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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: October 2015

9 - Navy Military Operations Considerations

Summary

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

President George Washington Speech to Congress, 8 January 1790

In the 1960s, the studies by the US Maritime Administration on the economics of high speed ships showed definite advantage to ships that could transport goods at speeds approaching 100 knots. Later, studies by the US Navy recognized the military value of “high speed” but could not be specific about such a classification as “a 100 knot Navy” in general and only in specific missions could the advantage of such a speed be quantified. The one navy mission area that could show benefit was the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mission where it could be shown that a ship that sprinted ahead of the fleet; drop to “listening speeds” with a towed array; and sprint ahead again such that the average speed of such a ship would be comparable to the “fleet speed” of the naval force was of value if the sprint speed was close to 100 knots. In this instance, taking into account the characteristics of the platforms and sonar technology at the time, the speed capability of “100 knots” appeared to be an advantage. Other navy missions did not show a specific need and other ship characteristics played an equal or greater role than just speed.

In earlier centuries, there was no question that being a fast ship “that goes in harm's way” was a definite advantage, but as technology advances in weapon systems blossomed, the speed of the platform became less a factor than that of the weapon. It may have been possible, in yesteryear, by ship maneuvering to avoid an enemy's cannon ball – but not from today's anti-ship missile. In the 1970s some tests were done with high speed hydrofoils where, by taking advantage of the hydrofoil's high maneuverability capability, some successes were achieved in “dodging” (break lock) a single anti-ship second generation missile but this was not the general case. Advances in missile technology since the 1970s would most certainly negate any high speed ship's maneuverability defense against today's brand of missiles (cruise or ballistic). The value of “high speed” and in “100 knots in particular” would have to stand the scrutiny of a broad based mission analysis.

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