Thursday, December 13, 2007

Remember that Kitty Hawk Incident?

M.E. (and some experts) had told you this:
Telling journalists that the Chinese had been detected would be telling too much, that is, that they had been expected and were being electronically monitored for future reference. But, perhaps China's sub had been helped into the provocative act of surfacing amidst a U.S. task force. Neither China nor the U.S. would be anxious to admit that, would they?
In reality, the presence of China's Song-class submarine had to have been anticipated by the USN, and ample US intelligence resources had been deployed in the area to gather clandestine data providing/confirming tactical capabilities and weaknesses. Go here for why it was reasonable to expect Chinese presence.

Many think otherwise, however, including credible commentators like Bubblehead. Let's assume for a moment that they are correct that submarines (including Chinese) can sneak up on U.S. carrier groups (past our own submarine screens) fairly reliably. Hmm. What then? Consider the implications of this strategy:

12/11/07 - The U.S. Navy’s top strategist has floated to the chief of naval operations three alternatives to the service’s current 30-year shipbuilding plan that if adopted would radically reshape American naval power. The brief is based on a 2-year-old war game and is not being used to recommend force structure options.

The submarine strategy imbedded in the three strategies (which Navy officials are already dismissing as just a routine think piece) are still revealing:

In a 534 ship navy, with 6 aircraft carriers, Vice Adm. John Morgan, the service’s strategy chief, anticipates a total of 32 submarines of all classes including attack, ballistic and cruise missiles boats.

In a 474 ship navy, with 9 aircraft carriers, Vice Adm. Morgan anticipates a total of 32 submarines including attack (55), ballistic (14) and cruise missiles boats (3).

Finally, in a 263 ship navy, with 12 aircraft carriers, Vice Adm. Morgan anticipates a total of only 56 submarines including attack, ballistic and cruise missiles boats. This is closest to Admiral Roughhead's 313 ship navy, so I guess 56 -14 -4 = 38 attack subs. Apparently then, a ratio of about 3:1 (attack subs for each carrier) may be a magic ratio to net required availability. But, that could be telling us too much, so we definitely cannot believe it, or ...?

Now, aircraft carriers are not only an awesome threat to bad actors, they are the obvious target of choice for warring enemies. CVN-76 Ronald Reagan with its crew of over 3,000, came in at about $4.5 billion without aircraft. You get the idea.

So how many aircraft carriers will be at sea at any one time? How many submarines would be available to protect them (some subs are dedicated to other roles and would neither be suitable for such use or available, it may be presumed). Of those submarines potentially available then, how many would be in drydock for scheduled maintenance or unscheduled repairs (just like some of the carriers)? You get the idea, again, right?

Let's examine that original hypothesis once more: Chinese (et al) submarines can penetrate U.S. carrier battle groups any time they wish.

I still say Balderdash!



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