February 16, 2024

Open Thread 150

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

Apologies this is up late. Work has been busy, and I'm prioritizing the main posts.

Also, a reminder that all of you should consider coming to the meetup in Providence.

Overhauls are Classes, Aerial Cruise Missiles, The Proximity Fuze Part 1 and for 2023, my review of Top Gun: Maverick and Thoughts on the Chinese Balloon.


  1. February 22, 2024Commodore Perry said...

    How are the Houthis getting targeting information? IIUC, the Rubymar was attacked at 2300 local time and was 35 miles off shore.

  2. February 22, 2024Hugh Fisher said...

    @Commodore Perry, a few possibilities according to YouTuber Sal Mercoglianos who presents What Is Going On With Shipping.

    First is the AIS transponders ships carry. Most civilian ships (and lots of warships in peaceful areas) are regularly broadcasting their ID and position. Since everyone has GPS, the position info is accurate enough to send a drone / missile to that point and rely on active homing for the final approach. But now ships in the area (other than Russian or Chinese) are switching AIS off.

    Second would be drones or helicopters designating targets. We know the Houthis have at least one helicopter. The Red Sea channel deep enough for big ships is only a few tens of kilometres wide, and the Bab el-Mandeb strait is tiny. Not much searching required.

    Last is an Iranian civilian ship the MV Behshad which has been hanging around in the Red Sea for some weeks instead of going through the Suez Canal / Bab el-Mendeb. Assumed to be a surveillance ship.

  3. February 23, 2024redRover said...

    I am sure they have more sophisticated measures, but the southern part of the Red Sea (especially the Bab el-Mandeb, but even up further north when you take into account the various islands) is so close to land that you could almost do your targeting visually from shore, or with very basic consumer drones to look around.

    This Wikipedia graphic also suggests most of the strikes have been within 40km of shore (which is about what you would get with an observer slightly elevated on shore and a ship that's ~100' high). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TimelineoftheRedSeacrisis#/media/File:2023Israel%E2%80%93Hamaswar-_Bab-el-Mandeb.svg

  4. February 23, 2024redRover said...

    Also, these sort of constrained areas (Red Sea, Persian Gulf, to a lesser extent the Baltic) seem like they're the most dangerous for carrier groups because they mitigate a lot of the problems for opponents that bean laid out in the 'why carriers aren't dead' series.

    I suppose the straits (Gibraltar and Malacca in particular) are more dangerous in some ways, but they don't have openly hostile neighbors, so the risk is primarily from submarines rather than missiles or what have you.

  5. February 25, 2024muddywaters said...

    Possible site bug: refreshing the page now deletes your in-progress comment.

    (Initially noticed because my comment had taken long enough to write that someone else had posted in the same thread and I wanted to read their comment before posting, but I have checked that it also happens if there are no new comments.)

    Workaround: open another tab of the same page instead.

  6. February 25, 2024muddywaters said...

    Sorry, not actually your fault: the same happens on other websites, which suggests that it's an issue in my browser.

    (But that still means I might not be the only one affected, so if you're writing a long comment, still a good idea to have a copy somewhere other than the edit box.)

    The edit box still does retain the comment when submission fails for an expired/typoed captcha.

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