Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cost Cutting Via Retirement of CG-47 Class Cruisers

Or is it to advance the future of the fleet as well?
It was recently announced that the Navy would retire 7 cruisers of the Ticonderoga (CG-47) class. I'm not so certain this is bad news, depending on what outcome the Navy is playing for in their 'long-game'.
Since the retirement of the earlier generations of Navy cruisers, the biggest difference between destroyers and cruisers has been what the Navy has decided to stuff into their hulls. In fact, the the Ticonderoga was initially ordered as the DDG-47 Ticonderoga and the class used the same hull and ship systems as the Spruance class destroyers.
In rather rapid (in the shipbuilding sense) succession, the Navy:
1. Decided to extend the construction of the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) series with another 'flight' of Arleigh Burkes in lieu of following up on and adding numbers to the DD-1000 Zumwalt class. This was allegedly more affordable path that touted the low cost of the DDG-51s while somehow not accounting for the additional costs and risks of the upgrades proposed for the new flight. The usual crowd applauded the move.
2. Admitted their shock and horror when they discovered the 'affordable'  (but unacceptable without the planned upgrades) Arleigh Burkes were also unaffordable with the necessary upgrades. Oh and did we mention that keeping the older DDG-51s viable was going to cost quite a bit more or create 'gaps' as well?
While during this time the DDG-1000 Zumwalt's seem to be doing just fine. Which seems to bring us right back to the idea of maybe a family of modern warships based upon the DD(X)'s original objectives isn't such a bad idea after all? Is the Navy angling towards an eventual CG-1000 or just slouching their way to greatness?

DD-1000 vs CG-51 Comparison In Profile

The Zumwalt's have significantly more room in their hulls for new or additional systems, and more power available to run them. modular weaponization, and long range guided artillery for when you need it. IMHO, it would be almost be worth it alone just to tweak the noses of people who can't stand or fear the 'Tumblehome' hull design.

Update: Here's what the world's largest composite structure looks like:

DDG-1000 Superstructure (HII Photo)
One more technology hurdle down...


Solomon said...

awesome post as usual. definitely going to link to this one.

SMSgt Mac said...

Thanks,I see over at your place 'Lane' didn't even bother to follow the link back to my place where he would have read the part about "Since the retirement of the earlier generations of Navy cruisers, the biggest difference between destroyers and cruisers has been what the Navy has decided to stuff into their hulls". Otherwise I doubt he would have spent so much time running down the list of ways in which a DD-1000 is not a 'cruiser'.

leesea said...

It might be nice to add a comparison of acquisition costs to support your premise? I believe both later flight Burkes and uncompleted DDG-1000s have some iffy numbers in their programs?

SMSgt Mac said...

Relative costs weren't the focus of the post, but the relative cost risks and cost trends involved were. Also involved is the even more important question of what are the risks to satisfying identifed military needs for the dollars spent--i.e. the potential "value" returned from each path? The Burke hulls can only be expanded so much and the available space within them is less than the Zumwalts; the Zumwalt having about 13' more beam and a lot less space required for the engineering plant than even a hybridized system for a Flight III, not to mention a heck of a more robust power supply system with a larger margin for growth in the DDG-1000.

But since you asked, the scary numbers popping up for the Flight IIIs are in the $3B-$4B range ( THAT number is getting the Flight IIIs into DDG-1000 territory.