Jun 25, 2010

Future of the US Carrier's & Gator's Fleet

Too many, too expensive, too “crew expensive”, too old design, too big. Better to design a radically new smaller flattops design family !

+/- 11 US “White-Elephants/Dinosaurs”...use Nimitz/derived Nimitz hull design through 2070’s/even 2080’s ?, a FOLLY !……7/8 ships is a more REALISTIC (strategically, tactically, politically, financially) fleet…

1 CVN of the Enterprise type
1st nuclear powered carrier in the world.
- CVN 61 Enterprise, commissioned 1961, to be retired late 2012 after a last one very expensive foolish ! overhaul in 2008/2009 (more than 663 $ million compared with a initial 453 $ million estimate cost……this only for one or a doubtful two last deployement…). To be replaced by the 1st CVN 78 class (USS Gerald.R.ford) by 2015.

3 CVN of the Nimitz class batch-I
Nuclear powered improved and enlarged version/successor to the “CVA 67 USS John F Kennedy”. With 50 years service life expected. Heavily/Expensively modernized during there mid-life refit (RCOH):
- CVN 68 USS Nimitz, commissioned 1975, RCOH 1998/2001, to be retired by 2025. Likely to be a possible target ? for a prematurely retirement in the next major fleet cuts around 2012-2019 ?
- CVN 69 USS Dwight-D-Eisenhower, commissioned 1977, RCOH 2001/2005, to be retired by 2027. Maybe a possible target ?? for a prematurely retirement in the next major fleet cuts around 2012-2019 ?
- CVN 70 USS Carl-Vinson, Commissioned 1982, RCOH 2005/2009, to be retired by 2032.

5 CVN of the Nimitz class batch-II (Theodore-Roosevelt sub-class)

Slightly improved Nimitz (With improved armor and several minor improvement). With 50 years service life expected:
- CVN 71 Theodore-Roosevelt, commissioned 1986, RCOH on the way, 2009/2012, to be retired by 2036.
- CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln, commissioned 1989, RCOH expected 2012/2015, to be retired by 2039. Maybe prematurely retired toward the late 2010’s decade if the next major fleet cuts cancel this expensive RCOH ?
- CVN 73 George-Washington, commissioned 1992, forward deployed CVN, RCOH expected around 2015/2018, to be retired by 2042. Maybe prematurely retired toward the late 2010’s decade if the next major fleet cuts cancel this expensive RCOH ?
- CVN 74 John-C-Stennis, commissioned 1995, RCOH maybe expected around 2018/2021, to be retired by 2045.
- CVN 75 Harry-Truman, commissioned 1998, RCOH maybe expected around 2021/2024, to be retired by 2049.

2 CVN of the Nimitz class batch-III (Ronald Reagan sub-class)
Slightly improved Theodore.Roosevelt sub-class (with modified island, several minors improvements). In fact, this 9th and 10th were +/- a “transitional sub-class ship” between Nimitz and Gerald.R.Ford class. With 50 years service life expected.
- CVN 76 Ronald-Reagan, commissioned 2003, RCOH maybe expected around 2026/2029, to be retired by 2053.
- CVN 77 George-H-W-Bush commissioned 2010, RCOH maybe expected around 2033/2036, to be retired by 2060.

And the US Navy was planned to build:

3 CVN of the Gerald R Ford Class
Directly derived from the Nimitz class/sub-class’s, but with many major/minor improvements (new island design, fewer and newer deck lift, newer nuclear reactor, newer electrical catapults, a slightly crew reduction). With 50 years service life expected.
- CVN 78 USS Gerald-R-Ford, to be commissioned by 2015, RCOH maybe expected around 2038/2042, to be retired by 2065.
- CVN 79 (not yet nammed), ordered by 2013, to be commissioned by 2020/2021, RCOH maybe expected around 2044/2047 and retired by 2070. Maybe to replace, in the fleet, at the worse, the early retired USS Nimitz if severe budgets cuts occurred during the 2010’s.
- CVN 80 (not yet nammed), ordered by 2018, to be commissioned by 2025/2026, RCOH maybe expected around 2048/2051, to be retired by 2074/2075. Officially to replace the USS Nimitz by 2024/2025, but if fleet cuts occurred and that the Nimitz was prematurely retired. It is clear that in fact the CVN 80 replace CVN 69 Dwight-D-Eisenhower around 2025/2027.

After CVN 80, great question ?...
The current US Navy’s 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan calls for procuring one newer big carrier every 5 years through 2010’s-2040 :
- (CVN 81 ?) ordered in 2023 and commissioned around 2030, to replace CVN 69 Dwigh. Eisenhower or more likely CVN 70 Carl Vinson.
- (CVN 82 ?) ordered in 2028 and commissioned around 2035, to replace CVN 70 Carl Vinson or more likely CVN 71 Theodore-Roosevelt.
- (CVN 83 ?) ordered in 2033 and commissioned around 2040, to replace CVN 71 Theodore-Roosevelt or more likely CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln.
- (CVN 84 ?) ordered in 2038 and commissioned around 2045, to replace CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln or more likely CVN 73 George-Washington.

Although more CVN was planned through 2040 under the current plan, he is NOT TOTALLY SURE that the following carriers (CVN 81……) are from the CVN 78 class !

Expected future cuts in the US carrier’s fleet ?…
Facts: The cost of these CVN, a major concern……
If the lastest Nimitz carrier (USS George.H.W.Bush) cost +/- 7 $ billion, the 1st Gerald-R-Ford cost +/- 14 $ billion (R & D include) and the 2 next reached +/- 10/12 $ billion per copy. For this, in 2009 it was decided to build a new carrier only every 5 years (rather than previously every 4 years). In fact, with cost escalation/inflation, its become clear than by late 2010’s/early 2020’s, the cost of a later 100 000 tons CVN 78 class ships reach easily +/- 15 $ billion (or even worse….)

And even the cost of there mid-life modernisation (RCOH) is a major concern…
- The 1998/2001 RCOH for the USS Nimitz cost +/- 1,8 $ billion.
- The 2005/2008 RCOH for the USS Carl Vinson cost +/- 3,1 $ billion.
- The 2009/2012 RCOH for the USS Theodore-Roosevelt was expected to cost +/- 3,3 $ billion…

Probables scenarios:
But with future probable expected cuts in the US fleet. The temptation may be very great to disarm prematurely 1 or 2 carrier’s (even 3 ? at the maximum) without replacement :
- Either to retire prematurely the earlier ageing Nimitz’s CVN.
- Either to cancel the heavy and expensive mid-life modernization (RCOH) of 1 or 2 later Nimitz’s planned through 2010’s decade (CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln, RCOH expected 2012/2015 or CVN 73 George-Wahsington, RCOH expected around 2015/2018) and, by result, accelerate their prematurely retirement without “direct” replacement by the late 2010’s decade.
- Maybe more likely a mix, retire prematurely the USS Nimitz and cancel the RCOH of one CVN planned during 2012-2019 period (CVN 72 or CVN 73 ?).
- Either to cancel the procurement of a one or two CVN 78 class (very doubtful, because the construction of these vessels provided a lot of work to U.S. shipyards and avoid a lost of strategic skills).

And although larger ships have many advantages over smaller:
- More able to withstand torpedoes, bombs, missiles damages.
- Bigger and higher hull, for better seakeeping quality.
- Larger fuel tanks, for longer range/autonomy.
- More bigger = more politicaly/deterrent effective (is 90 000 tons of diplomacy).
- Larger hull = larger hangar = larger airwing.
Infortunatly the rising cost of big CVN will push the Americans to slow down their buildings. But this is not a long term solution. In fact, it becomes clear that in future, with UAVs is increasing onboard, with a 100,000 tons ship cost +/- 15 $ billion (or even much more by 2020’s), a VERY strong need for reducing expensive crew and newer threats capable of sinking large ships. The need to develop new, smaller , advanced (and survivable) vessels will be felt…

Smaller ships have fewer but interesting advantages:
- Cheaper ship.
- Very much lesser “crew expensive”.
- +/- usually more "manœuvrable".
- Smaller hull = usually more stealthy.
- More cheaper = able to be built in greater number = more sea presence.

With future trend in aircraft cost (trend expected to last very long), a smaller airwing has not longer a disadvantage, because with very high aircraft cost, even the big carrier’s don’t be able to carry a full airwing (+/- 80/90 aircraft), currently only 65/70 aircraft on board Nimitz’s and in foreseable future, will expect to carry only 50/60 aicraft per 90 000 tons CVN, a lot of folly ! To do this, why have big carrier’s (which can carry up to 90 aircrafts) if you can afford only much smaller airwing.

My opinion: Better to have only +/- 7/8 smaller (but better, advanced, automated, stleathly) new 58/68000 tons “pure” aircraft carrier design

Personnaly, I think that the better solution was to stop the CVN 78 class and buy smaller and cheaper ships : ideally, finish the CVN 78 (because this ship is “now too in advanced building process and too expensive to cancel”), but stop immediately work on CVN 79/80 and begin to study smaller CVN alternative’s for a 1st ship commissioned by 2020/2022, ideals characteristics:
- A smaller “pure” 58/68 000 tons nuclear powered aircraft carrier design, around 278/290 meters length.
- Extremely and Radically much less “crew expensive” than older designs (+/- 5000 sailors for a US Nimitz; +/- 4500 sailors for the newest US Gerald R Ford); With likely only around 1000/1500 sailors for a “pure” new advanced +/- 60000 tons aircraft carriers, +/- similar (in size terms) to the lastest british Queen-Elizabeth design.
- A very advanced design, much more “stealthy” than a Nimitz or a Gerald-R-Ford (Hull, island, noise propulsion…).
- Very likely with a monohull (a more radically advanced catamaran or trimaran hull were unlikely because probably reach a ASTRONOMICAL cost), maybe with a wave piercing hull ?, likely with a radicaly new integrated/compact/stealthy island and clearer hull/superstructures.
- With a slightly smaller airwing than the current Nimitz Airwing (Currently onboard Nimitz’s, +/- 65/70 aicrafts), maybe around 40/55 aircrafts/helico/UAV in this new medium carrier.
- Full UAV capable.
- With probably 2 or 4 conventionnal shaft or even pods ?
- With probably the newest nuclear reactor (similar than onboard CVN 78 class), without need for a expensive refueling during their mid-life refit.

+/- 9/10 US Gator’s (LHD/LHA), use the 1968’s Tarawa hull design through late 2050’s/early 2060’s ?

2 LHA of the Tarawa class

40 000 tons, 1st major pure big helico-carriers/amphibious ships with well decks. Initially (1970’s) with 20 years service life, during 1990’s extended to +/- 30/33 years service life expected. Now, some U.S. politicians trying desperately to reduce the decline of the fleet, are lobbying to keep these 2 last ageing ships for a another decade. But it is very likely that it can succeed.
- LHA 4 Nassau, commissioned 1979, to be retired by 2012/2013.
- LHA 5 Pelelieu, commissioned 1980, to be retired by 2012/2013.
In fact, these 2 ships will be replaced by only one new ship, the USS LHA 6 America by 2012/2013.

8 LHD of the Wasp class

41 000 tons, slightly improved “Tarawa” design (clearer full fligh deck, flight deck lift moved for better aviation movement onboard, modified island). The 8th and final ship of this class (USS Makin-Island), incorporate some improvement in propulsion and others systems (in fact, this 8th ship, cost +/- 2 $ billion, is a transitional ship between Wasp and America class). With a probable 35 full years service life expected (maybe likely extended to +/- 38/40 years for some ships if the US Navy desperately want to reduce the fall of the fleet size or.....for a few others (likely the most ageing vessel), if future budget cuts fleet occurred, 1 or 2 oldest ships will be prematurely retired ?).
- LHD 1 Wasp, commissioned 1989, to be retired by 2024/2029. Likely to be replaced by LHA 9 (if any fleets cuts/early retirement occurred before…).
- LHD 2 Essex, commissioned 1992, to be retired by 2027/2032. Likely to be replaced by LH(X) 1.
- LHD 3 Kearsage, commissioned 1993, to be retired by 2028/2033. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 2.
- LHD 4 Boxer, commissioned 1995, to be retired by 2030/2035. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 2.
- LHD 5 Bataan, commissioned 1997, to be retired by 2032/2037. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 3.
- LHD 6 Bonhomme-Richard, commissioned 1998, to be retired by 2033/2038. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 3.
- LHD 7 Iwo-Jima, commissioned 2001, to be retired by 2036/2041. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 4.
- LHD 8 Makin-Island, commissioned 2009, to be retired by 2044/2049. To be maybe replaced (or not ?) by a additional/improved LH(X) “5” or by a newest LHA(X) design/concept ?
In fact, it become clear that this entire class of 8 ships will be replaced by +/- 7 new ships (3 LHA 6 America class, 4 LH(X)).

1 (up to 4) LHA of the America class

45000 tons, In fact, only slightly improved Wasp design (hybrid propulsion, enhanced aviation capabilities, without well decks for amphibious operation for the 1st ship, but very serious US Marines concerns about the lack of well decks probably means that later ships of this class will be modified to re-carry a well deck…=…additional costs…). With a probable 35 or 40 full years service life expected. Estimate cost per ship: 3,8-4,3 billion The current US Navy’s 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan calls for procuring 3 others LHA 6 class (by 2011, 2016, 2021) to replace progressively earlier ageing Wasp class.
- LHA 6 America, to be commissioned by 2012, to replace partially LHA-4 Nassau & LHA-5 Pelelieu. To be retired by 2042/2052.
- LHA 7 (not yet named), to be ordered by 2011, to be commissioned by 2016.
- LHA 8 (not yet named), to be ordered by 2016, to be commissioned by 2020/2021. US Marines hope that this ship “re-carry" a well decks…
- LHA 9 (not yet named), to be ordered by 2021, to be commissioned by 2026. Likely to “re-carry” a well decks.

In fact, don’t forget that all current US LHD/LHA design were DIRECTLY derived from the Tarawa LHA class (the 1st ship, USS Tarawa, was keel laid down in 1971, launched in 1973, in service by 1976), this means that the ship was designed around 1968 !!!

Toward 4 new LH(X) thought 2020’s/2030’s ?

The current US Navy’s 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan calls for procuring 4 LH(X) in the 2020’s/2030’s to replace progressively ageing later Wasp class:
- LH(X) 1 (not yet named). Ordered by 2025 ?
- LH(X) 2 (not yet named). Ordered by 2029 ?
- LH(X) 3 (not yet named). Ordered by 2033 ?
- LH(X) 4 (not yet named). Ordered by 2038 ?
The 1st ship, LH(X) 1 will be probably ordered by mid 2020’s, commissioned around 2030. The 3 “followers” will be ordered by late 2020’s/late 2030’s and commissioned by 2034/mid 2045. These 4 LHX will re retired by +/- 2065/2980.

Probable ship’s caracterictics:
- Very unlikely to use the Wasp/America hull, because, by 2020’s, when the first LH(X) would be authorized under the current plan, the initial Wasp/America hull design would be about 60 years old (issued from the 1968’s Tarawa hull). And I considers it unlikely that a hull ship design that originated in the late 1960’s will prove robust enough to accommodate changes designed to counter threats at sea until the 2070’s (when the LH(X)s would be reaching the end of their 35/40 year service life).
- Very probably to use a new hull design and likely a Monohull type (to reduce cost), because a much more advanced hull form (trimaran) probably each a astronomical cost.
- Probably +/- same size as the America class, 240/250 meters, 45 000/50 000 tons.
- Very likely to carry a radically newer island design (more compact/stealthy), with full phased array radar and integrated mast.
- Unfortunately, although its become clear than in future, crew reduction/ships automation will become a RULE (to save operational cost), I doubt seriously that in this future LHX design, the American engineers choose to radically reduce the ship crew (from +/- 1100 in Wasp’s to 380/500 sailors for example). I think that, in fact, the crew reduction in this LHX design will be only slight/moderate (from 1100 to 750/900).
- With two conventional centerline shaft or maybe pods ?
- Likely all electrics propulsions.
- Probably have some weight growth margin, modular/flexible design, for future upgrade.
- Probably armed with lastest CIWS system (Laser ?).
- Full UAV/UUV/SV capable.
- Very probably conventionally powered, and this, although through 2030’s/2070’s, with oil price up even dramatically, the cost-effectiveness of nuclear versus conventional propulsion rise again. Or even use “pure Green fuel” ?
- With cost escalation/inflation, likely to cost much more than a America class (current estimates: 3,5/4,3 $ billion). The future LHX likely reach around 5 billion $ per unit in the late 2020’s, without problems (or even much more ? 6/8 ?)…
- Very likely to replace not at “1 for 1 basis” the later Wasp class (through 2020/2030, AT THE BEST around 4 new LHX to replace +/- 5/6 later Wasp LHD).
- It is clear that this future program will be, like Wasp’s today, a major program for several decades (late 2020’s-late 2040’s) and that the design will be improved (likely 2 Flight/Batch). Maybe the earlier America's ships will be replaced by a improved LHX “batch 2” ? toward late 2040’s/mid 2050’s ?

My opinion: Better to have only +/- 8 NEW advanced (and modern, stealthy) 35 000/45 000 tons LHX design

Personnaly, I think that the better solution was to stop the LHA 6 America class and buy slightly smaller but cheaper ships : ideally, finish the LHA 6 America (because this ship is “now too in advanced building process and too expensive to cancel”), but stop immediately work on next LHA 7/8 ships and begin to study newer LHX alternative’s for a 1st ship commissioned by 2020/2022:
- A radically newer 33 000/48 000 tons, 240/250 meters monohull design (a catamaran or trimaran hull design, although more efficient, unfortunately probably reach a ASTRONOMICAL cost).
- Likelly with a full clearer flight deck and a smaller/compact/stleatlier island than on board the Wasp/America class.
- With a radically less expensive crew onboard (currently on Wasp’s, +/- 1100 sailors + 1800 troops on board), maybe around only 380/500 sailors + 1500/1800 troops onboard).
- Maybe with 2 conventionnal shaft but probably more likely 2 or 4 pods.
- With well decks (for amphibious use and avoid the LHA 6 class error of omitted the well decks).
- With fewer (and more costly) VSTOL aircraft, helico & UAV on board.
- Design type ?, probably heavily influenced by recent newest foreign design: (French "Mistral " design : 16/21000 tons, 199 meters, 18 knots, 160 sailors + 450/900 troops, 16 to 32 helico + up to 59 vehicles; Spanish "Juan Carlos I": 27 000 tons, 230 meters, 21 knots, 410 sailors + 900 troops, 20 to 30 helico + 40 vehicles; South-Korean "Dokdo": 14/18 000 tons, 199 meters, 23 knots, 700 sailors + 720 troops, 10 to 15 helico + one dozens of vehicles). Or even (on paper) others foreign design (Dutch "Enforcer 22000/30000" family or German "MRD 10 000/MHD 150 "family").

Without doubt a newer (and similar foreign style design) but much enlarged/bigger/robust US design (35000/45000 tons; 240/250 meters, 21/23 knots) will carry 380/680 sailors, 1500/1800 troops, 24 to 36 UAV/Helico/VSTOL aircrafts and 60/80 heavy vehicles + future LCAC(X).

US Naval Aviation, at...the crossroad...

US NAVY (estimations)
F/A-18 Hornet : 1st delivered by 1983, last by 2000. +/- 408 active (late 2008): 74 F/A-18A; 26 F/A-18B; 286 F/A-18C; 47 F/A-18D. All to be replaced by +/- 340/480 F-35C through mid 2010’s/late 2020’s decade.
F/A-18 E/F Super-Hornet: 1st delivered in 1999, last around mid/late 2010’s decade. Currently around 332 in service (156 F/A-18E; 176 F/A-18F), a total of 515 expected by mid 2015. Likely to be replaced around late 2020’s/late 2030’s by a newer F/A-XX program.
Electronics-Warfare aircrafts:
- 81 ageing EA-6 B Growler to be replaced by 85 new EA-18 G around 2011/2014.
- 67 Hawkeye E2-C, to be replaced by newer E2-D.
Heavy helicopters:
- 30/36 MH-53E (mineweesper role).
- CH-46, to be replaced by 48 new OV-22 Osprey.
Maritime patrol aircrafts:
- +/- 130/170 ageing P3-C/EP3-E Orion, to be replaced by +/- 117 new expected P8 Poseidon through early 2010's/late 2020's decades.
Cargos/Transports aircrafts:
- 34 C-2A, maybe to be replaced by new OV-22 Osprey.
- 9 C-40A Clipper.
Training Aircrafts:
- 36 F-5 (26 F-5E; 4 F-5F; 6 F-5N).
- 49 T-6A.
- 229 T-34C.
- 52 T-44A.
- 218 T-45C .
- 49 HH-60H (SAR).
- 119 MH-60 (10 LH-60R; 109 MH-60S) (Multi-purpose).
- 179 SH-60 (129 SH-60B; 60 SH-60F) (ASW).
- TH-57 (44 TH-57B; 85 TH-57C) (Training).
- MQ-8 Fire Scout.

US Marine Corps (estimations)
- 340 F-35 B expected to replace +/- 99 ageing AV8-B Harriers and +/- 238 (late 2008) F/A-18 A/B/C/D (1st delivered by 1983, last by 2000).
Attack helicopters:
- 167 AH-1W, to be replaced by 226 new AH-1Z.
Cargo/Transports helico:
- +/- 152/178 CH-53 D/E (late 2008), to be replaced by 227 new CH-53K by 2015/2022.
- 360 OV-22 Osprey expected.
- Ageing UH-1N to be replaced by 123 new UH-1Y by 2016.
Aircrafts Tanker:
- 29 KC-130J.

Obviously the severals problems faced by the F-35 make replacement of ageing aircrafts rather problematic (at the end, it is possible that less than half of the expected aircraft will be eventually delivered !)

Yes, I know, in this editorial, a few others auxiliary (Logistics, training) aircrafts/helico are absent (NU-1B Otter, C-12 Huron, C-20 Gulfstream, C-26 metroliner, C-37 Gulfstream, a few future acquisition programs) . But I do not have forgotten, I just lack time to fully complete this editorial. In the next update of it, I will complete (if you have more accurate data, share this !)

In resume,
its become clear that in a foreseeable future (2011-late 2040’s) it will be impossible and unsustainable (financially speaking) for the US Navy to :
- Maintain 11 big 90 000/100 000 tons CVN, each with 5000 sailors and 65/80 aicrafts on board….
- Maintain 10/11 big 40/45 000 tons LHD, each with 1100 sailors and 30/35 helico on board.
- Buy 550/600 F-35 B/C (especially with a 150-200 $ million per copy).

The US Navy needs to reconsider its plans and buy:
- Fewer
- Smaller
- More modern
design warships "Flattops".

Next editorial: Future of the Italian Fleet.

It may be that in my opinion, I forgot programs ? (or made few mistales ?), then said it ! Feel free to comment and give your opinion !


  1. A problem I see is how is your smaller carrier going to be substantially cheaper?

    First you will have to come up with a totally new design which costs money

    You also want nuclear power so either you use the Ford class reactors, or new small reactors or just use one
    Ford class reactor which leaves you with no backup. But no matter you are going to have lots of costs and the only saving is by dropping to one reactor and give up on speed and redundancy

    Also to greatly cut the number of crew you need to get rid of lots of equipment and capability as opposed to the Nimitz/Ford class. From what I understand the British are getting rid of the catapults/arrestor gear/speed/comprehensive communications and radar systems/self defense systems in order to greatly reduce crew numbers. Yet the smaller American carrier will have nuclear power/catapults/arrestor gear so what will be cut to greatly reduce crew size?

    You might say the US should build a American version of the British Queen Elizabeth but that would involve major changes, nuclear power, catapults, arrestor gear, US type equipment. This is going to cost a lot more then the British version and we still don’t know what the actual building cost of the British ship will be since its still being built. The Daring class destroyer is substantially over budget so its not improbable that the QE will also have cost problems.

    On the other hand I am not tied to the bigger ships, it’s just I wonder if you can get a substantially cheaper carrier without major capability reductions


  2. Hi,
    No, I did not say that the Americans would build a U.S. version of the Queen elizabeth. But instead of building large ships, they should move to smaller vessels......+/- similar (IN SIZE TERMS) to the Queen Elizabeth class.

    Why to have a 100 000 tons ships, 330 meters, more than 4,500 sailors, 4 catapults and around 65/70 (so they can carry up to 80/90), while everything indicates that in the future, aircrafts will be FEWER & FEWER on aircrafts carriers....( from 2015/2020, likely around 55/65 on the Nimitz's)..........

    To compare with the French version of CVF (PA 02): A 60 000 tons aircraft carrier, 280 meters, with 2 catapults, 1,500 sailors and 40 aircrafts.

    Obviously a new design were usually expensive (1st ships of a class usually relatively expensive, include R & D). But between having an improved version of the "penultimate" nimitz or build radically new .....

    The U.S. can not remain indefinitely in the Nimitz design .....(especially when aviation knows radical changes.....UAV & so).

  3. This looks like a good asset for amphibious lift:


  4. Hi "Chuck Hill"

    LOL, interesting news (I incorporate some data in my next edito...).

    A italian 20 000 tons LHD, 199 meters, with only 200 sailors, but with 760 troops, 12 to 15 helico & so. Only cost around 369 $ million cost (to compare with 3+ billion $ for the next America class.....).


  5. Mike good material again.You are getting into your stride me feels.

    On a general point about Defence planning, I feel the lack of a real shooting war these past decades means that no one really knows how the naval war will pan out.

    If the rate limiting factor to earth bound success is throw weight into orbit then it will be at best a guess with greater and greater inaccuracy until a real data point is realised.

    However who wants that?

  6. That cost is w/o weapons, so maybe $600M, but yes it carries a reinforce Company and so does the LPD, and the Italian has 6 helo spots instead of two, fixing the bottleneck.

  7. Anonymous,
    Your understanding in the reduction of crew size in the UK's CVF's is a little off the mark. They are not getting rid of Cats/Arrester gear to reduce manpower,the last UK carrier to operate with CTOL aircraft was the Old Ark Royal which was taken out of service before the Falklands war (1982) We have only operated VSTOL from our carriers since then.As for your remarks re Comms and Radar,I think you will find that they are being fitted with the most up to date systems that are available to us,any reduction in such capability would in any case have little impact on the manning levels. The reason for the lack of self defence systems is soley for one reason and one reason only. The sheer studity of the bean counters in the MOD who's job it is to save money at the expense of the safety of the crew.
    I think that if you look closely at the design of the CVF you will find that the biggest savings in manpower (how very un PC) is to be found in the advanced use of automation in various systems. One of the main ones being the handling of ammunition and stores which is designed to be completely computerised and cuts out large numbers of jobs.
    The main reasons for the cost overuns in the case of CVF is once again the ill thought out ideas of the MOD who decided to slow down the build by two years therefore adding a huge amount of costs in manpower etc, in fact to the sum of approx £500,000,000.
    Well looking at the history of defence procurement in the UK this is unfortunatley not unusual.

  8. A curious question...

    If the 100,000 ton Ford-class were being built sans nuclear propulsion, does anyone have an estimate as to what its construction cost might be?

    Same question, but applied to the notion of building something like a modernized version of either the Kitty Hawk or Forrestal class (60-80,000 tons)?

  9. Estimate's:
    - 500 to 800 $ million for one reactor systems.
    - For the 1st reactor, final cost: 1/1,5 $ billion (R&D INCLUDE).
    - For a US nuclear powered LHD/LHA, 800+ $ million of increase in cost.
    - For a US nuclear powered destroyer, 500/600+ $ million of increase in cost.

    Personnal opinion
    - Current cost of the 1st CVN 78; +/- 14 $ billion (R&D include).

    - A 1st CV 78 without nuclear reactors cost probably around 10/11+.

  10. Mr. Colombaro,

    Thanks for your reply. Your opinion again - what on earth has happened that the final nuclear Nimitz-class carrier cost somewhere in the $6.5B - 7.0B range, yet a "Forrestal II" or "Kitty Hawk II" carrier might cost so much?

    I found your blog via another site, and am glad I signed on the internet that day. You do good work.

  11. As a former sailior in the U.S. Navy it's very easy to understand why people do not understand why American warships are the size they are and has as many men and women on border compared to there counterparts around the world.
    1) Damage Control. American warships are designed to take incrediable amount of damage. Which in turn makes them heavier, beamier, and in some cases longer. Compare the watertight compartments of a Burke to that of a Euro type destroyer and you will see my point.
    2) The U.S. Navy demands that all systems are manned at all times. U.S. Warships operate on a 24hr clock meaning 1/3 rd of the crew is on station at all times. Even the engine rooms are fully manned 24/7 on gas turbine ships.
    3) Future growth. American warships are always being upgraded. There designed from the outset large enough to accept new technologies as they come online. In the case of carriers this includes larger aircraft and there weapons.

    As far as the CVNs (Nimitz class)are concern they are pretty close to a perfect design. Thats the reason only small changes have been made over the decades. All this talk about them being obsolet is far out of line. Super Carriers believe it or not are the fastest ships in the American fleet. They have defenses against torpedos, cruise missils and there armor will protect them from most threats. American carriers also have other survival tricks. As for as China's ASBM is concerned thats why the Aegis Cruisers and Destroyers get paid the big bucks. Granted on any given day you can always lose a battle. Im not saying there invincible, however if anyone thinks getting to a CVN and damaging her, or sinking her is now in there favor will be sadly mistaken.

    sorry for any grammer mistakes late for the fireworks show. great blog by the way!


  12. Big decks are nicer to land on in bad weather than small ones. I have been in the North Atlantic where large decks were operating , but the smaller decks were shut down. What good are flight decks if mother nature prevents flight operations!

  13. Obviously, in rought/heavy-sea, a larger ships have more "seakeeping" qualities than a smaller ship...

  14. Sorry,

    "Smaller" does not = "cheaper". The design of a smaller US carrier would likely end up with design costs almost as high as those of the Ford Class, acquisition costs on the order of 4/5th per unit and capability on the order of 1/3 (bombs across the beach at range).

    Smaller decks drive the airwing to more unique and less capable aircraft (ie F-35B) that cost far more over the life of the hull than the hull itself. The loss of capability means the CV bring less to the national security table to justify even its reduced cost. This leads to the British death spiral where the Arc Royal is downsized to the Invincible and the RN is so neutered that it looses the money to even operate those ships.

    You are on target with the fact that the Cost and Manning requirements of the Ford and America cannot be sustained. SIZE is not the problem per se, it is the density, complexity and insane maintenance/upkeep costs. The USN needs a large, simple, easy to upgrade/maintain CV/LHA. Large hull size minimizes the VERY expensive requirement to add CV unique design requirements.

    Suggest you look at Maersk's proposal to to put a steel deck on one of their 100,000+ ton container ships. It is a bit too minimalist to a CV replacement (not very damage tolerant etc.) but the ability to load/customize everything from berthing, stores, AIMD via 40 foot shipping containers is one very good start on complexity and maintainability.

    Size is just steel, its cheap. The Navy's tendency to fill that big hull and insist that it go 33 knots for 10 years without stopping with manpower requirements based on USS Constitution levels of automation is what really drives the cost.

  15. Come off it

    The Americans need to have a bigger one than everyone else!

  16. I understand that the navy did studies of smaller carriers (especially during the Carter years)- but determined that you lose a great deal of capability without much cost.

    This was probably before the Ford came in at $10 billion+

    Carriers really have to be nukes- especially for 20 years in the future when fuel oil will be- God knows what.

    Once you put a nuke inside- it makes sense to spend another billion or so on steel/displacement.

    The key to me is crew size- I was disappointed that the Ford was only able to shave a few hundred off of the crew/airwing. If this can be knocked down by a thousand or so- the savings really kick in- especially over 50 years.

  17. CVN'S are here to stay.