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Old October 22 2009, 07:39 PM   #1
John Picard
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Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

50-mph vessels use steerable waterjets instead of propellers and rudders

BATH, Maine - The Navy's need for speed is being answered by a pair of warships that have reached freeway speeds during testing at sea.Independence, a 418-foot warship built in Alabama, boasts a top speed in excess of 45 knots, or about 52 mph, and sustained 44 knots for four hours during builder trials that wrapped up this month off the Gulf Coast. The 378-foot Freedom, a ship built in Wisconsin by a competing defense contractor, has put up similar numbers.
Both versions of the Littoral Combat Ship use powerful diesel engines, as well as gas turbines for extra speed. They use steerable waterjets instead of propellers and rudders and have shallower drafts than conventional warships, letting them zoom close to shore.
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The ships, better able to chase down pirates, have been fast-tracked because the Navy wants vessels that can operate in coastal, or littoral, waters. Freedom is due to be deployed next year, two years ahead of schedule.

Hella cool technology here, folks.
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Old October 22 2009, 08:06 PM   #2
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

Looking at Wiki, the next second ship from each builder should be commissioned by the end of 2012 and will the Fort Worth and the Corando.

Though given there are two LCS in service (one of each design) I'm wondering why they've got to second. I can understand with aircraft but ships? It just seems by the time the next two are complete it's 3 years will have passed and then close to another 3 years by the time they enter service.
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Old October 23 2009, 05:24 AM   #3
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

Very cool. It's like a military application of this kind of technology:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HSC_Incat_059
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Old October 23 2009, 11:35 PM   #4
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

The article I saw this morning on Navy Times had LCS-1 (the monohull) running currently at $637M, while the trimaran LCS-2 at $704M... Makes the program I work on, even with its "warts", look like a bargain.

I seriously doubt they'll ever get either hull design below the $460M price that's used in the article. I would not be surprised if the whole program gets the big CANCELED stamp on it.

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Old October 24 2009, 12:51 AM   #5
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

Guess it might come down to bang per buck. The Australian Air Warfare Destroyer project is going to cost about $US6.5billion to build 4 ships so that's about $1.5 billion a ship plus extras so the Littoral ships really the expsensive? in the overall shape of things?
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Old October 24 2009, 04:32 AM   #6
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

impressive. I could see a good chunk of money for Destroyers getting rerouted to ships like these. It's been said for a while now, but the "deep Navy" concept is fairly outdated at this point, and littoral missions are a big chunk of the future needs. Spreading out the money on a larger fleet of smaller, faster, more customizable ships like this is the way forward...
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Old October 24 2009, 04:18 PM   #7
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

Scout101 wrote: View Post
impressive. I could see a good chunk of money for Destroyers getting rerouted to ships like these. It's been said for a while now, but the "deep Navy" concept is fairly outdated at this point, and littoral missions are a big chunk of the future needs. Spreading out the money on a larger fleet of smaller, faster, more customizable ships like this is the way forward...
I agree. As I've stated on this board before, I truly believe the days of the aircraft carrier are numbered due to unmanned UAVs. The Navy started with the Wasp Class carriers and will most likely continue with even smaller carrier type ships. The same holds for the Arleigh Burke class Destroyers. There are people here who scream that the Navy *must* build battleships, yet the AB class rendered them obsolete.

The Navy needs to be able to adapt for future threats. It always has and always will.
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Old October 25 2009, 01:25 PM   #8
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

F. Kreuger wrote: View Post
I agree. As I've stated on this board before, I truly believe the days of the aircraft carrier are numbered due to unmanned UAVs. The Navy started with the Wasp Class carriers and will most likely continue with even smaller carrier type ships.
Why do you think that? Why do you think a fast jet UAV would need a smaller deck than a fast jet piloted aircraft? If anything the new carriers the US Navy is building are bigger, the new RN carriers are bigger than anything they have had before? The Wasp class are essentially carriers in that they have a flight deck but they are amphibious assault ships, with well decks, and are only carriers in a strictly secondary sense.

Ultimately UAVs will take over a LOT of jobs, but you need a pilot up there to fight for and gain air superiority and although eventually this will be accomplished remotely (possibly) there would still be the issue of being able to fell a whole squadron with simple jamming.

The same holds for the Arleigh Burke class Destroyers. There are people here who scream that the Navy *must* build battleships, yet the AB class rendered them obsolete.
Hard to argue with this in any way, Battleships were obsolete by WW2, the only reason for the re-activation of the Iowa class battleships was the Russian Kirov class battle-cruisers, and they are very expensive to combat a ship that a squadron of F-18s could deal with much more cheaply.

The Navy needs to be able to adapt for future threats. It always has and always will.
Indeed - and back on topic these new ships are likely to be the future in some ways, but probably will work out to be a bit too expensive. I expect the US military to learn some hard lessons from the F-22.
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Old October 25 2009, 02:59 PM   #9
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

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F. Kreuger wrote: View Post
I agree. As I've stated on this board before, I truly believe the days of the aircraft carrier are numbered due to unmanned UAVs. The Navy started with the Wasp Class carriers and will most likely continue with even smaller carrier type ships.
Why do you think that? Why do you think a fast jet UAV would need a smaller deck than a fast jet piloted aircraft? If anything the new carriers the US Navy is building are bigger, the new RN carriers are bigger than anything they have had before? The Wasp class are essentially carriers in that they have a flight deck but they are amphibious assault ships, with well decks, and are only carriers in a strictly secondary sense.
Ultimately UAVs will take over a LOT of jobs, but you need a pilot up there to fight for and gain air superiority and although eventually this will be accomplished remotely (possibly) there would still be the issue of being able to fell a whole squadron with simple jamming.
Having served on board a Nimitz Class carrier I can tell you that it boils down to one thing - COST. At one time, the crew complement for a Supercarrier was around 4,600 - 4,800. As time goes by, the cost increases and in return the ship/crew is told to do more with less. When I left the ship (1992) the word was that Washington was working to cut the crew complement down to almost 4,000. The Ronald Reagan and the upcoming Gerald R Ford and George HW Bush are the most advanced carriers out there with more automation and reduced parts. The latter two (IIRC) will be outfitted with electromagnetic launch capability rather than the almost century old steam powered catapult. This will result in reduced cost/maintenance along with reduced manpower needed.

The primary purpose of the carriers has been forward deployment of aviation forces. Well, who are they going to fight? The Soviets are gone as are Warsaw Pact nations. There is no need for planes like the F22, which were designed to combat an enemy that no longer exists. That brings up another cost: fighters. In 1990, an F14 cost ~$30 million at acquisition. Start lumping in a lifetime of repairs and operating costs and the price goes skyward. Compare that with the UAVs. I don't believe they break the $100,000 mark yet are more versatile, cheaper to maintain, cheaper to train pilots to fly them, and if one gets shot down -- no major loss.

The same held true with the submarine fleet. Once the Soviet threats dissolved, the Navy had to find a mission for them very quickly. Is China a growing threat? I don't know, but last I knew the US subs were basically acting as a below surface escort guard for the fleet.

Either way, there are no major threats on the horizon that necessitates the need for 10+ carriers and a complement of attack squadrons. The threats and the missions have changed.
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Old October 25 2009, 05:02 PM   #10
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

The Ayes of Texas are upon us!
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Old October 26 2009, 11:27 AM   #11
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

F. Kreuger wrote: View Post
Having served on board a Nimitz Class carrier I can tell you that it boils down to one thing - COST.
No debate there.

The primary purpose of the carriers has been forward deployment of aviation forces. Well, who are they going to fight? The Soviets are gone as are Warsaw Pact nations. There is no need for planes like the F22, which were designed to combat an enemy that no longer exists. That brings up another cost: fighters. In 1990, an F14 cost ~$30 million at acquisition. Start lumping in a lifetime of repairs and operating costs and the price goes skyward. Compare that with the UAVs. I don't believe they break the $100,000 mark yet are more versatile, cheaper to maintain, cheaper to train pilots to fly them, and if one gets shot down -- no major loss.
Well remember that the US Navy needs to retain the capability to sail into an area and gain air supremacy where it does not currently exist. UAVs cannot yet operate against even the mildest form of air defenses, even an enemy with a lot of stingers would be insurmountable. This will not be like the Cold War where you could expect hundreds of Flankers as opponents but a lot of potential US enemies have fighters capable of taking out even the most advanced UAVs imaginable. Iran for example has a large and capable air force.

As I said UAVs will take over a lot of jobs, they are very cheap as you say, but the US Navy will not give up its carriers and F-18s (and later F-35s) for many years.

The same held true with the submarine fleet. Once the Soviet threats dissolved, the Navy had to find a mission for them very quickly. Is China a growing threat? I don't know, but last I knew the US subs were basically acting as a below surface escort guard for the fleet.
Well they also pose an immense threat to any nation that would oppose the USA. Only Britain and Russia match the US Navy for skill in handling subs, and the rest of the world together would not match the capabilities of the current fleet.

The US bases it's world position on its immense economic and military power (in that order) if the first is gradually lost to the Eurozone, China and India then they will not quickly give up the second.

Either way, there are no major threats on the horizon that necessitates the need for 10+ carriers and a complement of attack squadrons. The threats and the missions have changed.
It is hard to argue that the US Navy is probably quite big for the tasks it currently faces, but should there be a coup in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, or if war with Iran becomes a certainty, then you can expect them to need every single one.

Hopefully this can be avoided, I personally have no wish to see that level of bloodshed.
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Old October 26 2009, 03:03 PM   #12
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

^^ I'll put it like this. The US Navy is currently at 10 carriers. I would not be surprised if, due to changing missions and threats if the size of the carrier force were halved. Reagan wanted 14 carriers, which we had for a period of about 8 months until the USS Coral Sea was decommissioned.
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Old October 26 2009, 09:11 PM   #13
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

F. Kreuger wrote: View Post
^^ I'll put it like this. The US Navy is currently at 10 carriers. I would not be surprised if, due to changing missions and threats if the size of the carrier force were halved. Reagan wanted 14 carriers, which we had for a period of about 8 months until the USS Coral Sea was decommissioned.
I'm not saying you are wrong - but surely that would leave you some deployment problems? You know better than me how many carriers are in dock/refit at any one time, so assuming that proportion of the fleet stayed the same would there be enough to cover the trouble spots carriers currently cover? Or would you expect something else to take their place?
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Old October 26 2009, 09:26 PM   #14
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

USS KG5 wrote: View Post
F. Kreuger wrote: View Post
^^ I'll put it like this. The US Navy is currently at 10 carriers. I would not be surprised if, due to changing missions and threats if the size of the carrier force were halved. Reagan wanted 14 carriers, which we had for a period of about 8 months until the USS Coral Sea was decommissioned.
I'm not saying you are wrong - but surely that would leave you some deployment problems? You know better than me how many carriers are in dock/refit at any one time, so assuming that proportion of the fleet stayed the same would there be enough to cover the trouble spots carriers currently cover? Or would you expect something else to take their place?
Again, it's like battleships. They were great back in the days when you wanted to nail the enemy with offshore bombardment; however, they're only effective for 25 miles (more or less). With the Aegis class, a cruise missile can be sent from thousands of miles away, told to hang a left, go 15 miles, turn right, and nail the large building with the water fountain out front.

Typically with the carrier fleet, there is a "ready" carrier that's in port receiving minor maintenance but can theoretically deploy in days if needed, then there's a stand-by carrier, followed by another carrier in dry dock. The other carrier(s) are either on deployment or in the training fleet. And that's on both coasts. Bear in mind that there are rumblings in Japan that the US needs to move out, and the nuclear powered George Washington is currently there. I've heard that the days of a carrier being parked in Japan are numbered.
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Old October 26 2009, 10:59 PM   #15
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Re: Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships

Here's another photo of the Independence that I located, courtesy of Google Images, at its launching last year... Showing just how unusual the hullform is.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28767657@N00/4048136492/

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