Several years ago I decided to renew my membership with the Naval Institute. I had been retired for about ten years and I found I missed things Naval. Low and behold, the very first issue of Proceedings I received had a whole discussion concerning low mix vs. high mix ship designs and the rationale for that mix. My first reaction was “Good Lord, didn’t we solve that problem with the Spruance (DD963) total package procurement and the low mix Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7) class ships” (thus showing my age).
The Spruance class, while initially lightly outfitted did prove one aspect of the high mix design, an unusually long lived hull form. Think of the Ticonderoga Cruiser (CG-47) class and the Arleigh Burke Destroyer (DDG-51) class.
The FFG- 7 ship design had as its one of it’s main features, lower manning by decree. It also sported an integrated combined antenna system that included both acquisition and fire control radars in one device. After some challenges this system became quite useful in close in (Littoral) situations.
Fast forward and we see the same professional discussion occurring today. We see the need for a replacement Littoral Combat ship, and indeed two different ship designs are under contract. Obviously The Arleigh Burke class represents today’s high mix ship and if one believes the articles on the Zumwalt Class Destroyer it will probably redefine the term high Mix. There are still a number of Aegis Cruisers in the fleet and they will be there for some time to come.