Home » Budget Industry » Navy Studying Installing SeaRAM on More Destroyers, Other Ship Classes


Navy Studying Installing SeaRAM on More Destroyers, Other Ship Classes

A SeaRAM launcher at the Raytheon Louisville, Ky. plant. Raytheon Photo

A SeaRAM launcher at the Raytheon Louisville, Ky. plant. Raytheon Photo

LOUISVILLE, KY. – The Navy is considering expanding the number of SeaRAM installations on its ships beyond a quartet of ballistic missile defense ships based in Spain and Littoral Combat Ships, a service official told USNI News on Tuesday.

“Internally to the Navy there are trade studies going on to look at where to place SeaRAM on different ship classes,” Capt. Craig Bowden with Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems said.

While no decisions have been made, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations assessment arm (OPNAV 81) is in the midst of the look on which ships it could add the system designed to intercept and destroy incoming cruise and anti-ship missiles.

Officials with SeaRAM manufacturer Raytheon told reporters on Monday the company was in talks with the service to add the 11 missile system to additional guided missile destroyers beyond the Rota quartet.

The systems were earmarked for the Rota DDGs specifically to counter a Russian cruise missile threat that emerged in the Mediterranean region following Moscow’s seizure of Crimea and escalating tensions with the West, several service sources have told USNI News. Neither Raytheon nor Bowden would provide additional details on the threat.

While the Rota destroyers are equipped with the Aegis combat system designed to intercept air and cruise missile threats with its SM-2 missiles, the ships can’t use the system against traditional air threats while set to look for ballistic missile threats.

USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts a structural test firing of SeaRAM in Spain on Feb. 28, 2016, as the first Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer with a SeaRAM installation. US Navy photo.

USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts a structural test firing of SeaRAM in Spain on Feb. 28, 2016, as the first Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer with a SeaRAM installation. US Navy photo.

“We put [the ships] out there by themselves, and they’re putting all their radar energy up in space, they’re tracking space objects now, and you have to wonder, hey, can they defend themselves?,” PEO IWS Rear Adm. Jon Hill told USNI News last year.

The vulnerability prompted U.S. 6th Fleet and OPNAV to push for the installation of the SeaRAM on the Rota ships for an added layer of protection via an urgent operational request.

“Things heated up in the Eastern Mediterranean and suddenly there’s a capability… the adversary changed and became a bigger problem,” Rick McDonnell, Raytheon program directors for close-in weapon systems told reporters.
“Speed to deploy was going to be a big part of the issue.”

The Navy elected to replace one of two Phalanx close-in weapon systems on the DDGs with the SeaRAM system.

The two systems are 85 percent common and similar enough in weight not to prompt additional strengthening of the hull of the ships.

The addition creates an additional layer of defense for the destroyers between the long range of the SM-2s and the only mile or so range of the Phalanx’s gun, Bowden said.

“The Standard Missile is a great missile but it’s designed for threats that are farther away from the ship, They really didn’t have anything … for the 3 to 6 mile a defensive bubble around the ship,” he said.

In addition to BMD protection in Europe, the Navy also conducts BMD patrols with single destroyers in the Western Pacific with the same inherent vulnerability as the Rota destroyers.

While the service’s latest Baseline 9 Aegis system is able to track and intercept traditional air and ballistic missile defense targets at the same time, Raytheon officials said the Navy was considering including the systems on the newer ships.

The SeaRAMs are also fielded on the Independence-class LCS and will be included on the Lockheed Martin Freedom-class LCS starting with the LCS 17.

  • If only the Royal Navy would also SeaRAM up

  • The Plague

    I just hope OPNAV-81 will not piss around too much “looking” and will get around to actually deploying quickly.

    • DaSaint

      Agree. The Aussies did it, and we proved we could too with the Rota squadron. This isn’t rocket science.

      • TPF1

        Well, actually it IS! LOL!!

  • Hugh

    The RAN could do with these.
    As a comparison of what can be done in times of need, at the lead-up to the 1st Gulf War in 1990, they designed, installed, integrated and set to work 2 Phalanx mounts on HMAS BRISBANE, a Charles F Adams DDG – all in 2 months. All 3 of the Class were thus fitted, through to their paying off.

  • TrustbutVerify

    Put them on the LCS and it might actually, finally, have some Fleet advantages.

    • USNVO

      Did you read the last sentence of the article?

      • TrustbutVerify

        Yes, I should have said “putting”, I suppose…but that is what I meant.

        • USNVO

          It’s already installed and operational on all Independence (LCS-2) class ships (look above the helo hanger) . The Freedom (LCS-1) has a MK-49 Launcher for RAM (again, fully operational) but they are changing over to SeaRAM on LCS-17 and later.

    • Spencer Whitson

      That was the plan all along. They’ve always been on them.

  • sferrin

    Now do something to bump the round count back up. Down to 11 (even less with RAM Block 2). All while the threat is increasing. Seriously, this should be a no-brainer. The USN seems to be the only organization on the planet that doesn’t seem to think CIWS are important. ONE, count ’em ONE Phalanx on a Burke?

    • RobM1981

      Never mind. I asked a question that is none of my business…

    • ElmCityAle

      Block 2 missiles use the same cells, what are you talking about? The SeaRAM has 11 cells because that is how many fit in the physical space.

      • sferrin

        They don’t use the same cells. The Block 2 missiles have a much larger motor and weigh more than a Block IA.

        • delta9991

          It looks like the launcher was designed with the idea of a bigger missile in mind. Every story (and video) we’ve seen regarding SeaRAM on the Burkes has involved the launching of a Block 2 missile from that same 11 cell launcher, so I’d say round count is the same.

        • ElmCityAle

          Yes, they do: same cells, same number of cells in each launcher. Larger motor and weight have nothing to do with it.

    • DWinslow

      Contrast that with a Russian destroyer CIWS loadout of 4- 30mm gatlings and 64 SA-N-9 Gauntlet missiles.

    • Marauder 2048

      With the much higher Pk/longer range Blk II are they still doing Shoot-Shoot? They might be able to get away with shoot-look-shoot.

  • RobM1981

    I like the idea of SeaRAM *and* Phalanx. Each has a strength/capability, and together they overlap nicely (on paper).

    • sferrin

      Yep. The attitude of “oh we can get rid of our Phalanx because at some point in the future we’ll have ESSM onboard” is asinine. You’ve got the space allotted for it, leave the damn gun there too. Don’t get me started on the two pop-guns they’ve got for CIWS on the Zumwalts. Somebody needs to be fired (or shot) over that F-up.

      • RobM1981

        I don’t think I’ll ever mentally get past the failure of the early AIM-7’s. I’ve always been wary of missile promises, ever since. I realize that is a long time ago, so much has changed, etc., but “once bitten…”

        I like the idea of a gatling gun as the last layer of defense. It might not be totally logical, but I never claimed to be Spock.

        • David Oldham

          You can’t countermeasure of piece of ballistic “lead”.

          • Secundius

            The “Ballistic Lead” in Question, ONLY Engages Targets when it comes into its ~4,000-meter Engagement Range. Stay of of Range and You’re Safe…

          • sferrin

            Can’t really destroy a ship by not getting close though can ya?

          • Secundius

            Depend on WHAT the Attacking Boat Is Carrying. A 120mm Mortar as a Maximum Effective Range of 10,000-meters. ~6,000-meters beyond the Effective Range of the Mk.15 Phalanx…

          • Donald Carey

            Yes, assuming a mortor fired from a small, moving boat can actually hit sometning.

          • Secundius

            Swedish Boghammar’s mount Either AMOS Twin 120mm Breech-Loading Auto Mortars or NEMO Single 120mm Breech-Loading Auto Mortars…

          • Donald Carey

            You cannot compare Sweden’s navy with your typical 3rd world “navy”.

          • Secundius

            Iran is Equipped with Boghammar’s…

          • sferrin

            You still haven’t made your case. Where have they ever demonstrated hitting a moving target with mortar rounds fired from a moving speedboat?

          • Secundius

            BOTH “AMOS” and “NEMO” are Capable of Firing Smart Projectiles…

          • sferrin

            So your claim is SeaRAM alone is better than SeaRAM *and* Phalanx together? In this case they need something like a GMLRS unitary with a terminal seeker, and kill the boat before it can close. I wouldn’t turn down a OTO 76mm Super Rapido with Vulcano either but that’s a huge step up in space requirements.

          • Secundius

            The US. Navy “Toyed” with the idea of Employing “Millers” or GMLRS, But it NEVER got beyond the Discussion of the Systems Usage. And What System Employ’s BOTH SeaRAM and Phalanx? The ONLY System that Even Comes Close is the US LAV-AD “Blazer”, which has a 5-barrel 25-mm gun and 4 Mistral or Stinger Missiles. The Oto Melara is a Good System, but the US Navy ONLY Uses the Mod 0 System that has a Cyclic Rate of Fire of 85rpm…

          • Donald Carey

            Iran doesn’t have Swedish sailors – end of debate.

          • Secundius

            Nooo! But they Do Have the Boats. And the Philippine Navy is interested in Buying Them Too…

          • Marauder 2048

            They are intended to provide naval fire support against targets ashore.

          • Secundius

            TRUE, But Nothing in the Manufacturer’s Literature Prevents It from being Used Against Out Surface Combatants…

          • Marauder 2048

            There are some fuzing and fill issues to overcome. It’s a threat but I would think the more probable use case would be indirect fire while occluded by neutral/civilian craft. In which case, unless RAM Blk II can fly a lofted trajectory with a Human-in-the-loop datalink to help in target discrimination you are in the realm of Griffin C or one of its competitors. That also eliminates most gun CIWS as well.

          • sferrin

            And you think you’re going to shoot mortar rounds down with a SeaRAM? Nope. This is why you need both instead of getting hung up on either/or.

          • Secundius

            Sustained Firing Rate of NEMO Auto Mortar is ~12rpm with 48-Ready Rounds in Magazine, Coming in Ballistically at an angle of 86(deg) from Vertical. Cane Easily Overcome RAM, SeaRAM, and Phalanx Defenses, Especially if they USE “Swarm Boat Tactics”…

          • Secundius

            A 33-foot long SPC-LE RHIB will mount a NEMO 120mm Breech-Loading Auto Mortar. Auto-Mortar is Gyro-Stabilized…

          • Marauder 2048

            How do you think Phalanx is aimed?

      • DaSaint

        Agreed. I don’t see why we take so long to figure these rhings out. All ships should have a layered system of defenses. Sure there are only but so many installation points with wide enough arcs of coverage to make sense, I get that. But that shouldn’t preclude a design requirement for at least 3 if not 4 CIWS systems in high-value classes.

      • KenofSoCal

        Amen

    • DaSaint

      Plus they use the same basic components.

    • David Oldham

      Not sure replacing a Phalanx for 11 missiles is the best idea going. Why not spend a little time and money engineering a solution where that didn’t happen.

      • Secundius

        SeaRAM can be HOT SWAPPED at Sea. The Mk.15 Phalanx, takes ~20-minutes to Replace the Magazine by a Well Trained Crew in IDEAL Conditions. Not Something to Look Forward to While Under “Combat” Conditions…

        • snark

          Rapid reloading is a topic near and dear to my heart. Do you know where they’d keep RAM reloads on ship, or you think this would require some delivery coordination?

          • Secundius

            RAM, NO! RAM can ONLY be “Cold Swapped” at a Port Base Facility. SeaRAM can be Replaced a Sea, From a Near By Missile Magazine Store System…

          • USNVO

            Not really understanding your answer.

            The RAM missile can be reloaded at sea if you are using the normal 21 cell launcher or the SeaRAM launcher. If anything, the SeaRAM is slightly more difficult because you have to shut down the search radar on the mount while you change out the missile canister, which you wouldn’t have to do on the stand alone launcher.

            In any event, neither system can be “Hot Swapped” as you have to shut off the mount so it doesn’t move suddenly while you have a missile half in the cell. Even then, both RAM and SeaRAM can be reloaded much faster than a phalanx and can be restored to operation must faster during the reloading process if required.

          • Secundius

            There’s NO Reload Station Next to RAM! ENTIRE “RAM” Stanflex Module has to be Lifted Off the Ship by Crane and Replaced by another Stanflex RAM Module Like Replacing the Cylinder of a “Cap and Ball Black-Powder Revolver”. Great for the USCG, But Not Practical on a Naval Combat Ship. SeaRAM, is like using a “Speedloader”…

          • USNVO

            Take a look at the Wikipedia page for RAM, they have a great picture of the reloader (pretty much the same for both launchers), it is basically a chain hoist. The missiles come in containers prepackaged in a tube and are treated as a wooden round. Slide the old tube out, slide the new tube in, and do the BIT test. That’s it, you don’t even need to use a chain hoist if the launcher, either a MK49 or a SeaRAM, is accessible from the deck. For instance, in a past life, I watched numerous rounds loaded in the test launcher on the David R. Ray by hand since the launcher was mounted on the fantail. It doesn’t take very long.

          • Secundius

            A Dutch Company is Studying the Possibility of Modifying a Mk.32 Triple Torpedo Tube Autoloader. To Be Used as an SeaRAM Autoloader…

          • USNVO

            Missiles are stored in a magazine, either by themselves or typically with ESSM on ships so equipped. The Wikipedia page for RAM has a good picture of the reloader, missile tubes, and missile container. The whole evolution can be done easily at sea on either a MK49 or a SeaRAM. On a DDG without a dedicated magazine, they probably keep them in the aviation magazine (since they have VLS for the other missile) but I am only guessing.

      • snark

        1550 round magazine and a 4500 round/min firing rate. If, a really big IF, you are able to hit the incoming target with a two second burst (150 rounds), you get 10 engagements. Three second bursts brings the system down to 6 engagements. CIWS is actually worse.

        I think there’s also concern with CIWS ability to hit some of the new threats… RAM Blk II is pretty sporty.

    • lost cause

      They don’t really overlap on paper. The targeting radar is only line of sight, so the fore and aft mounts can’t really see the same targets…unless you’re planning on pulling a bootlegger turn after you fire a RAM to bring your CIWS to line of sight to shoot. With the speeds and ranges we’re dealing with for these weapons, that’s not happening.

    • Ed L

      i like the idea if they double the number of SeaRam and CIWS on the Burkes. 1 of each is not enough. The USS Biddle and other Cruisers of that class had two of 3inch 50’s mounts replaced with a pair of CIWS One on the port side and one on STBD side just abaft the Funnel. But the best balance class of ship with Missiles and Guns was the Virginia Class Cruisers.

      • delta9991

        Agreed, would love to see a SeaRAM go on the forward position of all IIA and III Burkes with the Phalanx on the back. I think 1 of each is fine though. Navy looks to be extremely competent and confident at “shooting the archer” to decrease the total number incoming (E-2Ds and the carrier air wing are lethal to try and bypass). Anything that gets through that can launch missiles that’ll have to evade SM-2/6, ESSM, SEWIP electronic decoys, and NULKA. The overall number of threats that can get past that is very low, so no need to add weight, expense, or remove other items

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    sounds like a great idea. now all they need to do is put as many as possible of the (Oerlikon 20mm/85 KAA) style on board.

    • DaSaint

      If they have similar arcs of coverage.

      • disqus_zommBwspv9

        I just like the Israeli’s approach to arming their Sa’ar 4.5 missile boats. Plus for a short range boat their Super Dvora Mk II patrol boats are extremely well armed their size.

  • MA

    “Officials with SeaRAM manufacturer Raytheon told reporters on Monday the company was in talks with the service to add the 11 missile system to additional guided missile destroyers beyond the Rota quartet”
    Can this system be reloaded from the ships magazine at sea? Does it need to return to port to reload?

    • USNVO

      Assuming you have spare missiles, yes it can be reloaded very quickly at sea. Probably more time is required to break the reloads out of the magazine than to swap the new missiles in.

      • Ed L

        if they load the missiles by hand they could shave 40 minutes off the time it normally take.

        • USNVO

          I have seen the launcher loaded by hand, it works great as long as you have good access to the rear of the launcher for the ordnance handlers. Otherwise you need to use the chain hoist setup. Either way it is pretty quick.

      • Secundius

        Average Reload Time for SeaRAM is ~25-minutes by Hand in Ideal Conditions with a Crew of 4…

        • USNVO

          Yes, if you load all 11 rounds. Otherwise it’s a couple of minutes to change individual missile tubes. Like I said, it probably would take more time to break the missiles out of the magazine than actually load them in the launcher. And conditions can suck and it would still be easy to reload, just takes a few more people.

          • Secundius

            Back in 2008, the German Navy did it in 23-minutes and 56-seconds with 6-people. To Many People, And Someone Bound to get in the Way…

  • Secundius

    Engagement Range of ~9,000-meters for Mk.15 Mod.31 SeaRAM, as opposed to ~4,000-meters for the Mk.15 Blk.1B Phalanx CIWS…

    • sferrin

      A SeaRAM is useless inside it’s minimum range. Phalanx can be used against speedboats and such almost right up to the ship. A eleven rounds? ELEVEN?

      • ElmCityAle

        MK 38 Mod 2 is the proper gun weapon for that threat, not CIWS. I’d prefer the Israeli Spike missiles, but the US Navy seems uninterested in such superior products – no doubt thanks to some domestic defense firm’s lobbying.

        • Secundius

          The 0.984-inch (25x137mmR) is to Small to be Effective beyond 3,000-meters. The 1.574-inch (40x255mmR) CTA (Cased Telescopic Weapon System) is Effective to 5,000-meters and has a Side-Loader Hopper that can be Change FAR Faster then the 25mm Gun System…

          • sferrin

            Personally I prefer the Millennium gun but its deck requirements don’t lend themselves to being easier dropped in a place that wasn’t designed in from the get go.

          • Secundius

            One Slight Problem Though! Even though it Capable of Firing 200-rpm, Ready Rounds are Limited to 252-rounds

          • sferrin

            And how many 35mm rounds to kill a speedboat? Not many.

          • Secundius

            How Many Speedboats?

        • Marauder 2048

          They’ve fired Griffin from RAM launchers before.

  • Andrew Doolittle

    Nice thread. Again…the US Navy has not engaged in formalized combat in over 70 years now…so a little “fluff” is to be expected I think. There are only two missions on the table both of which are being executed on and neither of which is combat related: keeping open the sea lanes in the South China Sea (not in the US Interest btw) and ballistic missile defense for Western Europe (also not in the US Interest.) So in theory one need not have more than five ships in total with everything else to be provided by the US alliance system (European and East and South Asian Partners.) I would agree having Five Very Impressive Ships™ would be a good thing…but the need for a Navy comes from those who have an interest in these two matters not from the USA. Bahrain is an interesting exception…I think that should fall under Special Operations Command though since we dont need Middle Eastern energy anymore. In fact the USA now exports energy to them.

    • Old Salt

      Did you forget about Operation Praying Mantis?

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    I notice the flight 1 Burkes did not come with helicopter hangers

  • jules rosen

    What can hit 20-100fishing vessels or rubber boats at once? That’s what’s needed

    • Secundius

      Four TWIN M2 “Ma Duece” .50-Caliber Browning Heavy Machineguns, Mounted of Either Side of the Ship…

  • jules rosen

    We need a 100 + missile short range capacity

  • CommanderBill3

    When the author says SM-2, I think he means SM-3. The SM-2 block 4 is the only SM-2 missile with any BMD capability. There are very few block 4 left in the fleet. The SM-6 has some BMD capability but it is not clear is the 4 SeaRAM ships are so outfitted. Moreover some of the Burkes have quad packed evolved Sea Sparrow missiles that fit nicely in that midrange. However with the radar searching space for targets the SeaRAM fills the need rather nicely.