Thursday, August 02, 2012

Blast from the past. Towed missile barges.



The towed missile barge.

I thought I had hit on something new and unique but as usual...nothing is new under the sun.  The US Navy has more than enough sensors.  From ships to planes to uavs to sats to allied forces...we have enough sensors.  What we might need are more shooters.  A couple of barges in the Pacific and in the Atlantic maintained like our prepositioned ships might be just what the doctor ordered.

Worried about saturation attacks by anti-ship missiles?  Tow a couple of these behind a Burke loaded with about 1000 plus quad packed SM3's.  Want to savage a coast line?  Fill the other half with about 500 tomahawk land attack missiles.  When done, have your crappy little LCS do some real work and tow it back to base for refill so that the real ships can stay in the fight (just joking...had to slam the LCS for fun).

This is a winner.  Admit it!


20 comments:

  1. Not a winner and here's why. First of all ALL purchases of SM-3 for the ENTIRE program thus far are less than 150. And at $17 million a pop (or more for the Block II coming down the pipe) there will never be large numbers of them. Secondly, putting 500 Tomahawks in an unpowered barge is about the juiciest/easiest target imaginiable. Very easy to spot and track and very easy to sink. Also 500 is a significant percentage of the inventory. Loading up lots of Tomahawks on a relatively stealthy and manueverable SSGN on the other hand is a fantastic idea. I just wish they'd build a better missile.

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    1. Presumably, the US intends to export the SM-3 line so I think you can anticipate a much reduced per-unit price in the future. Why not just build a Zumwalt variant that replaces the AGS mounts (and their associated below deck real-estate) with 24-inch VLS tubes?

      I could see that a self-propelled, semi-submersible version of your barge could be appealing though

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  2. sm-2's then. i can guarantee in a full fledged naval war you'll have more than 150 missiles shot at a big deck target.

    as far as towing it....its about being a cheap shooter. if its being towed behind a burke then guess what. juicy target just became a big fucking asset to what ever task force its assigned to.'

    ssgn's aren't such a good idea. is it worth firing off tomahawks in a full fledged war and revealing the position of your mult-billion dollar sub? i don't think so. remember i'm thinking about high end warfare, not this rebuilding lost society bullshit the west has been involved in for the last few years.

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  3. It's extremely to kill an Ohio-class SSGN if you can't hear it. Also, would it be better to just build an arsenal ship? You would be able to carry more missiles, and you would not have to take one of your ships out of the fight to tow it. And would a towed missile barge be able to keep up with a CVBG going 30 knots?

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  4. USSHelm

    An Ohio IS quiet, right up until it surfaces and starts launching 128 missiles

    Then, not so quiet....

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    1. That goes without saying. However, after firing and submerging again, good luck finding it.

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  5. a barge is extremely cost effective. the only costs is for the missiles and the launch tubes. all the electronics are on the ship thats towing it...a burke! additionally you have an option on what to do when all its missiles are expended. you can simply attach a beacon and get it later or have another ship tow it back to rearming facilities. you don't have to worry about propulsion units, manning etc.

    missile barges are a winner. ya'll can try and keep punching holes in the idea but its sound.

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    1. You mean leave it in the middle of nowhere, and at risk of being captured by the enemy? Not only that but it can't keep up a CVBG, a Burke can do 30 knots, no sweat. But a Burke with towing a Barge somewhere in the range of a 2,000 ton displacement, it is going to be going a helluva lot slower. What you going to get is a modern version of the standard-type battleships, great for shore bombardment, but won't be able to take part in large fleet engagements (the Battle of the Surigao Strait being an exception).

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    2. why would a Carrier need to steam at darn near flank speed to get to any trouble site? a barge that is properly engineered won't produce that big a penalty. additionally why would you leave it anywhere fully loaded?

      you would only abandon the barge after you had shot off all its missiles. you're working real hard to shit can this idea but its valid. additionally the image above includes one with the barge towed by an LCS and the other by a Russian missile destroyer.

      a missile barge is a MUCH cheaper option than an arsenal ship...or a smaller Burke and it provides what those ships don't have. a near unstoppable number of warshots.

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    3. Why would a carrier have to travel at near flank speed? To get somewhere FAST. If something big decides to go south you need to get there quickly. A missile barge will slow you down, not so much because of it's drag, but because of the energy needed to get it's mass moving. In space you need a certain amount of energy applied to an object to get it moving on a different path, same thing at sea. The energy needed to move the barge will slow you down, and you need to keep it up for how ever long the voyage is. Also, this concept is a valid idea, it's a spinoff of the arsenal ship which I like a lot. However, a missile barge (or arsenal barge) is a bad idea because it will slow you down, and makes a valuable asset(s) very vulnerable.

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    4. you are really struggling to find a reason not to like the idea. as i said, hydrodynamics should solve any problem with the barge being THAT BIG a drag on the ship towing it....moving at 30 knots to get to a target area might sound good in theory but you're going to be out running alot of your ships and as smooth as that sounds machinery breaks when running flat out for days on end. how many times are you going to have to have tankers come along side and replenish every ship in the group that burns gas and isn't powered by electrons. additionally the theory about the barge being vulnerable is just nonsense. once you get to the area of the fight you can anchor it and have your ship move all it wants (how you're going to outrun anti-ship missiles is still beyond me but you seem to think that you ccan)...but 30 knots isn't going to save your ass from a high speed missile...hell even 200 knots isn't going to save you. for that matter most torpedoes do what? 60 or 70 knots? yeah bud...you're grasping at straws.

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    5. I'm not saying your able to outrun ASCMs (and anyone who thinks that is nuts), in fact the missile barge would be great as missile bait, literally. What I am saying is that if I need to get my ships from point A to point B fast, the missile barge is going to slow me down. Sure hydrodynamics are going to help, but that is not going to solve all my problems with moving them. The arsenal ship might not be as cost effective, but it would be able to move under it's own power. And yes I am aware that running at flank speed for several days is going to wreck your propulsion, but in a war engines can be replaced. Opportunities cannot.
      In other words, great idea, but lousy implementation.

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  6. What about when the Burke has to take evasive action and we lose it because it was tied up to this block of cement? Does the Burke just jettison, save its hide, then come back for the barge (if it still exists) once the heat is off? And what if the barge gets captured? That's a lot of missile tech to leave floating in the ocean while the Aegis tug swats off an attack. I know the barge is force projection, but what about small craft swarms (cliche, I know), or helos, or an aggressive sub?

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  7. lose it to what>? everyone is so focused on these small wars bullshit that we've been fighting that no one is considering what it will take to fight a full fledged battle at sea.

    no ship can outrun a missile. you shoot off chaff and you launch your missiles against the incoming threat. small boats? your planes, helos and other systems (like that big honking cannon on the front) better be able to knock those into tommorrow.

    no one fights alone. but one thing is certain. in a major fight at sea you are GOING TO RUN OUT OF MISSILES BEFORE YOU RUN OUT anything else!

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  8. IIRC one of the concepts the navy explored for littoral combat was emplacing a web of networked floating sensors and weapons that vastly expanded the area a single ship could cover. This led to a problem: a ship big enough to carry all that stuff was then way too big and under-armed (and expensive) once it had all been off loaded. The solution: tow a barge of all that stuff and then just get rid of the barge and operate a small, well balanced ship once everything was in place.

    For the more limited concept of a missile barge, a barge of missiles is something you use en mass in a first big engagement, not something you tow around for a whole war. So, for instance, during the first big attack on a task force multiple ships would fire off all of the missiles from the barge first while preserving their own missile loads. Then, in a serious war, you just cut the barge loose or maybe use it as a missile decoy.

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  9. A barge with 500 Tomahawks, leaving aside that's 1/7th of the USN inventory, is carrying about $750 million worth of missiles. Making the barge as cheap as possible to save dollars is irrational. With that level of missile investment you want a survivable platform that is more easily deployed strategically.

    Once the barge is survivable and costs say $500 million is it really cost effective to leave it as a barge? How about just add commercial diesels and have it self deploy and economically cruise at 20 knots?

    The real issue is give the number of VLS tubes aboard USN surface combatants, and both SSN's and SSGN's, does the USN actually need more missiles at sea? About 1/3rd of the Tomahawk's can actually go on the subs. While one can make an argument that in extreme saturation attacks it's possible our DDG's and CG's could fire off all their missiles it's a matter of debate that the USN can actually afford more missiles whether they're on a barge, aboard additional surface ships, or future surface combatants gain more VLS cells. The Burke's have 90 to 96 VLS cells each. How many more should they have?

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  10. geez Lane, i'm pulling numbers out of my ass. i don't know how many it was suppose to carry.

    why are you trying to punch holes in this anyway? damn no wonder NEW WARS stopped putting his ideas up. people like you get off on nothing more than trying to slam different ideas. fuck it. i really don't give a rats ass if you agree or disagree....you're not changing my mind in believing that this is viable and i'm stopped trying to explain to you why.

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  11. Sol I think sometimes you focus on a specific concept or platform and perhaps miss how it fits within the overall force. You really have to start off with whether the USN needs more VLS cells at sea or not. If one assumes they do I fail to see why the "answer" must be a towed barge? From where I sit the exact same barge made a bit more survivable with diesels added now becomes an asset that can strategically deploy at 20 knots and thus offers a lot more utility than a barge.

    A barge is not like a trailer. Towing an ocean going barge is means you're going too slow to be responsive and given the overall cost of the barge and one load of missiles making it a 20knot ship is a marginal cost increase.

    As an aside I like new ideas. That doesn't mean every new idea is great just because it's new. I'm not sure the USN needs more VLS cells but if they do it's probably for a saturation attack against a carrier task force. If that's accurate what you want are the extra cells aboard a ship that can keep up with the task force and with all respect that's not a barge and probably not a 20 knot ship either.

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  12. why not load the barge with ESSM quad packs, we would have a hell of a fleet defense then, you can put phalanx and RIM launchers on the barge for its own defense, tethered to a burke or ticonderga would give it access to the AEGIS system.

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  13. that was the idea. everyone hates the anti-air/land attack barge but i think its pretty awesome.

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