Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Shame of the Name Game

As anyone in the idea business will tell you, the important but dull things need to be repeated over and over and over again until others see the light.

It's behind the pay-wall, but all of you are USNI members ... so that isn't an issue, right

Anyway; Norman Polmar - again, outlines the intellectual immaturity and simple wrongheadedness of how we name our ships.

It is a symptom ... like going from F-22 to F-35, but worse. It is the fonctionnaire mentality that calls something an FFG, even after you neuter away the "G."

Enough of my grump'n, Norman - over to you;
During the scheme’s 90-plus years, the first letter of a symbol designated a major category of ships. Thus, the letter D for destroyer-type ships evolved from the basic DD (destroyer) and DL (destroyer leader) to DD, DDE, DDG, DDH, DDK, DDR, DM, DMS, as well as the DE (now FF) and DL (frigate) series.

The first major change to the original 1920 scheme occurred during World War II with the plethora of landing ships and craft, the most famous being the LSD, LSM, LSMR, LST, LSV, LCI, LCM, LCS, LCT, and LCVP. This application of the prefix letter L for amphibious ships and craft was expanded in 1955 with the LPH classification for amphibious assault ships. 2 These “aircraft carriers” that operated helicopters and carried Marines would be developed into the larger LHA/LHD assault ships of today’s Fleet. The L prefix was further expanded in the late 1960s to encompass “attack” cargo ships and transports (changed from AKA and APA to LKA and LPA, respectively), and amphibious command ships (changed from AGC to LCC).

This neat system, periodically expanded, survived throughout the 20th century. Now it is being perverted. Probably the first major corruption was the littoral combat ship (LCS).
Ahhhh yes; that poster-child of all that is unclean.
A much more meaningful designation for the littoral combat ship would be based on the F for frigate. A logical and reasonable designation for these ships would be FMM for “frigate, multi-mission,” or FCS for “frigate, combat support,” ... The two other recent major corruptions of the designation scheme are the joint high-speed vessel (JHSV) and the mobile logistics platform (MLP). The JHSVs are high-speed troop/vehicle transports of a wave-piercing catamaran design. Like the littoral combat ship, the Navy’s leadership has taken the program name and “converted” the initials to a ship designation. Again, confusion reigns. There has never before been an official J-series ship in the Navy.
The same is true for the MLPs. All other M-series ships have been mine-warfare ships (e.g., MCS, MMD, MMF, MSB, MSC, MSO).
Unquestionably, the LCS, JHSV, and MLP designations must be changed—it is logical and sensible to do so. It can be done with the stroke of a pen by a Secretary of the Navy notice. At the same time, two other ship classes should have their hull numbers changed: The three ships of the Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class and the three submarines of the Seawolf (SSN-21) class should be assigned realistic hull numbers within their respective types, and thus be in accord with the 90-year-old directive that stated ships were to be designated in sequential order within their designation types.

The U.S. Navy’s basic ship-designation system is excellent and deserves to be carried out professionally and logically.
Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah! Thank you for bringing this up again ... and it should continue to be brought up until changes are made.

LCS, MLP, JHSV (which isn't Joint anymore BTW) is the low hanging fruit. For goodness sake, it cannot even survive the follow-on question.

And do it fast out of respect for what came before, and to advertise that you have the common sense to see something wrong and will right it.

Names and words matter ... and I would ad one thing more. ZUMWALT is not a destroyer - it is a CA. I would also add that the Arleigh Burke FLT III are not destroyers either, they are easily a CGL.


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