Freedom Aft Ramp

Freedom Aft Ramp

A few years ago, I bought all the folks in our call center a T-Shirt for Christmas. It read “I read the manual for you.” I thought it was clever, that is essentially what the helpdesk does for the user who is having computer problems.

Well, all the think tanks are putting out reports that carry recommendations for the future force structure of the military. Honestly, most of them are really pretty sad, and would be rejected as content lacking in intellectual rigor for any issue of Proceedings prior to 1960. Indeed, some of the chapters dedicated to Naval forces in these new reports are smaller than articles published in Proceedings prior to 1960. What ever happened to the idea of good ole fashioned indepth analysis?

Actually, there are two reports out that carry deeper analysis that I recommend for those interested in reading new ideas. As a public service of “reading the manual for you” so you can choose to skip it if you want, I’d personally recommend Frank Hoffman’s From Preponderance to Partnership: American Maritime Power in the 21st Century published by the Center for New American Security. Another report I really enjoyed among the many options is Dakota Woods The US Marine Corps: Fleet Marine Forces for the 21st Century (PDF) published by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. For a study of naval forces, to date these are the only two reports of the several out there during this transition period that put intellectual rigor and serious depth into the report.

While I enjoyed both reports for their serious depth of study into the topics, there was a similar topic raised in both reports that I see as movement towards a Littoral Strike Group, what I consider the evolution of the SSG I suggested is necessary yesterday. Frank Hoffman’s paper discusses the need for what he is calling a Littoral Superiority Fleet, which he believes should include 40 one thousand ton surface combatants. Dakota Wood evolves this a little further, and develops what he calls a Littoral Operations Group, which is essentially a formation centered around a single LPD-17 and 3 Littoral Combat Ships, each LCS with a Marine Squad. The idea Dakota Wood is pushing is for stand alone, reinforced company based distributed power that is seamobile, and he makes his case discussing both nuclear powered competitors and irregular warfare competitors.

I have been blogging about Littoral Strike Groups replacing Surface Strike Groups for a year now on my blog, and like Dakota Wood I believe this new strike should center around a LPD-17 as the high value unit. However, I also tend to agree with Frank Hoffman, and while I don’t have any idea if 1000 tons is the right size, I think we need to be building something like a modern Asheville class vessel for Littoral Operations, and oh btw, instead of putting a squad of Marines on the LCS we need to put that squad on the PC. A modern PC, particularly if it is 1000 tons, should be able to support 12 Marines and 6 Coast Guardsman and run with a Navy crew, or a true National Fleet platform. Build 3 PCs of a strike varient and 1 of a command varient and a squadron of 4 PCs now carries a platoon of Marines with some serious sea capable fire support in both green and brown water. The Marines have been shaping their forces for the large size of the Navy for decades, perhaps it is time to reverse logic a bit and scale our naval ships to better match the size of smaller, more flexible Marine units at the platoon, even the squad level.

What about vehicles? Have you actually seen a LPD-17? Vehicle space there is.

That leaves the LCS, what is this platform exactly? Well, I spent 3 nights on USS Freedom (LCS 1) and it is difficult to compare the ship to anything else. It is not a warship, it is more akin to an amphibious ship and a logistics ship built to operate in a small war environment. The LCS is two things, speed and space, and while plenty of people have all these unmanned systems ideas for how the ship can conduct all these war centric activities, I would suggest perhaps the ship is better used as a fast littoral logistics and support vessel for PCs in building peacemaking capability at sea for the US Navy. It may sound expensive in that role, but if given the choice of a HSV or LCS for supporting PCs in a low intensity war zone, I’d pick the LCS. The LCS and HSVs that bring tremendous amounts of space and speed to the fight look to me like the logistical enablers necessary to make forward deployed littoral PC squadrons work, indeed as logistical enablers (and they are built like logistics ships after all) these ships open the door to all kinds of different capabilities in managing the irregular space of war.

Before we get too busy trying to make the LCS the vehicle to deliver every littoral solution, I hope the powers that be do what I did, go stay the night on USS Freedom (LCS-1), walk around and think about the ships capabilities, and consider what the LCS can enable further down the ship chain… because I think anyone with a bit of imagination is going to have a new idea.

Posted by galrahn in Hard Power, Navy

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  • sid

    G, your call for a Littoral SSG is spot on. Frankly, I had forgotten all about

    As is the call for building follow on Ashvilles. Now the call for using the current LCS designs…Little need to continue beating on that equine carcass here as I have restated my (ankle-bitin’)$.002 in response to CDR Salamander’s post below.

    How come you favor the LCS over the HSV as a fast cargo hauler?

  • sid

    dang it!

    Frankly, I had forgotten all about Biddle, Porter, Kearney, and the West Indies Squadron until rooting about the internets yesterday…

  • galrahn


    Many reasons, it is one of my future articles in this string of theme related posts, all of which are intended to promote a concept towards the Littoral Strike Group.

  • sid

    Frankly, I had forgotten all about Biddle, Porter, Kearney, and the West Indies Squadron

    More here

  • Distiller

    As the littorals extand towards the open ocean and are met there by the blue water fleet, they do extend inland as well. I think it would be important to see littoral and riverine as one complex, and offer a surface based alternative to aerial means to reach inland.

    Speaking in platforms: a 1000ts max littoral SSK >>> the LCS (as they seem dead set on buying it) as UAV and sub/surface robot carrier and whatever there may come (but with CB90 slip, please!!!) >>> the Skjold class FAC for all kind of shallow waters and riverine work >>> the CB90 for pure riverine work.

    Support for these forces could of course come from a LPD-17 based tender. The LPD-17 hull would also offer other interesting capabilities, like e.g. as a logistic sustainment vessel (a ConRo-Tanker like the Bobo MPS) and as a fire support vessel …

  • Galrahn, What is your thinking behind a 1000 ton PC. That is certainly a lots heavier than the 270 ton Ashville. What sort of size/loadout are you contemplating for those. Personally, I don’t see what the LCS would get you as a mothership except speed. I don’t put high speed as a requirement for a mothership. I’d rather have something slower, with more support capacity. If you can arrange for fuel, PCs can sprint ahead and self-sustain until the logistical support catches up – especially if they are in the 1000 ton range. The Ashvilles could refuel from just about any where and commonly operated hundreds of miles from their support. A true mothership is going to have repair shops, lots of spare parts, food, ammo, and berthing. Also, if the Freedom had problems kissing the locks, how are you going to berth PCs alongside without banging it up.

  • Big D

    Not to put words in Galrahn’s mouth, but here’s what I see as the cause behind the ~1000-ton figure.

    First off, the 200-500-ton range gives you great PCs, but they can’t really self-deploy. PCs/Corvettes in the 750-1500-ton range generally will be able to self-deploy, which gives you options in certain situations.

    Second, these ships need to carry a lot of people compared to a traditional PC, because their primary function will be in dealing with other boats and the people on them. Whether it’s boarding for an inspection, chasing down a hostile small craft with intent to detain rather than destroy, or providing USCG-like support and training to foreign forces, you need people and their gear.

    As far as speed goes, I’m agnostic; *something* needs the ability to run down suspect speedboats in less-than-perfect seas. However, whether that’s a souped-up RIB, a Mk. V or RB90-based boat deployed from the PC, or the PC itself (or a combination), should be researched. I just don’t think that speedboat-chasing makes sense for a ship the size of a frigate.

    This may sound like a broken record to some, but I would argue that any PC or corvette should have at least a decent helo deck, and a space to carry UAVs to deploy from it. This allows the PC to extend the range of a mothership’s helos, and allows the helos to resupply (or evacuate medical casualties from) the PC from a distance. FSF-1, for example, is an intriguing design, given that it is in some ways a half-size LCS with helo deck, speed, and plenty of space (although it may have similar survivability issues).

  • galrahn

    Freedom only had trouble kissing the locks with the bridge wings, it is a very maneuverable ship. I’ll go into why I see the LCS as a great ship for this role in a more detailed post in the near future. Irregular warfare requires flexibility, one thing the LCS has in spades.

    As far as 1000 tons… I think that is pretty big for a PC, sounds to me like a gold plated PC, I am thinking something closer to 500 tons which is still bigger than Asheville, but not 4x bigger. This is another future post in this series, as is the LPD-17 mothership enabler, why you want a HSV and DDG-51, not to mention T-AKE.

    Keep in mind a Littoral Strike Group (LSG) is much more than just ships, I see it as a way the Navy solves irregular warfare, the Marines solve the necessity to be forward deployed but lighter, and how the Coast Guard addresses forward deployment demands that will only increase as maritime security requirements blur between criminal and military in nature.

  • Sam Eaton

    This is likely a dumb question from an ex MM2, retired SSG (ARNG). In Viet Nam we did quite well with WW II surplus LSTs, APPLs, modified APPLs (YRBMs), Liberty Ships, lashed together floats and a prop from the movie “Sand Pebbles.” The movie makers donated the ship used in the movie to the USN and it was used in Viet Nam.

    Like William Powell says, ” I don’t put high speed as a requirement for a mothership. I’d rather have something slower, with more support capacity.” I’d add cheaper as well. I notice that a lot of combatant and cargo military aircraft are updated 40, 50 year old or older base designs. Why do we need a new high tech design? Why not use a cheap design hull and spend money on decent defensive armament? I suspect that a large part of the future need is more for mobile floating bases than anything else.

  • leesea

    Galrahn as you know I think the Austal design has more potential as a tactical sealift ship than does the LCS-1 hull. But that having been said, neither LCS nor JHSV are best designs currently on the books. Neither ship has the necesary cargo handling gear, MHE or internal cargo volume needed to really be efficient at sealift AND the construction costs for both are far higher than many HSV ferry and cargo ships. As always the most effective and timely way to test a new concept auxiliary or sealift ship is for MSC to simply charter one as it has done with the WestPac Express (bseis for JHSV) for more than seven years, and the Swift which has been doing yeoman duties for about 4 years now.
    I will address ESG concept in separate post

  • SeniorD

    Speed in littoral combat, like it’s close relation air combat, is life. The ability to get in and get out in a hurry trumps maneuverability (which itself relies upon speed). Add the necessary firepower (suppressive and offensive) gives a new meaning to the term ‘Big Dog’. For example, see WWII Patrol Torpedo (PT) boats – pound for pound the heaviest, fastest warfighters during that conflict.

    Logistics? Now there’s the rub. Small hull forms don’t leave much room for on-going maintenance or re-supply and UNREP/VERTREP is dicey at best. Combine that with the not-to-be-ignored pounding caused by speed and waves and one now has a conundrum. What to do?

    We’ve talked about re-using LHA/LPD class ships in a ‘Mothership’/Tender capability but looking at a 1/2 ton hull, it can’t be carried by Momma. Nor can Freedom act a Mothership on her own, this time its too small.

    I suggest using Freedom-class ships as Command and Control and/or Recon/Intel gathering vessels for a flotilla of smaller, faster boats (again I’d go with LCACs). If need be, RHIBs could be carried for boarding or ground forays as need be.

  • PhrogsPhorever

    Whatever size the vessel is, lets get this done quick. If we pick a design and give the contract to someone in Michigan we can create new jobs and forget bailing out the automakers…thereby getting something for all that money they’re asking for.

    $35 Billion for GM? Isn’t that about the cost of the entire LCS fleet?

  • galrahn

    LCS fleet is around $27 billion

  • That’s why I think something like the Australian Armidale class would be a good thing to have. They are cheap, and are designed for 21 day patrols. They carry two RHIBs and have temporary berthing for 20 or so if needed. The only way you are going to get 40 knot speed out of a PC is to eat up fuel like nobody’s business. The Ashvilles could do 40+ knots, but would run out of fuel in 20 hours at that speed, and the engineering plant took up a lot of space – even with a turbine. Why do these things need a flight deck? You can always hoist a casualty in a basket. If you want extended range for aircraft, design a HIFR system for the PC or go with fixed-wing UAVs from something with a real flight deck.

  • Byron

    And what’s going to replace the FFGs? Now that you’ve decided that LCS ain’t all it’s supposed to be, you STILL need a ship that can do all the ASW stuff, not to mention all the crappy little jobs that FFGs do day in and day out.

    LCS is NOT an offensive weapon. Crew it with mixed civ/mil crew. Stop at 2. Steal or buy a design from the Euros, and build a ship that gets the job done.

  • galrahn


    Hopefully, the combination of PCs and LCS will replace FFGs in virtually every ‘cruiser’ role.

    ASW? You do realize we need the systems on the LCS to build an ASW network right? It may not be the all powerful ASW solution with its module, but a frigate is still only one node in any ASW network. In the end, the LCS is a better model for ASW than a FFG, I’ll take the multiple tails and many sensor options offered by the LCS over only the few options of a FFG anyday.

    As far as being an offensive weapon, couldn’t disagree more. It isn’t a fleet killer, but we haven’t done that since the 1940s and our FFGs are fleet killers either, nor are most frigates world wide. It is offensive against all but 2 competitors in the world, and against those two competitors the LCS will still be badly needed in MIW.

  • Byron

    So you’re going to buy how many LCS and PC built to Tiffany Navy standards to replace the workhorse FFG? At what cost? And remember, the longer you wait to field these ships, the more money you’ll sink into the FFG fleet to keep them going. Remember, the FFGs were supposed to be all de-com’d by 2000, and every year that they’ve continued in service past that means more money to keep them going. To wit: most of the FFGs have had to replace their Stewart-Stevenson diesels with Cats, due to inability to easily procure parts; All the FFGs have had a new reverse osmosis plant installed. All are getting a force protection upgrade. And that’s just the parts I know about. I don’t pay a lot of attention to the electrical, electronic, or piping end of the business, got enough on my plate as it is.

    And the next train wreck? CG(X). The CGs are getting long in the tooth as well. And what’s out there to replace them? Souped up LCS with 20 sailors on the foc’sl shooting RPGs?

  • sid

    we haven’t done that since the 1940s and our FFGs are fleet killers either, nor are most frigates world wide.

    The Littoral COMBAT Ship is a Warship…and that is how its described in every USN public pronouncement from the Freedom’s own website to SECNAV’s speeches…which by all those accounts will be spending her life in the most lethal battlespace the 21st century has to offer.

    Speed in littoral combat, like it’s close relation air combat, is life

    SeniorD, while quite popular, this statement is a bloody myth…Literally. One that unfortunately threaded its way to the very premise of the LCS concept.

    Read up on the design discipline known as Survivability Engineering”, and you will find that by relying almost solely on speed for her “life”, the LCS is in fact a very unbalanced design in terms of engineered survivability.

    SWO’s are a generation behind when it comes to Survivability Engineering. And those who believe that the past holds no precedent for them are bound to find themselves clawing up a bloody learning curve one day….Just like these gents did:

    (of course current enemies aren’t noted for taking prisoners)

    It takes a BALANCE of Susceptibility Reduction (speed being one such attribute) which means the ability to avoid a hit, and -particularly in a 3000 ton WARship destined to “take the fight in close to shore”- Vulnerability Reduction or the ability to withstand a hit.

    In order to meet the excessive speed requirement,

    Those two attributes also provide a third element that has historically (and the tenets of history ain’t gonna change for the LCS) proven extremely vital in this size warship, and that is “Staying Power”, or the ability to fight hurt.

    Here is what Capt. Wayne Hughes in his “Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat”, has to say about –unit and not force- Staying Power:

    “Suceptibility to hits can and should be attenuated by defensive firepower and soft-kill, but these may not be enough in littroal waters where sudden attacks at relatively close range will be more frequent. Littoral waters will be the arena of modern fleet actions(p165)…Ships that are sunk or out of action cannot deliver anything, so the offense, defense, and staying power of a ship or force all need to be evaluated together.(p168)

    The Great Constants
    – The trend in defense has been away from staying power (the ability to absorb hits) and towards defensive force (forepower and soft kill).

    -Ships architects have overshot the rate of the above change. Staying power should be built into all major combatants. (p225)

  • sid

    In order to meet the excessive speed requirement, Vulnerability Reduction was deliberately sacrificed in the LCS

    RADM Hamilton: As you know from reading the requirements documents, the survivability piece on LCS is different than DDG 51 or DDX or several of our other combatants. And what we’ve chosen to do here is couple high speed and maneuverability and situational awareness in ways that allow LCS to be in the right place at the right time and to be out of the right place at the wrong time. Okay?

    We have some modeling and simulation of the designs and know what effects different weapons might bring to those particular designs. But again, because our desire for speed gets us to alternative and lighter materials, the damage tolerance for large cruise missiles for example are not the same as those on a DDG 51.

    The two points made above:

    1) This ship will be fast enough to avoid a hit…

    2) We will maintain enough visibility to ascertain the intentions of our enemy and there fore be able to employ point number one.

    are interesting in an historical context.

    Capt Hughes notes on pp6–61 of “Coastal Combat,“the period from 1865 to 1914 rivals even our present age for sweeping technological development in peacetime…tactical analysis failed in two significant respects only: overvaluation of speed, and failure to forsee the effects that poor visibility would have on major fleet actions.”

    Those who choose to ignore history -or more precisely- those who believe the lessons that history has to offer don’t apply because its different now, will be doomed to repeat it.

  • galrahn

    The FFGs today performs ZERO roles that the LCS can’t do better. You know all too well the FFGs today have been stripped down too far to be effective in anything other than very small Navy engagement exercises and drug interdiction, which is all they do now.

    We have nearly 6000 sailors dedicated to those ships that need platforms better suited for the challenges we face in the 21st century. Weapon systems have advanced beyond what the FFG-7 was originally designed to do, convoy escort, which we would now have to do with AEGIS ships against any major opponent. We don’t even escort our ships during wartime against lesser opponents, so the FFG is not needed there.

    I have no idea what the FFG replacement you think is needed, but honestly, if cost is the issue you raise you will find it to be very restrictive to any idea that produces a ship similar to a FFG-7 size with a modern AAW/ASW/ASuW capability. Even Salamander, who loves those European designs, would not approve of any of them when he read the fine print because those ships have a survivability standard below even the LCS.

    The only way to produce cost effective solutions to rapidly increasing capabilities is to build the solutions into networks of systems working together, and avoid even trying to build all-in-one solutions into the lower end of warfare.

  • sid

    Even Salamander, who loves those European designs, would not approve of any of them when he read the fine print because those ships have a survivability standard below even the LCS.

    European military thought isn’t exactly infallible….

    And, it seems that the good CDR thinks Survivability is a unique enough topic to stand on its own…

    Perhaps we can discuss survivability in the littoral next. Maybe.

    I will be in the post below waxing eloquent over the next few days. If I am so wrong, show me where.

  • Byron

    Galrhan, match the FFG when it was at it’s height, with LCS at it’s height: FFG, with the ability to shoot SM-1 for over the horizon AAW, Harpoon for ASuW over the horizon, Mk 46 torpedos for ASW, up to two helos for ASW, the Oto Melera 76mm autocannon for both AAW and ASuW, and the CIWS for AAW (and ASuW in it’s current configuration). Couple that with bow mounted sonar, TACTAS and Nixie, and you have a tidly little escort ship that didn’t cost $400,000,000, and could STILL eat a pair of Exocets and not sink. You’re going to sit there and tell me that the LCS, which does not have the unrefueled range of the FFG, can perform the same mission, as well? Sustain the same amount of damage and not sink? Pose a 3 dimensional threat to it’s battlespace? And for damn sure don’t hedge on what the LCS is supposed to be. Being a United States Navy WARSHIP is kinda like whether or not your a virgin. You is, or you ain’t.

    Oh, offboard sensor? McInerney is testing Firescout right now, full sea trials next month. You think an FFG would be capable of streaming off-board sensors? Those hangar bays are prety big…

  • sid

    We have nearly 6000 sailors dedicated to those ships that need platforms better suited for the challenges we face in the 21st century. Weapon systems have advanced beyond what the FFG-7 was originally designed to do, convoy escort, which we would now have to do with AEGIS ships against any major opponent.

    On this point, I couldn’t agree more.

    But the two current LCS designs are too expensive and too vulnerable to take on the 21st century analogue role of “Peace Cruiser” in the 21st century littorals.

  • Byron

    Sid, you forgot the point about “ineffectual”.

  • SeniorD

    Let’s make one thing clear. Littoral combat is the sea fighter equivalent of a knife fight. The LCS is not equipped to do more than the PT ‘shoot and scoot’ whereas an FFG is quite capable of slugging it out with anything short of a Burke class destroyer. Even with SM-1, the FFG has decent stand-off range (although I’d not want to try it without significant FC upgrades) and the Olmeara gun rocks. The FFG also has a decent sonar system and ASW capability.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, leave the LCS in a Command & Control or Recon role. We’re not losing anything by shifting the FFG to littoral combat roles.

  • Galrahn, you keep proposing the LCS as a mothership for smaller PC type craft. Having worked with and crewed such motherships and PCs; here are a few must-haves in order be effective in that role:

    Hotel services for the PC crews (barber shop, laundry, ship’s store, etc.)

    Repair shops and the personnel to man them that can perform routine repairs as well as repair battle damage.

    Large camels to hold the PCs away from the mothership and each other when moored outboard. These need to be transported by the mothership.

    An open weather deck that runs the length of the area that the PCs will moor at with tracked or wheeled cranes for hoisting soft patches, engines, weapons, etc off/on the PCs.

    Large fuel tanks and alongside and astern fueling rigs for refueling the PCs while underway or inport.

    Alongside replenishment rigs for underway replenishment. Storage space for all the beans ‘n bullets the PCs will consume.

    We learned a long time ago that if you have to stop in some protected anchorage in order to refuel or replenish, you are dead meat. If you can’t do unrep/vertrep don’t even bother.

    The USS Graham County (AGP-1176) had all of those things for the Ashville class PGs in the Med. Of course, she’d only do about 14 knots, but I personally wouldn’t trade her for whatever sort of support you could cram into the hull form of an LCS. Everything is a trade-off. By emphasizing speed, the LCS looses much of the ability to be a proper mothership. For that matter, who were the geniuses that decided we no longer needed any ADs?

  • Byron

    One last thing. Galrahn, you now propose the LCS as a mothership for smaller craft. By definition, a mothership keeps station outside the zone of conflict. This simple action all by itself strips the LCS of it’s middle name. Now it’s become an expensive ferry boat.

    Stop LCS now. As a supporter of the US Navy, and a taxpayer, LCS is and always will be a useless ship that only weakens the ability of the US Navy to project power from the sea.

  • sid

    Some think that this Littoral ESG concept is “new”.

    Well, ain’t much new under ole Sol.

    If you didn’t open the link I offered up early inc the thread, check it out now, and you will see that Littoral ESGs have been formed before. You can also see why its vital to bring in the likes of a CDR Chap if you want the concept to succeed…

    Porter’s West Indies Squadron now had 16 ships total, 178 cannons, and 1330 seamen to engage the enemy with. His theater of operations stretched from Cuba to Puerto Rico. But, unlike Biddle and Kearney, Porter had brought with him what he called his Mosquito Fleet, five shallowdraft boats, for the purpose of pursuing pirates into the mangrove swamps.

  • Another source of info on the Caribbean pirate scrum here.

  • Cutterman

    I see one thing missing from this analysis.

    You need an Airborne Use of Force (AUF) package…besides weapons systems that will just blow the crud out of the bad guys. Something that can intercept and employ precision fire to disable the vessel.

    In this asymetric environment, you want to catch them alive, rather than dead on occasion. As capable as the LCS or a PC may be, the speed and reach of a AUF package to stop the bogeys until a boarding team can get on scene significantly expands your options.

    Eliminates, or at least reduces, the need for any boat more than a decent RHIB.

  • sid

    Of course E1 is the designated guide for this formation…He was on it before anyone else.

    The “LESG” should be a USMC/NECC show. I can’t think of environment more prone to sudden, sharp, and lethal combat than where such a group is likely to tread these days.

    And the NECC is the one place in the USN a healthy dose of “Battlemindedness” can be found.

  • Seems to me the Fire Scout is where to build an Airborne Use of Force (AUF) system into the Navy, or put another way, that capability would have to come from the LCS.

  • Byron

    Can’t LCS embark a -60?

  • Cutterman

    Fire Scout as the AUF package works in a purely military environment, but if you are truly being interagency and potentially doing LE, there needs to be a human element involved.

    This can be supported with a standard Helo-Det. This also provides you with a Humanitarian Assistance mission package for SAR, MEDEVAC, HA delivery, etc.

  • galrahn


    The aviation zone on Freedom is big enough for 2 -60s and a Fire Scout. I would guess Independence is similar.

  • Byron

    The question is, “Does LCS have a RAST system installed, and if it doesn’t, won’t this impact air operations, given that certain sea states will negate landing ability?”

  • WTH

    Byron, unless you’re asking rhetorical questions, LCS does not have RAST. It has a Trigon system which, apparently, is used by other Navies successfully.

    Cutterman’s point regarding AUF is valid, it was a prime enbaler of a design study I did many moons ago. AUF has been used succesfully by both USCG and USN. From a 2006 article on USS HALL using AUF on a CD-deployment: “AUF involves a U.S. Coast Guard door gunner firing warning shots or disabling fire from a U.S. Navy or U.S. Coast Guard helicopter against non-compliant stateless vessels in international waters that are suspected of carrying contraband.”

    Firescout doesn’t help with AUF as you’re pretty much limited to Hellfires. The concept of AUF, to disble/slow someone who is running until the cavalry can get there is based on putting precision fire into an engine block. Prop entanglement devices have also been used. Useful in the CD world.

  • Byron

    Copy that, WTH.

  • Eagle1

    Time for “rent-a-fleet” until we figure out what we need and can do. And, by all means, bring out the big empty tied up MARAD Ro-Ro hulls or SeaBee ships and their crews for mother ships and use ARAPAHO for flight support. It ain’t rocket science, and it doesn’t have to be pretty.

    One thing we know we need right now is hulls in the water. I suspect, based on what we currently do for missions, that 45 knots is way overkill for lingering around oil loading facilities and slow patrols along known pirate waters – as much overkill has using an Aegis cruiser plus to monitor an anchored ship.

    We may indeed need three fleets or some different mix of high end cruisers, destroyers and amphibs and big carriers and little carriers along with real “street fighters” and whatever as Hoffman suggests but I respectfully suggest that what is needed right now is cheap hulls on the water. I think most of you know where I would find them without going through an extended shipbuilding process.

    You want high speed transports? Rent ’em. They are out there. You want boats with flight decks for helos? Rent ’em. Want to up armor a supply boat? Put a tank on the deck and add some portable .50 cals and 20mm chain guns. Add anti-rpg slats around the deck houses.

    The nice thing about a rent-a-fleet is that you can tailor it to your exact needs for a given, low intensity mission and you don’t have to make the big gray hulls disappear to do it. And you don’t have to bust the budget either.

  • Byron

    Eagle, you trying to give the NAVSEA girls a heart attack? I could breaking rice bowls all over the place.

  • sid

    E1, this proposal is an excellent one for the near term problem of the contemporary -and likely transitoryt- pirate threat.

    However, there is a danger in that a perception can grow in those who print the money that an effective fleet can be bought on the cheap.

    It is a perception that cost the British dearly.

    Just what exactly is affordable? A force that lends itself well to a neat spreadsheet in budget hearings?

    Or a force that can prevail in the conflicts in which it may be obliged to fight? it was a nip and tuck affair for the Brits in ’82.

    Like then, the USN is likely to face a similar dilemma in these times. Gone are the days of easy replacements of losses like Nimitz could do off Okinawa. Today, and looking forward, it is entirely plausible that commander faced with only one or two more bad breaks than those that befell Wooward in the Falklands would have no choice but to retreat and reevaluate. There is no way he could replace losses soon enough to make a difference.

    Is that really “Affordable”?

  • sid

    Now, that said, it is incumbent on those who define requirements, and those who bang the requirements into something tangible, contain costs.

    There is zip point zero reason why purpose built military craft need be stupid expensive. Nor is there zip pont zero reason such craft cannot be built to stand in harm’s way.

    The problems we see today I would argue are really manifestations of a military organization attempting to disguise itself as an “Employer of Choice” and labels ships as “nice rides”.

  • Byron

    Hey Sid, want to knock 30% off the cost of military projects? Kill the requirement for MIL-SPEC for about 80% of the things we buy.

  • Eagle1

    Sid: I think we are on the same page – but my argument is that if you haven’t bothered justifying a “Tiffany fleet” (to borrow Salamander’s phrase), and are unable to contain costs, someone is going to hammer you anyway.

    Better to spend a little on a cheap fix while the need for bigger gray hulls and all goes is further justified (as in Ballistic Missile Defense, etc, etc). Not every ship can be everything to everyone.

  • Eagle1

    And, no, I don’t know why the Gremlins in my keyboard added “goes” where they did.

    Tricky little devils.

  • sid

    E1, yessir we are on the same page. Extemporize a force for the near tem low end threat.

    And I guees I need to posit my periodic reminder that when I bring up survivability, I am not suggesting every ship be built like an Iowa. Point I am trying to make is that the 21st century reality is that this country is no longer in a position to out produce an enemy.

    With limited assets, a commander will necessarily be employing his assets aggressively to win. And its all too likely he won’t have replacements at his disposal in time to make a difference between victory and defeat.

    Ships need to be designed with an optimum amount of survivability comensurate with its size and mission. No longer can survivability be ignored or pushed to the lowest priority in acquisition and design.

    Preservation of force is now a required consideration. Don’t be thinking Nimitz 1945, but instead Guderian 1940…

  • Byron

    Actually, Sid, wouldn’t that be Spruance 1942?