The US Navy’s ship program is sick, but the fixes aren’t rocket science
The State of US Shipbuilding
The consensus is that the US does not build enough ships, civilian or military. The lack of production raises alarm as tension with China in East Asia rises. And the US will need ships if we choose to fight in East Asia.
An interesting read - for me, especially the radar & armor section. Sooooo. “What’s old, is new.” In WW2, DE’s were specialized sub chasers, excelled in that capacity, and sucked in air defense. DD’s had excellent air defense, and just “ok” at subs, But they could also provide NGFS shore bombardment. Cruisers came in different configurations, some were exclusively anti-air, and others were “big DD’s without any submarine weapons. The last iteration were the heavy cruisers, with 8” guns & a butt load of other guns. They could be anti-ship, anti-air, and shore bombardment [NGFS}. After that, the BB’s - notably the Iowa class. GUNS, GUNS, GUNS, GUNS. But no ASW capability & had to rely on the DE’s & DD’s. Of course, the queen of the fleet, the bird farms- carriers.
So, getting past the nostalgia of the past, in the upcoming conflict with China, when all the thin-skinned DDG’s have shot their wad of missiles, and been put out of action by a hit, a few Des Moines-class cruisers, newly constructed with their armor, would wreck havoc on the surviving DDG’s. 8" shells would decimate the opposition at a fraction of the cost of any ASM!! And armor? Armor Belt: 4-6 in (102-152 mm); Deck: 3.5 in (89 mm); Turrets: 2-8 in (51-203 mm); Barbettes: 6.3 in (160 mm); Conning tower: 6.5 in (165 mm). I’m reasonably sure that an ASM designed to penetrate the thin hull & superstructure of DDG’s would have less success with 6" of armor.
This new cruiser wouldn’t need the WW2 secondary batteries, instead use the modern harpoon, CWIS & sea sparrows, Mk 38 weapon, and RAM’s. Heck, take two of the 8" turrets off to make room for VLS systems.
Armor box the tomahawks…and maybe a hardened overhead for the vls.
I have wondered the same thing, actually. IIRC, the Iowa class were to form SAG (surface action groups) to counter the Warsaw Pact anti-carrier missile cruisers. Slavas? Can’t remember the Soviet class, offhand.
The issue would be closing to gun range, but I would think a big enough power plant and a 30kt+ speed would help. Cripple a few with surface to surface missiles, then clean up with the guns.
Spitballing, but…I suppose a big enough study/$ would make a decision. Better get cracking, though as China is not waiting
Don’t think the DDG hull would support the weight of up-armoring the VLS cells fore & Aft. You are probably thinking of the Kirov class BCGN’s. I hadn’t heard of that reason, but acknowledge The Iowa’s were resurrected for two reasons: 1. To get a bunch of Tomahawks to sea as quickly as possible.
2. (A VERY distant 2nd) To provide shore bombardment capability for the USMC.
No need to speed into gun range - the targeted ships are DIW due to already being hit by the first & second missile exchange!!
Displacement wise, the Zumies might support 8" [the LRLAP were 6"]. The Des Moines displaced 20k tons to the Zum’s 18ish. The problem would be gutting all the electrical guts to put in guns & magazines. And new fire-control. Then, you still have a thin-skinned hull that couldn’t survive a missile hit and remain combat-effective.
The bursting charge of that LRLAP round is only 24lbs, and is actually favorably compared to an 8" round’s 25lbs. That 8" round could penetrate 4" of armor at 26 miles!!! The best part, is the cost of the round compared to Zum’s. The Zummie’s LRLAP was approaching $1,000,000 per round;
" In 2012, the USCG launched a heavy polar icebreaker acquisition program and, in 2016, established an integrated program office with the US Navy to utilize the Navy’s shipbuilding expertise for acquiring the new icebreakers. SIX STINKING YEARS LATER! What was once 2025 completion date is now the start date. The Coast Guard has ONE heavy icebreaker and one medium. If the Polar Star has a major breakdown, McMurdo Sound will be pretty much inaccessible to shipping. Even the chi-coms are building icebreakers and they don’t have ice. What is wrong with the military and the “government” that is supposed to “get things done”?
The thought is that China will use icebreaking capacity to “mine” the Arctic. Australia also has Antarctic bases. But evidently you trust China. Good luck with that. I see you conveniently left out the rest of my post. The fact remains the Coast Guard needs icebreakers.
The latest Chinese “icebreaker” broke news just before New Year.
My first thought was “Oh, that’s pretty, but I have seen port icebreakers bigger than that”.
Its ice class is also not higher than that of the Alaskan research vessel Sikuliaq (Polar Class 5).
Then there’s of course the one that has been designed appearance-first and as a result looks like a sex toy:
It’s one step heavier (Polar Class 4) and can break about four feet of ice.
Anyway. so far China has been building icebreaking research vessels with fairly modest capabilities. There’s nothing that could be used to escort other ships through the ice. Nothing like what the Russians have.
Anyway, I agree that the USCG needs more icebreakers. The problem is that they don’t need the kind of “simple civilian icebreakers” that Russia uses to escort merchant ships; the more-or-less-milspec Coast Guard cutters are inherently more complicated to design and build. If you add in the fact that the US has not built a polar icebreaker since the 1990s it’s understandable why it has taken so long with the PSCs. However, if they needed “just something to get into the ice” with SWaP for their own toys, I’m fairly sure a capable US shipyard could deliver a heavy icebreaker in about 3 years even if we started from a blank sheet today. Unfortunately public procurement does not work like that…
“Mine” as in “deep sea mining”, or placing anti-ship mines in ice covered Arctic waters?
Why would they do that anyway? Stopping Russian and Chinese ships from using the NSR?
PS> Who’s “thought” is that, Fox News?
BTW; China has research stations in both the Arctic and Antarctic that requires resupplies, just like McMurdo.
As for the rest of your post; I agree, the US should have at least one heavy icebreakers and some ice capable polar patrol and research ships.
The present estimate is 2028 i.e. 4-5 years from now. They have not started production with the exception of prototype block manufacturing but some equipment such as the Azipod propulsion units have already been delivered.
Airbus has assembly facilities for passenger jets and helicopters in USA so they can call them
“Made in USA”
Nearly all parts comes from their various manufacturing locations in Europe, incl. the “hull” (fuselage)
Why can’t the same be done for ships? The design work and most of the machinery and major equipment are already foreign made, while the hulls has to be built at US shipyards (from US steel.
(Or at least unbent or shaped imported steel)
That is exactly opposite of how it is done in Europe, where the hull sections, or entire hulls, are built at low cost yards in Eastern Europe, while machinery and equipment are manufactured and installed at yards in NW Europe.
An alternative viewpoint is that the Navy should design its ships down to the bolt like it did before the ~1970s. 100% in-house design would improve over today’s listless process and would likely have less variation in outcome. Reaching sky-high productivity levels would be challenging, but vendor dysfunction disasters would become rarer once the Navy redevelops internal talent.
I assume this means in-house instead of using contractors for design? How was it done before the 1970’s?