30th

land attack cruiser?

January 2012

By

The USS Ponce (LPD 15, the final ship of the Trenton- or modified Austin-class) received a second lease on life at the last minute last week. After more than forty years of service, she completed her last deployment in December, had just completed her final week at sea and was slated for decommissioning March 30. Instead, she will now be rapidly converted to a special operations and mine countermeasures ‘mothership’ and could be on station in the Persian Gulf as early as this summer, able to support MH-53E Sea Dragons, the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Gulf Cooperation Council and other operations under 5th Fleet. It is reportedly a capability for which U.S. Central Command has been clamoring since the 1980s Tanker Wars and will now — rather remarkably quickly — be fulfilled.

But for the one ship that was saved from the scrap yard, seven Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers with some 25 years of service are slated to go the way of the first five ships of the class (and from what at least one panelist claimed at West 2012, complex Aegis components don’t mothball very well). One of the seven reportedly requires expensive repairs and may also have significant problems with the Mk 45 gun mounts (it turns out the Navy has not always been a good custodian of taxpayer investments).

But for a Marine Corps that has only the prospect of six total 155mm Advanced Gun Systems on three Zumwalt hulls, the Mk45 5″ naval gun looks to remain the old stand-by for naval surface fire support for the foreseeable future. When the Navy retired the five Mark-26 Ticos, it also retired ten 5″ guns. It is now set to retire 14 more 5″ guns and 854 Mk 41 VLS tubes along with them.

Part of the reason we need a 155mm gun for NSFS is because US$1 billion Aegis-equipped warships are staying further and further offshore. I’m not the expert on the Navy’s rationale or the cost considerations of these Ticos, but as a Marine having already experienced a huge reduction in the Zumwalt buy, it’s hard to watch seven hulls with two naval guns apiece get tossed in the rubbish bin. Each ship and ship class is its own question. But if the Ponce can see new life, why can’t, say, the three hulls in the best condition of the seven Ticos facing decommissioning too? Strip off as much of the superstructure as possible and it seems like it might look not unlike a small version of an arsenal ship…

*Many thanks to URR for some righteous-indignation regarding the Navy’s stewardship of massive taxpayer investment in these hulls. I owe much of this post to his insight.




Posted by nhughes in Marine Corps, Navy


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  • http://zenpundit.com J. Scott Shipman

    Excellent and timely post.

    We’re getting almost daily reminders these days that the USN has taken leave of its collective senses. (Witness the USAF and the A-10 for another example.)

    Glad they’re keeping the Ponce, but we could do better.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Timely indeed. Thanks for the compliment, Nate!

    Often heard is that such a conversion is not “cost effective”. Never have I heard someone explain how retention of the hull, propulsion machinery, most of the wiring, the majority of internal compartments and associated equipment did NOT represent a cost savings.

    One only has to take a look at what was done with the Sumners and Gearings in the late 50s, with the FRAM I and FRAM II modernizations. The FRAM I upgrade was in essence a stripping down of the vessel to the maindeck, replacement of engines, and revamping of superstructure.

    Note the extent of the work in this picture of USS Vesole (DD-825): http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/0587825.jpg

    Cost of the FRAM I upgrades ran between $7.5 million and $9 million per ship. FRAM II was somewhat less, as they modernization was not as extensive. 78 ships received FRAM I modernization. Many served another 15-18 years, when the original service life was to be 5-7 years. Total cost for the Sumner-Gearings was about $820 million.

    In contrast, the cost of replacing those fifteen-year old ships with new construction of the Charles F. Adams class would have run $46-50 million per ship. Seventy-eight new units would have cost $3.59 BILLION.

    The same sort of comparison could be made for the large numbers of Essex-class CVs in commission in the mid-50s. The SCB-27 and SCB-125 conversions gave fifteen Essexes reinforced flight decks, new islands, angled flight decks, and hurricane bows, and most lasted another fifteen to twenty years. Each modernization of a useful ship was done at a small fraction of the estimated cost for a replacement vessel.

    The willingness to modify and modernize useful, sturdy hulls and designs for purposes other than their original employment had been a trait of the US Navy for many decades. Now is an opportune time to re-examine such options.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Fram what you can, mothball what you can’t. Strip ship a few of the mothballed to keep the Frams going. Everybody wins but the contractors chiseling on new construction of useless designs, and some folks approaching retirement and planning on plum jobs with said contractors.

    We will fins this want of frigates graven upon our hearts (promotion surgeries excepted).

  • W.M. Truesdell

    “US$1 billion Aegis-equipped warships are staying further and further offshore.”

    The Zumies, which will end up costing three or more times as much will stay even further. A great target and PR disaster if they got hit (1 million missile takes out 3+ Billion Navy ship). I doubt if there will even be three of them. They are the grandest white elephant that the Navy has ever built.

    Great article (mainly because I agree with and lived it earlier.

  • Byron

    “(1 million missile takes out 3+ Billion Navy ship)”

    Nah, lot cheaper than that, $50,000 torpedo sinks Navy ship….

  • http://www.stratfor.com nhughes

    JSS,

    funny you mention that. It looks like the USAF will also be cutting five A-10 squadrons: one active, one reserve and three National Guard squadrons. In other words, five of the seven combat fighter squadrons mandated to be cut will be the A-10.
    http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2012/01/airforce-5-a10-squadrons-cut-013012/

    W.M. Truesdell and Byron,

    Agree. I’m definitely not looking to defend the idea that the largest surface combatant we’ve built in a generation with ten distinct, new technologies was the way to approach the land attack destroyer/NSFS need. Just looks like the Marine Corps will have to take what it can get for NSFS for the foreseeable future.

  • USNVO

    URR,

    Not to disagree, but you are comparing apples to oranges on FRAMs vs Charles F. Adams. Where to begin.

    1. FRAMs lasted only an additional, say 15 years. A new Charles F Adams would have maybe 25-30 years of service. So you have almost twice as many years of service from the Adams. So say only 50-60% of the new construction cost should be added to your analysis since you have to replace the FRAM sooner.

    2. Capability and roles were significantly different. A FRAM destroyer was a ASW ship while a Adams class was a AAW DDG! Maybe a slight difference in capability drove some of the cost difference. A Forrest Sherman class would provide a better comparison (but is of course much cheaper than an Adams class). Ultimately, a Charles F Adams class was superior to a FRAM in virtually every way. It should cost more.

    3. Looking at purchase price alone doesn’t tell the whole story. A life cycle cost comparison would be better. The newer ship might have lower manning costs, get better fuel economy, have lower repair costs (probably not the case with 1200lb steam but you get the point), etc. Additionally, besides the ship itself there are other costs. For instance, keeping 5″/38 guns instead of 5″/54 requires retention and maintenance of 5′/38 stocks, additional depot level support, additional training overhead, additional support personnel, etc.

    I don’t doubt the US got good value from the FRAMs, but the argument is not as clear cut as you indicate.

  • http://CGBlog.org Chuck Hill

    Converting to simplified, dedicated ASW/ASUW/NSFS platforms makes lots of sense to me. Should be able to significantly reduce crew, of course we could have just started with Spruance class which would have made more sense.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Chuck,

    Amen. All those Sprus, not yet 20, and the first four Ticos, none of which were yet 20….

    Silly and wasteful. At a time when we need hulls.

  • http://tobeortodo.com J. Scott Shipman

    Chuck Hill you make a salient point reminding me of an exchange from last year at Raymond Pritchett’s blog. See if this makes sense:

    Last night my father-in-law (a Vietnam vet and chopper pilot) and I were discussing the Eisenhower admonition concerning the military industrial complex. We discussed the longevity of B-52s and U-2s and how we continue to use in a world of stealth technology. Ray had a piece about the Perry class yesterday, that made me stop and ask, “why do we have this inexorable urge to buy so much new stuff, when the old stuff often will do the job?” Has our military become merely a captive single customer of the defense industry, or is the defense market a reflection of our real military needs? Kinda like car manufacturers coming up with new models every year…

    The psychology is sort of like a kid not wanting to drive his dad’s old car, but wants the shiny sports car—both are transportation, but one, the kid believes, will somehow make his life better.

    Given our transformational efforts in last 25 years in preservation and preventive maintenance, I’m guessing we’ve bought many, many more years for our ships—the Ohio class boats are going to get an additional decade (at the least) from these efforts. All that said, should our answers always be in a new platforms? We continue to make capital investments in the new, when often what we have works nicely. We’ve put the Iowa Class BBs out to pasture, and we sell “old ships” that go on to live long lives in other navies—perhaps we should look at what we have, and find innovative new ways of fighting these ships—for we’ve apparently become incapable of building anything with a reasonable price tag. I’m not suggesting we never modernize, but I am suggesting that perhaps we take what we’ve learned about hull preservation and ask the rhetorical—”How could we learn to repurpose/remission (new word) a proven platform?”

    I’m suggesting changing the paradigm; akin to the kid taking his dad’s car and installing a lift kit and new jazzy paint job (not my taste in transportation, btw:)). Yesterday, I saw a video where soldiers in Afghanistan used a remote control car to detect IEDs—this repurposed “toy” saved six lives…I don’t know the answer to this question, but is Enterprise so far gone that she can’t be modernized? [the answer is "yes" btw] She’s a proven design and we own it…just a few rambling thoughts.

    I believe we would benefit from considering a shift in our current paradigm, and consider true purpose.

    Postscript comment:

    I believe much of our difficulty lies also in the paucity of a true national strategic vision—or even a cogent, vigorously vetted strategic vision for the Navy. The Undersea bubbas are moving to reduce bureaucratic influence on boat COs, but I’ll believe it when I see—but at a minimum, they are talking about it.

    1/31/2012 Postscript: We would do well to remember the purpose of a warship is to sail into troubled waters and let that reality inform our efforts. Just sayin…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    USNVO,

    Your points are well taken, but the fact remains that to replace these ships (FRAMs) one for one would have been exorbitantly expensive. An ASW vessel based on CF Adams would have been a similar price to the AAW units. (The Forrest Shermans were already a 14-year old design in 1959, and are not a better comparison.)

    First, the stocks of 5″/38s were more numerous than the 5″/54s in the late 1950s, with a large number of mothballed vessels equipped with the twin mounts, and a very large number of spares extant in Navy yards.

    Second, the lifecycle comparison works all in the favor of the FRAMed Gearings. The slightly higher operating costs for those vessels than, say, a new Adams would have to play out for many decades to exceed the cost of new construction.

    Third, while the CF Adams were more capable in every way, what was needed were existing, rapidly convertible ASW platforms in large numbers. Part of today’s shipbuilding crisis, and it is a crisis, is the urge to stuff every last gee-whiz capability into every last platform, whether required for an employment concept or not. We end up with large, exorbitantly expensive, and complex warships, far too few in number, performing tasks that a much smaller, simpler, less costly unit could do better.

    For the $820 million of the FRAM program that gave the US Navy 78 very capable warships that filled a variety of roles, whereas new construction for that money would build 16-20 ships to try and be 78 places. Which should sound awfully familiar to those trying to execute the 21st Century Maritime Strategy without enough hulls.

    The premise is more true now than ever. The Navy needs to look to modify and squeeze every dollar out of existing hulls, which includes conversion to mission-specific units for which there is a need, rather than disposal at half of service life.

  • USNVO

    URR,

    No question, buying FRAMs is cheaper but…
    - A Adams class with a SM-1 capability was far more expensive than a Forrest Sherman. Just deleting the missile launcher and associated electronics and adding a flightdeck and helo hanger would drastically reduce cost.

    - FORREST SHERMAN commissioned in 1955, Charles F Adams in 1960. Adams was basically a Forrest Sherman Class with missiles.

    - Although 5″/38 was cheap, getting rid of it completely would have still have generated savings in the transition to 5″/54 not to mention simplifying everything from training to tech support. Not nearly enough to justify not FRAMing the ships, but it shows that simple analysis are not always the best.

    - A FRAM is probable cheaper and it made sense to do it, but just for illustration. In current dollars, if a FRAM had 30 more people, it would cost roughly $4.5million more a year to operate, just in manpower alone. The economics were different in 1955, but it adds up fast. Additionally, if the 1200lb plant had worked as advertised, it would have been much cheaper to operate. Again, it’s not as clear cut as indicated by just looking at price. Plus buying more ships makes all of the class cheaper.

    - True, numbers matter. So it is important to spend your money wisely. I don’t disagree with the argument, just presented the case that modernization is not as strong as you provided. For instance, the Navy was not using its money wisely to do the CG NTU Upgrade. More TICOs would have made far more sense. In crew savings alone, it would have made sense, forget the fact that the engineering plants on the CG were in such sad state.

    The TICOs may have more life in them, I don’t know. Decommissioning the Spruances and keeping the Perrys made all kind of sense then and still do today. Sunk cost is sunk cost (which in the case of the Spruances is really the case) and should never inform future decisions.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    USNVO,

    True numbers do matter. The Shermans were designed immediately following WWII, and though first commissioned in the mid-50s, the design was nearing 15 years old in 1960.

    Taking that figure of $4.5 million in today’s dollars, that cost represents about $580,000 in 1959. The hypothetical manpower costs of that 30 extra crew members, the largest of the operating cost differences between a FRAM Gearing and a newer replacement ship, would not exceed the approximately $35-38 million difference between the cost of the FRAM and new construction for more than sixty years.

    Difference in fuel consumption would not be significant enough to weigh in the discussion compared to personnel costs. Subtract from the difference in operating costs the troublesome 1200lb boilers, which were not sufficiently proven and did not perform as expected.

    You will have to explain your “sunk cost” comment, as it has little relation to filling a requirement by modifying or modernizing ships and equipment which have been paid for and which still have useful life. Re-capitalization of major end-items because of retirement at 50 or 60 percent of service life is an enormous expense, driving up lifecycle costs, mandating the absorbing up-front replacement costs unnecessarily.

    No, the case for modernization and conversion (and preservation) is stronger than the Navy admits. Far stronger. As I allude to above, I haven’t yet gotten adequate explanation as to why such modernization or conversion is not cost effective. The math does not work.

    The Ticos were built with a service life of 35 years. Retiring the first five at 18-21 years, rather than installing VLS, was extremely unwise. Mr Hughes’ assertion that, rather than disposing of a paid-for unit, conversion to fill an unmet need for which new design and construction are highly unlikely is a much preferable alternative.

    The point remains. Don’t decommission and dispose of useful units with long service life remaining. Convert and/or FRAM existing units to extend service lives as required. And put the people aboard to maintain them properly. Money saved with “optimal manning” is expended many times over in yard visits, and early decommissioning, and unnecessary recapitalization costs.

  • USNVO

    URR,

    First I believe the FRAM decision was probably right, but the magnitude of how much it was right is in question. I think it was a much closer run than presented.

    ECON 101 – Sunk costs are things that we have already paid for, be it in money, time, effort, or whatever measure you choose. You should never consider sunk costs when you are deciding courses of action because, lets face it, you don’t get it back, anymore than you can get a Spruance class back (they were really sunk). A few examples to illustrate.

    1. The USMC has to decide what to do with the MRAPs it purchased. Should they replace all the USMC tactical vehicles with brand new MRAPs just because they are new? They have a lot of service life left! The money we spent is sunk, we are not getting the money back. So you make the decision based on what makes sense for the future.

    2. Or the F-35B. It doesn’t matter what you spent in the past on R&D and development, you are not getting any of that money back. You base your decision going forward on what it will cost to finish development and deployment versus capability delivered and alternative and not what you have spent already.

    3. Or an AEGIS cruiser. The relevant point is that it has been paid for already, so the question of how much service life is left doesn’t mean anything. How can I best use my available funds going forward is what is important. If the best course is to get rid of ships with a lot of service life left(DD963s, NTU cruisers, DDG 993 class, AO 177 class, or non-VLS TICOs), then that is what you do.

    I don’t know what the right answer is, but I do know you shouldn’t consider what was paid 15 or 20 years ago when deciding what it is. What does it cost going forward versus capabilies delivered and the alternatives. Look at marginal costs and opportunity costs, not sunk costs, otherwise you are wasting the taxpayers money.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    USNVO,

    I know good and well what sunk costs are. My point is that the Navy doesn’t seem to. There is a massive difference between chasing sunk costs and leveraging a fully capitalized asset. Ask anyone who owns a fleet of trucks or construction equipment.

    “The relevant point is that it has been paid for already, so the question of how much service life is left doesn’t mean anything.”

    No, no, and a thousand times, no. That is part of the Navy’s problem. Of course it matters how much service life is left. To think otherwise is to not understand the cost of early recapitalization. True of equipment, ships, aircraft, you name it. To take a crude example, buying a new car every year and absorbing depreciation (a representation of re-cap costs) every 12 months drives the cost up immensely. Now, try that same thing and when it is time to trade in the $30,000 car you bought last January, you get $800 on trade-in. THAT is what the Navy is doing.

    I have little confidence that the US Navy understands many of the terms they throw around. A solid grasp of “lifecycle costs” is incompatible with the rather absurd and short-sighted notion of optimal manning. The “savings” perceived in the short term is more than exceeded in the long term. Every piece of equipment, as produced, has a TCO. Total cost of ownership. The training, maintenance, operational, and secondary repairable replacement and service costs are dictated by the sub-components and equipment making up that end-item. It is a finite figure, with little variance, unless significant modifications are performed. When maintenance is neglected, or deferred (optimal manning) to save money in personnel costs, then such things as scheduled maintenance costs, repair costs, down time costs, secrep replacement costs, all skyrocket. And service life shortens.

    How you can best use your available funds is to keep expensive and critical equipment well-maintained and serviceable. And leverage fully-capitalized assets rather than absorb the cost of recapitalization.

    If you were to present your argument to a guy who ran a fleet of trucks, or construction equipment, he would fire a wrench at your head.

    The idea that we should only concern ourselves with “best use of available funds going forward” has caused tremendous waste and inefficiency, for no good reason other than a failure to understand how to get the most from the taxpayers’ treasure spent on the ships of the United States Navy.

    That has to stop.

  • W.M. Truesdell

    UltimaRatioReg

    Nice post.

    As you noted, it is personnel costs, not the platform. We are making a new Navy based purely on dollars available, and not the real missions or impact on people and ships. No need to look any further than after every war we have ver fought and the short sighted decisions that were made based on money and a perceived change in the threat.

    Mahan is generally forgotten during those times.

  • USNVO

    URR,

    First, your point on depreciation is perfectly accurate. But I really doubt that…

    “If you were to present your argument to a guy who ran a fleet of trucks, or construction equipment, he would fire a wrench at your head.”

    …is accurate. Lets use a simple example, and ignore the various tax benefits and incentives (after all, the Navy doesn’t pay taxes, they consume them). A company has 10 concrete trucks, from 1 to 10 years old. Each has a 20 year service life. But, they look at future business trends and project that because of changing road construction techniques, they will need only 6 concrete trucks in the future but see a potential market in asphalt trucks they can enter. They can buy new asphalt trucks now, or convert some of their existing fleet to asphalt trucks. What should they do? It depends on how much the conversion costs, how efficient the converted trucks will be at generating revenue, how much residual value exists in the concrete trucks (what someone else is willing to pay), how much maintenance will cost, etc.

    They should look only at what makes sense going forward. In retrospect maybe buying some of the trucks wasn’t such a good idea, but so what? That decision is already made. And I am willing to bet that every fleet owner out there will say the same thing.

    Oh, by the way, what is the USMC planning to do with its relatively brand new MRAPs and M-ATVs?

    The Navy, rightfully in my opinion, chose to decommission several SSNs that were significantly newer than others of the same class that they chose to keep. Crazy, right? No, because those ships needed an expensive refueling while the other ships had already been refueled, the inventory numbers were going down, and the industrial base needed to be maintained. So the decision was made to be sub-optimal in one area to be optimal overall. You can argue with the accuracy of the future analysis, but given the available input at the time, the Navy made the right decision (I still think it was the right decision).

    Our two positions are similiar. You want the Navy to maximize the efficiency of their investments in ships, I want the Navy to maximize the efficiency of their investments.

    Your argument that…

    “The idea that we should only concern ourselves with “best use of available funds going forward” has caused tremendous waste and inefficiency, for no good reason other than a failure to understand how to get the most from the taxpayers’ treasure spent on the ships of the United States Navy.”

    is counter to basic economic theory. A better way of saying it would be..

    Tremendous waste and inefficiency has resulted from a failure to understand how to get the most from the taxpayers’ treasure spent on the United States Navy.

    I can agree with that, and sometimes, keeping ships with service life left shows a failure to understand how to do get the most from the taxpayers’ treasure.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    USNVO,

    We will have to disagree on some major points, apparently.

    While what you say is true, it is but a part of the equation, and ignores the immense cost of premature re-capitalization. If you tell the man with the fleet of concrete trucks that, whatever decision he makes, he will get virtually nothing for trading his ten-year old trucks in, and in fact will have to pay significant costs for disposal, you will be ducking the wrench.

    The MRAP is a perfect example of basic economic theory. A need was identified back in the early 1990s for an armored all-purpose vehicle. The M1114 HMMWV was to be that vehicle, with armored protection on the sides and bottom, and reinforced suspension and frame to handle the extra weight. The design was approved, and production began. However, during the “acquisition holiday” the M1114 was one of the items cut by the Clinton Administration. Fast forward to 2003, when the need for armored vehicles became acute. Because we thought we were “saving money” by deferring production of an end-item for which there was a need, there was a tiny fraction of the total of M1114s in service. The MRAP represents a costly (but effective) quick fix for the USMC and Army that was built to fill the gap of a long-identified requirement that was unmet.

    The result cost a relative fortune. All for a myopic, misguided, ill-considered short-term “savings” that ended up costing much more than had production of a vital end item would have to begin with.

    Basic economics indeed.

    Mr. Hughes’ point remains a good one. A relatively new, paid-for, useful hull can be converted to fill a requirement for a fraction of the cost of designing and building from scratch, a highly unlikely scenario. If the Navy and the contractors deem it “too expensive”, it is because they would rather build new construction, and their estimates need to be challenged at every turn.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    I will add, regarding the M1114 decision, the “savings” ended up costing a lot of lives, and a lot of arms, legs, and eyes. That may not fit into a spreadsheet, but it sure as hell is the case.

  • USNVO

    URR,

    As I said, our positions are not too far off. And the system is not perfect by any means and often decisions haven’t been made in an appropriate holistic fashion. Fair enough.

    While the owner of the business may be angered by pre-mature recapitalization, he would be wrong to prevent that from doing what is right for his business in the future. Selling concrete trucks at a loss may be bad, but keeping them only compounds his problems. Its the same problems stores have with merchandise that doesn’t sell. If you don’t get rid of it by discounting, often at a loss, eventually your entire inventory is stuff people don’t want. Its painful, but it is required.

    In the specific case of the AEGIS cruisers, what would be better.
    1. Use them to build a handful of fire support ships.
    2. Keep them ready to be re-activated
    3. Keep them and strip them for spare parts reducing costs on the remaining ships but making reactivation problematic.
    4. Sell them. Taiwan springs to mind as a possible buyer who might even pay pretty good money for them.

    All options have their pro’s and con’s and I don’t have the right answer, but whatever we do, we shouldn’t think about how long their remaining service life is other than in how it informs our decisions of the options we have.

    Just like the USMC shouldn’t worry about mothballing some brand new MRAPs and keeping older vehicles if that is the best option going forward.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    USNVO,

    To the solution of AEGIS ships, all of the above. The NSFS hulls do not need to remain as AEGIS platforms. That will reduce crew requirements, maintenance and operating costs, etc. There is also mothballing for future requirements, provided preservation efforts are properly funded. Yes, AEGIS is a hard system to mothball. But for the $2 billion replacement cost, figure it the hell out. And there are no steam plants to worry about, either.

    You are dead wrong in your assumption of not concerning ourselves with remaining service life. The Navy has NOT modernized, FRAM-ed, nor mothballed. They have disposed of those units. Some have gone the way of FMS, but not the most modern or most expensive. Which is foolhardy.

    Back to the MRAPs, if we are in a position to require armored wheeled vehicles again in the near future, we damned sure should consider pulling the MRAPs out of storage rather than design and build new vehicles of similar capabilties. Which is largely to my point. If the Navy had their way, we would cut up the MRAPs and build new ones the next time we needed them.

  • B.Smitty

    Why not just develop a purpose-built NSFS ship? 5″ on the bow, Naval MLRS on the back, RAM up top. Add launch and recovery capability for ScanEagles/Integrators and a couple RHIBs.

    It doesn’t have to be very large, or expensive. Being purpose built will keep manning way down, especially compared to a FRAM’d cruiser.

    Design them to last 15 years and just deal with corrosion from MLRS rockets during that time.

    Work with the Army to develop a insensitive munition MLRS variant.

    Many nations are using specialized offshore support vessels in coast guard roles. Maybe start with one of them. For example, the Rolls Royce UT512 has formed the basis for a number of coast guard vessels.

    http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Design_of_Coastguard_Vessels_113-115.pdf

  • http://CGBlog.org Chuck Hill

    Why not put the surplus 5″ mounts on the new Offshore Patrol Cutters to be built for the USCG (25 ships, first delivery expected 2019). You won’t need a lot of additional NSFS until you are in a major war, in which case the cutters would likely be assigned to the Navy, meanwhile the have useful careers in peacetime.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    B. Smitty and Chuck,

    The premise was to use an existing hull/propulsion system, fully paid for, on which 5″ guns and VLS already exist, and which, converted from an AEGIS vessel, has sufficient “white space” (in the latest jargon) to accommodate additional weapon systems or capacity.

    Designing from the keel up would be expensive. Shipping the 5″ mounts on a Patrol Cutter would likely raise magazine capacity issues.

  • http://CGBlog.org Chuck Hill

    I would agree the cruisers are a better solution, VLS is certainly desirable, but if that is not going to happen, the Offshore Patrol Cutter idea is an alternative way to provide a reserve NSFS capacity.

  • Little Bobby

    Why not put some of those Tico Hulls to good use – say perhaps with a mod for 155mm AGS with LRLAP and retool for a mini-Aegis SPY-1F/K kit. Forget billions on more Zumwalts and save the cash for a good crop of true NGFS/NSFS Cruisers. (While at it why stop there – why not fill some of those VLS cells with a restart on the Naval ATACMS program!)

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