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Trends in Naval Warfare (was Re: Tank designs [and battleships])

From: Jerry Han <jhan@c...>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 17:55:40 -0500
Subject: Trends in Naval Warfare (was Re: Tank designs [and battleships])

This thread sounds like something we hashed out on sci.military a long 
time ago... (long before there was a sci.military.naval).


Adrian Johnson wrote:
> >On Tue, 17 Nov 1998, John M. Atkinson wrote:
> >> Thomas Anderson wrote:
> >>  How many destroyers firing how many SSMs do we get for
> >> that?
> >
> >oodles. but they still mount less SSMs in total than the battleship
> >and have less thickness of armour, and can't see as far with their
> >(although airborne radars negate this disadvantage), and don't have
> >same concentration of point defence or fire control.
> We invented decentralization 'cause in cases like this it's a good
> A battleship puts all the eggs in one basket.  It only takes one
missile to
> sneak through the point defense, and the battleship has a really bad

Depends on the missile.  You're going to need a hell of a lot of Exocet
hits (12+) to hurt the integrity of something like an Iowa.  A mission
kill is a lot easier, because their aerials, missile tubes, etc. aren't
protected by the main armour belt.  But it'll take a hell of a lot
of pounding to get through the belt itself.

> Yes, they have lots of armour, yes they carry lots of ordnance, yes
> have a tall radar mast - but it still only takes one modern torpedo or
> or mine to kill one, or at least damage it lots.  If you have the same
> weaponry spread over four or five destroyers with effective fleet
> systems, you have the same offensive effectiveness and better defense,
> 'cause you have to get five hits to sink them all.

Assuming that you can fit the weaponry on smaller platforms.  Currently,

it just so happens we live in an age where small ships can carry a punch
much larger (in respect to size) then in previous ages, and defences 
haven't kept pace.  If ship defences improve to a point where small
can carry good point defence (e.g. 6km/s point defence railguns), then 
ship size is going to go up again, as you have to mount larger and

Right now, I believe your argument is valid; but since this list isn't
about right now, I'm just stating that it may not hold true in the
In fact, I'm starting to wonder if this era isn't ending.  (I'll stop
unless somebody really wants to hear me babble about it.  (8-) )

> >they do; it's just that these days, battleships mount aircraft not
> >carriers are just battleships with a different weapons fit, if you
> >what i mean. i know it's stretching the point, sorry.
> And carriers have a huge screen of destroyers, frigates, and subs
> they are VULNERABLE.

Actually, I believe it isn't vulnerability as opposed to irreplacability

(if I may mangle English so.  (8-) )A modern carrier, with a full air
group, is
a pretty hard thing to kill.With her aircraft, she can monitor and even
a dome of airspace and surface almost 500km in radius, plus monitor and
subsurface threats.

However, she isn't perfect; and given that the one missile you let
may contain a nuke, you can't afford to make any mistakes.  Hence the
escorts, which are there to reduce the chance of failure.
> >anyway, carriers replaced the battleship when the only battleship
> >was guns; now we have missiles, who's to say it won't make a
comeback? no
> >more risking valuable - and media-sensitive - lives over foreign
> >countries, just missile them. this is already a preferred tactic in
> >cases; witness the US attack on that aspirin factory in Khartoum. i
> >that tomahawk and harpoon have neither the range nor the striking
power of
> >an F/A-18, but trident does. twelve conventional warheads with an
> >range, anyone? i know they currently have a CEP of 120m, but bung in
> >active terminal guidance and you're laughing.
> >
> So use destroyers, frigates and subs with conventionally armed
> missiles.

Problems with missiles versus guns:
	1)  No sustained bombardments
	2)  Much more expensive
	3)  Resupply becomes a problem.

Problems with missiles versus pilots:
	1)  Can't recall them
	2)  Can't retask them

Missiles have their place, don't get me wrong.	But I think they have
place in a 'combined arms' setting (and I still wish the USN would bring
back a couple of 'gun' ships.  If the Marines ever really have to fight,
missiles just aren't going to do the trick.

> >actually, a lot of navies don't have destroyers. many just have
> >and missile boats. for instance iraq, which is why the navy was wiped
> >totally in the war. i think the norwegian navy is a bit thin on the
> >in this respect, if not as badly as some.
> Iraq's navy was wiped out 'cause it had zero air support, not 'cause
> just had missile boats.  Also, the Iraqis were stupid.    Remember, it
> takes one small 150ton fast millile boat armed with four exocet
> and a clever commander to sink a battleship (or carrier,

Not quite that easy.  Battleships and carriers can be mission killed 
relatively easy, but to sink one requires a lot of hard work.  An Exocet
doesn't have the juice.  You need big missiles to sink a CV or BB in one

shot, and that means a big ship to carry them.	

> or cruiser, or destroyer, etc...). 

I still cringe when I read how OHP FFGs have aluminum superstructures
'kevlar' armour.  Give me a match and I can sink one.  Geeze.

Actually, if you want an example where missiles don't rule all, just
at the FT Universe.  Granted it's 'make-believe', but that doesn't mean 
life can't imitate art.  All you need is a relatively cheap, reliable
of bringing down missiles or manned aircraft, and all of a sudden you're
back to guns.  (It's one thing to bring down a thin skinned missile;
another to bring down a 16" shell the weight of a Volkswagen Beetle.)

Just some thoughts, that aren't even close to being on topic.  (8-)


/ Jerry Han -  CANOE Canada - - \
  ** Visit the Canadian Online Explorer! => **
 The opinions expressed are mine, and not necessarily those of CANOE
	"...for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion."

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