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.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

There's More There Than Meets the Eye

EagleSpeak got me sufficiently spun up with his "reactivate the battleships" post for me to go check the full story myself. Now that I have, it sounds even more pie-in-the-sky than I thought.

The author gets my dander up right from the start:
Authorization Act would strike the battleships USS Iowa and Wisconsin from the Navy register and turn them into museums. This sounds attractive, but it would in fact erect monuments to folly, placing the lives of thousands of our Marines at risk.

How exactly is striking ships that haven't seen service in fifteen years placing anyone's life at risk? I don't see the logic. The battleships aren't performing missions now, so who's going to miss them?

After making a good point about the near-sightedness of the DoD and Navy with respect to North Korea, China and Iran, Mr. Reilly makes another good point about Big Navy's fire support "solution":
Based on its vision, the Navy has focused on the development of a destroyer, the DD(X), equipped with two long range guns. No doubt this would be useful in breaking up terrorist camps scattered about the Pacific littorals, but it is not the gun you would want to bring to a major conflict. The small mass delivered to target makes these rounds ineffective against hardened positions. The cost per round forces the Navy to admit that high-volume fire is unaffordable.

And he continues with some seemingly promising ideas:
Technology now allows battleships to do far better. GPS guidance will ensure one-shot, one-kill of hard targets such as the North Korean gun emplacements and Chinese missile batteries. Shells weighing 525 pounds can reach as far as 115 miles in a life-saving time of only 3 minutes. Over the longer term, the battleship's potential is truly revolutionary. Studies show that its massive firepower could be projected to at least 460 miles.

But this, however, is where Mr. Reilly slips into madness. For instance, the Navy currently has no gun round with this capability. Who's going to develop it, what will it cost and how long will it take? Given the timeline to develop the advanced gun system on the DD(X), a workable round is at least 7-10 years away. Meanwhile, the battleships continue to rust at their moorings. Also, who's going to design and manufacture new barrels for those massive guns? One lesson learned of the AGS is that the propellants dramatically reduce barrel life, and that's on modern, new barrels. The guns on the battleships today were manufactured in the 40's and 50's.

My guess is the estimated $1.8 billion resoration costs projected take none of this into account, much less the cost of manning a ship with 1800 Sailors and operating it with a fuel burn rate that's got to be in excess of 100,000 gallons a day.