Monday, December 08, 2008

When did we lose our rudder?

A quote can jolt you now and then.

As is my want, I was wandering around in the AM - and then later read some more from the DEC SeaPower. I had to go back and review - that little Sailor in my head told me there was a disturbance in our little universe. Here it is.
The Navy has a great tradition, especially in warfighting. It is not the ship, it is not the weapons - is has been, is, and always will be the leader. In times of crisis, the Navy looks to its leaders to set the tone and establish the priorities to achieve victory - in combat and out. In the end though, it is in combat that everything meets its ultimate evaluation.

We are informed and influenced by those who have come before and the sacrifices they have made and have ordered others to make. We should always look to their example to ensure that we meet that standard.

To that end, I want to review a few things for you from's quote page. Some you will know well, some not.

"I have not yet begun to fight!"

Captain John Paul Jones said this during the famous battle between Bonhomme Richard and Serapis on 23 September 1779. It seems that some of Jones's men cried for surrender, but not John Paul Jones! Captain Richard Pearson of Serapis asked Jones if he had surrendered. Jones uttered the immortal words: "I have not yet begun to fight!" So, at least, Lt. Richard Dale later recalled.

I have always see that quote from JPJ as the keystone to our Navy. The next major conflict brought us another.

"Don't give up the ship!"

Tradition has it that Captain James Lawrence said these heroic words after being mortally wounded in the engagement between his ship, the U.S. frigate Chesapeake, and HMS Shannon on 1 June 1813. As the wounded Lawrence was carried below, he ordered "Tell the men to fire faster! Don't give up the ship!"

Although Chesapeake was forced to surrender, Captain Lawrence's words lived on as a rallying cry during the war. Oliver Hazard Perry honored his dead friend Lawrence when he had the motto sewn onto the private battle flag flown during the Battle of Lake Erie, 10 September 1813.
Though a Yankee invader, ahem, another great leader set another stone during The Late Unpleasantness.

"Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!"

Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870). Aboard Hartford, Farragut entered Mobile Bay, Alabama, 5 August 1864, in two columns, with armored monitors leading and a fleet of wooden ships following. When the lead monitor Tecumseh was demolished by a mine, the wooden ship Brooklyn stopped, and the line drifted in confusion toward Fort Morgan. As disaster seemed imminent, Farragut gave the orders embodied by these famous words. He swung his own ship clear and headed across the mines, which failed to explode. The fleet followed and anchored above the forts, which, now isolated, surrendered one by one. The torpedoes to which Farragut and his contemporaries referred would today be described as tethered mines.
If we move the timeline up a bit to WWII, Sid last week reminded us of another.
Informed by COMDESPAC of the intention to remove the torpedo tubes from his DE in order to ship aboard more anti-aircraft armament, and asked of his opinion, the CO wasn't going to have it. The mustang Lieutenant said to the Admiral,
"Since we have 5 inch 38 guns, someday somebody is going to forget we are boys and will send us to do men's work. I want a man's weapons. If somebody is going to think we are big enough to be destroyers, and if I am to be used as a destroyer, I want a destroyer's main offensive weapon, which is a torpedo."
The Lt. further added, with a smile,
"Well Admiral, as far as my ship is concerned, the torpedo tubes will be removed over my dead body. I've got torpedo tubes and I expect to use them, and I expect sometime to get a hit with them."
Then Lieutenant Robert Copeland made good on his rash promise too. At the Battle of Samar.
And so, in 2008 what are we doing to meet these standards? What are our Navy leaders thinking when it comes to warfighting? Being that this involves speed and therefor LCS, let's go back to the master.

"I wish to have no Connection with any Ship that does not Sail fast for I intend to go in harm's way."

Captain John Paul Jones, 16 November 1778, in a letter to le Ray de Chaumont.
The first part, check. What about the second part?

The title of the article is, ISYN, "Out of Harm's Way."

Capt. Buzz Sorce, deputy director of surface warfare for surface ships and surface combat systems in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, said the ASW weapon issue is "challenging."

Speaking of over-the-side tube-launched torpedoes, Sorce said a ship close enough to a submarine to launch them already was in mortal danger.

"You might as well just launch shark repellent," he recalled one of his officers saying.

"The concept behind the mission package and the ship is that we take the ship out of the torpedo danger and submarine threat area and send the remote sensors in," Source said. "We did go into that [issue] with eyes wide open and decided to stick with the helicopter [for weapons delivery]."

He also cited the advantage of the LCS high speed in torpedo evasion, complicating a submarine's attack. The freedom-class LCS has reached speeds in excess of 40 knots in trials.

"Speed, coupled with shallow draft, significantly impacts the performance of homing torpedoes in shallow water," Doss said.
Is this the core of some of our leaders, or are these simply good leaders trying to survive in a system and a set of orders they have been dumped in? I think, and for our nation's security - hope, that it is the latter and not the former.

I know with each passing week I seem to be wearing blue on LCS, but here is your homework for today. As I have used up my time on just this quote and could spend all day on it (gotta work 'ya know), I ask you to read the article on LCS and then in comments bring up the parts that offend you the most.

I have a top 5 list. The quote above and the ASW tactical myopia behind it is the largest hole I see (worth a 1,000 words in itself). What is yours, my small band against the LCS horde? I know Sid will ride with me, even if he does have a funny accent.

Jerusalem is out there somewhere if we can put up enough of a fight.

If the ASW myopia isn't enough for you, I recommend Galrahn's discussion here mostly focused on LCS and ASUW. Gal is trying hard to love LCS, he really is - but read his cautious concern where you find it .... and then do the math to make it right .... then think about the per unit cost and what we are getting.

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