Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Naval Guns on Smaller Vessels

The Navy, today, seems to have a fascination with small guns – the smaller the better, it seems.  The Constellation FFG, for example, has an incredibly small gun given the size and role of the ship.  Following is a table of some smaller ships and the guns they carried.  The list is sorted by gun size.  It’s illuminating, to say the least.


Note that the Constellation FFG, despite being the largest ship listed by a significant margin has the smallest gun.  Also, note that the two most modern ships in the list are also the two lightest armed.




Ship Type


Length, ft



Range, yds

Knox Class FFG


1x 5” (127mm)


Landing Craft LSM(R)


1x 5” (127mm)


Flower Class Corvette


1x 4” (102mm)


Perry Class FFG


1x 3” (76mm)


Harris Class APA


4x 3” (76mm)


Buckley Class DE


3x 3” (76mm)


Gato Class Submarine


1x 3” (76mm)


Pegasus Class PHM


1x 3” (76mm)


LCS - Freedom


1x 2” (57mm)


LCS - Independence


1x 2” (57mm)


Constellation FFG


1x 2” (57mm)




Naval guns are no longer considered main weapons but still …  this is embarrassing.  If this trend keeps up, it won’t be long before our main naval gun will be a guy with a pistol sitting in a lawn chair on the bow.  Or, maybe we’ll upgrade to a dual mount with two guys sitting side by side?

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Ukraine-Russia War Lessons - Unmanned

I’m seeing more and more examples of military observers and analysts drawing conclusions about future warfare from the Ukraine-Russia war, particularly as they relate to unmanned assets. 


I suspect most of the desire to draw conclusions and lessons stems not from any attempt to better understand combat but, rather, to support pre-existing opinions and positions.  For example, the US military, having long ago staked out a firm commitment to unmanned assets, despite absolutely no supporting evidence of their high end combat effectiveness, is eager to latch onto any glimmer of news that would support and justify continued funding of unmanned forces.  Whether those conclusions and lessons would apply to any but an unbelievably incompetent enemy like Russia, is of no concern to US military leadership.  Their concern is to use the ‘lessons’ to obtain continued (or increased!) funding from Congress.


I cannot stress enough that the Ukraine-Russia war is exquisitely unique – and largely useless – as it relates to war with China.  Russia has been astoundingly inept in every facet of war.  It is extremely unlikely that China will be equally inept.  Therefore, attempts to draw lessons from Ukraine-Russia are likely invalid.


More and more observers and analysts are latching onto unmanned assets as the future of combat based on the Ukraine-Russia results.  If we fight an utterly inept enemy then, yes, the lessons will be valid.  However, does anyone really believe that China will be so inept as to allow unmanned boats to approach naval assets unobserved and unhindered?  Does anyone really believe that China will be so inept as to allow UAVs to fly over the battlefield unobserved and unhindered? 


Consider the highly publicized Ukrainian unmanned suicide drone boats (USV) that are reported to have attacked Russian naval forces at Sevastopol.  Each quarter million dollar boat is reported to be 18 ft long with a payload of 400 lbs and a range of 500 miles and a maximum speed of 50 mph.[1]  That’s nice, I suppose, but in a harbor the boats can be thwarted by simple patrol boats, booms, nets, or a guy sitting on a lawn chair with binoculars.  At sea, radar, optical sensors and lookouts are sufficient to detect the boats.  We claim to have radars that can detect periscopes at vast ranges;  how difficult would it be to detect these boats?  I can’t imagine China allowing these USVs to approach their naval forces undetected and unhindered.  So before we scrap our Burkes and commit to a fleet of these USVs, we need to understand what kind of threat, if any, they pose to an enemy that is even slightly competent.


Ukraine Drone Boat

Drone Boats

Drone Boat - Note Wake at Speed

Similarly, we see observers latching onto reports of Ukrainian UAVs leisurely cruising the skies over the battlefield and sniping/suiciding Russian forces.  Again, I can’t imagine China allowing UAVs to cruise over the battlefield undetected and unhindered.  We wouldn’t allow it so why would we think China will?  In fact, the US military has already stated that large UAVs are not survivable over the battlefield.


Unless we have reason to believe that China will perform just as incompetently, we should be very , very, very, very, wary of drawing conclusions and lessons from the Ukraine war.







[1]The Drive website, “Ukraine’s Shadowy Kamikaze Drone Boats Officially Break Cover”, Howard Altman, 11-Nov-2022,

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Marine’s View of Themselves

As we’ve often discussed, the Marines currently have an identity crisis.  They have no viable mission or, at least, none that they’re articulating very well.  We’ve discussed this and offered our view of things.  Now, let’s approach this from the Marine’s side of things.  What do the Marines think about themselves as documented in their own Force Design 2030 annual update report for 2022?  As we look at this, bear in mind that the document is written by the Marines and, as such, is a self-congratulatory, public relations piece.  Still, let’s see what we can learn about the Marines from their own mouth.


Campaign of Learning - One of the interesting sections of the report is titled, Key Findings From the Campaign Of Learning.  For those of you who might be unfamiliar with The Campaign of Learning, it is described as an on-going series of examinations to ensure that the Marines are covering all the bases and making all the right decisions.  An alternative description might be that it is a public relations exercise designed to validate decisions already made.  Be that as it may, let’s see what the Marines claim to have learned.


Regarding the Campaign, itself,


This past year we invested in the Campaign of Learning itself by taking a more structured approach to collaborating with partners and by applying sophisticated modeling and simulation methods and tools. This is reflected through the refinement and analysis of mission engineering threads we developed in partnership with the Navy.[1]


How’s that for some Class A, unadulterated, worthless, buzzword vomit?


Communications - Moving on, we come to our first nugget of useful information:


Our FD 2030 communication has not been effective with all stakeholders.[1]


Read the phrase, ‘not been effective with all stakeholders’, and remember that statement was written by a Marine Corps desperately trying to put the best possible spin on it.  If ‘not been effective with all stakeholders’ is the best possible spin, what are they really saying when the spin is removed?  They’re saying that they’ve had an abysmal communications failure that has utterly failed to convince people and generate support.


On the one hand, it’s good that the Commandant recognizes his communication failure but, on the other hand, he clearly has no intention of actually communicating any useful information.  Secrecy has been the hallmark of his vision and there is no sign that anything about that will change.  If you recall, the Marines promised to begin releasing information about their wargames, as documented in the passage below.


MCWL will publish unclassified executive summaries of all Service-level war game reports related to FD 2030 no later than 1 November 2022 and make these available on the FD 2030 website. Going forward, MCWL will publish unclassified versions of all Service-level war game reports within 90 days of event completion.[1]


To date, I’ve heard found no information about war games.  Commandant, are you puzzled why you have a communications failure?  You promised information and have not provided anything useful.  There’s your problem.


Here’s the referenced FD2030 website, as best I can tell:



Missions - Here’s an interesting tidbit:


… a modernized Marine Corps must still be capable of performing global crisis response operations.[1]


On the face of it, this suggests that the Marines want to maintain their traditional roles and missions while adding the small unit, missile-shooting force.  That might be fine except that their actions, as opposed to their words, point to an abandonment of their traditional roles and missions.  They’ve totally eliminated tanks, the most powerful weapon they had and significantly reduced artillery, their second most powerful weapon, while simultaneously publicly stating that they are out of the amphibious assault business.  Does that sound like they want to ‘still be capable of performing global crisis response operations‘?  This statement sounds to me like they’re trying to hang on to their traditional funding while abandoning the missions.  This demonstrates the identity confusion that has gripped the Corps.


Effectiveness - Continuing, we find what may be the most profound passage in the document:


… our initial observations linked to A Concept for Stand-in Forces, especially for reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance, indicate we focused the MLR [ed. Marine Littoral Regiment] too much on lethality and not enough on sensing, the ability to make sense, maneuverability, and deception.  While our initial assumptions about the value of the MLR to the FMF and fleets were anchored on the enhanced lethality it could provide via long-range fires, further analysis demonstrates the even greater value of resilient sensing and enabling of kill chains.[1]


What they’re saying that they found that the small, missile-shooting units could not produce enough lethality to make a difference.  This is exactly what we’ve discussed many times.  A handful of scattered units, working with only a handful of missiles, and lacking any long range targeting, simply can’t generate any significant combat impact.  That’s just common sense that becomes readily apparent with just a moment of logical consideration.  You didn’t need a Campaign of Learning to come to that conclusion but, hey, better incredibly late than never.


Re-read the quote and un-spin it.  It’s saying that the Marines have come to the realization that the Commandant’s vision of defeating China with a handful of missile-shooting, platoon size units is not viable.


It is noteworthy that they are belatedly recognizing that simple surveillance may be more useful than a scattering of nearly useless missiles.  This is the old WWII coastwatcher concept.  Of course, this doesn’t require entire Marine Littoral Regiments and a fleet of Light Amphibious Warships (LAW).  A couple of guys with binoculars and a radio can do the job.  Perhaps this is also why the Navy seems so unenthused about acquiring the LAW.  If the Marines would give up on the missile-shooting and convert to simple surveillance than the Campaign of Learning would have been worth the effort and the Marines would have a worthwhile, if exceedingly small, mission.


Of course, if coastwatching is the new mission, one can’t help but wonder why we need the Marines when we already have an abundance of SEALs who could do the job.  But, I digress …


Logistics - Here’s an issue that has screamed for an explanation since day one and yet gone unaddressed the entire time:


To persist inside an adversary’s weapons engagement zone, our Stand-in Forces must be set and sustained by logistics capabilities designed for distributed operations over long distances in a contested environment.[1]


How long have I been harping on this gap in the Commandant’s concept?  So far, the Marines have hand-waved away the challenge of transporting, landing, establishing, and resupplying a force without detection.  The challenge seems impossible under the conditions of the concept and the Marines have utterly ignored it, at least publicly.  Now, it seems some glimmer of recognition of the problem has emerged.  The statement sums up the requirement – that is, a logistic contribution under challenging circumstances – yet still ignores the solution.  Oh well … I’ll keep harping on it.


By the way, you recall the recent post wherein the Marines stated that the LAW would never operate in a combat zone (see, “The LAW is Confusing”)?  Is the above quote the first public glimmer of recognition that the LAW concept is not viable?


Delusional Foundation – The following statement exemplifies the delusional foundation of the Marine’s missile-shooting concept:


Our continued experimentation demonstrates that infantry and LAR battalions that field teams or small units with the organic ability to sense, decide, and shoot have a competitive warfighting advantage on a modern battlefield.[1]


If small units truly have an inherent competitive warfighting advantage on a modern battlefield, why do we have brigades, divisions, and armies?  Why do we have tanks and artillery?  Wouldn’t a handful of squads be sufficient to win any war?  Reality, as seen through history, demonstrates the opposite:  that small units are simply targets waiting to die and that massed firepower is what wins battles and wars.





So, what do the Marines say about themselves in the Force Design 2030 annual update report?


  • They think they’re identifying and solving problems from their Campaign of Learning.
  • They acknowledge a communications/’sales’ problem.
  • They believe they still retain all their previous missions/capabilities and remain a ‘global crisis response’ force.
  • They believe their emphasis on missile-shooting and ship killing was somewhat misplaced.
  • They believe they should be emphasizing reconnaissance over lethality.
  • They acknowledge the necessity of logistics but offer no solutions to the challenge.
  • They believe small units have some type of inherent advantage on the battlefield.


That’s what they say.  However, it is clear that the Force Design 2030 annual update report is heavy on spin and light on reality.  The impression one gets is that the Marines – meaning the Commandant – are brooking no alternative opinions or dissent and that the report is purely a public relations tool intended to support continued or increased funding.  However, an analytical reading and ‘un-spinning’ of the document reveals numerous serious problems, as we’ve just discussed, and suggests that the Marines, themselves, are beginning to recognize and, ever so grudgingly, admit that the Commandant’s grand vision is not viable.  The Commandant won’t say it in those words, of course, but the ‘un-spun’ reading is saying it.  The Commandant won’t easily give up his dream but the handwriting is on the wall.  When his term expires in July of 2023, I suspect his successor will begin walking back the Commandant’s failed vision.





[1]Marine Corps, Force Design 2030, Annual Update, May 2022

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

ACV Update

The Marine’s new Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) program is a mystery.  The Marines have repeatedly stated publicly that they’re out of the frontal amphibious assault business which instantly raises the question, why do they need ACVs?  From their statements, the Marines should be shedding ACVs, not buying them and yet, from a recent Breaking Defense website article,


The Pentagon announced it was purchasing an additional 30 Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACVs) for $153 million … [1]


No Justification = Accelerated Acquisition?

The Marines are out of the assault business and yet they’re buying additional ACVs at an accelerated rate?


To date, the service has purchased roughly 260 ACVs in previous years and are expected to purchase 74 in fiscal 2023, including the 30 announced this week.[1]


The Marine Corps’ goal for the program is to buy 632 Amphibious Combat Vehicles to replace the legacy fleet of Amphibious Assault Vehicles.[1][3]


This makes absolutely no sense.  Even the Marine’s ACV acquisition program acknowledged the reduced need for ACVs as evidenced by a sharp reduction in acquisition quantity plans.


Last year [2020], the Marine Corps reported a plan to manufacture 1,122 production vehicles, but according to program officials, the amount was reduced as part of the Marine Corps’ Force Design restructure that was formalized in August 2020.[2]


So, the Marines appear to recognize that the justification for the ACV has decreased and yet they continue to acquire the vehicles in substantial quantities.  Given their unhesitating leap to eliminate their entire tank inventory, one would think that, logically, they would eliminate their ACV inventory, as well.


Despite the lack of justification, the Marines are not only pushing ahead with acquisitions but are also pushing ahead with development of additional ACV variants.


The four planned variants will include a personnel variant, a command and control variant, a recovery variant and a 30-mm gun variant.[1]


As noted in the 2021 GAO annual report,


… the ACV contractor plans to deliver three production-representative ACV-C [command and control variant] prototypes to support testing in fiscal year 2021 and start production of the first 10 ACV-Cs in fiscal year 2022.[2]


If all they want the ACV for is to use it as a low end armored personnel carrier (APC), there are much better, proven APCs available on the market.


Alternatively, the $2B being spent on the ACV program [2] could be much better spent on anti-air defense vehicles and systems, anti-UAV systems, electronic warfare systems, self-propelled artillery vehicles, etc.


The ACV program seems to be inherently contradictory.  The Marines say they are out of the assault business and, indeed, have eliminated all their tanks and much of their artillery, which would be vital in supporting assaults, while also shifting their focus to small, missile-shooting, platoon size units that are supposed to act as deterrents more so than combat forces.  Despite this, they continue to acquire ACVs whose main purpose is amphibious assault – the very mission the Marines have publicly abandoned.  Huh????


The Marines are confused and seem to have no consistent purpose or core reason for existence and the illogic of the ACV acquisition program typifies their confusion.






[1]Breaking Defense, “Marine Corps buys 30 more ACVs following rough year of waterborne ops training”, Justin Katz, 17-Nov-2022,


[2]Government Accountability Office, “Weapon Systems Annual Assessment”, Jun 2021


[3]Reference [2] cites a total acquisition of 678 ACV

Monday, November 21, 2022

Carrier Dry Docks – Ours and Theirs

The US Navy is embarked on the Ford class carrier construction program.  Setting aside any misgivings about the value of the Ford class, another issue is that the Navy lacks dry docks capable of supporting the carrier.  Only one dry dock is even theoretically capable of handling the Ford class and even that’s not actually possible without future modifications.


Only one of the Navy’s 18 dry docks used for maintaining the nuclear-powered carrier fleet can support a Ford-class carrier, Navy officials told USNI News.


Dry Dock 8 at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard can handle a Ford-class carrier, but only after a temporary cooling water systems is set up. A permanent cooling water system and other upgrades to Dry Dock 8 are scheduled to occur before USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) enters its first planned dry dock availability, Anna Taylor, a Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman, told USNI News in an email.


The Navy also plans to upgrade a West Coast dry dock to handle the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), Taylor added.[1]


Dry dock 8, by the way, opened in 1942.


Perusing the various dry dock related contracts, it appears that 2026 is the earliest date that dry dock 8 would be Ford-capable and schedules always slip.


In contrast, China has built a brand new carrier dry dock complex at the Sanya naval base in Hainan.  The dry dock is sized to accommodate the upcoming Type 003, Nimitz/Ford type carriers.  They’ve built the dry dock before they built the carrier.  Amazing!  An astounding example of basic common sense that eludes the US Navy.


Sanya Dry Dock

China appears to be correctly and wisely addressing its support needs as it builds its navy.  The US, on the other hand, is depending on hundred year old dry docks although the recently begun 20 year renovation program offers some relief if the program is continued from one budget year to the next for 20 years – a dubious proposition, to say the least.






[1]USNI News website, “Navy to Update 2 Dry Docks to Accommodate Ford-Class Carriers”, Ben Werner, 30-Aug-2019,,a%20temporary%20cooling%20water%20systems%20is%20set%20up.

Friday, November 18, 2022


The various branches of the military are experiencing recruiting difficulties.  For example,


The Army has announced that it will have to cut its size by 12,000 troops due to the inability to fill its ranks and, after five months into the year is at only 23 percent of its goal.[1]


The Air Force’s top recruiter has declared “warning lights are flashing” for meeting 2022 goals. The Marine Corps, which normally has little problem meeting and exceeding its goals this fiscal year, is likewise falling short of needed personnel. A recent Department of Defense poll asked young adults ages 16-21, “How likely is it you will serve in the military?” Approximately only 11 percent responded “definitely or probably.” And that is trending down, precipitously.[1]


Unfortunately, most people have no idea why we’re experiencing a recruiting failure.  Here’s an opinion piece whose author, a retired Navy Rear Admiral, completely misses the mark regarding the solution to recruiting.


The clearest way to enhance both recruiting and retention is through pay raises.[2]


No, this isn’t the clearest way to fix the recruiting problem.  The fix is to stop screwing around with the military, trying to turn it into a social platform instead of a finely honed, killing machine.  Give recruits a worthwhile goal and they’ll come running, with or without pay raises.  People want challenges.  They want adventure.  They want soul-satisfying rewards.  They’ll gladly accept money but that’s not what motivates the kind of people the military should be recruiting.


We also need to come to grips with the fact that, by definition, the military is not, and cannot be, a reflection of society.  What we ask the military to do is the antithesis of what we want society to do (whether we have the right expectations for society is a topic I’ll leave for other blogs) and, therefore, the military cannot be a reflection of society and still be effective.  We need to accept this as a fact. 


If the result of that recognition is that our military is disproportionately composed of young men from rural Idaho towns then so be it.  If it means the military is disproportionately composed of fifty year old, former small business owners then so be it.  What I’m saying is that the military needs to be composed of people who meet the mental, emotional, motivational, and physical requirements for combat and the reality is that group of people will not reflect the gender or racial mix of society at large and that’s perfectly fine and should be accepted and embraced.  The military is about combat and killing, not social experimentation and equity.


What is the Air Force approach to recruiting challenges?


The [Air Force] recruiting branch acknowledged it needs to come up with new strategies and marketing to connect with Americans who are eligible for or interested in military service.


In particular, the Air Force wants to emphasize “shared values, versatile career options and personal development opportunities within today’s military,” spokesman Randy Martin said.[3]


‘Shared values’ ?

‘Versatile career options’ ?

‘Personal development’ ?


Are you kidding me?  Those aren’t challenges that attract tough, fighting recruits.  Those are namby-pamby, wishy-washy, feel-good inducements that, at best, will attract pacifists interested in goals other than combat.  More likely, the people who would be attracted to those inducements will go elsewhere where they can work from home, join social causes, and complain about life.


China doesn’t need to worry about destroying the US military, we’re doing the job for them.  Sociology and social experimentation is destroying the military and the tip of that spear of destruction is our recruiting.  We’re recruiting the wrong segment of society.  We need to recognize what the military is – a killing machine – and recruit people who fit that mold and stop worrying whether the military perfectly reflects the gender and racial makeup of society at large.






[1]Redstate website, “THE BUZZ CUT: Biden’s Military in Crisis”, Buzz Patterson, 8-Jul-2022,


[2]The Hill website, “The military has a serious recruiting problem — Congress must fix it”, Tom Jurkowsky, 21-Jun-2022,



Wednesday, November 16, 2022


As we discuss ship and aircraft design, we often repeat statements we hear and read from various sources and then proceed to make arguments to support or refute those statements.  We typically pick and choose specific features of the given weapon system or platform that we favor and use those specifics to batter detractors into submission.  That’s fine.  It’s fun and it keeps blogs in business.  However, if we’re interested in serious discussions and want to actually learn rather than just engage in arguments and try to chalk up “wins”, it’s vitally important to recognize where the various claims that we rely on come from.  The claim is only as good as its source – that’s a variant of the venerable programming adage, Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO).


Regarding weapon system claims,


-       the only reliable source of claims is from authenticated combat reports.

-       the second best source of claims is from rigorous, systematic, statistically based, realistic testing such as that conducted by DOT&E.

-       the most common source of claims is manufacturers.

-       the least reliable source of claims is US Navy program managers and spokesmen.

-       blogs vary widely in the reliability of their claims but the good ones are far more accurate than the Navy’s official claims.



Here’s some examples of wildly exaggerated claims that never panned out:


  • VDS – The LCS VDS was going to revolutionize anti-submarine warfare – ignoring the fact that VDS systems have been around for decades – and yet the LCS ASW function has been officially terminated.
  • Modular warships – Modularity was going to revolutionize warfare, allowing ships to convert from one function to another in a matter of hours.  Of course, the Navy abandoned that when it was found to be impractical.
  • Distributed lethality – Small, isolated, forward deployed ships with a handful of weapons would wreak havoc on enemy navies.  We’ve discussed the folly of that claim and the reality of war waits patiently to further emphasize the folly.
  • Anti- Torpedo System – The anti-torpedo system was a proven system developed as an urgent need program and was claimed to provide protection for carriers.  It was installed on a carrier and quickly shown to be a complete failure and removed from service.
  • Amphibious Escorts – The Navy claimed to have discovered that escorted amphibious ships would be more survivable than unescorted ships;  a fact known since the earliest sailing days.
  • IRST – The Hornet’s IRST was going to revolutionize aerial warfare, again ignoring the fact that it has been around for decades.
  • Networks – Networks are claimed to allow us to compensate for lack of firepower and quantity.  Reality has demonstrated, however, that we can’t even keep track of giant, hulking cargo ships, reefs, and Iranian territorial waters.
  • Lasers – Fully functional, instantaneously destructive lasers have been claimed to be just around the corner … and have been for several decades, now.
  • Rail Guns – These were going to revolutionize warfare by causing the unstoppable, instantaneous destruction of any enemy asset, at near zero cost.  The Navy has terminated the rail gun effort.
  • Zumwalt AGS – The Advanced Gun System was going to allow the Navy to provide pinpoint naval firepower 70-100 miles inland.  Of course, the AGS was cancelled after its one-of-a-kind munition reached the $1M per round cost and it failed to come anywhere near its claimed range or accuracy.



Keep the source and credibility of claims firmly in mind as you evaluate and discuss various systems.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Be Careful What You Sign

Japan has protested the passage of a Chinese ship through Japan’s territorial waters. 


The [Chinese] Shupang-class survey ship was sighted sailing northeast through Japan’s contiguous zone west of Gaja Island and entered Japan’s territorial waters southwest of Kuchinoerabu Island at 12:10 a.m. local time on Wednesday. The ship departed Japan’s territorial waters after three hours of operating near Yakushima Island and sailed southeast. According to Japanese officials, the transit was the fourth intrusion of a foreign warship this year, marking a record high.


Japan has lodged a diplomatic protest over the incident.[1]


The only problem is that passage is legal according to international treaty as specified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which Japan is a signatory, having ratified the treaty 20-Jun-1996.


The right of innocent passage is described in the UNCLOS agreement in Part 2, Section 3., Articles 17-32.  It describes the right of another country’s ship to pass through the territorial waters of a signatory under certain conditions and with certain constraints on what kind of actions the passing ship can engage in during the passage.


Whether the Chinese ship obeyed all the restrictions was not publicly disclosed by Japan.  I suspect the Chinese ship did obey the requirements or else Japan would, presumably, have loudly proclaimed the violations.  If the Chinese ship met the passage requirements then Japan has no legal basis for protest.


The larger point is that the right of innocent passage does exist and Japan agreed to the legal process.  If Japan didn’t want foreign ships in its waters, it shouldn’t have signed the treaty.  The lesson is, be careful what you sign. 


This is a variation of, be careful what you wish for.  There are always unforeseen consequences.  So many treaties the US signs seem to limit us more than the other party.


On a related note, the US has never ratified the UNCLOS treaty and is not bound by it although we tend to observe its requirements.


On a further related note, despite being a signatory, China has violated the UNCLOS treaty in multiple instances and in multiple ways, the most famous of which is ignoring an UNCLOS tribunal ruling, in a dispute between China and the Philippines, that ruled in favor of Philippines and found Chinese actions and claims in the South China Sea to be unfounded and illegal.


This should serve as a warning to the US not to ratify the treaty since China does not feel bound to obey it.  Ratification would serve only to limit the US while China freely ignores the treaty. 





[1]USNI News website, “Tokyo Protests Chinese Surveillance Ship Transit in Territorial Waters, Japan Prepares for Fleet Review”, Dzirhan Mahadzir, 4-Nov-2022,

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Crossed Missiles

We’ve all seen the photos of deck mounted racks of anti-ship missiles, right?  It’s almost always two 4-cannister racks mounted in a side-by-side, criss-cross arrangement so that the two racks point in opposite directions.


NSM Launcher Racks

This arrangement is neat, compact, and efficient … and idiotically foolish from a combat perspective.  It puts the ship’s entire dedicated anti-ship weaponry in one location, susceptible to a single hit which would eliminate the ship’s entire anti-ship capability.


Worse, on the Independence LCS variant, a single hit on or near the missile racks would also likely destroy the 57 mm gun since neither the racks nor the gun are armored.  Simple shrapnel would destroy both missiles and gun.


NSM Launchers on Independence Class - Note Proximity
to 57 mm Gun

The Freedom variant LCS has a proposed slightly different Naval Strike Missile (NSM) rack arrangement with the two racks separated a bit.  I haven’t actually seen a photo of a Freedom variant with installed NSM racks yet so that arrangement is only speculative.  Still, as seen in the photo below, the racks are not far apart and are even closer to the 57 mm gun than on the Independence variant.  A single hit in that area would certainly destroy the two missile racks and the gun.


NSM Launchers - Note Proximity to 57 mm Gun and 
Vulnerability to a Single Hit

It’s not just the LCS.  Below is a photo of criss-crossed Harpoon racks on a Burke class destroyer.


Harpoon Racks on Burke Class

The criss-cross arrangement has always been a characteristic of US ships.  Below is a photo of criss-crossed Harpoon racks on the stern of a Ticonderoga class cruiser.


Harpoon Racks on Stern of Ticonderoga Class

One of the tenets of combat effectiveness and survivability is separation of equipment.  In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.


It’s bad enough that our ‘ship of the line’ Burke class destroyer would mount only eight dedicated anti-ship missiles - a woefully small amount for naval combat – but to risk losing all of them to a single hit is sheer idiocy that violates common sense combat design principles.  The missile racks need to be separated, as far apart as possible.  In general terms, one rack should be located forward and the other aft, either on the centerline or staggered offset to port and starboard.






On a related note, below is a photo of a Harpoon canister being loaded on a rack, for those of you who are wondering about reloading at sea during a battle.  Sorry, can’t be done with the current arrangement. 

Harpoon Canister Being Loaded Onto Rack

On a related, related note, you may recall that the Perry class frigate’s Mk13 single arm missile launcher had a 40-missile magazine that could accommodate a mix of Standard and Harpoon missiles.  That old, obsolete ability to carry a large number of anti-ship missiles is starting to look pretty good, now, isn’t it?


Perry Class Mk13 Missile Launcher