Saturday, March 20, 2010

All the changing seasons of my life... Part Deux.

The 42-kiloton Russian VTOL cruiser Kiev, launched in 1972, was the terror of Tom Clancy novels and the boardgame Sixth Fleet when I was in high school.

Now it's a floating theme park. In China.

By comparison, CVN-65 USS Enterprise, "The Mobile Chernobyl", should have at least two more deployments in her before she heads for retirement sometime around her 50th birthday.

The Chinese may have other plans for the Varyag, however...

Of course, like nuclear subs, an aircraft carrier force is not something you just whip up out of nowhere. There's a lot more to it, especially in the fields of crew training and doctrine, than just possessing the gear. You could hand me the most accurate rifle on the planet and I'm not going to step out on the grass at Camp Perry and win a President's Hundred tab.

Speaking of aircraft carriers, here's a picture of the now-decommissioned USS Forrestal with the VSTOL carriers HMS Invincible and Spain's Principe de Asturias, as well as a giant floating can of whoopass:

VSTOL carriers are just tiny by comparison with the bird farms.


GuardDuck said...

Heck VSTOL carriers are small in comparison to an amphib.

mousestalker said...

A woman who remembers Sixth Fleet. I think I just swooned. (No fears, I'm happily married).

RHT447 said...

During WWII, one of the missisons of escort or "jeep" carriers was to ferry replacement aircraft from the mainland out to the larger fleet carriers in the pacific. On arrival, these aircraft were launched and flown over to the fleet carriers. On one such hop, a pilot flying an F6F Hellcat was granted routine landing clearance. His reported reply was "which runway?".

WV--firef. What you actually hear when the order "Fire for effect" is drowned out by the guns going off.

NCDave said...

I was not Navy, but went aboard a carrier as a guest. One of the greatest thrills of my life was watching F-4 Phantoms come aboard and do flight ops from the USS Independence off the NC coast. My father helped build the Essex carriers at Newport News during WWII.
NC Dave

Firing Pin J said...

Having been in the service during the 80's I delighted each time we would sneak inside a battle group and sink a bird farm during various deployments. Our battle groups were tough to penetrate but we did each time.

Our war games were great prep for our real mission of getting inside the Sov's most protected areas. As one of our Commanding officers liked to say, "The carrier - now that's good tonnage on the scorecard."

Old NFO said...

Yep the one you didn't name is USS Wasp, LHD-1 she's only 833ft long... She's a multipurpose ship carrying Marines and their support.

Noah D said...

What Matthew said.

Ah, the Fleet series. Had 'em all at one point. I remember gaming out WW3 in the North Atlantic over and over and over again. Northern Red Banner Fleet sorties, Second Fleet responds, nukes fly, CVBGs go away, and a handful of subs left wandering around going 'Well...what now?'.

Man...GDW's Third World War, VG's Sixth Fleet...good times.

Jim said...

FPJ -- Mentioning this post over at my place I recalled the destroyer as plane guard. The other tin can job was in the screen, and when your ilk got by our sonar and radar watches we were embarrassed beyond words and sometimes lost a few liberties to the need for "extra training." The rotations were simpler to remember then -- six months in the First Feet, the west coast of Conus; six months inthe Seventh. WestPac.

Bram said...

"Giant can of woop-ass" is exactly how a Marine buddy of mine described an Iowa-class battleship. He saw it from the deck of an amphib assault ship during the Gulf War. The battleship went past them moving faster than anything that big should and looking like roughest toughest piece of equipment man ever built.

The battleships softened the beach for them. "Soften" meant making it look like the surface of the moon with little bits of Iraqi flesh and equipment scattered around.

Keads said...

Ok Tam, (can I call you Tam?) Please don't come shoot me for being so personal, LOL!

Since you have taken on a Nautical theme recently, I present two tin cans from WWII. The Web site may or may not render properly, but I give cred to the members of the USS Laffey Association that keep it running. (I am a card carrying member of the Association so my judgment may be suspect)

DD 724 survived the most Jap kamikaze attacks recorded and served until the 70's.

There is the USS North Carolina (BB-55) in Wilmington NC as a museum now. They do a good job keeping her up, the tree huggers were really bent about the replacement of the teak decking (with teak). She is the predecessor of the Iowa class with much of the same equipment. She was called the "Showboat" due to the attack on Pearl and extensive attention to detail during trials and showing up at Pearl after the attack.

The Laffey will return to Charleston soon after extensive repairs. If anyone is close by and is so inclined, I recommend volunteering for the Laffey Association and showing up for the work parties that try to keep the ship in form for the visitors to her. Several WWII vets still make the pilgrimage to keep the old lady looking good and to tell her story. Try the History Channel Dogfights series for a great simulation of that attack. Link is sorta on the Laffey site.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Wierd things in my head, but you know this.

I'm picturing three massive 'subassembly' ships, each with it's own reactor array, each powered by four electric prop drives (the actual name escapes me at the moment) as in the latest cruise ships.

They are all launched, then brought together around a massive barge crane that proceeds to heft up and attach the remaining superstructure points and deck plating, with each sub-ship being the point of a trimaran layout. Shielded by the deck in the front section of the rear 'point' ship would be the littoral bay where several supply ships and other 'attachment' vessels are stored.

Whatever you can do with a rock-stable, beautifully flat, 300 yard wide and 1000 yard long triangle of steel able to shoot around the oceans at 35-40 knots with a nuclear-class refueling schedule... well, you could do it.

Could even build robotic storage units into the subdecking between superstructures... aircraft style, hell, maybe just use aircraft cargo containers, with a pick/pull shuttle on a hanging rail for fast retrieval. Have larger units on the major structural ties (which would be laid out somewhat like big tubes) that carry flat 'tables' each capable of carrying an aircraft... as far as safety goes the back of the table facing the tube has a wall that has the attachment points for the retriever and also shields the plane from the robotic mechanism, and the 'tubes' have doors to the outside so in the event of a fire in storage that can't be controlled, the robot can grab that table and 'scram' it... fling the whole damn thing off the ship at high speed.

Just a thought.

staghounds said...

I really think that any vessel capable of invalidating the progress of the twentieth century within a five hundred mile radius deserves the term "barrel".

And, those carriers DO make lovely targets.

Firing Pin J said...


We had some tough cans out on the screen but the CO's I served under were all oriented toward tactics rather than just the Tea Kettle, so we enjoyed tremendous tactical success. Thanks for your service.

Besides, we know the Sov's didn't penetrate and that meant all the difference.

Will Brown said...

Sorry Dr. Strangegun, I think the physics of oceanic surface turbulance and swell action rule out any such construction absent some material having greater strength than any yet available to marine architects on this planet. The expansion joints such a deck would require would swallow whole (or in a couple large chunks at least) any human-piloted, useful ordinance payload-carrying aircraft that could land on a 1k yd deck. I've personally seen the expansion joints in the flight deck of the old USS Midway open wide enough for me to fall through on the occasion we had to suddenly run from a typhoon that jinked when everybody knew it was going to juke (1972, I think). I'm afraid any deck of the size you stipulate would break apart the first time the ship turned into the wind to launch aircraft during a decent sea state. The stresses induced by any radical turn while under maximum accelleration (a minimum performance standard for any warship) would likely do the trick, even on a millpond day like the one in the picture Tam embedded.

These things are fun to speculate about though, aren't they?

Given that the trend is toward smaller, remotely-piloted platforms, I'm thinking that a ship the size of Wasp (same class as Midway IIRC) with rotating turrets capable of launching an RPV through 270* w/o turning the ship mounted in the deck space the existing forward catapults occupy is a much more plausable line of speculation. Such a set-up would leave a waist catapult available for launching larger aircraft with the entire angle deck available for standard recovery operations. Including a nuclear reactor for power would be a necessity also.

As for PLAN "super carrier" wet dreams; I've seen the kind of maintenance necessary to keep a well-built ship in sea-going condition. I've also seen other examples of
Soviet naval workmanship. Good luck with all that.

RM1(SS) (ret) said...

There are two kinds of ships: Submarines and targets.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how long till they get bored and develop a real anti-torpedo weapon system?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pic, Tam! I was a CV-59 sailor; made her last operational cruise (1991).

Anonymous said...

Addendum: I just noticed that the pic was from '91: I may well have been aboard when it was taken. It isn't like they'd have told us. They generally only did that when they wanted us to man the flight deck. Still, good to see the old ship.
In case any squids are curious, AIMD/IM3/65P.

jakeblade said...

"The Mobile Chernobyl" or as we called her, "Three Quarter Mile Island." Good times... GSEC(SW)

tjbbpgobIII said...

I was not Navy (Airborne) but I remember when the USS Forrestal was launched. One of the items reported on in the paper, just to give us peons an idea of her size, was the fact she was the first aircraft carrier that was unable to transit the Panama Canal. Now Ships that size are the norm, I suppose.