View Full Version : Tophatter: Sea Control Ship(SCS) History

27 Feb 05,, 07:49
You asked a question about this earlier. I didnt answer it as well as I should have because I relied on my memory which failed me somewhat. LOL So heres some clarification.

The concept apparently began in 1969 with a study from the USN's Long Range Objectives Group for a new ship called the DHK. These ships of around 14000fl would carry 12 ASW Helos plus the usual destroyer type armament.

Also looked at in the same study was conversion of Commencement Bay class CVEs.

In 1971 the SCS designation was formally assigned for preliminary design.
At this time the capability to carry VSTOL fighters was added.

SCS Air Group:

11 ASW Helos
3 Early Warning Helos
3 Harrier Fighters

In late 1971 the USS Guam LPH 9 was modified for proof of concept trials lasting until the Spring of 1974 operating both ASW Helos and Harriers.

This design was canceled although modified plans were sold to Spain resulting in the Principe de Asturias small carrier.

In 1975 a new design designated VSS(VSTOL Support Ship) of 30,000fl displacement replaced the SCS program. It was basically just a larger SCS.

VSS Air Group:

16 SH-53 Helos
6 LAMPS Helos(SH-60)
4 Harriers

The design was redone to accomadate more Harriers.

This design was terminated in 1979.

Congress almost funded an LPH conversion to an SCS plus funding for another LHA in FY 1979.

In 1981 the USS Nassau LHA 4 undertook the proof of concept role for the Sea Control mission operating 19 Harriers(20 harriers plus Helos according to another source).

Later studies showed the LHA's could operate 20 Harriers and 4-6 LAMPS(SH-60) Helos.

LHD's were specifically designed to operate Harriers unlike the LHA's.

A ski jump was not included though for two reasons:

The loss of deck spots.

The flight deck is long enough to permit combat loaded rolling take-offs of Harriers.

The Sea Control Concept has been gathering dust since 1981.

However ODS and Gulf War II saw the following Harrier Carrier Concept realised:

USS Nassau again embarked 20 Harriers in 1990 for operations in Iraq. At first it was a tough sell to use the Nassau and her embarked Harriers for close support missions.

In February 1991 Nassau and her aircraft supported the amphibious assault of Faylakah Island.

During the last week of Desert Storm the Nassau and her aircraft provided Strike/CAS packages against targets on the mainland.

In Gulf War II:

Both USS Bataan LHD 5 and Bon Homme Richard LHD 6 operated 24 Harriers a piece.

Combat operations commenced on March 19, 2003.

These ships each also delivered to Iraq:

1900 Marines
175 vehicles
270 tons of supplies/equipment
Hundreds of pallets of ground ammunition

The following sources provided the data above:

Conway's "All The Worlds Fighting Ships 1947-1982"
Norman Polmar's "Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet" 16th edition
Various editions of AD Baker III's "Combat Fleets of the World"
Various articles from the USNI's "Proceedings" magazine

28 Feb 05,, 04:05
Oh wow, what a treasure trove of info. Thanks Rick!

OK, as I understand it, the SCS concept was either the brainchild of or, (more likely) the pet-project of then-CNO Zumwalt but as you pointed out, never came to fruition. Good to go so far?

Also as I've read, it was "surplus" CVE and Essex-class CV's that were first used to prove the LPH concept, but were only used for a (relatively) short time, due to their high cost and age.
So too, the LPH design borrowed from the CVE's of WWII.
(I have all of this info on my bookshelf, but no need to tell someone like you all of the details :redface: )

Couple of things there were completely surprising to me was that the Tarawa's were not specifically designed to operate the Harriers. Was it because the Harrier was still not a quite proven (in the eyes of the U.S. military) viable aircraft?

Also the lack of a ski-jump on any USN ship, as opposed to pretty much every other VSTOL carrier operator in the world. I've always wondering about that, and was somewhat annoyed with myself for not realizing the sacrifice of deckspace for the sake of a ski-jump. Grasshopper will be more on the ball in the future :rolleyes:

On the use of the gator freighters as Harrier carriers (it's a great day for a rhyme...yes yes, summertime :redface: ) I hadn't read anything at all about either ODS or OIF, so that was a nice little nugget of information. Any word on how well they did, problems etc? Is there anything on the web about the amphibious assault of Faylakah Island?

Anyway, thanks again for the info :)

01 Mar 05,, 01:50
The LHA project was begun in 1965 to combine in one ship the attributes of the LPH/LPD/LKA types.

The Kestral/Harrier was begun in 1957 and the U.S. was seriously interested.. Some USMC pilots flew the pre-production AV-6 in 1966. The aircraft lacked real military punch apparently.

In 1968 the USMC once again became interested in the redesignated and test flew the improved AV-8A.

The USN then evaluated the aircraft in 1969. During this time Hawker-Siddley(later BAE) looked for a U.S. partner to build the aircraft in the US.

In 1971 the Tarawa was laid down and the USMC began receiving British-built Harriers. McDonnelDouglas became the U.S. manufacturer

A great many of the 116 AV-8A/TAV-8A built were lost in accidents I understand.

01 Mar 05,, 01:54
On Faykahlah Island. I dont know much about it . Apparently it was only a feint. It received bombardment from ships and attacks from Harriers if I understand correctly.