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"The Brittle Navy" Topic


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12 Oct 2015 8:52 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to Ultramodern (2005-2015) board

05 Apr 2016 5:23 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board


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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian12 Oct 2015 8:31 p.m. PST

Writing in Proceedings magazine, Phillip Pournelle declares:

In an age of precision-strike weapon proliferation, a big-ship navy equals a brittle fleet. What's needed is a revamped force structure based on smaller surface combatants.

Do you agree?

Meiczyslaw12 Oct 2015 8:55 p.m. PST

I think Pournelle is behind the curve already. The new big thing is electric weapons rail guns and lasers which need reactors to power.

The lasers in point defense counter the precision weapons, especially since they're probably cheaper than the inbound weapon.

So I see the "new" USN being built around attack carriers, armored cruisers, and whatever ASW choice we settle on.

That said, baby carriers launching drones might be a thing for nations that can't afford attack carriers.

ThePeninsularWarin15mm13 Oct 2015 5:00 a.m. PST

Super carriers are a giant waste of money and resources. The vast sum of money needed to construct, maintain and the downtime for refueling and repairs makes these monsters impractical. During WWII the U.S. built 50 Casablanca class escort carriers (and all built to within the budget and on time!). These smaller carriers could be in more places and were not crippling if some were lost. They lacked all the defensive mechanisms, but with today's weapons, most of these defensive systems on carriers are outdated anyway.

A modernized IS-400 type submarine (WWII Japanese super sub) able to lunch and recover drones armed with missiles would be better for surprise assaults. Satellites track carriers everywhere on the planet and any enemy knows where to find them. Having a submersible carrier that can just pop up on your door step is a big advantage.

wminsing13 Oct 2015 5:54 a.m. PST

The lasers in point defense counter the precision weapons, especially since they're probably cheaper than the inbound weapon.

Yes, laser point defense is about to render most arguments about the vulnerability of large ships moot.

Super carriers are a giant waste of money and resources. The vast sum of money needed to construct, maintain and the downtime for refueling and repairs makes these monsters impractical. During WWII the U.S. built 50 Casablanca class escort carriers (and all built to within the budget and on time!). These smaller carriers could be in more places and were not crippling if some were lost. They lacked all the defensive mechanisms, but with today's weapons, most of these defensive systems on carriers are outdated anyway.

You're basing this on incorrect data. The total fleet carrier tonnage in the USN at the close of WWII was about 1 million tons. The current USN fleet carrier tonnage is also about 1 million tons; it's just concentrated on fewer hulls. The reason for this is that it's *larger* hulls that are more cost effective for their capabilities, not smaller ones.

-Will

Visceral Impact Studios13 Oct 2015 6:21 a.m. PST

The reason for this is that it's *larger* hulls that are more cost effective for their capabilities, not smaller ones.

But maybe peace time cost effectiveness is not the same thing as combat survivability?

If a couple of Exocet missiles can take out a carrier, regardless of its size, then maybe distributing that carrier capability across multiple hulls better maintains combat effectiveness as losses are sustained.

A few, giant carriers are great when they face no serious threat such as our wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.

When an enemy can put missiles on such targets then putting all your eggs in one basket might look foolish.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP13 Oct 2015 7:57 a.m. PST

I mostly agree with ThePeninsularWarin15mm. We spend way too much on carriers. The USN claims 10 CVs but if you add in amphibious assault crafts (which in any other navy would be classified as carriers) you have 19. How many of these things do we need? Just think how else we could be using that money?

I know that tensions with Russia have been ratcheted up but still we have more ships than the next 13 countries including Russia and China. Last time I checked Isis doesn't have a navy and the USN so outclasses the Russian fleet that I don't see them challenging the USN.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP13 Oct 2015 8:14 a.m. PST

Interesting question – I would have said without question that multibillion dollar ships that you won't risk in high stakes situations would have been a clear waste of money a decade ago, but as noted things like point defense lasers and defense systems that are highly effective but need a reactor to power them may change things

The thing about navies is that you spend a lot on them but you need to be prepared psychologically to put them in harm's way if they are going to be effective – which I think may be the main issue with most NATO navies

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Oct 2015 11:23 a.m. PST


These smaller carriers could be in more places and were not crippling if some were lost.

Yeah, but "were not" isn't the same as "are not" – modern western nations are *incredibly* sensitive to casualties, which means there's no longer much scope for "disposable" fleet units – losing a few hundred personnel on an escort carrier would probably be enough to cause serious political fallout….

wminsing13 Oct 2015 12:10 p.m. PST

Yes, the *gear* might be expendable but the lives driving it are no longer considered so. One reason why in the long run a submarine with sub-surface launched drones might in fact be the way to go. Either way, survivability via distribution makes sense from certain points of view, but is no longer a politically viable system.

-Will

Lion in the Stars13 Oct 2015 6:23 p.m. PST

If a couple of Exocet missiles can take out a carrier, regardless of its size, then maybe distributing that carrier capability across multiple hulls better maintains combat effectiveness as losses are sustained.

Except that it takes the payload of an entire B52 (or more) to sink a carrier the size of a Nimitz. Check out the information on the USS America SinkEx.

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