Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Frigates, Now More Than Ever

There are some arguments that are so sound they become timeless.

In the lexicon of USN "Gods of the Copybook Headings" there is a, "We Need Frigates."

The call remains constant because the reasoning is sound and survives the test of time.

The standing requirement for the US Navy to have a ready percentage of its fleet in "smaller" multi-mission warships, AKA frigates and corvettes really can no longer be credibly argued against. LCS does not count, because they simply don't count for much. 

We have been on this message here for over a decade and a half. We have not been alone - another person engaged in our long-term insurgency to do what we can to get our Navy to do what it needs to do is Jerry Hendrix.

Detecting some quiet, he has set back up his drums to remind everyone the what and why.

Read the whole thing over at NRO, but here's the meaty bits;
So why are high-end ships being used so consistently to do low-end missions, of which counter-drug operations in the Caribbean and Pacific are yet another example? The answer is that the Navy doesn’t have the low-end ships to match with those missions.

“Low-end” refers traditionally to frigates and corvettes that are smaller than destroyers or cruisers, have smaller crews, lower sensor-system and weapons complexity, and lower costs so that navies can purchase them in larger numbers to perform day-to-day presence, escort, surveillance, and interdiction missions. British admiral Horatio Nelson referred to frigates as the “eyes” of the fleet, and historically corvettes were designed to be small enough to operate in an enemy’s close-to-shore littoral regions. By this standard the U.S. Navy’s littoral-combat ships would normally be considered corvettes. Although the Navy has purchased 30 of them, these ships have not been as effective as the Navy had hoped, with nearly all of them presenting difficulties with their combat systems. To fulfill the counter-drug mission described by the president and his team, what the Navy and the Southern Command really need is frigates, and fortunately, they should be coming soon.
To meet persistent requests and requirements, the Navy keeps about 110 ships deployed at any given moment — out of a total of only 296 ships. Normally a ship should spend about six months in maintenance and then six months in training before deploying for six months; it then returns home to spend another six months in a ready-surge status before beginning the cycle again. The Navy’s current 110-to-296 ratio means that compromises have been made throughout the cycle — truncated training or maintenance, or extended deployments, or ships unready for crisis surges. As the Navy charts its course to 355 ships, new frigates will offer a solution to the problem. For now, however, it must assign the high-end, and highly expensive, destroyers to perform counter-drug patrols off the shores of Central and South America, as well as to put additional pressures on Maduro.
For our FFG(X), I continue to ask that you light a candle for FREMM, and hopefully we'll see.

If you want to see what a challenger is building, check out the latest Russian offering.


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