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

Boils down to a matter of range of the weapons. The battleship had a max range of about 20 miles, a WW2 aircraft carrier could strike targets out to about 200 miles.

A case for smaller warships and less reliance on the false premise of “too big to sink” carriers, given modern weaponry.

There is that, on the other hand, there is this:

Er, the range of a TBF Avenger was 1000 miles.

The A6 Intruder, whose OFP I helped maintain, had a 3,245 mile range.

An F/A-18 has a range of 500 miles.

The current lack of range of naval aircraft is, IMHO, a much bigger problem than the ability or lack of ability of carriers to sustain heavy weather.


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The number you quote for the A6 is ferry range. Published combat range for the A6 is 875 nm

Published Hornet ferry range is 1800 nm and combat range 400 nm.

Mileage varries according to mission profile and could end up anywhere between those extremes.

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I have sailed with two masters on Shell tankers who were on those convoys. Both were deeply effected by their experiences during that time. For instance having to plough through a sea with scattered Mae West lifevest lights, colleagues who were torpedoed up front in the convoy and then being unable to help them. The caravan must go on and cannot stop…

They only talked about their experiences when they were drunk which they often were. That was there medicin and we respected that and always kept them out of the wind. PTSS was not yet discovered and no real medicine was available.

Lots of interesting comments about carriers, battleships, and attitudes. I’ve always had an affinity for history, and naval history in particular, so I’d like to try and dispel some of the “popular” narrative I see coming up here. The first is this persistent CV vs BB ideological battle that really never existed. The common myth is that the “big gun club” scoffed at the potential of air power until their ships were sunk to the bottom of Pearl Harbor. While there was certainly a time when the potential of air power hadn’t been fully realized, that was not the case in the late 30s/early 40s, when several fleet exercises (and two years of European war) had proven that carrier task forces could strike effectively at great distances. The basic idea was, carriers find the enemy, soften them up, the battleships swing in, blow them to hell, and then the carriers mop up the survivors.

The problem was that the battleships of WWI vintage weren’t good for more than 20 knots, and couldn’t keep pace with the carriers. When you talk about battleships you need to bifurcate between those ships and the fast battleships of the North Carolina/South Dakota/Iowa classes. Had the Two Ocean Navy Act building program been fully realized before the war started there would have been a dozen modern BB in this new line of battle, and this employment strategy would have been likely followed closely. This same act ordered a dozen new CV in 1940 as well, demonstrating even then that the Navy saw the obvious value of the carrier.

When most of the old BB were sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor, the new ships hadn’t been completed, and the carriers were the only assets left to take the fight to the enemy. When they were repaired they found duties escorting convoys, or shore bombardment, or other tasks, not because they were obsolete, but because they were too slow. The old BB engaged the Japanese in 1944 at the Battle of Surigao Strait - it was the action they were designed to fight, and they absolutely crushed them. The new BB worked with the carrier task forces, providing formidable protection, and on more than one occasion were cut loose to run down and destroy enemy surface units.

After the war ended the Navy wanted to keep the fast BB in commission, and several were retained for years, but the problem with the BB is it, for most intents and purposes, is just a larger version of a cruiser, which were far cheaper and less manpower intensive. BBs started getting paid off as a cost savings measure, not because there wasn’t a valid need for them. There wasn’t the same level of scaling available with carriers, because the lighter/escort carriers proved to be only marginally effective. So the BBs went away while the CVs soldiered on, only to be brought back time and again when the cruisers proved that they weren’t actually up to the task of throwing real lead around.

All this history is fun, but there are real lessons for today’s fleet. Are we building ships that will integrate together, or are some ships going to be relegated to secondary missions, and their resources better expended on proper fleet units? I think we’d be able to employ the LCS in a war with China, but we’d be better off operating ships that will be able to keep pace with the task force. A naval war with China is going to be much different than WWII, because it will be an area denial type of conflict, rather than raging battles on the (stormy?) high seas. China doesn’t need a single CV to challenge us in the SCS, they need them to wage war in the Indian Ocean. The best case is that we operate as an effective deterrent, and never have to fight them in the first place. I don’t think they’re scared of our LCS, but our DDGs give them pause. Budgets demand smaller ships and fewer sailors, but history has demanded the opposite.


Yes, the article I looked at ( ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA - The Age of the Aircraft Carrier) actually says this:

The reason was range: aircraft could deliver a concerted attack at 200 miles or more, whereas battleships could do so only at 20 miles or less.

Battleships were good because they could project firepower twenty plus miles away. Aircraft carriers took the lead because they (or the aircraft) could project fire accurately several hundred miles away. Technology made that possible.

Today we are at the point where missiles can project fire as far as an aircraft. New weapons can travel faster than aircraft, some are stealthy, and all are expendable unlike pilots. Best of all the weapons can be fired from much smaller platforms, like destroyers and soon unmanned ships, that don’t cost nearly as much in money, manpower and logistics.

That’s why the age of carriers is coming to its end.


While no ship is too big to sink, it takes A LOT to sink a CVN.

You ain’t whislin’ Dixie…

Why attack a carrier? All an adversary needs to do is attack our old, slow, defenseless, dilapidated fleet oilers. Those are the only ships that can support jet fuel in volume to a carrier. In a real conflict we would see those oilers sunk pretty quickly. Then the vaunted carrier, after a while, would have to retreat from the front to find a safe place to refuel.

Shitty when the mightiest weapon the world has ever known can be crippled without it ever being attacked.

Is the CWIS intrinsically safe? Mount a dozen of those babies around the fish plates. Boom. Solved it :joy:

Use this paint scheme and perforate them while they scratch their heads wondering where that distant buzzing sound is coming from.



You are preaching to the choir… but the “con ops” say the oilers won’t go into harm’s way.


Carriers refuel in shipyards, not by fleet oilers. All carriers are nuclear powered. When I served, we had a saying that in a war, the carrier was only there long enough to launch the air wing, then they were redundant. The air wing was not expected nor required to land again…

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Carriers take jet fuel for aircraft, helicopters, fork trucks, generators… That’s what I was referring to.

But the aircraft aren’t, and they’re thirsty.


Maybe the others did not read your whole post; maybe they did not understand…

Even in the Army, there are expendable specialist troops; in peacetime, all is planned… in a real war, they would not risk people just to return the body bags.

Your saying may be too sarcastic for the peaceful people of today…

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Geez, I guess there was no need for those once a week visits from the oiler when I was onboard. All those nerve-wracking alongside hours were just for shits & giggles.