Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Soo...Lets Blog on BATTLEWAGONS....

....it's not like that ever gets controversial. ;)

The future of the surface fleet is DD-X or as it is now known DD-1000. This successor to the Arleigh Burkes, Ticonderogas and , yes, even the mighty battleships, is shaping up to be an impressive design indeed.

With 2x 155mm long range artillery pieces capable of hitting targets 60-100 miles away, an advanced vertical launch system with over 100 missiles, extremely advanced radars, hull plating thicker than some icebreakers, a super advanced stealth design that will make it invisible to any radar operators who don't look out a porthole in its general direction, 2 of the superb Bofors dual purpose auto-cannons, a multi-mission deck aft for cargo, assault craft, unmaned vehicles, or special equipment, a helicopter deck capable of simultaneously landing 2 choppers, electric transmission, space and weight reservations to replace 1 or both of the big guns with railguns at a future date, and sufficent automation to cut the crew in half compared to an Arleigh Burke class DDG, it is certainly an impressive ship.

It also impresses in the wrong sort of way. It is so expensive that Congress has cut it back to only 2 test bed ships and they might get the ax as well!

Some of this expense is actually the radar and several other systems that are paid for out of the DDX budget but are to be used by several new surface combatants (eg:The radar is slated for the new carriers and future cruisers, several other systems for the LCS , and virtually ALL new surface ships will use the integrated power system...this is one reason the LCS is in budget) and thus not as bad as it seems, but with a unit cost approaching that of a carrier there is little hope that the ship can be built in sufficient numbers to do its job.

With just 2 DD-ex in prospect it is tempting to consider reactivation of the 2 remaining Iowa class Battleships on the grounds that we'd be no worse off numberswise, and reactivation of the BBs would likely be cheaper.

Of course it is not as simple as that.

The battleships are fast, beautiful, tough and have a fair amount of firepower. They are also old, with parts we can't make any more, require a 1500 man SKELETON crew, 5 times that of a destroyer, in their current configuration they carry only 32 Tomahawks 16 harpoons and no airdefence missiles meaning they'd require at least 1 and likely 2 destroyers as escorts. Now there WERE plans that were drawn up to provide them with 128+ vertical launch tubes but that requires a lot of yard time and expense, the turrets are very labor intensive and the 2700 pound shells are manipulated in part by hand, they require a huge amount of skill to operate and most of that skill is now dead (a lack of skilled personnel rather than a gay sailor was the likely cause of the Iowa explosion....half of the turret crews had just been transferred to the newly re-commissioned Wisconsin just before the catastrophe). These are not insurmountable but unless the guns range can be extended they are largely dead weight in all but a few rare situations.



This too is possibly fixable with limited expense. In the late '80s a 13 inch sabot round was designed that was intended to reach 100 miles and an 11 inch shell was designed that had an even longer range. The 13 inch shell was test fired to 40-50 miles before the program was cancelled with the BBs deactivation and it is unclear if it was completely developed or how challenging modern guidance systems would be to install. IF this is off the shelf tech then and IF the 70 year old boilers can be kept fed with spares and the cost of the VLS installation is within reason and IF the turret crews can be trained (possibly on Missouri)And if the other two can be cannibalized for the spare parts we cant make any more then it makes sense to re-activate them....like NOW. But this is a short term solution at best, limited (only 2 ships with maybe a decade left in them) that cost 5-6 times as much in personnel as a cruiser with the same number of missile tubes. These here are a LOT of big of "Ifs". This state of affairs is particularly galling because had they been kept in service, and particularly if fully modernized, the Iowas would be potentially useful indeed.

Some idea of what was contemplated can be seen below....
No..wait why is that THERE!?

I spend all day formatting this and the missile picture is in the wrong place.

Ignore the rocket for now, just scroll down....


There, that's it. The picture is blurry but it is of the Martin Marietta model for the planned "Phase2 modernization" of the Iowas in the late 80s. The VLS nest between the 2 'ski-jumps' contains 320 missile tubes! YIKES! There is no provision for Standard AAA Missiles , but the ship could have been fitted with VLS seasparrows and would now have the excellent ESSM with 4 per missile tube. 2-300 Tomahawks + missiles for air defense and possibly ASROCs for submarines. Oh, and that flight deck....it was supposed to carry 12 Harriers too! This would be most useful. :)




The twin 'ski-jump' arraingement is interesting. The ship was intended to carry out flight ops while shorebombardment was going on. Depending on which side the guns were trained, the Harriers would use...the other side. The hull could take the big structure because, being made of the regular hull plating, it's weight was compensated for by the removal of the turret with its 17.5 inch armor. Which gives an idea of just how heavy those turrets are. I assume the planes would have used the 16 inch magazine for ordinance. Given the long range contemplated for the guns (100+ miles?) the Harriers might have been intended in part as spotters as well as air defense and CAS for the Marines...or perhaps the naval architects were just frothing Starblazers fans...whatever the rationale, this stark-raving-cuckoo-for cocca-puffs paragon of naval coolness got cancelled.

Sorry for the digression but I've wanted to post on those 2 picture for a while. :)

So, due to poor planning we now have the current situation, what do we do now?




There was a proposal a decade ago, that was stillborn.

In the mid 90's, CNO Admiral Boorda championed the Arsenal Ship. This was a simple design intended to basically be a freighter with missiles that would be fire and controlled remotely from other ships, it was intended to carry 500+ missiles thereby greatly increasing the effective warload of a task force. The initial naval studies concluded that the ship as contemplated (with only point defenses) would be too hard to escort and would end up being a liability.

Boorda committed suicide in 1996 after being accused of wearing medals he was unauthorized to, and although exonerated posthumouthsly, all further development of the arsenal ship stopped without his pressure.

The idea of the arsenal ship as originally conceived is flawed, but some of the ideas are not.

First size has little to do with cost. Steel is not the driving force of a warship its electronics are.

Take a midsize container ship like the Maunawili. This 30,000 ton vessel is extremely expensive by container ship standards. It is built for the Hawaii run and must comply with Hawaiian environmental laws, it is VERY robustly built with thick shell plating approaching that of some Scandinavian (ice strengthened) vessels and a multi-layered hull 6 feet thick. It cost 100 million dollars and has 21 crew.
A 9,000 ton Arleigh Burke costs right at 400 million. If you took all the electronics off the 'Burke....heck just drop the Burke into the Manunawillies hold you'd have a vessel over 4 times a big with the same guidance and Electronics suite, and only costing 1/3rd more but with the ability to carry a container ship full of missiles. We're not talking hundreds, we're talking a thousand or more!



This ship would still be fairly survivable, big size is survivability and the containership in question already has a multilayer hull which is a good defense against shaped charges. The radars could be spread out to avoid 1 hit taking them all out or perhaps supplemented with a cheap array like the superb British Sampson.

The missile tubes would carry a mix of Tomahawks, Standard, Quadpacked ESSM, ASROCs and (scroll back up) ATACMs missiles.

The ATACMS has a bigger warhead than a 16 inch shell, is off the shelf, cheaper than a Tomahawk and has improved versions being designed. This vessel is a perfectly capable replacement for a Battleship, and 10DDGs would have a crew about the same size as a DDG and be only about 30 percent more expensive. Instead of 88 DDGs build up to 56 of them name them after states and territories. Start their numbering at BB65.

What am I missing?

Update: Fixed links.

Update2: Murdoclanche! Welcome Murdoc-Online Readers! :)
If you have any idea what I'm missing comment, I'd LOVE to know.

22 comments:

Nicholas said...

I like the way you think.

There's still an advantage to having a ship with big guns, though, which is that the cost per round is a lot lower than missiles. However, if that makes the ship too expensive to acquire/refit, it may not be worth it.

But in sustained combat, the smaller size and cheaper cost of shells would win out. Question is, what kind of conflict are these ships being built for? If it's a low-intensity asymmetric warfare platform, or intended to fill a "Desert Storm"-like short war role, missiles are probably the way to go. If it's going to be Korea or Vietnam again (China?) then big ships with big guns may end up with more utility. Then again in a major war having cheaper ships with smaller crews may make sense since some of them will likely be lost.

James said...

Your DD(X) description was a tad off. It's VLS capability is 80 rounds. The hull is not armored. The R&D for a fully integrated electric drive is a jobs program with little practical worth. Why? because the civilian ship builders are already building integrated electric drives. You have to wonder about a ship that the Pentagon had to PAY Ratheon to bid on the project. (yes- we had to pay Ratheon just to bid on the project - and this was to provide the illusion of competion, hence cost savings?)

Your post on the battleship issues is fairly good. The job skill issue can be alivated by activating the "invactive" battleship crews as trainers. This was done the last time they were reactivated. At least count there were over 10,000 volunteers willing to train. Your crew numbers are tad off. 1500 is not a skeleton crew. With minimal modernisation, you could lop off another 400 crewmen. If you go whole hog, I could see a crew in the 800 range.

Now if you were going for the fight deck with 320 VLS (drool) It would run you around 10 billion for the two of them, but what a fine ship it would be. In addition there is no reason why the battleships could go another 20 years or more depending on your refits. The are rather "young" when you take into account actual sea miles.

Gwedd said...

Comrades,

Bring on the BB's... The DD(X) is dead in the water, due to it's exhorbitant price, even by Washington standards.

The advantage of the BB's is that their main armament is more than adequate to support Marines ashore, which is all they are required to do anyway. We don't NEED 100nm range guns on ships for shore bambardment. That's what the ARMY has guns for.

The idea is for the BB's to supprt the amphibious ops, and when a 10-156nm corridor is secured, then Army forces move ashore and conduct the extended ops, supported by Naval air and then USAF TAC air.

Some folks may not know that there are a quantity of 16" barrels still in storage, as are many rounds of ammunition for them, up in Idaho. Sitting around and waiting.

Besides that, 18" of homogeneous rolled armour plate ain't nothing to sneeze at. These Iowa class were designed to slug it out toe to toe with the IJN Yamato class and surviver, and they would have. The only thing they really need to fear is tactical nukes. Anything smaller will only piss off the Bosn's Mates and Hull techs who will have to scrape and repaint them.

I admit that the arsenal ship has some interesting features, but that's putting an AWFUL lot of faith in their survivability. I'm not sure I'd want to risk that many rounds. Better to consider rotary launchers to fit into ex-boomer missle tubes for mlrs type assaults than in a container ship, The boomer, at least, can stay deep and quiet until needed.

Speaking of which reminds me.. did you read about the Navy's idea to put some massive conventional warheads onto some of the Trident SLBM's instead of their Nuke warheads? The idea is to provide quick retaliatory non-nuclear attack against high-priority targets on short notice. I like that idea.....

Respects,

Gwedd

buckethead said...

Not to get into the DD(X)/BB debate because I think that both ideas are flawed, let's focus on the arsenal ship.

I've been thinking on this a little, and it occurs to me that an arsenal ship doesn't need to be particularly large, well-equipped, or even survivable to be useful.

Consider a (relatively speaking) cheap, small container ship armed with maybe two hundred missiles. It is designed to have as small a radar cross-section as is feasible, without going overkill stealthy and driving up the price. Only two considerations would drive the design. Well, three. The first two would be the need to keep up with the fleet. The other would be rapid reload - perhaps with the floating FOBS that defensetech was talking about the other day. (The third is price.) It would have essentially no electronics, no radar, no crew. The missiles would be fired and controlled by CIC crew on other ships.

A ship with thousands of missiles would be expensive just by virtue of its payload, even if the ship itself were miraculously free. You might lose some economies of scale by having more, smaller ships, but you gain in survivability. Losing one ship with a thousand missiles to a sunburn missile into the magazine means no missiles. Losing one ship out of four with two hundred and fifty missiles means you have 750 left.

Later, if the concept proves itself, you could retrofit, or build follow on versions with more capabilities. Like radar, point defenses (metalstorm?) and a deck for launching drones, or whatever pops into a naval architect's silly head.

But in the meantime, you'd have cost effective firepower.

Also, it occurs to me that what the DD(X) would be good for with all its advanced electronics, is a battlemanagement platform. But then, you could put all those things in any ship, which kind of makes the idea of spending five billion dollars for a lightly armed and somewhat stealthy battle management platform kinda silly.

Murdoc said...

What, some folks have opinions on this issue? Who would have guessed? Here are Murdoc's two cents:

+++I love the BBs, and have trouble buying most of the arguments against them. While not banging the drum to reactivate today, I supported the idea of keeping them in reserve "just in case".

+++I like the DD(X), but blanch at the cost and fear that they're not surviviable enough. As Brickmuppet says, the expense supports more than just the DD(X), though. Not sure if it makes more sense to cut down on the number of ships to minimize the damage (as we seem to be doing) or if building more would help offset the cost per hull a bit.

+++I'm with Buckethead on the cheaper and smaller "off-the-shelf" arsenal ship idea. If we up the cost a bit, we can add serious UAV capability in terms of flight deck and storage room, as well. Primary command and control could remain on the other ships.

+++In lieu of BB reactivation, I'd support the old "monitor ship" approach with a couple of heavy guns and the potential of guided and/or extended-range munitions.

James said...

Buckethead

Your idea makes perfect sense. Which of course means it will never be done. Ok so what to do it cheap and be survivable? The cheapest what is to take a liberty ship make it into a multi-hull survivable ship. You create this by compartmentalizing its peripheral sections, then filing the compartments with Prycrete. Say about 3 compartments 5 feet thick. (so about 15 feet of reinforced prycrete separated by flexible walls made Kevlar or similar material. Each ship could easily house 200 to 300 VLS. Speed is not an issue as they would stay about 2000 miles of the coast in a protected zone.

The Prycrete acts as regeneratable armor shell, that in the event of a catastrophic ship damage will keep the ship afloat due its natural boyancy.

Nicholas said...

I've been wondering a few things lately:

* How much would it cost to build a new BB with the same hull, turrets, etc. but with new (standard) propulsion plants, navigation, comms, etc.?

Given that the plans already exist and the new technology should be pretty much "drop-in" I wonder if it will cost less than a modern "marvel" ship like the DDG-1000. Of course, manufacturing capabilities that existed then don't exist now, but that can be fixed.

* If that's too expensive, how about a new heavy cruiser, with enough armour to withstand ASM warheads, optimized for shore bombardment?

* What about converting old boomers and replacing most of their vertical launch equipment with MLRS? They could surface when required, loose off a barrage of fire, then submerge to reload. After enough shots they would swim back to a large re-arming ship. They could work in rotation like that for a while. Plus they could retain some Tomahawk capability for when it's necessary.

James said...

Nicholas

Cost of building new battleship? Extremely high I would imagine. So much so, that a DD(X) would look cheap. The primary issue is the armor belt. Simply put, one of the reasons so few IOWA's were built is the each one took up a significant percentage of the steel fabrication capasity of the 1939's American industry. At the time US steel industry produced about 19000 tons of battleship grade armor plate per year. So a single Iowa would take up more then half of the US's total steel output. Current Air Craft carriers only carry around 700 tonns of so of battleship grade armor.
To be blunt, we lack the capasity to produce the volumn of high grade steel to build another Iowa.
Secondly, even if could could amass the tonnage necessary, no steel plant in the US has the capability to produce `167 inch slabs of high grade steel.
Thirdly - Battleship steel requires highly skilled welders. Given the current demonstrations of ship building skill, its a good bet that there are few skilled welders in the ship building industry.

To get the capability back, I would imagine it would take 10 years or so to build the plants and produce the workforce. As a final note, you cannot rely on the plans, as in the construction, there were non-planned, additions and modifications.

Anonymous said...

how much would a new BB cost?
Many of the parts- the castings- I dont think we can make anymore. They are to big. And I dont think we can make the 16" barrels.
And if we did make one we wouldnt rely on armor- wwII studies were clear on this point: better to put the money into better damage control and design.
With that said, whats the point? Having an assault leader ship? or a bombardment ship? Ken seem to have a mixed idea in mind: ski ramps, a missile ship, and an indestrucible assault leader ship. Problem is these are mutually incompatible goals. new warships are full of delicate externally mounted antenae. Adding large numbers of tightly grouped rockets into an unarmored section of the hull compounds the problem. And a ski ramp cant be fully armored. A mission kill is just as effective as a hard kill in the types of short war it might lead.
Besides, whats the threat? Is it limited resource countries on a par with Libya giving us a military challenge- launch a handfull of fighters and another handfull of ssm's? Thats already pretty thin. And if you were going to deploy these against a 'from the sea' naval assault on china or india, would you want these things leading the way? Or would they be considered high value targets and kept in the defensive perimeter deployment array along with the carriers. And if so, then whats the point?
If these new fangled arty deck guns are so great, why not put a handfull of them on the high order merchant ship you speak of? And if these guns are ready, why arent we deploying them for the Army?
And all of this ignores the 99% of real work thats being done by the Navy- security- ala the the LCS and the coast guard cutter fleet, which I think we should actually spend dome money on. My only complaint about those is the failure to equip them with gyro stabilized remote weapon stations instead of those hand controlled 50 cals. Yes, more RWS generally- becouse I think the real threat is Cole type attacks.

Oh and according to the Harpoon formula, which is based on historic analysis of ship damage- the 10,000 ton purpose built warship hull has 276 hp, v. 308 hp for the 30,000 ton merchant level hull, thats pretty close. And I guess the same principal- that you can run a military ship as well as a cargo ship with a very light crew, is what we expect from every naval ship in the future. Lower fuel costs due to a smaller hull- not an insignificat cost are also an issue.

Nicholas said...

Well, I think there is a point to having modernized battleships, they can be useful in both asymmetric and "Desert Storm" type wars. In asymmetric wars they can be long-range, hard hitting artillery batteries (as they were used in Vietnam for example, to good effect). In "Desert Storm" type wars they can be used to obliterate fixed targets along the enemy's coast while aircraft strike targets further in. Either way they have advantages over aircraft or ground forces which make them a useful addition to the mix.

If it's so hard to fabricate a BB hull maybe it does make sense to fully modernize those still afloat, even if it's a lot of work. Rip the guts out, stick in modern engines, radars, launch tubes, damage control, navigation, etc. and you have yourself a pretty formidable ship which can be used for many purposes.

I think having various different options strengthens a military dramatically. It would be a pity for the US Navy to continue having very little credible shore bombardment and long-range artillery capability. Having that would give its capabilities good diversity.

buckethead said...

Everyone keeps talking about shore bombardment. Which is lobbing lots of dumb munitions on targets about 20 miles away. While I would be the last person in the world to deny the coolness of being able to do that, how necessary will it really be in the future?

New missiles, new technologies - drone swarms with hellfire or better missiles, metalstorm for point defense, whatever - plus the fact that even the Marines are no longer committed to pure amphibious landings anymore. Do we need what is essentially a hugely expensive and old ship for one mission that might not be quite as important as it once was, even twenty years ago?

Ken said...

Hmmm, I've been unclear. It must be the frustrations of formatting via dial-up and having this thing crash on me 80% through the first attempt combined with my lack of writing skills...yes that it. :)

Legendary comment mogul Annonymous is right. The flight deck BB, the DDX & the arsenal ship are either redundant or mutually exclusive.

The DDX is well designed for current threats but so gold plated and expensive we cant afford it. BB reactivation is of limited utility not fully compensated for by its coolness.

The relatively cheap BB I proposed is intended to be buildable fairly quickly and in some numbers. The hellacious number of missles is to increase combat persistance. Not all the misslees need to be super expensive ones. Missles are volume rather than weight intensive which is why I went that route rather than relying on at sea replenishment from a ship that would be of superficially similar design but have no independant capability.

+++ Murdocs monitor proposal is a good one,but in the short term, I think the missle farm has the advantage of versatility in its loadout. I'm not convinced that any of these will be survivable in 20 years with the advent of the technologies that Murdoc mentions, plus orbital bombardment and good old fashioned torpedoes.

Mike Burleson said...

The 1/2 billion dollar Arsenal Ship was cancelled to build DD-21. That was cancelled in favor of "cheaper" DDX. That was cancelled and now we got nothing.

James said...

At the end of WWII, the Navy did some cost vs effectiveness studies, and looked into the crystal ball - and came up with the theory that 1) aircraft can carry greater firepower with greater range then a BB, 2) BB's take up huge amount of the country's steel production & were very expensive. 2) New technologies would render the BB armor obsolete.4) Damage control and counter measures would enable "modern" ships to be survivable.

Time passed.

Current warships have been sunk with a single hit of 300 lb. warhead. Even if the missile did not blow up, the ship struck would be effectively out of action for months if not a year or more. The "armor" for modern ships is it electronics and anti-missile missiles and defense systems. The question is, is the cost of modern electronics more expensive then armor?
The current trend of making ships survivable via the application of exponentially more expensive electronics has to stop. Two glaring truths are out there - 1) Offensive technology is an order of magnitude more advanced the defensive technology and the tech trends favor the offensive for the foreseeable future. 2) There does not exist any defensive system (including AEGIS system) capable of defending a ship from a multi-vector multiple missile attack.

Current technology trends are pointing a larger number of stealthy missiles and platforms. It’s entirely possible that within 5 years, we will be able to field anti-ship missiles that an invisible to radar. Appling stealth to large ships is 1- obscenely expensive, 2- of limited value due to the nature of ships at sea. The old submarine adage: At sea, there are submarines and targets - is all to true.

The application of significant amounts of passive armor can go along way towards reestablishing balance. First off cost wise, armor is no longer “too expensive” considering current ship costs. 2nd’ly armor is a great counter vs stealth.
A- Armor forces missiles to be larger (to carry a larger warhead, more fuel, …) a larger missile is harder to make stealthy and reduces the number of missile carried per platform. For example- swarms of drones with hellfire missiles can lay waste to a current ship, but be useless vs an armored ship.
B- Armor reduces effects of an attack and enhance crew survival.
C- Armor and stealth are not mutually exclusive. The Iowa class has a surprisingly small RCS for a ship of that size. (The angled armor, and long slim design help)


Current technology trends are pointing a larger number of stealthy missiles and platforms. Its entirely possible that within 5 years, we will be able to filed anti-ship missiles that a invisible to radar. Appling stealth to large ships is 1- obscenly expensive, 2- of limited value due to the nature of ships at sea. The old submarine addage of there are submarines and targets - is all to true.

The application of significant amounts of passive armor

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The problem with most of the ships discussed in the original post is that they are not well suited to carrying out a mission that the U.S. military actually needs to fill.

Providing naval fire support to Marines at $3 billion per 155mm gun ($6 billion per ship), ranks right up there with a recent Air Force proposal to use F-22s to destroy IEDs. It may actually work, but it is so insanely expensive, in the face of far cheaper workable alternatives, that it makes no sense. If you want naval fire support for Marines, modify a 4 ton M777 towed howitzer and plop it into an LCS module (something along this line, but, of course, better, is currently in the works) for less than 10% of the price for the ship and module combined per naval gun. If long ranges really are possible with advanced munitions, the LCS can even operate from over the horizon. Two DDG-1000 over the horizon with a total of four naval guns is nice. Forty LCS over the horizon with a total of forty naval guns is better.

The problem with an arsenal ship is that the U.S. military simply is not short of resources that can drop massive amounts of ordinance on fixed targets a long way from CONUS with cruise missiles or good substitutes for them. Every cruiser, destroyer and frigate in the U.S. Navy, plus four Ohio Class submarines in the process of conversion have that capability. Many of those ships have 30 year life expectencies left. We several dozen B-52s capable of delivering cruise missiles anywhere in the world on short notice. We have dozens of B-1 bombers that can carry large ordinance loads at supersonic speeds to distant targets. We have B-2 bombers that can carry large ordiance loads undetected to distant targets. We have aircraft carriers full of F-18s that can carry ordinance with a cruise missile sized bang. We also have fighter aircraft that can carry 2000 ton bombs and allies who also have air and sea resources (a component of every major cruise missile bombardment in recent history). And, even if we did have a shortage of cruise missile deployment platforms, it would make much more sense to invest in transport bombers (think B-747) than an arsenal ship, because in a two regional war scenario, you can shift your cruise missile resources from one theater to another in hours, instead of the weeks required to reallocate cruise missiles based on an arsenal ship.

We also do not need massive new investments in cruise missile resources for ship to ship combat. China has 62 major surface combatants. Russia has 27. No other non-allied Navy in the world has even 20. We have far more available anti-ship missiles in a carrier group than the number of plausible targets in any likely opposition fleet, and in an age of satellites, Aegis sensor systems, and internet gossips, the likelihood of a Pearl Harbor style surprise attack are virtually nil.

The notion of giving old battleships Harrier carrier capabilities again solves a problem that we don't have. There are 12 supercarriers and 12 more Harrier carriers in the U.S. Navy. By comparison, no country conceivable hostile to the United States (Brazil and Russia) has more than one. The United States Navy simply does not have an aircraft carrier shortage, and those nice fellows in the Air Force also have tanker aircraft that can bring additional fighters to a conflict if necessary.

Likewise, as noted before, we do not have an urgent cruise missile resource shortage, so this battleship modification also doesn't make a great deal of sense.

The battleships bring three things to the table: (1) they provide naval fire support, (2) they are relatively survivable (no ship is unsinkable), and (3) we've already paid to buy them. But, the huge crews required are a big deal, and are only one part of some very high operating costs. You can fully crew 30 LCS with the crew required for 1 battleship with a skeleton crew. And, while it certainly could happen, how likely is it really that the Marines will conduct a major amphibious assault requiring that kind of fire support in the next ten years (after which the battleships will be kaput in any case)? The U.S. military is already virtually tapped out in ground troop resources fighting simultaneous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (plus other demands like Kosovo and "the Long War" fka the WOT) and it is not designed to fight three regional wars at once.

This isn't to say that the U.S. Navy has all the capabilities it needs or could reasonably want.

Unlike existing cruisers, which primarily baby sit aircraft carriers, plans for the CG(X) now focus on making it the corner stone of a ballistic missile defense, something nothing in the existing U.S. military does credibly, and something that the Navy has a better track record in testing at than the Air Force.

The U.S. military sorely needs high speed sealift resources, such as those provided by the USS Swift.

The U.S. Navy's ASW capabilites are at best fragile, although a lack of true war time tests in the past half a century make it hard to evaluate to what degree that is the case.

But, none of the ships in the original post serve a well defined mission that is unfilled in the current U.S. military.

Jim said...

I couldn't have put it better than the previous post, but I'll throw out a test summary:

1. The DDX "alternatives"/shore bombardment platforms proposed above are trying to fill a need that doesn't exist, or can be fulfilled far more cheaply and with less risk by current Air Force and Naval Air assets, current cruise missile platforms, and emerging UAV platforms.

2. ANY new surface platform being proposed must contend with the most likely threats out there: quiet D/E littoral subs, smart mines, and swarm attacks from sea skimmers, UAVs and small craft. Sorry, thick armor belts on the Iowa class (or anything else) mean nothing when torpedoes and mines can easily target vulnerable areas around props and rudders, and "survivability" doesn't count for much if a swarm attack plays ex$pensive havoc with superstructure, electronic arrays, C & C areas, the ports on those lovely VLS tubes, etc. Top attack missiles are nothing new against land armor; you'll see them in naval applications as well.

3. Modern armor technology has yet to demonstrate, as far as I've seen, that it can increase survivability of ALL of a ship's important fighting assets without fatally compromising other factors, vis., speed, stealth signature, and cost over the life of the ship (including the novel idea of fuel costs, which hasn't been mentioned with regard to the battlewagons, surely the Hummer H2's of the Navy!).

In short, there are no silver bullets, or silver ships, in today's or tomorrow's Navy.

Jim

Nicholas said...

I notice a recurring theme which is "we don't need artillery, we have aircraft".

Well, gee, the Germans tried that during World War 2. On the other hand, while the Red Army understood the importance of ground-attack aircraft, they made sure they had plenty of howitzers in stock. I think they won that one.

Then, the Israelis tried it again in 1973 and got mauled.

Meanwhile, the US Air Force and Navy are rushing to phase out all their dedicated CAS aircraft as fast as they can get away with it. The F-16 and F-18 may be decent ground-attack aircraft but they're a bit too fast and vulnerable for dedicated CAS, and if they're all busy performing CAS, who's going to perform interdiction, strikes, etc.? Yes you can replace artillery to some extent with aircraft but you need a lot of aircraft and you put them at great risk.

Once again, I'll point out that all the B-52s in the world didn't bring the North Vietnamese to the barganing table. They specifically agreed to peace talk on the condition that the battleships/heavy cruisers pounding their positions were withdrawn. Don't think we'll see another Vietnam again in the next ten or twenty years? I hope not, but you never know, it could be Iran, it could be Taiwan, it could be North Korea...

Historically the practice of concentrating all your military assets on one which is perceived to be the best (in this case, aircraft) has never been a good move. Having options helps as does the flexibility that comes with them. If there's any good reason not to reactivate the battleships I think it can only be cost. This opinion that artillery is somehow obsolete or only the Army's job, well you can have that opinion but I'm not sure what you're basing it on. I tend to look at previous wars and see what worked. Big ships were not at all useful at engaging other ships in the last 50 years but they have done a good job as floating artillery platforms and I think they will continue to do so, filling a nice that aircraft don't exactly.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The artillery v. aircraft distinction is worthwile, as long as you don't confuse cruise missiles with artillery.

Aircraft aren't a complete replacement for slug throwing artillery, whose virtues are low ammunition cost and the responsiveness that makes it well suited to supporting ground troops. And, some aircraft (the A-10 and AC-130, for example) are better substitutes for artillery than others (the F-22, for example). But, aircraft can do a lot of what cruise missiles, which are just disposable aircraft anyway, do very well, i.e. drop one tonish sized ordinance, plus or minus, of distant fixed targets. Indeed, aircraft can deploy cruise missles themselves, and as the B-52 illustrates, you don't need a modern cutting edge delivery vehicle to fly within cruise missile range of your target, often many hundreds of miles away.

For ship to ship combat slug throwers suck. Even the most advanced naval gun simply doesn't have the range of a cruise missile or aircraft with an anti-ship missile, and once struck by that kind of weapon, firing back often becomes problematic. In surface naval combat, slug throwers are pretty much limited to fire support for ground troops, anti-missile weapons, anti-small craft weapons, and weapons directed at controlling commercial ships. Slug throwers are also essentially useless against hostile submarines, except at exceedingly close ranges, usually not experienced prior to your ship being hit with a torpedo.

Another point to keep in mind about naval artillery is that, for the most part, it solves a temporary problem. Naval artillery gets troops ashore. This is a key part of a forced entry. But, a day or week or two later, ground troops can bring their own artillery ashore, engaging opponents at much smaller ranges than a distant ship, particularly as the force moves inland, and because the ranges are smaller, can achieve the desired effects with far less sophisticated and far less expensive weapons and ammunition.

Also, if you position the artillery sufficiently close to your front lines, so that you have no troops in any location your non-line of sight weapon can strike, you can greatly reduce the risk of friendly fire compared to naval artillery which is typically located far behind the front lines and can shift from friend to foe with a simple aiming adjustment (which Murphy's law insists will be screwed up some of the time in the fog of war). Artillery are generally relatively inaccurate weapons, and it is safer to keep your own troops outside of the potential kill zone. Special forces directing airborn fire support in Afghanistan who sent in their own coordinates rather than their opponents by mistake learned the hard way.

The point about the limited benefits of a one size fits all best weapon is well taken. If you have five ships in your navy, you need multipurpose ships. If you have several hundred, some specialization is in order, particularly in light of the fact that ships are generally built just a few at a time, with only modest economies of scale.

For example, the majority of the surface combatants in the U.S. Navy, cruisers, destroyers and frigates alike, are used as aircraft carrier escorts. Yet, we don't build ships narrowly tailored to that mission. We have cruisers, destroyers and frigates because an international arms treaty that was gathering dust when World War II began classified ships that way and we want to keep a quota of each kind to replace what we have now.

James said...

1. “Trying fullfill a need that does not exit.” - Power Projection is the basic requirement of today’s military. Going with the theory that we will never need to do amphibious landing, IMO is a prescription for getting a whole lot of people killed. After the end of WW2, there was a theory that we would never do another amphibious landing, till Inchon came. In the Gulf war, the threat of an amphibious landing pinned a good chunk of the Iraqi army.
2. “…Fulfilled far more cheaply and with less risk by current Air Force and Naval Air assets,” In a word, no. For example: The F-18 E/F runs around 80 million. The pilot add in another 2 million. The plane fly’s for about 2 hours (toss in 12K, not to mention the 40 hours of maintence) drops a JDAM (26K), but could not drop the other, fly’s back to the carrier (dropping the JDAM into the sea because it can’t land while carrying a bomb). Oh yea, there is search and rescue unit on call, the AWACS out there, the A-6 out there hunting the air defense and so on. The only “savings” and that is iffy – is that the human life risk is minimal compared to a land attack. – in the gulf war, the Missouri & Wisconsin each fired over a million pounds of ordinance in 17 days. Basically each battleship equaled the fire power of carrier battle group in terms of ordinance delivered.
3. Cruise Missiles are only bombardment weapons in contractor’s dreams. UAV’s are current vaporware – given all sorts of coming soon abilities while being incredibly cheap. When one comes out – then I’ll listen to that argument.
4. Dealing with likely threats: I always get confused by this argument. The Iowa is always portrayed as helpless in the face of these new attacks. Ok, so be it. So what will defend vs these attacks? What new super ship defense system is out there that cannot be put on an Iowa? Rail guns? Well the DD(X) was supposed to produce 35MW of power, so it could carry them. An Iowa produces 80MW of power.
5. By the way – dealing with torpedoes and mines. RAMICS guns can do that and given that the Iowa’s have significant torpedoe defenses – having the RAMICS predotonate incoming torpedoes posses little risk to the ship.
6. The Iowa superstructure is the most heavly armored portion of the ship. Its eastimated that it would take 5 exocet missiles hitting the same spot within 10 seconds to beach the armor. Again I must ask, what is it about modern ships that renders them immune to “mission kill attacks?”
7. Compromises – 1st off a major capitol ship by definition can never be a stealth ship. You can reduce the signature, but you are never going have a 800 foot vessel impersonate a stealth fighter. …. To wit I add – Modern ships have yet to demonstrate , that they have any increased survivability over a ship with armor. Your only real point would be fuel costs. That said, the fuel costs of a BB 40-50 million, are not going to sink the navy. The other, crew size – are a false comparision. Crew size – if you modernize a BB your crew size drops.

Other thoughts
CG(X) vaporware – no plans for the ship exists, the requirements have not even been detailed. The ship is not even planned for introduction till 2020. The focus on ballistic missile defense is a budget argument not a ship capability argument. If the ship is vital for strategic missile defense – that ship will never be free for tactical engagements.

US Military tapped out for manpower – Complete BS. What we have is an over abundance of manpower in areas that are not currently needed in the field. The airforce is laying of 40,000. The manpower issue is structural not actual.

10 year life limit on the battleship? Complete BS. A side effect of being built to take 18 inch rounds, is that your hull is immensely strong ( the chief age limit on ships) Also the battleships do not have that much actual “at sea” time. They could go easily for another 20 years of hard use. More if we do a major overhaul.

“while it certainly could happen, how likely is it really that the Marines will conduct a major amphibious assault requiring that kind of fire support in the next ten years”

Ok how likely is it that we may be involved in a conflict with one of the following powers – Iran, North Korea, China. If you answered anything other then “no way in hell will we be in conflict with them” then you know why we need battleships

Ken said...

Thanks everyone for the comments...I'm likely going to have to follow up on this.

A few things...

The superstructures of the BBs have good splinter protection, but are largely unarmored. The heaviest armor is the 17" plate on the front of the turrets, the barbettes and the 13 or so inch belt.

For ships with steam plants, the proplulsion plant is the main determiner of a ships life. It is very expensive to replace a plant under an armored deck when it has big unitary parts like...boilers. This was done in the 30s, most notably by Japan and Italy but this was because of Arms control treaties that forbade new BB construction.

The Iowas, according to the sources I've read (particularly Friedmans work) have better torpedo protection than most modern ships, but it is not invulnerable and in fact is inferior to The Tennesee, Colorado and North Carolina classes that proceded them. Torpedoes are pesky things, ask the crews of Yamato, Prince of Wales, Bizmark, Pennsylvania, Barham, Royal Oak and Kongo, all of which were put out of action permenantly by torpedoes, either directly or indirectly.

Armor is of limited utility against shaped charges. (Though the 20mm thick shell plating of the DDex is a good thing) Splinter protection, subdivision, redundancy in systems and strength of scantlings are important. During WW2 the older but virtually unarmored Northhampton class tended to be suprisingly survivable. Against a Cole type attack, some type of belt might be adviseable though.

IMHO, reactivating the battleships make sense ONLY if most or all of the "If's" in the above post are answered with yes. If not keep them until wave-motion technology has progressed sufficiently.

From this laygeeks perspective, DDX does SEEM to have a limited missle loadout for the displacement but otherwise would be good if it was not goldplated into unobtainability.

It's 4 AM I'm off to bed.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

1. "Trying fullfill a need that does not exit." - Power Projection is the basic requirement of today's military.

Power Projection is typical DOD talk -- important sounding with no content. It isn't a military capability, it is an attitude towards foreign policy.

Going with the theory that we will never need to do amphibious landing, IMO is a prescription for getting a whole lot of people killed. After the end of WW2, there was a theory that we would never do another amphibious landing, till Inchon came. In the Gulf war, the threat of an amphibious landing pinned a good chunk of the Iraqi army.

No one says we should have no amphibious assault capabilities. But, we have 36 ships, including twelve ships that would be aircraft carriers in any other Navy, for that purpose, and are replacing older amphibious assault vehicles with the Marine Expeditionary Vehicle, and buying a lot of V-22s and have F-35Bs in the budget to support the Marines as well.

The question is whether investing in very expensive naval fire support is the priority v. battleships or lots of pricey DD(X). Yes, naval gun fire support would be nice, but using expensive, suboptimal resources for a couple of weeks of an amphibious invasion -- like fighter and bomber aircraft, like non-OTH 5" guns, like cruise missiles are an option, that might end up being cheaper unless we do a whole lot of amphibious invasions. We know we are going to spend lots of time in counter-insurgency in the next decade, we might one or twice, do a force entry amphibious invasion. Given the choice, where should the money go?

2. "Fulfilled far more cheaply and with less risk by current Air Force and Naval Air assets," In a word, no. For example: The F-18 E/F runs around 80 million. The pilot add in another 2 million. The plane fly's for about 2 hours (toss in 12K, not to mention the 40 hours of maintence) drops a JDAM (26K), but could not drop the other, fly's back to the carrier (dropping the JDAM into the sea because it can't land while carrying a bomb). Oh yea, there is search and rescue unit on call, the AWACS out there, the A-6 out there hunting the air defense and so on.

First off, the DD(X) and modified battleships proposed do lots of things besides provide naval gun support for an amphibious operation. One key point is that they duplicate roles like cruise missile basing and being a Harrier carrier, already filled in the case of cruise missiles by cruisers, destroyers, frigates and submarines, and in the case of Harrier carrying by amphibious assault ships (and in a crunch full fledged supercarriers).

The only thing a BB or DD(X) really adds to the equation that existing ships can't do perfectly well is OTH naval fire support with its big 16" guns or AGS respectively.

An arsenal ship adds nothing to the equation in terms of a new capability, it simply provides more of what we already have, cruise missile basing.

Also, most existing are sunk costs. We have purchased them and will maintain them for other purposes than fire support for an amphibious invasion, and they are expensive alternatives to them. But, if you spend two weeks every five or ten years on amphibious assault, doing things like using an expensive cruise missile and aircraft instead of a cheap 16" gun rounds is still cheap, compared to buying lots of DD(X) or rehabing BBs with no other added value for that purpose.

Also, this doesn't address at all the prospect of buying new LCS with artillery v. new DD(X) with AGS, which is a big part of the point. We haven't committed to upgrade BBs, buy more than two DD(X) or buy beyond trial numbers of LCS yet. For naval fire support purposes, which is the only thing that BBs or DD(X) add to the current mix, the LCS provides more bang for the buck.

The only "savings" and that is iffy ? is that the human life risk is minimal compared to a land attack. ? in the gulf war, the Missouri & Wisconsin each fired over a million pounds of ordinance in 17 days. Basically each battleship equaled the fire power of carrier battle group in terms of ordinance delivered.

Yes, the Missouri and Wisconsin lobbed a million pound of ordinance. But, does anyone really think that the Gulf War would have come out differently if a different approach had been used. Maybe you do, but I certainly don't. Those battleships were not decisive in the Gulf War, and when we went back at the beginning of the Iraq War, troops managed fine without battleships, despite the absence of an option to approach from a Northern Front in Turkey. Also, the 17 bombardment period coroborates my comments about this being basically two week stage of any given conflict.

3. Cruise Missiles are only bombardment weapons in contractorÕs dreams. UAVÕs are current vaporware ? given all sorts of coming soon abilities while being incredibly cheap. When one comes out ? then IÕll listen to that argument.

Cruise missiles were used to destroy lots of fixed targets in both the Gulf War and the Iraq War. They served in roles similar to stealth aircraft. They are an expensive alternative for other missions, but if you can accomplish with 2000 cruise missiles what you can accomplish with a billion dollar ship, even if it seems like overkill to use a cruise missile that way, it is a good deal if you can replace the ship.

4. Dealing with likely threats: I always get confused by this argument. The Iowa is always portrayed as helpless in the face of these new attacks. Ok, so be it. So what will defend vs these attacks? What new super ship defense system is out there that cannot be put on an Iowa? Rail guns? Well the DD(X) was supposed to produce 35MW of power, so it could carry them. An Iowa produces 80MW of power.

If your in the business of ASW, a BB is not the best way to go, that isn't what it exists to do. A BB without cruise missiles is a bad way to do ship to ship combat. The BB is optimal for that either.

5. By the way ? dealing with torpedoes and mines. RAMICS guns can do that and given that the IowaÕs have significant torpedoe defenses ? having the RAMICS predotonate incoming torpedoes posses little risk to the ship.

As the comment that follows the quoted one notes, torpedos have a good record of killing battleships in the past.

6. The Iowa superstructure is the most heavly armored portion of the ship. Its eastimated that it would take 5 exocet missiles hitting the same spot within 10 seconds to beach the armor. Again I must ask, what is it about modern ships that renders them immune to Òmission kill attacks?

The point is that it is not invulnerable, not that other ships are better if attacked. Not getting hit in the first place is the optimal strategy even with a BB.

7. Compromises ? 1st off a major capitol ship by definition can never be a stealth ship. You can reduce the signature, but you are never going have a 800 foot vessel impersonate a stealth fighter.

Agreed.

To wit I add ? Modern ships have yet to demonstrate , that they have any increased survivability over a ship with armor.

Modern ships are designed to survive by killing opponents before opponents get within range. It does so by detecting them at a distance, and using cruise missiles, submarines which are part of a group, or aircraft, to destroy opponents at a distance.

Your only real point would be fuel costs. That said, the fuel costs of a BB 40-50 million, are not going to sink the navy. The other, crew size ? are a false comparision. Crew size ? if you modernize a BB your crew size drops.

Modernizing a BB to reduce crew size would be immensely expensive.


CG(X) vaporware ? no plans for the ship exists, the requirements have not even been detailed. The ship is not even planned for introduction till 2020. The focus on ballistic missile defense is a budget argument not a ship capability argument.

One could build a ship with those capabilities. It makes better sense than replacing the CGs current in place.

If the ship is vital for strategic missile defense ? that ship will never be free for tactical engagements.

That is the point.

US Military tapped out for manpower ? Complete BS. What we have is an over abundance of manpower in areas that are not currently needed in the field. The airforce is laying of 40,000. The manpower issue is structural not actual.

Yes, the Navy is bloated as it is. Crews cost money. The question is whether you should spend it, or lay sailors off and use the money elsewhere where it is more needed.

10 year life limit on the battleship? Complete BS. A side effect of being built to take 18 inch rounds, is that your hull is immensely strong ( the chief age limit on ships) Also the battleships do not have that much actual Òat seaÓ time. They could go easily for another 20 years of hard use. More if we do a major overhaul.

See the boiler comment below.

"while it certainly could happen, how likely is it really that the Marines will conduct a major amphibious assault requiring that kind of fire support in the next ten years"

Ok how likely is it that we may be involved in a conflict with one of the following powers ? Iran, North Korea, China. If you answered anything other then Òno way in hell will we be in conflict with themÓ then you know why we need battleships


War with China could very well happen. But, we'd be fools to amphibiously invade mainland China. We could barely handle Iraq or Vietnam.

Again, in the case of N. Korea, no one is seriously considering an amphibious invasion. We don't want to hold that territory, we want to take out their nuclear missiles and hold them to the border with S. Korea.

In the case of Iran, first we do have a long border with Iraq, a long border with Afghanistan, and airlifts as alternative means of entry. Second, again, holding territory which is what you do a major amphibious assault to do, is not really the likely objective. We are far more likely to bomb selective WMD sites.

james said...

“Power Projection is typical DOD talk -- important sounding with no content. It isn't a military capability, it is an attitude towards foreign policy.”

No – while power projection has a military and associated political context, at heart it is a basic military concept. Power projection is a measure of military’s ability to deploy a decisive force over a large distance. At its heart, the Navy has two prime missions A) Protect the vital interests of the United States. B) Be able to project military power to any point on the globe accessible by the sea. Any vessel the Navy has, has to relate to one or both of these missions.

You have a lot of points. In my opinion, you have some very valid points, but I think you opinion is predicated on a couple of dangerous assumptions.

1. We will have air supremacy.
2. Our combat performance vs Iraq is indicative of our combat performance vs other militaries.
3. We will have the choice of where and when we get involved in conflict.

If any of these assumptions prove wrong. You are going to have a lot of dead troops and sailors.

Another assumption I believe you are making, is a misunderstanding of our surface fleet operational deployments. Basically we have three deployments Carrier battlegroups / amphibious ready groups & surface battlegroups. One of our Navy’s issue, is that the surface battlegroup is very vulnerable to attack and lacks a significant offensive punch.

This means while we have 12 carrier battlegroups – generally only 3 deployed at any one time. We have 4 amphibious ready groups deployed (carriers in any other navy) however, the Tarawa’s are generally not configured for air superiority. The final result, is that battlegroups outside of the Carrier groups are largely unable to conduct offensive actions except under ideal conditions.

“They are an expensive alternative for other missions, but if you can accomplish with 2000 cruise missiles what you can accomplish with a billion dollar ship, even if it seems like overkill to use a cruise missile that way, it is a good deal if you can replace the ship. “
This is a great idea in theory – in practice, its not a real word option. 1st off, 2000 cruise missiles would wipe out our ready inventory. Considering our replenishment capability, I hope that the 2000 did the job, because it would a couple of years before we could repeat. 2nd off 2000 cruise missiles would be the entire missile complement of 22 Arleigh Burke destroyers. (assuming all they carried was cruise missiles and passed on the air defense missiles and so on)

“If your in the business of ASW, a BB is not the best way to go, that isn't what it exists to do. A BB without cruise missiles is a bad way to do ship to ship combat. The BB is optimal for that either”

You are right. ASW is not the BB forte. All ships have a measure of specialization, the point is to say that the BB would not be a helpless target. Yes BB can be sunk, and sunk by torpedoes (as any ship can) Of course the Yamamoto took 17 before going under – so I don’t really see the point. The BB’s already carry cruise missiles, and a modernized BB could carry 96 without much modification. 300+ with some serious modifications.

“Modern ships are designed to survive by killing opponents before opponents get within range. It does so by detecting them at a distance, and using cruise missiles, submarines which are part of a group, or aircraft, to destroy opponents at a distance”

You are right. So what happens when the Navy has to come close to shore?

The current Navy is a blue water Navy build to standoff an opponent and kill him with aircraft and missiles. Now why is that? Because, there is no way to protect the current fleet if it gets close to shore. Defensive technology is not advanced enough to defend the fleet.

So how is your non-OTH guns going to work if the ship cannot get close enough to shore to hit anything. The Navy had a requirement that the DD(X) remain at least 25 miles out to see, so that shore artillery can’t sink it. A standard 5inch , has a range about 13NM. So they can’t help. Cruise missiles are great, but they are slow and are not good tactical missiles. And all those harriers and f-18’s might be busy fighting other fighters or avoiding enemy SAM’s.

You seem to make the point that the BB or DD(X) [By the way – I think the DD(X) is a flawed concept – the AGS is not a very good shore bombardment weapon (it makes a great secondary armament for a battleship) - and the DD(X) missile compliment is too small – and its stealth is compromised by its size and electronics.] is only good for shore bombardment (amphibious landings).

The BB is good for 5 primary missions – A) shore bombardment. B) Flying the flag (a battleship does wonders 10 miles off the coast) C) Guarding the sea lanes. D) forcing your opponents to alter their strategy/weapons to take it into account. E) Long term sea endurance.

What the BB is not good for – A) ASW / Mine warfare B) Air Defense (unless equipped with upgraded sensors or data linked, and upgraded with VLS tubs)

The LCS - IMO the 2nd best idea the Navy has had in last 20 years. The 1st best was to convert the Ohio subs to cruise missile carriers (SSGN). [A true survivable version of the arsenal ship concept] That said, the LCS’s would and will be an extremely vulnerable ship. In actual deployment in hostile environments, several LCS would be needed to cover each other. Placing a AGS module on an LCS has a lot of merit. I can see the LCS concept if built right, morphing into one of the most import hull types the Navy has. However, there will always be a need for a true multiple mission ship.
“Modernizing a BB to reduce crew size would be immensely expensive.”

Not really – just depends on how many you want to reduce. You could lop off 300 by replacing the (8) 5 inch secondary’s with (4) AGS systems. Remove the #3 turret and replace it with 90 round VLS launcher and reduce the crew by another 100 or so.


Ah well, I am rambling.