Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A New American Destroyer : Part 1

Heavy Cruiser USS Guam

As we mentioned in earlier posts,words like "destroyer","cruiser" and "frigate" can mean different things to different navies.

Protected Cruiser USS Atlanta 1891

The meaning of these words has also changed over time.

USS Farragut (DDG-37) Toulon 1979

No where is this more the case than in the United States' Navy.

USS Leahy (CG-16) 1983

To take just one example,the Leahy class,these ships were considered to be frigates but were commissioned as Guided missile Destroyer Leaders (D.L.G.) until being reclassified as Guided missile Cruisers (C.G.).

USS Constitution Massachusetts Bay 1997

Originally,a frigate was a cruising ship,or cruiser.

USS Cowpens (CG 63) USS Lassen (DDG 82) USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199) Western Pacific June 18 2006 Valiant Shield 2006

Today the United States' Navy considers frigates,cruisers and destroyers to be different kinds of ships.

USS Reuben James (FFG 57) Pacific Ocean March 23 2012

A modern American "frigate" is an escort ship with far more basic weapons,sensors and machinery than it's equivalents in other navies.

USS The Sullivans (DDG 68)

A modern American "destroyer" is a fleet escort equivalent to the most powerful surface combatants in other navies.

USS Normandy (CG 60)

A modern American "cruiser" is a fleet escort with more weapons,sensors and command facilities than a destroyer.

May 29 2011 USS Gridley (DDG 101) USS Bunker Hill (CG 52)

 The relationship between the Ticonderoga class cruisers and the Burke class destroyers is such that in the past the cruisers might have been classed as "destroyer leaders" - more powerful ships which led flotillas of destroyers.

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000)

Today the United States' Navy is yet again redefining the word "destroyer" with the (Destroyer,Destroyer,Guided missile) D.D.G. 1,000 Zumwalt class.

Heavy Cruiser USS Wichita (CA-45)  Atlantic Ocean 1 May 1940

These ships are far larger than current American destroyers and cruisers,and larger than most Second World War era light and heavy cruisers.

H.M.S. Roberts 1940

They have an emphasis on land attack which during two world wars was the job of vessels known as "monitors".

USS Monadnock crossing the Pacific

A term which was in it's self a perversion of the name of a vessel designed specifically to attack ships during the American Civil War and subsequent eponymic type of low freeboard turreted warship.

DDG 1000

The Zumwalt class has a number of problems,the most serious of which is their huge cost which has seen a class of 32 ships cut to just 3.

DDX Raytheon

This class of just 3 vessels is expected to cost $11,894.8 Million,or $3,964.9 Million per ship.

DDX 2 Ships

There also appear to be numerous design problems on the Zumwalt class beyond those responsible for it's enormous cost.

USS Zumwalt

 Main guns conflict with each other and with forward missile launch silos.

USS Zumwalt Stern

Aft missile launch silos conflict with helicopter operations and the 57mm guns.

USS Zumwalt Mk110 Guns

Short range guns conflict with each other,helicopter operations (this is practically unavoidable),the aft missile silos and with the superstructure.

Arleigh Burke Flight II AMDR

The cost of the Zumwalt class has resulted in the United States' Navy planning to succeed them with updated "Flight III" versions of the now 22 year old Burke class destroyers.

Arleigh Burke Flight II AMDR Front

This was considered to be a cheaper option but some now suggest that these ships could cost $3,000 - $4,000 Million each (even the current Burke Flight IIA ships cost twice as much as the British Daring class destroyers).

Arleigh Burke Flight II AMDR Side

The cost of both the Zumwalt class and the Burke Flight III ships far exceeds their utility.

The United States' Navy needs is a surface combatant which is both capable and affordable (in United States' Navy terms).

We shall have a look at such a ship in future parts of "A New American Destroyer".


mick 346 said...

I personally think the Americans have gone down the wrong road. They have basically scraped the frigate with the specific role of ASW for the fleet. This is instead done by the burkes which are hideously expensive and it is a bad use of resources.

The quasi replacement for the frigate is also the LCS which again is extremely expensive and a big compromise between a lot of roles that i believe will make it not great at anything.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello mick 346,

I agree.
They can't afford the kind of fleet they want.
Worse,they don't even have any logical arguments to justify their planned fleet structure.

It is not possible to know what characteristics a warship should have without knowing what that ship is expected to do.
Yet the United States' Navy has bought ships with a highly unusual range of characteristics and openly admitted that it doesn't know what it will be doing with these ships.

An escort ship needs a local area anti-missile system,anti-ship capability and the ability to tow a sonar array at high quiet speeds for long periods of time.
The Littoral Combat Ships lack all of those characteristics but now senior American officials talk about using them in that role.

The Americans have some intellectual issues to deal with before they build any more ships.


TrT said...

Destroyers were originaly Torpedo Boat Destroyers, very very small ships, designed to speed out from the main fleet, and intercept incoming torpedo boats, themselves very small ships.

Personaly, I just use the words as weight classifications,


Smallest to Biggest.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello The raging Tory,

I have some information I know you are interested in.

The unrefuelled combat radius of the F35C,there are lots of figures for the F35 in clean configuration which are all different and all correct.
The only ones I have seen for an F35C in it's normal combat configuration,with external tanks,ranged from about 860-1,060 statute miles with a 4,000 pound bomb load.
Note those numbers are for the radius (1,060 miles out and 1,060 miles back) not the range which is a one way figure.

Now back to ships.

That is a sensible way of categorising ships the problem is there are lots of other sensible ways and none of them are historically consistent!

Size was a very logical way to categorise ships before the Second World War because they were almost all designed for surface warfare and their size defined their guns,armour,speed and range.

Size continues to have a significant influence on a ship's combat power but the loss of ships like the Prince of Wales,Barham,Musashi and Yamato demonstrated that the range of capabilities carried by a ship can be more important than the size of the ship it's self.

The most powerful combatants are the ones which can deal with the full spectrum of threats in the air,on land,under the sea and on the sea.
I like the idea of nomenclature reflecting the range of capabilities a warship has.

In terms of role,almost every surface combatant since 1939,whether it is a corvette or a battleship,might be described as an "escort".
That name perfectly suits any frigate,destroyer or cruiser of the post war era.
Except many of those vessels are also called upon for independent patrols placing them in the same role as the traditional frigate of 200 years ago.

I'll stop there before I run out of words.


fencer said...

mick 346, the US Navy frigate was never intended for fleet ASW - that mission was to be conducted by the Spruance class destroyers. While frigates have of course bee pressed into service as fleet escorts, they were intended to affordably protect convoys and lack the speed to keep up with the carriers.

Since the Cold War ended the Spruances were decommissioned because of their age and the sharply reduced submarine threat and the newer Burkes were given this mission. At the same time, the need to protect convoys vanished and the frigates were relegated to secondary duties. The LCS is designed to fill these missions that the frigates are currently doing - not the ASW mission they were designed for.

Tk3997 said...

I'm not sure what orifice you pulled the cost of a Darling verses a Burke from, or if you somehow were so daft you didn't convert between pounds at dollars. A Darling is 1.05 Billion pounds that's 1.78 billion US dollars while the Burke cost about 1.84 billion dollars each. That minor extra cost can fairly easily be said to be absorbed by their larger displacement and additional systems of the Burke.

And don't try and give me any shit about how that's including R&D costs, no shit it includes R&D costs R&D costs are an integral aspect of any weapons program and trying to toss them out of a cost assessment is ludicrous.

Modern Warships are expensive this cannot be avoided although to a very real extent the cost hasn't risen as much as many doomsayers crow about. See there's this thing called called inflation... For instance for all the crying about the LCS if you adjust for inflation it actually costs about as much as a Perry class did new and it's capabilities aren't much different to be honest. Max cruising range is similar, but the LCS has a higher sprint speed. Both relied on towed sonar systems and a helicopter for ASW. Both have a limited self defense missile capability (RAM is actually WAY better then SM-1 ever was) and a medium caliber gun. The Perry could also theoretically fire ASMs, but given the space and weight available there is no reason LCS couldn't have ASM launchers fitted if required.

This is just one example an Essex class carrier for example would cost upward of a billion dollars in today's money without any upgrades or mods or whatever, just from a straight up inflation adjustment of it's original price tag it's a billion dollar vessel.

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