Home » Budget Industry » NAVSEA: Navy Hybrid Path to 355-Ship Fleet Could Only Take 10 to 15 Years


NAVSEA: Navy Hybrid Path to 355-Ship Fleet Could Only Take 10 to 15 Years

A crane moves the lower stern into place on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) at Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va. on June 22, 2017. US Navy Photo

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The Navy could reach a 355-ship fleet by 2030 if it both extended the service life of most of its current ships and built more than two dozen new ships beyond current shipbuilding plans, two admirals said this week.

Neither approach is sufficient on its own – service life extension programs (SLEPs) help get the Navy there faster, and accelerating shipbuilding is needed to then keep the fleet at that larger size. But, speaking at the American Society of Naval Engineers’ annual Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) commander Vice Adm. Tom Moore and NAVSEA Deputy Commander for Surface Warfare (SEA 21)/Commander of Navy Regional Maintenance Centers Rear Adm. Jim Downey said the Navy is embracing a hybrid approach that would get the service to a 355-ship fleet in 10 to 15 years, compared to a 30-year timeline with new construction alone.

Moore said Tuesday at the conference that the Navy was asking for funding to build nine ships in Fiscal Year 2018 and would ask for even more in 2019. Though the Navy’s plans for future shipbuilding are likely to change with the release of Defense Secretary James Mattis’ National Defense Strategy later this year, Moore said that “we’ve done some detailed studies with industry, we think we can actually build an additional 27 ships on top of [current shipbuilding plans] in the next decade through the use of things like economic order quantities, bulk buys. And I would tell you that industry is ready to go if we can provide them a stable, predictable plan going forward to build more ships.”

Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), delivers an opening address during the Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium 2017 on Aug. 15, 2017. US Navy Photo

On extending the life of existing surface ships, Moore said “it’s not a lot of extra money” in the big picture to keep each ship around for another five to 10 years, and from a technical standpoint it can “absolutely” be done.

“You can get up to a number pretty close to 355 by about 2030, compared to 2047,” through the SLEP effort, he said.
“We’re off looking at that, obviously we’ve got to go look from a budget standpoint at what that means to us. But if you’re talking just a pure technical case, absolutely from a technical standpoint you can keep the ships longer.”

Capt. James Downey, then-DDG 1000 program manager, speaks to assembled crew and guests in the hangar bay aboard the future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) following a transfer of ownership ceremony on May 20, 2016. US Navy photo.

Downey elaborated on the topic during two panel discussions at the conference. He explained that the Navy is looking at conducting one additional docked maintenance availability for the ships, which could buy the Navy something in the range of five to 10 more years of life from each ship.

“How do you get to the 355? We’ve been working on this around the last month or so, we’re going to have updates over the next one to two months but in essence you can get to 355, from what early projections are showing us, in half to two-thirds the time instead of just going straight new construction,” Downey said on Tuesday.
“And what that is is, other than MCMs and PCs, it’s basically SLEP the entire Navy. I won’t comment on nuclear ships right now, but it’s everything else – essentially one more docking to get as many more years as we can out of all those ships. … In that SLEP effort, we’re also looking at whether we can extend LCSs at least five more years as well.”

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson previously said the Navy was looking at extending the life of its destroyers, but Downey confirmed the Navy is now looking at extending its surface combatants, amphibious ships and even some logistics ships.

Downey further addressed the topic on Wednesday, adding that the Navy can only get to about 310 ships without the SLEPs and without accelerating shipbuilding. If both new construction and SLEPs are leveraged, on the other hand, the Navy can get to a fleet of more than 360 ships by 2037, just 20 years from now.

USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) before the christening ceremony at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine on Oct. 31, 2015. US Marine Corps Photo

“Where we are in the analysis right now is a combination of efforts: accelerating new construction, as well as SLEPing the ships. And where new construction would take you out to beyond 2040 or 50 to potentially get [to 355 ships], it looks like in the late ‘20s to early ‘30s you could get there with a combination of acceleration and SLEPing the rest of the classes,” Downey said, adding that it would cost in the tens of billions of dollars to SLEP and continue to operate these existing ships but would cost hundreds of billions of dollars to get to 355 with all new construction.

A previously discussed idea to bring Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates back into service seems to be losing steam, though. Though there has been some talk of bringing back these inactive ships, many of which are slated for foreign military sales – CNO Richardson previously said the Navy was looking at the idea, and Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft recently suggested the Navy bring them back but not bother to invest in high-end combat systems, instead relegating the frigates to supporting Coast Guard law enforcement detachments in U.S. 4th Fleet – there seems to be much less interest in doing so than there is for extending the lives of still-active warships.

“We also don’t want to leave any rock unturned, so we’re going to take a look at the ships that are in the inactive fleet today, see if there may be some relevance in there as well. Most of the ships are older and probably don’t have any utility for us, but we’re going to take a pretty close look to convince Congress and Navy leadership that we’re not leaving any rock unturned,” Moore said.

Downey said he was going to brief new Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer on the frigate re-activation study this month, but both he and Moore sounded less positive about the cost-benefit of doing so.

The Navy recently spent nine months returning two frigates to service for Taiwan, at a cost of just shy of $100 million per ship.

USS Reuben James (FFG-57) in 2012. US Navy Photo

“That’s for Taiwan’s requirements, that combat system is not a system we currently use,” Downey said. He noted the U.S. Navy sometimes uses inactive ships as parts donors to support active ships, and addressing those hull, mechanical and equipment (HM&E) deficiencies, along with installing sufficient combat systems and command, control, computers, communications and intelligence (C4I) systems, could bring the cost up to hundreds of millions of dollars per hull.

“They really don’t have a combat system on today, in most cases we’ve taken what little combat system they had off. And what combat system they had was obsolete and not used today,” Moore said.
“So if you wanted to use them for operating in the 4th Fleet [area of responsibility], I think that’s probably something that we could go look at as an idea … but I think it comes down to, again, what’s the investment that you’d have to make in those ships to get them into a material condition from an HM&E perspective to go do those missions? We’ve taken a quick look at that, it’s something probably on the order of $75 million per ship, just a rough guess, to bring those back – and that’s really without a combat system on it, so then you’d have to go talk about, what do you want to put on it for some basic level of navigation, communication. So we’ll look at it and I think that’s going to be in the next discussion.”

Moore concluded, “it’s not in my lane to make this call, but if you had a ship that could only do this one mission in the 4th Fleet AOR, is that good enough?”

  • Rob C.

    I wonder how effective SLEPing older units will be. The problem is you got a hull, but will it be still effective? Perry-Class Frigates are de-missiled to the point their oversize/undergunned gun boats without it’s signature missile launcher. Then there how much life you can get out physical hull and the obsoletion rate. DDG-51s are properly going be only way they get to that fleet to that number, given the Burkes are still in production. However, when will the age of the hull and systems that lie in get to cost that exceeds the value of the hull?

    It’s shame there isn’t enough existing shipyards left in the US that could be used to build additional units or new designs. It’s congress fault for cutting budgets and changing requirements for new units to the point that costing corners ends up racking the cost for new ships since no one was able keep up with standards the Congress was placing on the service. Heck a new design is major undertaking, only cost savings that is gained is when the ships are in production to begin with. Zumwalts would been cheaper and potentially more effective if the initial costs had skyrocket when doubts about the design came up. They got more expensive since cost saving of essentially mass-production was lost when units were reduced to three from thirty. Zumwalts are turning into white elephants because it’s various weapon systems including it’s main guns and high-tech ammunition were cut in production.

    Its too expensive to have a one-off ship to try new things on (so much you can do with existing older design like the exUSS Paul F. Foster

    • johnbull

      Good points. The Burkes are the only game in town if your actually talking about expanding production of existing ships. They darned good ships, but they can’t be the only tool in the box. We still need a competent frigate and desperately need a good modern cruiser to replace the Ticonderogas.

      • Duane

        The Navy is at work now developing requirements for the new frigates, and after that is ready to go to funding and procurement, then a follow-on to the Ticonderogas is a likely follow up.

        We also have to figure out how other parts of the networked force can work to get better leverage out of the hulls we have. Like putting offensive firepower on amphibs and even auxiliaries. The Navy is working on that too.

        The number of hulls is just a number. Capability and capacity are what we’re after, in the proper combination, in the most economical distribution.

      • James B.

        Ticos will probably be replaced by increased purchases of the Flight III or whatever DDG edition we are building in the 2020s, aside from missile capacity, they’ll have everything the CGs have but better.

        I agree that we desperately need a real frigate, but a frigate that knows its place as an escort, not something trying to be a baby destroyer. A 5000-7000t mini-DDG will have a fraction of the capacity with most of the big DDG’s pricetag, because it’d have all the expensive stuff, just less of the cheap steel. An ASW frigate that doesn’t pretend to be anything else could be made cheaper than an LCS (take an LCS, cut all the unnecessary things off) and would fill an essential niche.

        • sferrin

          “Ticos will probably be replaced by increased purchases of the Flight III or whatever DDG edition we are building in the 2020s, aside from missile capacity, they’ll have everything the CGs have but better.”

          Yeah, that’s probably the worst thing they could do so that’s what they will do.

          • James B.

            What would be specifically terrible about an Arleigh Burke-derivative cruiser? The new CG design could have a stretched or otherwise redesigned hull, but wildly different machinery or sensors than the contemporaneous destroyers wouldn’t make any sense.

          • Aj jordan

            That’s what I’m saying! Why can’t we just lengthen a Burke about 50ft enough room for 122 vls?!

      • sferrin

        *cough* Zumwalt *cough*. If the navy pulls it’s head out (yeah, fat chance I know) they’ll keep the Zumwalts rolling off the line and use them as the basis of the Ticonderoga replacement. You know, the plan they’ve had for 20 years now.

        • Duane

          That may well be. The Zum is half again bigger than a TICO.

          But let the Navy operate the DDG1000 for a few years to see how it shakes out in the real world. It’s easy to add on vessels, and the Navy will likely ID some improvements to the Zum before committing to larger class.

    • DaSaint

      Bingo! You hit the nail on the head. More yards competing for shipbuilding contracts are required. The problem is that if we’re going to SLEP all these ships, they need to go to experienced yards, and real estate is finite. That will most likely take capacity away from the ability to build.

      The alternative is to let second-tier yards do the SLEP work, but that isn’t likely to happen. The maritime industrial base needs to be reinvigorated, and it needs to be a national priority. I’ve said it before, but the Perry’s were not only good ships (good, not great), but they were built in yards that no longer do shipbuilding, and only one of which remains and does shiprepair (Todd Seattle, now Vigor).

      It needs to be recognized as something of a coup when Eastern Shipbuilding won the OPC contract. Not since Derecktor (their NY and Connecticut yards built 9 of the Bear class) or Tacoma Boatbuilding (built 4 Bear class), has a smaller yard done relatively large combatants.

      Prior to the LCS, all major surface warship production is done by Bath (General Dynamics) and Ingalls (Huntington Ingalls). And if the NSC-variant wins the day, then the 2 yards doing the LCS classes may very well shut down also, as Ingalls would grab another major surface warship, to add to their complete monopoly on Amphibs. Newport News (Huntington Ingalls) has the absolute monopoly on carriers. Newport and Electric Boat (General Dynamics) have the absolute monopoly on SSNs/SSBNs. And NASSCO (General Dynamics again), gets (most? all?) the auxiliaries and support vessels.

      So basically, all major combatants and amphib shipbuilding contracts go to 3 companies various divisions. So while I do have issues with the LCS, I’m ecstatic that smaller yards have been able to participate, and I don’t believe it’s any accident that those vessels weren’t better specified or armed, as it is my personal belief that the powers that be (cough, cough) did not want anything to infringe on their fiefdoms. So, all that being said, I will NOT be surprised if the ‘experiment’ of the LCS goes away, and a ‘experienced, competent’ yard such as Ingalls ‘wins’ the FFG contract with either a NSC-variant, or possibly even a licensed-build foreign design.

      But I digress…

      The point is that in order to maximize the productivity and efficiency of our production runs to get to 355 or whatever, we need to have other yards participating in shipbuilding, not just ship repair, and they can’t be the big 3’s yards.

  • DBW86

    Rob you hit the nail on the head when you pointed out the lack of Naval Ship Yards. Congress, led by the lobbyist, had allowed our Defense Industrial Base Giants to castrate all our military services by forcing all competition out of this picture. So today these very few giants tell Congress what THEY want to build and Congress forces that on our military. We need to go back to the Navy having it’s own shipyards for maintenance of it’s ships. The Littoral “combat” Ship is the greatest example of forcing an unwanted program on to an armed forces branch in our nation that has ever occurred. They cannot come close to doing what was promised, they break down or suffer catastrophic failures when attempting to go to sea and are death traps should they ever get near combat. The Navy also needs to look at some of ships our allies are producing for their Navy’s with an eye to adding on our combat systems as a quick alternative, and there are ships that can do the job the Littoral Ships are supposed to be able to do out there. We also need to design and build a new class of nuclear powered cruisers for our carrier fleet, a design that can be produced far faster than in the past that is cutting edge design with capabilities for the future.

    • old guy

      Right on. The Congressional/lobbyist mandated, SWIPE program (Shipyard Welfare Incentive Program, Expensive.) has been a disaster for other yards. A naval Architect that once worked for me lost his job, because the yard he worked for was deemed “Too Small” for Navy programs. They had built Coast Guard Cutters.

      • DaSaint

        Just curious. Was that a Derecktor yard?

        • old guy

          He’d kill me if I said that.

          • DaSaint

            LMAO.

          • Secundius

            I know they (Derecktor Shipyards) Talked about it!/? But DID Derecktor EVER reopen their Rhode Island Facility…

  • Duane

    SLEPing Arleigh Burks certainly makes sense … ditto with CVNs and CGs. Combine that also with distributed lethality, such as equipping amphibs and even auxiliaries with more offensive and defensive systems also leverages the number of effective hulls (more important, actually, than an arbitrary fleet size of X ships).

    • DogoodPatriot

      Getting more years out of the carriers will be limited due to the life of the nuclear fuel. They could go through another refuel and overhaul but at a roughly 7 billion exspense. Without refueling they might can get another deployment or two out of them, the Enterprise lasted 51 years but was refueled more than once and had different reactor core lifecycles than the Nimitz class.

      • Duane

        Your cost for a Nimitz refuel is high … the Nimitz did its mid-life refuel along with a full complex overhaul in the early 00s for a cost of about $2.2B. There’s been some inflation since then, but nowhere near that amount ($7B). The last Nimitz class built came in for a little over that amount for new construction of the entire ship. Per the CPI index, the Nimitz refuel cost in 2017 dollars would be a tad under $3B.

        Considering that in today’s dollars a replacement Ford class costs about $11B, a mid-life refuel and complex overhaul for a Nimitz can make good financial sense.

        • DogoodPatriot

          You are probably correct on the cost, I pulled the 7 b number from the back of my memory on an article I read concerning the refuel and overhaul cost of the class. This was a few years ago though. After researching a bit more I keep finding a number just under 3b.

          But can the industry support RCOH on two carriers at the same time? If it can and the carrier can deploy for another 20 plus years then I’m all for it. It is a cheap way to get to and maintain a 12 carrier navy or more if it is ever desired.

          Last I read the CVN-79 will cost 11.5b but not sure what year dollars. Probably from a few years ago. My feeling is that the Ford class with hover around 12b in non inflation adjusted numbers and hopefully the estimated 4b if lifetime savings over the Nimitz will be accurate.

  • Curtis Conway

    “… [the] idea to bring Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates back into service seems to be losing steam…” however, “We also don’t want to leave any rock unturned…”
    The concept would be to make the investment equivalent to a couple DDG-51s, and receive just under a dozen front line combatant frigates at a West Coast yard that will not have to do extreme heavy rebuild activity, but develop the skill and workforce over time with the FFG-7 upgrade and rebuild activity to lead into joining a follow-on order of FFG(X) in the future. Perhaps Long Beach, CA or Bremerton, WA. A COMBATSS-21 using COTS C4I equipment common with the rest of the fleet just like the LCS or new FFG(X). If the engine room can handle it place an electric motor on the MRG and add a SSGTG. We already know what the hull is capable of, and the upgraded combat system will carry this platform into the next decades, until the FFG/DDG follow-on is ready. Mk41 VLS forward (just like the Aussie upgrade package) and ASuW weapons top side, and off we go. We can upgrade the 76 mm on the way with the smarter more capable ammunition.

    • DaSaint

      Curtis, I admire your dedication to the ‘Bring back the OHPs’ campaign. But it just ain’t happening.

      The brass just basically said it cost almost $100 million per ship (in actuality it was $177 million for both, and they were obtained for ASW duties to replace even more obsolete Knox class FF, as these Perry’s retained the AN/SQR-19 Multi-Function Towed Array), for a 9 month overhaul with a combat system that is ‘not a system we currently use’. Now that can either be read as it’s the original combat system, which is in fact no longer in use, or it can be read that they installed a non-USN combat system. Either way, they basically said they can float and sail, and barely navigate as is.

      But they want to be able to tell Congress that they kicked the tires and they’d rather spend that money on either major combatant SLEP, or FFGs, or even (cough!) LCSs.

      • Curtis Conway

        I hear you. I was just looking at $$$, time, and numbers. The Aussie OHP was probably what a NTU should have been, and the US Navy shrank from the task and built . . . you know what. We all, our nation’s defense, and those Unified Combatant Commanders who did/do not have resources have suffered for it. Sad state of affairs! This kind of mentality is what got people run over in Barcelona. NOT a Sheep Dog mentality!

        • DaSaint

          Agree. Lots of decisions were made that in retrospect should not have been. Unfortunately, we know that it won’t be the last time poor decisions are made. It happens in consensus management processes.

  • Duane

    The Navy has plenty of plans. What they need are the financial authorizations to pay for them. That is Congress’s job, along with the taxpayers.

    • S O

      That’s Congress’ authority, not its job.
      Congress would till do its job if it disbanded the USN tomorrow.

      Armed services are not entitled to get as many public funds as they wish for. The are armed bureaucracies, and behave like bureaucracies. They want more, more, more, more; money, prestige, respect, personnel, power, toys.
      There are civilian overlords (not bank accounts) to this to push the bureaucracy towards serving the common good, away from serving their self-interest. This has been neglected in the U.S., especially regarding the armed services because Americans are so submissive to them that they don’t think of them as the bureaucracies that they are.

  • john

    Just build one more Burke (along with one more Virginia class SSN) a year. Why spend $800M a ship for a frigate when it is doubtful that three of them would survive an encounter with an Arleigh Burke destroyer? A Burke and an SSN. $4B a year. And you add 24 new combat ships by 2032. They are certainly the two most important naval platforms out there. However there would be a considerable expense building new shipyards.

    • DogoodPatriot

      Why would there be a need to build new shipyards?

    • airider

      The costs aren’t in the purchase price but in the sustainment. Right now NAVSEA is focusing on meeting a time and numbers demand. Change that demand to capability and numbers, or capability and time and you come up with different results. I think the time and numbers demand is the wrong focus. While Admiral Downey is right that a SLEP would get us there, the particulars of the SLEP is where the uncertainty lies.

      Exhibit A: Aegis Mod scaling back quite a bit due to costs and time to do the mod. The time needed causes these ships to be offline for a year+ which impacts the fleet and runs other ships harder.

  • CurtNewton

    Perry-class frigates are a good stop-gap solution to the problem of returning to a 300-ship Navy. However, we should consider the entire threat spectrum from brown water to littoral to blue water. When we do, we seem to want to apply deep water hulls to shallow water problems. The current disaster of the LCS ships with their engine issues just don’t cut the mustard. The DDG-1000 White Elephants are too expensive to use and experience problems as well. Thus the question: are we wanting 300 ships for more Captains or do we want to project power effectively?

    Back in the ’90s, a series of fictional books authored by a former NRL engineer was published. This series postulated a solution to littoral/brown water threats by using modified LCAC/air cushion boats helicopters and Marines based upon an old LPD or LPH hull. For what the Navy is currently considering for a re-build, this solution would save money, give Captains a Task Force for command and reduce the threats in a fast, effective manner.

    • old guy

      You’re exactly correct. The nonsense of “Ship Count” js almost irelevant to an EFFECTIVE Navy that meets the challenge of current and future threats.

  • Grimwald

    And the plans to enlist, train, and pay for the additional personnel.

  • Grimwald

    Navalize the USCG. Now you have the hull count and the personnel for no additional cost. Everyone claims victory.

    • publius_maximus_III

      We do in times of war. Drug chasers become sub chasers.

      • Grimwald

        Exactly…so we should just count them now.

        • Aj jordan

          I second that….. The USCG has around 200 cutters , and a 1000 small craft…… And the Chinese do the same thing ,some of their naval forces are their coast guard.

  • NEC338x

    Likely we get a new BRAC shutting down SIMA facilities to free up money to be mis-spent elsewhere.

  • sferrin

    Yep, a damn shame they sank almost the entire Spruance class, complete with their Mk45 guns and VLS systems. Brilliant plan there for damn sure.

    • Aj jordan

      The navy Sinkexing the old hardy sprucans still has me punching walls…. I mean cmon some of those hulls barely had 20 years on their belt man !

  • Duane

    You’re confusing plans with funded actions. It’s the funded actions that are lacking, not plans. The Navy is clear in stating it’s plans and intentions, but if the dollars ain’t there, because Congress did not appropriate them, then the dollars ain’t there. The dilemma of the Navy, and the other services, is that Congress and Presidents have not lessened their burdens, while they have lessened their funding.

  • LowObservable

    Has the USN considered a follow up to a networked missile armed Cyclone class PC?

  • Deplorable Erik Dee

    Completely agree. I took a tour of the Independence and was appalled at what a wasteful showboat it was. All I could think was this was a toy showboat or a proof of concept to dazzle ignorant politicians into pouring money into a flawed concept.

    • Duane

      It’s the cheapest warship we have today, and the most capable littoral warship in the world, which is its role, which is a necessary role. It may not look like 20th century warship, but its looks are a case of form following function. It looks that way in order to do what it is required to do.

      • Deplorable Erik Dee

        To be fair, I saw it as a great special forces platform. Say insertion for teams, c3 for such ops, working with an amphib group, extractions, SAR, etc. It has a nice landing deck for helos and the ability to deploy small watercraft is handy.

        For actual combat abilities though I don’t see it. We would be better off ordering a Navy version of the National Security Cutter and/or restoring (what’s left of) Perry class frigates.

        I don’t see there value given how expensive they have already proven and their underwhelming performance. We’ll know soon enough (they just deployed the Freedom in January) how survivable they are in combat. There is a lot of pessimism in that regard as well.

        • Duane

          Well, I respectfully disagree with your point on combat. The ship’s sensors, platforms (own ship, aircraft – manned and UAV, and UUVs), and munitions, both offensive and defensive, are designed specifically to excel in the littoral environment. With the addition of OTH ASMs, it will be able to go toe to toe with any warship afloat. It already has been demo fired with NSMs (the likely winner in the current RFP) and Harpoon Block 2s, will shortly be demo’d with LRASM, our most capable ASM though it is still in development.

          The ASW module, to be IOC next year, will be the most capable we have in terms of sonar sensors, processors, as well as aircraft. The MCM module, to be ready in 2019,will make the LCS the most heavily armed MCM vessel in the world, and equipped with the safest mine detection and sweeping system, because it is unmanned.

          • Deplorable Erik Dee

            We’ll see how she does in actual combat and with the new systems. I’ll be eager to read up on the results. On another note, how do you feel about the aluminum superstructure? The reduced weight is a huge benefit but if there is a bad fire…

          • Duane

            The Navy has built a lot of aluminum superstructures to reduce topside weight, including the OHP frigates., amphibs, and the Ticos. The fire hazard is reduced with proper insulation design and firefighting systems. The LCS are not unique in having aluminum topside, but the independence is rather unique in the aluminum hull.

          • Aj jordan

            Which if we remember the saudi ship that got decimated last year or even the hms Sheffield in the Falklands war, aluminium isn’t effective at protection period.

          • Duane

            The best defense for any ship is offense – it’s weapons. Anti-boat, anti-drone, anti-missile, anti-aircraft. Virtually any vessel or aircraft can deliver a weapon that can penetrate the hull and multiple decks of any ship afloat. Even the heavily armored battlewagons of World War 1 and 2 proved vulnerable to air dropped bombs that did not need to penetrate the thick belt armor topsides.

          • Aj jordan

            I don’t know Duane , I feel as though if Sheffield had been built like a Burke , it would’ve played out a little differently…. Heavy Armor still has a place in naval warfare…..

          • Duane

            The cost curve always favors the munition over armor. Way cheaper to build and operate counter-munitions than to add armor. That wasn’t always true, but it began to be true in World War Two, and is much more true today. The aircraft carriers in WW Two had virtually no armor, but were much more survivable than the battlewagons – all because of their counter-munitions, in the form of carrier based fighters. Indeed, the battlewagons were reduced to accompanying carrier battle groups in order to survive.

            In fact, it actually began to be true in the middle ages, when castles were suddenly obsoleted when siege cannon showed up. Virtually overnight, castle-building ceased. Even super-thick masonry forts as continued to be built into the mid-19th century could not survive the appearance of rifled cannon.

            That, and the lack of need of big guns, is why the battlewagons were obsoleted in World War Two, and no nation has produced one since.

          • Aj jordan

            So even though a rocket assisted 16in shell is cheaper, it’s still better to spam million dollar tomahawks on the regular? And millions spent and lives risked utilizing navy planes?

          • Duane

            First of all, a rocket assisted 16 in shell is going to be no cheaper than a typical ASM.

            Second, you’re ignoring the cost of the platform. It takes a 55,000 ton battlewagon to fire those 16 in guns .. in today’s dollars, a new BB would likely cost upwards of 6 to 10 B to buy vs. $2B for a AB Flt III or $400M for an LCS … and would be impossibly costly to operate, compared to an Arleigh Burke DDG or even an LCS with OTH ASMsthat can pack the same explosive power but do it with a hull displacing 3,400 tons to 9,000 tons, and with a crew of less than 100 to maybe 300, as compared to a crew of 2,500. Just imagine the fuel costs to power the one vs. the other. It adds up real fast.

            In fact, you don’t even need a ship at all to carry our biggest and best ASM, the LRASM – all you need is an aircraft, a Super Hornet, a F-35,or a B1B. You could probably launch one from a C-130J, or even a new generation drone. Way cheaper platform than any ship.

          • Aj jordan

            -The rocket assisted 16in shell was estimated to cost only around $230,000 adjusting for 1990s dollars around maybe 300,000 today….. -That 55,000 ton hull offers more armored protection , than a tin can destroyer – NAVSEA’s 1993 Iowa class modernization estimated costs to around 700-800 million , adjusting for inflation that’s around 800-900 million maybe a billion per ship, well worth the capability they bring. – Navsea projected only an 800 man crew for the Iowa’s after their proposed 1993 upgrade , a future designed BB could have even fewer -my main argument are BBs being premier land attack platforms , and you talk as if they’d be devoid of VLS cells , even though I mentioned they’d be packed with around 90-122 and will be able to incorporate every missle in the US navy’s arsenal utilizing the strike length cells.

          • Duane

            There’s no way that kind of shell will cost any less than $1.0 to $1.5M a round unless it’s unguided, in which case it’s useless.

          • Aj jordan

            Base line unaltered 16in shell cost in early 2000’s was roughly $500 per shell, when you add on all the guided and rocket assisted kit, it was indeed around half a million, I say “around “because of inflation, it could be slightly more now, but bottom line is it doesn’t cost nowhere near as much as a friggin tomahawk missle…… In essence it’s just one big Jdam bomb shot out a rifle barrel…… How much do jdams cost a pop for price comparison?

          • Phaeton

            “Base line unaltered 16in shell cost in early 2000’s was roughly $500 per shell”
            No,it wasn’t.In early 2000s it wasn’t in production for SIXTY YEARS.

          • Aj jordan

            Look at the article G2 MIL 21st century battleships for reference…..

          • Phaeton

            I did.Cost of the round is pulled out of rear end.First of all,it’s probably 1945 dollars,and even then it’s irrelevant because means of production have been lost.Establishing them anew will cost…err….think billions for lines alone

          • Aj jordan

            Theirs over 15,000 16in projectiles that are still stored at crane Indiana, that’s owned by the US Army oddly enough, but anyway we mass produced so many shells that we still have left overs……it’s Finite but that’s still alot.

          • Phaeton

            Ironically,shells after seventy years in storage should be pretty much OK.
            Kinda.It’s not a lot,but it’s larger in comparison than,for example,the entire planned production run of overthehorizon missiles for LCS and FF(which is eight missiles per ship)
            But the modification costs for 16 inches are horrendous.Nobody is alive who knows how to handle it.Strike that.Who cares about rounds.
            Let’s assume that these are free,OK?
            Barrels haven’t been in production since 40’s,too.And these have VERY short lifespan.Which is measured in shots.How many barrels are in storage?
            OK,let’s assume that barrels are widely available.Let’s assume that US has all the barrels for Montanas AND Iowas in storage.
            What are the proposed targets?

          • Aj jordan

            And thanks for the cost correction I forgot to correct for inflation.

          • Phaeton

            I’m pretty sure it wasn’t you,but that captain that have written the article back in 97.In comparison,average wage back in ’41 was 1500 dollars,so 500 bucks then is fifteen thousand now AT LEAST.
            But even that is questionable,because crowbar round for M1 costs twelve thousand.

          • Secundius

            Unit Cost for 16-inch projectile was $500.00 USD in 1939, NOT 1945. With Inflation, SAME 16-inch projectile would cost ~$8,742.36 USD…

          • Aj jordan

            Thanks for correction, but that’s still really good cost wise……

          • Secundius

            Maybe NOT!/? In 1939 a Triple Gun Turret for the 16-inch Naval Artillery Gun cost ~$1.4-Million USD each LESS Guns. In 2017, that same Turret costs ~$24.478-Million USD apiece. On top of that, the Negative Side!/? In 3 October 2016, the US Army was Ordered to DISPOSE of ~15,595 16-inch/50-caliber Ordnance Projectiles that were Stored at the Crane Army Ammunition Activity Depot in Indiana. The 110-pound and 154-pound Cordite Silk Bagged Propellant Charges were dismantled so the “Cordite” could be used for other things. It would mean Starting from “Scratch”…

          • BlueSky47

            yep, I agree Duane, it’s all about “offense” as you say, that little 57mm pee shooter is going to waste the Chinese missile boats coming at it. In fact, they’ll be so scared they’ll simple stay in port.

          • Duane

            No, the 57mm is not an anti-missile weapon. That is taken care of by the SeaRam, our finest close in anti-missile system, the same one used on the Ford and Nimitz carriers and our newest Arleigh Burke DDGs.

            The 57mm is primarily a weapon for taking out small boat swarms and drones – it is the finest such weapon in the world, with extreme rapid fire (220 rpm), long range (to 9,000 yards), and self guided dual mode seeker one shot/one kill munitions.

            Additional layers of protection against small boats and drones comes from the 16-cell vertical launch Hellfire mount, good to 5 nm, and close in, the twin 30mm Mk 44 Bushmaster 30mm mounts.

            For taking out the big boys, the Navy is now buying OTH missiles for the LCC- the most likely winner for the RFP released in June is the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile – a 110 nm range, medium weight ASM with a 288 pound warhead and the world’s most advanced seekers with anti-counterfire defenses. This missile is far more capable than the antiship missiles on our CGs and DDGs. And within 1-2 years, the LCS will also mount LRASM, which is a much longer ranged, larger warhead missile also with advanced 2-way networked trimode seeker.

          • Deplorable Erik Dee

            Ok that was what I was thinking. I confused the aluminum hull of the Independence with the mixed attributes of the Freedom.

          • BlueSky47

            if there’s any shooting happening anywhere, the ONLY thing the LCS can do is run-away (then again, you can’t outrun a missile)

      • BlueSky47

        In other words, a 3,000 ton, $700M ship to scare off a bunch of terrorists running around in rubber dingies with RPG’s and machine guns, sounds like a true WARSHIP to me LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL, “most capable in the world” brahahahahahahahaha

        • Duane

          3,400 ton, $400 M ship for dealing with all the enemies and threats in the littoral. With the best OTH antiship missiles our Navy has today – better than the ASMs on any of our CGs and DDGs – the Kongsberg NSM. Far more capable than the Harpoons on our existing VLS equipped warships.

          • Phaeton

            “With the best OTH antiship missiles our Navy has today”
            I think you need to stop right there.Even discounting that NSM is a thing made on the cheap for a pocket navy,the only”OUR”navy that has access to it is Norwegian.And by the time it’s changed,either LRASM or ASTomahawk will become a thing.
            ” Far more capable than the Harpoons”
            With half of warhead mass(or missile mass,for that matter)of course it is.It’s CHEAPER,yes.

          • Duane

            Kongsberg-Raytheon is responding to the June RFP, will be the likely winner, and has already been sea tested on LCS.

          • Phaeton

            “will be the likely winner”
            THEN STOP TALKING LIKE IT ALREADY HAPPENED!It didn’t.
            It won’t happen till FY 2020 regardless of winning design.
            “sea tested on LCS”
            Still not an IOC,much less FOC,much less for entire fleet.
            And,of course,there is this little problem than NSM,you know,sucks in any and all respects except cost and size.Since this is USN,cost will skyrocket anyways,so,the question is,why would NSM be selected?
            Answer is,of course,lies in TLRD.
            Which is classified secret.It’s pretty easy to remove competition though.
            Require range of 50 miles and mass of “less than 1200 pounds”and all competition goes away instantly,because it’s not worth the costs of castrating Harpoon for total of 320 procured missiles over the next thirty or so years.

          • Duane

            The NSM was fired from an angled canister deck launcher on an LCS last year. A Harpoon Block 2 was also fired from the same type of launcher on another LCS last year. Both classes (Freedom and Independence) had successful deck launches of these mid-size ASMs last year. Boeing has withdrawn its Harpoon Block 2 because it was not responsive to the RFP requirements, hence Kongsberg is already the apparent winner. Boeing is continuing development of its Block 2 ER, which has longer range comparable to the NSM a a new networked multi-mode seeker similar to the NSM, but it hasn’t been test fired yet and is not yet ready for purchase.

            The OTH missile RFP for LCS has already been on the street for 2 months now. Figure on another six months to complete the evaluation and negotiate a contract – the NSM purchases will begin by early 2018. Two deck launchers have already been installed on LCS… but they’re not big enough to handle LRASM,

            An LRASM sized canister launcher for the LCS was ground tested successfully a few weeks ago at White Sands, a sea test on an LCS will take place early next year, and assuming it is also successful, LRASM-capable deck launchers will become the standard. The LCS will start being equipped with NSM next year, and perhaps another year or so later, they will also include LRASM in a mix of medium and heavy ASMs – by far the most capable ASMs of any Navy in the world.

          • Phaeton

            “The NSM was fired from an angled canister deck launcher on an LCS last year. ”
            And nobody cares,because it’s not integrated with LCS systems.You can fire Club-K from an LCS.It’s equally meaningless.
            “Boeing has withdrawn its Harpoon Block 2 because it was not responsive to the RFP requirements”
            Because of course one of the best subsonic ASMs on the planet aren’t able to fit the requirements.Which speaks volumes about people who drafted them,but not so much about requirements.I’ve read these that are public,BTW.
            For starters,logistics is one of the least important things on the planet.
            No land attack mode,because Operation Trident never happened.
            Early delivery is worthless,which means that something like two LCS per year,starting in 2020,will be equipped with these,
            ” the NSM purchases will begin by early 2018″
            No,they won’t.They aren’t in the budget till 2020.
            Range is NOT relevant,as long as SWAP-C is met.Literally,NSM might have low-high-low range of forty miles.
            No in-flight updates.No datalinks,either.
            NO LETHALITY REQUIREMENTS!
            /facepalm
            /psyduck
            ” the Kongsberg NSM. Far more capable than the Harpoons ”
            What are you smoking?
            “An LRASM sized canister launcher for the LCS ”
            Irrelevant.It was withdrawn.
            “LRASM-capable deck launchers will become the standard”
            Not on this planet,because both LCS and FF will be equipped with NSM.
            ” The LCS will start being equipped with NSM next year”
            Not on this planet,because procurement of live missiles isn’t in the budget till 2020.
            ” they will also include LRASM”
            They will NEVER include LRASM,because a single system will be chosen to equip both LCS and FF,and LRASM was withdrawn.
            ” by far the most capable ASMs of any Navy in the world.”
            Except NSM is piece of junk(admittedly,cheap and lightweight),while LRASM is Shipwreck without speed,armor,range or countermeasures,but three decades late to the party.
            And,of course,LRASM will never be installed on LCS and FF because see above.

          • Duane

            It was integrated with the LCS fire control system. The NSM is also equipped with 2-way comms for integration into NIFCCA, so it can collect mid-course data from virtually any source, including manned and unmanned aircraft and other ships. All it needs is initial target data and then it’s on its own, with its own on-board seekers and the 2-way comms.

          • Phaeton

            “so it can collect mid-course data from virtually any source”
            Except the version for USN,because,and i quote,”mid-course updates WILL NOT BE PROVIDED”.
            Gods it’s easy to humiliate ignorant people with contract quotes.
            That being said,it’s not like that missile with range as low as twenty miles(assuming capital warship range as 80 miles,horizon as 10 miles and knowing that missile range of CWR-60 is acceptable) really needs updates…
            “It was integrated with the LCS fire control system”
            Such integration isn’t in the budget till FY2019.

          • Duane

            All long range ASMs can at best get only initial target data from own ship, since surface search radar only works out to at most 30nm. Therefore all long range ASMs either supply their own data mid-course and terminal seeker data, or they get it off-board from NIFCCA. The Joint Strike Missile variant of NSM does indeed use 2-way comms specifically to link into NIFCCA. We haven’t seen Kongsberg-Raytheon’s submittal for the OTH but it’s highly likely that feature will be part of the NSM proposal.

            You’re truly a Russian legend in your own mind.

          • Phaeton

            “All long range ASMs can at best get only initial target data from own ship”
            Pretty much,yes.
            “Therefore all long range ASMs either supply their own data mid-course and terminal seeker data”
            First of all,NSM is not a long-range missile.Not even by 70’s standards.
            Next,standard procedure for short-range missiles is flying to the target area and engaging terminal seeker,attacking targets as programmed.
            Which it’s safe to assume that missile with range as low as twenty miles can do before targets change location.
            “The Joint Strike Missile variant of NSM ”
            Is entirely irrelevant to the discussion.Not only it’s even farther from production and deployment,but everything points out to the fact that it’s entirely different missile.Different airframe,warhead that isn’t as pathetically light,increased range…
            “that feature will be part of the NSM proposal”
            No,because see quote above.This feature was NOT proposed because it will be NOT paid for.
            Nor will it affect contract decision in any way.
            Granted,at this point not many things can actually affect that decision,with NSM the only thing that remains.Gods i would like to know these requirements.Weight no less than 400 and no more than 420 kilograms?Well,no-go at higher than 500 would’ve done the trick,actually.

          • Duane

            110 nm today. That’s about as long range as you get in a mid-sized ASM, while the Harpoon Block 2 ranges only to 67 nm. You have to go to large (2,000 pound class) to get very long range, like the LRASM (350+ nm with the standard 1,000 pound warhead; LM is also working on a longer range version with a smaller, 350 pound warhead, reported to get up to 1,000 nm).

            Of course, our ASMs are also air launched, which with aerial refueling, gives effectively unlimited range. Both NSM and LRASM come in air-launched versions. Both are also network-enabled to both send and receive targeting data from any other node in NIFCCA, such as other ships, and aircraft (the F-35 has already successfully fed targeting data to a ship launched ASM under NIFCCA). Your buddy Vlad could only dream of such capability.

          • Phaeton

            “110 nm today”
            I’m sorry,but no.That’s the range pulled from Wikipedia.Which means it’s wrong.The idea that a missile half the size of Harpoon can boast similar range is pretty laughable.To any sane person.
            “gives effectively unlimited range”
            No,it means”strike package is shot down by enemy interceptors.And SAMs”
            “Both NSM and LRASM come in air-launched versions. ”
            Entirely irrelevant for reasons stated above.
            ” Both are also network-enabled”
            Lie,because NSM for USN is NOT network-enabled,JSF is a different missile,while LRASM is withdrawn from the competition.
            “Your buddy Vlad could only dream of such capability”
            I don’t have buddies called that,however,networking data for long-range anti-ship missiles is something Soviet Union did since the 70’s.
            Ignorant sheep like you wouldn’t know things like that though.
            Now you know.And knowing is half a battle.
            Other half,to quote Bismark,
            “make a good treaty with Russia”.

          • Duane

            It is what it is, guy. The NSM weighs considerably less than Harpoon Block 2 (900 lb vs. 1,523 lb), due to several design factors including a lower weight warhead and lightweight construction with ample use of composites. It’s a product of 2010s technology, while the Harpoon was the product of 1970s technology.

            Even a Russian troll ought to be able to understand that, and stop his silly ignorant laughing.

        • Phaeton

          Well,it has a speed of torpedo boat and displacement of small Russian amphibious assault ship.I guess you can configure it as a really fast troop transport.Carry a squad of tanks and a platoon of infantry.Certainly better firepower than anything LCS will ever carry.
          But all this are merely attempts to salvage the project.

      • Secundius

        Actually there’s one even Cheaper, but it’s a Export Only Vessel!/? The “Ambassador III” class Missile Patrol Boat…

  • Secundius

    I suspect NOT as far as the US Congress, but the US Navy “Might” consider the Move. But then again, the US Navy ISN’T the “Exchequer of the Purse” either. And THERE’s No Profit in Building a Small Vessel, no matter How Capable It Is…

    • old guy

      …..and you can’t make Admiral commanding one

      • Secundius

        Not EVERY US Navy’s Ship’s Captain is like Admiral William “Bull” Halsey!/? Some ACTUALLY care about Fighting and Winning a War, instead of “Chasing Glory” at the Expense of Others…

  • Duane

    Uhh, you do realize that the DDGs are NOT littoral warships. Too deep draft, too slow, not weaponized to deal with the biggest littoral threats (small boat swarms, drone swarms).

    The two LCS classes most certainly are the world’s most capable littoral warships. They were designed, built, and are now operated as such. No other ship on the planet comes remotely close to their capabilities in the littoral.

    • Phaeton

      Oh,you mean littoral as in coastal guard?Pick any Russian corvette designed in the last decade.It’s more’capable in most respects.As far as firepower go-they are simply incomparable.
      LCS are certainly the COSTLIEST littoral warships.And LARGEST.
      Possible the most crew-intensive.
      All these are not good things.
      They are probably fastest though.Which might be nice when running away from enemy torpedoes.
      Russians these days simply install anti-torpedo systems.Gods they are stupid.

      • Duane

        There you go again with your Russian trolling. Please stop.

        • Phaeton

          You can just say that you’re conceding the argument.I’m sure people will understand.

  • Deplorable Erik Dee

    The good news is there is only 1 in the 2018 budget. So don’t despair yet!

  • El Kabong

    I’m not the one with the cranial-rectal conflict.

  • old guy

    When the Spanish Navy fired a comparison test, Harpoon turned out best in range and targeting.

  • Secundius

    Actually not a problem for Wisconsin!/? US Army Corps of Engineer’s had bought Modified Plans for ~37 of the French CNIM (Contructions Industrielles de la Mediterranee) L-CAT-30’s. To be constructed by Fincatieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin. To be designated MSV(L) (Maneuver Support Vessels (Light)). Same Shipbuilder as the Freedom class LCS under the Lockheed-Martin name…

  • Duane

    The LCS would do well, it’s much better equipped to destroy small boat swarms and drone swarms than is a DDG.

  • pioneerlion

    The $$ isn’t there for more new shipbuilding, given the commitments for SSBN(X) Columbia Class and VA Block 5 with VPM, CVN-80 and -81. Estimates probably ~ $10B to $15B extra per year for 10 years to make up the difference via new ship construction, to get the right 350 ship mix with state of the art weapon systems and C4I. Moving to the new Future Surface Combatant, and away from DDG-51 Flight III, will involve lots of new $$ for R&D as well as procurement. Lots of SLEPs cost additional $$Bs in readiness dollars and create gaps in presence and GFM coverage, and a plus-up there is challenging too. Current readiness needs for the ships on hand already costs $B more than anticipated due to the wear and tear current OPTEMPO has put on them. Then, the Navy has to pay $Bs more to crew and maintain all those new/extra ships. Navy has a big strike-fighter shortfall to also pay for. Can’t see the other Services taking it in the shorts for years to plus-up the Navy for new shipbuilding, unless Trump directs it, which is not likely IMHO. Watching the new SECNAV on TV now (Hugh Hewitt’s show) completely unaware that his “aggressive” 350 ship plan is a complete desirement given the lack of TOA to pay for it. Oh, and he threw Tom Dee, fellow Marine, under the bus too. Nice loyalty there SECNAV!