The U.S. Navy’s Future Fleet May Run Aground In Heavy Weather

A good example, While my son was on an oiler with MSC, they were headed to Diego Garcia from the east coast. One of the vessels following them was one of those Catamaran Rigs manned by MSC. They had to use Great Circle route to avoid as much weather as possible. Even so, That rig( the Cat rig) took a beating going across the Atlantic. Ship had to slow down quite a bit for them .They may be fast in calmer waters, but god awful in weather, and not a lot of it.

…sailing without this ‘useless cripple’, they would have used series of loxodromes, each from nowhere to nowhere, searching the really bad weather.

Craig Hooper is a fucking idiot. The closest he’s ever come to getting sea salt on him is from the rim of a margarita glass.

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I was wondering, because his resume doesn’t exactly scream “military expert”…

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I don’t know, I’ve never heard of him till now. I don’t see anything obviously wrong with his article.

Having said that, the meta question raised here is the nature of expertise. Serious question, how do we judge expertise and what makes you think you are qualified to do it in this case?

Consider for example merchant mariner’s analysis of Navy accidents. It’s always "too many people in the bridge and that Navy ought to use the merchant system. This is from licensed masters with 30 years experience etc. Why do they feel they have expertise in the matter? Isn’t it possible a person with no experience at sea but expertise in how operational teams process information would have better insights?

EDIT: Not saying he’s a fucking idiot or not, just asking how that was determined.

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He’s a fucking idiot because he is advocating for building big ships for fighting a war based on the way things were at the end of WWII. I’m surprised he didn’t advocate to build more battleships or perhaps the old ships of the line. The USN actually has a very robust requirements process that drives the design of ships.

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The thing is, we mariners here only comment on matters Naval as it applies to navigating ships which is a common skill between the Navy and the merchant marine. Other than that we don’t try to tell the Navy how to do anything.

Battleships were proven to be obsolete well before WW2 ended. These Austal and cat rigs have been night mares with the cost overruns, and overall performance or lack of. Rest of the fleet is practical, especially the supporting vessels with the aircraft carriers. Bigger is not always better. Now, if they could just quit running into things.

True, but we and everyone else built and held on to them i.e. Bismarck, Yamato, Missouri and so on. Just like we are building and holding on to our carriers.

For the cost of one carrier we could have several destroyers. It would take several lucky shots to destroy a fleet of destroyers but one lucky shot (or barrage) to take out a carrier. The days of the giant capital ship is over. It’s just that some don’t want to admit it to themselves.

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There’s a lot of questions packed in here, but to dispatch with Hooper quickly he has zero operational or afloat experience, and no academic training in naval matters. He shilled for Austal USA, the same group that gave the Navy LCS and the JHSV/EPF (you know, those small, weak ships he says are a mistake to buy). His article is stupid as well, because there is not a stretch of ocean that the Navy isn’t willing to go fight in. Just because there’s not been a need to send a carrier strike group into the Arctic doesn’t mean the willingness to operate there has dissipated. On the whole, storm avoidance is the one thing the Navy does really well, because we actually learned our lesson about driving into typhoons. His argument that small ships are worse than big ships can be debated, but his suggestion that they will be escorting carriers is 180 from all current concepts of operations. Small ships are meant to act as surface action groups, relatively close to shore. Now Congress only gives the Navy X amount of money to build ships with, and broadly speaking you can buy a lot of little ships or a few big ships (thanks in no small part to Hooper’s buddies). This is an actually good article on the subject and line of thinking: http://www.thedanward.com/resources/Build+Droids+Not+Death+Stars.pdf

As to the meta question, I think most people are open to reasonable criticism, but it has to be informed. Hooper is not informed. A 30 year master telling the Navy it’s AFU is not informed. A 30 year master asking the Navy why they have so many people on the bridge of a ship, and after hearing the answer making suggestions on how to better do BRM is reasonable. An expert needs experience, obviously, but to be truly useful to build up others an expert has to know how to take in a situation, ask the right questions, and then apply their knowledge and training to the specifics at hand. In keeping with the stormy weather example, it’s like the captain of the El Faro. Experienced, yes. But blinded by experience, as best as I understand the story, and not applying experience correctly to a new situation, instead coming to a predetermined course of action. Such it is with Hooper.

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But no airplanes possibly in your scenario?. Carriers since Midway have proved their worth even today. Their early destroyers broke in two in WW2 in Pacific storms. Construction methods then were for lack of a better word, not the best. Liberty and Victory ships had a weak spot nearly midships, was remedied later in the war by rewelding steel reinforcement plates along the hull. We quit building/ commissioning Capital warships well before the war was over. These new cruisers and stuff have plenty times more the firepower and technology of those days, although they are not as large, pack plenty of punch. Some of the boat drivers/navigators for the Navy of today are sharp, but some are/have/had some problems. They have considered advice from the merchant fleet, whether they will acknowledge that, is another question.

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I think that depended on the mission of the ship. As a surface combatant there is no argument there were few surface engagements with air power being the determining factor. But as troop support (shore bombardment) and fleet air defense they acquitted themselves rather well.

To the point that we kept hauling them back out of retirement.

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That was then. Smart bombs and missles are quite more accurate today than the random artillary/ships fire back in the day. The last mission of one of our Battleships were equipped with missles. That can be done on a slightly smaller platform, much to Mr. Coopers dismay. I highly doubt any battleships will be seen again since the last procurement many moons ago. They are museum pieces now, due to their great service and history. But obsolete.

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I understand there was a real problem with Liberty ships on the Murmansk run because the steel turned out to be cold short, and I think the welded construction didn’t have enough crack stoppers built in. The crack propagation was outrageously fast once it started, and the ship would break in two pieces just like that.

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If you are referring to the Missouri and Wisconsin during the Gulf War, yes, they fired missiles. During the same time frame both preformed multiple shore bombardment missions as well. That said, no, they or ships like them will likely not ever return

I actually sailed with an ab/os on the Murmansk run that was torpedoed and spent time freezing in a lifeboat. Charlie Fletcher from Bay Minette, near Mobile ,Alabama. Another WW2 fellow was a pilot in Tampa Bay, that had a horse /cow ranch or both. Taught me how to back up a ship/large deep draft barge a bit in a narrow channel using the assist tugs to steer the bow, not the stern. I wish I could remember his name, he was always teaching. I used that technique for many years and passed it on. I was a green Captain back then, but he was priceless. Right salty fellow from back in the day. And saw it all during WW2.

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If Hooper has a dog in the fight than his views should be approached with a little more skepticism.

As far as the shape of the future Navy, I don’t know enough to say anything about that. The basic contours of the problem seems to be a variation of what I first heard to describe decision making with regards to bicycles; “strong, cheap, light, pick two”.

As far as expertise, sometimes people on the inside get it wrong. For example the old pre-war battleship navy was more habits of thinking than decision making.

Here’s a Wikipedia article about how outsiders using pure analysis with no inside knowledge can beat the insider experts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Judgment_Project

The top forecasters in GJP are "reportedly 30% better than intelligence officers with access to actual classified information

Interesting following the links from there.

That is just it. The flexibility of the carrier is what killed the battleship. Having a mobile airfield is what makes the carrier invaluable. Vulnerable? Yup, but minimized with a task force. I am not sure that we will ever see a major naval battle like those of the past ever again, and certainly not in my waning lifetime.