Army Rumour Service

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

New Virginia class boats for the USN

Mr._Average

Old-Salt
Saw this report and it caused me to wonder a little about the future structure of the RN and the balance in the type of ships we should have.

The Americans, of course, have far greater resources than we do and so can have a greater number of types commissioned, but it seems there may be a shift in their thinking.

There have been a couple of reports lately of the USN considering a mix of fewer large, capital ships and more mid sized destroyer / frigates. This latest bit of news is for another 9 (possibly 10) Virginia class boats specifically to counter the growing strength of the PLAN.

It's most definitely not my area, but I couldn't help but think the Americans have chosen subs for this role rather than another carrier or two and appear, potentially, to be moving away from a carrier centric model (though, of course, that should be viewed against a backdrop of them having rather a lot of carriers already).

Dunno, I just wondered if it might have a bearing on the future structure of the RN, given we are now pretty much committed to the carrier model as the major strategic component (not withstanding the Vanguards, of course).

Should we be thinking of a couple more Astutes (assuming we could find the money)?

 

Ritch

LE
There have been a couple of reports lately of the USN considering a mix of fewer large, capital ships and more mid sized destroyer / frigates.

i flicked through an article the other week about something like this, explaining that maybe the USN's shift to smaller ships is thus; because Russia and China are developing extremely fast and powerful anti-ship missiles, more ships in the fleet equals less of a critical blow to the US Navy as a result if some smaller ships (those in greater numbers) are lost compared to one or two of the biggest naval assets.
 
My , armchair admiral, thinking is that a couple of Virgina class SSNs could do more to prevent the PLAN putting to sea than a couple of carrier groups given the latter's vulnerability to overwhelming missile attacks. I am happy to be corrected but I always assumed that carriers are better suited to providing land attack options than area denial in heavily contested waters.
 
I strongly suspect the carrier is the modern battleship when it comes to high intensity naval warfare and the SSN is in terms of sea control the modern capital ship. The ease with which you can find a modern carrier group compared to the difficulty of finding an SSN, the inherent weakness of a massive hull loaded with explosive and highly flammable materials, the vast difference in manpower requirements and thus operating costs allowing, I'm guessing about 4-5 SSNs for the cost of a carrier group, the fact that SSNs are single independent operating units, if you wish, while the carrier much take with it all the other vessels it needs.

The assets of a modern carrier are all about force projection to distant land areas and this only works if the distant land area is a significantly weaker power. Base the carrier's air wing on concrete runways defended by the same AA systems as the ship and you will beat the floating version every time, without even considering the other risks to the carrier.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
The assets of a modern carrier are all about force projection to distant land areas and this only works if the distant land area is a significantly weaker power. Base the carrier's air wing on concrete runways defended by the same AA systems as the ship and you will beat the floating version every time, without even considering the other risks to the carrier.

Not sure how you get to that conclusion.
 
Not sure how you get to that conclusion.
The lack of robustness of a series of metal hulls against a couple of square miles of earth and a lot of concrete.

As examples: -
One well placed bomb/missile on the flight deck and your carrier is useless. One bomb in a concrete runway is filled in and operational again in maximum 24 hours. In reality I can probably build three runways for a lot less than the price of one carrier so it get even better for the land force.

Protection for all that POL and ammunition on the carrier, effectively nothing; on a land base multiple feet of reinforced concrete, ditto AA systems, and the actual aircraft when not flying.

Location of ship based radar, on the ship; land based radars can be mobile and relocated between raids.

Space, everything on the ship is on the ship, sink the ship you've lost the lot; land based systems can be spread over 100 time the area, hit one bit, nothing else suffers.

Resupply, by ship - one ship lots of supplies, lose the ship lose the lot; on land by lorry, lots of lorries using different routes travelling well spaced out, hit a lorry lose a lorry.

In real life, in addition to all the above the land base has the asset of being able to flying off larger aircraft so you can use larger tankers to allow your combat aircraft longer range and endurance making it likely that you will make first contact and start striking when the carrier group is still too far away to retaliate.
 

Yokel

LE
I strongly suspect the carrier is the modern battleship when it comes to high intensity naval warfare and the SSN is in terms of sea control the modern capital ship. The ease with which you can find a modern carrier group compared to the difficulty of finding an SSN, the inherent weakness of a massive hull loaded with explosive and highly flammable materials, the vast difference in manpower requirements and thus operating costs allowing, I'm guessing about 4-5 SSNs for the cost of a carrier group, the fact that SSNs are single independent operating units, if you wish, while the carrier much take with it all the other vessels it needs.

The assets of a modern carrier are all about force projection to distant land areas and this only works if the distant land area is a significantly weaker power. Base the carrier's air wing on concrete runways defended by the same AA systems as the ship and you will beat the floating version every time, without even considering the other risks to the carrier.

A carrier (and associated group) is also the ideal platform for sea control - which was why EIGHT were dedicated to the US Atlantic Fleet during the Cold War. Aircraft to contribute to ASW and protecting convoys and other forces, fighters with AEW to fend off Bears and Backfires, and aircraft to deliver all sorts of air to surface weaponry.

A submarine is primarily about sea denial - which is why the USSR was so keen on them, as was Germany in both World Wars.
 
Last edited:
A carrier (and associated group) is also the ideal platform for sea control - which was why EIGHT were dedicated to the US Atlantic Fleet during the Cold War. Aircraft to contribute to ASW and protecting convoys and other forces, fighters with AEW to fend of Bears and Backfires, and aircraft to deliver all sorts of air to surface weaponry.

A submarine is primarily about sea control - which is why the USSR was so keen on them, as was Germany in both World Wars.
I'd be interested to know the economics of the anti-submarine forces in WW2 against the U-boat fleet. I suspect we spent a lot more money and material and people than they did. In a future war we might not have the same economic imbalance, particularly against the PLAN. I also believe that one of the biggest contributors to our victory was the availability of the B-24/Liberator bomber, from land bases.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
I'd be interested to know the economics of the anti-submarine forces in WW2 against the U-boat fleet. I suspect we spent a lot more money and material and people than they did. In a future war we might not have the same economic imbalance, particularly against the PLAN. I also believe that one of the biggest contributors to our victory was the availability of the B-24/Liberator bomber, from land bases.

I'd suggest that the economics and technology of the 1940s were rather different.

We can't compare, for instance, a modern SSN's strategic potential/reach with even a fleet of WWII diesel-electrics.

Nor did WWII carriers carry ASW assets. Going after a U-Boat? That'll be a Flower-class corvette, please.

Need air power, ASW and all the other projective bits where you haven't got land facilities? That'll be a Nimitz or a Ford or a QEII class, please.

Your thinking and justification are a bit to cock, frankly.
 
Last edited:
Protection for all that POL and ammunition on the carrier, effectively nothing; on a land base multiple feet of reinforced concrete, ditto AA systems, and the actual aircraft when not flying.

Have a gander at any commercially available satellite image of any military airfield you care to mention. It should take you no longer than 30 secs to identify the main POL facility and the munitions bunkers. If you can do that you have their lat / long / GPS co-ords down cold shortly thereafter.

These terrifying missiles you're so afraid of that can't be defended against - how hard do you think it would be to lob one at those facilities every hour or so, 24/7? Multiple feet of re-inforced concrete isn't much of a defence against the sort of weapons you're talking about. Ditto any particular choke point on the taxiways / runways and - dashed unsporting I know - the runway repair equipment?

Location of ship based radar, on the ship; land based radars can be mobile and relocated between raids.

I don't think an ARM really cares whether you've moved "between raids".
 

Yokel

LE
Is that what you actually meant?

Good to see someone paying attention. Have a Mince Pie!

I'd be interested to know the economics of the anti-submarine forces in WW2 against the U-boat fleet. I suspect we spent a lot more money and material and people than they did. In a future war we might not have the same economic imbalance, particularly against the PLAN. I also believe that one of the biggest contributors to our victory was the availability of the B-24/Liberator bomber, from land bases.

Economics? Who cares? Without defeating the U boats the war could not have been one. That involved all sorts of escorting forces.

I'd suggest that the economics and technology of the 1940s were rather different.

We can't compare, for instance, a modern SSN's strategic potential/reach with even a fleet of WWII diesel-electrics.

Nor did WWII carriers carry ASW assets. Going after a U-Boat? That'll be a Flower-class corvette, please.

Need air power, ASW and all the other projective bits where you haven't got land facilities? That'll be a Nimitz or a Ford or a QEII class, please.

Your thinking and justification are a bit to cock, frankly.

In World War Two, Escort Carriers contributed hugely to the Atlantic and Arctic campaigns, with fighters to fend of the long range bombers/reece aircraft the Germans sent out, and Swordfish with ASV radar and Rocket Projectiles for anti U boat use. The Escort Carrier was mostly for dealing with the U boat menace.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
In World War Two, Escort Carriers contributed hugely to the Atlantic and Arctic campaigns, with fighters to fend of the long range bombers/reece aircraft the Germans sent out, and Swordfish with ASV radar and Rocket Projectiles for anti U boat use. The Escort Carrier was mostly for dealing with the U boat menace.

Thanks for putting me right.

I was thinking from a modern perspective. Was there anything that came off a flight deck in WWII that hunted submerged boats? WWII diesel-electrics spent most of their time on the surface. Not so modern ones, let alone SSNs. As far as I can see, the only maritime asset that would/could hunt a submerged U-boat was a corvette.

I was trying to make the point that the threat/counter then and now are simply not comparable.
 

Yokel

LE
The Admiralty put their faith in Asdic before the war, only to discover that the U boats mostly attacked on the surface. Radar fitted to escorts made this a dangerous tactic. However long range detection of U boats was often by HF direction finding as radar range was limited, and meant that Swordfish and the like could be directed to look in a specific area.

A bit like a modern task group using towed array sonar for long range detection and helicopters with dipping sonar for localisation and attack.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
The Admiralty put their faith in Asdic before the war, only to discover that the U boats mostly attacked on the surface. Radar fitted to escorts made this a dangerous tactic. However long range detection of U boats was often by HF direction finding as radar range was limited, and meant that Swordfish and the like could be directed to look in a specific area.

A bit like a modern task group using towed array sonar for long range detection and helicopters with dipping sonar for localisation and attack.

So the ‘hunting’ per se was done by the vessels.

You can see what I’m getting at.
 

HE117

LE
Without wishing to get between BP and CC in this discussion, I think both are pointing in different directions, and that land based and carrier based air should be considered complimentary rather than alternatives...?

Carriers are much more vulnerable than land bases.. even though a land base may be known, taking it out completely is much harder than you suggest. You would for instance have to hit each individual bay in an ammunition store and each tank in a fuel farm to take them out as they are designed not to propagate. This is not really the case with a carrier, even though the magazines are well buried in the structure..

The big difference with a carrier is the fact that it can be parked within striking distance of wherever you want it, and that mounting a significant air strike using one is likely to be quicker and more effective even when targets are well inland. They do take longer to build than land based airfields, but only when you consider it in the longer term. Given a standing start, it will take longer to build a combat capable airfield in a hostile environment than to move a carrier into place, and often it is the speed of initial reaction that is the crucial factor...?

The ideal solution is of course to have both...
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Without wishing to get between BP and CC in this discussion, I think both are pointing in different directions, and that land based and carrier based air should be considered complimentary rather than alternatives...?

Carriers are much more vulnerable than land bases.. even though a land base may be known, taking it out completely is much harder than you suggest. You would for instance have to hit each individual bay in an ammunition store and each tank in a fuel farm to take them out as they are designed not to propagate. This is not really the case with a carrier, even though the magazines are well buried in the structure..

The big difference with a carrier is the fact that it can be parked within striking distance of wherever you want it, and that mounting a significant air strike using one is likely to be quicker and more effective even when targets are well inland. They do take longer to build than land based airfields, but only when you consider it in the longer term. Given a standing start, it will take longer to build a combat capable airfield in a hostile environment than to move a carrier into place, and often it is the speed of initial reaction that is the crucial factor...?

The ideal solution is of course to have both...

Kinda my point.

They do complement. But I challenge the assertions about carrier’s greater vulnerability.
 

New Posts

Latest Threads

Top