Monday, April 14, 2008

Maritime Strategy Monday - Cooper of the seas

Martin Sieff at UPI. Nicely done.
Cooper was big, powerful, fast and had a dream punch himself that could and did devastate world champs. But he also had a glass jaw. And whenever he was up against any real world-class powerhouse, they blew him away.

That is the problem facing the gigantic nuclear-powered aircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy in any future war against China over Taiwan or if they have to operate dangerously close-in against Iran in any future Persian Gulf conflict. For while Russia and China, as we have previously noted in this series and other columns, have specialized in creating asymmetrical weapon systems designed to disable and destroy U.S. super-carriers, the carriers themselves are far more vulnerable to shell and missile attack than battleships were 65 years ago in World War II.

That is because well-built American, British, German, Italian and Japanese battleships carried thousands of tons of the most low tech but effective defensive naval weapons system ever devised -- steel armor. That didn't make them invincible. The 80,000-ton Yamato and Musashi, the two biggest, most powerful, most heavily armored and armed dreadnoughts ever built, proved helpless against the blizzard of U.S. attacking aircraft and submarines that made funeral pyres of them both in 1944 and 1945. But it still took a lot of punishment to sink, especially from above surface weapons.

However, as respected defense analyst David Crane pointed out in an important article in Defense Review in November 2006, U.S. nuclear-powered super-carriers today don't carry anything lie that armor. They rely on their own speed, the size of their protective support groups and their ability to stay far out in the ocean, launching their aircraft to strike from long distance, to keep them out of harms way.

...and what is the best way to kill a Carrier? A submarine. US Navy - surface ASW and air ASW: discuss, it won't take long.

Hat tip BadBob.
UPDATE: You make me sad. No one has named the ship in the picture. Very sad. Sid, you let me down......

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