two thirds of time at 14 knots or less and approx <10% at over 20 knots, whether that would change in war time scenario don't know.

      Zumwalt uses four GTs but is an all electric ship so they can bring online any of its GT as an when load requires, very expensive.

      Current practice examples

      The quiet ASW frigates i.e. Italian Fincantieri FREMM and UK BAE System Type 26 eg the T26 8,000t+, CODEOG, Combined Diesel Electric Or Gt, 4x 3MW silenced diesel gensets to power electric motors mounted on prop shafts to avoid using noisy gearbox and FPP and not a CPP again for lower noise, for max speed of 26+ knots a RR MT30 36-40MW GT (depends on air temperature, the colder the denser the air and higher the power).

      General purpose Italian Fincantieri ~6,000t+ PPA frigate, CODAGOL, Combined Diesel And Gt Or Electric. Uses 2x high speed 10MW diesels for max 25 knots plus a 32MW GE LM2500G4+ to push max speed to 32 knots or in electric mode for ASW uses 2x of its 4x 1.64MW gensets which are silenced to power its 2x 1.4MW gearbox mounted electric motors for 10 knots.

      If you want most efficient/cheapest mechanical propulsion you take Danish 6,600t Iver Huitfeldt AAW frigate class route, 4x high speed diesels for 32.8MW, max speed 29 knots, on one engine max 18 knots, range 9,000nm, drawback its not so quiet for ASW, the new French ~4,500t FTI frigate going same way with 4x high speed diesels, 32MW, max speed 27-29 knots.

      Another example you could look at is the Dutch Damen 10514 ~2,600t light frigate, CODOE, COmbined Diesel Or Electric, 2x 10MW diesel engines max speed 28 knots, 2x 1.325MW electric motors max speed 15 knots, 6X 0.7MW gensets. The drawback with its small size is the maximum weight of helicopter 6.5t, Sea Hawk SH-60 ~10.5t.

      10514 electric propulsion system uses its 2x EM's, 2x water cooled VFDs with active front ends and a smart filter technique to mitigate the disturbance levels connected to the vessel’s power grid so no need of a transformer, saving on weight, space and cost.

      If too small a possibility for basis of CONOPS ASW frigate is the new ~ 3,700t USCG OPC $420M, again CODOE, COmbined Diesel Or Electric, 2x 7.28 MW diesel engines for max sustained speed 22.5 knots, max 24 knots?, 2x 0.34MW gear box mounted electric motors max speed 6-8 knots?, 4x 1.64 MW gensets. The OPC propulsion system built to lowest cost, think USCG took a step too far with the low power electric motors, advantage over the 10514 its large enough to take a Sea Hawk SH-60.

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    2. "now wonder how we ever ended up with an LCS or Zumwalt!!!"

      If you go back and read the post on the origin of the LCS (see, LCS - Conceptual Origin) you'll see that the original concept had some good validity as a specialized vessel (not as a 55-ship backbone of the fleet!). Unfortunately, the concept was bastardized into an almost unrecognizable and totally useless form. I very much like the original concept (note the counter batter, counter missile capability and the de-emphasis on speed).

      As far as the Zumwalt, I have no idea how that came to be and neither does the Navy.

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  27. "rule of thumb to increase ship speed by 4 knots you need to double the power"

    Which is nearly what I did. The Brooke class FF this is loosely based on only had 34k shp, and was steam powered. The current GTs make almost 34k shp each according to GE website,but I listed a significantly lower number due to conflicting numbers from other sources. But I dont see an issue getting the 30kts with more power and nearly 10% finer hullform.

    "ain't going to keep up with carriers or a fast convoy in anything but the calmest seas and still have a functional crew. Seakeeping is too often overlooked"
    We've sent men to sea in much smaller ships for those same duties in the past. The ship I used as a design template existed and was in use for decades. It went to sea and functioned. Yes the crew is a consideration in ship design, but adding a 100ft to a ship just for seakeeping or crew comfort?? I dont see it. Now in an AAW variant, maybe a Burke hull is going to be the best option. But for an ASW ship I just dont see the need for somthing that big. (And expensive)

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  28. @CNO after reading archives about AMDR, and seeing that the FltIII Burkes are using a smaller than ideal version, what is the reasoning? Is it overall weight/volume of the system, or not enough power generation, or both (?) Could the full version be supported on a Burke hull if the ASW/helo functions were deleted and the space/weight was repurposed to support it??

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    1. It's a combination of power, cooling, superstructure area and volume, and top heaviness. Adding power and cooling utilities in place of the hangar would help. What that would do for the weight issues, I have no idea.

      To me, it seems clear that we need a new design for an AAW/BMD cruiser, which is what the Flt III is, rather than trying to shoehorn a poor fit into a too small Burke.

      The idea has also been proposed that the radar function be separated from the shooting function. In other words, a separate radar ship and a separate shooter ship. There is precedent for this as we have operated various types of dedicated radar/range ships and still have some in service, I think.

      The main advantage to this approach is that a couple of radar ships could be full size radar units and support a dozen or more escorts. The disadvantage is that if you lose your radar ship(s) you lose your entire AAW capability (well, long range AAW, at any rate).

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  29. I have a nervousness towards separating core capabilities onto different ships, especially with the questionable functionality of the networks in a war environment. So for AAW maybe we DO need a Cleveland cruiser, with Zumwalt propulsion/power generation(possibly overkill for AMDR, but leaves room for growth),superstructure profile, and maybe have enough displacement left to keep some of the armor!!!

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  30. "So for AAW maybe we DO need a Cleveland cruiser"

    I've said before, if you take a Burke and strip out everything non-AAW, you'll be left with a 350-400 ft or so ship. Properly designed, it could accommodate all the power, cooling, weight, etc. We don't need a Cleveland size ship for a single function.

    That said, by all means, spec out an AAW ship yourself and see what you get. Maybe you'll go in a different direction. Regardless, it would be interesting to see. Let me know what you settle on and why.

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  31. Again, sorry for the earlier derailment. I had originally seen the topic title and had something else in mind till I seen your comments on miscellaneous threats.

    I don't know your opinion on trimaran and their usefulness, but if the outer hulls were as long as the main hull, you could theoretically use them as spaced armor.

    If the outer hulls are constructed with their internal braces angle downward from the anticipated threat vector , and if they are of sufficient thickness, missiles blasts and the associated shrapnel fields could be directed away from the main hull.


    If the outer hulls are only used to hold fuel as well, and with significant compartment walls to limited the damage to the neighboring fuel cells. You would have an effective armor scheme for dealing with sea skimming and possibly torpedo threats, if the outer hulls had a sufficiently deep draft.

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    1. I've seen the 'outrigger' protection idea floated (no pun intended) before. It's conceptually plausible but I have no idea whether it's possible to construct a heavy, armored outrigger and still have it fulfill its primary purpose of floatation/stability for the main hull (to be truthful, I'm unclear on exactly what the primary function of an outrigger is on a larger ship!). Maybe a naval architect can chime in with some information for us.

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  32. I think you're underestimating how important the deck would need to be in any engagement. Top attacking ATGMs have been a thing for decades, and I've heard that the Granit supposedly can do the same. If you armor the sides and then the heavy AShM goes through your deck it's just a waste of good metal.

    I can't think of a way you could actually armor the top of a VLS without compromising its functionality barring a massive cell with a massive door, which are rare, to say the least.

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  33. I think the Zumwalt already is the size of a Cleveland with modern protection. PVLS is designed for a full VLS exploding and keeping the explosion out of adjacent VLS and the ship interior. There is armor in the design there. The ship also has a double bottom with water/fuel for protection. I think we need to think in terms of a heavy cruiser around the size of an Albany/Baltimore for top end air defense. Probably no more than 20 of them.

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  34. Apart from new materials ,how about the trimaran hull shape. The outer hulls could be armoured and, even if hit, the main hull would be protected. the propulsion jets and exhaust could be hidden between the hulls as well as making them stealthy. Critical systems would be placed on the main central hull while the outer hulls would be thee really just as a separated floating side skirt.

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  35. I feel like you missed a few things about what is worthwhile for armor on a modern ship because you are making your conceptual armor design in a vacuum. Given that modern active air defense systems are guided, they do much better against fewer, larger weapons than numerous small ones. The goal of armor on a modern ship shouldn't so much be protection, as to force the enemy to use fewer larger weapons so that they can't overwhelm your active defensive systems as easily. Especially if your primary defensive systems consist of something resembling the Oto-Marla 76mm guns with their beam riding DART AA rounds, and hopefully semi-active homing rounds so you can utilize the full, extraordinary, fire rate of the weapon.
    Also, unlike older American ships, an all or nothing armor scheme like the one you proposed isn't particularly viable anymore. the highest thickness of the main belt was designed to deflect the weapons of a similarly sized ship, a job which should be taken over by more effective guided AA guns in a modern ship, especially given the less predictable attack vector. the other difference that makes all or nothing armor less valuable is the extraordinary range of land based air power. A ship with it's bow destroyed was still dead even if it could float if it wasn't under allied air and naval cover, so German and japanese WW2 battleships tended to use more of progressive armor scheme to protect things like the bow and upper works. given how much farther land based air power can reach now than in WW2, any modern ship armor has to be designed on the premise that dead in the water is as good as sunk.

    As for armor design:
    It isn't worth building armor on a modern ship to do more than stay afloat against 1 solid hit from a heavy antiship missile because those are exactly the threats that the active defensive systems are actually good at dealing with. the weapons we want to are armor to be dealing with the light artillery and anti-ship missiles that would easily overwhelm the active defense systems. having read some of the USN expectations for AP bomb penetration, it seems like 4 inches RHA is enough to stop a 500lb bomb dropped from 10,000 ft, which seems like a close approximation to today's smaller subsonic anti-ship missiles. that would point to 4 inches RHA on the surface being a pretty reasonable thickness of armor for a modern capital ship, which was incidentally the minimum hull thickness of the Iowa class battleships.
    for internal design, it would make sense to borrow from modern oil tankers and use a double hull design, so that a penetration of the outer hull doesn't punch any holes for flooding in the inner one. if you fill the space between the hulls below the waterline with seawater, it provides some extra torpedo protection and prevents holes in the outer hull from causing ballast problems. it also gives you spall protection against serious hits on armored outer hull. if you then add a double layer strength deck (works like a honeycomb panel) at the main deck level for the same effect, your entire ship is an extremely strong double layer box tube that will be able to take a lot of hits without falling apart structurally. the level between the two upper strength decks also provides a convenient space to run all your pipes and cables through so that they don't go through any of your transverse bulkheads.
    for protecting the sensor systems on the upper works, you can actually use non-conductive ceramic armors over sensor systems without reducing the radar or optical sensor's effectiveness that much. an ideal material for this might be laminated layers of tough plastic like PTFE or ETFE and Aluminum-Oxynitride

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