Home » Budget Industry » PEO Ships: Future Surface Combatant Hull Still Undecided, But Will Use Flight III DDG-51 Combat System


PEO Ships: Future Surface Combatant Hull Still Undecided, But Will Use Flight III DDG-51 Combat System

Artist’s concept of a DDG-51 Flight III with AMDR. Raytheon Photo

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s vision of what its next large surface combatant will look like still remains unclear, but that future hull will almost certainly run the DDG-51 Flight III’s combat system, the Program Executive Officer for Ships said today.

Rear Adm. William Galinis said today that the PEO, along with the surface warfare directorate at the Pentagon and other stakeholders, is “still in the very very early stages of concept development” on the large combatant piece of the Future Surface Combatant family of systems.

Despite the Navy’s preference towards using mature parent designs for new programs – like the ongoing frigate competition’s requirement to have a parent design, and leveraging the San Antonio-class LPD design for the LX(R) program – Galinis said no decisions have been made as to whether the Navy would want to use an existing design for its next large combatant, or if a useful design even exists.

What is clear at this point, though, is that “the initial concepts start with a DDG-51 Flight III combat system, and we build off of that. Probably bringing in a new [hull, mechanical and electrical] infrastructure and a new power architecture to support that combat system.”

Speaking at a Navy League breakfast this morning, the rear admiral said the decision to start with the Flight III combat system, which includes the new AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), was based on how technology and global threats are expected to evolve. The combat system could support future weapons such as laser guns, which Galinis said was where technology is headed, though he stopped short of saying definitively that the next large surface combatant would include directed energy technology.

As for the Arleigh Burke-class hull, Galinis said some upgrades were made in the Flight III design – improved damage stability in case the ship were to take a hit, for example – but the Navy isn’t sure how much more that hull can do before hitting its architectural limits. For example, the Navy has tested a laser weapon system on an old amphibious ship that was converted into an afloat staging base, and is set to test the next iteration of the laser weapon on a new amphib, but it declined to use a destroyer to test the next laser gun after evaluating ship classes on their cooling, power, air conditioning, space and weight margins.

“Do we use the DDG-51 hull form and maybe expand that? Do we go with a new hull form? Power architecture is a key part of this, again, as we start thinking about future combat systems, directed energy systems. How does that play into it? So those are the conversations that we’re having right now on the requirements side,” Galinis said.

The service is still wrestling with some fundamental questions ahead of beginning industry engagement, which may happen as early as later this year: “can we stay with the more traditional mechanical drive system with larger generators, or do we really make that transition to an integrated electric plant? And then at some point probably bring in energy storage magazines of some sort to support directed energy weapons?”

The Future Surface Combatant program will include a large combatant – like a cruiser or destroyer, though the Navy is being careful not to use either label for this upcoming ship – a small combatant that would replace the Littoral Combat Ship and frigate, an unmanned surface ship, and now an optionally unmanned ship. PEO Ships will oversee the development and acquisition of the large combatant, and PEO Unmanned and Small Combatants (formerly PEO LCS) will handle the other three.

The Future Surface Combatant initial capabilities document has been signed out by Navy leadership and is pending Joint Staff approval, Galinis said.

  • James B.

    I can believe that the Tico/Burke hull is tapped out for electrical power and cooling, but I fear some dreamers will go full LCS on a new design. It’ll look great in PowerPoint, but it’ll never work for real if they believe the siren songs of revolutionary transformations through paradigm shifts and concurrency.

    Take guts that work (LM2500s and such), build a ship out of them like a child would do with Legos, and use that functional frame to prove the concept works. Then maybe get creative with the subsystems. The last thing we want is a ship that doesn’t work and would be useless even if it did.

    • DaSaint

      Let’s just take the time to do it right. The Spruance hull-form and Burke hull-form are tapped out. And as much as I love the venerable LM2500 gas turbine, it was originally introduced in 1970. Yes, that’s almost 50 years ago! The 4th generation LM2500+G4 version was introduced ‘just’ 13 years ago (2005) and delivers 47,370 shp (35,320 kW) but even that isn’t cutting edge anymore, which is why the Rolls Royce MT30s have started to eat away at GE’s marine turbine market share. The next combatant needs to use 4-6 turbines to generate enough electrical power for systems and propulsion.

      • Rocco

        Agreed…..Or we can put J-79’s in them & Get GE in the market lol!

      • Curtis Conway

        Well . . . I’ll be obstinate and disagree. IMHO it is time for a resurgence of the Surface Nuclear Navy Program in a big way. We are about to leap into space, and nuclear power will be a part of that at some point. Eunice, NM has not grown for no reason at all. Even regional nuclear power plants could become a reality in a couple of decades, maybe sooner. The excess of power provided by such systems, particularly with the new 4160v generation/distribution systems can efficiently service our new weapons that will be coming on-line in the not to distant future. Providing shore power to a distressed region during HA/DR Operations, or a failing nuclear power plant that needs power for the cooling pumps, will be expanded, and guess what is in our future? I’m for a new nuclear capable (wider beam) hull. The design boys just have to remember not to forget about the lessons we learned when designing the DDG-51 hull (wider beam, all steel), only lets make it CANES friendly with fiber optics right out of the box, and BIG copper cable to the Laser landings. This will no doubt be a SQS-53 ship, so the bow sonar will be there. The rapid deployment capability of a Nuclear CSG will have returned and facilitate that very capable rapid response to trouble spots like the Big “E” and Long Beach used to possess. There have been times, and will be more times in the future, when that ‘speed of response’ will come in very handy.

        As for the LM2500+G4 . . . ITEP it! Squeeze some more efficiency out of that baby in the same form factor and hookup. There is no more solid a power plant (Prime Mover) at sea today in such numbers. That single improvement will take the ITEP improvement argument and place it in the greater Surface Navy equation. What a concept! I still have a piece of 2B in my jewelry box which was the only LM2500 I ever saw fail aboard ship. When we got pier side with prearranged crane services, and new engine in the container on the pier, we replaced it in two hours. THAT is also why the Rails should be in every stack. They rarely break, but Murphy is ALIVE AND WELL. The Prime Mover will always break at the most in-opportune time, and time will not be on your side.

        Just my 2ȼ.

        • Secundius

          Murphy maybe Alive and Well, but forget the Idea of putting a Nuclear Reactor on a Stretched Arleigh Burke hulled Destroyer and calling it a Cruiser. Not going to happen…

          • Curtis Conway

            I don’t think the Burke’s beam is wide enough. That hull-form would have to start with the beam requirement to contain/safeguard the plants (2-main machinery spaces), and grow the hull proportionately. This would definitely be a Cruiser hull.

          • Secundius

            I know it’s not wide enough! Engine Room Length just to support the Reactor would exceed 208-feet in length. Which wouldn’t allow much space for anything else…

          • Curtis Conway

            You misunderstand, if the beam is grown to 80+ feet the length would be 620+”.

          • Secundius

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Beam of the Flight III AB’s 72-feet, while the Length remains the same at 509-feet of the Flight IIA AB’s…

          • Curtis Conway

            It may be. Wiki shows 66′ and that’s up to the Flt IIAs (only some Flt III numbers are provided). The Flt III data should be included.

            The nuclear plants must be safeguarded not just fit in the hull, and the USS Virginia (CGN-38) was Length: 585 ft (178 m) Beam: 63 ft (19 m). The point is there is probably room, but extra hull and spaces should be around the nuc plant, and the DDG-51 sea-frame proportions must be maintained for stable operations in the Northern Latitudes in the greatest sea states.

          • Secundius

            Radiation Shielding for the A1B’s are “Old Stock Depleted Uranium”, which is ~2/3rds Dense than Lead and 1-pound of DU measures ~10mm(sq’d). Depending on actual “A1B” dimensions, that’s a lot of weight. Which I doubt a Destroyer/Cruiser hull could possibly support…

          • Curtis Conway

            I hear you Secundius, but you must admit that Cruisers have already existed with nuclear power plants, and some of them were larger (beam & length). It may have been a different hull, but the DDG-51 Flt III hull proportionately grown to that required beam/length should do the trick. That would be larger, fast, more capable than anything afloat today, and certainly able to keep up with the modern CSG. The goal here is to capitalize on the proven hull form (scaled up), with a much more capable engineering plant that can persistently go faster, further, hold more defensive/offensive weapons (including BMD), conduct air operations, and make enough electrical power to service the EM weapons of the future.

          • Secundius

            “IF” Flight IV AB’s is ever constructed, there suppose to be a Replacement for “Tico” Cruisers. IF Nuclear option is ever used it would probably be more suited for a “San Antonia” Hull size or larger…

          • Curtis Conway

            Agreed.

          • Secundius

            Something you might be Interested In! USCG “Isn’t” going to get ANY New Icebreakers in the Foreseeable Future.

            ( https : // about . bgov . com / blog / trump – backed – coast – guard – icebreakers – runs – aground – house – bill / ) …

          • Curtis Conway

            The concentration seems to be on the Waterways Commerce Cutters. I think they are thinking hard about just what a Heavy Icebreaker is going to look like in the new modern context.

          • Secundius

            Both the “Polar’s” are being concidered for SLEP plan extensions and at least one commercial “Leased” Icebreaker is being considered. Though not Turbo-Electric, but Geared Transmission…

          • Curtis Conway

            The beam growth (and aft displacement increase) on the Flt IIIs was to do exactly that . . . increase displacement to accommodate the greater weight of the SPY-6. The other systems (A/C & SSGTGs) were same form-fit-function replacement items. What is required is a proportionately larger DDG-51 hull-form, using nuclear propulsion so they can run with the Carriers in the Fast Response CSGs. The new Nuc Plants are quite the wonder. Perhaps nuclear power ashore can take off again. Anyhow, the CG(X) replacement that looked like a Stretch DDG-51 Double-Ender is the solution. If Russia actually starts building new Kirovs, we will have to build these beasts just to keep up. That faster CSG actually serves us better in a A2AD environment.

          • Secundius

            I don’t see the US Congress “Funding” a Nuclear-powered Cruiser class in the foreseeable future. Considering the US Navy decided that the Next Cruiser class won’t be a Cruiser, but a Destroyer. Probably a Flight IV or V “AB” in 2032…

          • Curtis Conway

            You’re probably right. Every future requirement and estimation of naval force in the past has been for a shrinking budget, diminished requirements, and a force that would not be up to supporting the Unified/Geographic Combatant Commanders. If that tasking was truly estimated and staffed for the future and more dangerous A2AD environment, multiple nuclear powered FAST CSGs would be a part of that plan . . . IMHO.

          • Secundius

            And honestly after ~43-years the US Navy going back to using the Designation of “DLGN’s” for either the Flight IV’s or Flight V’s…

          • Curtis Conway

            LOL . . . LOL. . . That requirement was defined back when we had qualified individuals who were Believers, and had experience that stretched back to WWII, and understood the modern international equation (economic and political), and some could even see most of this coming.

            With everyone participating in Retro-everything today, from cars, TV shows, to menu items, perhaps it’s time to build a Destroyer Leader that just happens to have a nuclear power plant. I bet you the Trumpster would go for it, particularly if we brought along a new civilian nuclear electrification program with it.

          • Secundius

            Only if the Destroyer Leader used a Triple-Expansion Steam Boiler Engine fueled by Clean Burning Coal…

          • Curtis Conway

            Hey let’s go for it . . . Clean Coal Destroyer Leader!

          • Rocco

            Yeah …..& Let Duane shovel it’s boilers!!! Lol. Let him learn the hard way what real work is!!lol

          • Duane

            Except that current “cruisers” arent any larger in displacement than the current “destroyers” … and also except for the Zumwalt “destroyers” which are about 50% larger in displacement than our current “cruisers”.

            The point being that in the 21st century US Navy, the terms “cruiser” and “destroyer” are virtually meaningless. Hence the Navy now uses the terms “large surface combatant” and “small surface combatant”.

          • Curtis Conway

            Duane, your first sentence makes no sense. HiStorically, the Tico was designed a DLGN, and turned into a conventional cruiser by Congress. It’s a destroyer hull with over 3,000 additional tons of displacement used . . . and that’s it. We parked everybody else that looked different (Chicago), and displaced more. The next cruiser should be a CRUISER, not a redefined destroyer.

            The Liberal side of our government always just redefines things when they want a change . . . regardless of reality. The the future is REAL ENOUGH, and we better face it HEAD ON . . . NOT fake our way through it. Revelations is too close for that.

          • old guy

            Absolutely correct.
            Analysis and REAL imagination are vital. We need to evaluate the current and future battle requirements (e.g. It is unlikely that we will ever have to make another resisted amphibious landing, making our current -17 the wrong design, but will probably have to combat “swarm” boat attacks). This results in the need for LCAC carriers with through loading, in lieu of wet deck, and small, highly maneuverable, quick (maybe PHM) type craft. I’m going to the MACC conference the 18 & 19 to see what’s cooking in this department.
            I always remember that the Navy had previously gamed every situation that came up in WW2, except Kamikazee. I’ say that was pretty good. We nndd that kind of work, again.

        • DaSaint

          I’d be ok with a class of 12 CGNs! Sign me up!

          • Curtis Conway

            I wish this argument has been started a decade ago so the Icebreakers could have the same engineering.

          • old guy

            Apropriate of nothing, but technical interest, check out the latest Russian (built by Finland) icebreakers.

          • Curtis Conway

            There are several movies (Youtube: Mega Icebreaker). There is a facebook page for ‘US Coast Guard Needs New Icebreakers’.

        • Ed L

          I remember the California and Virginia Class CGN’s shame they Navy canceled the mid life refueling of the Virginia’s due to cost cuts and then decommissioned the California’s only a few years after there refueling and upgrade completed that was supposed to take the California’s to 2011. Use to give them JP-5 for there small boats, helicopter refueling and emergency diesels. I remember one time on the spUSS Seattle we were steaming at almost flank speed (25 knots) the USS CALIFORNIA overtook us like we were standing still. She must have been doing around 35 knots But we will never know since the true speed of a nuclear powered ship is still classified

          • Curtis Conway

            Thinking back, there are many occasions where more rapid response by CSGs would have been much more advantageous. Hindsight shows this was a ‘shooting ourselves in the head and the foot’ just to save money, but cost lives later on.

      • With designs like the 75MW LM9000 in existence there is absolutely no need to have more than 2-4 turbines.

        • DaSaint

          That’s probably true. 4 turbines, of whatever size could be enough for propulsion, ships electrical as well as emergency generators.

          If memory serves me correctly, the Ticis and Burkes have 1 or 2 small LM500s somewhere in the upper superstructure to complement their 4 LM2500s.

          • Secundius

            Both “Tico’s” and “AB’s” have three Allison 501-K34 Gas Turbines, rated at ~2,500kW each…

          • DaSaint

            My bad. You’re correct. I don’t know why I was thinking LM500s. Thanks!

          • Curtis Conway

            DDG-51 Flt III

          • Curtis Conway

            They have three (3), one each in main machinery space, and one aft. The 501Ks were used before the LM500s came along, which upped them a Megawatt each.

    • Rocco

      What do you think that powers all surface combatants except all WASP class except the one LHA-8 & the America class with hybrid powerplant!

    • Curtis Conway

      Should take a look at the Technology Insertion DDG-51 Ft IIA(s). They actually don’t look that bad with the new SSGTGs and A/C installed. Displacement is still hurting, but since the SPY-6(v) can incorporate different RMA configurations you just look at what the power and A/C can support, then match or reduce that to what the displacement can handle at that elevation above the meta-center, and off you go. You end up with superior performance over SPY-1 equivalent 9-RMA configuration, and have commonality with the fleet Flt IIIs, and EASR platforms w/r/t radar logistical support items. Since a 9-RMA SPY-6(v) is equivalent to the SPY-1 coverage, I gotta believe that 4 times 9-RMAs can’t weigh that much, and require that much A/C and power. They sure occupy less space. Now we have something to consider.

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    I honestly believe the LPD-17 hull is the best idea for, what is in all but official name right now, the “next generation Cruiser” or “Ticonderoga-class cruiser Replacement” … HII has an entire platform spec’d up on that hull, and several variations including a version with a 3-faced, 30-foot array of radar, and I think at one show they had a demo model that used a combination of Mk41 VLS farms AND Mk57 peripheral VLS to have something like up to 276 VLS cells. Combined with the latest Aegis, ASW, EW, et. al equipment, this would be an absolute monster of a multirole “next-gen” cruiser with tons of room for growth and would literally blow the role of “Air Warfare Command” platform right out of the water. It would be not only our best defensive platform (combining simultaneous BMD & ASCM/AAW/ALCM defense with the latest radar and Aegis system) but would become our best strike/offensive platform also (with the retirement of the Ohio-SSGNs) … this would hold more offensive AND defensive weapons AT THE SAME TIME that anything we have. And it would be MUCH, much cheaper and easier than using the pretty-much-failed Zumwalt hull. I would have no problem with a revamped DDG-1000-hull-based cruiser, I just don’t see the point.

    • PolicyWonk

      For volume and growth potential, the LPD-17 class has all of that. HII has proposed an “arsenel ship” variant that could deliver a lot of hurt if it ever got built. OTOH, the LPD hull form isn’t likely to be able to keep up with a CSG.

      • Rocco

        Yes I saw a picture in Naval proceedings magazine!

    • Kypros

      It has everything but enough speed.

    • RunningBear

      LPD-17 hull is too slow, 20+ knots; much less than the CSG 30+ knots.
      🙁

      • Rocco

        On average speed of a CBG is 15-20 knots!! Continued speed considering sea conditions is a waste of fuel.

        • Ser Arthur Dayne

          That is what most people do not seem to understand… the CSG generally requires ships to “keep up with the carrier” of 30+ knots, I agree, BUT THAT RARELY ACTUALLY HAPPENS, because for example, a DDG uses a RIDICULOUS amount of fuel at flank speed. To put it in perspective, Wikipedia lists the range of DDG-51s @ 4,400 nm @ 20 knts… however, I have read that at flank speed, they use their entire fuel bunkerage in less than 24 hours, and can barely make 1000 nm @ 30 knts. So the CSGs don’t go tooling around the oceans @ 30+kts all over the place, all the time. You are dead right that 15-20 kts is the normal cruising speed… Thank you Roc!

          • Rocco

            Your welcome Sir!! Or is it Ser? Lol. & What most posers on here don’t get is doing flank speed on a DD continuous would knock you off your feet on deck unless you’re on a big deck LHA or carrier. Like going from a pontoon boat on a big lake to a speed boat….. Hold on!! You couldn’t get any work done!

        • Kelly J

          True that…but the SSN I was on in Desert Storm was in Guam at the tail end of her Westpac when the need for more missile shooters was suddenly realized. Being able to transit from Guam to the Red Sea at a sustained 30+ knots was suddenly pretty damned important.
          Sure, your normally tooling around at 15-20…but when it is imperative to get someplace else right now the LPD17 hull form wont cut it.

          • Rocco

            It’s different in subs under water. Yes on your last paragraph. Although depending on sea conditions still a moot point.

      • Ser Arthur Dayne

        I feel like we have had this conversation before — but let me make it clear for all to see… One of the biggest fuel draws on the LPD-17 is the Marine requirements … the thing hauls a Marine reinforced battalion+ AND LCACs, LAUs, AAVs, etc. Perhaps Ospreys, etc. The well-deck deletion alone changes the entire ship. (Which is obviously a main change from a LPD-17 to a cruiser) … Second, obviously they can change the damn propulsion plant to a different, more specifically-tailored system (whatever that may be) to make the ship a cruiser rather than Marine Corps hauler. So I get the fact people say it’s not fast enough but to me, that’s an easy fix for engineers.

    • Curtis Conway

      What we do not want to forget is the Zumwalt hulls are floating experiments for learning, testing, and gaining operational experience in a new way of doing things. Consider a nuclear plant driving those MRGs (or electric motors) and screws. The problem is the beam. I don’t know if it can contain the new Bechtel A1B plants. But to have indefinite 30+ knot ‘Big-E’ type CSG’s might be the Cat’s Meow for the future.

      • Ser Arthur Dayne

        I think that a nuclear powered CGN-1000 “Zumwalt Cruiser” for the AW Command misison was the closest thing to come from the CGX platform — and it was cancelled specifically because of cost. Not just “cost’ but as others have mentioned, apparently the costs of nuclear vessels for the Navy are astronomical. It’s $200-$400 million (depending on a specific vessel) to build it as a nuclear powered vessel from the get-go, and another $200-$400 million in operating costs over it’s lifetime. Simply manning them is hugely difficult because of the cost of educating nucs, actually passing them through the course, paying them to do the job, then either not retaining them and starting over or paying big buck retention to keep them. Also , while refueling is a huge cost but many are getting “life of the ship” cores, we still have no real solution for the waste when the ship gets decommissioned. —- HAVING SAID ALL THAT, I think a nuclear-powered CGN-1000 Zumwalt-hull’d cruiser with ~200+ VLS cells for the Air Warfare Command platform for strike groups, would be IDEAL!

  • RunningBear

    Dare I say CG-1000?

    – (2) MT30s – the maximum power rating is 40 MW and minimum efficient power 25MW, indicating maybe a LHA/D-6/8 type propulsion design with de-clutching motor/generator arrangement.

    – Autonomic Fire Suppression System, Dual Band Radar [X-band and L-band] (or AMD??), Infrared, Integrated Deckhouse & Apertures, Integrated Power System,
    Integrated Undersea Warfare, Peripheral Vertical Launch System, Total
    Ship Computing Environment Infrastructure (TSCEI), Tumblehome Hull Form.

    and…… less we forget, the US can only build 3, thus automatically minimizing the budget, ok…. or maybe the next 3.
    IMHO
    🙂

  • MDK187

    Would it really be that hard to build that nuclear-powered CSGN-42 strike cruiser finally? So that the friggin escorts would finally match the carrier in endurance and mobility? And to have deeper magazines for larger missiles?

    • Bubblehead

      Don’t get me wrong, having a nuclear powered cruiser to match a CVN would be an awesome and obviously great capability. But it sounds better in theory than reality. I have a feeling the nuclear power cruiser days are over. It breaks the budget. Its extremely expensive to build, extremely expensive to maintain, is extremely expensive to man and train nuclear technicians, and doesn’t bode well for today’s political correctness. It is hard enough to find the manpower for nuclear trained techs for the subs and carriers as it is. Each Tech has more than 2 years of very intense training. It is no cakewalk, and has a very very high drop out rate. And for the few that pass nuclear school, most will never re-up when they can make over $100k in the civilian market in a much more positive work environment atmosphere.

      And I don’t think you need nuclear power anymore when you look at the crazy amount of power today’s turbines are putting out. Those MT30’s are putting out insane number of Watts.

      • Duane

        The latest gen reactor we have today is the Bechtel A1B plant. Because it is much more automated than earlier naval reactors, and is optimized to reduce maintenance demands, it requires only half the nuke crew of the reactors on the Nimitz class. Presumably a new destroyer plant would do the same.

        As a one time reactor operator on a Cold War SSN, we were all aware that Adm. Rickover was strongly opposed to automation. He retired several decades ago, and the last of his senior crew at Naval Reactors retired years ago … so current NR leaders are no longer averse to automation.

        We’ll still have challenges staffing nuke plants because intelligent, well trained operators will always be in demand. But if such staffing demands are halved, it will make a big difference.

        That is the trend even on conventionally powered ships like the Zumwalts, with a complement of only 142 on a very large ship of nearly 15,000 tons.

        • Rocco

          Try 4 decades!!

        • Curtis Conway

          Duane, this is another time when we are in agreement. Scary thing for me.

        • USNVO

          Even half as many nuclear technicians are about 300pct more than
          what a comparable gas turbine plant requires. A VIRGINIA class CGN for instance had a much larger crew (540 enlisted) vs a comparable Ticonderoga class cruiser or Kidd Class destroyer (around 350), all of which was engineering. Additionally, the recruiting, training, and retention of non-nuclear personnel is a fraction of the cost of nuclear personnel. Beyond that, the nuclear ship is much more expensive to buy, repair, and dispose of as well. Not to mention the expense of maintaining nuclear qualified repair facilities. So going from ruinously expensive to only incredibly expensive isn’t a huge improvement.

          • Duane

            You are comparing 50 year old technologies to each other …. that is invalid today.

            I did my service on a 637 class SSN built in the late 1960s, so I don’t know the exact engineering crew counts on the nuke skimmers of that era. But on the boats of the time, the engineering department accounted for about 1/3 of the ship’s normal complement of 99 incl. officers. If you cut that number by half as does the Ford class, that puts the crew complement at about the same, or even less than, that of a diesel boat in service in that era.

            There is still great value in having effectively unlimited endurance for CVN escorts, and not being dependant on an oiler in the CSG … and there is even more value in disaggregated ops.

            You also fail to acknowledge that the trend in naval crewing is to have far fewer, but more capable and highly trained crew than the surface Navy of the 60s and 70s, when large proportions of the enlisted members were poorly educated, a great many lacking high school diplomas, and many if not most chose naval service mainly to escape the draft and avoid getting shot in a rice paddy in Vietnam. Today’s all volunteer military is far superior to the conscript era.

            And with the cost of an engineering degree being as astronomically high as it is today, a fully trained Navy nuke gets the equivalent of the technical content of a BS in nuclear engineering, plus at least four years of operating experience, paid for courtesy of the US Navy. That has always been the selling point for signing up nukes for a minimum 6 year enlistment. And officers go nuke because, hey, if you’re good, you want to join the elite units. In the Navy, the elite units are the nukes, the airdales and the SEALs.

          • USNVO

            There was a reason I picked the KIDD class for the comparison. It was a VIRGINIA class combat system with a SPRUANCE hull. The difference in manning was solely engineering and additional personnel to support the additional engineering ratings. Yes, they were both older designs, but they are perfectly good for contrasting the impact of nuclear manning. Even if you halve the VIRGINIA engineering ratings you still have far more than the full KIDD class. The DDG-1000 has a crew of 142, a nuclear version would be far more than that, those are just facts. The gas turbine crew (which is also highly trained) has far fewer Sailors that cost far less to recruit, far less to train, far less to retain, and have far fewer support personnel.

            As for what you think I left off or didn’t acknowledge, you would be wrong. There are a limited number of potential recruits, the more you waste of that limited pool on requirements that could be filled, the more you have to give up somewhere else. I don’t care if nuclear manning is good for the recruits, it is better for the Navy as a whole to go with Gas Turbines and diesels where they can.

            Yes, nuclear can keep up with the carrier if it decides to go really fast, but nothing else can. No oiler so you run out of aviation fuel, no ammunition/stores ship so more than half of the CSGs ordnance is left behind as well as more food no other escorts besides the maybe one nuclear ship. And you pay a price every day for that privilege. It is more expensive to design, it is more expensive to build, it is more expensive to operate, it is more expensive to dispose of, and it requires far more Sailors to man. The bottom line is you get significantly fewer ships for your money, so you either live with that or you give up something else. For a surface combatant, the juice has never been worth the squeeze and it isn’t today either.

          • old guy

            Excellant analysis. One must carefully determine the driver(s) behind the action. I like your “juice” analogy, too

          • old guy

            When my office was Rm 5E08 NC-2 and Rickover’s was 3EO8 NC-2, I held his R&D $$$$. His program Captain, later RADM Dempster had many discussions on automation. The main driver was the Navy’s wild Crew size reduction drive, not safety or efficiency

        • old guy

          As a small contributer to “Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy” and a holder of a degree in Nuclear propulsion, from KAPL, I feel that Adm. Rickover’s feelings on automation are borne out by 3 Mile island, Tchernobel and Fukajima. All had delays due to automatic systems.

          • Duane

            Operator error was solely responsible for TMI. Fukajima was all due to bad engineering, including site selection and plant design. Ditto with Chernoble, which unlike any US nuke plant, was designed to be inherently unstable.

      • Rocco

        Agreed

      • MDK187

        Gas turbines deliver power but not endurance over long range and at speed. The carriers can’t use their full potential without imposing impossible logistics burdens on the escort force. By the way, if there were nuclear powered heavy cruisers to match the carriers in speed and range and firepower, a bunch of gas-fed destroyers could be gotten rid of and replaced with a larger number of cheaper frigates. So the costs could be managed, if there was will. Detto the career paths of the reactor crews.

    • sferrin

      You mean aside from the fact that the design is over half a century old?

      • MDK187

        So what? Technology has changed, the implementation would be different accordingly, but there has been no change in the fundamentals. A good design then is still a good design today, only technology will allow for more capability with the same basic design.

  • M Yates

    I wonder what happened to the rail gun. Have they given up?
    Yes it needs a lot of electricity, but sometimes you need to put a warhead on a target.

    • Duane

      Nope – contrary to a couple of misleading media reports last year, the railgun is moving along very well. Earlier this year the Dahlgren Center achieved the objective of 1,000+ shot rail life, and last year achieved the 10 shot per minute rapid fire objective.

      The last objective prior to converting the railgun into a program of record is boosting power from 10MJ to 32MJ, which in turn will deliver the range objective of 100+ miles. That will likely be achieved later this year or early next year.

      The integration of the railgun into a ship like the Zum will entail a lot of work on the power conditioning and storage systems to make it a practical system. The railgun should see its first test installation on a DDG1000, around 2023 to 2025 timeframe, replacing at least one of the LRLAP mounts.

      • M Yates

        I’m aware of that. My question was mostly rhetorical. There was no mention of it in this article. If the plans are to buy only 3-6 for the Zumwalt’s, they are wasting a lot of dollars developing it for not much payback.
        It obviously should be a system installed on the next large combatant, either one or two mounts.

        • Rocco

          Agreed well put!! But he’s so closed minded!! Even he can’t insult himself!! Lol

        • Curtis Conway

          Double-Ender!!! Two guns.

        • Duane

          I think it is likely that the Navy wants to see railgun development move to a program of record with a real integration schedule before they make a lot of noise about railguns. They got embarrassed by the LRLAP failure on the Zums and don’t want to set themselves up for another failure. I get it – the Navy wants to set up for what can be a very important – to the entire surface fleet – success story next time out.

          LSC will almost certainly be designed to deploy railguns, with the design being informed by the results of the integration work on the Zums.

          Also the railgun is a scalable system, with Dahlgren starting out large (155 mm sabot) for the large platforms including the Zums, Ford class CVN, and the LSC. A smaller weapon system, with perhaps a 127-mm or 105-mm sabot and shorter range (50 miles??) will come next … and that smaller system could be mounted on a future SSC or USV. For air defense it’s not really necessary to have a long engagement range … high rate of fire and precision guidance are keys.

          • old guy

            As I have stated before, the linear accelerator makes a great aircraft and missile launcher, but a lousy unguided projectile gun, regardless of range; that is the province of ETC. Navy fired 20 mm ETC full auto, in 1978. 5″ in standard barrel in 1979.
            We turned the development over to Lakehurst who did a great job producing the electric A/C catapult..

          • Secundius

            Since 2005, Sandia National Laboratory and Lockheed-Martin have been developing an Multi-Platform EMML (ElectroMagnet Missile Launcher) that will Rail Launch/Eject a Missile at ~40-m/s…

        • old guy

          Let us hope that 3 is the total DD1000 buy. I and many others worked very hard to get the other 10 in the buy canceled, We need a 21st century, non-flopover design, Maybe nuke, but certainly more than 30 knots,

      • old guy

        1. 10 rounds per minute may be the objective, but one round per hour is reallity;
        2. What good is a long range, unguided round?
        3. Have you researched the PROVEN Electro-Thermal-Chemical gun?

        • Duane

          1) Dahlgren met or exceeded 10 rpm last year.

          2) Railgun rounds are guided, duh

          3) The Army, based upon Dahlgren’s success with railguns, inked a contract back in April to start their own railgun program that will address both straight EM and EM assisted chem propelled munitions.

          • Secundius

            And how much closer to the US Navy’s specifications of ~3,000-rounds/Barrel Lifespan do that come too…

          • old guy

            Please provide referenced ratesw and calibers.

      • old guy

        Sorry Duane I hav a lot of repect for your opinions, but it never did either. 2 rounds per minute, 200 shots total fire. Don’t tell me the results are classified. IT IS JUNK. Look into Electro-Thermal-Chemical (ETC) gun.

    • old guy

      That is just the point. lots of power, lots of range, but NO accuracy.

  • Duane

    The Navy should accelerate the design of the LSC. The next gen missile defense weapons providing much deeper and cheaper defensive magazines than the curent medium to large missiles that are limited in number by VLS cells and high unit costs cannot arrive soon enough.

    In addition to railguns and directed energy weapons, the Navy should invest in miniaturized kinetic hit to kill rockets. As a last line of defense at short engagement ranges, such rockets can be invaluable.

    Several models of such missile defense rockets have been in development by the Army and DARPA for years, designed to engage cruise missiles, mortar rounds, and artillery rounds. Some are as small as 2 feet long and weigh as little as 5 pounds each. Being so small their launchers could be added as retrofits to existing hulls as well as designed to function as plug and play modules in new designs like LSC. Such munitions also lend themselves to AI-driven swarming defenses.

    • Rocco

      What should accelerate is you !!! LCS is junk!!!

      • johnbull

        I agree that the LCS are lousy warships. Duane actually said “LSC” for Large Surface Combatant.

        • Rocco

          Lol you’re right!! I gotta clean my glasses!!

      • Kelly J

        LSC: Large Surface Combatant.
        LCS: Little Crappy Ship.
        Unfortunately the 2 acronyms are just too dammed alike.

        • Rocco

          Agreed… However he normally means little crappy ship!! But we can’t say that!! Lol

        • Curtis Conway

          It was made that way deliberately.

  • johnbull

    The Burke hull is tapped out as well as is its power plant. We’ll be building them well into the foreseeable future though, because it’s such a great ship. It seems to me that this new vessel would be termed a cruiser because it will begin construction before we’ve stopped cranking out DDG51s. The hull to use for this is difficult- for as much room as the LPD has, it’s not fast enough. It’s true that at 22kts it can keep up with the strike group at normal cruising speed. The trouble is that when the carrier has to “turn up the wick” so to speak, its designated protector gets left behind.

    • Curtis Conway

      Bring back the Surface Nucs! Long Beach lives on someone’s drawing board.

      • Secundius

        Probably at the Botton of the Trash Can absorbing the Spilt Coffee residue from spent coffee cups…

      • Rocco

        Yes & he’s dead!!! Rickover…….

  • Rocco

    Kudos well put

  • Curtis Conway

    Raytheon had better have a plan, and that plan have multiple manufacturers qualified to build their signal processors and support equipment. Raytheon will have its hands full building Radar Module Assemblies (RMAs) for the fleet. Someone should put out the SPY-6(v) family designators. The cats out of the bag already, so we know its coming. That must be some interesting Test & Evaluation going on at PMTC.

  • sferrin

    The obvious choice is right in front of their face – Zumwalt. But nah, better to squander another $10 billion and a decade designing an inferior product.

    • Refguy

      Using Zumwalt instead of an old amphib as a test ship for the “advanced laser weapon” seems logical; it was designed as an all-electric ship and should have adequate weight, space and power, and doesn’t have any other obvious mission.

  • Ed L

    Has anyone look at the hull design of these two WW2 ships? The Italian Capitani Romani Class (43 Knots) and the French Le Fantasque Class (45 Knots). Or let’s replace the diesels 7755 kW Each in The San Antonio class LPD with GE LM2500 gas turbines (19,570 kW each and add variable pitch propellers

  • Chesapeakeguy

    A ‘real’ cruiser SHOULD be a big ship. Big, sleek, and nimble. I realize the Navy isn’t yet using that term, but if they introduce a new design, and not use an existing ship as its template, I suspect they will be calling it a ‘cruiser’ soon enough afterwards. Though I don’t see it happening, building some number of them with nuclear power makes sense, perhaps one nuclear propelled version for each CVN in commission. Mating Aegis, VLS, and nuclear power within a large hull that can generate some knots sure sounds attractive to me. How many the Navy procures in total will remain to be seen. There are currently 22 Ticos that are all getting ‘long in the tooth’. With 11 CVNs in the fleet, having 11 nuclear powered cruisers and 11 conventionally powered makes sense. But like I said, I just don’t see nuclear power being allowed to be part of the options.

    Interesting also that the Navy is already looking to replace the LCS! The time frame for the ships and systems to start entering service starts in 2030. New LCS vessels will be entering the fleet over the next several years. That means some of them will be no more than 12 years old (using 2018 as a starting point) IF these things take place on schedule (and I realize this is the military, which is part of the government, so things like schedules and cost restraints should be taken with a huge grain of salt). Like I said, interesting…

    • publius_maximus_III

      Or maybe just add an extra nuclear attack sub to a CSG’s makeup, vessels already in the pipeline. But I agree, nothing like a nuclear power plant to remain on station indefinitely.

  • Rhino601

    Gotta wonder the cost a nuclear powered AEGIS platform?

    • Secundius

      Probably at least as much as a “Zumwalt”, but without the “Bells and Whistles” of the class…

      • Rhino601

        Well, that sounds like a non-starter.

        • Secundius

          Single most expensive part of the build will probably be a Cruiser variant of the S1B Pressurized Water Cooled Reactors at ~$300-Million USD each, if not more…

  • Rob C.

    The Navy needs to invest in designing completely new Hull. Cost saving to death and being absolutely afraid of what Congress will do if the hull’s cost creeps upward is going kill the service.

    Why not test concept on repurposed DDG1000 as test platform? Its not like the Navy is supporting the 8inch artillery guns anymore. Gut the guns out and lop in Mk 41 Launcher and turn her into dedicate missile platform, with additional of the Mk 57 Launchers, they could be as beefy as the Ticos without the higher end Aegis. A Burke could guide those missiles and DDG1000 could act as like a arsenal ship.

    I think it was mistake cancel the CGX program, because it was based on DDG1000. Navy always been big on having parent hull, since they have such trouble getting brand new anything through politically minded Congress instead basing on needs of the service sometimes.

    • publius_maximus_III

      Was just reading about Truk in the Pacific during WW-II, which had Japanese-occupied islands in the center that were so far inland from it’s huge barrier reef that they were out of range of our big Navy guns. The Navy needs to first decide if a new CG will be primarily a CSG defensive center, an offensive strike ship, or both. Stealth would not be as important in a defensive role. IMO, the DDG1000 is already big enough to be declared a CG with a stroke of the pen.

  • Dudley Skaggs

    The only hull and design with the suitability for all roles with the least investment of money and TIME is the DDG1000. While I believe the LPD is an excellent idea the problems of speed, power generation and reconfiguration would take time and money to fix. The DDG1000 is ready to go and already has the cruiser version research done. If there are any VALID concerns regarding seakeeping ability this can be addressed quickly and cheaply. The USN should have realized this a long time ago. If the navy wants a larger more flexible hull for muliti-role cruiser then do research for a follow up class. Right NOW we need big powerful anti surface and air ships to counter vessels being built by China and Russia.