Friday, May 05, 2006

Spreading ship-naming head scratching

Back in March, I thought I was alone. No longer.

Christopher Cavas in The Navy Times is wondering what is going on as well. For those who don't subscribe, below are the tender bits.
DDG denotes a guided-missile destroyer, and today’s Arleigh Burke destroyers will run from DDG 51 to DDG 112. This makes DDG 113 the obvious choice for the new ship.
Some observers expected a 21st-century theme, citing the SSN 21 submarine and CVN 21 aircraft carrier. In any case, they couldn’t fathom the meaning of “1000.”

In a written response to a query, Navy officials said the new number “serves to highlight the ship’s capability and technological differences from the Arleigh Burke class.” They noted that the Spruance destroyer class, now retired, ended at DD 997.

“Starting the Zumwalt class at 1000 is appropriate for numerical consistency,” the response read.

But it’s hardly consistent to link the new DDG to a DD number. DDs are equipped with missiles for point defense, DDGs for longer-range strikes — though this distinction blurred when the Tomahawk cruise missile was installed aboard the Spruances.

So what?

One Capitol Hill source called the response “incoherent” because the service calls the Zumwalt-class ship a DDG, not a DD.

He said the official explanation “will only feed suspicions that the Navy chose DDG 1000 simply because it sounds flashy, and perhaps additionally because of a concern regarding potential triskaidekaphobia,” the fear of the number 13.
Sounds like he isn't a fan of the LCS marketing either.
Last year’s decision to designate the new ship type “LCS” annoyed some people, as the “L” prefix was previously used to denote ships related to amphibious warfare — a type that evolved from landing craft. The LCS is meant as a small combatant but has no amphibious capability.

And there’s an even bigger distinction to be drawn: the different designs of the Independence and the ostensible lead ship of the type, the Freedom (LCS 1).

LCS 1 is being built to a 378-foot, 2,860-ton monohull design by Lockheed Martin. LCS 2 is a 418-foot, 2,784-ton trimaran concept being built by General Dynamics. The two designs are nearly identical in function, but different in configuration and dimensions. Still, the Navy is referring to both designs as the same class.

“The name of the class — which includes both variants — is Freedom,” Navy officials said.

That doesn’t sit well with one analyst.

“‘Class’ means design, characteristics, dimensions, appearance,” said A.D. Baker, a longtime naval analyst and author of “Combat Fleets of the World.”

“It has nothing to do with type,” he said.

Referring to both ships as the same class “is not in concurrence with standard practice of any Navy at any time in the history of the world,” Baker said.

Many naval professionals simply shrugged off the lapses in practice. But Baker said he saw a darker meaning.

“It tells me the powers that be don’t pay attention to carefully drafted instructions that are supposed to guide them,” he said.
Ahhhh. Peace.

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