July 05, 2024

Open Thread 160

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

I'm going to do a virtual meetup next Saturday, 7/13, in the Naval Gazing Discord channel, at the usual time, 1 PM Central (GMT-6 or so). Should be fun if you want to talk about whatever happens to come up.

Overhauls are Rangefinding, Impressment, my pictures from Iowa's goat locker, The 3T Missiles - Launch Systems, Coastal Defenses Part 8, my review of the Jeremiah O'Brien and Pampanito and for 2023, Thoughts on the lost submersible, my review of the Kansas Aviation Museum, The German Navy in the Americas and my post thanking the base commander for the long lines at last year's Tinker Air Show.


  1. July 09, 2024Ski206 said...

    Louis Johnson is the worst SecDef in the history of the office.

  2. July 09, 2024bean said...

    Fact Check: False. He's the second-worst.

  3. July 11, 2024Ski206 said...

    @bean who do you think was worse?

  4. July 11, 2024bean said...

    Robert McNamara.

    (This is a particular hobbyhorse of mine. I agree Johnson was very bad, but McNamara is at the root of so many problems today. I seriously intend to write about this at some point.)

  5. July 11, 2024Emilio said...

    @bean: temper, temper...

  6. July 12, 2024doctorpat said...

    Reports the USN is now operational with air launched SM-6. Giving simply ridiculous air-air range.

  7. July 12, 2024redRover said...

    Does the war in Ukraine (a terrestrial conflict, by and large) hold many lessons for littoral operations, or operations in constrained areas? It doesn't seem like it carries over to blue water conflicts very well due to the difference in environment and platforms, but for littoral operations (or constrained areas like the Persian Gulf or the Baltic) it may be more applicable. Or perhaps not, because even a very small amount of water transforms the balance between platforms and sensors.

  8. July 12, 2024doctorpat said...

    @redRover, at the very least we are seeing that FPV motorized kamikaze powerboats are a huge threat to ships in harbours and other constrained waterways.

    Giving near torpedo like performance over ranges of hundreds of km.

    Now whether this is a threat that is easily dealt with providing that the ships in question (insert thing that Russia doesn't have but most modern navies do have) is a question for those who know more about such things.

    I'm tempted to add that the Ukraine war also reminds us all, once again, that in a hot war the usage of missiles and artillery shells is always far higher than any peacetime production system is every set up to produce. Because everyone is always optimistic that "next time it'll be a short, victorious, war. In and out in 20 minutes. All be home by Christmas." BUT how that applies to a naval context I don't know.

  9. July 12, 2024Matt R said...


    "(insert thing that Russia doesn’t have but most modern navies do have)"

    Sober lookouts?

  10. July 13, 2024Ski206 said...

    @bean. I get what you’re saying. There is no doubt McNamara was a hugely influential and utterly terrible SecDef. I think you absolutely should write about him.

    That being said when you consider all the pain that was the result of the Korean War and the fact that as far as I’m concerned Johnson through his deliberate efforts to ensure US forces were unready and unable to fight is basically responsible for most of the deaths in the war and what followed.

  11. July 14, 2024bean said...

    I think there's a much clearer path between McNamara and US deaths in Vietnam than between Johnson and US deaths in Korea. I agree Johnson bears some responsibility re Korea, but I can't find casualties by month, and don't think the bulk were that early in the war.

  12. July 15, 2024Rabidchaos said...

    I think Johnson's impact was less in the month to month casualties and more in how the war happened in the first place. With the extreme divestment of non-nuclear deterrence, the US lost almost all of its sub-WW3 conflict management tools. If it isn't worth nukes, then what's America going to do? Invade with a bunch of scraps? Stand blockade with mothballs? They either won't do anything, or send a token that'll die gloriously, and then their politicians will say they tried and negotiate peace.

    Escalation management, when you have a hard line both sides know you won't cross, requires being able to operate credibly under that line. Johnson threw that away in favor of capabilities over the line.

  13. July 16, 2024bean said...

    I don't think we're going to agree on this, given that what you're talking about sounds a lot like critiques of Eisenhower's flexible response articulated by McNamara et al, who I view as basically entirely responsible for the mess that Vietnam was, primarily because they were more concerned about "managing escalation" than they were about victory, in a way they very much didn't have to be.

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