Friday, November 27 2015
In recent blogs I have called for a larger U.S. Navy fleet, as measured by the number of ships available. The reason for this is that it takes a lot of ships to project power around the globe—but there is another rationale.
In WWII, a ship could take a beating and keep going. It was a time when any ship could survive hits from shells, bombs, torpedoes, or kamikazes. This isn’t the case anymore. Naval weapons are now so lethal that a single hit from an anti-ship missile or laser-guided bomb is all it takes to send a ship to the bottom of the sea. I can remember the early trials of the Harpoon missile, when a test shot blew a decommissioned destroyer in two without a warhead. While in the submarine navy, I learned that submariners divide naval combatants into two categories: submarines and targets. Even in WWII, torpedoes were the ship killers. Today’s torpedoes are smarter and far more lethal.
Historically, major naval battles have been fought in relative proximity to strategic land masses, so naval planners needed to consider defenses against land-based missiles, aircraft, and small craft armed with missiles or torpedoes—any of which could sink a modern cruiser or destroyer.
In modern warfare, if a ship takes just a single hit, it’s history.
Based on the number of defensive weapons systems deployed on modern navy ships, naval planners understand the threat, but defensive systems aren’t perfect and can be overwhelmed. If a naval war broke out, how long could any navy survive with weapons like these? Who would win? The navy with the largest number of reasonably capable ships or the navy with fewer, but more capable ships? I wonder. One hit, one ship—we need more ships.
There are many sides to this discussion. Let’s hear what you have to say.