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The US Navy needs more ships. The United States cannot protect the world’s sealanes, let alone “pivot to the Pacific,” if we further downsize our military. Especially given other nations’ growing anxiety about whether the US will still shoulder the leadership role of protecting them, the Navy must grow, not become smaller.

Yes, individual ships may be more capable today than in the past, but the harsh reality is that even the most high-tech ships are useless unless the U.S. maintains enough of them to sustain a forward deployed presence in hot spots around the world.

There are several key steps the Navy can take to reinvigorate a strong maritime presence around the globe:

The nation needs a new naval strategy that clearly links national interests to the the naval assets required to protect those interests and that justifies the size of the fleet required to keep America safe. While budget limits will ultimately affect the size and mix of the fleet, Americans deserve to know the risk being taken by the nation by relying on a budget-driven Navy to justify the number of ships, aircraft, and submarines used to defend them. A well-defined strategy will show how and why the country should be protected with a larger Navy and why that larger Navy is in the national interest.

Reorganize, reprioritize, and revitalize the Navy’s shipbuilding program and better equip ships for missile defense. A good start would be to bring the design of Navy ships back into the Navy. The Navy-designed DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyer is the most successful shipbuilding program today and continued DDG-51 production with the new Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) will ensure flexibility for fleet protection and ballistic missile defense critical to the nation’s security at home and abroad. Currently deployed radars, such as the SPY-1, increasingly struggle against operational threats – including anti-ship ballistic missiles and supersonic, anti-ship cruise missiles – and are severely challenged when these threats are encountered simultaneously. AMDR would fill that gap.

Stop production of the Littoral Combat Ship, pay off the contracts, and immediately fund the design and building of a guided missile frigate replacement.  The Virginia-class submarine program should double in production to compete with the resurgent threat from Russia and the growing capability of China’s submarine fleet. Additionally, the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement, aka SSBN(X), should be placed on the fast track for development and operational fielding.

Maintain and expand the aircraft carrier fleet. Using an updated maritime strategy as the linchpin, keep the current fleet of 10 carriers and speed production of the Gerald Ford-class carriers. These ships a true long-term investment: the Navy sold the $4 billion to $6 billion Nimitz-class aircraft carriers to the American people with a life expectancy of 50 years, but  USS Enterprise was only recently decommissioned after 60 years of service. Immediately restore funding for the refueling and complex overhaul of USS George Washington, as well as maintain funding for the airwing, operations and maintenance accounts, and ensure the ship is fully manned. Plan to do the same for USS Stennis in FY2018.

Fully fund and update the Navy’s manpower accounts. Every ship that operates and deploys today is undermanned, undertrained, and underequipped. Provide stabilized manning on ships from six months prior, until completion of deployment. If people are the Navy’s best asset, don’t accept a lowered standard of operational effectiveness due to manning shortfalls. It endangers the ability of the Navy to fight as a team at sea and win.

Cut the number of flag officers and civilian counterparts by 50 percent. In World War II, the Navy had approximately 4,000 ships that fought a global war for freedom with about 100 admirals in charge.  Today, there are over 300 admirals overseeing about 280 ships. This unnecessary bureaucratic expansion has diluted the lines of accountability and weakened the chain of command.

History is replete with examples of the president asking, “Where is the closest aircraft carrier?” when faced with an international crisis. Even as recently as the 9/11 attacks, the first military assets to conduct combat operations against the enemy were launched from Navy aircraft carriers and ships in the battle group. A global naval force, built with the numbers and capability to sustain operations forward deployed to the world’s hot spots will serve as a deterrent force and stabilizer for peace and security.

 

The author, a retired US Navy Commander, was in command of the USS Cole when it was attacked by al-Qaeda in October 2000.

Comments

  • TerryTee

    Commander Lippold has got it right on the guided missile frigate & the rest. Especially about the Flag Officers and civilian contractors which cost 3-4 times as much as using Navy personnel.

    • estuartj

      I’m not sure about the FFG, can you actually fit a worthwhile AAW capability into a Frigate hull at an affordable price? My fear this that the retirement of the Perry class was because no ship at that hull size could provide the space and power to drive the systems needed, so if you are really just buying smaller and less capable DDG-51s (likely at nearly the same price), why build them at all?

  • Don Bacon

    Today, there are over 300 admirals overseeing about 280 ships.

    last time I counted there are 320 admirals’ names on the list.
    http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/bio_list.asp

    legal limit Navy – 162 (plus a waiver for joint duty — big mistake)
    So 320 admirals is 158 or 97% (almost double) over the legal limitation (w/o the joint waiver). That’s well over one admiral per ship.

    • PolicyWonk

      To add the comment regarding 300 admirals for 280 ships, overstaffing of flag-rank officers isn’t solely a navy problem. The other service branches are also compromised by an over bloated general officer corp.

      At last count, the army had 1 general to every 600 soldiers. As a result, we could cut 75% of the general officer corps and *still* be top heavy.

      • Some Guy

        The Army has 1,633 generals?

        • Don Bacon

          More like 1,100.

          Over a thousand generals!
          Plus all their horse-holders, aides, and other servants!
          And their posh offices and quarters!

          (So the perverts are only a small minority of the grand total.)

          • Jon

            Average cost for the care, upkeep, and feeding of a general officer, is over $1 million per year…not counting pay and bennies.

          • Gary Church

            A thousand generals. Wow. Sounds like a good book title. I could see 40 or 50 and another 40 or 50 for the air force and marine corps but a thousand? Even more crazy than an admiral for every ship. Does the public even know how worshiped those god-like beings wearing those stars are? What an abuse of the public trust this is. Disgusting- like a central american banana republic.

        • stig781

          The US Army doesn’t have 900,000 troops.

    • Old ECMO

      The Navy must also reduce numbers in the Senior Executive Service (SES) ranks.

      • CharleyA

        Why? Just because they make more money? The idea of the SES is to retain talented executives that would otherwise be lost to better paying jobs in private industry. Pennywise, pound-foolish.

        • Old ECMO

          Kinda like Flag officers.

        • Gary Church

          Puh-leez.

        • Jon

          Instead, we pay a premium to retain career bureaucrats whose only real skill or ability is petty office politics, empire building, and perpetuating the dysfunctional system. Mostly, private industry doesn’t want them…it’s why they stayed in government service long enough to claw their way to the SES level.

          • Gary Church

            They have killed more of our people than the enemy with their idiotic decisions- that’s for sure. And never been held accountable for a single thing because that is the first thing they learn- how to blame it on the person beneath them. And so on down to that middle manager who get’s screwed. That’s how it works. If anyone doubts this they can just watch the clip that ended Rummie’s run on the bank.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jPgljRvzQw

          • CharleyA

            Then clean them out, and make room for the valuable. If such situation that you describe is prevalent, then the problem is with management. Even SESers can be removed for cause. But I suspect the real issue is jealousy – so many feel that government types are overpaid, but when I look at the pay scales, I’m glad I work in private industry.

          • PolicyWonk

            The vast majority of career government workers are hard-working public servants. It takes years to really understand the rules and regulations required to make a given agency function.

            I’ve spent a fair amount of time consulting for governmental agencies, and no doubt there is waste, and in rarer cases outright laziness.

            But that is the exception, and definitely not the rule.

  • Don Bacon

    And Navy should stop buying F-35C prototype carrier variants that don’t work, $1.7 billion for procurement this fiscal year and next.

    • estuartj

      I’d love to see the JSF-C funds put back into buying Advanced Super Hornets AND develop bettter standoff strike weapons to arm them. IMO the day is quickly coming when no aircraft (stealth or not) can go deep into enemy airspace. The F-18 makes for a nice “truck” as the CNO seems to envision that can carry those standoff weapons and then also provide heavy firepower after the enemy defenses are degraded. A small payload F-35C (if it works to specifications) is nice for the first days of a conflict, but lack the punch to be a decisive force in a longer conflict.
      UCASS should be uber stealthy long endurance to take the ISR role they seem to be pushing the F-35 into and then add EMRGs to the surface fleet to augment the LACMs in their magazine (developing the Free-Electon Laser for ship defense will also open up more magazine space by reducing the need for SM-3/6 for task force defense).

      • ycplum

        I think we need a stealth attack/fighter (not necessarily the F-35). However, it should not replace the F/A-18. A stealth attack aircraft can help create a hole in an air defense network for the F-18 truck to fly through.

      • Gary Church

        Lasers won’t stop missiles. A couple coats of graphite paint defeats that couple billion dollars of R&D. Sadly, no matter what science fiction countermeasures the industry makes a huge profit on selling to gullible (or greedy) politicians they are all too easy to defeat. Missiles work; missile defense does not.

    • Paul

      Doesn’t work? That’s new to me, I have not heard that from a single legitimate or competent source so was under the impression that it actually did work. Of course if you look back in history there were people claiming that just about every new combat type was a failure, a waste of money and would not ever work, they continue to carry on until a shooting war comes along and proves them wrong. It will be the same with the F-35, once it is in service the operators will wonder how they ever survived without it.

      • Gary Church

        Or it may turn out like the V-22 and they will just wonder how to survive.

        • Paul

          Dunno but the Marines who dropped by my work abode a few months ago seemed pretty happy with theirs, a sorted platform these days apparently. I’m actually jealous of the capability the Osprey provides, they were saying its much better than the Seaknight.

          • Gary Church

            The SeaKnight first flew in 62 and entered service 64.. The V-22 flrst flew in 89 and they could not get it to work right till 2007. Work right as in not kill people. The Marines who dropped by might have had any number of reasons why they seem happy and you can be as jealous as you want but it is junk. Incredibly mind bogglingly expensive junk.

    • GaryLockhart

      How many hours have you logged in the F-35C or is this simply another case of you flapping your gums?

      By the way that’s a rhetorical question since we already know the answer.

      • Gary Church

        Why do you keep demanding credentials? They are not required here. If someone has an opinion you do not agree with they are “flapping their gums?” How many hours have you logged as a….ooops, I can’t make any more disparaging remarks.

    • Curtis Conway

      Your coment interest me Don. What does not work about the F-35C, and be specific?

  • Curtis Conway

    We need a small combatant that can go anywhere and do most anything. A multi-warfare frigate is needed. This small multi-warfare combatant must be able to handle anything she runs into, and should be able to operate for extended periods using less fuel while on-station (Hybrid Electric Drive) in this shrinking operational budget environment.

    The National Security Cutter can be modified with electric motors for the diesels, and de-rated LM2500+G4 Prime Movers (one each) for each shaft. More power at better specific fuel consumption is realized when needing to move fast, and the electric motors can move this hull through the water at about 15+ knots on HED power at much lower cost. If the Coast Guard can get the NSC underway for 90 days any ocean, then the US Navy can make a 30 day any ocean vessel out of it, with a much lower operational cost overall in the long term, than any other combatant deployable. When on HED the LM-2500+G4s will be turned off and not racking up
    maintenance hours providing additional savings.

    This vessel should have a gun that can take advantage of the new guided
    projectiles. Today’s platforms operate in a more interconnected combat space than ever before. Conducting engagements is a team activity. In the future ‘donating a
    weapon’ and having nothing to do with terminal guidance, as magazines near the
    action empty. This requirement will become more of a necessary capability in the future on all of our combatants.

    I sincerely hope that Dwight David Eisenhower’s warning about the Industrial Military
    Complex is not applicable in this case. The LCS has been inappropriate for replacing a multi-warfare frigate from the beginning. No amount of
    modifications will make it so. We need an all-ocean hull with a multi-warfare capable combat system, that can show the flag, and handle whatever it comes up against . . . Aegis Guided Missile Frigates with SPY-1F or AMDR Lite (SPY-3), will fill the bill. An
    emphasis on Passive detection and tracking systems should be pursued as well. Directed Energy should be a mainstay on this platform. Boating operations as equipped on NSC is necessary for littoral support, anti-piracy, boarding, and to facilitate plane guard support. The assembly line for the NSC is hot and ready to go, but if we compete two yards we can stretch our dollars farther as demonstrated in the DDG-51 program. Let’s build 50 or so in two types: 1) ASW dragging a tail, 2) Brand-X with boats aft. Both should have a minimum of 16 Mk41 VLS cells down the sides of the helo hangers with SM-6s, and perhaps SM-3 Blk IIAs, to donate to the force, in addition to a normal load-out of missiles (16 Mk41 VLS cells forward, the two centerline cell rows being full length), but I would make these vessels primarily Directed Energy platforms (four DE weapons minimum). Make these platforms HED
    COGAG with an upgraded GTGs designed around the GE38 turboshaft. They will make the megawatts needed for the DE weapons.

    The aviation detachment should employ the MH-60R providing tremendous air support in all surface and subsurface warfare areas. Upgrading this helo with the Lockheed Martin Vigilance detection and tracking system with a point-to-point datalink could extend the horizon for aircraft and missile detection on the threat sector adding additional Over The Horizon (OTH) detection and tracking capability. Additionally, the AESA antenna could direct and control an SM-6 to an OTH target increasing our frigates survivability. However, An emphasis on Passive detection and tracking systems should be pursued as well adding tactical versatility.
    Directed Energy should be a mainstay on this platform.

    These Aegis FFGs will cost about a $1 Billion ea. with efficiencies gained via competition if the program is stretched between two yards for 50 units. You want a jobs program . . .well here you go.

    Just my two cents.

    • estuartj

      If you can fit all that into a hull at $1B or less I think you’d have a winner, my fear is that after bungling the Seawolf, DDG-1000 & LCS (which have probably set back the USN’s battleforce numbers by at least 20-25 ships) yet another shipbuilding design is destined to fail.

      • PolicyWonk

        Well, at least with Seawolf, something very good came out of it: we now have a very capable Virginia class, which has been very much a success story.

        While its far too early to tell at this point, the same might be true for a follow-on to the Zumwalts (DDG-1000’s). That ship has a lot of new technologies built into it, and if she performs well then we’ll see a lot of that influence in new ship design(s).

        With LCS, all we can do is hope they don’t blow it a second time. That said, if they “redesign” LCS based on current plans to save money, a large improvement could be attained by building to the level-2 standard instead of level-1, simplifying the engines (maybe electric drive), and picking ONE sea-frame instead of TWO.

        Then at least, you have a decent foundation to build on.

    • PolicyWonk

      I’d be delighted if we were able to get a real frigate, and agree with most of what you’re saying.

      However, while I believe the navy needed a littoral solution, unfortunately what LCS became wasn’t it. The foundational problem was the sea-frame (either version), which was built to the level-1 standard, while the secondary problem was its laughable armament – even if you included the “surface warfare” mission module – and zero OTH attack capability. The size was another issue, because LCS was too big at 3000 tons (and insanely expensive, at $340-400M).

      Compared to a Cyclone class (PC-1), LCS was woefully under armed. While the Cyclones were not without problems, for the LCS kind of mission that would a good starting point (~370 tons. $25M each) w/r/t size. A littoral ship shouldn’t be too large (2000 tons, tops), have a pretty strong base armament, with sufficient hitting power to give a larger opponent some pause (from OTH).

      The pacific is a big pond with a lot of islands – and the navy needs something to fill that gap.

      However, rather than design (or license) something better, I’d bet the navy is going to either enhance the current LCS design (hopefully not both) to the level-2 standard for a sea-frame, and add some firepower, which will make it too large for littoral, and too small for blue water operations.

      • Jon

        Personally, for the missions the LCS was originally intended to perform, I have no problems with the Lv1 hulls or the lack of weaponry. It’s a truck intended to haul the remote ASW/MCM gear around, and provide a gas station for the helos…is anyone hyperventilating because Avengers are/were armed with a couple .50 cals?

        The problem is, instead of building a simple, cheap, efficient and disposable “truck”, they built a “Super Truck” whose cost, complexity, size, and ever expanding mission creep defeats the entire concept. Then compounded it by a small crew, requiring short deployments and a return to port for even relatively minor repairs. What’s the point of long range, when they’re tied to their maintenance port?

        They needed Ford F-350s, instead they commissioned Maserati to build them one-off custom trucks. Which now require weaponry, just to protect the investment. Instead of “to big to fail”, they’re “to big to risk”…

        • Paul

          Spot on, why 40 knots, why not 30 or even 25, save a lot of cost and complexity. LCS should have been slower and more durable but still capable of conducting its intended roles. Maybe a bit more volume and allow mixing and matching of modules to cover more than one mission per deployment.
          No need for a new frigate then as the cheaper LCS covers the anti piracy (OPV duties), MCM, inshore ASW, and counter swarm missions leaving more money for more destroyers.

          • Jon

            They still need a multi-mission frigate, desperately. But they still need a cheap efficient truck too. The LCS is neither.

          • Paul

            The thing is the FFG used to be knocked due to its high price and limited capability as well. The impression I get is destroyers do the job but are expensive so need to be supported by something cheaper which is where the LCS “truck” (I do like that term, it suits) come in. The trouble is the more capable and expensive the LCS becomes the less money you have for destroyers, cruisers and submarines. I actually sort of like the Spanish BAM or Meteoro class OPV BIM are looking at offering it for a USCG contract, not something like that is more durable and more seaworthy than the LCS as well as cheaper but also slower. It is not a frigate but can do everything the LCS (except speed) or FFG07 (stripped of the MK13) can do so may be a better way to go in future. Not saying buy Spanish either, just saying recast it from speed boat to OPV and keep the mission modules but have extra space and weight for a 3″ or even a 5″ gun and ESSM if required in future refits.
            Then you spend the cash you save on more high end stuff, i.e. DDGs CGs SSNs

          • Jon

            For the ASW/MCM roles, they need a basic work platform to haul the ROVs around, with helo facilities, able to stream/tow a tail. Period. It needs to be cheap to build, proven hull/machinery, cheap to operate, cheap to maintain, rugged enough to get years of use from, have the crew, facilities, and bunkerage to have decent range/station time. Call it the “Naval Support Ship”. The LCS is none of these things. Baffled as to why the solution for each and every requirement is a massively expensive, “innovative” monstrosity…

            Which still leaves a requirement for a multi-mission frigate for blue water and light ASuW. Pick a design, any design…there’s a plethora of very nice, well rounded, cost effective ones out there to choose from.

        • PolicyWonk

          If that was all they needed, as you say, then why name it “Littoral Combat Ship” and imply it is something that it obviously isn’t designed for?

          If all they wanted was a truck (pick any “F” series ;-) then giving it the engines and performance of a Ferrari (and the apparently reliability of a Yugo) is a terrible waste.

          The price then becomes the larger issue, because an F-350 doesn’t cost $340-400M each, not counting any mission package, and one would think the courts-martials and trials would be long over by now.

          • Jon

            “why name it “Littoral Combat Ship” and imply it is something that it obviously isn’t designed for?”

            Very good question, that most people following the LCS fiasco have asked at various times…my own guess; “because it sounded cool”, with a side order of “to justify the hideous expense”. Note the uproar over paying half a billion for what is effectively a civilian hull with extremely limited survivability and even more limited combat capability.

            Yes. It is a terrible waste. No one in the Navy chain of command has been able to explain why they crippled the LCS concept with a requirement for high speed beyond mouthing meaningless platitudes. John Paul Jones and “Give me a fast ship” doesn’t really cut it…

            There should be court martials and trials. Years of time, billions of dollars wasted, and they still don’t have the capabilities they need. Willful stupidity and criminal mismanagement should be court martial offenses…

      • Curtis Conway

        I would say that your analysis is right on target. Dwight David Eisenhower was right, and we have fallen victim to it. We need multi-warfare, any-ocean (particularly Arctic) sea-frames that can show the flag and accomplish most any mission. The absence of the FFG-7s will leave a huge hole in combat presence and capability. The planners seem to have forgotten the goal, needs and means to meet the minimum requirement. Its as if we are planning to fail and a blind man can see it. However, those who are of this mindset that ‘they have the answer’ are marching over the waterfall and we must follow because they are . . . what’s the term everyone uses today ? . . . IN POWER.

    • Jon

      Does a frigate even need an Aegis system? As you point out, isn’t that what networking and data links are for? Reality is, there’s only so much capability you can fit into a given hull size, and no small combatant is going to be able handle anything it might run into…mission creep and the Good Idea Fairy is what gave us the LCS.

      Don’t we need cost effective, capable, multi-mission hulls more than we need yet another hugely expensive platform optimized for BMD?

      • Curtis Conway

        People will read a lot into Aegis, and in fact it is a specific thing. However, the Ship’s Self Defense System (SSDS) is in effect Aegis Lite. We shall just add a non-rotating 3D radar system to the platform and a multi-function processor for track integration. Every AMDR competitor said their product was scalable. Now its time for Raytheon to prove it (AMDR Lite?), or we could use SPY-1F. Control consoles for the weapons systems will populate, and be integrated with the same CIC, and we augment with some additional consoles to manage directed energy, and provide air control. The passive systems will require some displays and control. A system design competition would yield a plethora a potential configurations from which to choose. The design should be simple and strait forward. A program of this magnitude would require a Land Based Test Facility. To be collocated near another radar/combat system test facility would be best . . . Wallops Island perhaps, or maybe at the Pacific Missile Test Range. If the system was to have a minimum capability of Theater Ballistic Missile Defense, tests and exercises would be required to develop and prove the capability. That would require live fire exercises on a regular basis. The Aegis Program Office would have to establish a new baseline for development and tracking, and the Navy would have to stand up a new Type Commander. Commonality with as many elements in the Aegis configuration would be desired, but not required. We are looking for something that is less expensive, yet meets the need. Some items would necessarily be common with the National Security Cutter, but we would be blazing a new trail with this system. Elements from the Integrated Fight Through Power System could be used, and that new GTG based upon the GE38 must be built and proven. These will provide Megawatts required for the Directed Energy weapons. The engineering spaces will look very much like the NSC. We will just have electric motors instead of diesels, and another LM2500 for the other shaft. If we upgrade the LM2500s to +G4 then we can extract more power at lower specific fuel consumption. Frigate sailors have traditionally been a special bunch, and we will build a special ship for them which will be capable, survivable, and fast. If we do this right, a less expensive Plane Guard, escort, and independent steaming platform will result that will last as long as the NSC, and be the premier Directed Energy platform on the planet.

    • ted

      That was a long winded two cent’s. But it sound’s like you know what your talking about as well as you have good common since. Unfortunately your
      not in the pentagon sitting next to all the so called top brass. And politician’s steering the money wagon to close home ground’s. You want cost effective
      navy ship building?. Start with eliminating all of the lobbyist and special interest group’s in Washington. They are at the helm not the different service branches and have been for year’s.

      • Curtis Conway

        We have industrialist who drive the politicians, and therefore policy and contracts. We need more Butchers, Bakers and Candlestick Makers in Congress instead of international bankers and lawyers.

        • Gary Church

          Industrialists driving politicians sounds like Ike’s military industrial complex. Sounds pretty progressive to me. Be careful Curtis, you might end up voting for Hillary.

          • Curtis Conway

            Thanks a lot Gary I appreciate the thought (LOL).

  • UH34D

    I’ve mentioned this before in other posts…people should read Ike’s Cross of Iron speech.

    It would be great to have all, and more presented in the article, except we can’t afford it. Between the absurd tax structure, the loss of millions of well paying jobs due to monitization and the concurrent loss in tax revenue with low wage jobs there just isn’t enough money in the till. As it stands, we cannot afford to maintain our infrastructure and it gets worse year after year. What good is all of this military hardware if it’s protecting a nation that’s an empty shell, a crumbling socio-economic system? There will come a time when nations will no longer accept our debt and hold trillions of worthless Dollars, what do we do then? We cannot have all we wish for militarily if we don’t have an economy and tax structure to support the expenditures and right now we have neither. Until we discard the Milton Friedman economic school of philosophy as it pertains to currencies and currency manipulation, rampant speculation, America will remain awash in more and more debt and our economy will continue to suffer, consequently, we won’t be capable of affording much of anything, let alone a large and capable Navy.

    • bobbymike34

      You could do the above with about $20 billion/year added exclusively to the ship building budget. That represents 1/2 of 1% of the federal budget. If we prioritize I think we can manage. The CBO puts out a report every year that shows waste, mismanagement and program duplication cost $200 billion/year. If we were to realize 10% of those savings we could pay for this.

      • Gary Church

        There you go with those numbers. What do they mean? You want 20 billion to build ships? I want 20 billion to subsidize solar energy plants like Ivanpah. Which one of us do you think is not just flushing money down the defense industry toilet?

        • bobbymike34

          Of course the comment was to affordability based on the prior post not whether $20 billion could be spent somewhere else. You understand your response is a complete non sequitur.

          • Gary Church

            When the Latin starts I get intimidated. Let’s look that up: “absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing. This use of the term is distinct from the non sequitur in logic, where it is a fallacy.”
            Which is it smart guy, a smiley face or logic?

            Never mind.

      • 1hopelessoptimist1

        There will always be waste and corruption in a government budget, so accept it and instead focus on the discretionary items. Wait, we can’t do that because every politician and pressure group will scream and howl if their pet project is affected. In addition,we keep heaping more benefits on veterans ( I am not criticizing the rehab of Iraq and Afghanistan injured, in fact they need lots more help) and the elderly, social programs and HSD. Our budget shows a 3% or worse deficit, so another $ 20 billion plus operating cost is not peanuts. More importantly, this administration has no stomach to enter into combat except at the Army-Navy game. Worse, everyone knows it. So sailing in the Persian Gulf, the Straits of Taiwan, The Baltic and Black Seas isn’t going to convey any message of strength and commitment.

        • bobbymike34

          The fleet will be built up over decades so who is in office now really doesn’t matter in the long run.
          For the federal government $20 billion is a pretty small number as above 1/2 of 1% of the budget. If you were making $100,000/year could you find a way to shift $500 dollars to other spending priorities?

  • estuartj

    Personally I would suggest SecNav and the CNO go to congress and ask to cancel the SSBN(x) unless the funds for developing and procuring them is taken off the Navy’s shipbuilding accounts. If that means phasing out the seaborne leg of the triad, then so be it. The Navy needs to take a long hard look at what it is they must be able to do, and focus on that to the exclusion of most else. IMO that means moving away from Littoral operations toward true Blue Water operations.
    I would also look long and hard at how they plan to deal with A2/AD threats and that likely means moving away from the JSF in favor of more F-18E/Fs and then reinvest those funds in longer range airborne strike weapons, high stealth UCASS and EMRG & Free-Electron Lasers to bring the cost/benefit ratio of AAW/BMD for the CSG back into the Navy’s favor.

    • NavySubNuke

      Nuclear weapons are the foundation of our security – including the assurance of our allies and are worth paying for. That said – congress should pony up the extra SCN money to keep the ship building account going in full (minus the pointless and stupid LCS) while the next SSBN is being constructed.

      • estuartj

        Like I said, if Congress wants to pay for it with appropriations seperate from the Navy’s shipbuilding (or on top of it) that’s fine, but if push comes to shove (and I’m betting it will) then strategic deterence is NOT a Must Do for the USN. Let that be the USAF domain if need be, but do not gut the already overstretched shipbuilding budget (not to mention overstreached manpower and maintainance) accounts for a capability that can be provided elsewhere (in this case in multi-use strategic bombers and comparitivly low cost silo ICBMs).

        • NavySubNuke

          I don’t know – assured second strike is pretty much the foundation of our National security – even if it does cost us a further gutting of the shipbuilding account I still think it is worth it. The air force has shown a total lack of ability to sustain their legs of the deterrent – I’d hate to see the Navy adopt the same model. Japan and South Korea are nervous enough as it is – and while I like and trust both of them I’d rather they fall under our nuclear umbrella than create an arsenal of their own.

          • Gary Church

            I agree with sub guy. The Triad is valid. Each leg has it’s vulnerabilities, advantages and disadvantages, but together they deter far more effectively than relying on any two or one. Since we took the bombers off alert (I remember that night) we weakened one leg already.

    • Gary Church

      Anybody who thinks lasers are going to work against missiles is too far gone to pay any attention to.

  • ADM64

    Agree with most of this. Would suggest cutting the flag ranks by 2/3’s, not one half, and a similar massive pruning of the officer corps as a whole, with the heaviest reductions at the upper end.

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    We need the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, a few aircraft carriers, some PT-109’s with technical nukes. In the age of aircraft and missiles or inflatable dingeys loaded with C-4/5/6 ships are sitting ducks. I’m amazed the enemy hasn’t done the Human torpedo thing, disguise it to look as a dolphin. I could see the sailors now looking overboard at a school of dolphins below tossing them some fish before ‘Flipper’ takes out their ship.

  • JimSingleton

    Lippold hit it in the bullseye. And yes, a new frigate, cruiser (ZUMWALT?) AND mine hunter class is exactly what the Navy needs. Its ridiculous seeing DDG-51’s, CGs and Amphibs chasing pirates in skiffs. But PLEASE don’t spend 10 years designing a new keel up frigate. Go to NATO, pick the best of half a dozen excellent, heavily sensored AND armed, frigate designs, buy the license and build them here in every US yard with the capacity. That way we could have new hulls in the fleet inside of 2-3 years. Its going to be tight though, currently the biggest US shipyards are maxed out building a surge in US-flag oil tankers thanks to our new domestic oil capacity.

    • Gary Church

      I would license the latest U-boat like the South Koreans did and put some RTG’s (nuclear batteries- radio isotope thermal generators) in them to run hotel loads submerged on station. You then have cheap semi-nuclear attack subs at 400 million each instead of these missile fodder surface combatants at 700 million each.

  • NavySubNuke

    some great thoughts here – I would add that we need to continue development of the Virginia Payload Module to ensure we recover some of the capability/capacity we are going to lose when we retire the 4 SSGNs without replacement.
    LCS is such a waste – maybe we can convince the coast guard to buy and modify them? The O&S costs of the little crappy ship are going to eat the Navy alive – especially since the Navy will need two separate supply/logistics tails to sustain them.

    • JimSingleton

      Don’t forget the Navy tried to push the CYCLONE PC’s down the Coast Guard’s throat…and I think they eventually gave all those leaking hulls back. I don’t know who paid off who over the LCS’s….like you said, TWO designs??? What were they smoking during that meeting?

      • NavySubNuke

        The only possible reason I can think of is it double the congressional support since they were built by shipyards in different states. It is pretty crazy to think we are making major program decisions just to get the support of the crooks and liars holding the purse strings!

        • JimSingleton

          good point. Though, that’s always seemed to be the way we do things, from the first six frigates and every city having to build its own version instead of all six at the Navy Yard, to LBJ putting NASA’s Mission Control in freakin’ Houston. But we play the game too. I asked VADM Braunt once why is there a Navy Reserve center in Broken Arrow, OK, and Little Rock. Its Navy policy to have a NOSC in every state for some level of Congressional interest.

        • Gary Church

          Not crazy at all- that is the reality. How do you think Lockmart became the most powerful defense corporation in history?

      • PolicyWonk

        The navy actually requisitioned them all back, because they needed something to operate in the littorals, and that’s what the PC’s were designed for.
        The PC’s, for their size, are very heavily armed and well suited for littoral operations.

        • Gary Church

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Strike_Missile

          Might be able to fit a couple these on that size boat. Then I would say it was “heavily armed.”

          But like I said, I was told by an officer who was familiar with them that the engines were extremely difficult to maintain and there were other problems with the cyclones. Kind of like the hydrofoils- they are hot rods and do not have long service lives. I always thought hydrofoils were pretty cool. Why not those for littoral warfare?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus-class_hydrofoil

          • PolicyWonk

            The Cyclones weren’t (aren’t) without their problems – but they would’ve been a good starting point for LCS (size, armament, speed).
            The hydrofoils were very fast, and apparently nasty to maintain and expensive to run. It might not be a bad time to reinvestigate the use of hydrofoils, because there’ve been a lot of improvements since then.

          • Gary Church

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_TNGqQoP2g

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparviero-class_patrol_boat

            Now this thing was heavily armed! Amazing boats; all out of service now as far as I know. What happened to all the hydrofoil missile boats?

          • PolicyWonk

            The Pegasus class hydrofoils were decommissioned because they were considered expensive to run – but one of them would clean the clock of an LCS due to the 76mm gun alone if they had them in sight, or OTH by virtue of the harpoons (2 quad mounts, I think).
            They could do ~50 knots (+/-), when up on the foils from what I recall.

          • Greg Lof

            That assuming that the LCS S-60 or FireScout does not hit you with a Hellfire. An of course if you fire all eight Harpoon, you sill have to get by the RAM battlery.
            Lets face facts, the Pegasus class and the Cyclone class can’t match either LCS version or any combat mission.

          • PolicyWonk

            Choppers are pretty easy to shoot down. In the case of LCS, as virtually all reviewing agencies have pointed out, having a chopper is a pretty weak way of claiming you have an OTH attack capability.

            The Pegasus class was designed for a different mission, but was well suited for the littorals, and by virtue of having a more effective gun, let alone two boxes of harpoons, would clean the clock of an LCS. Obviously, the Pegasus wasn’t intended to sweep mines, and neither were the Cyclones. Neither were intended for ASW operations, and a sub would have a very hard time killing a Pegasus.

            The navy didn’t like Cyclones for several reasons: these were not blue water boats, and the navy has historically been enamored with the blue-water operations; its very hard to make admiral if you’re the skipper of a 372-ton Cyclone; its a basic, gutter-fighting kind of boat. There were also reliability problems. They were however, well suited to fighting in littorals – shallow draft, fast, tough, and for its size – very heavily armed.

            Neither of the LCS variants, or their surface warfare mission packages, garner you a well armed LCS. Certainly not at $340-400M per sea-frame, not counting any mission package that might be aboard.

            Cheers.

      • Gary Church

        I heard about the cyclones when I was in the Coast Guard and nothing good was said about them- extremely difficulty in maintaining the super-powerful engines, no range, poor habitability, etc.

    • Gary Church

      “-maybe we can convince the coast guard to buy and modify them?”

      I do not thing that would work sub guy. Most of that horsepower is a waste to start with. It is too big for an inshore patrol boat and too small for offshore. A surface ship has to be over 300 feet long for the crew to operate efficiently in the deep ocean. Ignoring that simple rule of human factors in ship design has not worked out well and there is no reason to expect it ever will. Can’t just drop a smaller propulsion system in them either. Like so many toys like this, though it seems incredibly wasteful the cheapest solution is to scrap them. A similar situation IMO is the V-22 Osprey. All the PR and B.S. in the world is not going to conceal what junk that thing is for much longer. There is no fixing it’s problems or making it useful for anything- the best course is to drive a stake through it’s heart and move on. The vast treasure we have flushed down the toilet on bad ideas is all about trying to make a profit and this is just another disaster to add to that long list.

      • GaryLockhart

        Please provide a detailed CV of your verifiable experience in the V-22.

        • Gary Church

          Please provide a detailed explanation why.

      • Gary Church

        I did not know the LCS was over 300 feet long. So they might not be that hard on the crew in heavy seas. But from what I have read they are not the sturdiest ships.

    • PolicyWonk

      Indeed, the VPM is an important upgrade/continuation of the Virginia class. The development effort, as last recollection was fully funded. Apparently, the SSGN/special Ops capability of the Ohio’s has found a fan base, after funding (requested in the Presidents budget request) was originally turned down by the HoR.
      Given the vastness of the Pacific, and China’s ever increasing diplomatic belligerence, more Virginia’s sounds like a very good idea.

      • Gary Church

        I think the Virginia with the payload module is the answer to the budget problem; if build around a hundred of them with payload modules then we won’t need a new SSBN fleet- and we can possibly operate drones from them to replace the carrier fleet. The submarine drone carrier is pretty far out I know but they did do some work on the Cormorant UAV. As for littorals, I would say we should license build U-boats like the South Koreans and put some RTG nuclear batteries in them for station keeping; a semi-nuclear submarine. And a decent supersonic anti-ship missile for it. We could build 50 or so of those for 400 million each instead of these missile fodder fake warships for 700 million each.

  • Truthiness

    Sea power zealots think we should buy more ships. Big surprise! Keep beating the drum for your advertisers BD.

    • http://www.breakingdefense.com/ Colin Clark

      It’s an op-ed in which an experienced naval officer makes a reasonable and cogent argument. Disagree all you wish, but please bear in mind that part of our job is serving as the idea hub of the defense world. That usually means talking about weapons. And don’t forget this guy wants to scrap a whole bunch of ships — LCS — in favor of other ships.

      • bobbymike34

        What?? You’re talking about weapons on a defense blog? Crazy! I, like you, am all for factual, reasonable disagreements but it seems there are posters at every defense blog that just yell IKE’S MILITARY INDUSTIRAL COMPLEX! Over and over to where one must ask, what is your purpose of posting?
        I don’t go to vegetarian blogs and complain about the lack of steak recipes.

        • GaryLockhart

          “but it seems there are posters at every defense blog that just yell IKE’S MILITARY INDUSTIRAL(sic) COMPLEX” bobbymike34

          Correction: but it seems there are ignorant posters at every defense blog that just yell IKE’S MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

          The overwhelming majority of the Ike channelers have never even read the speech. If they had they’d chose their words much more carefully. Their out of context paraphrase is the only card they have to play because they fail to comprehend the economics of weapons development.

          • Gary Church

            Ike spelled out the economics plainly and clearly- it is theft. You are the one taking it out of context.

          • bobbymike34

            When the base defense budget costs us 2.9% of GDP compared to over 8% on average during the Cold War we are pretty efficient with our resources, assuming we can fulfil our ‘missions’ at current levels of spending. Also defense spending was 40 to 50% of the federal budget now about 15%, 70% of the budget goes to paying people money in the form of federal checks, again compared, to about 10% in Ike’s time. The federal government spending in no way reflects Ike’s reality.
            And, defense spending will continue to shrink as part of the federal budget and the economy don’t think the defense lobbyists are being very effective.
            I am more worried about the efficacy of defense spending as opposed to its’ efficiency although. of course, every dollar should be spent wisely and waste always sought out to eliminate.

          • Gary Church

            Your numbers are misleading and do not do anything but misrepresent the situation. And that situation is vast amounts of money being poured into exactly what Ike warned us about; a complex designed to make money for an industry that produces nothing useful to a society. Defense is necessary, but when it becomes a business based on transferring tax dollars into shareholder pockets then it is theft.

          • bobbymike34

            Exactly (thanks for the correction frustration lowers my typing skills) I have posted at different sites about my concern for the Nuclear Enterprise and the threat to the industrial base from neglect. It is amazing how many think that if the US needs a new nuke warhead or ICBM in 20 years it can just pull a dusty blue print from the shelf and build one.

    • Gary Church

      Why do you always do this? What point is there in insulting your hosts over and over? I don’t get it. Please explain.

  • JimSingleton

    Must be an Army of one… Don’t forget the Sea Power Zealots bring it all to the table, sea/land/air. We’re a better investment, more bang for the buck.

  • marxestlennonist

    Ok raise taxes for all of those ships and the people to man them.Also pay for all of the roads and bridges that need to be rebuilt. If taxes are not raised where would the money come from?

  • ycplum

    First and foremost, I support any idea that involves taking design away from politicians. LOL
    The Navy has to deal with problems big and small. Consequently, we need heavy hitters and lighter vessels for small low intensity missions. I feel we are too light in regards to the lighter stuff. I never said I supported teh LCS, but I did say we needed something like it. I feel we do need a lot more frigates, but not the typical American frigates that are larger than many destroyers. I think we need a bunch of lighter frigates, maybe in the 3,000 tonne range. With that said, I think small crew, lower price tag and capability (full fill low intensity missions while able to support higher intensity missions) is more important than size.
    With regards to carriers, I have been wondering about a small fleet of 3 or 4 smaller carriers, carrying half the aircrafts of the GRF-class, and going down to 9 or 10 big carrier task forces. The theory is that there are instances where a small carrier with fewer escorts is good enough for some trouble spots. However, I am not sure about the economics. Any thoughts on this?

    • JimSingleton

      The Navy has always hated the phrase ‘small carrier.’ But I agree, I’d personally be out there with 2-3 smaller 45-50,000 ton units versus one mega CVN that is out of action with one good flight deck hit. Of course to the rest of the world most of our LHAs / LHDs are considered carries.

      Also agree on the frigates. The PERRY class with one 3″ gun and a single rail launcher might have been okay for trans-Atlantic convoy escort but not much else. I’ve seen NATO frigates (the Greek MEKO types for example) that are small, cheap to build and heavily armed – 1 x 5″ or 2 x 3″ guns, NATO Sea Sparrow, Harpoons, helo, CIWS, torps, etc. Then on the other end the Brits (Type 26/27), Germans (F125), French (FREMM) and Dutch (Sigma 10514) have very sophisticated ships like the I’ve never understood why we have always have to redesign everything from the ground up and can’t utilize someone else’s decent design already underway.

      • ycplum

        ahem … the one time we used someone elses “decent” design was the LCS. Unfortunately, they were civilian high-speed ferries. I guess we should start with a decent “military” design next time. LOL
        I suspect one of the biggest problems is “up selling”. After they have finished the design and often while under construction, they try to add on additional systems and lose sight of the original mission and budget.

        The one thing that bothers me about having several smaller carriers is the personnel. I am afraid it may be higher than one or two big carriers and that would increase annual cost. I am an army guy so this degree of detail is a bit outside my area.

  • http://www.rolltopmanifesto.com/ TominVA

    A strong Navy has always been vital to our security and prosperity. In the past two decades, this seems to have been forgotten not only by Congress and the people, but by the Navy as well. For that matter, NATO has also been adrift. The crisis in Ukraine will hopefully change all that. We should give Putin the Legion of Merit.

  • H. H. GAFFNEY

    CDR Lippold should ask the Tea Party, and their new leader, Rand Paul, who now seems to be leading the pack to be the Republican candidate for President for the 2016 election, about all this financing stuff and all this “managing instability all over the world” stuff. The U.S. doesn’t have the resources, and won’t under current conditions. Besides, the U.S. Navy never patrolled all the sealanes of the world (see “Three Hubs,” then down to two). As for patrolling per se, it only patrols the Persian Gulf and we certainly have enough ships to do that. (As for pirates, 22-23 ships of all nations were out on the Somali pirates patrols, of which only 2-3 were American; our greatest contribution that situation was organizing them all; and now that problem has gone away.) The China relations problem (which militarily is about rocks and Taiwan) is far larger the the U.S. Navy. As for Russia, under the new Cold War situation, their economy is going to get even worse than ours. Right now, they have only one new SSGN, whose construction began back in 1994, and one other in construction, to replace all those Akulas and Oscars. Otherwise, their navy is becoming simply a territorial defense navy.

  • ycplum

    With regard to the number of flag officers, I agree that it should be reduced, but not by a set number. It should be clearly laid out what assignments warrant a flag officer and those assignemnts should be far and few between. In the end, I would expect at least half to be cut.

  • Derek Sage

    Everyone wants more, but don’t want to pay for it. Raise revenues or quit giving tax breaks to corporations and corporate farmers. (You can make welfare and food stamps time limited too!)

  • Jon

    The 800 lbs gorilla the article doesn’t mention is the ridiculous cost of new ships, our broken procurement process…

    Clearest “apples to apples” example is the JHSV. 70% commonality with the Hawaiian Superferry. Austal delivered the Superferry for a cost of $88 million per hull. The JHSV costs the taxpayer roughly $225 million per hull.

    And that, is why our Navy doesn’t have nice things…

    • JimSingleton

      That’s a good example. I’ve been with MSC and they like their new JHSV toys. Still amazing the mil-spec version doubled in price.

      • Jon

        Why buying in bulk costs 2x+ amazes me as well…I gues mil-spec grey paint is EXPENSIVE.

        I like the JHSV too…why they’re not looking at the JHSV with a re-designed superstructure and a helo hangar as a cost effective solution for the ASW/MCM LCS missions baffles me. Can’t see how it’s any more range limited than the LCS being constrained to 2 week deployments, tied to it’s maintenance/repair package, and operating in 3-4 ship squadrons…

  • JimSingleton

    Once we get shields to go along with the rail guns and lasers we should be all set. All paid for with the new corporate and 1% “Defend America Tax.”

  • ziggy1988

    I agree fully with all proposals in this article… except that related to aircraft carriers. CVNs are hugely expensive, extremely vulnerable, have huge radar and noise signatures, and offer very little strike capability in return for their huge cost.

    Just think of this: if submarine exercises held with foreign navies in the last 15 years had been real combat, EVERY carrier of the US Navy would’ve been at the bottom of the ocean right now.
    And think of this, too: the USS Gerald R. Ford will cost almost $13 bn. For that amount of money, China can build 1,227 DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles – and only ONE of these would be needed to sink the ship. In other words, the USN’s ballistic missile defenses would have to intercept EVERY SINGLE ONE of these 1,227 ASBMs.

    Also, the author seems to think the USN lives in a world of unconstrained resources. It doesn’t. The DOD’s budget is subject to sequestration. That means hard choices have to be made – now.

    • Gary Church

      I agree with Z without reservation. The DF-21D seems to be as much of a turning point as the Sunburn missile was when it was fielded. We cannot keep ignoring these weapons. It is an extremely serious mistake that could cost the U.S. everything. The resources we are expending on these surface combatants are immense and should be channeled toward the obviously more effective systems in this age of robots and missiles.

      • Paul

        DF-21D is a ballistic missile, SM-3 is an ABM and SM-6 has a secondary ABM role, not perfect but real and here now. Directed energy weapons are being developed and deployed and ships can still manoeuvre to evade in coming weapons. The DF-21D is a ballistic weapon with a ballistic flight path that will be tracked and will be engaged, countermeasures will be deployed and a carrier manoeuvring at 30 knots will not be an easy target in the open ocean, especially if multiple decoys are deployed to spoof the incoming missiles. There is also targeting, where with the DF-21D get its data from, can these sources be countered, destroyed or spoofed?
        I do not believe the threat is as clear cut or as impossible to counter as many believe, besides if the carrier is a vulnerable dead end why is China investing so much in obtaining their own? Sort of suggests they know their carrier killer is not infallible but rather just another string to their bow.

        • Clarkward

          Actually, the DF-21 has onboard sensors for making terminal-phase course changes. No live-fire tests against moving ships that I’ve heard of, but it’s not THAT hard to hit a 5-acre target with a top end around 30 knots…

          • Paul

            Yes I am aware of its onboard sensors but it is also traveling extremely fast and would not take much to miss. I imagine that while inbound the battle group with be throwing everything they have at it. Like everything there will be counters, counters to the counters and so forth. The other factor is I don’t believe the USN would put their carriers within harms way i.e. they would not be deploying to confined waters where they would be sitting ducks, they would where possible stay out of reach and only close as required, probably after a pre-emptive strike on the DF-21 launch sites and after a defensive missile shield had been deployed.
            I am not arguing for the point of arguing but rather trying to point out that there are always new weapons and tactics being developed and that it doesn’t happen in a vacuum, there will be counters, you can count on it.

          • Gary Church

            Don’t count on it. They counted on those patriots in the first gulf war. The Stark counted on it’s missile defense system. Missiles work but missile defense does not. It has to do with physics but making money seems to make those rules not applicable.
            Can’t hit a bullet with a bullet.

          • Paul

            Fair call on the Patriots but Stark is not a good example. Stark failed to detect the threat, Super RBOC decoys were not armed, the Phalanx was on stand by and not used to engage and no effort was made to manoeuvre or to bring other systems into play. Basically every mistake that could be made was made and none of the four systems that could have prevented the hits was used. Part of the issue was Iraq, while not a friend was not seen as a threat.
            The Mirage was within the engagement range of Standard when it fired the Exocets but it wasn’t even warned off. Like I said the primary decoys weren’t even armed and couldn’t have been fired even if the order had been given, Standard was within arcs for the Mk13 but fire control channels weren’t activated, the Phalanx was just within arcs but no order to engage was given the Mk75 was out of arc but no attempt was made to manoeuvre to change this. Compare this to much less well equipped RN ships during the Falklands that manoeuvred aggressively and brought everything they had onto target resulting in many saves (and at least one collateral loss when a spoof Exocet struck the containership Atlantic Conveyor instead of the targeted carrier.

          • Gary Church

            Maybe you don’t think the Stark was a “good” example. I do;
            “An AWACS plane on patrol nearby, with an American and Saudi Arabian crew, first detected the incoming Iraqi jet and informed the Stark, which picked up the aircraft on radar, 200 miles out.[citation needed] When it came within view just before 10:00 pm, it was off the Stark’s port side beam.
            Captain Brindel was not alarmed[citation needed] and he ordered his radioman to send a message at 10:09, “Unknown aircraft, this is U.S. Navy warship on your 078 for twelve miles. Request you identify yourself.”
            When the message was not responded to, a second was sent but still
            there was no reply. At 10:10 Captain Brindel was informed that the Iraqi
            aircraft had locked his Cyrano-IV fire-control radar
            onto the ship. The F-1 fired a missile from twenty-two miles away and a
            second at fifteen miles, banked left, and began to withdraw. Stark’s search radar and ESM systems failed to detect the incoming missiles-”

            No excuses please.

            Maybe you think the Falklands were a “good” example; During the preparation for the war, Britain benefited from the help of France, which gave the Exocet’s code and homing radar. The Argentines had 5 missiles. Five missiles nearly chased the British Navy away.
            The missile defense lobby has been making a fortune since Reagan but it is all a scam. You might as well try and stop machine gun bullets by shooting another machine gun at them.

          • Paul

            The RN was an Exocet user and the Argentine Navy was a Sea Dart user, each had an intimate understanding of the others key missiles. One Exocet was spoofed, hitting a non targeted ship, one was destroyed by naval gunfire (lucky fluke but if you don’t shoot at all you will hit nothing), one Exocet hit and sank a destroyer that had its own radars on standby to permit long satellite coms and was relying on Data links from other ships it was unfortunately masking the aircraft and missile from, and one (shore based missile was successfully evaded to a near miss (it hit the hanger and flight deck) due to aggressive manoeuvring. In contrast Stark although provided early warning the RN would have killed for did not attempt to engage the aircraft or missiles and did not attempt to maneuverer. A bit on Phalanx, that system (particularly the hanger top mounted system on FFGs) will track and follow the rotor blade tips of near by helicopters as if they are pop up missile targets, freaks the pilots but the man in the loop keeps it safe.
            Super Rboc would have spoofed the missile as it did successfully in the Falklands and who knows what would have happened had the Phalanx or Mk75 been used to engage.
            Enjoying these discussions, don’t agree on everything but leaning a lot and hope my posts are seen as contributing to knowledge and understanding as well.

          • Gary Church

            Your excuses for missile defense not working in the past do remove the fact that the missile worked. The missiles of today are not the missiles of ten years ago. While surface combatants could previously have some success (not much) countering them IMO those days are over and will not return. The missiles now have high definition multiple sensors and computers with extremely sophisticated detection and evasion programs. Moore’s law. Because they are flying at speeds of mach 3+, are capable of extreme maneuvers due to advances like laser gyros and are evasive to a far greater degree, countermeasures (which were never that effective) are now far less so. Missiles work far better than they ever did and missile defense which never worked very well is now practically useless. Instead of the 5 Exocets the British faced we are likely to face swarm attacks of fifty or more. Instead of subsonic they will fly at Mach 3 and have detection and evasion computers not just much better, but HUNDREDS OF TIMES more powerful. So I have to completely disagree with anyone who parrots the missile defense lobby propaganda. It is a scam.

          • Gary Church

            Correction; Your excuses for missile defense not working in the past do NOT remove the fact that the missiles worked.

            Your clever attempts at making hits in the Falklands sound like misses are amusing. Your repeated attempts to make it sound like the Stark “could have” countered the missiles fired at it are….meaningless. You can keep trying but I will not let you get away with continuing to try and blow smoke and baffle with B.S.

          • Paul

            Not parroting anything, infact I have very little confidence in most missile land based missile defence concepts as they consistently fail testing. I do have a higher level of faith in the more conservative naval projects but am also interested in Israeli developments as well.
            Remember the D21 has a range of about 1500 km a speed of Mach 10, making it an area denial weapon the best defence for which is to stay outside this kill zone. To me D21 aside would you want to send a carrier in that close to so much land based airpower anyway?
            You are a fan of subs, as am I and in particular I see the increased strike capability of the block III and IV Virginias as an enabler for other legacy capabilities. These subs will be able to identify (through various ISR assets) and engage land based radars and launchers if required. They are even developing submarine launch UCAVs, now that would be a game changer having these conducting ISR and counter area denial system missions.
            The game is always changing. Remember in 1973 experts, real and imagined, were predicting the death of the main battle tank at the hands of ATGWs. forty years later only a fool would say that an MBT was a death trap and waste of resources.
            The secret, air, land or sea is, as it has always been, combined arms and employing the right mix of supporting capabilities to get the job done.

          • Gary Church

            You can hide a tank under a tree. You can’t hide an aircraft carrier. There is no staying outside the kill zone. There is no secret, no experts real or imagined, there are weapons and if they are used they will either work or they will not. Missiles work against ships. They work against airplanes, they work against tanks. They do not work against other missiles anymore than bullets work against other bullets. You can hide a tank from them, you can hide a submarine from them. You cannot hide a ship and despite advertising to the contrary, I doubt you can hide an airplane from them. You can keep your faith but you are not going to convert me- no matter how many paragraphs you crank out.

          • Paul

            Nope you’ve lost me, a range of 1500km means the weapon is a threat within 1500km it is a land based system you get a map you get a compass you have the kill zone. Stay outside that radius it is not going to touch you. If China wants to extend that kill zone then they need to increase range or they need to deploy to missiles from ships or subs time consuming and making them legitimate military targets and fair game.
            Missiles can shoot down missiles it is tested and proven.
            I have tried to be reasonable but this is getting repetitive and almost tracking the angle Chinese stuff lever misses and US stuff never hits, this is not fact it is propaganda and as I stated earlier if carriers are so old hat and vulnerable WHY is China investing more in building a carrier capability than they are in their anti carrier missile?
            Same for those who claim China and Russia’s SU27/32/35 are superior to the F-35 etc, if they are so good why are both nations investing so much in trying to catch up on LO? Again propaganda.
            I am sorry I have tried to be diplomatic and meet you half way but it appears only one of us is listening and giving any credence to the other.

          • Gary Church

            “Missiles can shoot down missiles it is tested and proven.”

            Suuuuure it is…wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

            “WHY is China investing more in building a carrier capability than they are in their anti carrier missile?”

            They are not. They are investing in both. One rusty old Russian carrier to have one and see what they can do with it. You seem to think what exactly they are “investing in” is transparent for all to see. It is not.

            You have “tried to be reasonable?” That is hilarious. Nobody cares if you are trying. Your diplomacy is misplaced as I made it clear that I do not consider anything you are saying credible. Okay? So keep cranking out the comments and I will keep throwing the B.S. flag on you.

          • Paul

            BS is a mater of perspective and from my perspective I’d say you will be in need of a snorkel pretty soon. I’m here for reasonable discussion, if that’s nots what is on offer its a shame but not the end of the world.
            Keep banging on by all means but my credibility filters are well in place and bemusement factor engaged so have a good life an please continue to entertain.

          • Clarkward

            I agree; remember back when the ATGM came out and everyone predicted the demise of the tank? New weapons come out, and new counters are found. My hope is that our shipboard ABM system develops into something effective against ASBMs.

  • David Klein

    Not sure what math he’s using to cite ENTERPRISE as serving 60 years – more like 51 years. And the days of building NIM class carriers for 4-6B are long gone – debate the value of a CVN all you want but it is naive (or ignorant) to simply wave your hand and say don’t worry about cost. Other than a jobs program for HII, I don’t see a compelling case in his position to ‘expand’ the carrier fleet. Maybe a better question is why is this guy getting paid to offer defense policy advise? The only reason his name is known is because he allowed his ship to be attacked – not sure I’d want that on my CV …

    • StealthFlyer

      David, your math is correct. ENTERPRISE served for 51 years, not 60. The eight conventional supercarriers of the FORRESTAL and KITTY HAWK classes, which were contemporaries of the ENTERPRISE, served an average of 39 years, with only the CONSTELLATION (42 years) and KITTY HAWK (48 years) serving more than 40 years.

    • Gary Church

      He allowed his ship to be attacked? This is an example of a person saying something they would never say to another person face to face because they now they would get their ass kicked. Internet coward.

  • JimSingleton

    It would be interesting if we have reached a historical point where because of the points listed below we are finally passing out of the age of the big CVN and back to the age of the battleship. Or at least a surface (sub/semi-surface?) combatant with sufficient long range strike and self defensive weaponry / sensors / armor to operate in the DF-21D threat areas. Or maybe small/fast enough to get in and out.

    • Gary Church

      What exactly do you mean by “semi-surface” Jim? Something that is not a real submarine but can submerge just below the surface to hide but not go anywhere? I have thought about that once in a while. Interesting idea.

  • Jim N Kim London

    a50% cut of the generals staff and officers corps in all branches is a much needed listing for the overall cuts in the military. A reduction to 10 of the carriers and fleet ships that work as the carrier group. Subs need replacing due to age can be replaced but no additional subs should inflate the Navy’s ranks. It is way past time to do a 35 to 50% cut across the boards in all branches and get us back to a peacetime economy. Our bloated and very much top heavy ranks need to go and go now.

  • Ken Miller

    I do have to disagree with one point – speeding along the production of any CVN. These take a long time for good reason. Newport News knows what they’re doing. Maybe close the gap between keel layings, but don’t try to speed up the keel-to-delivery time.

  • Gary Church

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhj8ITvp-pw

    Missiles work. Missile defense does not.

    • bobbymike34

      You posted a movie clip to prove the effectiveness of missile defense? Seriously?

      • Gary Church

        Better proof than all the B.S. I have been getting thrown at me in these comments. Seriously. But a picture does say a thousand words.

        • bobbymike34

          Although I agree with the concept that we are under investing in fast strike missile systems IMHO

      • Gary Church

        To DISPROVE the effectiveness of missile defense. Rigged tests designed to sell interceptor missiles prove nothing IMO.

        • bobbymike34

          Yes spelling/grammar Nazi – disprove. You knew what I meant I bet you’re great fun at parties.
          It is possible to prove the effectiveness is sub-optimal?

          • Gary Church

            Sorry, just wanted to be clear because of all the other grammar nazis.
            Sure- let’s launch some missiles at some ships and see if they can shoot them down. The only problem is these missiles do not even need explosives in them to sink ships. The Exocet that sank the Sheffield had a dud warhead and one of the two that hit the Stark did not explode either. They are essentially little kamikazes that keep getting faster and harder to hit. I am extremely skeptical that any of this missile defense stuff is worth a damn. It is the perfect scam- you just rig the tests.

            I would like to see some missiles fired at anti-missile systems in independent tests to see if they work. But that cannot happen for a couple reasons; the main one being the industry would never allow it.

          • bobbymike34

            Actually I agree with you on this and recently an Admiral, I believe, called for the same thing.

          • Gary Church

            http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/07/16/lets-end-bogus-missile-defense-testing/

            If you are talking about this it was not about anti-ship missile defense. But I expect the same thing goes on testing them that goes on testing ballistic missile defense; Cha-CHING!

          • bobbymike34

            I agree that there should be realistic testing of all defensive systems.

  • patb2009

    given the rise in drones, a cruiser launched drone and recovery approach may be more cost effective then drones.

  • Nicolas A Protonotarios

    I fear the problem US planners should address is not capability through increased numbers or even technological edge, but the selection of a global strategy that minimizes threats and allows alliances to complement US military assets. In this the US is failing miserably.
    What we (in the Med) are increasingly witnessing is a constant mishandling of defence assets in pursuit of dubious strategic goals.
    Yes, it is true that carriers were the first to launch retaliatory strikes against the enemy following 9/11, but which enemy was this? And how did these, and subsequent, attacks serve US security? IMHO they only served to increase rather than decrease security threats. The dismantling of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo referendum is another case of American short-sightedness creating a black hole in the Balkans and turning a potential valuable and aspiring ally into a bitter and diminished enemy (post-communist Yugoslavia).
    Now, once again, we are witnessing the same incompetence in designating enemies. Regardless of micro-political differences, the Crimean affair is a truly Russian affair in Russia’s backyard. What’s more, Russia w/o its communist agenda is the ONLY natural ally of the US and the West in general. It possesses all the elements missing from the NATO alliance and it will in the future act as a bulwark against Asiatic expansion when economics become irrelevant (I expect in less than 5 years). Then, I fear it will be too late to turn a designated foe into a reliable friend. The two main strategic threats to western security both arise from the East and South, in the form of resurgent Asian self-awareness and Islamic intransingence. I believe you will find that carriers wil be of limited use then. Russian clout, presence and terrestrial expanse will be.
    Wise-up gentlemen and get out of your stale Cold War mentality…

    • Gary Church

      I appreciate some of your points Nicolas but I personally think what we see being presented by the news is not the whole story. There are so many back stories going on driving these events, many of them classified, that while we can make blanket statements about how stupid the U.S. has been it may not be that simple. And I am not talking conspiracy theory trash- just the standard twisted web of complex political considerations behind all these events. But you make a good point in that the U.S. has made some real whopper policy mistakes. The weapons of mass destruction deception and the dismantling of the Iraqi army to name two. Makes me mad just writing about it.

      • Gary Church

        And now the money angle emerges; aid to Ukraine. I knew that was coming.

  • Gary Church

    From wiki: The Virginia-class is built through an industrial arrangement designed to keep both GD Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company (the only two U.S. shipyards capable of building nuclear-powered vessels) in the submarine-building business.

    Cut the flag officers and build more submarines. That is about all I can agree with him on. I would say building the Virginia subs with a 4 tube payload module would put the SSBN fleet out of business. The Virginia with 4 tube payload module is probably the ultimate warship; it can carry trident missiles or cruise missiles or drones- even recover and re-arm the drones. The Virginia class carrying cormorant-type drones would replace the carrier fleet- that’s the 21st century navy IMO. Since surface combatants cannot survive anymore against anti-ship missiles…..we should not build anymore. Far better to license build a fleet of U-boats like the South Koreans. I know it is sacrilege but it would also allow money to be spent on a fleet of large transport hulls to carry our army overseas.

  • Gary Church

    How about bringing and improved version of these boats back into service? They were very heavily armed with 8 missiles and decent sized gun. Why was this type not continued? Maybe not big enough for higher ranking officers to get their sea time on? Yathink?

  • estuartj

    My new rule is that as soon as any poster mentions the size of the (non-EMRG) gun on a ship as a strength or weakness in a conflict with anyone other than pirates or swarm boats I’m going to just ignore the rest of the comment. If you really think a future conflict is going to be even marginally influenced by a gun vs gun exchange then you are too far gone to participate in a rational discussion on naval equipment or tactics.

    • Gary Church

      Ignore away if you think I am “too far gone.”
      I don’t think guns on ships matter too much in this age of robots and missiles- but then I don’t think surface combatants can survive against anti-ship missiles anyway.

  • Gary Church

    My new rule is that as soon any poster mentions laser beams on ships as being effective against missiles that I am just going to have to expose the missile defense scam for what it is. “Participating” in rational discussions on naval equipment and tactics while ignoring the fact that surface combatants can no longer survive in this age of robots and missiles reveals just how foolish the armchair admirals on these forums have become.

    • estuartj

      “Expose the missle defense scam”? This is a dog whistle for “I’m a loon”.

      • Gary Church

        Quit blowing your dog whistle.

  • http://www.oss.net RobertDavidSTEELEVivas

    Some great ideas here, and a great deal of passion. I am a strong supporter of the frigate, and also the smaller Expediter that several of us invented in 1998 (needed, 75 of these, one third VSTOL, one third fire support, one third troop carriers, a high speed variant betwene the air-capable destroyer and the frigate). The carriers are a problem as long as we fail to be serious about building aircraft — the F-22 and the F-35 are national disgraces that need to be trashed, we should bring Pierre Sprey back to lead a Navy-Marine Corps “Manhattan Project” on naval aviation while also moving Close Air Support from the Air Force to the Army.

    I was nearly fired as the senior civilian at the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity after telling a joint USN-USMC strategy board that we needed to cut back on the carriers and instead move toward more ships globally distributed and littoral capable. Glad to see the CNO and his staff finally coming around.

    I urge one and all to search online for that will get you to both the CNO’s testimony to Congress ably reported in Military.com, my original 1999 article, “Muddy Waters, Rusting Buckets: A Skeptical Assessment of US Naval Effectiveness in the 21st Century.”

    Am quite certain that CNO is surrounded by senior civilians just waiting for him to leave so they can get back to business as usual, and I am the LAST person any of them would want CNO to talk to…but if anyone can get my original thinking in front of CNO, I would be pleased. He’s on the right track — but he does not have a staff capable of executing a 450 ship Navy while also taking a 30% budget cut, both things I do know how to do because I know who knows — all the people shut out by a very corrupt system that can no longer design a ship or create an honest acquisition program.

  • stig781

    ” Especially given other nations’ growing anxiety about whether the US will still shoulder the leadership role of protecting them”

    The US shoulders “a” not “the” leadership role, in protecting them, if at all.

    “The United States cannot protect the world’s sealanes”

    That’s because it doesn’t, its job is to protect America’s sea lanes.

    This editor is clueless.