Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Echoes of Sanity on the Battleships

RADM Hamilton, Director of PEO Ships, writes in the Washington Times today many of the things that I and others have been saying about suggestions the Navy recommission the battleships.

The battleships and the Sailors who manned them served our Nation with pride and distinction through some of the darkest days of the Republic. We must continue to honor that service and recognize their achievements, but we should not confuse our fondness for those ships with an assumption of their appropriateness for the task at hand.

If reactivated, the battleships would not be able to fire munitions "as far as 115 miles in a life-saving time of only three minutes." Such munitions just do not exist, nor could they be quickly developed, tested and fielded within the next few years.

[...]And given today's battlefields, particularly the densely populated urban jungles in which our Marines and Soldiers currently fight, it would be folly to assume that a battlefield commander would employ a high-yield "dumb" weapon at long ranges without the utmost confidence that it would not inflict massive collateral damage.

The good Admiral proceeds to extol the virtues of DD(X) as a platform for sustained fire support...

To provide sustained fire for major combat operations, DD(X) can employ imaginative new feature called an unlimited magazine. Because of DD(X)'s design, with its two forward-mounted guns and expansive flight deck aft, the ship can simultaneously conduct fire missions while being resupplied. Pre-loaded pallets are brought aboard and quickly placed directly into the fully automated magazine, much like a clip is used to reload a semi-automatic handgun or rifle.

The issues with this plan are several, however. First, the Navy currently only plans on building no more than a dozen DD(X), and the minimum may be as low as five. Second, given how reluctant Big Navy is to send current ships that can provide gunfire support close in to the beach, I have serious doubts that future commanders will be any more willing to send a precious, "gee whiz" DD(X) in close to perform something so ignoble as fire support. And finally, there are no plans to outfit the LCS with such capability, and while the CG(X) may have it, that ship is at least another 5-10 years beyond the DD(X).

The Admiral's arguments against recommissioning the battleships are compelling, but his arguments that DD(X) will adequately fill that role are unconvincing

Update: my previous posts on this topic can be found here and here.