Showing posts from January, 2018

Float Plane Cruisers (1920-1940)

As we saw in the previous post , the introduction of the cruiser float plane after the Great War vastly improved scouting efficiency. So let's take a closer look at this rather underappreciated naval development. While the aircraft are an interesting subject themselves, this post will confine itself to to an overview of the ships. Japan Despite the early experiments by the United States and the large number of seaplane tenders and early carriers commissioned by Great Britain, the first navy to put float panes on its cruisers was in fact the Japanese. The Nagara -class light cruisers (lead ship commissioned in 1922) were constructed with flying off platforms above their bow armament and one plane hangers built into their bridges. This unusual arrangement was repeated in the 1924 Sendai -class and the 1926 Furutaka -class heavy cruisers also commissioned with flying off platforms (but mounted on their aft Number 4 turrets rather than their bows and without hangars). A Naga

Scouting At Sea (1890-2018)

Naval warfare occurs across vast distances and in many cases merely finding the enemy is a complex and critical task. Over the past century, scouting has been performed by a variety of systems from steam cruisers to UAV's. A look at the changes reveals both the early acceptance of naval airpower as well as yet another example of the gradual shift from platforms to systems. Early Steam Fleet operations in late 19th century differed little from those of the Napoleonic wars. There were no aircraft or radios and even electric lighting was still a novel technology. The most advanced sensor system was a lookout with binoculars and communications were limited to signal flags, lights, and semaphore. In that time, scouting was performed by a screen of 2nd class cruisers operating ahead of the battleline, much like the frigates of Nelson's day. The protected cruiser HMS Retribution These ships were generally capable of around 20 knots, but their triple expansion engines were

The US Guided Missile Force (1955-2017)

After having seen the incredible effectiveness of even an early guided missile ship in surface warfare in  this post  a few days ago, I became interested in creating a chart of the growth of the US Navy's guided missile force to compare with  this chart  of the decline of the US Navy's battleship and gun cruiser fleet that I made last month. But before comparing the two, let's look at the missile chart as it has some interesting information. For some additional detail I broke the ships down by launcher - the Terrier and Tartar categories also include Standard ER and Standard MR respectively while the Standard category only covers VLS ships (which, it should be remembered, didn't have an ER missile until 1999). Unfortunately, I don't have good information on the exact dates the Perry's lost their Mk 13 launchers so the final 3 years of Tarter are a best guess based on looking at pictures. Chart of all commissioned US Navy guided missile ships (1955-2017)

Surface to Air Missiles... As Antiship Weapons

While the United States Navy has never fully embraced the concept of the dedicated antiship missile, adopting and then abandoning a number of systems, that does not mean that its missile ships have even been defenseless against surface attack. In fact, even its earliest converted missile cruisers possessed greater antiship firepower than a World War II battleship. The secret behind this is the use of surface to air missiles in surface to surface mode. Until the introduction of the infrared homing Rolling Airframe Missile in the early 1990's, all of the Navy's surface launched antiaircraft missiles have been semiactive radar homing. This means that as long as the ship mounted illumination radars can get a clear reflection off the target, the target can be engaged - even if it's a ship instead of an airplane (while this means that ships cannot be engaged from over the horizon, there has never actually been a successful over the horizon surface launched antiship missile atta

Missile Loadouts: Ticonderoga-class (1983-2018)

Over their thirty years in service, the missile armament of the Ticonderoga -class cruisers has experienced dramatic evolution and by the time the last one finally decommissions, it is quite possible that not one of the design's original missiles or launchers will remain. When  Ticonderoga  commissioned in 1983, she was armed with two Mk 26 twin-arm launchers, each fed from a forty-four round magazine containing both SM-2MR surface-to-air-missiles and ASROC antisubmarine weapons (both nuclear and conventional variants). Finally, as with most USN ships of her generation, Ticonderoga  also carried eight Harpoon antiship missiles in Mk 141 canister launchers on the fantail. Ticonderoga in 1983: 72x SM-2MR, 16x ASROC, 8x Harpoon In 1986, this armament changed drastically when  Bunker Hill commissioned with two sixty-one cell Mk 41 Vertical Launch Systems instead of Mk 26 launchers. This had the obvious effect of increasing missile storage by 35%, but it also drastically c

World Navies of 2017

Ships from five nations moored in Pearl Harbor for the July 2016 RIMPAC exercises The following is an inventory and ranking of every navy of significance at the end of 2017. Patrol boats, mini subs, and coastal auxiliaries are not listed in the inventory. The ranking system is based on the number of vessels in each of the classes (e.g. nuclear submarines are worth more than diesel submarines but all nuclear submarines are given the same number of points and doubling the number of submarines doubles the number of points). Because of the limitations of open source information, no attempt has been made to include aircraft or shore based equipment in the rankings. 1. United States - 862 points 11 fleet carriers, 87 air defense escorts, 21 escorts, 15 corvettes 14 ballistic missile submarines, 53 nuclear submarines 9 assault ships, 23 landing platforms, 3 landing ships 105 auxiliaries, 11 mine hunters 2. People's Republic of China - 470 points 1 fleet carrier, 46 air def