July 24, 2020

Open Thread 57

It is time, as usual, for our Open Thread. Talk about whatever you want, so long as it isn't Culture War. If you want to do that, go to Data Secrets Lox, a forum set up by Said Achmiz (who also hosts Naval Gazing) that seems to be the hub of the SSC community.

Our first meetup went well, with 9 people signing on. I'm planning to hold another one on Sunday the 2nd at 3 PM Central (8 PM GMT). I'll try to have a bit more structure this time.

Also, one thing that did come up was a book recommendation. I've recently gotten into the Seaforth World Naval Review series. It's an annual that looks at developments in naval matters worldwide, and unlike other publications (such as Warship) it is focused entirely on what's going on today. Each volume has an overview of all of the major navies with in-depth profiles of 2 or 3, along with detailed coverage of a couple types of warship and some looks at specific aspects of naval technology. Volumes from a couple years ago are usually available at quite reasonable prices, and if there's something specific you want to know about, I have all but one of the previous year's volumes and can tell you which one it's in.

Overhauls from 2018 are Missouri Part 1, So You Want to Build a Modern Navy - Coast Guard Part 2, The QF Gun, Yalu River, DismalPseudoscience's review of Mikasa and German Battleships in WWII. 2019 overhauls are The Pepsi Fleet (and it turns out that the perpetrator there was all of our favorite newspaper, the New York Times), Falklands Part 16, Signalling parts three and four, my pictures of Iowa's communications gear and Lion and Vanguard.


  1. July 24, 2020Alex said...

    Does the Expeditionary Sea Base design have export potential?

    Pros: - Huge flight deck and reasonably big hangar. Can accommodate 4 CH-53s, and could probably accommodate even more light- or medium-lift helicopters.

    • Politicians and military leaders can credibly point to it and say “We have an aircraft carrier”, or at least “We have a helicopter carrier”.

    • Relatively cheap - $500 million to build at NASSCO San Diego, and US shipyard prices are ridiculous, so probably significantly cheaper to build at a commercial yard in Korea, Indonesia, or elsewhere.


    • Not a perfect fit for any particular mission. Helicopters could provide some sea control, close air support, and ASW capability, but wouldn’t be suitable for a strike role. Helicopters and LCVPs or similar boats could provide an amphibious assault capability, but layout isn’t optimized for this, and the ship has no well deck to get heavy vehicles to shore.

    • Slow (only 15 knots).

    • Absolutely massive (764’ long, 90,000 tons at full load) - may only be able to use a limited set of port facilities.

    • US ITAR restrictions make exporting the design more complicated than it needs to be.

    • Not designed with any significant defensive capability - in particular one or two CIWS would be useful, but it’s not clear if there is anywhere to add them.

    • Higher-end competition: Actual LHDs are not that much more expensive than US sticker price. Korea’s Dokdo-class LHD was allegedly around ~$400 million, and Egypt bought two Mistral-class LHDs for roughly $600 million (both adjusted for inflation). However, as far as I know, Korea has never offered to sell a Dokdo, and France only sold the Mistrals to Egypt after a failed attempt to sell to Russia. They might be unlikely to try that again.

    • Lower-end competition: Peru bought a Makassar-class LPD for ~$68 million (adjusted for inflation). That ship has much more limited aviation capabilities (smaller flight deck and hangar, presumably very limited jet fuel), but it also has a well deck, and therefore has the ability to send large vehicles to shore in an amphibious assault. It doesn’t look as impressive, but it might be enough for your aviation needs while also giving you other useful capabilities.

    TL;DR - Would buying Expeditionary Sea Base be a useful way to “get a helicopter carrier on the cheap” for a country that otherwise couldn’t afford one? How cheap would it have to be to be attractive? $200 million? $100 million?

  2. July 24, 2020Blackshoe said...

    IMHO, no, the ESB does not have export potential. It's too large and too niche. Anyone who would want a "helicopter carrier" or "aircraft carrier" (a pretty small group of countries) will pay the money to get one of those things, not a sealift platform.

  3. July 24, 2020bean said...

    I'm with Blackshoe on this one. The ESB doesn't make a lot of sense to me in general, but it particularly doesn't make sense to anyone else. There might be a market for a cut-rate helicopter carrier, but if so, you're likely to see it either converted from an existing merchant ship a la RFA Argus or built from scratch on a smaller platform. The only country I know of to have tried something like this is Thailand, with Chakri Naruebet. That was essentially an OPV with a flight deck, designed to support anti-pirate helicopter patrols in Thai coastal waters. The Harriers were dirt cheap, and not replaced when parts ran out.

  4. July 24, 2020Lambert said...

    How significant is this alleged ASAT test by Kosmos-2543?
    It seems to have launched a daughter craft or projectile at around 700 km/h

    Given that ground/surface based ballistic missiles have been fired at objects in LEO, I presume the target of orbital asat technologies would be GNSS and geostationary satellites.

    OTOH, nobody seems to have tested direct ascent ASAT against a target which is taking evasive maneuvers.

  5. July 24, 2020bean said...

    The Soviets/Russians have had ASATs for years, and during the Cold War, they seemed to favor orbital ASAT even for LEO targets. That said, given how critical GPS is to the US military, I wouldn't be surprised if Russia and China were both very interested in targeting it.

    I've been out of the space warfare world too long to have much opinion on it. John will probably know more.

  6. July 25, 2020bean said...

    Is there anyone here who speaks/reads German and would be willing to help me out with some research? I'm looking into coastal defenses during WWI, but about all I can find on German defenses is that they existed. The only webpage that does more than acknowledge them is, weirdly, Global Security, and while it's better than nothing, it's extremely badly written and short on details.

  7. July 25, 2020John Schilling said...

    "I’ve been out of the space warfare world too long to have much opinion on it. John will probably know more."

    I've been deep enough into the space warfare world that I can no longer comment publicly about the kinetic warfighting capabilities of specific systems currently in service, US or foreign. Sorry.

    Historically, it is well known that the Soviets tested and to some extent deployed orbital weapons systems during the Cold War; it should not come as a surprise to anyone if a Russia run by a former KGB officer manifests the same or similar capabilities.

  8. July 25, 2020bean said...

    Ah. Should have seen that coming. Can you comment on who might have reliable public commentary?

  9. July 25, 2020Neal said...


    I am a German speaker (can certainly read it fluently) and might be able to help.

    Are you looking for certain web pages to be translated? Passages from a book?

    Fire me an email if you wish and I will see if I can help. Depending on what it is, my godson is at the university in Giessen and could possibly help..

  10. July 25, 2020bean said...

    I don't have any specific sources yet. Unfortunately, the situation is so bad that I can't even find German sources that I think have what I'm looking for. It's either a matter of terminology (unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a German wiki article on coastal defenses in general, because this stuff is obscure) or maybe nobody cares. I'm particularly interested in the islands of Borkum and Sylt (both were discussed by the British as potential forward bases against Wilhelmshaven) as well as Kiel and Wilhelmshaven themselves.

  11. July 26, 2020Neal said...


    I sent out a couple of messages to friends in Germany - one to an old colleague in Hamburg asking her to see what resources are there (university, regional historical offices, etc.) as well as ringing up the Deutsches Shiffahrtsmuseum (German Maritime Museum) in Bremerhafen. Although the DSM is mostly centered on commercial shipping if I recall from my visit, they might be able to provide a vector toward a source that can help.

    Knowing the German penchant for historical documentation, I would like to believe that there should be information on this. The quip is that somewhere there are tide tables from the time of the formation of the Hanseatic League.

    Can't promise either an affirmative and/or a speedy answer, but will certainly give it a crack.

    Btw, the museum in Bremerhafen is well worth the time should any of your readers ever be in northern Germany. The Type XXI U-boot Wilhelm Bauer is floating there. There is also U-995 in Laboe near Kiel.

  12. July 26, 2020bean said...

    Thank you. In the years leading up to the war, the British were very interested in coastal attack, and so I'm trying to figure out what they were up against. I know mines, torpedo boats and submarines were the major part, but I'm curious about what their guns were like. I have a little bit of info on what they did in Belgium during the war, but nothing on the coast of Germany itself.

  13. July 26, 2020bean said...

    So it turns out that there's a little bit more information on this stuff than I initially thought, mostly due to the lack of a clear structure. There's no German wiki article on Coastal Defense and Fortification, but there is one on Coastal Artillery. Unfortunately, it appears to have largely been written from English-language sources, and doesn't talk about German fortifications. But by following links, I eventually discovered the article on Langlütjen, which protected Bremen, as well as Fort Kugelbake, near Cuxhaven. Apparently, the Germans invested heavily in 28 cm coastal guns, which were quite potent, and essentially on the same level as what was going on in America.

    I also found a translated paper that might help, but haven't had a chance to read it.

    Google translate isn't perfect, of course. I also learned the phrase "duck powers", which is apparently somehow a mistranslation of Victorious Powers.

  14. July 26, 2020bean said...

    Continuing adventures in researching German coastal defenses: Wiki claims that 142 42 cm (17") disappearing guns were mounted on Heligoland. I checked, and they're accurately reporting the original source. Which is sad, because the source is clearly talking nonsense. 142 heavy guns is a lot. Like "broadside of half the fleet" a lot. I know the Germans valued Heligoland, but not that much. And as for the caliber, the Germans were still using 30.5 cm guns up until the start of the war. Nobody went above 40 cm until after the outbreak of war. And I've never heard of a German 42 cm gun.

  15. July 26, 2020cassander said...

    I can only see an ESB making sense for anyone if it actually came at close to commercial ship prices both to buy and operate. And for the US, I can't see how you wouldn't need it to be able to keep up with the rest of the amphib force.

  16. July 27, 2020Alsadius said...

    Yeah, sometimes sources are crap like that. I was browsing Wikipedia some months ago about a Chinese general I knew nothing about, and still managed to flag an error in their write-up. Because apparently he captured a million artillery pieces at an isolated supply depot in northeast Shaanxi.

    For reference, the total artillery production for the big three allied powers, for all of WW2, was 1,000,151 guns. But it was an accurate reference to the source material. Obviously, someone confused "guns", meaning pistols and rifles, with "guns", meaning artillery pieces, but it was still hilarious to read.

  17. July 27, 2020Alex said...

    I don't think the Navy currently plans to actually use the ESBs in an amphibious assault role. Right now it seems to just be used as a giant mine countermeasures vessel - basically a floating platform for MH-53E mine countermeasures helicopters. That's a role the Navy really needs, because those MH-53s are basically the USN's only effective minehunters right now (that MCM mission module for the LCS should be ready any day now...)

    If the MCM USV ever enters service, then the ESB will be a natural platform for that as well - basically a floating base for minehunting boats and helicopters. It's still not clear to me that the ship needed to be so enormous to fill that role, though. Then again, as bean says, steel is cheap and air is free.

    I think even the original Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD) wasn't really designed to be operated in contested environments. My understanding is that the concept is:

    1. One or more expeditionary strike groups (LHAs, LPDs, and LSDs) conduct the actual amphibious assault.

    2. Once they've established a beachhead and secured the immediate area, the ESDs show up at the same time as the RORO cargo vessels. Vehicles can be unloaded from RORO to ESD to LCAC to shore, which means you don't need actual port facilities for the RORO.

  18. July 27, 2020bean said...

    Nobody has really suggested that they'd take an MLP/AFSB into direct combat. I'm somewhat skeptical of the whole seabasing thing, as it seems inordinately vulnerable to weather. The AFSB approach makes more sense than the MLP, particularly for the US with its global commitments. The RN has used various auxiliaries for similar tasks (such as support work in the Persian Gulf) but a dedicated ship that's big and relatively cheap is definitely nice to have. But the weird MLP-derived design isn't necessary to the concept.

  19. July 27, 2020Dave said...

    I went ahead and watched Greyhound based on comments in last OT. I don't know enough about destroyers of the period to comment on the accuracy of every technical detail, but it was good in all the ways that Michael Bay's regrettable naval film that shall not be named was not. No obvious continuity errors on first viewing -- someone was paying attention to how many depth charges and torpedoes everyone had, naval officers talked like naval officers, nobody stopped to ask dumb questions or provide dumb exposition ("Gee whiz, Captain, why do them U-boats go so much slower underwater? And why are all these ships taking so much stuff to England anyway?") Also my wife who doesn't like war films was cheering for U-boats to blow up, which was new for me. Apparently the show-don't-tell exposition worked Highly recommended, and now I need to read the CS Forester novel plus, apparently, The Cruel Sea.

    Thematically, it just shows a slice of convoy escort life, rather than setting the characters up to hold the fate of the entire war effort in their hands. (Michael Bay again...) The escort crews do their jobs, which are cold, dangerous, boring, unpleasant, and vital to the war effort, but in a very small way. There's no extra drama injected or asked for beyond that. Rather refreshing.

    I did notice that everything looks like it's happening closer than the ranges the characters say they're happening at, but that's a pretty minor concession to looking good on screen. It does have the unfortunate effect of making the gunnery look less accurate than IRL.

    Curious if anyone who's read the novel and/or knows more about ballistics of 5"/38 shells at close range could comment on the last couple of surface/periscope-depth engagements. Does it actually make sense for plunging fire to damage a U-boat underwater?

    Are there any other recent naval movies that aren't painfully cringey and hollywoodized? I couldn't bring myself to see Midway...

  20. July 28, 2020bean said...

    Thanks. Good to have another view on this, and it's made me more willing to consider paying for a month to see the movie.

    Curious if anyone who’s read the novel and/or knows more about ballistics of 5″/38 shells at close range could comment on the last couple of surface/periscope-depth engagements. Does it actually make sense for plunging fire to damage a U-boat underwater?

    Extremely unlikely. Water is pretty good at slowing down projectiles, and fuzes are typically not designed to allow shells to travel long distances the water. (There were a few exceptions, but we're not talking about Japanese AP shells here.) A reasonable amount of work was done on anti-submarine gun projectiles, but it was mostly during WWI. I think there were some guns that had these shells during WWII, but the 5"/38 definitely wasn't one of them.

  21. July 28, 2020Alex said...

    I’m somewhat skeptical of the whole seabasing thing, as it seems inordinately vulnerable to weather.

    Yeah, I agree that the whole ESD/MLP concept seems a little half-baked. In addition to the limitations imposed by weather and sea state, it seems like throughput would be too low to be really useful, because you'd constantly be waiting for the deck to submerge or come back up. My understanding of the way it would work is:

    1. Deck submerges

    2. LCACs fly on

    3. Deck comes up

    4. Vehicles come down the ramp and load onto LCACs

    5. Deck submerges

    6. LCACs fly off

    In steps 2-5, your valuable, scarce LCACs are sitting around waiting for a complete flood/unflood cycle, as well as waiting for the entire time that it takes to bring vehicles down the ramp from the RORO and load them on the LCACs. Both of those presumably take a pretty long time.

    If the vehicles can be staged on the deck prior to flooding it for the LCACs (so the vehicles are on the deck when it gets flooded), then you could potentially save a lot of time, but that seems risky and unlikely to work in practice - any moderate-sized waves could damage the vehicles or wash them right off the deck.

    ESB/AFSB seems like in practice it's being used for a very different mission but just happens to have the same hull. Still not clear on why it has to be so huge, but I guess having space to add more gear and facilities in the future is a useful option.

  22. July 28, 2020quanticle said...

    Knowing the German penchant for historical documentation, I would like to believe that there should be information on this.

    On the other hand, there might not be. A lot of the pre-World War 2 historical documents and archives were destroyed by the Allied bombing of German cities. So the documentation might have been there, but for the the fact that a B-17 dropped some high-explosive on the building where it was stored.

  23. July 28, 2020bean said...


    It's not quite that bad. LCACs are pretty good at climbing obstacles (at least 5'), so you don't need to ballast down like you do for a conventional well deck. I can't find a detailed conops easily, but from this picture, it looks like they're ballasted down and have a slight list, so the edge of the LCAC bays are right on the waterline, but the centerline is dry. The sea looks very calm, so I'd guess that they'd go somewhat higher in bad weather. Vehicles come onto the deck aft of the LCACs (about 10' above the waterline) and are then driven down the ramp and along the centerline. LCACs can load from the front, so it's not a big problem, so long as the sea is reasonably calm.

    ESB is a very different mission, and one that frankly makes a lot more sense. There's definite value to a big, cheap platform for SF and MCM missions in relatively low-threat environments, but it's also hard to sneak that through the procurement process without it turning into an LHD. Going "we already have that ship, and now let's bolt stuff onto it" makes that a lot easier.


    Very true, and it would be a serious problem if I was trying to write a complete history of German coastal defenses. But I'm not, and I'm more interested in the broad outlines, which are a lot more resistant to that kind of damage. The big question is if someone has sat down and pieced the story together from the data that did survive. I found a little bit more on what they were using, mostly in Friedman's Naval Weapons of WWI, but there are still big question marks, particularly around the Frisian Islands.

  24. July 28, 2020Alex said...

    Interesting - I didn't realized LCACs could climb that high, and I also didn't realize that the deck would have elevated areas around the LCAC bays. My assumptions were based on pictures that just showed a big flat deck.

  25. July 28, 2020bean said...

    See, I was able to cheat on this one. The 2015 WNR has a profile article on the Montford Point, so I had a pretty decent idea of what was going on. The ships are built with just a big open deck, and then have mission systems installed on them. For the ESD/MLP, it's the LCAC bays, vehicle deck, and transfer bridge. Which aren't nearly as impressive as the AFSB version, so nobody bothers to make sure which pictures they have unless they're careful (which almost nobody is).

  26. July 29, 2020echo said...

    Wow, the turbine exhaust on those hovercraft. Those things must be a joy to stand around, like riding on the outside of a passenger jet.

    You say you're suspicious about how well the "unload from a cargo ship to a platform ship, then to a landing ship" thing will work in practice?
    Are there any pictures of the first step? I'm very curious how they move the men.

  27. July 29, 2020bean said...


    Yeah. LCACs are notorious for being loud and otherwise unpleasant to be around.

    I'm not actually sure what the official plan is for the men. The ESDs are intended as part of the Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons, which are basically a bunch of ships loaded with equipment and supplies for a Marine Brigade. There are two, one at Guam and one at Diego Garcia. The prototypical use is what they did with them in 1990. Ships steamed to a Saudi port to unload, men flew in on commercial jets and met up with them pierside. The new plan with the ESDs is clearly to not need the port, and I'd guess that the idea is to fly the Marines to somewhere reasonably nearby on chartered airliners and then have the first wave of forces find somewhere for C-130s to land.

    As for the process of getting the vehicles onto the ESD, the best picture I can find is this one.


    You'll be happy to know that the Republicans are proposing four new hospital ships as part of the latest coronavirus stimulus package. I think they're going to be based on the JHSV/EPF, so they'll at least be a bit smaller than the T-AHs. But still probably stupid.

  28. July 29, 2020bean said...

    In airline news, Boeing just announced that 747 production will end in 2022. This is sad news, although the writing has been on the wall for some time now. The 747 is magnificent, and I hope to be able to fly on one some day.

  29. July 29, 2020Alex said...

    Re: the new "expeditionary hospital ships", that actually might be a best-case scenario given the political constraints.

    If those ships aren't ordered, then Congress will probably:

    1. Order something to keep the Austal's shipyard in Mobile operating. Since they didn't win the FFG(X), that probably means ordering even more JHSVs that the Navy has no clear need for.

    2. Eventually order some very large new hospital ships through whatever the Common Hull Auxiliary Multi-Mission Platform (CHAMP) program, or whatever that morphs into over time. Failing that, they will probably at least keep maintaining the existing T-AHs, which is crazy expensive for the limited capability they provide.

    JHSVs at least have the advantage that they can be maintained relatively cheaply, and they can be deployed much more quickly than an existing T-AH. As a way to quickly show "the US cares, and is here to help", it's a pretty decent platform, even if the actual medical capability they deliver might be underwhelming.

  30. July 29, 2020bean said...

    Austal isn't doing too badly. There are persistent rumors that they're going to order more LCS-2s and/or a derivative (because they really love the flight deck on those things), and there's a couple more of the base model still in the pipeline. Industrial considerations were speculated as playing a part in FFG(X), because Marinette was almost out of work and Austal wasn't. If I had to bet, I'd say that this is from the Alabama congressional delegation, because pork, particularly with the EPF line coming to an end.

    I'm not sure that the idea of an EPFH makes a lot of sense, either. They're small, short-ranged, and incapable of operations above Sea State 4. Which is fine(ish) if you're running around the Persian Gulf, but not so good if we need to scramble one of them from the West Coast to, say, Southeast Asia next time there's a major natural disaster. Hey, I know what we can do with the ESDs!

  31. July 29, 2020Blackshoe said...

    @Bean: [hatred of T-AHs intensifies] Also, EPFHs have the downside that they are even more limited in austere situations than the MERCYs, in that they need pier space to be able to use effectively, and can't anchor out (unless they fixed that).

    The interesting thing out of this is going to be how BUMED structures the MTF and the manning for these T-EPFHs.

  32. July 29, 2020bean said...

    They're not able to anchor properly? That's rather hilarious, actually. And more evidence that whatever procurement process we've been using for the last few decades is deeply broken. Not that we needed more...

  33. July 29, 2020Chuck said...

    So having literally never heard of the expeditionary fast transport, I found its role somewhat confusing. From my first impressions, the EPT seems to be filling the role of a C-130 if the latter was a boat and scaled up 5-10x, with the main goal to ferry people and their gear around in-theater (if the weather is nice). Am I understanding this correctly?

    Assuming I am, it kind of reminds me of the Soviet ekranoplan flarecraft, which also seemed to have this ambiguous role of troop transport/missile boat/maybe hospital ship.

  34. July 29, 2020Neal said...


    That is indeed sad news about the 747. Time waits for no man (or aircraft should one say) and economics and technology make their demands, but what a slice of history.

    It was a dream to fly, was fast if you needed to make up time, the passengers (depending on the seating configuration) liked it, was versatile, etc. It had rightfully earned its place as the Queen of the skies.

    I have not looked recently but Lufthansa has a number of the -8 variants as does Korean. British Aiways just announced the parking of their -400 fleet thus the number of pax flights is dwindling.

    Juan Trippe at Pan Am and the Boeing team took a risk in committing to this program and they hit a grand slam. Though the word is overused, this airframe was an engineering marvel.

  35. July 29, 2020bean said...


    Yeah, I think that was basically the idea. It's one of those things that made sense to the Rumsfeld DoD and Ray Mabus, which means that it's completely illogical in the real world. Hadn't thought about the ekranoplan parallel, but it's there. (Except that this is actually a boat and probably handles rough weather worse.)


    Yeah. The 747 is an incredible machine, even if it has gotten rather long in the tooth. When I finally get around to going to Europe, I very well might try to snag a flight on one of the 747-8s. Is BA's parking permanent? Not that I was super-eager to fly with them, but I didn't think they had enough other widebodies in the medium term when air travel picks back up.

    Also, Haynes (the car manual publishers) did an "Owners Workshop Manual" on the 747 which is quite good.

  36. July 29, 2020Neal said...

    A response from my godson in Frankfurt re. the coastal defenses. He will keep an eye open and ask around. He sent me a few links--one that might be quite promising with the others being sort of interesting. He also sounded encouraging that in Germany there is probably someone that knows about this because of the interest from the city or regional archivists, the German Maritime Museum, as well as a historian/writer/reporter/skilled amateur.

    This first link was quite promising until it seemingly just cuts off as the narrative gets underway. It mentions that Sylt had up to 10,000 personnel stationed there (not sure if all at any one time however), that 600 Sylt residents lost their lives in various theaters, etc. It talks about the first British air raids on the island and that on 19 March 1940 nearly 7000 rounds of flak were fired. No detailed mention of defenses other than the usual batteries (no caliber given other than 3cm rounds) bunkers, and the like: https://www.shz.de/lokales/sylter-rundschau/sylt-waehrend-des-zweiten-weltkriegs-id93144.html

    This article about Borkum is very interesting and the "Kontakt" section seems current. It talks about the buildup of the Naval Air Station starting in 1938 and describes an air attack. I looked through this site and the authors here might be able to answer specific questions. https://www.geschichtsspuren.de/artikel/luftfahrt-luftwaffe/180-seeflugstation-borkum.html Let me know if you need any help with the translation as I am not sure Google digs this deep in the technical terms. Might be worth a try and again, I can write it up in German if they do not respond to you in English.

    This article talks about Wehrner von Braun's launch of the rockets Max and Moritz on Borkum circa 1934. Interesting how strict the informationsecurity was around this:ttps://www.radiobremen.de/nordwestradio/serien/schauplatz-nordwest/raketentest-borkum100.html

    Readers might enjoy the picture of the Tirpitz which had its launching in 1939 in Wilhemshaven. Also a bit about the post WW1 revolution. https://150-jahre-whv.de/unsere-stadtgeschichte/page/3/

    These three links are just general mentions of air attacks against Kiel, Wilhemshaven, etc. I post them only because the historians mentioned might be of use in the information search.


    Sadly, BA is saying they want to park all their -400s. I am not sure how to post a photo here but there is one going around of a large screen in downtown London. On it is the Queen when she gave her Covid address to the nation, but the one side is scripted over with the sentence "I want the 747s back." The Queen is not amused!



  37. July 29, 2020Blackshoe said...

    I've heard two stories about the origin of the JHSV: 1) Fox Fallon, when he was CENTCOM saw them and thought they were great and wanted a bunch. I have low confidence in that, but I trust the source. 2). Army wanted them for a specific requirement for moving stuff, then the equipment for it couldn't get loaded, and eventually they said, naw, nevermind. Then because it's a ship, the Navy got it, and has been continuously trying to figure out cool things to do with it ever since.

    And to be fair, you can do lots of cool things (namely, move a hundred or so people around by sea to some place with decent pier space and infrastructure). I just don't know that those cool things are really militarily necessary or that they are the best/only way to make that happen. I believe they've been doing good work as AFSBs in certain places, although in places that are very not contested.

  38. July 29, 2020bean said...


    That's all interesting and potentially useful in the future. However, I'm trying to figure out what was going on during WWI and the years leading up to it. Heavy coastal defenses were less of a thing in WWII, although there was still some use made of them.

  39. July 29, 2020Neal said...


    Ah, sorry about that I was reading too quickly and took the WWI as WW2.

  40. July 30, 2020bean said...


    It's fine. I really appreciate the help, and it would be childish of me to get annoyed over this.

    Also, good news. Falklands Parts 22 and 23 are finished, which brings us to the Argentine surrender. It only took, what, 2.5 years to get here?

  41. July 30, 2020Blackshoe said...


    How much response/trolling (sometimes the same) do your Falklands articles get from Argentinians?

    I find the Falklands war interesting in the sense that it's close enough that there's still lots of good data out there about it, but the historiography is divided in a way we'd expect more from the 19th century.

  42. July 30, 2020bean said...

    So far, they haven't found me. The only time I've seen any nationalist pushback was on my old article on Putin's new nuclear weapons, which some people at Unz took a bit of exception to, although they didn't come here. My favorite was someone who tried to use a rocket turbopump to prove I was wrong about battleship propulsion.

    I've actually looked for some of the loopier stuff I know exists, and haven't been able to find it on the English internet. The language barrier is one reason I haven't done too much on the Argentine side. (The other is that my sympathies are definitely with the British, although I've tried to be reasonably fair.)

  43. July 30, 2020quanticle said...

    In a follow-up from Open Thread 50, the Future Carrier 2030 study that was going to recommend a reduction of the Gerald R. Ford-class to 4 ships has been canceled. The incoming Navy Secretary, Kenneth Braithwaite, has expressed vocal endorsement of the Ford-class and has strongly questioned the feasibility of replacing them with smaller ships.

  44. July 30, 2020bean said...

    That is excellent news. So far at least, Braithwaite has been doing a good job. (Or at least a better job than his predecessors.)

  45. July 31, 2020Blackshoe said...

    And now, for something completely different!

    From the band Rusty Shipp, "Liquid Pendulum", supposedly about a WW2 naval battle, and featuring a stock footage of a Zhuk-class patrol boat, probably from the Azeri Navy.

  46. July 31, 2020bean said...

    That's interesting. Doesn't do much for me (although I really should get back to mine warfare at some point) and I can't quite stop myself from nitpicking. "But what about bottom mines?"

  47. July 31, 2020Lambert said...

    German might not be the only relevant language if you're looking at the coast of East Prussia.
    The fort at Swinemünde seems to be called Zachodni now, for instance.

  48. July 31, 2020bean said...

    There's probably some content in Russian/Polish, but I don't know how much. The relationship between those groups and the land that they're on which used to be Prussia seems like it's going to be complex, particularly given the nuttiness that Russian nationalism regularly inflicts on the internet. Plus, I'm more interested in stuff on the North Sea side, which is still German. But if there's anybody reading this who can do a quick check of Russian or Polish online sources, it probably wouldn't hurt.

  49. July 31, 2020Johan Larson said...

    The Royal Canadian Navy has today accepted into service the HMCS Harry DeWolf, the first of a new class of Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels.

    I'm a little fuzzy on this ship's exact status. I think this means the vessel has finished its sea trials, but I'm not sure.

    This is a weird class of ships. They can get through ice just fine, but they are slow, and kind of small, and lightly armed. All I can figure is they are supposed to establish a presence, however token, in the Arctic and this is better as an assertion of sovereignty than nothing at all.

  50. July 31, 2020bean said...

    It's an ice-rated OPV (offshore patrol vessel). Nothing particularly surprising there. Those are basically intended to show up and be a boat with a gun on it, which (legally and practically) trumps everything that isn't a warship. Some countries (most notably the US) relegate this to the Coast Guard. And yes, this is definitely because of increasing interest in the Arctic. Having ships up there is very helpful in asserting sovereignty.

  51. July 31, 2020bobbert said...

    Yeah, there was a long period where Russia had a GP level navy and Germany had none (though they were allied most of the 19th cent if I remember correctly), so I would be very suppressed if Stettin, Danzig (oddly spelled Dantzig on the map I have in front of me now), Konigsberg, and Memel (add Lithuanian to the languages to search) didn't each have some coastal defenses built.

  52. August 04, 2020megasilverfist said...

    Improper powder handling strikes again. Or at least that's the current leading theory though for fireworks not armaments. https://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/i3ldqj/reportsoflargeexplosionin_beirut/g0c3e08/

  53. August 05, 2020bean said...

    Ammonium nitrate is like any other explosive. Safe, so long as you remember it's dangerous. They seem to have forgotten that there. As for fireworks going off, that just kind of happens from time to time. I saw quite a few videos when I took a class on that.

  54. August 05, 2020megasilverfist said...

    https://twitter.com/tobiaschneider/status/1290716494528155648 It looks like a large portion of their food supply comes through the port.

  55. August 05, 2020bean said...

    I'd wonder how much of the Lebanese diet is wheat. That's definitely bad, but how bad is an open question.

  56. August 05, 2020megasilverfist said...

    Having trouble finding actual numbers, but more Lebanese meals are served with wheat bread https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanese_cuisine#Bread

  57. August 11, 2020ec429 said...

    Like “broadside of half the fleet” a lot. I know the Germans valued Heligoland, but not that much.

    Idk, I can almost believe it. The Germans of the time were very good at making guns, and don't seem to have been quite as good at making ships, so having a lot of left-over Big Naval Guns to put on Heligoland isn't completely implausible.

  58. August 11, 2020bean said...

    I didn't post it here (went straight into my draft post), but I later tracked down better information on this, and it's not true. The Germans built only 190 of their main 30.5 cm guns (the most common heavy gun) according to Friedman (Naval Weapons of WWI). And the number of heavy guns on Heligoland was 12 (IIRC) according to the same source. Another source corroborated that and said that 142 came from observers mistaking ventilators for guns.

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