April 29, 2022

Open Thread 103

Apologies that our regular open thread is a bit late, but overhauls ran late. Talk about whatever you want, so long as it isn't culture war.

Book update: 85,000 words. Working through WWI, and starting on the postwar years.

2018 overhauls are British Battleships in WWII, Sea Stories - The Swimming Pool and the Fuzes, Main Guns Parts one, two and three and Life Aboard Iowa. 2019 overhauls are Shells Part 2, The Four Chaplains, Continuous At Sea Deterrent, Megasilverfists's review of Polly Woodside and SYWTBABB Construction Part 3. 2020 overhauls are my review of Historic Flight Spokane, Falklands Part 21 and Merchant Ships - Bulk Carriers. 2021 overhauls are Naval Airships Parts four and five, Battle Stations and A Brief Overview of the Chinese Fleet.


  1. April 29, 2022ike said...

    Book question: how aggressively are you Anglicizing ship names?

    I feel like, if you are targeting the mass market, the correct answer is 'very'. However, that would cause academics to 'poo' and possibly 'harumph' at you.

  2. April 29, 2022bean said...

    I'm anglicizing to about the same extent I do here. I mostly want to maintain interoperability with other texts and not confuse.

  3. May 01, 2022quanticle said...

    The rust saga continues. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gilday, had this to say in response to the aforementioned rusty ship:

    “This is part of readiness, it is part of (deterrence) absolutely,” said Admiral Gilday when asked about the rusty ship photos. “Appearance is important. I mean, you got to look sharp. We are the world’s premier Navy. We’ve got to look like it. This comes down to our, get real get better campaign for people to self assess and self-correct, for people to stand up and take action when they see stuff wrong, and not accept stuff that’s broken. Do what you can to fix it, if you can’t elevate it, the chain of command ought to be listening. They ought to be listening to your proposed solutions.”

    To say that this comment was received poorly is an understatement. The article goes on to quote a few mid-level officers who reply with many of the same points that Jade Nekotenshi and Blackshoe raised. Namely the problem isn't that sailors are sloppy, blind or incompetent. It's that when a captain has to choose between making a rendezvous halfway across the Indian Ocean or laying his or her ship up for chipping and painting, he or she will choose to make the rendezvous every single day of the week.

  4. May 01, 2022Anonymous said...


    It's that when a captain has to choose between making a rendezvous halfway across the Indian Ocean or laying his or her ship up for chipping and painting, he or she will choose to make the rendezvous every single day of the week.

    That's the problem right there.

  5. May 02, 2022Blackshoe said...

    So, I'm going to add a few thoughts from the last OT.


    It’s not like the Russian case, where there are ships rusting to pieces for lack of money to maintain them, or lack of personnel to do the maintenance.

    I mean, it is though. We may not like admitting it is, but we need to be honest with ourselves that we are closer to the decrepit Russian fleet than we would like to admit.


    I’ve noticed that most images of container ships make them look much cleaner than a few decades ago--the Shepard here looks pretty much how I always imagine cargo ships.
    Is it better rust-proofing? Cheaper maintenance done overseas? Or is it mostly just companies photographing their own ships right after a cleanup/photoshop retouching of rust stains?

    Mostly better paint, properly applied by experts (not half-trained guys who learn it all on OJT), in proper conditions (which matters if you're putting the right paint!), and also cheaper overseas maintenance. Also more consistent maintenance schedules (merchies sail A LOT, but when they are down, they do pay for the proper maintenance). There are definitely some bad looking merchies out there...but they are usually from countries/companies you'd expect them to be from.

  6. May 02, 2022Carey Underwood said...

    Zvi posted a question on lw that seems relevant to this forum: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/pFEgHQfv3hQhTFfqZ/what-would-it-cost-to-build-a-world-class-dredging-vessel-in […america]

  7. May 02, 2022Lambert said...

    Maritime paints must have got better: they finished painting the Forth Bridge in Scotland about 10 years back. Before that it was a sisyphean task where areas in need of repainting would be found as quickly as they could be painted.

  8. May 02, 2022Echo said...

    Random note: the guy responsible for introducing the Jones act is also responsible for the nuke-bait naval yard near me. So good going man, way to make me reorder my "if you had a time machine and X bullets" list.

  9. May 02, 2022Neal said...

    This article, just past halfway down, touches on the paint issue. No OSPHO? No bosun's chairs? Work being done in Chinese yards?

    Are things really this desperate @Blackshoe or is this merchantman's opinion formed by his tribal allegiances? It It sounds pretty dire. Particularly the "suck it up" pronouncement from Master Chief Smith when addressing the spate of suicides.

    Not to be a pedant...but some of the grammar, sentence structure, and phrasing in many of these recent press releases and interviews has me wondering if the Naval Staff is even trying to communicate properly. Granted, casual discussions these days often quickly find their way into print, but if the CNO is concerned about attention to details, one of the markers of that attention is at least striving toward precise wordings. I also grant that our citizenry is not going to concern itself if our warrior class misused the subjunctive in a dependent clause whilst in the heat of battle, but the leaders should set the standard in many areas and comms is one of them.

    When I entered the military in 1985 the wry quip of the TQM era was you do more with less until you end up doing less with less. It sounds as if the Navy is definately doing less.


  10. May 03, 2022quanticle said...

    Can someone please explain QUICKSINK to me? I read through the AFRL's page on it twice, and all I'm taking away from it is, "It turns out that JDAMs can sink ships too."

  11. May 03, 2022bean said...

    There's a special "all-weather seeker". Not sure what that is, probably imaging IR or maybe millimeter-wave. The bomb flies to the coordinates, then switches on the seeker, looks for the target, finds it and dives beneath it, so it goes off in the most damaging position. Actually quite interesting, and an exciting new capability for the JDAM family, which is still the best.

    No, I don't know why AFRL's explanation was so convoluted that I had to look elsewhere to understand it, and I'm a professional at reading five-sided thoughts.

  12. May 03, 2022DampOctopus said...

    Why does the US deploy its submarine-based nuclear deterrence force at sea, rather than in the Great Lakes?

    To act as an effective deterrent, this force needs to be hidden, so it can survive to retaliate against a disarming first strike. But it doesn't necessarily need to be hidden in the open ocean: it just needs to be hidden in a body of water large enough that an attacker can't simply resort to nuclear carpet-bombing. The Great Lakes have an area of 60 km^2 for each deployed warhead in the world, which is probably enough to make this impractical.

    A Great Lakes-based ballistic-missile submarine would look quite different to existing SSBNs. With no enemy naval presence to worry about, it could be a slow (5-knot?), conventionally-powered boat, with no concerns about its noise signature. It would only need to submerge enough to hide from satellites. The freshwater environment would even make maintenance slightly easier, though it could still be built in existing facilities and transferred to the Lakes through the St Lawrence Seaway.

    What am I missing? Political implications for relations with Canada?

  13. May 03, 2022Philistine said...

    @Damp Octopus:

    What you're missing is the Rush-Bagot Treaty, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rush–Bagot_Treaty, the foundation stone for the demilitarized border between the US and Canada. Putting actual warships on the Great Lakes is illegal.

  14. May 03, 2022redRover said...


    In addition to what Philistine said, not all of the lakes are actually available for navigation. Erie in particular is very shallow.


    Allowing for overhead clearance to freighters and so on, it would be quite small.

  15. May 03, 2022Blackshoe said...

    @DampOctopus: in addition to the other fine points, if you did it that way, the solution to knocking out the 2nd-strike capability becomes "Drop a bunch of warheads into the parts of the Great Lakes deep enough to make that worthwhile"

  16. May 03, 2022bean said...

    Most of the issue has already been answered. Yes, this would take Canadian compliance, and there are some serious practical issues. One not mentioned is ice. There's a reason under-ice ops are usually restricted to nuke boats, although an SSB on the Great Lakes might be able to punch a hole to snorkel, it would sort of give its position away.

    There's also inertia. The SSBN force started with Polaris, which absolutely couldn't reach its targets from the Great Lakes. By the time Trident II came around, we already had a pattern, and there wasn't much appetite for this kind of radical change.

  17. May 03, 2022quanticle said...

    Didn't the Russians try a similar concept, by turning the White Sea and the Kara Sea into "bastions" in which their ballistic missile submarines would reside?

  18. May 03, 2022quanticle said...


    Thanks for the explanation. I was wondering why we needed an entire research program for this, but the seeker and diving attack profile do seem like genuine innovations.

  19. May 03, 2022bean said...

    The White Sea and Kara Sea are rather different, in that they are extensions of the ocean and salty, instead of very clearly inland and fresh. There was a possibility of American SSNs getting in, which isn't really feasible in the Great Lakes.

    As for Quicksink, yes, the seeker and attack profile are quite interesting. The attack profile in particular is something people have been trying to do for decades, calling back to the B-bomb, Highball and the plunge bomb on Puffin. But it never worked that well, at least until now. I'm excited to see what this can do, particularly if we link it with the JDAM-ER wing kit.

  20. May 05, 2022quanticle said...

    I just saw a photo of the new cruiser commissioned by the JMSDF, the Mogami, and I have to ask: what is it with Japan and extremely questionable warship aesthetics?

  21. May 05, 2022Echo said...

    Well at least it's easy to decorate for the Kanayama festival.
    What's with all these extremely capable-looking 30kt frigates now? Are new gas turbines so powerful that nobody bothers with 25kt ships?

    Seems like a lot of gear for 90 guys to handle.

  22. May 06, 2022DampOctopus said...

    According to USNI, the Moskva had its radars in their stowed position when it was sunk.

    Another point to the lesson from HMS Sheffield: point-defence systems don't work unless you turn them on.

  23. May 06, 2022bean said...

    That's the lesson from Stark. Sheffield didn't have a point-defense system, because her designers were kind of stupid.

  24. May 06, 2022Jade Nekotenshi said...

    And re-learned again with Hanit.

    Stark, at least, was sucker-punched. In the cases of both Hanit and Moskva, sailing off the coast of a known adversary with whom you're actively fighting, having your defense radars off is a special kind of stupid.

    I've seen some speculation that posits that Moskva's CIWS actually did chew up the first missile but the fragments destroyed the radar and so it didn't fire on the second, but the photo doesn't seem to show damage consistent with that, so I'm guessing it's just speculation.

  25. May 06, 2022Blackshoe said...

    @quanticle: what's so ugly about Mogami? She looks fine to me.

  26. May 06, 2022ike said...

    what’s so ugly about Mogami?

    I imagine the primary objection is that she looks like the lovechild of the USS Zumwalt and a DEVO Energy Dome.

  27. May 06, 2022quanticle said...


    "Is that a SATCOM antenna housing on your superstructure, or are you just happy to see me?"

  28. May 06, 2022Neal said...

    Ukraine might have hit the Admiral Marakov with Neptunes.

    I am looking for a more reliable link than this one: https://youtu.be/wdCHlJoAP8I

    Reminds me of the quip that once is a mistake. Twice is a sign of a habit. If true the Russians didn't seem to learn from the first one.

  29. May 06, 2022Jade Nekotenshi said...

    I could just about believe that in the case of Moskva, they need to manually plug contacts from the air search set into the S-300 or Gecko system to start working up a firing solution. I could also just about believe that they might be complacent enough to be running in Material Condition Xray or the local equivalent, with CIWS secured, and generally not expecting any resistance - the first time.

    But after Moskva is sunk, there's no reason to believe Ukraine is out of Neptunes and even if they are, they've received some Harpoons, and there's even less reason to think they're done fighting. It takes a special kind of stupid to be running with their air defenses in anything other than "ready to engage" state, I would think. At least the CIWS should be on semi-automatic, and softkill stuff should be deployed if someone so much as starts watching a vampire movie. Are they really that damn dumb, or does their gear suck that badly?

    I'm wondering how both Moskva and Makarov manage to get suckerpunched in what they know damn well is an active war zone, while Mason doesn't. Hell, Mason spotted the threat far enough off that they either splashed the incoming with medium-range SAMs or softkilled them before they came into CIWS range.

  30. May 06, 2022ike said...

    killed them before they came into CIWS range

    I think this is an important detail. On paper CIWS sounds like a great idea. However, once switched on they are fratricide machines. I imagine this means you need the permission of someone very senior to turn it on. That probably severely cuts into your reaction time.

  31. May 06, 2022Neal said...

    Sorry about the incorrect link I included above. This is the correct one regarding the Marakov. Granted this is from the Sun, but it might be somewhat accurate: https://www.the-sun.com/news/5278291/putin-flagship-makarov-fire-neptune-missile-snake-island/

  32. May 07, 2022Tarpitz said...

    From what I understand, Moskva had a lot of known (to her captain and the Russian navy) issues with its radars - see here for details. Notably, the active scan mode on the main air search radar interfered with the SATCOM system so they had to turn it off to communicate.

    I'm leaning towards Makarov not in fact having been hit, but I would not be even remotely surprised if she suffered from similar troubles.

  33. May 07, 2022bean said...

    Hmm. SATCOM antenna in a bad place. Where have I heard that before? The difference is that Sheffield was a lot smaller, and her designers had an excuse. It may have been a stupid one, but it was an excuse.

  34. May 08, 2022muddywaters said...

    Random-ish thought: did ships of the same class ever actually fight each other? (As opposed to being on opposite sides but not actually encountering each other, as with the Españas or the Type 42s.)

    The Spanish Civil War had Almirante Cervera vs Libertad, though I don't know if either actually fired at the other.

    (The age of sail had multiple instances, as you might expect from how often they used captured ships.)

  35. May 09, 2022Blackshoe said...

    @quanticle: LO technologies being applied to the mast is the hotness that's been around for awhile. Those have been major vulnerabilities for stealthiness, and some kind of covering for them has been moved forward. I think Mogami looks fine, personally; the covering fits into the form in a general way.

    It's not as bad as the AEMS on USS ARTHUR W. RADFORD (I know, it's a testbed).

  36. May 09, 2022Blackshoe said...

    @muddywaters: the cases where I could imagine this happening are either in civil wars, or maybe in some of the Indo-Pakistani wars, where both sides would have ended up with British ships. Maybe in the Cold War, where two communist satellites states ended up going after each other (I just briefly checked on the Sino-Vietnamese wars and the skirmishes they've had, and none of them seem to match).

  37. May 09, 2022Evil4Zerggin said...

    @muddywaters: This is a stretch, but after the scuttling of the French fleet at Toulon, the Germans took 340 mm guns from the Bretagne-class battleship Provence and placed them in a coastal defense battery at Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer. Subsequently, these guns and sister ship Lorraine engaged in combat during Operation Dragoon.

  38. May 11, 2022quanticle said...

    More good news about our favorite class of ship:

    Half of the Navy’s littoral combat ship fleet is suffering from structural defects that have led to hull cracks on several vessels, limiting the speed and sea states in which some ships can operate, according to internal records obtained by Navy Times and confirmed by sea service officials.

    The Navy has not previously disclosed the cracks in the Independence-class version of the LCS or the class-wide repercussions of the defects, nor has it identified which ships suffer from the issues.

    But documents obtained by Navy Times warn that cracks can grow if the ships transits faster than 15 knots in seas with maximum wave heights of about eight feet.

    I don't have a link handy, but I remember reading an article years ago about the LCS developing cracks in its bow in heavy seas. I thought the problem had been remediated, but it looks like it hasn't been.

  39. May 11, 2022bean said...

    Yikes. Worth pointing out that while 15 kts is a bit slow on transit, it's not insane, and it's only in Sea State 5 or more. In fairness, that's about 40% of the time in the North Atlantic, although less elsewhere.

  40. May 12, 2022quanticle said...

    According to the original Navy Times article, which has a copy of the temporary standing orders for Omaha, the 15 kt restriction applies to Sea State 4, and operation in Sea State 5 or above is prohibited:

    1) Ship operations restricted to 15 knots in Sea State (SS) 4 (max. significant wave height 2.5m/8.2ft), avoiding bow and beam seas as far as practicable. Ship should follow published Seaway Operator Guidance (SOG) for SS 0-3

    2) No operation in SS 5 or greater. If SS 5 is unavoidable, ship should slow down to 10 knots in head, bow or beam seas

  41. May 12, 2022bean said...

    Hmm. I'm genuinely not sure how bad this is. The thing to remember is that the LCS-2 is made of aluminum. This is confusing to most naval people, but I know aluminum. It's a treacherous metal, and likes to develop cracks. But that doesn't mean the ship is in danger of falling apart or anything. We fix cracks in airliners all the time, and when it makes the news, it's usually because journalists are being stupid.

    I suspect that this is not nearly as big of a deal as it seems right now. They'll do a repair, and the world will move on. Although I would suggest that maybe we should use steel instead of aluminum for warships going forward.

Comments from SlateStarCodex:

Leave a comment

All comments are reviewed before being displayed.

Name (required):

E-mail (required, will not be published):


You can use Markdown in comments!

Enter value: Captcha