February 03, 2024

Open Thread 149

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

The jury has deliberated, and despite fierce compeition for 2023, the William D Brown Memorial Award for the biggest screwup that didn't kill anyone goes to the USN and VP-4 for running a P-8 off a runway and into the ocean. Runner-up status goes to all of the various commanders removed throughout the year. I can't find an exact count offhand, but it was a lot of them.

Overhauls are Aegis, Missile Guidance and for 2023, Hornet Parts two and three.


  1. February 05, 2024Commodore Perry said...

    I'm wondering about the America LHA class and why it doesn't have a ski ramp. I've read 2 explanations and I don't find either satisfactory.

    While the class looks like a modestly sized carrier, it's focus aircraft are helicopters and osprey. That said, it is expected to carry six or so F35Bs operating in STOVL mode.

    The first explanation is that the ramp would use up space which could be used for the focus aircraft. But the runway required for ski jump take off is much shorter than the required runway without a ski jump (for a given payload). It seems that a ski jump would use less space, given the desire to have STOVL F35Bs at all.

    The second explanation is that if it had a ski jump, congress would confuse it for an aircraft carrier and try to obtain false economies. But, other countries have small carriers--- the DeGaulle is smaller than the America and has CATOBAR--- people can argue for them already.

    It doesn't make sense to me. I'm probably missing something but this is the navy that built all those LCSs, so maybe not.

  2. February 05, 2024Alex said...

    At Jutland, why were the Queen Elizabeth-class battleships in the 5th Battle Squadron able to take so many hits without suffering the catastrophic results that the battlecruiser fleet suffered? I would naively assume that sloppy handling of cordite and removal of flashproof doors wasn't a battlecruiser-specific problem. Did they just get lucky and not take any critical turret hits? Was the turret armor good enough to protect them?

  3. February 05, 2024Alex said...

    @Commodore Perry

    The primary mission of the LHAs is getting troops to the beach. The concept of operations involves a ton of helicopters loading and unloading, which requires a lot of space. Some of the features that you'd want if you were building a "light strike carrier" get scratched to optimize for the amphibious assault mission.

  4. February 05, 2024Hugh Fisher said...

    @Alex, according to Drachinifel on YouTube and other sources, the dangerous ammunition handling was specific to Beatty's battlecruiser squadron. The Grand Fleet, from which the 5th Battle Squadron had been detached, didn't have the same emphasis on rate of fire. It's even suggested that HMS Lion herself didn't explode because she had a newly arrived and tough minded head gunnery officer who wouldn't permit the shortcuts that other BC crews were taking.

    But yeah, having thicker armour no doubt helped a lot too.

  5. February 05, 2024muddywaters said...

    The runway space for takeoff only needs to be clear when you're actually launching F-35s, which you can tightly pack the helicopters/etc for; the ski ramp would permanently take up space, including when you want the helicopters spread out for efficient use.

  6. February 07, 2024Commodore Perry said...

    Thanks, guys.

    That the flight deck is either in helicopter mode or fixed-wing mode makes sense. And for the first assault wave they are going to want to send everything they possibly can.

    Still, it'd be nice to have fighters overhead, too. But maybe the fighters can catch up? How long does it takes to rearrange? I guess if the helicopters are on a delivery, the deck would already be pretty empty.

  7. February 08, 2024bean said...

    There's nothing to stop you from spotting a couple of fighters aft (or just readying them in the hangar) while you get the helos loaded, then flying them off afterwards, because an F-35 is a lot faster.

    There are two other aspects to the decision not to use a ski-jump. One is that America is 840' long, while Invincible was 690' and Garibaldi is 590'. That extra takeoff run is going to go a long way to offsetting the lack of the jump.

    Second, the USN wants to make it very clear that America is not a carrier, because they're afraid that Congress will look at it as an alternative to the CVNs. This is not an unreasonable fear, particularly as an LHA is a bad alternative to the CVN, but fitting a ski-jump would go against this. (And yes, this is also a major reason why LHA-8 is getting a well deck.)

  8. February 11, 2024muddywaters said...


    There were 2-3 turret/barbette hits on battleships, including one on a QE (Malaya) that hit the roof and partially penetrated (armor holed but most of the shell stayed outside), and 16 on battlecruisers that survived, of which 4 were full penetrations (Lion, Tiger, Derfflinger x2) and at least one of the partial penetrations started a fire (Seydlitz).

    So yes, there's plausibly room for both better flash protection (and British ammunition being more of an explosion hazard than German) and thicker armor to help significantly, and the numbers are small enough for luck to also matter.

    Another possible reason is that the battlecruisers spent more time engaged and hence took more hits, while the German battleships ran away.

  9. February 11, 2024bean said...

    Apologies for the the lack of a post so far this morning. We're having some technical difficulties here, and I'll get it up when those are resolved. Also, yes, the spam is a related problem, also trying to get that fixed.

  10. February 11, 2024muddywaters said...

    Also having technical difficulties: the Queen Elizabeths.

  11. February 12, 2024muddywaters said...

    while an LHD apparently is flying fighters as anti-drone defence. (Presumably the Burke directing them also has the good SAMs if any more serious threats appear.)

  12. February 12, 2024Grant said...

    @muddywaters Do you know what the Harriers are armed with? The link doesn’t say; I would guess Sidewinders or possibly cannon but if anyone knows please chime in.

  13. February 12, 2024bean said...

    They have capability for Sidewinder, AMRAAM and a cannon pod. I'd guess it's mostly Sidewinder, as the Navy/Marines have never been as into the gun as the Air Force.

  14. February 12, 2024muddywaters said...

    I don't know; it mentions loading missiles (type unspecified) but also hints at getting close enough for the explosions to be dangerous, which would only make sense for guns.

  15. February 16, 2024Matt said...

    Saw lots familiar in this article…


  16. February 19, 2024megasilverfist said...

    https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2024/02/australia-to-double-fleet-size-with-small-warships/ So Australia is simultaneously betting big on drone warships and hedging the bet. We're looking a large ramp of of total fleet size with a sizable contingent of "optionally crewed" vessels.

  17. February 19, 2024bean said...


  18. February 26, 2024megasilverfist said...

    I mean yeah that would probably make more sense.

  19. February 26, 2024bean said...

    The longer version is that I have yet to see a good case for armed unmanned surface vessels. If you're using them as unmanned sensor platforms, by all means, go for it. But I just don't see a lot of use cases for a 2,000 ton vessel with 32 VLS cells and nothing else. It can't do all of the other stuff you want a warship to do, and I'm not sure that VLS cells are going to be the limiting factor. If nothing else, we should make sure we have lots of missiles for our existing cells first, and we don't.

  20. February 26, 2024Hugh Fisher said...

    Australian here. We have a tiny number of ships, single digit for front line warships, and can barely find crews for the ones we have. (Eg for most of the 21st C we haven't had enough crew for all the theoretically operational subs.)

    So yes we could stick more VLS cells on the new warships being built, but we'd still have only maybe three available at any given time. Numbers do matter for a big place like Australia.

    Not saying it is ideal, but be aware that the constraints are different and we can't just do what the US does.

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