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Subject: Alternate Post WWII RAN: Carriers
Volkodav    7/2/2009 7:27:00 AM
Carrying on from the "gift" fleet on the Lightning post. The RAN is gifted a number of modern ships including one, two or three Colossus class light fleet carriers. How many would we get, which aircraft would we operate initially and which aircraft would succeed them post war then into the 50's. How would the carriers be modernised / modified, what roles would they be adapted to, how long would they serve and finally what, if anything, would they be replaced with?
 
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Aussiegunneragain       1/4/2010 6:29:14 AM
Conqueror used unguided Mk 8 torpedoes to sink General Belgrano in 1982. 

The Conqueror was a modern nuclear submarine operated by one of the most professional navies in the world against a bunch of poorly maintained WW2 era ships being operated by a navy with no operational experience since 1818. That situation bears no resemblence to the situation of an experienced operator like Australia operating modern ships, apart from the fact that the Conqueror had to fire from within the 5km of the Belgrano and would have been at great risk of detection by the RAN/RAF and attack by Ikara or airbourne torpedo.

 Dunking Sonar Helos were used as replacements for ships in the ASW screen with each helo able to substitute for a couple of frigates or DE's by dunking then moving on and dunking again.  Thus a largish ship with a couple of ASW helos could take the place of a squadron (3 to 4) ASW escorts.  This was the thinking behind the Invincible class, which was initially designed to embark a Sqn of 9 ASW Helo's and an area defence missile system.
 
ASW helos couldn't take place of extra ships as it can't do all the other tasks that a ship can do, i.e. shore bombardment, patrolling, etc. The Counties would simply have been an additional cost.
 


 

 


 

Take this a step further and cancel the expensive and not very effective modernisation of Vampire and Vendetta as well as the final  two DE's to pay for the extra cost of the Counties v the Adams and also a fourth hull.  The DDL project could now proceed along its original intent of being more a patrol frigate or sloop than a defacto AWD allowing the planned ten hulls to be built.  The original four DE's would be replaced during the 80's with a GP frigate design, perhaps more in line with the evolved DDL that was cancelled in favor of the OHP FFG's.  This would set the Counties to be replaced with either a Ticonderoga or Burke during the 90's.


 

 


 

Roll this all in with an SCB27 Modernised Essex flying Trackers and Phantoms and we could have taken responsibility for our own defence and declined to commit fully to Vietnam, there by saving more than enough money to pay for our new fleet.
 
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Volkodav       1/5/2010 12:42:10 AM
The Conqueror was a modern nuclear submarine operated by one of the most professional navies in the world against a bunch of poorly maintained WW2 era ships being operated by a navy with no operational experience since 1818. That situation bears no resemblence to the situation of an experienced operator like Australia operating modern ships, apart from the fact that the Conqueror had to fire from within the 5km of the Belgrano and would have been at great risk of detection by the RAN/RAF and attack by Ikara or airbourne torpedo.
 
My old boss was an ex RAN ASW systems expert (DDG's and DE's, i.e.Ikara) as was a family friend (ex RAN Ikara sustainment PM) neither was anywhere near as confident as you are that they would be able to detect, let alone kill a hostile sub before it killed them.  The expected life span of a DE v any post WWII sub was estimated in minutes.
 
Submariners I know and have met have mentioned that the only thing they fear is an ASW helo with dunking sonar as it can find them, in the right conditions even see them and they have no way to defend themselves against them (at the moment).
 
ASW helos couldn't take place of extra ships as it can't do all the other tasks that a ship can do, i.e. shore bombardment, patrolling, etc. The Counties would simply have been an additional cost.
 
The Counties have medium calibre guns for shore bombardment, can also do everything a DE can do but better and above all carry a large dunking sonar ASW Helo.  4 Counties supported by 4 DE's and 10 basic DDL's would not only be more potent than 3 Adams, 2 Darings and 6 DE's but would provide more hulls to cover regional patrol and security duties not requiring a DDG/DLG/CG or a specialist ASW platform that but beyond the capability of a PB or drafted MCMV.
 
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Aussiegunneragain       1/5/2010 1:30:27 AM

The Counties have medium calibre guns for shore bombardment, can also do everything a DE can do but better and above all carry a large dunking sonar ASW Helo.  4 Counties supported by 4 DE's and 10 basic DDL's would not only be more potent than 3 Adams, 2 Darings and 6 DE's but would provide more hulls to cover regional patrol and security duties not requiring a DDG/DLG/CG or a specialist ASW platform that but beyond the capability of a PB or drafted MCMV.
We wouldn't have gotten 4 bastardised Counties for the price of 3 Adams, they would have been more expensive and we would have been able to afford less of them. As for the 10 basic DDL's you are talking about what would be the point in those replacing the DE's? We needed general patrol/surface warfare/ASW platforms and the DE's were as basic as you would want to go for those tasks.
 
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Volkodav       1/5/2010 7:28:21 PM
We wouldn't have gotten 4 bastardised Counties for the price of 3 Adams, they would have been more expensive and we would have been able to afford less of them. As for the 10 basic DDL's you are talking about what would be the point in those replacing the DE's? We needed general patrol/surface warfare/ASW platforms and the DE's were as basic as you would want to go for those tasks.
 
The through life cost of ownership of the Counties would have been lower than the Adams due to the synergy in training, logistics and maintenance of the majority of the ships systems, where the Adams required the creation of completely new steams for all areas of support operating along side those for the existing fleet. 
 
The price difference of 4 Counties v 3 Adams would have been covered by cancelling the Daring mid life upgrade, that despite costing more than new build ships delivered no real increase in capability for only an extra 10 years service, and the final pair of DE's that were built to an already outdated design.
 
Although used as such our DE's were not general purpose platforms and were far from basic, they were specialist ASW escorts designed to counter late WWII to 1950's fast snorting submarine threats.  They were Type 12 Frigates but not the general purpose helicopter equipped Leander variant used by the RN and RNZN etc.  The first 4 made sense when ordered in the 50's but to build an extra pair in the 70's, instead of a GP platform such as the Broadbeam Leander or an extra DDG (or similar) was a ludicrous waste of resources.  The Type 12 had serious design flaws that led to unrectifiable corrosion (especially in the tropics), structural weakness, increased support costs and shortened service lives.  They were not good value for money.
 
The thinking behind the DDL was experience in the Indonesian Confrontation had shown the need for a general purpose surface combatant to conduct patrol and interdiction missions in SEA waters.  It needed a medium calibre gun for surface fire including NGS, a helicopter, and self defence capability in ASW and AAW.  Basically it was needed to provide hulls to fill the hole left by the retirement of our WWII River and Bay Class Frigates and to replace the Ton Class MCMV's and DE's that had been conscripted into the role due to the lack of anything suitable.  These were to have been true GP platforms, not dissimilar to the RN Amazon class, but without the expensive high end sensors.  (In fact this requirement may have been why the RAN jointly funded the design of the Amazons).  They would have used automation to reduce crew size and would have been cheaper to operate than the DE's. 
 
Unfortunately scope creep saw them gaining Tartar, Exocet and high end sensors which delayed the project and blew the cost out to the point that we couldn't afford three let alone the original ten.  The original concept was good value for money and would have prevented the atrophication of Australian ship building during the 70's. 
 
Had we built the original 10 DDL's during the 70's we would have been in a possition to build something similar to the scope creep DDL design more affordably in the 80's to replace the DE's instead of buying the FFG's.
 
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Aussiegunneragain    Volkodav   1/5/2010 8:59:56 PM
I don't believe that after considering the time value of money the training synergies that you are talking about would have offset the purchase of extra, bigger hulls and extra helicopters, development costs for the bastardised Counties and the costs of the probable screw ups that would result. The training synergies weren't even that great, we would still have had to train people on the Tartar and associated equipment and once the Wessex was replaced on the Melbourne we would have been operating an extra helecopter type. It just isn't credible. In any case, governments can't just consider the long term costs of purchases that they are making, they need to consider what money they have in the bank at the time of purchase and the Counties would undoubtedly have cost a lot more up front.
 
As for DE's versus DDL's, the primary mission of the RAN at that time was ASW escort to protect merchantment against attack by Soviet submarines so a good ASW capability was a priority. A good SW capability was also important, but not enough so for us to ditch extra DE's (or broad beam Leanders if those would have been more suitable than the last two). Also, there is no way that we would have gotten 10 DDL's for the price of the Daring upgrades (which incidentally cost the same as the Darings in 1959, not the same as a new ship in the early 1970's) and the final two DE's, that is just fantasy.
 
Whether or not individual classes of ships were perfect the mix that we had was pretty good in my book, though I would like to have seen the Sea Cat/Ikara upgrade go ahead on the Darings.
 
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StevoJH       1/5/2010 9:14:49 PM

Also, there is no way that we would have gotten 10 DDL's for the price of the Daring upgrades (which incidentally cost the same as the Darings in 1959, not the same as a new ship in the early 1970's) and the final two DE's, that is just fantasy.


What about for the price of those plus the cost of the first four OHP's which with a buy of 6 Tatar Counties would be surplus to requirements.
 
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Volkodav       1/5/2010 10:26:52 PM
I think we are having a bit of a disconnect here.
 
What I am suggesting is 4 Counties inplace of 3 Adams, 2 upgraded Daring and the last pair of DE's, in short 4 very effective ships, each with capable ASW Helos, inplace of 3 effective and 4 ineffective ships with no helicopters. 
 
The short fall of 3 hulls was not so important due to existing plans for 10 GP DDL's and the availability of 3 unmodernised Darings, 2 Battles and 4 Type 15 (Q class) to make up hull numbers prior to the delivery of the Counties and DDL's to supplement the original 4 Rivers (DE's).
 
The DDL's were intended to help bring the fleet up to 23 surface combatants which is what was calculated as necessary to meet the stated strategic needs of the government of the day.  They were what was determined to be needed where what we got was the Attack class patrol boats and an extra 2 DE's with the remaining DE's being down graded to little better than glorified patrol boats (with large crews and high operating costs).  The DDL's are what we needed for the regional security role.
 
The DE's were made obsolete by Indonesia receiving 12 Wiskey Class submarines from the USSR.  The expectation had been that the RAN would operate against Soviet forces in an alliance with the US and UK.  Indonesia's massive military expansion changed this as the US perceived them as a potential ally, not a threat, so there was a very real chance we would be left to fend for our selves in any regional dispute with "non alligned" Indonesia.
 
As for the cost of extra Wessex, we already had them.  Prior to Indonesia's military expansion it had been planned to convert HMAS Melboune into an ASW Helicopter Carrier as it was assumed that Melbourne would operate under an allied air umbrella.  Following the order of the S-2E Trackers (as the initial phase of possibly buying a modernised Essex Class strike carrier), Melbourne was refitted to operate Trackers resulting in far fewer Wessex going to sea.  When the Seaking was ordered to replace the Wessex in the ASW role only 12 were ordered vs the 27 Wessex.  So the RAN effectively had 15 spare Wessex. 
 
Also on the Wessex, the RN operated them in the ASW role well into the 80's and in SAR and transport (Army/RM support) into the late 90's.  The need for dunking sonars saw the Batch 3 Broadswords and Dukes being designed to operate Seaking / Merlin while Canada had been been operating Seakings from DE sized, indiginously designed frigates since the 60's.
 
A County with Wessex, a DE with Ikara and one or two DDL's, would have been a viable deployable force.  A DDG and a pair of DE's clearly was not.
 
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Aussiegunneragain       1/5/2010 11:42:17 PM
What I am suggesting is 4 Counties inplace of 3 Adams, 2 upgraded Daring and the last pair of DE's, in short 4 very effective ships, each with capable ASW Helos, inplace of 3 effective and 4 ineffective ships with no
helicopters.
 
 
If we could have gotten 4 Counties for that then we would have been able to get 5 or 6 Adams and guarentee that we got them on time and on budget. It would still be a better acquisition given the lack of size in the RAN to be able to cope with late, over priced delivery.

The short fall of 3 hulls was not so important due to existing plans for 10 GP DDL's and the availability of 3 unmodernised Darings, 2 Battles and 4 Type 15 (Q class) to make up hull numbers prior to the delivery of the Counties and DDL's to supplement the original 4 Rivers (DE's).
 
The DDL's were intended to help bring the fleet up to 23 surface combatants which is what was calculated as necessary to meet the stated strategic needs of the government of the day.  They were what was determined to be needed where what we got was the Attack class patrol boats and an extra 2 DE's with the remaining DE's being down graded to little better than glorified patrol boats (with large crews and high operating costs).  The DDL's are what we needed for the regional security role.
 
The DE's were made obsolete by Indonesia receiving 12 Wiskey Class submarines from the USSR.  The expectation had been that the RAN would operate against Soviet forces in an alliance with the US and UK.  Indonesia's massive military expansion changed this as the US perceived them as a potential ally, not a threat, so there was a very real chance we would be left to fend for our selves in any regional dispute with "non alligned" Indonesias
 
If you are going to assume that we were going to bring the fleet up to that size then you need to consider what we could have done alternatively with the same expenditure. As it is you are assuming that we could purchase 10 DDL's and operate them alongside the remaining 4 DE's and assorted others. If the DE's were ineffective as you say how many extra effective ASW escorts, rather than less effective (against submarines) DDL's would we get for the same expenduture?
 
As for the cost of extra Wessex, we already had them.  Prior to Indonesia's military expansion it had been planned to convert HMAS Melboune into an ASW Helicopter Carrier as it was assumed that Melbourne would operate under an allied air umbrella.  Following the order of the S-2E Trackers (as the initial phase of possibly buying a modernised Essex Class strike carrier), Melbourne was refitted to operate Trackers resulting in far fewer Wessex going to sea.  When the Seaking was ordered to replace the Wessex in the ASW role only 12 were ordered vs the 27 Wessex.  So the RAN effectively had 15 spare Wessex. 
 
Also on the Wessex, the RN operated them in the ASW role well into the 80's and in SAR and transport (Army/RM support) into the late 90's.  The need for dunking sonars saw the Batch 3 Broadswords and Dukes being designed to operate Seaking / Merlin while Canada had been been operating Seakings from DE sized, indiginously designed frigates since the 60's.
 
Fair enough, so we had the Wessex. I stil don't think the rest of your equation adds up.

A County with Wessex, a DE with Ikara and one or two DDL's, would have been a viable deployable force.  A DDG and a pair of DE's clearly was not.
 
I disagree, the DDG/DE combination would have effective with supporting MPA or the Melbourne, one of which we would have used under any circumstance. I agree that the presence of a good ASW helecopter would have been a bonus, but don't agree that the risking the timely entry of service of the air defence ship in the face of a burgeoning air threat (TU-16's spring to mind) was the right way to achieve it. If it was that important we would have been better off building or purchasing a smaller number of Wessex capable ASW escorts (perhaps a streched Amazon or Leander) in place of your propose Wasp capable DDL's.
 
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Volkodav    AG   1/6/2010 12:24:45 AM
The DDL is not my proposal, it was a real design that was originally ment to be 10 2000t ships but dropped to 4 and then 3 once the design grew to 4200t.  They were cancelled by Whitlam and the FFG's were ordered instead.
 
Design studies and assessments during the early 70's pegged the DDL as superior to the UK Type 42 due to its "radar guided" light guns, second helicopter and superior combat system.  It was predicted to have been considerably superior at defending it's self against missile and air attack.   I think following the loss of Shefield and Coventry in 1982 the RN would agree.
 
The same assessments rated the FFG's as vastly inferior to the EV2A DDL.
 
Until the deployment of the Seahawks in 1991 the only aerial ASW support the RAN had out side the patrol range for an Orion was from carrier aircraft, from when Melbourne was laid up in 1981 we had no carrier!
 
Spend some time checking out the national achives on what was requested in the way of capability and why, then you will see where I am coming from.  Threats and the requirements to defend / act against them were identified and ignored over and over again.  How much maney has been wasted because a polititian decided "she'll be right mate" and then it wasn't.
 
Most of the time we have been lucky and no one has taken advantage of the self inflicted holes in our capabilities but on some occassions we have not been lucky.  Think 1942!
 
The line you continually take is that any Australian developed or modified project will be late, too expensive and a failure is I believe quite unjustified.  To assume that we can always buy better overseas for less is far more inaccurate than you realise, also the level of compromise we have to accept with OTS purchases is far greater than you realise.
 
The people who were suggesting the options I am posting were intelligent talented veterans of major wars, they were formulated in consultation with peers in the USN and RN in the pursuit of addressing the strategic requirents of the day.  Unfortunately they were ignored by the political powers of the day who went and bought the gear sold to them through polished sales presentations from overseas industry. 
 
I am surprised you haven't picked up on my mention of the RAN looking at buying an Essex to operate Phantoms and Trackers, this purchase would have made the surface fleet we had acceptable.
 
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StevoJH       1/6/2010 12:42:52 AM
How about surplus Centaurs with buccaneers and modernised Sea Vixen?
 
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