January 05, 2024

Open Thread 147

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

Also, a reminder that signups for the 2024 Meetup in New England are still open, and you should come.

Overhauls are Carrier Doom Part 1, NWAS Cruise Missiles Part 1, Naval Video Games, and for 2022-23, the Fatherly One's review of the Musée de l’air et de l’espace and ESSM.


  1. January 13, 2024megasilverfist said...

    Is anyone tracking the Houthi situation? It looks like its escalating in a rapid but unsurprising manor.

  2. January 14, 2024muddywaters said...

    @megasilverfist: see here.

  3. January 14, 2024bean said...

    I was tracking it fairly closely at first, but got bored when it turned into opening the USNI email and saying "how many missiles did they shoot down yesterday?" Glad that we finally took action, although that was way overdue. That said, we still don't have a lot of clarity on exactly what went down with the strike, and probably won't for a long time.

  4. January 18, 2024Alex said...

    I was surprised to recently notice how much the US Navy has invested in the Expeditionary Mobile Base (acronym is ESB, because Navy) program: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExpeditionaryTransferDock#ExpeditionaryMobileBase(ESB)variants

    They have 3 currently commissioned, and another 3 under construction.

    The vessels are interesting. They are huge (785 ft length, 164 ft beam) and slow (15 knots). They seem to be the answer to the question "What is the minimum viable seaborne platform for sustained heavy helicopter operations?" The design is basically a big landing-platform and hangar bolted onto a civilian oil tanker hull, with the space under the landing platform used for boats, extra personnel accommodation space, and other mission-specific equipment. Total cost seems to be ~$500-$600M, vs. $1.5B for a San Antonio-class LPD (though these numbers aren't really comparable, since the ESB cost likely doesn't include the mission equipment).

    Having a low-cost platform for various forms of helicopter operation in low-threat environments (e.g. minesweeping, anti-piracy, humanitarian assistance, etc.) makes a lot of sense for the USN, because our other platforms that could support this tasks are extremely expensive to build and operate, and often have higher priorities.

    Would a design like this make sense for other navies? My guess is no - most other navies would be better off with a low-cost LPD design like the Makassar-class from South Korea, which would be much cheaper and also more versatile. But it's an interesting point in the design space within the US Navy's constraints.

    They were brought to my attention by this (tragic) news story about SEALs missing in action after conduction a nighttime boarding action off Somalia from USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3): https://news.usni.org/2024/01/16/two-missing-navy-seals-helped-interdict-ship-transporting-weapons-to-houthis

  5. January 22, 2024redRover said...


    Would a design like this make sense for other navies?

    Probably not for any single navy (though perhaps the French might be interested in one for use off Francophone Africa), but I wonder if it might make sense as a shared asset, rather like the NATO E-3s, where the EU or NATO or whoever pitches in for them, and then can deploy them for peacekeeping or humanitarian missions using a shared crew. (Or they pay for one in the South Pacific / Caribbean as a humanitarian / PR gesture, rather like the US hospital ships but with more water making and civil engineering equipment)

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