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Thread: What The Battleships Really Meant

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    What The Battleships Really Meant

    I know I am new to this board and still wet behind the ears as far as starting new threads, but after reading through a lot of these very interesting threads, and particularly the contributions of Dreadnought, RustyBattleship, Ytlas, et al., I felt that the real point of the presence of those dinosaurs, even if unintended is being missed. So I thought I'd just throw this out there and let ya'll chew on it a bit.

    The real point of the presence of the battleships, and more importantly, the BBBGs was that it signaled a real sea change (no pun intended) in the philosophy of the US Navy. For nearly 50 years, naval aviation had ruled the roost, and we all marched to their tune. The nuclear power community was very powerful as well, but they had feet in all three of the regular warfare branches; surface, sub-surface, and aviation. However, it was my winged brethren who really called the shots all those years. And why not? They had won WWII in the Pacific, right? At least that's what everyone thought . . . the reality, one that hit me square in the face while a student at the US Naval War College back in 1997, was that the war in the Pacific was won by the service group ships; the oilers and supply ships that kept the carriers, battleships and all of their escorts topped off and ready to rock and roll won the war, and if you don't think so, you are living in a fool's paradise. The submarine community has more than a few things to say along the lines of who choked the life out of the Japanese economy, but being the "Silent Service" no one paid any attention to them to begin with.

    Anyway, everyone, including the aviators thought they had won it all, so they had a lot to say about how the Navy looked for 50 years or so. I cannot begin to tell you how, as a young officer, their influence was all pervasive in everything we did. I even served in a carrier for three years on my first tour, and thought that when I transferred off that thing that I wouldn't have to deal with aviation any more. Wrong! That influence was in everything. I swear it felt at times like we were choking on airplanes and those who fly them. Then someone got the bat crap idea of bringing the battleships out of mothballs. And the world turned over, because almost simultaneously the Tomahawk Land Attach Cruise Missile hit the fleet for real. Suddenly, the Surface Navy had a real strike and power projection mission. No longer were we just sacrificial lambs who were to keep the carrier afloat at all costs. Desert Storm just sealed the deal. We launched a lot of Tomahawks at Iraq and unlike the submarines, we didn't have to run back to Guam to reload. We just sidled up to the nearest AOE or AE and reloaded at sea; just like we did in WWII. Only instead of striking down gun ammo (although we did that too); we were striking down those Tomahawks. The Ticonderogas could see the entire battlespace without the need for an E-2C or an Air Force E-3A and in either the passive or active modes, we gave submarines something to think about.

    We truly were the experts at fighting up, out and down, and all of that was driven home by the BBBGs. If you don't think the Soviets noticed, you would be quite mistaken. They were going ballistic about this new threat. They had nothing to match it and the hits just kept on coming with the Arleigh Burkes, and the role that Aegis would play in Theater Ballistic Defense. There are a lot of reasons why they crumbled, but the advent of the new Surface Warfare paradigm was definitely among them. And that is the importance of the battleships, with all of the fits and starts, and frankly bad press they got with the Iowa tragedy (by the way, the XO before the one in the saddle in Iowa when the turret explosion occurred is a friend of mine; he got a lot of undeserved press in the book A Glimpse of Hell; yeah, he can be an a-hole, and maybe too often, but he's the kind of guy you'd want along for the ride when you march into hell), they were the vanguard of a revolution in war at sea, and a true Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). When trained strategists like me look at history and current events, we are trained to look for those RMAs. Well, this is one that stands out like a sore thumb, and as a Surface Warrior, one whose altar I worship at every now and then. Like now.

    It's because of the battleships and Tomahawk that we will eventually have 77 Alreigh Burkes, why we are going ahead with the LCS (although if you talk to most dinosaurs my age, we see them as ships that can't "flee, f***, or fight"), and the DDG-1000. Hell, it's even why we will have the Gerald R. Ford-class of carriers; because we can protect them, and lead the air strike with Tomahawk to suppress enemy air batteries, clearing the way for the air strike. We save pilot lives (they aren't long for the world anyway, the way drone technology is progressing . . . someday, when appropriate, I'll share my tales of Predator and Global Hawk development when I was on the Joint Staff). We make the carriers more effective, and keep costs down (in 1997, the CNO at the time, Jay Johnson, an F-14 jock, told me that the cost of just one take off and landing of an F/A-18 was $65,000 . . . a one-way flight of a Tomahawk isn't cheap, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than losing an airplane and its crew). There is almost no part of naval warfare, including Special Ops in which we of the Surface Warfare branch are not now involved. I cannot tell you how different the paradigm is to that which was extant when I took to oath of office more than 34 years ago. And we have the Iowa-class to thank for that; they shattered the old paradigm.
    Last edited by desertswo; 17 Jun 13, at 15:29.

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    Quote Originally Posted by desertswo View Post
    the war in the Pacific was won by the service group ships; the oilers and supply ships that kept the carriers, battleships and all of their escorts topped off and ready to rock and roll won the war, and if you don't think so, you are living in a fool's paradise. The submarine community has more than a few things to say along the lines of who choked the life out of the Japanese economy, but being the "Silent Service" no one paid any attention to them to begin with.
    Logistics. Always logistics. What's the old saying? "Amateurs discuss tactics, Professionals study logistics"

    Until I read Neptune's Inferno by James Hornfischer, I never realized why they didn't send some of the pre-war battleships into the Guadalcanal meatgrinder.
    The answer was so obvious I was felt like an idiot: Lack of tankers.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    Logistics. Always logistics. What's the old saying? "Amateurs discuss tactics, Professionals study logistics"

    Until I read Neptune's Inferno by James Hornfischer, I never realized why they didn't send some of the pre-war battleships into the Guadalcanal meatgrinder.
    The answer was so obvious I was felt like an idiot: Lack of tankers.
    Or as Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, USN once famously said, "I don't know what this 'logistics' is that Marshall is always talking about, but I know I want some."

    Seriously, if one really studies that conflict, the way I was made to with special emphasis on Midway, Guadalcanal, and Leyte, and you get a bunch of military officers around a table to chat about these things, you get some really fascinating insights. When a cavalry officer looks at a chart and recognizes the similarities to maneuver warfare on land, they occasionally see things that we Navy guys never thought of. They also need to be educated some times. Like when an Army armor guy was saying that Taffy 3 in the Battle Off Samar should have taken a particular course to launch aircraft. He was looking at a chart of the battle and I was sitting there, and raised my hand, and being familiar with those waters said, "So you want Taffy 3 to sink themselves? That looks like a lot of water on this chart, but little of it is navigable due reefs and shoal water. You'd tear the bottoms out of all those ships and leave them as true sitting ducks." The Army and Marine Corps guys were looking at the big picture and didn't have a clue what sort of devil resided in the details. Just like I wouldn't have a clue about how to negotiate a mine field on land.

    Regardless, they did provide some really valuable insights and I learned a lot from them; and one of those things was the importance of the supply train. A lesson not lost on King or Fleet Admiral Nimitz. The Service Group commanders never got the credit they deserved. They gave us the ability to go where we pleased and strike where we pleased, and the result was our ability to fight, as Clausewitz and Jomini, would have put it, "on exterior lines."

    We could do that because we could drag our supply train with us. Short of requiring some repair of which ship's company was not capable, the US Navy was quite capable of remaining underway indefinitely. No one else could do that; not the Japanese, not the Germans, not even the Royal Navy; which is one of the reasons (besides being a raging Anglophobe) Halsey didn't want their help; he or Spruance when in command of 3rd Fleet/5th Fleet would have to figure out how to refuel and supply their short legged battleships and carriers, because they weren't capable of unrepping. The British units were thrust upon them anyway, and acquitted themselves well, but they were still a pain in the ass logistics-wise. The Japanese were always fighting on "interior lines"; in theory, a great advantage, but the US submarine force made those interior lines manifestly unsafe.

    By the way, the Russians have never figured out how to unrep, which, despite their great war machines, keeps them tethered to shore bases. Even in the Middle East during Ernest Will and Desert Shield/Desert Storm, we knew where they were. Riding the hook at Socotra. That's where their fuel and stores were, and if they left that anchorage, it would be a one-way trip to hell. They knew it, and we knew it, and they haven't gotten any better in the intervening 22 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by desertswo View Post
    By the way, the Russians have never figured out how to unrep, which, despite their great war machines, keeps them tethered to shore bases. Even in the Middle East during Ernest Will and Desert Shield/Desert Storm, we knew where they were. Riding the hook at Socotra. That's where their fuel and stores were, and if they left that anchorage, it would be a one-way trip to hell. They knew it, and we knew it, and they haven't gotten any better in the intervening 22 years.
    What are you talking about? The Russians have UNREP down to an exact science.

    Just ask the Irish.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    What are you talking about? The Russians have UNREP down to an exact science.

    Just ask the Irish.
    Yeah, we watched them attempt to do it off California when they paid a port visit to San Diego back in the mid-80s. It was all we could do to keep ourselves from rolling on the deck plates and peeing our pants. Things we do in our sleep they cannot even imagine.

    By the way, I recently became a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. My mother was born there so I could claim it by descent. I could never do that when on active duty because of my security clearances, but now that I'm a crippled old man, all things are possible. I plan on living there part of the year once my children are all out of the house for good . . . or at least claim to be.
    Last edited by desertswo; 15 Jun 13, at 18:44.

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    Quote Originally Posted by desertswo View Post
    I know I am new to this board and still wet behind the ears as far as starting new threads, but after reading through a lot of these very interesting threads, and particularly the contributions of Dreadnought, RustyBattleship, Ytlas, et al., I felt that the real point of the presence of those dinosaurs, even if unintended is being missed. So I thought I'd just throw this out there and let ya'll chew on it a bit.

    The real point of the presence of the battleships, and more importantly, the BBBGs was that it signaled a real sea change (no pun intended) in the philosophy of the US Navy. For nearly 50 years, naval aviation had ruled the roost, and we all marched to their tune. The nuclear power community was very powerful as well, but they had feet in all three of the regular warfare branches; surface, sub-surface, and aviation. However, it was my winged brethren who really called the shots all those years. And why not? They had won WWII in the Pacific, right? At least that's what everyone thought . . . the reality, one that hit me square in the face while a student at the US Naval War College back in 1997, was that the war in the Pacific was won by the service group ships; the oilers and supply ships that kept the carriers, battleships and all of their escorts topped off and ready to rock and roll won the war, and if you don't think so, you are living in a fool's paradise. The submarine community has more than a few things to say along the lines of who choked the life out of the Japanese economy, but being the "Silent Service" no one paid any attention to them to begin with.

    Anyway, everyone, including the aviators thought they had won it all, so they had a lot to say about how the Navy looked for 50 years or so. I cannot begin to tell you how, as a young officer, their influence was all pervasive in everything we did. I even served in a carrier for three years on my first tour, and thought that when I transferred off that thing that I wouldn't have to deal with aviation any more. Wrong! That influence was in everything. I swear it felt at times like we were choking on airplanes and those who fly them. Then someone got the bat crap idea of bringing the battleships out of mothballs. And the world turned over, because almost simultaneously the Tomahawk Land Attach Cruise Missile hit the fleet for real. Suddenly, the Surface Navy had a real strike and power projection mission. No longer were we just sacrificial lambs who were to keep the carrier afloat at all costs. Desert Storm just sealed the deal. We launched a lot of Tomahawks at Iraq and unlike the submarines, we didn't have to run back to Guam to reload. We just sidled up to the nearest AOE or AE and reloaded at sea; just like we did in WWII. Only instead of striking down gun ammo (although we did that too); we were striking down those Tomahawks. The Ticonderogas could see the entire battlespace without the need for an E-2C or an Air Force E-3A and in either the passive or active modes, we gave submarines something to think about.

    We truly were the experts at fighting up, out and down, and all of that was driven home by the BBBGs. If you don't think the Soviets noticed, you would be quite mistaken. They were going ballistic about this new threat. They had nothing to match it and the hits just kept on coming with the Arleigh Burkes, and the role that Aegis would play in Theater Ballistic Defense. There are a lot of reasons why they crumbled, but the advent of the new Surface Warfare paradigm was definitely among them. And that is the importance of the battleships, with all of the fits and starts, and frankly bad press they got with the Iowa tragedy (by the way, the XO before the one in the saddle in Iowa when the turret explosion occurred is a friend of mine; he got a lot of undeserved press in the book A Glimpse of Hell; yeah, he can be an a-hole, and maybe too often, but he's the kind of guy you'd want along for the ride when you march into hell), they were the vanguard of a revolution in war at sea, and a true Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). When trained strategists like me look at history and current events, we are trained to look for those RMAs. Well, this is one that stands out like a sore thumb, and as a Surface Warrior, one whose altar I worship at every now and then. Like now.

    It's because of the battleships and Tomahawk that we will eventually have 77 Alreigh Burkes, why we are going ahead with the LCS (although if you talk to most dinosaurs my age, we see them as ships that can't "flee, f***, or fight"), and the DDG-1000. Hell, it's even why we will have the Gerald R. Ford-class of carriers; because we can protect them, and lead the air strike with Tomahawk to suppress enemy air batteries, clearing the way for the air strike. We save pilot lives (they aren't long for the world anyway, the way drone technology is progressing . . . someday, when appropriate, I'll share my tails of Predator and Global Hawk development when I was on the Joint Staff). We make the carriers more effective, and keep costs down (in 1997, the CNO at the time, Jay Johnson, an F-14 jock, told me that the cost of just one take off and landing of an F/A-18 was $65,000 . . . a one-way flight of a Tomahawk isn't cheap, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than losing an airplane and its crew). There is almost no part of naval warfare, including Special Ops in which we of the Surface Warfare branch are not now involved. I cannot tell you how different the paradigm is to that which was extant when I took to oath of office more than 34 years ago. And we have the Iowa-class to thank for that; they shattered the old paradigm.
    This I can readily subscribe to having been aboard many different classes of warship (exception to the oilers, LCS, US attack subs) but having a father that served aboard US Liberty ships during WWII that supplied the Allies and reading much about US sub warfare against Japan, its military ships and their mechant ships.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 17 Jun 13, at 15:09.
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    Quote Originally Posted by desertswo View Post
    Yeah, we watched them attempt to do it off California when they paid a port visit to San Diego back in the mid-80s. It was all we could do to keep ourselves from rolling on the deck plates and peeing our pants. Things we do in our sleep they cannot even imagine.

    By the way, I recently became a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. My mother was born there so I could claim it by descent. I could never do that when on active duty because of my security clearances, but now that I'm a crippled old man, all things are possible. I plan on living there part of the year once my children are all out of the house for good . . . or at least claim to be.
    I posted awhile ago on their unrep capability and the oil slick that turned up off the Irish coast from the Kuznetsov group refueling the last time she was transiting at sea.

    The tug they were sailing with gave credence to the idea that they were not fully up to par on their maintenance and capabilities at sea. Probably just enough to get her to a friendly port in either Cuba or South America Venezuala.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 17 Jun 13, at 14:32.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
    I posted awhile ago on their unrep capability and the oil slick that turned up off the Irish coast from the Kuznetsov group refueling the last time she was transiting at sea.

    The tug they were sailing with gave credence to the idea that they were not fully up to par on their maintenance and capabilities at sea. Probably just enough to get her to a friendly port in either Cuba or South America Venezuala.
    We make it look easy. We really do, but like a lot of capabilities we have (naval aviation being an obvious one), where we are now is at a point along an evolutionary timeline. These things didn't happen overnight, and before WWII we looked just as stupid as the Soviets/Russians do now, but we more or less perfected the art during the war, and the equipment and processes have only gotten better since, and now we may go anywhere we have to in order to get the job done.

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    I've gotten a bit lost in the long postings. But I noticed a couple of phrases referring to Russian unrep.

    As a designer for Replenishment at Sea systems for 12 of my 39 years at LBNSY, I know the Russians refueled their escort/consort ships by trailing the fuel hose from the stern of the refueling ship. I've seen a couple of photos of that.

    Also, when the shipyard closed its gates for the last time, somebody gave me a box full of video tapes. I have a tape of Russian RAS systems. I think it's on Beta (at the bottome drawer of a filing cabinet hidden by stacks of receipts) amd since I don't have a Beta player, I've never reviewed it.

    Maybe it's a VHS. Haven't looked in that drawer for a year or so now.

    Anybody out there interested in it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by RustyBattleship View Post
    I've gotten a bit lost in the long postings. But I noticed a couple of phrases referring to Russian unrep.

    As a designer for Replenishment at Sea systems for 12 of my 39 years at LBNSY, I know the Russians refueled their escort/consort ships by trailing the fuel hose from the stern of the refueling ship. I've seen a couple of photos of that.
    Yeah, they do that astern refueling thing. I've done that once in the cruiser in the Northern Arabian Sea when we got fuel off of a civilian (British flagged) tanker that was not normally a refueling ship. We got the job done but it was a pain in the ass, and VERY SLOW. I felt like I was burning it as fast as I was taking it. Usually we'd come alongside and have two STREAM rigs working on the oiler's side taking DFM at several hundred gallons per minute through two hoses with NATO fuel probes affixed. If we moved stores, usually it was by VERTREP. That was a beautiful dance that got us our supplies in no time at all.

    We watched the Russians do a sort of primitive looking double house fall, and they were tortuously slow, and the stuff they were passing was weird. I mean, like sides of beef or something; I don't know, maybe a Siberian Yak or something, but anyway, it went across while nearly getting douched several times. When we move meat, it's frozen and boxed, and is generally one of those things that arrive in a helo cargo net.

    Regardless, they aren't very good at it, and jibes with someone's theory that they just head for a friendly port in Cuba or somewhere. In my day it was Socotra Island, which was part of then Communist South Yemen. The got there, dropped the hook, and then never moved. Occasionally they would scrape the running rust off of their hulls but not often.
    Last edited by desertswo; 18 Jun 13, at 08:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RustyBattleship View Post
    I've gotten a bit lost in the long postings. But I noticed a couple of phrases referring to Russian unrep.

    As a designer for Replenishment at Sea systems for 12 of my 39 years at LBNSY, I know the Russians refueled their escort/consort ships by trailing the fuel hose from the stern of the refueling ship. I've seen a couple of photos of that.

    Also, when the shipyard closed its gates for the last time, somebody gave me a box full of video tapes. I have a tape of Russian RAS systems. I think it's on Beta (at the bottome drawer of a filing cabinet hidden by stacks of receipts) amd since I don't have a Beta player, I've never reviewed it.

    Maybe it's a VHS. Haven't looked in that drawer for a year or so now.

    Anybody out there interested in it?

    Can't help you with Beta but still have a VHS player

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    I am pretty certain that for a small fee you can find a service in your area to put those Betas or VHSs to DVD in no time.

    Googling "VHS, Beta to DVD, California" gives a nice list.
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    BETA was very popular to the USN close circuit stations aboard US capital ships during the early eighties. Some still have their set-ups aboard although long retired.
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    Quote Originally Posted by desertswo View Post
    We could do that because we could drag our supply train with us. Short of requiring some repair of which ship's company was not capable, the US Navy was quite capable of remaining underway indefinitely.
    I still think, that the US Navy is making a HUGE mistake, in not making our new ships nuclear powered. Sure it will cost more initially, but with modern technology, you can make a reactor that will last 40 years without refueling, and I'm sure more than pay for itself in the long run, counting the cost of fuel we have to buy now. (look at the Virginia class SSN's) IF you were to combine a nuclear reactor with a single turbine that would power a large generator, making a hybrid ship that was electric operated, it would give the best of all worlds, no need to refuel (except fuel for the crew aka food, and the embarked helo det's fuel)

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    Quote Originally Posted by dundonrl View Post
    I still think, that the US Navy is making a HUGE mistake, in not making our new ships nuclear powered. Sure it will cost more initially, but with modern technology, you can make a reactor that will last 40 years without refueling, and I'm sure more than pay for itself in the long run, counting the cost of fuel we have to buy now. (look at the Virginia class SSN's) IF you were to combine a nuclear reactor with a single turbine that would power a large generator, making a hybrid ship that was electric operated, it would give the best of all worlds, no need to refuel (except fuel for the crew aka food, and the embarked helo det's fuel)
    I guess you haven't met too many recent high school graduates, have you?

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