Navy's Newest LCS Little Rock


#42

My assumption does not assume Hollywood sets it assumes both our clear and present danger - freedom of the seas - and the protection of our lifeblood as a maritime nation… the protection of marine transportation. To that end, yes, the LCS may be of good use in clearing mines (I don’t purport to understand why you need a fast ship in a minefield).

I am also not sold on sacrificing survivability for speed… something the navy seems to be addicted to on a majority of it’s platforms.


#43

Proven beyond the shadow of a doubt when they decided to cover up sailors head to toe with a camouflage pattern making them blend in with water but stand out everywhere else like giant blueberries in a shooting gallery.


#44

HMS Hood was a battle cruiser and was lost with only three survivors when she came up against the Bismarck.A classic case where armour had been sacrificed for speed. The two American battle cruisers that had been laid down at roughly the same time were completed as the carriers USS Yorktown and USS Saratoga.


#45

@Hogsnort How’s this for armor?


#46

The fatal flaw in HOOD (or any battlecruiser) wasn’t the lack of armor, it was how they were employed. BCs looked like battleships, sounded like battleships, and fired battleship guns, but they had no place in the line of battle, where speed counted for nothing. If BCs had been confined to missions where speed was important, like scouting, or running down armored cruisers that were harassing convoys, and beat feet at the sight of any proper BB, their reputation may have been very different.

Speed is important in any tactical planning. The basic speed for all fleet escorts has been set for 75 years by the speed of the aircraft carrier, which needs to be fast enough to generate her own wind if she has to. I can remember chasing KITTY HAWK around as plane guard and watching her absolutely walk away from our DDG traveling at full speed - it’s a humbling experience.

Survivability is also a relative term. COLE, STARK, FITZGERALD, these ships were all taken out of the fight for one reason or another, but the trend is the same: it was a single incident or attack that laid them up. One hit may not be enough to sink a modern ship, but she will most certainly be a “mission” kill. Some vulnerabilities could theoretically be addressed with armor, but others, like radars and other electronics, can never be protected behind steel plate. The days of staying in the fight after multiple kamikaze hits or slugging it out against another ship with gunfire are long past. The way you survive is to not get hit in the first place.

Which circles back to LCS. Even if she could make 50 knots that’s still about 700 knots slower than the average ASCM coming to make her a mission kill. Was the trade off in other capabilities worth it? I’m inclined to say no, but they didn’t ask me. My great fear is one day, if the Navy continues to add LCS and not enough fleet escorts, that some admiral will decide that LCS look like destroyers, sound like destroyers, and fire guns like destroyers, and place them in carrier strike groups. If that strike group goes to war those LCS will probably join all their Jutland BC brethren in short order, leading the commander to remark that “there is something wrong with our bloody ships today”.


#47

Good points. I think that is the problem with the sleek looking LCS today. It was meant to replace the MCM, PC and some aspects of the OHP Frigates, yet is constantly compared to CGs and DDGs… Its a large fast corvette with a big modular space and nothing more.

Speed is important, as you pointed out. How much are we willing to trade off for speed is the question. Range, payload, survivability, complex plant, etc for 10 - 20 extra knots.

I believe the topic about outrunning an ASCM is totally mute and a ridiculous point to even bring up. Speed is about operating in and out of the engagement zones, and choosing when you want to fight, not outrunning any kind of munition.

If you want a real world example, look at the Pegasus class ships and the war games associated with them in the 80s. They had a shallow draft with a high top speed and were able to engage and disengage, effectively reeking havoc on a task force. The problems with them is they were so nitch, with little range and seakeeping or ability to do anything else. Coincidently (playing devils advocate), the LCS has about the same top speed and simular shallow draft as the Pegasus without all the shortcomings…

HOWEVER, I will say the Navy should have built a traditional slower Frigate.


#48

I was lucky enough to serve on a frigate where we could maintain station on the clearly defined quarter wave on our radar of the wake of the carrier due to our speed during plane guard. Because of this we were popular with the carrier and generally got the duty but that was a few summers ago. Do they still do it?
Armour versus ordinance goes on and knowing what I know now I am happy to be on the farm. HMS New Zealand was built and and paid for by New Zealanders in 1910. The Maori cloak worn by the Captain during the battle supposedly protected the ship. The ship cost the small country so much that it took until 1947 to pay it off.
Just goes to show that a warship is a hole in the ocean surrounded by steel that you pour money into until it sinks.


#49

That cloak is hanging in the same museum where I took those photos. The NZ Navy Museum at Torpedo Bay across the bay (Devonport) from Auckland. Nice place for a visit.


#50

There hasn’t been a war where navy ships have been fighting sea battles in line with those of WW II for 70 years. Any future wars are not likely to see any either.

You don’t fight terrorists with battleships, or squadrons of destroyers.
If there is a war between major powers it will be over before the Navy can find their way to any battle zone.

Meanwhile, let the rich get richer by building useless ships and planes for the boys to play with.


#51

Pax Britannica lasted for 100 years after Trafalgar, enforced by the Royal Navy, only to be ended by the most brutal war up until that point in history. An ascendant Germany; united, industrialized, with influence sought through naval strength - a sea change in world order.

We are about 75 years into Pax Americana, enforced by the United States Navy, with an ascendant China; united, industrialized, seeking influence through naval strength. Will this happen tomorrow? No, but while history doesn’t repeat itself, it often rhymes.

Only the dead have seen the end of war (at sea).


#52

There has never been a gun fight among ships that proved decisive in war since the time of sail… but what does that prove?

Some things don’t ever change. The ocean is still increadibly large, choke points still exists, merchant ships are still vulnerable and nature still throws wrenches. And of absolute importance is the fact that we still need bases around the world to supply and repair ships.

It may be 70 years since the last big sea battle but it has only been 25 years since the US Navy suffered it’s last MAJOR defeat… one that may prove to be our undoing if China become aggressive. And that battle was not fought ship-on-ship it was fought in the shadow of mount pinatubo.

The bottom line is we need warships on forward patrol and those ships need lots of supplies and the ocean is a giant place. We can not so that if we are spending our money on expensive littoral combatants and increasingly vulnerable carrier strike groups.

The navy needs to get out of the land and air over land business and get back to protecting the vast oceans and the commercial ships that the world depends on.


#53

Grade inflation, http://www.gradeinflation.com/ and devaluing the 4 year college degree has happened bigly over the last 20 years. Hundreds of new “bachelor degree” programs have also been created in the same time from BS for-profit online schools that, incidentally, tend to cater to military folks that have the GI bill to use.


#55

I got out of the Navy three months before I would have had to buy an entire seabag of ugly, flammable, can’t get them off over your shoes, have to hang them up uniforms that made young sailors look as though they were wearing daddy’s clothes – instead of the distinctive and intensely practical, folded-inside-out-stowable cotton and wool uniforms and leather shoes I had worn for close to six years and that weren’t much different from the ones in WWII. That was in nineteen seventy five.


#56

Maybe not a kamikaze plane, per se but swarming small boats packed with explosives are darn near the same thing. I would think a ship still needs to be able to fight after getting a bloody nose. Then again I drive a ship full of dirt for a living so I won’t claim tactical expertise. I did have an interesting talk with some USN guys about ten years ago at the hotel in Marinette, though. After overhearing a conversation about the proposed manning levels for the LCS and the PM schedule I commented that most merchant ships followed a PM routine and major work was done dockside during cargo ops or planned dry dock periods with support from the office. Their raised eyebrows and mumbled comments about relying on squadron level support didn’t exactly exude confidence in the Navy’s plan.


#57

Yes I agree, sea battles between fleets of big warships are indeed a thing of the past and may not have been decisive since the time of sail.
Yet it appears that the large Navies of the world are building large ships that just represent easy target for modern missiles. You cannot hide a large Battle group, no matter how stealthy the individual vessels may be.

Whether America NEED bases around the world depends on whether she still want to shoulder the burden of world hegemony. Based on the development of US policy lately, there appears to be less interest in engaging in the world order that has kept relative peace this last 70 years.

That China should become aggressive, or seeking world military dominance, is very unlikely. China will build up it’s military to deter anybody from attacking it and to protect it’s vulnerable underbelly in the South China Sea. To understand that, just look at the map and see how hemed in China is in that region.

China will also not kowtow to any American demands, or show of force. Silly threats of trade wars, or whatever other stupidity is issued by the present US administration, is not making any difference to the long term strategy of China. They are on the rise and USA is in decline and they can afford to wait.

The ocean is indeed a large place and freedom of navigation is important for any country that is dependent on trade and raw materials from all over the world, not only USA.

That importance of oceans will only increase with the future seabed mining for important minerals, thus China and nearly all other countries in the world is interested in establishing an international regime under UNCLOS to regulate how the exploitation of the resources of open ocean outside EEZs will be governed in the future. If USA still choose to stay outside of UNCLOS, they do so at their own peril, but they do so of their free will.


#58

In some respects China has already won.

The one belt one road strategy is real and will soon be very effective. The Chinese are building naval bases at Doraleh in Djibouti and Gwadar, The Pacific and Indian Oceans will be their backyard whilst the US dreams of the Pacific battles of WWII.


#59

They (China) keep up their land grabs in the South China Sea and the military buildup on same, their long term strategy may encounter a few hiccups - in the form of sand being turned into glass.


#60

I would recommend former Sec. of Defense William Perry’s book “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink” to anyone who fantasizes about turning sand to glass with nuclear weapons. In short, there will be no winner. His background from WWII to the present day with weapons systems is unmatched. He has real world experience that the majority of our current military and government leaders lack.


#61

Let’s hope that nobody is stupid enough to try that.