June 09, 2023

Open Thread 132

It's time once again for our regular open thread. Talk about whatever you want, so long as it isn't Culture War.

Overhauls are Jutland Parts two and five, Soviet SLBMs Part 2 and for 2022, Codebreaking and Jutland and Miramar 2016.


  1. June 09, 2023Neal said...

    About 18 months ago someone on the open threads (sorry I have forgotten whom!) suggested the book Battleship: The Sinking of the Prince of Wales and The Repulse.

    I had ordered it straight away but then it got lost in another stack of "to-read" books. It was only this past week that I re-discovered and read it--much to my delight. I liked Martin Middlebrook's style and while I will have to defer to the finer points of accuracy to this audience, I found his to be a lively and touching narration of events.

    Even more so, I liked how he does not wish to criticize from the position of hindsight as there are any number of decisions that one can linger over at length--with the exception being why Phillips continued to sail without air cover after part of Task Force Z had most certainly been spotted. Heck, one can even legitimately, in my mind, question what the task force was doing under sail at all without some kind of cover...

    It was written in the mid 1970s and I see there is a 2014 version that has been published so I do not know if the author (still alive) has made any changes. I enjoy books that raise questions without being judgmental I will certainly be looking at some of his other works.

    A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals that around 2012 a team was able to get a camera along the length of the port shaft up till boiler room B. Also that illegal salvage teams have actually used explosives to remove parts of the ships. The props from one of them have been removed. That is just sad.

  2. June 14, 2023bean said...

    Preliminary report on the meetup: It was great. I very much enjoyed it, and I think everyone else did, too. The company was excellent, the food was superb, and the ship tour went well, although I didn't really factor in how the larger group would work in the behind-the-scenes stuff.

  3. June 14, 2023Ian Argent said...

    Seen on the internet: "Graphic is making the rounds again and the concept for a few years, but this really uh…demonstrates operational intent.

    Like launching in the middle of the crowded Singapore strait by a seemingly commercial vessel." (Graphic is of a Perfectly Ordinary Container Ship unloading multiple quad-packs of ASMs from containerized launchers - https://twitter.com/IronManActual/status/1668951385235238912 )

    I just can't even

  4. June 15, 2023Basil Marte said...

    Instructions said "must be top of stack". Program assigned the position at the top of the hold stack.

    More seriously, this is an excellent example of putting an operational gimmick over the strategic properties of the system. So, you want a coordinated strike ~worldwide (or just use the system at all)? That means you need to begin executing the embarkation timetable weeks (at least days) before the strike happens. But once you started executing the timetable, you cannot call off the strike, or else any weapons already loaded will duly show up and be craned ashore at Rotterdam/LALB/Savannah/etc.

    Just be conservative, and think in blockships. The odd container of bagged ammonium nitrate fertilizer is plausible, especially if the paperwork actually says that it is that. So is a bulker full of (mumble) that turns back for commercial reasons.

  5. June 15, 2023ike said...

    @Basil Marte

    Making the enemy jumpy and trigger happy around neutral shipping is a plus if you could do it cheaply.

  6. June 15, 2023Alexander said...

    That kind of containerised payload but on warships could work though, like StanFlex. It would allow easier upgrading of systems, and maybe even make switching between HADR to warfighting possible. And I suppose if you were being blockaded by the 7th fleet, there might be some circumstances where it could help you turn some requisitioned merchants into auxiliaries.

  7. June 15, 2023Basil Marte said...

    You can already do that cheaply. Again: throwing into circulation a bunch of containers that could scuttle some Ever Sunken into a canal or port, without even its crew knowing in advance. Making your enemy think that any bulker could Beirut a port, because you ensured that some can.

    What else do rockontainers offer?
    - If you want the ship to fully pass as innocent, even its crew not knowing advance, then your targeting information must be such that it doesn't go stale for weeks. So... ports and canals? Yes, you can now try to sink the shipping congregating there, rather than blocking it. Seems a rather small plus.
    - Infiltrate an enemy-affiliated convoy, if by some miracle of incompetence, they allow in ships with cargo from your ports, or you found a neutral country with Customs so corrupt/incompetent that you could transload rockontainers with/without their knowledge. Indeed do many things come to pass, but this seems an awfully narrow application domain.
    - If the crew knows, you can maneuver to shoot at a moving target. So... a low-budget "arsenal ship" with no survivability if someone does spot that it's behaving unlike an innocent containership. Implying that you can't really use it in places the enemy can reliably track ships, only in basically the contested area.

  8. June 16, 2023Ian Argent said...

    Almost all of the benefit of Q-Containers accrues from making your opponents think you have some, almost none of it from actually deploying them.

    Most of what you'd want to do with them can also be done with SSGNs, and then you have SSGNs to do other things with as well

  9. June 16, 2023Eric Rall said...

    But once you started executing the timetable, you cannot call off the strike, or else any weapons already loaded will duly show up and be craned ashore at Rotterdam/LALB/Savannah/etc.

    If you put your Q-containers on a ship with a cargo-handling deck crane, you could theoretically yeet the Q-containers overboard somewhere out of sight of land. Or you might be able to rendezvous with another container ship heading back to one of your own ports and transfer the offending containers.

  10. June 16, 2023bean said...


    Yes, but those are quite rare, and almost exclusively used for feeder routes where you only need a few containers. They're not likely to be useful here.

  11. June 21, 2023Neal said...

    Lots of solid engineering experience among Bean's readership so I seek your opinions and educated insights as to the unpleasantries unfolding with the submersible that was attempting to reach the Titanic.

    We visit battlefields and museums but we seem to treat, rightfully imho, water graves differently.

    What is y'alls insight and opinion regarding the ongoing search a and rescue operation?

    Should the wealthy be afforded to go take a peek?

    Should it be found, what are the chances to raise it?

    Seemingly simple questions, but there must be a lot of sophisticated equipment and planning in trying to even locate the submergable.

  12. June 21, 2023bean said...

    While the engineering skills of the people who designed the thing don't exactly fill me with confidence, they do seem to have taken the problem of not getting stuck on the bottom fairly seriously. I'm about 50/50 on them either having died immediately or being stuck on the surface without any way to contact anyone. Don't see much in the way of stranded alive on the bottom as an option. And at this point, if that did happen, I kind of doubt they'd be able to do very much before the air ran out.

    I don't have a lot of problem with people going down to take a look. The salvage efforts over the years are far more of a problem than simple tourism, IMO.

  13. June 22, 2023Anonymous said...

    Ian Argent:

    Most of what you'd want to do with them can also be done with SSGNs, and then you have SSGNs to do other things with as well

    A container with some weapons is likely to be a lot easier to make than a real submarine.

  14. June 22, 2023Ian Argent said...

    Sure - but then you have a container full of missiles sitting somewhat forlornly on shore. You still need a ship under your exclusive and complete control to deploy them on. At which point, either put them on a proper warship if you don't care about stealth, or a sub if you do.

    The problem isn't the container, the problem is shipping them around.

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