Canada Kicks Ass
The Case for a 21st-Century Battleship

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BartSimpson @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:17 pm

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-bu ... ship-24804

Thought provoking. :idea:

$1:
In World War II, the Japanese super-battleships Yamato and Musahi each mounted nine 18.1-inch guns, the largest naval guns ever deployed, but they never sank a single American ship. In a conflict decided by naval aviation, Yamato and Musahi were used mainly as flagships and troop transports. Despite their huge armaments, they were steel dinosaurs from an earlier strategic age.

But how do you sink a steel dinosaur? The answer is: "with difficulty." It took eleven torpedoes and six bombs to sink the Yamato. The Musahi took nineteen torpedoes and seventeen bombs. And at the time they were sunk, both ships were already limping along on patch-up repairs from earlier torpedo strikes. They may have been strategically useless, but the Yamato and Musahi were almost (if not quite) indestructible.

Naval construction requires decades of advance planning, and naval planners are always at risk of fighting the last war. Since the end of World War II, U.S. naval planning has revolved around the aircraft carrier. But world wars are few and far between, and other missions abound. When it comes to countering the rise of China, some of the most frequent missions are freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) requiring no fighting at all.

Over the last several years China has become increasingly aggressive in asserting illegal maritime claims in the South China Sea. In response, the United States regularly conducts FONOPs, sailing destroyers within twelve nautical miles of China's artificial islands to repudiate Beijing's claims to sovereign territorial waters. So far, China has been sensible enough not to challenge any of these operations.

But a destroyer is a fragile fish. In June last year the USS Fitzgerald was put out of action by a collision with a container ship, with the loss of seven lives—on the destroyer. Then in August the USS John S. McCain was nearly sunk by an oil tanker. Ten sailors lost their lives. The tanker suffered no injuries. Leaving aside the issue of poor seamanship, these two collisions illustrated a potentially more serious shortcoming of today's naval ships: poor survivability. Navy ships used to threaten oil tankers, not the other way around.

The U.S. Navy certainly needs the firepower provided by its awesome carrier strike groups and its flimsy, but nonetheless formidable, guided missile destroyers. But it also needs ships that can take a punch and keep on sailing. That kind of toughness is likely to become an even more important quality as China develops its precision strike capacities. Soon it may become too dangerous to sail an unarmored ship in the South China Sea.

Stealth is one way to keep from getting hit, and the United States leads the way in the development of stealthy destroyers. But stealth defeats the purpose of a FONOP, which is to be seen. An old-fashioned battleship is a ship to be seen—and in a big way. But there's no need for the Navy to build an old-fashioned battleship in the twenty-first century when it can build a new-fashioned battleship instead.

A contemporary battleship would combine advanced armor materials with automated damage control to produce a ship that is virtually unsinkable. Its offensive armaments might be mission-specific, but its key attribute would be survivability. It would be a ship that could be put in harm's way in the reasonable expectation of coming home in one piece.

This "battleship of the future" could solve the challenge posed by China's emerging anti-access / area denial (A2/AD) strategy for excluding the United States from the western Pacific. China is rapidly expanding and improving its networks of onshore, offshore, undersea, and space-based sensors to the extent that it will soon be able to see everything that moves between the Chinese mainland and the first island chain formed by Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, and the Philippines. And improvements in precision weaponry will increasingly mean that China will be able to hit anything it can see.

America's response has been a shifting set of tactical plans successively labeled as AirSea Battle, JAM-GC and Third Offset. What these plans all have in common is the idea that the best defense is a good offense: instead of defending against Chinese A2/AD attacks, they propose that the United States strike first to take out the command-and-control networks that tie China's sensors to its precision munitions. The problem is that this implies the immediate escalation of any A2/AD scenario into a full-scale war.

That's where the battleship of the future comes in: it would give the United States a defensive option for limited conflict. For example, a future battleship could respond to Chinese provocations by disabling Chinese seabed sensors or cutting Chinese undersea cables. It could survive being rammed by enemy ships—a favorite tactic of the Chinese and North Koreans. And if A2/AD did escalate into a shooting war, it could operate in the danger zone while U.S. offensive actions turned the tables.

The U.S. Navy will never again be a dreadnought fleet of big-gun battleships. But it is time to reexamine the role of armor in naval architecture. Even the most forward-leaning offensive operation needs a few tough linesmen who can take a beating and stay in the game. A future battleship would give the Navy— and by extension the president—warfighting options other than the total annihilation of the enemy. Regular FONOPs already demonstrate the need for such options. The A2/AD threat will likely generate even more dangerous missions that only a durable battleship of the future can safely perform.

   



bootlegga @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:40 pm

While I agree that an armoured warship would have some uses, I question whether or not they'd be worthwhile in the South China Sea.

China has massed hundreds of area denial missiles on their coastline to sink carriers, and I'd guess a battleship would probably be fairly large too, meaning it would need an extensive anti-missile capability, because none of the existing Aegis assets are hardened enough to survive that environment (the Ticonderoga class cruisers probably aren't all that much more survivable than the Arleigh Burke DDHs are).

Still, it's an interesting proposition that probably needs some study.

   



martin14 @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:54 pm

The Bismark also required quite a few hits before she sank.

As a showpiece, a new battleship would be very impressive.

As a defence piece, maybe.

   



Thanos @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:59 pm

The effectiveness of the anti-ship missiles might be highly over-rated. None of the current Russian or Chinese missiles have sunk anything of substance yet, and the USS Stark survived (with great loss) when it was hit by an Iraqi Exocet. It's fair to question the survivability of the destroyers or frigates. In the case of the carriers though, where it's been wildly claimed that they're obsolete due to the new anti-ship missiles, there is zero real evidence to suggest that they're sitting ducks. The best evidence is that there hasn't been a US carrier sunk in action since 1944 and since then their defences have only gotten stronger. If the USS Forrestal could survive it's own ordnance blowing up inside the ship after a major on-deck accident during the Vietnam war then the super-carriers right now could be considered optimistically as the actual definition of "unsinkable".

As for the battle ship idea, who knows really. I doubt that the US Navy has the resources right now to invest in anything like that these days, moreso after it appears the USS Gerald Ford carrier might be a botch requiring a complete rework thanks to the repeated failures of it's magnetic deployment system to launch aircraft. The idea of something the size of the old USS Missouri or the Yamato, but even more heavily armoured, just bristling with more missiles than can be counted is fairly fascinating though. Toss in a dozen or so railguns installed on it too and suddenly that thing becomes the most lethal ship ever deployed, kind of like a sea-bourne Death Star. I have no doubt the technology is there, but it would be a matter of will and financial resources to be able to get it done.

   



ShepherdsDog @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:00 pm

Well, the USS Missouri stopped an alien invasion. The biggest threat to the battlewagons are subs rather than cruise missiles.

   



CDN_PATRIOT @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:05 pm

martin14 martin14:
The Bismarck also required quite a few hits before she sank.


The Brits pounded away for hours at her superstructure and armour. A torpedo crippled her rudders, but ultimately her own crew scuttled her, denying the Brits their prize.

Still one of the best look warships EVER built.

BIS.jpg
BIS.jpg [ 639.12 KiB | Viewed 146 times ]

-J.

   



Thanos @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:09 pm

I'd go with the Prinz Eugen instead, considering it survived six years of war and two atomic bomb test blasts before it finally gave up.

   



BartSimpson @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:10 pm

I agree. Bismarck remains the only ship I ever modeled in 1/350. It's also the only model of a battleship I've kept over the years.

Damned shame the Brits couldn't have captured it because it would have been awesome to see it under a Union Jack.

   



ShepherdsDog @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:16 pm

Prinz Eugen was a heavy cruiser rather than a battleship. Same armament, but less armour to give it greater speed. Bismarck was an actual battleship.

   



BartSimpson @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:22 pm

The Germans and Japanese also maintained their safety protocols during battle and that added to their survivability in battle.

The Brits (no offence) didn't learn from Jutland that you don't skip the safety protocols during battle and they likely lost the Hood years later due to their persistent predilection for leaving hatches open to magazines in order to speed the movement of ordnance.

   



CDN_PATRIOT @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:24 pm

BartSimpson BartSimpson:
It would have been awesome to see it under a Union Jack.


No it wouldn't. Not one bit.

"Die Männer der Kriegsmarine wird auf die letzte Shell kämpfen. langen das Vaterland live....."


-J.

   



xerxes @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:39 pm

And I’ve always been partial to the Scharnhorst. I love the quote the British commander had aftercshe finally went under.

"Gentlemen, the battle against the Scharnhorst has ended in victory for us. I hope that any of you who are ever called upon to lead a ship into action against an opponent many times superior, will command your ship as gallantly as the Scharnhorst was commanded today."
Admiral Bruce Fraser

As to the OP, it’s an interesting idea but lMO, I can’t really see the need for battleships in the modern era. If the idea is pure force projection, then carriers are still the way to go. If you want a visible show of force, then I don’t see why a Ticonderoga class CG couldn’t do the trick. It’s bristling with missiles and can bring a lot of pain to whatever it sets its eyes on either in the air, on land or on or under the sea.

To buil a modern battleship, would probably cost around the same as a carrier which is around $15bn IIRC, and the same amount of design and build time. And arming it with too many missile system would me make a commander nervous I would think. One lucky hit to a magazine and you have the worlds most expaensive fireworks display and probably the worst loss of life in the USN since the Indianapolis.

   



xerxes @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:47 pm

BartSimpson BartSimpson:
The Germans and Japanese also maintained their safety protocols during battle and that added to their survivability in battle.

The Brits (no offence) didn't learn from Jutland that you don't skip the safety protocols during battle and they likely lost the Hood years later due to their persistent predilection for leaving hatches open to magazines in order to speed the movement of ordnance.


Corrrect me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the Hood lost to an insanely lucky shot that hit her magazines that went through he unarmoured wood deck?

   



BartSimpson @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:49 pm

If Trump ever decides to build a battleship it'll be built ahead of schedule, under budget, and it'll be garishly decorated.

   



Thanos @ Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:58 pm

xerxes xerxes:
BartSimpson BartSimpson:
The Germans and Japanese also maintained their safety protocols during battle and that added to their survivability in battle.

The Brits (no offence) didn't learn from Jutland that you don't skip the safety protocols during battle and they likely lost the Hood years later due to their persistent predilection for leaving hatches open to magazines in order to speed the movement of ordnance.


Corrrect me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the Hood lost to an insanely lucky shot that hit her magazines that went through he unarmoured wood deck?


Pretty much. Hood was built for speed and looks and the deck armour (about one or two inches of steel underneath wood lanking) was incabable of stopping a shell of that large size from penetrating, especially from that steep plunging trajectory. Odds are that the same thing would have happened to any other battleship or cruiser too that was hit by the same shot.

The USS Arizona, interestingly enough, also wasn't destroyed by a standard aerial bomb of the era. The Japanese had outfitted their bombers with what were basically medium-sized armour-piercing artillery shells with fins attached to them for stabilization after being dropped. The one that took out the Arizona was hardened enough that it punched right through the ship's deck and out the bottom and into the mud/sand of the harbour beneath the ship. When it exploded the blast went back up through the hole it had caused and detonated the magazine for the second front turret.

   



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