Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Missing Destroyer

One of the key elements of a balanced and effective surface navy is completely missing from the US Navy force structure and that is a true destroyer.  Yes, the Navy calls its Burkes destroyers but we’ve previously noted that Burkes are not functional destroyers – they’re the modern cruiser/battleship in that they are closely tied to carrier and amphibious escort duty in the anti-air (AAW) role.  Given their cost ($2B each) and value (Aegis AAW), no sane commander is going to risk them in the anti-submarine (ASW) role.  Being tied so closely to the carrier, they are also not a tactically flexible and useful anti-surface (ASuW) asset.

What is missing, and needed, is a true destroyer that can provide useful and effective ASW and ASuW.  Thus, the functions of a true destroyer include:

  • Extended layer ASW escort for carriers, amphibious, and surface groups
  • Independent attack groups (Guadalcanal being an example)
  • Picket line
  • Heavy ASuW (analogous to the WWII Fletcher heavy torpedo fit)
  • Higher end convoy escort

ASuW – This is the main function of a modern destroyer just as it was in WWII.  The WWII heavy torpedo fit is replaced by heavy anti-ship cruise missiles (AGM-158C LRASM) although a heavy torpedo fit is also retained and would prove a useful weapon against merchant shipping and in close surface encounters, should those happen.  As in WWII, destroyers would operate in squadrons, able to mass their firepower for effective anti-ship strikes.

The flexibility of not being intimately tied to carriers allows the destroyer (squadron) to act independently in the anti-surface role, conducting sweeps, patrols, raids, and interdiction.  The higher risk of such operations is justified by the lower cost of the ships.

One could also add a single Burke to a destroyer squadron to act as a destroyer leader and provide higher end AAW protection.

ASW – While the main responsibility for open ocean carrier, amphibious, and surface group ASW protection lies with the destroyer escort, the destroyer provides the complementary higher end, close up ASW capability as well as providing helicopters to support the destroyer escort’s ASW efforts.  Not being tied to the high value unit’s AAW needs, like the Burke is, the destroyer can leave the group to prosecute submarine contacts, if needed.  It should be noted that the destroyer is built from the first rivet to be an ASW platform with acoustic isolation of all machinery, built in quieting, Prairie/Masker, and whatever other ASW-specific quieting is available.

AAW – The destroyer is not intended to provide area AAW protection.  It’s AAW capability is limited to medium range ESSM surface-to-air missiles for self-defense and local area protection for vessels in fairly close proximity.  With no need to provide area AAW protection, there is no need to mount an expensive Aegis/AMDR radar and combat suite, thus saving significant cost.

To summarize, from the blog Fleet Structure page, the destroyer’s main features are:
  •  2x 5” gun
  •  2x Phalanx CIWS
  •  2x SeaRAM
  •  32x Mk 41 VLS (ESSM, VL-ASROC, LRASM)
  •  4x 21” torpedo
  •  2x RBU-ish ASW rocket depth charges
  •  2x MH-60R ASW helo
  •  TRS-4D radar
  •  Hull mounted multi-frequency sonar
  •  Towed array

From the preceding discussion, we can see that the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for the destroyer is two-fold, as ever-so-briefly described below:

1. Escort - The destroyer is used to expand the escort (AAW and ASW) coverage area with significant and effective firepower and capability without risking high value, close escort Burkes.  Operating in the middle zone between the outer ASW destroyer escorts and the inner AAW Burkes, this adds an additional layer of protection around the escorted vessels and expands the sensor coverage area.  The expanded coverage area enables earlier warning and engagement of attacking aircraft, ships, subs, and missiles.

One of the key aspects of the escort concept is numbers.  Destroyers must be deployed in sufficient numbers to provide effective coverage and to be mutually supporting.  A carrier group, for example, would require ten or more destroyers.

2. Independent Operations - Destroyer squadrons allow for effective anti-surface sweeps and operations, again without risking higher value Burkes, while maintaining a formidable amount of firepower and a reasonable amount of AAW self-protection.  While a destroyer squadron is not sufficient to conduct a sweep of the South China Sea, by itself, against the entire Chinese military, a squadron is powerful enough to conduct peripheral or supporting operations while being capable of a reasonable degree of self-defense. 

Unlike a solitary ship engaged in the Navy’s idiotic distributed lethality, which is subject to isolation and defeat in detail, a destroyer squadron has the firepower to constitute a significant offensive threat while presenting a challenging defensive capability that is sufficient to give an enemy pause.

At this point, readers may be asking, ‘how is this different than the frigate that ComNavOps is always arguing against’?  The answer is that, on the surface, the destroyer does spec out somewhat like a modern frigate.  However, the deeper answer reveals that there are significant differences:

CONOPS – The Navy envisions their frigate as a jack of all trades, continually deployed, running around and accomplishing little.  The problem is that the Navy has not developed a CONOPS for the frigate whereas I’ve laid out a very specific, and limited CONOPS for the destroyer.  The destroyer CONOPS requires significant numbers of ships in order to be effective whereas the Navy is only planning on building 20 frigates – totally insufficient.  The destroyer CONOPS emphasizes a very heavy anti-surface fit as opposed to the Navy’s frigate.  The greatest overlap in the two ships lies in the ASW role and, in this, they are reasonably equivalent.

Combat – The destroyer, totally unlike the Navy’s frigate, is built for combat.  To that end, it will have WWII levels of armor, as appropriate for its size (1.5”-2” armored guns, 1”-2” hull armor, 1”-1.5” deck armor, internal armored command (CIC) space, armored VLS, etc.). 

The ship will be built to take damage and continue fighting.  This includes characteristics such as healthy weight reserves, extremely good stability (metacentric height), excessive buoyancy reserve (recall the Navantia/Norwegian frigate that sank so quickly from such minor damage? – that won’t happen with this ship), state of the art damage control design, redundancy and separation of key components, etc.  This is not a ship that will go down easily and, if it does go down, it will do so while continuing to fight.

Finally, we must consider the issue of cost.  While I’ve stated repeatedly that cost cannot be the controlling factor in ship design, neither can it be totally ignored.  The goal of intelligent ship design is to build in the MINIMUM capability that can accomplish the CONOPS, rather than trying to build in every capability ever conceived, as modern ship designers do.

All of the above is tremendous but unless it can be done for a reasonable cost, it won’t be feasible.  So, what would a destroyer cost? 

First, it is necessary to accept that this is a warship, not a cruise ship.  This is not a ship to send on worthless 6-10 month deployments.  Therefore, the ship would have minimal crew comforts.  All available space would go directly to weapons and supporting functions.

The starting point for cost estimating is the Burke which costs around $2B, depending on specific version and acquisition time frame.  The major cost adjustments to the Burke would be:

Radar – Substituting a TRS-3/4D type radar for the Burke’s Aegis/AMDR/BMD would save $200M-$300M in radar, supporting utilities, computers, and software.

Size – The destroyer would be smaller than a Burke (510 ft long).  Relevant comparative data points would be the Forrest Sherman DD class at 418 ft long, the Adams DDG class at 437 ft, and a modern frigate such as the F100 (Navantia) FFG family at 481 ft.  The F100 is a bit oversized with excessively large flight deck area (see a plan of a Ticonderoga or Spruance to see what the flight deck area should be) and a greatly oversized superstructure to accommodate advanced radars.  The conceptual model for the destroyer would be the WWII Fletcher with its minimalist superstructure and no-frills construction.  The overall size of the destroyer would be around 430 ft.  As a very crude approximation, the 430 ft length is 84% that of a Burke.  Thus, the Burke cost would scale down to $1.7B based on a linear scaling of size and cost.  I recognize that’s not how cost works but it provides an idea of the savings due to size.

Of course, as size decreases, other aspects also decrease resulting in further cost savings.  For example, smaller engines, smaller propellers, smaller air intakes and exhausts all result in reduced costs.  With smaller propulsion equipment goes reduced manning which means smaller berthing spaces which, in turn, means smaller galleys, food storage, water storage, etc.

The other significant size decrease would be in the superstructure.  Modern ships have hugely increased the size of their superstructures since WWII, presumably in pursuit of stealth shaping.  This destroyer would retain stealth shaping where possible but it would return to the conceptual model of WWII ship design and hugely reduce the size of the superstructure.  This, alone, improves the stealth by simply removing superstructure – the best stealth there is, is non-existence!  The conceptual model for the superstructure would be the WWII Fletcher with its minimal superstructure.  By greatly reducing the size of air intakes and exhausts, eliminating giant radar arrays, and placing command spaces below the main deck (the destroyer has minimal crew comforts, remember), we can significantly reduce the size of the superstructure.

We see then, that a destroyer would be significantly cheaper than a Burke due to reduced size, reduced crew comforts, greatly reduced radar fit, smaller superstructure, etc.  My guesstimate on the cost is $800M.

The Navy desperately needs balance in its fleet composition instead of the all-Burke fleet we have now.  We need balance in ship types, roles, cost, risk-aversion, and capabilities.  Until we get that, we have a limited fleet that is heavily skewed toward expensive, risk-averse ships which makes for an ineffective combat fleet.

Bring back the missing destroyer!


  1. I think you identify a real need, but shoehorn in more than is possible at that size and price. Plus, unless you are bringing back the draft, Americans need a little elbow room. I'd just say we need something like the Japanese DDs or Korean DDHs. Pretty close to your ask, closer than the Euro large frigates. I doubt a helo deck shrinks unless its assumed the H-60R replacement is a UAV.

    1. "a real need, but shoehorn in more than is possible at that size and price."

      We've forgotten what is possible. Look at any WWII ship design and look at the sheer density of weapons, sensors, and people that were designed in. We've become so accustomed to today's poor, inefficient designs that we've come to think of them as normal rather than the aberrant designs they are.

      Seriously, compare the number of weapons on a Fletcher in terms of weapons per foot of length (or tonnage) to a Burke. It's eye opening how little we put on ships.

      "Americans need a little elbow room."

      Now that's just patently false. We didn't need elbow room in WWII. Americans didn't refuse to serve on ships in WWII because there wasn't enough room. As I explicitly stated in the post, and wrote an entire post on, we need to stop sending ships on useless deployments and instead keep them home for training and maintenance. Sailors can accept a lack of comforts for short, meaningful missions.

    2. My concern is crew fatigue: I think a certain level of comfort is necessary for keeping the crew well-rested, which has a positive effect to combat performance. I'm reminded of excercises the French Navy did in 1886, where they sent torpedo boats on long cruises to attack targets, but the captains reported their ships weren't capable of pressing the attack due to crew exhaustion after 12 hours at sea (1). We're keeping these ships stateside for training and maintennance, but then we're gonna havta sail them to the SCS. Let's say we're heading from San Diego to the Spratlys, that's 12,600 km in a straight line, or 7,829 miles. Assuming a cruise speed of 20 knots (37 km/hour), that's 340 hours, or a little over two weeks of sailing time.

      We can't guarantee that the war will allow for short, meaningful missions. I'm reminded of how much time the Fast Carrier Task Force spent at sea in WW2.


    3. Look at a Forest Sherman DDG conversion exactly as you say. Maybe you get most of your wweapon load, but the Helicopter is out. I mean barrel length and shell weight alone puts a 5"/38 and a 5'/54 or 62 in different categories for ship length consumed and under deck spacce for the rounds. THis is why I like comparing with the Korean ships as they seem to shove more on in comparison to oither western navies. The Incheons to me are like the WWII Destroyers with 16 torpedoes, Gridleys etc. 2 anti air systems, 5 inch gun, 16 SSM and a helo. Cheap, small, dangerous.

    4. "My concern is crew fatigue: "

      And yet we did it perfectly well in WWII. You're arguing against history.

    5. "Look at a Forest Sherman DDG conversion exactly as you say. Maybe you get most of your wweapon load, but the Helicopter is out"

      Not at all. A FS is 30 ft or so shorter than what is proposed in the post. That's a lot of extra room to play with. I see no problem.

    6. You are arguing against history. Using your logic lets cram 1000 in the space of HMS Victory. Volunteer force. Look what
      s been designed since. Look what other western countries with a similar standard of living design and build. Sure people could rough it, subs as an example, but they aren't going to spend a career hanging on a hammock any more. 30 feet doesn't get you another 5 inch, a hangar, and a helo deck. Can you sketch what you are proposing?

    7. " Can you sketch what you are proposing?"

      No. I've laid it out pretty well and I'm not an artist. You appear to be simply looking to argue so I'll drop it there.

    8. Crew fatigue is more a function of work overload rather than creature comforts. The cure for that is having enough people to rotate rest.

    9. Just trying to get from point A to B. I think we can do this without a drawing.

      2x 5” gun ( 2 x 33') Mk 45 mod IV
      2x Phalanx CIWS (assume overlapping port and starboard 12' working circle)
      2x SeaRAM (assume overlapping port and starboard 12' working circle)
      32x Mk 41 VLS (ESSM, VL-ASROC, LRASM)(14' assuming wide beam)
      4x 21” torpedo (Freebee, thinking below the flight deck or hangar)
      2x RBU-ish ASW rocket depth charges (assume overlapping port and starboard guessing length 6' just based on rocket length from Rosoboronexport)
      2x MH-60R ASW helo (69" flight deck + 41+6=47') folded MH-60R with minimum space per LCS interface control guide.
      TRS-4D radar (guessing 8' based on the 3d on my LCS-3 schematic)
      Hull mounted multi-frequency sonar (Freebee)
      Towed array (Freebee under helo deck)

      That's 234 feet as a really solid minimum before you put an inch between them. Add bridge, boats, propulsion/electric, frames, bulkheads, fire control, communications, anchors, Unrep. Plus if we are building for margins that tight hangar and flight deck will probably need to grow.

    10. " I think we can do this without a drawing."

      I have no idea what you're attempting to demonstrate. As you undoubtedly know, ships are not designed by lining up linear feet of each individual item. For example, a helo hangar (whatever size) could, and likely would, contain additional weapons and sensors on the hangar roof, thus fitting within the allotted hangar linear feet, as was done with a CIWS on the roof of the Perry hangar and VLS clusters on top of the Burke hangar space. You seem to acknowledge this by mentioning 'freebees' below the hangar or flight deck.

      Further, I didn't bother checking your addition but 234 ft is 200 ft shorter than the postulated destroyer length in the post, even without accounting for realistic layouts!

      Looking at current and WWII designs, I see no reason why the suggested weapon/sensor equipment couldn't fit on a 430 ft ship. We've simply forgotten how densely packed weapons and sensors were on real warships.

    11. Gentlemen, I believe we can find a balance between a reasonable level of crew comfort. Surely no one is calling for luxurious 5 star 1 person staterooms?

      @ComNavOps: having read Wild Goose's link, I think I can see an idea of what he's getting at. The French envisioned their torpedo boats being used for short range patrols and missions, and so did not consider crew comfort a priority, which led to issues with crew fatigue when they tried to conduct long duration missions.

      Certainly, we should at least avoid the issues with HMS Hood's berthing, which took in seawater and was poorly ventilated, leading to persistent dampness, which was blamed for the high incidence of tuberculosis among the crew.

      I suppose I'm personally sensitive to this becauase it's happened more than once in my industry - staff comforts are cut in the name of cost savings, but the resultant drop in productivity destroys the gains from those miniscule cost savings. (No, I don't care to working in an unventilated warehouse office in the summer with no air conditioning.)

    12. "staff comforts are cut in the name of cost savings,"

      Hand in hand with the reduction in crew comforts goes the elimination of deployments, as I've posted. The ships stay at their home ports and spend their time training intensely and undergoing maintenance. Each training mission would be short term - days or weeks, not months. For the chance to engage in short term, challenging, high intensity, realistic combat training, sailors would be willing to sleep on deck! I'm not proposing that level of spartan accommodation, of course. I'm just proposing that we eliminate lounges, spas, gaming rooms, exercise/gym rooms, TVs, etc. Each sailor would have a rack and a place to store his sea bag.

    13. I wouldn't underestimate theneffects these small conforts havenon crew performance. I mean, even DDs in WW2 had movie nights.

      I've found that having some comforts around can be a motivator for staff, because you've got these priveleges and small luxuries that you can dole out as rewards and retract as punishments. And TV rooms make for decent ad hoc classrooms!

      The reality is people today aren't robots, we have to play around with the psychology of things.

      Also even if we cut everythibg else, i think we need to keep exercise facilities. A fit, healthy crew is a crew that will perform better. Mind and body are linked. I dont want a lardass with noodle arms struggling to load a torpedo tube!

      (And now insay that, i remember my eesolution to get fitter this year...)

    14. "I wouldn't underestimate theneffects these small conforts havenon crew performance. I mean, even DDs in WW2 had movie nights."

      I'm not suggesting that when off duty, crew be forced to lie in rows, packed together in the bilge, forbidden to talk or move. I'm saying that turning a WARship into a cruise ship is wrong. Lounges, spas, gyms, game rooms, etc. are unnecessary for a ship/crew that doesn't deploy and spends their time at sea training actively and robustly. Within those parameters, some minor comforts are fine. I'd possibly even consider allowing each sailor to have a small, say 4"x4", pillow to cushion their heads while they sleep on the deck. I know, it seems extravagant but I'm willing to adapt to modern times to some degree.

      "The reality is people today aren't robots"

      So, did we secretly have robot sailors in WWII or did the crews understand and accept that they were on a ship to perform a life and death mission and that anything that didn't directly contribute to that wasn't a design requirement?

      You also need to think from a battle damage perspective. Every item you place on a ship is a potential shrapnel, fire, and obstruction hazard. Every TV, game console, exercise bike, couch, on a WARship in battle is a potential life-threatening problem. Traditionally, when ships anticipate battle they 'strip ship' and eject all those things because they understand that they are fire, shrapnel, and obstruction hazards. Did you read the reports on the Burke collisions? They explicitly described the obstructions that the crew's 'comforts' became and how they hazarded (and may have killed) the crew's evacuation from affected compartments. I did a post on that.

      "even if we cut everythibg else, i think we need to keep exercise facilities."

      Absolutely not. First, you're not going to deploy, you're going to be conducting short term, intense training. There won't be time for people to get out of shape. With intense training, no one is going to have time for leisurely gym workouts. If the crew has the time and desire to workout then we aren't training hard enough.

      Second, if someone is absolutely determined to exercise they can get a very good workout without any equipment. With only a tiny bit of imagination there is no muscle group you can't isolate and workout simply by pushing and pulling your own body weight in the appropriate positions (ie, pushups, squats, toe raises, chin ups, etc.).

    15. I'm looking at these crew comforts from the perspective of the crew that deploys to the warzone for an extended period of time. You keep saying the crews will not deploy, but well, look at that math above - from San Diego to the SCS it's two weeks of constant sailing, and that's before we get into all the time spent conducting combat operations.

      Now, if you have regional bases, maybe you can continue with your proposed model, but looking at your previous posts, I get the impression that you're not confident that American forward bases (Yokosuka, Sasebo, Guam) will be in fit state to conduct warfighting, since they're priority targets, and potential bases in other nations may not be an option due to chinese pressure.

      I think you're taking this a little too personally. In the end, it's your design. I just want you to be mindful of a potential blind spot. Your CONOPS with short training hops works great for peacetime usage, but I'm not sure it'll work out for a prolonged war, where ships might be spending months on the line, where basing is uncertain.

      But if Guam, Yokosuka and Sembawang are unmolested, then I withdraw my concerns.

      "So, did we secretly have robot sailors in WWII or did the crews understand and accept that they were on a ship to perform a life and death mission and that anything that didn't directly contribute to that wasn't a design requirement?"

      Today's young people are more reward-punishment oriented than their grandparents who served in the greatest generation. Our societies worldwide have seen a steady erosion in civic duty and self-sacrifice and we've let that happen. It's the "me" generation, a selfish generation.

      There are always true believers in the armed forces, who genuinely joined up to serve, but when you've been up against the green weenie, when you deal day in day out with the military's chickenshit, that erodes a lot of the true believing. Of course, a clear bolt from the blue scenario where China shoots first and attacks the US and is the clearcut aggressor would solve a lot of the morale and motivation issues - I recall the mood of the US post-Pearl Harbor and post-9/11 - but we can't rely on China being dumb enough to give a clearcut causus belli for war.

      If we want to talk about WW2, well, the Navy did build a literal ice cream barge that made 500 gallons of ice cream every shift, carriers had ice cream machines... the submarines were universally considered to have the best food in the Navy, as a mitigation for how serving on submarines was considered hardship duty.

    16. And this is a personal feeling of mine, but I've experienced hardship, I've experienced greater deprivations than the average American kid has faced.

      But at the same time, I feel that if I'm going to send a young sailor to go and fight a war on my behalf, the least i owe him is 3 decent squares and a comfortable rack. THat's what I feel, anyhow.

      Although I suppose that's due to how, when I finally returned to civilisation from living in the boonies, people dumped shit on my family and said, "oh, you're missionaries, you're used to living in huts, you can make do with the crappy cast offs that we give for the Lord."

    17. "I'm not sure it'll work out for a prolonged war"

      How do you explain WWII?

      You have a very low opinion of today's service age men - an opinion I somewhat agree with (Ben Franklin said the same thing to Thomas Jefferson about their kids, I think). Where we differ significantly is that I think you CAN motivate today's people IF YOU TRAIN AND TREAT THEM PROPERLY. Treating them properly DOESN'T mean giving them comforts - it means giving them worthwhile challenges and hardships to overcome, giving them a sense of pride in accomplishing a very difficult task (you have to give them a very difficult task, first!), giving them consistent discipline, giving them a chain of command and reward system that recognizes and rewards combat achievements and doesn't overly worry about all the non-combat garbage. Do that and you'll have people lined up trying to serve (remember 'The Few, The Proud, The Marines'?) and they'll be happy to live a spartan life on board.

      People perform not to the highest level you talk about but the lowest level you enforce. We've dumbed down our training, our behavior, our expectations, our challenges, and our punishments to the point that there is no pride of accomplishment left.

      Why do you think athletes (I'm talking about those that have no hope of being multi-billionaire professionals - just the routine high school or run of the mill college athletes) put up with conditions most people would consider abusive in today's society: run till you puke, long hours in hot gyms, being continually corrected and yelled at, sometimes mocked by non-athletes, etc.? Not only do they put up with it but the love it and live for it! Why? Because the reward of striving for, and achievement of, a worthwhile goal (the goal is personal and team accomplishment) is what's important. The deplorable conditions are part of the path and are embraced.

      We should be developing WARletes (a play on warrior athletes) by giving them significant challenges to overcome instead of holding their hands as we ease them through a watered down basic training. Challenge them and they'll gladly accept a few less comforts.

    18. "I think you're taking this a little too personally."

      Nope, not at all. I'm just passionate about the Navy.

    19. "the least i owe him is 3 decent squares and a comfortable rack. "

      And where did I say otherwise. You're talking about the basic necessities and you're absolutely right. I'm talking about the non-necessities - the things that add cost and danger to a ship, that contribute nothing to combat. I'll keep repeating until you answer me, how do you explain WWII? No comforts beyond the basic necessities and yet men lined up to serve and were highly motivated.

      When you're done answering about WWII, you can tell me how we managed to crew a 600 ship fleet in the Reagan era with only the tiniest bit more than basic necessities?

    20. You keep talking about WW2, but that was 80 years ago, and there was a cleacut causus belli. We wanted to strike back for Pearl Harbor. I don't see China being stupid enough to declare war on the US. They saw Vietnam and they know the will of the American public isnt what it ised to be.

      As for the Reagan era, the Soviets were a clear and present threat in the mind of Americsn spciety - which is not to the same feeling people have to China, not to the same degree.

      And when you're done asking me about the events of 80 years ago, generations removed from now, perhaps you could explaim how your short deployments with stuff offloaded to bases is going to work when there are no available bases nearby?

      And the problem isnthat you and I have a very different opinion of basic necesscities, I feel. I've seen your older posts, where you complain that VBSS adds cost to a warship, but that's a ships boat and arms locker, warships havenhad those for centuries.

    21. "the will of the American public isnt what it ised to be."

      Of course it is … when justified. Our united response to the twin towers terrorist attacks was inspiring. Our response to, and backing of, the Desert Storm effort was united and strong. I agree with you completely that the people need a justifiable cause but assuming we don't initiate a war with China on some flimsy excuse, China attacking us will be all the motivation we need.

      "explaim how your short deployments with stuff offloaded to bases is going to work when there are no available bases nearby?"

      Huh??? I don't know what you think I've said but I'll repeat it, briefly. We should not be doing deployments AT ALL. We should be doing missions with a clear, executable objective in a short time frame. During peacetime, those would be few and far between. The vast majority of the time, the fleet would be home based in the US and spend their time conducting intense training and maintenance.

      I'm against anything (VBSS, for example) that takes away training time from the main function (ASW, for example), adds additional crew (specialized law enforcement personnel, in the case of VBSS, for example), and adds equipment (RHIBs specifically for VBSS, for example, although a single RHIB might also be the ship's boat - that's fine). I'm also against using a high end Burke to conduct low end VBSS. That's why I've advocated a very low end peace fleet.

    22. I don't know why you deleted Wild Goose's comment when he askednthe same thing i would have. My concern is that your short endurancr short cruise model will fall apart in a prolongef campaign where thete are no nearby bases. You've asserted that Guam and Japan will be targets on day one and we csnt rely on neutrals to support us. Where does that leave us then? Destroyer tenders and makeshift bases at islands? Do we even have that capability anymore?

    23. "short endurancr short cruise model will fall apart in a prolongef campaign"

      I offer this as gently as I can … this is a silly question because it's not something I've even said and it's been addressed repeatedly in previous posts! As I've stated in entire posts, the nature of naval warfare is one of short duration missions. That's the historical reality. You sortie from your base, execute your mission, and return to base, all in a matter of days/weeks not months on end. You'll recall that I presented the Enterprise's at-sea record as an example of how little time even a fully engaged ship spends at sea.

      As far as basing, you operate from whatever bases you have. If you don't have a base near the South China Sea then you don't execute missions in the South China Sea until you've captured/built closer bases. This was the history and purpose of the WWII Pacific campaign: building ever closer bases to Japan.

      "Where does that leave us then? Destroyer tenders and makeshift bases at islands? "

      The lack of basing is one of the major concerns we have confronting China and one we need to strategically and geopolitically address with a sense of urgency.

      "I don't know why you deleted Wild Goose's comment when he askednthe same thing i would have."

      Because, although the question was silly and the answer obvious, you've earned the right with previous good comments to have an answer even if it was a repeat of previous posts. He's forfeited his right. That's the last question/comment I'll entertain on blog management.

  2. You basically described the Japanese Akizuki class whose role is to protect the heavier ships from subs.

    One suggestion on yours is to replace the radar with a AN/SPY-6(V)2. The new SPY-6 is made up of 'blocks' that can be configured in various sizes. Like 4 faces, 37 block for the Aegis ships. A 3 face 9 block for carriers. A 1 face 9 block on a rotating mount for everything else.

    1. That defeats the point of this CONOPS, which is for a cheaper destroyer, and if you're gonna put AMDR or EASR on this thing, then it begs the question of why aren't just building/buying more FFGX.

      There is the legitimate argument to be made that if you don't expect your ship to engage in serious AAW, you don't need to install a serious AAW radar on it. You brought up the Akizuki - the Akizuki and Asahi run AESA radars and J-Aegis because their role is to be the Aegis DDG's ASuW/ASW/short range AAW bodyguard, while the DDG does area AAW protection for the desron. The rest of the desron's DDs and DEs aren't carrying serious AAW radars tho.

    2. "You basically described the Japanese Akizuki class"

      Nope, not even close. Completely different focus, fit, and function.

    3. "One suggestion on yours is to replace the radar with a AN/SPY-6(V)2."

      NO! Cost, cost, cost.

    4. I still the Abukuma is a better fit. Cheaper and smaller and well more easy to risk. Dropping the old old 8 ASROC launcher got the Spruance 61 VLS cells. Bigger ship so probably not so many on smaller one.
      Did I say Cheap. Bolt on some Hellfire missiles. like they did with the LCS for a cheap rapid anti small ship option. Keep the CIWS and add a SeaRAM or more of both. OK so maybe it has to be a tad larger.

    5. @Kath: The Abukuma's a bit too small. It's an ASW corvette that carries AShMs because, like all the JMSDF's designs, it's a compromise design that tries to squeeze in as much bang for the Yen as they can get.

      As ComNavOps has said in the past, the USN has different factors, and doesn't necessarily have the same constraints that force certain choices upon allied nations.

    6. Yes but it basically will have two jobs and is well expendable on a picket mission. I would agree it needs a more expensive leader. But just because you have the budgets does not mean you have to spend the green like water. The problem is the USN either doesn't want a ship at all say the way got rid of the Osprey types, or always wants a generalist ship to do it all at top dollar. The thing about the Abukuma is that the design forces you deal with the fact you are building a inexpensive DE and not a battleship. Let it do 2 jobs well rather all badly.

      For example does it really need a huge load of sensors should not link 11/14 provide it all info it needs?

    7. At the very least, the Abukuma is too small to carry the weapons set ComNavOps envisions. I think it'd be a good fit for Malaysia, but we have budgets to deal with. :V

    8. TRS-4D per the contract to put them on the German corvettes is about 13.5mil each. Cheapest rotating EASR for LPD flight II appears to b 21mil for reference. Radar cost can easily get out of hand if you let it.

    9. The USN paid around $1.2M per TRS-3D radar. The only reference I've seen in the Navy budget documents is for a TRS-4D "Partial Kit", for $829K. Now if one assumes they bought the partial kit to upgrade an existing TRS-3D installation, then the rotating TRS-4D would cost at most ~$2M for a complete radar. It may be significantly less.

      Further, extrapolating from that, the price of a four panel TRS-4D fixed installation should be no more than four times that price, but probably closer to four time the Partial Kit plus a base amount.

      So perhaps $4-8M.

  3. @ComNavOps: I'm curious: why not go for a Spruance repeat? They seem to have been well-liked ships that served well, and there's a common sentiment on the Internet that they were retired before their time. Compared to the Burkes, they're relatively no-frills ships, from a certain point of view.

  4. So...It's a worse Spruance that no sailor is going to want to actually serve on because you've purposely cut accommodations, which are a very minor cost in comparison to everything else. The only thing this thing has over basically any of the FFG-X preposals is maybe 16 VLS cells and an additional, mostly pointless gun.

    Why not just build a modern Spruance? It'd be more expensive than this dinky hunk of junk but would also be, you know, useful for something other than getting exploded by an AShM.

    1. "The only thing this thing has over basically any of the FFG-X preposals is maybe 16 VLS cells and an additional, mostly pointless gun."

      And a bank of heavy torpedoes, and significant armor, and built in acoustic quieting, and significantly smaller costs, and likely better stealth due to significantly smaller superstructure, and simpler but still adequate sensors, and redundancy/separation. You didn't really read the post, did you?

      As far as habitability, when used as I've described, meaning no deployments - just high intensity, realistic training - sailors will be lined up to serve and have the chance to be involved in short term missions (much more 'home' time with families) and realistic combat training.

    2. Honest question what are the heavy torpedo tubes for?

      A couple of mark 32 triple tubes for anti sub torps would surely be more useful for the anti sub role than heavy torps for anti shipping when it has anti ship missiles and 2 5inch guns.

      As to the armour what's it for except adding weight? 2 inchs wouldn't stop a olive hazard perry classes 76mm gun let alone anything bigger and forget about anti ship missiles.

    3. The 2in armour is the modern version of splinter protection, geared toward he/frag warheads of ASMs
      The purpose is limiting damage, not keeping AP shells out.

    4. @Steven: There's also the side benefit that the Mark 32 tubes share ammo with the ASW helos, so we're simplifying a little.

      I personally would prefer my destroyers to be a little bigger and have more VLS cells. Steel is cheap, what drives costs up is electronics - which we're skimping on a little here. Having 64 cells, like the old Spruances, would give a little bit more flexibility in missile load vs 32 cells, and let the DDs generate larger missile salvos.

    5. "what are the heavy torpedo tubes for?"

      No modern ship has a cheap ship-sinker weapon. Yes, enough Harpoon/LRASM will eventually sink a ship but at several million dollars each, that's not a cheap option. Heavy torpedoes would be an excellent option for sinking merchant ships (many people seem to think a good strategy for a war with China is to impose a distant blockade) and provides a devastating option for any close encounters with enemy ships that might happen. For a very small impact on ship's space and utilities, it seems a very desirable option.

      "As to the armour what's it for except adding weight?"

      I've addressed this in the post, "Armor for Dummies". It's in the archives and 'best of' list. Check it out.

      "2 inchs wouldn't stop a olive hazard perry classes 76mm gun"

      You've got experimental data that shows that? Great! Please give me a link!

    6. How are torpedo's cheap ship sinkers? the Mark 48 is 3 times more expensive than a Harpoon. Unless you go with unguided WW2 weapons or very slow pre Mark 48 guided torps.

      For the armour then 1 inch is enough for splinter protection an additional inch isn't going to stop the weapons being fired at the ship and again just adds unnecessary weight.

      Honestly for the gun I just extrapolated on the basis of 40mm punching through over 1 inch at useful ranges and old WW2 era 3inch guns punching through up to 4 inches.

    7. "My concern is range and time to impact."

      Who said this was the primary weapon? It's an option in the right set of circumstances.

      Again, you're arguing against history. Torpedo attacks were the norm around Guadalcanal. There is no reason to believe that close encounters can't happen again, on occasion.

    8. "I'm not necessarily convinced that we'll ever get into a situation where these DDs will be in a close range slugfight"

      The Air Force was convinced that the era of dogfights was over and that we'd never need a gun on a fighter aircraft because close range encounters wouldn't happen. And yet they did.

      You seem to be on a theme of arguing against history. If you want to continue this theme, you'll have to come up with a reason why all of history is wrong and you're right - which sounds suspiciously like the Air Force rationale for no guns.

      You're also arguing an almost non-existent concern. If you read the post, you noted that the primary use for torpedoes was sinking merchant ships. The secondary use was the possibility of a close range warship encounter. The post did not say it would happen, only that it was a useful option, IF it happened. You seem to be looking to argue for the sake of argument. That won't continue.

    9. "How are torpedo's cheap ship sinkers?"

      They're cheap in that you only need one or two to sink a merchant ship versus many missiles.

    10. "For the armour then 1 inch is enough for splinter protection an additional inch isn't going to stop the weapons being fired at the ship and again just adds unnecessary weight. "

      Did you read the post I refenced? Until you do, there's nothing further to discuss.

    11. "Honestly for the gun I just extrapolated on the basis of 40mm punching through over 1 inch at useful ranges and old WW2 era 3inch guns punching through up to 4 inches."

      Where did you get that data? I've never seen that. Give me a link.

    12. "Who said this was the primary weapon? It's an option in the right set of circumstances."

      Well, fair enough. It's just a question of when that right set of circumstances shows up, and how often we expect that to happen. IMO the odds of that right set of circumstances go down out on the blue water, vs operating in the littorals.

      I actually agree with you with regard to merchant shipping, which is why I didn't bother to comment on that. Although speaking of history, we should probably look into how effective 5" is against today's merchant shipping - as I recall, a fair amount of Japanese merchant shipping was sunk by deck guns.

    13. "Well, fair enough."

      Then you were just arguing for the sake of arguing which is why I tend to delete that kind of comment.

    14. 'They're cheap in that you only need one or two to sink a merchant ship versus many missiles.'

      Why would you be sinking merchant ships? it's not WW2 where countries have over seas empires to bring goods from.

      The moment a war starts those ships will be staying in international ports not attempting to get goods to China.

      The UK and Japan are islands so sinking merchant shipping made sense for Germany and the USA in WW2.

      But if China and the USA go to war Australia, Canada and the USA will stop shipping raw materials day one.

      Russia sending raw resources by land will be the main way China gets them (unless they do quick and easy land invasions on Mongolia or Central Asia or a more extreme land invasion of south east Asia.

      'Where did you get that data? I've never seen that. Give me a link.'

      I used NavWeaps which says the info comes from 'Battleships: United States Battleships 1935-1992'

      How accurate you consider either the site or the book is up to you.

    15. "Why would you be sinking merchant ships?"

      Over 90% of China's international trade is via commercial shipping. (Maritime Power Conference, July 2015 presentation)

      China's merchant fleet is in the top three worldwide, depending on the measure used.

      60% of China's trade (in value) arrives by sea.

      $1,470B in Chinese trade value passes through the South China Sea annually.

      I can go on listing statistics but the point is that China is hugely dependent on shipping and will do everything it can to continue that shipping during war. Sinking merchant ships will be no less important in a Chinese war than it was in WWII.

    16. "Navweaps"

      Navweaps provides the following table of 40 mm AP penetration data:

      0 yards (0 m) 2.70" (69 mm)
      2,000 yards (1,829 m) 1.20" (30 mm)
      4,000 yards (3,658 m) 0.60" (15 mm)
      6,000 yards (5,486 m) 0.45" (11 mm)

      From the data, we see that 40 mm will NOT penetrate 1.5" Class B beyond 2000 yds. Navweaps also shows that the 40mm had a range of around 10,000 yds. Thus, 1.5" armor provides protection throughout most of the 40 mm gun's range.

      The site also notes that the data is believed to be for 90 deg obliquity. Any other angle greatly reduces penetration. Since the vast majority of shell impacts occur at other than the perfect 90 deg, we can conclude that 1.5" of armor confers near invulnerability against 40 mm at almost any range.

      As demonstrated in the armor post which you have undoubtedly read, armor benefits go way beyond mere stopping power. The case for armor is overwhelming.

    17. A couple of random, but hopefully relevant thoughts.

      A discussion of Chinese vulnerability to distant blockade might actually be quite interesting, given that a lot of its more important long distance trade (oil for instance) has to pass through choke points like the straits of Malacca and alternative routes will inevitably put you closer to Australian waters. Also, running escorted convoys through these waters would be quite a different prospect to running atlantic convoys which are essentially open-ocean all the way.

      The strategic implications of this are interesting and point strongly to any conflict with China that isn't a flash-in-the-pan involving a lot of pressure on potential neutrals like Malaysia/Indonesia/Singapore or even India.

      Also, the only discussion I have seen of the problems of "stopping" modern cargo ships was on Chuck Hill's CG Blog but this seems like a topic that could do with a lot more detailed discussion as well.

      World War 2 analogies for sinking cargo ships, convoys, etc may be less relevant than they appear given the massive transformation in the size of cargo vessels since the 1930s/40s. At what point does it actually become more useful to start thinking about 18th century approaches (a revival of prize-laws for instance - seizing ships and taking them, and their cargoes to friendly ports) instead of struggling to sink 100,000 ton plus box or bulk carriers and the like. Keeping in mind that it is not clear that, given the no doubt extravagant and urgent demands that will exist for submarines and surface forces, that the US or its allies will actually have the forces available to deploy submarines or capable surface assets against convoys or even regular traffic in shipping lanes.

    18. "A discussion of Chinese vulnerability to distant blockade might actually be quite interesting,"

      I've discussed a China blockade strategy: see, China Blockade Strategy

      There are, undoubtedly, additional aspects worthy of more detailed examination.

    19. 'Over 90% of China's international trade is via commercial shipping.'

      Yeah and it comes from the EU, USA, Canada, Australia, South Korea and Japan. Which all stops if a shooting war starts.

      Japan's merchant shipping was taking materials from captured territories to Japan that isn't going to happen with China.

    20. China dominates exports from

      North Korea 85.6%
      Mongolia 84.1%
      Turkmenistan 70.0%

      All over land. Yes these are small but the biggest trade partners are the ones who will stop if China and USA enter a shooting war.

      Where do you think the merchant ships will be going if China starts a shooting war with the USA over Taiwan? or whoever else you think they will attack?

      I am honestly curious how you think trade would work in an actual war. Do you think merchant seaman are suicidal? do you imagine huge convoys going across the pacific with ships escorted by Chinese naval vessels?

    21. Chinese trade with Africa (lumped together) was $208B in 2019 with major categories being oil and metals. China imported $120B-$180B from Latin/South America in 2013, depending on what set of numbers you use. China imports substantial amounts of soy, metals, and oil from LA/SA.

      Again, I can go on and on with statistics. China is not going to simply give up its entire merchant shipping and forego all maritime imports in the event of war (I wish they would!). They're going to fight to maintain their shipping and we'll have to fight to prevent it. Unlike Japan in WWII, who seemed to make no great effort to protect their merchant shipping, I expect China to fiercely fight for their shipping.

      To believe that China will simply cease all their shipping is naïve in the extreme.

    22. That's not the only issue though. Will Latin/South American and African nations risk exporting goods to China when that is more than justification for the US to attack them directly? or support regime change.

      The biggest fears most of the governments of the countries have is the populous rising up and that's something the US can do relatively cheaply.

      Even if the governments suppress an uprising it could disrupt there ability to export anything to China for months or longer.

      The USA couldn't afford all the stupid restrictions that are placed on the military when engaging in the small wars when fighting China.

    23. "Will Latin/South American and African nations risk exporting goods to China"

      Well, that's one of the many questions China must ask itself when it contemplates war with the US and weighs the risks/benefits.

      Another aspect you've not mentioned is that China is 'investing' heavily in these African and Latin American countries with 'interest free loans', giant subsidies for infrastructure, flat our leasing/purchase of ports, bribes, and simple 'gifts' of large sums of money. Obviously, China believes that is buying them good will and future obedience from those countries. For those countries, the true bill for the Chinese largesse will come due somewhere down the road and it may well come in the form of being forced to side with and actively support China in a war with the US.

      Again, I see absolutely no reason to believe that China won't attempt to continue its import shipping during a war. There are just too many ways and too many reasons not to. Whether the US can effectively stop worldwide Chinese merchant shipping or whether China will be able to protect its shipping is a significant military question.

    24. "They're cheap in that you only need one or two to sink a merchant ship versus many missiles."

      Would that really give enough shots, though? You've specced for four 21" tubes, but referring to your previous post on torpedo lethality:

      "A large tanker or super carrier cannot be sunk by a single torpedo or even a few. It would take several, at least, to do the job."


      I suppose we'd have to have the torpedo crews hustling to reload, I guess? Or perhaps lengthen the ship somewhat to carry more tubes?

      Actually that brings up another question: how do you expect the Chinese will run their merchant shipping during the conflict? I've seen conflicting opinions - there are people who think that the Chinese will try to make like the Atlantic convoys, with merchant shipping escorted by what ships they can spare, but there are also people who think that China will concentrate its warships for fighting the USN and leave its merchant shipping to fend for themselves. Curious to see your perspective on this.

  5. Interesting, do you have any existing type in mind, when describing your destroyer"

    1. There is no existing ship in the world that matches this design or even comes close.

    2. Sounds like the Soviet Sovremenny class to me.
      Large enough for sea worthiness and survivability (it is a warship, it will get hit).
      In fact, as I read your piece it screamed "Sovremenny".

      Of course, it won't be, but it would be interesting to know how close it would be.

    3. "Sovremenny"

      Yes, the Sovremenny is in the ballpark although it was excessively heavy on sensor fits due to unreliability. It was also excessively long due to overlarge mechanical workings for the towed arrays. Soviet designs tended to be overlarge to compensate for quality and efficiency shortcomings.

    4. "There is no existing ship in the world that matches this design or even comes close."

      Maybe no existing ship, but your description pretty much aligns with the Spruance class. Though the Spruance are probably longer and heavier than what you envision, the weapons loadout, with a couple of exceptions, pretty much matches what you laid out.

    5. "The strategic implications of this are interesting and point strongly to any conflict with China that isn't a flash-in-the-pan involving a lot of pressure on potential neutrals like Malaysia/Indonesia/Singapore or even India."

      @MKB: Add Thailand to the mix. Thai media recently was talking about renewed plans to dig a canal through the Kra Isthmus, which would allow Chinese merchant shipping to bypass the Strait of Malacca and the singaporean chokepoint.

    6. "your description pretty much aligns with the Spruance class."

      As you note, the size is a bit larger. Also, the Spruance lacked the armor. Some weight and stability could be saved from the Spruance by replacing the large masts and large mechanical radars with a modern, small TRS-3D/4D.

      Interestingly, the Spruance was designed to operate the 8" gun but it was never installed.

    7. "Some weight and stability could be saved from the Spruance by replacing the large masts and large mechanical radars with a modern, small TRS-3D/4D."

      I know you're envisioning more spartan crew accommodations than the norm and that combined with a smaller mast will save some weight. But, the additional weight from the armor could even out those gains or result in some weight gain.

      I looked into the 8" gun and according to the bow of the Spruance-class was designed for an 8" gun. And, as best as they know, all of the ships were built with a reinforced bow section. Plus, that gun was expected to equip several future classes of destroyers and cruisers under consideration at the time.

    8. "the additional weight from the armor could even out those gains or result in some weight gain."

      You seem to have at least two misconceptions:

      1. The Spruance is just a ship that is somewhere in the wild vicinity of the destroyer I'm describing. The Spruance is NOT the actual ship design with just a few pieces of equipment or armor that need to be added or subtracted. The destroyer design would be a brand new design, designed from the start for the required weight, armor, and equipment.

      2. So many people seem to think that it's not possible to add armor to a ship without overloading and sinking it! They've completely forgotten that we routinely designed heavily armored ships of all sizes in WWII and they all managed to float and go fast! Can you believe it? Armor and speed! It's almost like magic. We've completely forgotten what's possible in ship design. Sure, you probably can't take an existing Burke or Spruance and add umpteen tons of armor to it because they weren't designed for it from the beginning. They don't have the stability, weight, and buoyancy reserves. However, a ship designed for armor can easily handle it as evidenced by … … every WWII warship built!

      Conceptually, rather than looking at this from the approach of trying to add armor to a modern ship, we should be looking at it from the approach of taking a WWII ship that already has the requisite armor, speed, and accommodations and adding modern VLS and sensors.

    9. "The conceptual model for the destroyer would be the WWII Fletcher with its minimalist superstructure and no-frills construction. The overall size of the destroyer would be around 430 ft. As a very crude approximation, the 440 ft length is 84% that of a Burke."

      Let's table the issue of armor for the time being.

      The examples you cited, the Fletcher, Adams, and Forrest Sherman classes, are the size they are because each class lacks a flight deck and a hanger. Add a flight deck amd you have a larger ship.

      The Perry-class frigate is probably closer to the size of ship you've described. It has a smaller flight deck, small superstructure, a hull mounted and towed array sonars, but few weapons. A single-arm launcher in the bow (later replaced by an 8-cell VLS launcher, a 3-in gun amidship, and a Phalanx mounted above the hanger.

      In a clean sheet design of that size, you could probably fit a 32 cell VLS (though I think that's a tight fit and a 16 cell array is more likely) and an RBU-ish launcher in the bow and replace the Mk 32 torpedo tubes with twin 21-inch tubes, but where do you put the 2 5-in guns and the remaining 3 Phalanx and SeaRAM systems? A 5-in gun is about 30 feet long between the barrel tip to the back of the mount. Phalanx and SeaRAM are usually mounted on the superstructure.

      In short, I think you're trying to fit 10 pounds into an 8 pound bag. With the number and types of weapons and equipment you've outlined, I think you need a bigger ship. Something between the Perry and the F100 classes.

    10. "I think you're trying to fit 10 pounds into an 8 pound bag."

      Study a Fletcher design. The sheer density of weapons is incredible. We've forgotten how to design WARships.

      Take the Perry, as an example. Since we have a tiny TRS-3D radar, we can eliminate the giant mast and the second SPS radar platform. That would free up about 70 linear feet or so for VLS or whatever. Eliminate the STIR platform on top of the bridge and you'd have 20 ft or so for CIWS/SeaRAM or other lighter weight sensors/weapons. The flight deck could be shortened by 20 ft and still have enough margin to land safely with RAST or whatever they're using today. The 76 mm gun could be moved to the bow where the old missile launcher used to be and an 8-cell VLS could be placed forward of that as was done in the Australian upgrade. That frees up another 30 ft or so amidships. Remove those idiotic giant side panels abaft the bridge housing and you free up 20 ft or so of deck space for CIWS, RBU, SeaRAM, torpedoes, or whatever. And so on. Our knee jerk reaction is, no, we can't do that, it's too crowded. Well that's only because we aren't used to seeing actual WARships. We did this kind of weapon density in WWII on every ship. Why we think we can't do it today is baffling.

    11. You realize the long hull Perry's are long hull because they needed more flight deck for the H-60s?

    12. They needed a longer hull because the design was so inefficiently laid out. You read my previous comment where I described exactly how to free up lots more space on a Perry?

  6. (edited) With regards to torpedoes vs merchant ships, I believe ComNavOps has a good point. As an (admittedly atypical) example, I point to SS Beaverford. In WW2, this 10,000 tonne cargo ship took multiple hits as it played cat and mouse at 15 knots against the multiple 11 inch and 5.9 inch guns of the Admiral Scheer for four hours, giving it's convoy mates precious time to scatter and escape. It was finally sunk via torpedo after multiple 11 inch shell hits. The attacking cruiser had multiple targets, was hindered by radar damage and a smokescreen, and the Beaverford was incredibly well handled. However, it shows that 10,000 tonnes of steel can be rather hard to sink if they try really hard not to and get lucky. Given we don't know how the next peer war will play out, having torpedoes as an option for sinking ships seems sensible.

  7. Just a couple thoughts:

    Love it and CNO makes a better case for his DD then USN with LCSs and new FFX! Just keep it SIMPLE. There's no need for AEGIS, just simple radar, 32 VLS and regular powerplant turbines are needed, no need to put in extra power for lasers or other gimmicks.Same for ASW fit, use something already in service. IMO, everything onboard this ship should be already developed or in service, that should keep costs down.

    Afraid that USN will use the new FFX to somewhat cover this needed ship but will get it wrong again! CNO DD has more firepower, more well rounded capability than new FFX. Also like the idea of his DDs working together compared to USN falling in love of disbursed manned and unmanned ships. If we fight in the Pacific, we need numbers but also some parts of the fleet have to live and fight without a carrier near by, maybe at best with a Burke around. Is USN ready for that and will FFX be able to do that?

    1. The Arrowhead 140 is in the ballpark for the size of the proposed destroyer, but is short on the weapons load (specifically designed that way), but at $330 million per ship the 32 cell VLS, torpedo launchers, and depth charges could be added and still keep the cost below $800 million. The Arrowhead 140 is designed to be upgraded with 32 VLS tubes but is not bing built with them since the UK will use them like patrol craft. I don't think you can fit two helicopters with the current design.

    2. The diesel engines would also have to be rafted for noise mitigation.

  8. Spent 12 years on cans, Gearing class, Forrest Sherman, Adams, and Knox classes. Had the old canvas racks on the Gearing, you had 14 inches between you and the other guys backside. The Knox class had the most room. We made 6 to 8 month deploymnents all the time,nobody complained about living conditions. Didnt have as good of ventilation on the old ships either. I suspect that its women on ships that causes them to make them a little more cushy now. On a side note, Im sure we could adopt the LAHAT missle for gun launch out of a 5" gun. Its made to launch from 105-120mm now. Just need a bigger sabot. Be nice short range engagements against small craft.

    1. "Gearing class" Which puts you in the era before the full implications of the AVF. I not so sure Its women.... The thing is the military faces the market and lacking conscripts or an actual peer war vs just a potential one that MAD makes unlikely.... The Military has to face the market. My son was heavily recruited my both the USN and Marines but how does fall out when Lawrence Tech is ready to offer him a free ride and is one of his top 3 choices for what he wants to do and likely to land him a job immediate (although ironically likely for a defense contractor)?

      I grant CNO is correct above on what you need to do to have a war ready force. I think it not women but the need to be clear on what job you are doing. If you want people to be on station for months to be ready for all the peace time things we only budget the military to do and fight the war on terror forever than you need to make life bearable.

      If you do want some out the box ready to fight a peer war than the only thing they should be doing is be a select force training and spending (The crews) a lot down time home. Thus also minimizing the impact on the on equipment training only in solid games and drills and other wise not cruising the world.

  9. I appreciate your idea, but I think your costs at $800m and size estimate is way off the mark. The other issue is that you have not really defined how they are going to fight a battle. I assume it is with there 5 inch guns, but you have not really specified.

    At the same time that you are shrinking the ship, you expect to have increased buoyancy reserves and at the same time use armour. Armour adds mass and therefore displacement. A helipad and hangars for two helicopters also adds weight. These are conflicting requirements.

    Have you got a design in mind that can achieve those conflicting requirements. The size of ship you are pointing to is the F100 frigate that sank. Your ship has much greater offensive weapons (gun) capability and therefore weight than this ship that sank. By the way the Norwegian frigate did not receive minor damage. Seven of Thirteen watertight bulkheads were damaged in the collision, It did not sink. A tugboat then pushed the frigate on to a reef damaging the starboard thrust block, allowing water in via the drivetrain into the engine rooms.(thats when it sank). I actually think that this issue demonstrates that warships are being designed that are simply too fragile. Just look at the damage to the Burkes off Japan from their collisions. Rather than putting armour on ships, I would increase the thickness and grade of the steel and add more underwater compartmentation. To compensate for the extra weight I would add an extra block amidships to increase the length and displacement, being careful to increase the strength of the ship. The Australian navy Hobart destroyers have a displacement 1000 tonnes more than the Spanish ships they are derived from, by using better quality structural steel. Rather than shrink a warship by 15%, i think they need to be bigger.

    In summary I think you need a bigger ship. The size of the ship is not however.what determines cost.

    Just shrinking it by 15% is not going to make it 15% cheaper. A Canberra class LHD cost $1.5 Billion and weighs 27000 tons. $500M cheaper and three times the size of a Burke. Size is not really the defining criteria in the cost. The cost is determined by capability. As you mention Radar and Aegis combat systems add enormous costs to the vessel. Adding another 127/62 mm gun will add further $80 million and weight. The propulsion system designed for both antisubmarine work as well as high speed surface encounters costs a lot. This is because it has to be quiet under 20 Knots and also be able to move at 30 Knots. Turbines and mechanical systems are noisy. Noisy destroyers are useless for anti submarine work. Electric drive DC systems are quiet but expensive. A good article appears here.

    I think the real issue with surface combatants is knowing accurately what surface combat will look like in the near future. Unless there is a clear idea of what it will look like, it is hard to design appropriate ships. The improvement in Naval SAM systems in Western Navies has been so rapid, that its hard to see that the large anti ship missile is going to be viable in the next 10 years. I would not be surprised if the gun comes back or more likely swarms of cheaper smaller missiles with a shorter range that overwhelm the defence of a ship before a larger warhead is then used to sink the ship. The combination of naval strike missile quad packed into the mk 41 as well as LRASM appaers to be the current plan.

    In summary you want to deliver capability without cost. I do not think it is possible. The Royal Navy has recently approved the type 31 frigate. Its cost is $500M, and has no where near the capability of the ship you envisage. The type 26 frigate (Hunter) has the capabilities close to what you talk about and costs as much as a Burke. The ship you envisage will be as big and cost as much as a Burke. It will just have different capabilities.

    1. "how they are going to fight a battle. I assume it is with there 5 inch guns,"

      What???? Of course not. Where did you get that idea?

      " I assume it is with there 5 inch guns, but you have not really specified."

      I explicitly stated in the post that the ship's main weapon was the Harpoon/LRASM with the torpedoes as a secondary ASuW weapon, as circumstances allowed.

      "The size of ship you are pointing to is the F100 frigate that sank. Your ship has much greater offensive weapons (gun) capability and therefore weight"

      From navweaps, the weight of a 5"/62 gun is around 50,000 lbs (25 tons). An F100 has a displacement of around 6000 tons. Thus, the weight of two additional 5"/62 guns represents around a 0.8% increase in weight (displacement and weight are not exactly the same thing but close enough for this discussion). The added weight is insignificant.

      "To compensate for the extra weight I would add an extra block"

      You seem to be ignoring the historical reality that we were able to build, say, Fletcher class destroyers with 1"-1.5" hull armor on a 376 ft ship with a displacement of around 2500 tons. Armor is not some unmanageable weight that slows down ships to a crawl and forces them to be the size of an aircraft carrier. Perhaps you should review WWII ship design?

      "Just shrinking it by 15% is not going to make it 15% cheaper."

      Of course not and I explicitly acknowledged that in the post.

      "Turbines and mechanical systems are noisy."

      The quietest ASW ship we ever built was the Spruance class which used 4x LM2500 turbines. We've simply forgotten how to build effective and quiet warships.

      "you want to deliver capability without cost."

      No, I want to deliver combat effectiveness without all the wasted space and equipment associated with modern ship designs. Do that and the cost will take care of itself.

      "type 31 frigate"

      From my limited knowledge about it, the Type 31 is a poor design that offers poor value for the cost.


      I have to ask, did you really read the post and think about it? If so, you've completely failed to understand it. You also seem to have some serious misconceptions about armor, ship weight, design, and cost which are causing you to draw incorrect conclusions.

    2. Its also worth noting the modern composites for say attack helicopter cockpit armor are lighter than steel, provided effective protection vs a lot indirect damage and most small rounds. The anti armor argument is always prefaced by look you won't stop a direct hit from a hyper sonic Brohmas. But that's not really the point. It is what happens when one is distracted and detonates 50 or less meters away or is shot down by a CIWS at the same range. Is the ship sufficiently durable and redundant to survive a close call without ceasing to be effective.

  10. "The Royal Navy has recently approved the type 31 frigate. Its cost is $500M"

    $1.6 billion for 5 ships equals $320 million per ship.

  11. The gun, hoist and 600 rounds are 47,975‬kg so over double the 50. Plenty is written on payload fractions for ships. 10% payload is normal. Part of LCS street fighter was to leverage designs that could up that ratio. Since we are talking a conventional steel monohull here we are talking about needing 480 tons of ship just for a gun. This is why The mk 45 bottom end has been 2900-3250 ton frigates. Thus far the Oto Breda 127/64 hasn't gone on a ship under 3700 and its predecessor still bottomed out on a 2500 ton ship. Sovremenny are the shortest double ender using a modern 5".

  12. Agree with almost everything you said about making a destroyer. In fact you almost described a Spruance class destroyer, but you added in heavyweight 21 inch diameter torpedoes and Extended range Sea Sparrow, both of which are good additons. Notice you did not include any lightweight torpedoes. What are the ASW helos supposed to carry. Don't believe they can carry a 21 inch heavyweight torpedo. Chief Torpedoman

    1. Yes, the helos would carry the lightweight torpedo.

  13. With your fleet structure in mind, would this destroyer be an up-gunning candidate for the 8" gun? If say, the destroyer as you envision was slated for production, but the other battleship/cruiser designs were not. While an ASuW ship, in numbers they could help fill the NGFS void, and certainly the significantly higher destructive power of the 8" would be useful against shipping and close-in engagements...

    1. Yes, an 8" gun would be helpful as would a larger flight deck with catapults and arresting gear to operate fixed wing aircraft. The ability to submerge would also be invaluable.

      If we want a sub, let's build a sub.
      If we want a carrier, let's build a carrier.
      If we want a crusier with 8" guns, let's build a cruiser.

      Adding on equipment is how we wind up with unaffordable ships. The question is not whether a 8" gun would be useful - lots of things would be useful - but whether it's NECESSARY to do the minimum job called for by the CONOPS. You design for the minimum that is adequate, not the maximum possible.

    2. @Jjabatie: there is a argument that 5" doesn't cut it anymore, and that there is merit in going to 8" as the new universal gun for the surface ships, but then the problem with that is that you've got the monetary and time costs of a new 8" gun and its development program. Staying with the 5" keeps monetary and time costs down because we're getting something that's already in production and has been fully developed.

      I do get where you're coming from - DDs did spend time on the line doing naval gunfire in WW2 - but your idea runs counter to the aim of limiting costs.

    3. " counter to the aim of limiting costs."

      You don't design combat equipment to cost, you design to combat effectiveness with cost a secondary factor.

      "problem with that is that you've got the monetary and time costs of a new 8" gun and its development program"

      The costs would be negligible. We've already developed entire families of 8/10/12/14/16" guns. For example, we long ago developed the 8"/55RF gun for the Des Moines class cruisers - the finest 8" gun ever developed. We've also developed the 8"/55 Mk71 in more modern times. The cost to put one of these into production would be minimal compared to the cost of the ships they would go on.

      There's no need to reinvent the wheel and develop a brand new gun, we've already done it.

    4. "You don't design combat equipment to cost, you design to combat effectiveness with cost a secondary factor."

      Sometimes but the fact is the Pentagon no longer even cares about cost as a secondary factor. And when it does it simply kills off other less shiny necessary things for the ones it wants at any cost.

    5. "fact is the Pentagon no longer even cares about cost as a secondary factor."

      Which is why I do this blog, to show the military how to design combat effective equipment that is affordable. If we simply accept the current state of affairs, then shame on us. We have to keep hammering and trying to improve the situation even though it often seems like we're making no progress.

    6. "There's no need to reinvent the wheel and develop a brand new gun, we've already done it."

      My concern with the Mark 71 was that while the gun itself was built and developed, it was never put into production. It's been 45 years (!) since the 1975 tests on USS Hull, that's a lot of time for things to be forgotten and for documentation to be lost. I'm reminded of the FOGBANK problem, when the US couldn't make new nuclear warheads because all the institutional knowledge to make the FOGBANK component had been lost, and they had to rediscover it. ( )

      Also, I wasn't just speaking about monetary costs, but time. The point I was trying to make to Jjabatie is that if he wanted an 8" gun on these DDs, he'd have to wait for the (re)development and validation and all the testing. But if we wants a gun on a ship we can start building tomorrow, that means 5".

    7. "a gun on a ship we can start building tomorrow, that means 5"."

      Given that there's no war currently, we can afford a little time to get what we really need, whatever that might be. Building a second best solution is how you wind up second best in a war. Second best in a war is the losing side.

    8. If that's the case, why not specify an 8" gun as part of this DD? Get the 8" ball rolling, so we can start phasing it into the fleet? Start with the Dd, then the future AAW CG...

    9. "why not specify an 8" gun as part of this DD?"

      Because that's a separate and different CONOPS. That would be fire support.

      An 8" gun on a 430 ft or so DD is asking a lot, structurally, and it becomes a domino effect. It would require a significantly beefed up bow and hull structure, either a larger magazine or fewer rounds, a larger shell handling system, less room for other functions, and so on.

      As I've repeatedly said, we need to stop overbuilding and, instead, build the MINIMUM capability necessary to meet the CONOPS. For this DD CONOPS, an 8" gun is not necessary.

      Having said all that, an 8" gun on a new cruiser or dedicated fire support ship would be great!

    10. Certainly see your point... Again its the situation of what we're doing/what we could do/whats even remotely possible/what we should do...
      And so ideally we could follow your fleet structure, but more likely we MIGHT get somthing like your missing destroyer, I felt upgunning it (which doesnt break the rule of degrading the ships primary mission) was a more possible idea than having destroyers AND gunned cruisers as your outline wishes for. With a design already existing, the minimal increase in structural strength and size needed is a worthwhile cost for added range and tripling the projectile throw weight... I just felt the value was worth the cost. Frankly, with guns of significant size being out of the DP business, it almost seems logical to replace the 5" with the 8" across the board in future ships...

    11. @Wild Goose I aee your.point. A 5" is off the shelf tech. But... If this country actually saw an urgency and acted on it, i see no reason why a new prototype couldnt be built and ready for testing in under 6 months. Its a gun. Theres a prototype already. There are blueprints. We just need to feel and act on the urgency. As a blue collar guy, I know its possible. The extended r&d cycles we endure these days are absurd. Frankly, if given the prints and the prototype, I could probably build it myself in 90 days. Then...go shoot a few thousand rounds through it. Disassemble, inspect, modify, reassemble and repeat.. A month of fine tuning and a zillion rounds later, its ready for production... The problem us nobody is in a hurry, especially when you can take your time and continue to absorb cubic taxpayer dollars and theres evidently no penaltys for time/cost overruns that are severe enough to have any effect...

    12. "which doesnt break the rule of degrading the ships primary mission"

      That's only half the rule. The other half is not adding significantly to the cost. The cost of significantly increased structural reinforcement, larger magazines, larger shell handling machinery, a larger gun, etc. does increase the cost. How much is the question. If it's significant, which I strongly suspect it is, it violates the rule of 'addition'. I mean, think about it. Why didn't the Navy add 8" guns to all the Fletchers in WWII? There had to be a reason because the value of an 8" gun is not in dispute. Hint: it's cost and impact on size/performance of the hull.

    13. Sure... An 8" gunned Fletcher would be crazy...but the difference now is that we dont (probably wont ever) have the equivalent of a Baltimore to carry the larger weapons. Before we had DD, CL, CA and of course BBs with appropriately sized guns. Now we have whatevers coming as a Burke follow on. In the inter and postwar years ships were designed as modernized variants of previous classes, with an eye kept towards equaling/one-upping rival navies. Today we dont have multiple levels of ships and weapons. And of course the lines between cruiser and destroyer are quite blurred. The 8" gunned Fletcher makes a valid point, but it doesnt quite translate to todays ships. So while the extra expense may be prohibitive (although if left to sane minds, shouldnt be), I feel like the increase to 8" could be a worthwhile thing to revisit...

    14. "the difference now is that we dont (probably wont ever) have the equivalent of a Baltimore "

      You're confusing effect with cause! We don't have a series of different size ships (we actually do - back to that in a moment) because we've attempted to put EVERYTHING into a single ship - the Burkes. Justifying an 8" gun on a conceptual Fletcher is not being pragmatic, it's wrong and it's accepting and formalizing that wrongness. Adding an incorrect, inappropriate weapon to the wrong ship doesn't help build a better balanced fleet, it just perpetuates the wrong fleet.

      Now, regarding different ship sizes, we do have different ship sizes, including cruisers! Or, at least, we had the opportunity before we blew it. The Zumwalts (setting aside my misgivings about the hull form) are legitimate cruiser size and we could have easily put a few 8" guns on them. Had we done so, they'd now be functional instead of useless and they wouldn't have experienced the runaway costs so maybe we'd have built more of them (remember, we originally wanted 32?). So, there was your cruiser class. In fact, even now, the Navy could put 8" guns on the Zumwalt.

    15. Good point. I wasnt suggesting an 8" Fletcher was a good idea of course btw. I did discount the Ticos due to their relatively imminent demise (which the Navy is again pushing even harder) even though I recall them possibly having been built with the reinforcements necessary to carry the 8" and the Zumwalts due to their minimal numbers. Admittedly this all might have been an extension of a heated running debate on another blog about how revisiting the 8" would be super expensive... Sure the prototype is old and the testbed is long gone. But wirh todays advanced computer engineering, it seems to me that systems, subsystems, ships, etc should be created quicker, not slower, and cheaper as well!!! Its frustrating when so many people accept the insanely expensive as normal. The lack of will, lack of agressive procurement deadlines, and lackadaisical expenditure accountability are major problems today, and nobody (you being a notable exception of course!!!) seems to take issue with it...

    16. "Sure the prototype is old and the testbed is long gone."

      The last I heard, a couple years ago, the prototype was at Dahlgren and still functional. I think they still have faint hopes that the Navy will eventually come to their senses.

      "how revisiting the 8" would be super expensive..."

      We just happily dropped a gazillion dollars on the Zumwalt Advanced Gun System. I don't have the numbers in front of me but it was multi-billions!!!! Putting a the Mk71, or a moderized version, into production couldn't cost but a fraction of the AGS.

      I don't know that the Ticos were built for the 8". The Spruances, from which the Ticos were derived, were spec'ed for 8" but I don't know whether that carried over to the Ticos. Are you sure that it did?

    17. My understanding was that they were designed for 8" forward only with 5" aft. Thats just a recollection without a specific remembered source so no,I cant say that with certainty...

    18. "Putting a the Mk71, or a moderized version, into production couldn't cost but a fraction of the AGS."

      Absolutely!! With the prototype and blueprints laying around, theres no reason a team couldnt copy/update (NOT redesign, just replace circuitry, hydraulics etc with modern standards) in, oh...90 days!!! Its just the lack of will...

    19. "As I've repeatedly said, we need to stop overbuilding and, instead, build the MINIMUM capability necessary to meet the CONOPS. For this DD CONOPS, an 8" gun is not necessary."

      I think there's some value in discussing whether an 8" gun should be necessary for the DD CONOPS. We know that an 8" shell will have more firepower than 5", that it will carry more HE filler and a bigger bursting charge. The question then is whether that increased firepower is sufficient to make the 8" a more relevant weapon for ASuW - at the very least in the context of attacking merchant shipping.

      Which leads onto a follow on question of whether the lethality of 8" is sufficient to justify building up the ship to take one or two 8" mounts, because on one hand, steel is cheap and this is added capability, but on the other hand feature creep is something that needs to be controlled.

    20. "I think there's some value in discussing whether an 8" gun should be necessary for the DD CONOPS. …

      Which leads onto a follow on question of whether the lethality of 8" is sufficient to justify building up the ship to take one or two 8" mounts,"

      The greater lethality of the 8" is utterly irrelevant. If the only criteria for inclusion in a ship design is lethality then every ship we build would have a supercarrier size flight deck and multiple 16" gun mounts plus hundreds of VLS because that's the ultimate in lethality. Obviously, that's idiotic, unaffordable, and unnecessary. Ships are designed not based on lethality but on CONOPS and the MINIMUM capability to meet that CONOPS. I've stated this repeatedly and you even correctly quoted it. Perhaps you should put some additional thought into the concept and try to understand it better.

    21. I think what he's trying to get at is that since the DD CONOPS is meant for ASW and ASuW and commerce raiding/blockade, is it worth going up to the 8" to have a another viable weapon for that role, as an alternative to LRASM and the 21" torpedoes.

      Given that 5" can't cut it in AAW and it doesn't seem to have enough punch for merchant shipping, what purpose do you envision it being used for?

    22. "5" ... what purpose do you envision it being used for?"

      First, the 5" is the largest size you can fit on a destroyer size hull without the cost skyrocketing. Second, the main ASuW weapon is, of course, Harpoon/LRASM. Surface encounters will actually be fairly rare.

      The 5" gun offers useful, if not devastating, ground fire support (witness the work of destroyers at Normandy and throughout the Pacific). The 5" also offers the ability to conduct ASuW against smaller vessels (patrol boats, corvettes, frigates which make up so much of the navies of today). The 5" also provides for as large a magazine as possible. For an 8" to have the same size magazine would require a bigger ship and that starts the skyrocketing costs.

      Finally, we all have a tendency to view weapons in isolation, one-on-one, and that's wrong and misleading. In this case, it's not a single 5" gun against the entire Chinese military. It's the massed effect of all the 5" guns in a squadron of destroyers (as called for in the CONOPS in the post) against whatever objective they have targeted. In a scenario like this, the more rapid fire, massed fire, and larger magazines of the 5" help to compensate for the lower lethality compared to the 8". At the same time that the 5" massed, rapid firepower is being applied, presumably the ships would also be employing their torpedoes.

      In the abstract, sure, we'd like 8" guns. No, that's wrong. In the abstract, we'd want every ship to have 16" guns! The reality of cost, fleet size, and a balanced force structure, however, dictate that not every ship needs 16" guns to do their CONOPS.

      There's a reason why WWII destroyers weren't armed with 8" guns. Those same reasons apply today.

    23. "There's a reason why WWII destroyers weren't armed with 8" guns. Those same reasons apply today."

      I'm of the opinion that 5" survives purely out of inertia. 76mm/3" seems better as a closer range weapon for boat swarms. I guess there really needs to be a conversation about whether we should keep trying to make 5" more relevant, with things like GLGP or DART or Vulcano, or whether the US should bite the bullet and go to 8", bearing in mind the tradeoffs in increased ship size and lower magazine - IIRC in the same magazine space, you get one 8" round for every three 5" rounds?

      I just don't see the USN going to a 8" gun if it's only going to serve on a 20-ship cruiser class, and I don't see billion dollar AAW cruisers being risked in shore bombardment duty. A more expendable destroyer makes somewhat more sense for that, to my thinking - and like you said, destroyers did a lot of shore bombardment in WW2.

      I think it's worthwhile having that discussion and seeing if we really want to keep with the inertia of 5" and keep trying to make it relevant, or if we should do a clean break and go to 8". It's a discussion that probably deserves its own blogpost, perhaps?

    24. Wild Goose- "you get one 8" round for every three 5" rounds?"

      Maybe you can have more in the same space. The Combustion Light Gas gun is an option. Very different from the current weapons but it offers to decouple the charge from the warhead. The volumetric storage of the propellants in tanks is greater than individual shells.
      I would work with Taiwan to produce a land based 8 inch Combustion Light gas gun for coastal defense and if it works you can bring it on to the ships.

      Recoil could be mitigated with RAVEN technology.

  14. I really like the proposal here and the fact that it starts off with what the ship is supposed to do. To all of those who say it is impossible I would offer the RCN DDH 280 as proof that what you are proposing is entirely possible. It was designed for ASW with limited AAW capability and was launched in 1970 with 1 x 5” gun, 1 x Sea Sparrow missile system, 2 x Sea King helicopters, 2 x Mk 32 torpedo tubes and a Limbo ASW mortar. Sensors included air and surface search radars, hull mounted and VDS sonars as well as the various fire control systems. All of this on a 423 foot hull.
    When the ships were updated in the early 1990’s the Sea Sparrow was removed and 4 Mk 41 modules were installed with 29 tubes (one of the modules had the three cell crane in it so there was space for 32 cells). A CIWS was also fitted, the VDS was replaced with a towed array and the Limbo was removed but that 35 ton monster was very obsolete and the weight was needed for other systems.
    So what does this prove? A ship designed and built over 50 years ago had at least half of the outfit you are proposing, so fitting the additional weapons and equipment to a purpose designed hull would be challenging but extremely interesting. Give me a call when you get the funding :-) RA

  15. Do like most of your spec of the "The Missing Destroyer" except would argue that it would be an expensive multi-role/function ship as you include full ASW capabilities which could cost additional $100s millions over single function destroyer dedicated to ASuW with formidable firepower and drones for targeting and limited AAW and ASW defence capabilities, ASW is best left to a single function ASW frigate/corvette and with crew dedicated to that complex role.

    If no ASW
    No expensive ASW helo and hanger.
    No quiet hull with required more costly HED propulsion, the 6,600t Iver Huitfeldt with its cheap diesels, no GTs, ~29 knots and 9,000 nm plus range.
    No AN/SQQ-89(V) Undersea / Anti-submarine warfare combat system and towed array
    No multi-function training etc

    1. "single function destroyer dedicated to ASuW with formidable firepower and drones for targeting"

      Admittedly, this destroyer tiptoes up to the point of being multi-function, which I continually rail against. The problem with a dedicated, single function, ASuW and nothing else is that, operationally, there is not all that much need for ASuW. Let's face it, surface to surface warship battles are fairly rare in modern (WWII and beyond) naval warfare. Thus, you'd be building a lot of ship for a limited application. We have to consider operational realities when designing ships rather than designing in an abstract vacuum, as we currently do. This is how you wind up with LCS, AFSB, and Zumwalts with no relevant mission.

      The destroyer is a reasonable compromise of primary ASuW and a vital secondary ASW role. As I've stated, there's nothing wrong with a secondary role as long as it doesn't overly impact the primary role or the cost. Again, this tiptoes up to that point.

      Here's the final point. The destroyer provides the helo ASW aspect that the other ASW ships I've proposed lack. This is vital. If we take the ASW away from the destroyer, where do we put the helo ASW? On the corvette? Now that small, cheap, expendable corvette instantly becomes a large, costly, less expendable destroyer.

      "HED propulsion"

      The quietest ASW ship we ever built used 4x LM2500 turbines. There is no necessary requirement for HED for ASW. We knew how to build quiet, conventionally powered ships - we just need to relearn it.

    2. I rather put the helos on small purpose build CVs. Such a ship has room for extra air crew, parts, repair capability, fuel supplies and is thus likely to sustain a higher operating tempo.

    3. "I rather put the helos on small purpose build CVs."

      And if you could guarantee that a helo-CV would always be present and never be sunk, that would work. However, as destroyer(s) go off on their own after subs, escort convoys on their own, engage in surface actions on their own, etc. you're going to find yourself without any ASW helos.

      Alternatively, you could build one helo-CV for every destroyer but that would be prohibitively expensive.

    4. I think Kath is talking about your ASW helo carrier CV, for your ASW hunter killer groups, but that's a different CONOPS entirely, isnt it?

  16. A few quick thoughts, need the ASuM destroyers as back up to the limited number of carriers, historic availability rate is low. An ASW frigate with helo and towed passive array sonar operating with ASW corvettes with active VDS in hunter killer groups using multi-static sonar, looks similar as to how RN operated ASW ops in Atlantic towards end of WWII after the long and hard won battle experience against the U boats.

    The LM2500 or any GTs are gas guzzlers unless at 90-100% rpm, why Navy spent years developing HED system for backfit to the DDG-51 IIAs (not possible for Flight III as space and weight limited) only to cancel the program last year.

    FWIW GAO quoted Burke max range on single GT at 18 knots as 4,300 nm, which with in extremis minimum fuel reserve of 30% gives operational range of only 3,000 nm, at faster speeds, more GTs the range drops drastically, why need aircraft carrier or oiler to refuel the Burkes often, said Buke needed refuelling after only 24 hours on guard duty to carrier.

    With HED, using silenced diesel generators plus motors etc range increases substantially, if used with LM2500 GT as proposed with the FREMM/FFG(X) CODLAG propulsion system it uses its 130t RENK main gearbox, not cheap, ~ 6,000 nm at 16 knots, whereas all diesel as with Iver Huitfeldt ~9,300 nm at 18 knots, not quiet but cheap.

    1. Hey, if there's a better and cheaper solution out there than turbines, I'm all for it! HOWEVER, 'better' means as, or more, reliable than a turbine. So far, from what I've seen, all these combination engine/power schemes CODLAGHYBDIESCRAPSHIT are mechanical/maintenance/reliability nightmares. Witness the LCS whose first ten ships all broke down with propulsion problems. The Ford has serious propulsion problems. The Zumwalt had (has?) power problems. And so on. So, when one of them can be demonstrated to be as reliable and maintainable as an old fashioned turbine then talk to me. All the theoretical advantages in the world don't matter if you're tied to the dock because you can't keep your propulsion system running.

    2. Schemes? Or business as usual in every place else in the world outside the US Navy? Even MSC Lewis and Clark and the ESBs use IPS. Coast Guard Polar class has been for forty some years. All the new dredges and offshore support vessels, the entire cruise industry. Yes, the LCS uses a uniquely complex gearing system on the Freedom class. Independence is pretty much geared like all the other high speed ferries out there running every day. I admit we might hear less from other navies if they were having problems, but given western free press I doubt that. Some of this falls to the procurement process. Some of this has to do with the fact the navy has to do all this stuff mostly with kids just learning everything fresh. It requires better tending of the seeds. This is true in many parts of the American economy where we took intro jobs and farmed them out to outsourcing or illegal labor. Listening to SNA 2020 I think they understand the need and are at least trying to work on it.

  17. For the cost of $5-600M we could buy a first rate AIP SSK, with superior sonar/ASW performance to any surface ship.

    An SSK would be less flexible than even a single mission ASW surface ship, but it would be more effective at ASW.


  18. About the cost : I'd like to point out that the Sejong the Great class DDG cost less than half as much as a Burke, despite being larger and far more capable.

    This might have to do with the US military-industrial complex systematicaly overcharging the taxpayers even for basic items (I once read a story about the USAF buying 1200$ coffee mugs).

    1. Also has to do with South Korea having a more robust shipbuilding industry, and the relative lower cost of wages when transposed to US dollars from Korean Won.

    2. "I'd like to point out that the Sejong the Great class DDG cost less than half as much as a Burke"

      That's not even remotely true. Among other issues, SKorea heavily subsidizes their shipbuilding industry. The EU and Japan, among others, have sued SKorea over unfair subsidies and the World Trade Organization has rebuked SKorea on at least one occasion over unfair practices. So, before you make statements about cost comparisons, be sure to account for ALL the factors that go into it.

      As I've repeatedly stated, it's impossible to directly compare published ship costs between countries for these very reasons. Costs are hidden, subsidies are applied, accounting practices differ, etc. Unless one takes ALL those factors into account, a cost comparison statement is inherently incorrect.

  19. Is there any post that covers the Prairie/Masker system in detail? I've had a look but cant see anything substantial.
    Would this system have an impact on the buoyancy of a vessel? Do many current warships carry this, and if not, why not?

    I like the sound of this vessel - well-rounded & would have several different ways of engaging just about any opponent.
    One small question - would the torpedo outfit suggested negate the need for a modern 'hedgehog' weapon, which has been mentioned previously as pretty handy to have?
    Thankyou - another very interesting read.

    1. "Prairie/Masker"

      No, I've not done a post on P/M. It's a fairly straightforward system. What would you like to know?

      Wiki has a fairly decent writeup: Prairie-Masker

      No, the system has no impact on buoyancy.

      The system is fairly widely used, at least on Wester ships. I don't know about Russian or Chinese but given the Chinese fixation on copying our equipment, I would assume they have it or an equivalent.

      If you have any further questions, let me know and I'll do my best to help you.

    2. "would the torpedo outfit suggested negate the need for a modern 'hedgehog' weapon,"

      A good question. I think the one does not negate the need for the other as they have two different, though overlapping functions. The torpedo is aimed (pardon the unintentional pun) at open ocean submarine targets and has the ability to actively pursue a sub using its onboard sonar. As such, the torpedo is a self-guiding weapon with very long range and the ability to pursue a target. Interestingly, the Mk48 torpedo has had performance problems in shallow, littoral water scenarios and the Navy issue an Urgent Operation Needs (UON) request for technical fixes to remedy the shallow water shortcomings. This leads directly into why a hedgehog (I prefer the Russian RBU!) system is also needed. The RBU is a rapid reaction, short range system that is effective in shallow water scenarios. While the RBU is not self-guiding and cannot pursue the target, several projectiles can be launched at once, creating a wide pattern that surrounds the target, increasing the chance of a hit.

      So, you can see that the two systems overlap in function but have different strengths depending on the circumstances. I also view the RBU as 'free' to the ship in the sense that it's small and doesn't require deck penetration (unless you want to add an automatic reload) or much in the way of ships utilities (just some electrical power and a fire control attachment). Thus, the RBU is one of those 'why not' systems. It imposes no penalty on the ship's weight, space, utilities, or cost so why not install it?

      Hope that clarifies things.

    3. Hey thanks very much for the info. My knowledge of the P/M system came exclusively from Red Storm Rising prior to that read! The Prairie system actually being part of the propellers is fascinating. The fact that it can hide what sort of vessel you as as well as the blade count for speed info is pretty cool.

      Ah, now the RBU acronym makes sense! Ye, I would agree there is overlap between those & torpedoes. Having that simply mounted on a swivel goes along with the density of armament you mention - its simple, light, and effective - so why not.

  20. ComNavOps,

    Here is the surface fleet structure I would like to see:

    20 Cruisers – AAW, ASuW, and land attack, plus limited ASW, your independent cruiser
    40 Destroyers – primarily AAW, some ASuW and ASW, Burkes
    60 Escorts – ASuW and ASW, self-defense AAW, basically your proposed destroyer
    80 Frigates – ASW, self-defense AAW and ASuW, your proposed ASW DE/frigate

    They would be organized into 20 squadrons, each consisting of 1 cruiser, 2 destroyers, 3 escorts, and 4 frigates. With 12 CVBGs and 8 surface battle groups built around a modern battleship and an ASW carrier, there would be one squadron for each battle group. As needed, squadrons could be beefed up with available ships from other squadrons. In projecting needs, I am looking out at a 30-year horizon, and assuming a 40-year life (which I know you don’t like, but at least existing units are theoretically designed for that).

    The remaining Ticonderogas will turn 40 between 2026 and 2034, so they need to be replaced pretty quickly. The replacements could be your independent cruiser, or I have been thinking about an alternative—a heavy cruiser on a Des Moines hull, with 3x8 inch guns forward and aft, Aegis/AMDR, TRS-3D/4D, hull sonar, something on the order of 96-120 Mk 41 VLS (ESSM, Standard, Tomahawk, LRASM) forward, and a midships structure something like the proposed WWII flight deck cruiser (see which would be used to launch helos and UAVs, plus provision on the sides for UUVs and USVs.

    There would still be 40 Burkes by 2046, so we can pretty much let normal attrition run its course and start replacing them toward the back end of that time frame. They would be primarily AAW assets, but I think they need to be a bit more robust in ASuW and ASW capability than your proposed AAW escort.

    The 60 escorts and 80 frigates are both new designs. We could go with your concepts there, although we may need to add some habitability spaces in order to be able to recruit and retain sailors. Adding 60-80 feet of length and 10 feet of beam should be enough to get it done, with reducing superstructure as you suggest.

    So we would need to build 20 cruisers, 60 escorts, and 80 frigates to have numbers by 2050, and start replacing Burkes toward the end of that period. Building in those numbers, we should be able to get some price breaks. If the cruisers were $4 billion a pop, the escorts were $1 billion each (I’m grossing your number up a bit because I think we are going to have to do something for habitability) and the frigates were $500 million each, we would look at spending (20x$4B+60x$1B+80x$500MM) or $180 billion over 30 years, or $6 billion per year to build this part of the fleet.

    The current Navy 355-ship plan calls for building 304 ships (7 carriers, 12 SSBNs, 5 SSGNs, 61 SSNs, 134 surface combatants, 28 amphibs, and 57 auxiliaries) in the 2020-2049 time frame. CBO estimates future construction costs ( as $91B for carriers, $90B for SSBNs, $37B for SSGNs, $268B for SSNs, $267B for surface combatants, $75B for amphibs, and $37B for auxiliaries, for $865B total, or $28.8B/year. I would go with 7 Nimitzes or RAND CVN-LXs for $65B, 8 BB and 8 ASW carriers for $50B, 12 SSBNs for $90B, 20 VPM SSGNs for $56B, 30 Virginia SSNs for $75B, 30 French Barracuda/DARPA for $45B, 10 amphib squadrons of conventional gators (small LHA/LHD, LPH, LPD/LSD, LST, LPA/LKA, and fire support gunship) at about $3.5B per squadron or $35B total, and $37B for auxiliaries, plus the $300B surface combatants above, for $753B total, or $25.1B per year, a savings of $112B in total, or $3.7B/year. If we stretched that out over 40 years, that would be about $18.8B/year, but we would have to add in the cost of starting to replace the Burkes.

  21. To recap, the navy’s proposed 355-ship force would consist of:

    12 CVN
    12 SSBN
    5 SSGN (large payload)
    61 SSN
    104 large combatants (apparently, 22 Ticos and 82 Burkes)
    52 small combatants (LCS/frigates)
    38 amphibs (apparently 13 LHA/LHD and 25 LPD)
    32 UNREP ships
    10 expeditionary fast support craft
    29 other auxiliaries

    355 total ships for a cost estimated by CBO at additional construction cost of $865 billion, or $28.8 billion/year for 30 years.

    My alternative approach is based on several thoughts:
    1) Our current amphibious force ships are too big and too expensive to risk in harm’s way, so we have defaulted into this absurd CONOPS involving vertical assault from 25-50 miles offshore. Since we have a lot of money tied up in them, I would repurpose them, the LHA/LHDs as STOVL carriers, and the San Antonios to the ABM role that has been proposed for that hull, and replace them with a more conventional—and much cheaper—amphib force.
    2) It is absurd to be sending Burkes to do pirate patrol in the Indian Ocean, or other routing peacetime missions for which they are either way overqualified or totally unfit.
    3) The Fords, Zumwalts, and LCSs are horribly overpriced wastes of money. We should abandon any ship or weapons system based on unproved and untested technology, except as a test bed for such technology.
    4) Instead of building everything with cutting edge technology, go for the Zumwalt high/how mix approach, where we built some top-end expensive ships and fill out the numbers with cheaper ships based on more proved and time-tested technologies.

    While I believe ComNavOps and I share concerns about those problems, we reach slightly different conclusions about the proper fleet to build. Mine looks like this:

    12 CVN, based on Nimitz or RAND CVN-LX
    12 CV, conventional STOVL, converted LHA/LHD or RAND CV-LX
    12 SSBN
    20 SSGN, VPM
    30 SSN, Virginia
    30 SSN, like FR Barracuda or DARPA Tango Bravo
    8 battleships
    8 ASW carriers
    12 ABM cruisers (converted San Antonios)
    20 cruisers, like ComNavOps’s independent cruiser, or my idea of combining with a drone platform, like the WWII, flight deck cruiser, primarily AAW, ASuW, and land attack
    40 Burkes or similar AAW destroyers
    60 escorts, like ComNavOps’s destroyers, primarily ASuW and ASW
    80 ASW frigates, again like ComNavOps’s concept
    60 amphibs in 10 phibgroups, each consisting of a small LHA/LHD, LPH, LPD/LSD, LST, LPA/LKA, and fire support frigate
    71 auxiliaries, along the lines of the Navy 355-ship plan.

    That is 475 ships, for a total 30 year cost of $753 billion (plus costs to repurpose the amphibs, estimating $1.5 billion each, or $36 billion, for total of $789 billion). The annual cost, with conversion costs, would be $26.3 billion/year over 30 years, a savings of $2.5 billion/year. That gives me 200 surface combatants, versus the 355-ship Navy’s 156, with 80 of mine suitable for lower level work.

    Surface combatants would be organized in 20 squadrons, each with 1 cruiser, 2 AAW destroyers, 3 ASuW/ASW escorts, and 4 ASW frigates. Employment would be:

    12 CVBG, each with CVA, CVN, SSGN, SSN, and surface squadron as escorts
    8 surface battle groups, each with BB, ASW carrier, SSGN, SSN, and surface squadron as escorts
    10 phibgroups, as above
    Each group would also have one or more UNREP ships to support it.

    I firmly believe that either this force or the one that ComNavOps has proposed at his Fleet Structure tab would be far superior to what the Navy is proposing.


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