DDG 1000 Could Take Fatal Hit

ddg1000.jpg

It’s like the Navy’s version of the F-22 — a lingering vestige of the “blue water” fighting force the service once was. But like the F-22, and despite the Navy’s best efforts to shift its emphasis to surface fire support (a concept that still clings to life despite air-to-ground and surface to surface missile and artillery advancements) talk is that the DDG 1000 is slipping away.

From today’s Military.com headlines:

The DDG 1000 series of ships would run on quiet and compact electric motors, not today’s gas turbine engines. The ships would be unusually large but built with a radar-evading profile to make them appear small, and they would carry a new gun able to hit precisely targets 50 miles or more inland.

Most important for sailors, the destroyers would carry highly trained, computer-savvy crews half as large as the force on current destroyers.

As recently as early June, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer reaffirmed the Bush administration’s support for the new ships. But as Congress refines spending plans for 2009 this summer, Navy leaders appear ready to abandon the DDG 1000 program, building only two destroyers for what once was seen as a force of two dozen or more.

The House of Representatives already has voted for at least a pause in DDG 1000 purchases, citing the cost - as much as $5 billion each - of the first two ships in the series and their dependence on still-unproven technologies.

In a statement released last week , the Navy seemed resigned to an early end for the program. “Even if we do not receive funding … beyond the first two ships, the technology embedded in DDG 1000 will advance the Navy’s future,” the statement asserted.

And the sad thing is that the littoral combat ship was to precede the DDG 1000 and even that’s on the skids (and is perhaps the most relevant ship the Navy’s looking into right now). Rummy started it with the death of Cold War vestige programs in the Army (remember the Crusader and Comanche?) and Gates pounded a few more nails into the coffin with is “next-war-itis” crusade. The services are beginning to see the writing on the wall and refocus their efforts — leaving a big job for the next defense secretary to get the procurement plans back on track.

— Christian

  • Lee

    Pah! Give me a Iowa class BB anyday.

  • George Skinner

    The bright spot here is that DDG-1000 drove the development of a lot of new technologies that can go into the next new ship design. The two units that are being built will also provide validation data for those technologies If and when the Navy gets to build the next class of ships, they’ll be a better product for the DDG-1000 experience. Precedent for this would be CVN-65 Enterprise - the first nuclear-powered surface warship. She was a one of a kind for years because of her expense and issues with some of her new systems (don’t see SPS-32/33 on too many other ships…) The follow-on Nimitz-class benefited from all of those lessons and has been in production for decades since.

  • T-800

    that’s just sad

  • jim

    So what comes after DDG-1000 and, more importantly, when? Will the Navy try again in, say, a decade?
    Seems likely that, with a 2 term Obama presidency, there’s no hope till 2016. Defense industry is gonna get crushed.

  • ohwilleke

    Strategy page suggests that the CG class doesn’t have a bright future either, and that retrofits of existing ships may use some tech intended for the DGG-1000 and CG-X classes.
    Whatever comes next, one would like to hope that it could be done for under $5 billion a ship.

  • good

    Unless i’m missing something, no other Navy comes even close (or has the potential of that in the next 20 years) to ours. With AF and Army bases all over the world, and with military technology advancing at the pace it is, a sea-war is remote at best. What other purpose does the DDG-1000 fit that can’t be taken up by other branches/systems?
    I’m seeing a lot of wasteful overlap (and Gates sees it too), and the time has finally come where the branches have to actually justify their expenses for a change.
    The old procurement plans were wasteful and only helped out the Defense Industry.

  • Mike Burleson

    Christian,
    The Navy’s mistake was they didn’t rename the vessel a DDG/A-1000!

  • Alexander

    Forget cost, our military needs to advance in a many ways as possible. Military technology doesn’t end with the military, it is the biggest creator of inventions that have dramatic influence on commercial interests. Even if there was no other threat, the world was at peace I would still support military expansion and technology advancement. $600 billion dollars are sent into the DoD, even if a fraction of it went into R&D thats a huge amount to dedicate to research.

  • campbell

    nice. It really is time to call it a day there. Even though the all electric motor, now using superconducting magnets instead of the old wire-wound motors makes my OWN technology more capable…..
    like cancelling the B-1….which gave everyone twitters until something better came along that could do the job better…the B-2
    There IS an alternative to these ships. something that do-able, now…and is four times as fast as these, stealthy, and can carry enough firepower to justify their use….AND, can operate in the littoral, or blue, or OVERLAND. Unrefueled, indefinite linger time in theater.
    Airships guys. time to get past blimps and move on to modern rigid shelled solar powered airships.
    or, so I say anyway….(Pentagon, you reading?)

  • Curtis

    The navy is a few years away from feeling the pain that the airforce is facing today. This monstrosity, plus the disaster in waiting that is CGX, plus the LCS that coulda shoulda woulda been the low cost streetsweeper the navy needed, is going to make AF procurement look just about golden.
    These programs were too much, too fast, too far off target, before the politics of Acquisitions even had a chance to sink them. They’re doomed. The navy is screwed no matter what happens.

  • G

    Looks like DDX will be the “Seawolf” of the surface fleet. I look forward to what the “Virginia” destroyer will be like.
    Hopefully they’ll consolidate the destroyer/cruiser roles. We don’t need 2 types of blue water surface combatants.

  • SMSgt Mac

    If true, it would be unfortunate for the Navy to abandon the new class. Mucho development costs are sunk costs and do not count as waste until you quit. Acquisition costs are chump change compared to O&M costs. These things could pay for themselves just through fewer Chief’s pensions ;-)

  • DopplerDave

    Christian,
    Do you bother to actually research what you write about? This comment is 100% incorrect:
    “It’s like the Navy’s version of the F-22 — a lingering vestige of the “blue water” fighting force the service once was. But like the F-22, and despite the Navy’s best efforts to shift its emphasis to surface fire support (a concept that still clings to life despite air-to-ground and surface to surface missile and artillery advancements) talk is that the DDG 1000 is slipping away.”
    Let’s discuss the ways in which you are incorrect. First of all, DDG-1000 is not the Navy version of F-22. F-22 traces its lineage back to ATF, which was developed to fight against the Soviets in Europe in a WWIII scenario. The requirements were written during the Cold War. DDG-1000 traces its lineage back to DD-21, which itself is a product of SC-21. The SC-21 Mission Needs Statement was drafted nearly four years after the fall of the Soviet Union. DDG-1000, therefore, is a post-Cold War product, F-22 isn’t.
    Shift emphasis to surface fire support? Let’s review why SC-21 and DD-21 came about. The USMC was complaining that the 5″ guns of the Navy’s surface combatants were not big enough. During the mid-90s there was a push to, yet again, recommission the battleships. SC-21 and DD-21 in particular was the Navy’s attempt to address these needs. DD-21 was criticized inside the Navy for focusing on surface fire support to the point it would require other ships to protect it. That’s why we now have a surface combatant with the most advanced radar that would ever be put afloat.
    Seriously, do the research and put some thought into the article rather than making cheap and inaccurate comparisons.

  • DopplerDave

    “So what comes after DDG-1000 and, more importantly, when? Will the Navy try again in, say, a decade?”
    Jim, good question. In my opinion the Navy does best when it takes an evolutionary approach to combatants vice a revolutionary approach.
    The Enterprise used an existing carrier hull design. The nuclear plant was added. Once the lessons from the nuclear plant were learned the Navy built the Nimitz. Aegis cruisers had a new combat system, but were built using an existing hull design. The Aegis destroyers took a proven combat system and put it on a new hull.
    I think we need to continue that trend. I wouldn’t worry too much about an Obama Presidency. The Congressmen/women in the states that build these things will scream bloody murder if we’re not building something new.

  • Old Crusty Chief

    FWIW…
    The plans for new classes of DDGs/CGs IS necessary if simply to replace the hulls that will have too many years on them to remain economical to refit. In my own experience I’ve seen what happens to ships that have steamed far beyond their service lives: tanks that have corroded to the point of leaking, welds that begin to fail, stress fractures in the hull and superstructure, etc., etc. Moreover, new hulls DO provide the opportunity to introduce new technologies necessary to keep up with evolving threats.
    Where we screwed the pooch, IMHO, was trying to reach too far with new technologies for these new hulls and not sticking to a design.
    I thought it was a great idea to build hulls that were much larger than the BURKEs as I’ve seen how we’ve shoehorned about all we can into those ships. It’s probably about the same with the TICOs. The usual ASW, ASuW, AAW, and strike areas are well accommodated in the current hulls, but adding space and power would enable better ELINT/COMINT, ABM, and CEC capabilities, as well as a larger mix of weapons, sensors (onboard and deployable), and aircraft.
    How we powered these ships is a different matter. The gas turbine generators powering electric motors is a great idea. Even if the superconducting magnets was a big reach. The nuclear power requirement mandated by Congress should have been there all along. Even though it adds about 10% to construction costs and also increases manning and manpower costs, I think it’s worth it in the end as it frees the ship to “steam” as fast as she needs to without worrying about refueling every couple days.
    Where we could make significant improvement is in the area of armor. An inch of HY-80 just isn’t enough. Sure, some critical areas are protected by a bit of Kevlar, but what’s needed is a robust hull and superstructure that can better stand up to the sort of “guerilla” tactics of our enemies: small arms, boats, and the like. Surely, there are ways to do it without resorting to several inches of armor plate; if we can create body armor to stop AP rounds, we can do the same for a ship.
    Cheers,
    Chief B.

  • /sea/

    The procurement funding shell game is about to get one shell shorter. The Navy

  • Old Crusty Chief

    Re: Obama’s gonna do this and that…
    Obama has to win it first… and that fat lady ain’t sang yet.
    He’s an amateur and an empty suit. I’ll wager that he’ll flip-flop so much between now and November that he’ll make John Kerry look like Stonewall Jackson.
    McCain may not be a Ron Reagan, but he is a man of principle, courage, and grit. I’ll take that over Carter Lite any day.
    Cheers,
    Chief B.

  • Christian

    DopplerDave,
    You just made my case for me…
    First, it doesn’t matter WHEN the requirement was written, it matters WHAT the requirement is…
    Second, has the Navy EVER taken NSFS seriously? Was the DD-21 or DDG 1000’s “gun” ever truly realistic? Tell me the last time NSFS was used…time’s up: Basra OIF 1 when Marine ANGLICOs called in one fire mission for Aussie troops there. ATOs were all up north, arty all up north…what did ANGLICOs have left? That BS 5″ gun. In several interviews I’ve had on the subject of NSFS, it’s this Buck Rogers “rail gun” the Navy officials point to as the answer to the Corps’ NSFS plea. But you could count the advocates for that mission on one finger within the Navy itself. But, I predict the Navy will begin to tout how important that mission is now that the program is threatened…
    But I don’t do my research so how would I know…?

  • pfcem

    DopplerDave is correct that the DDG-1000 is not like the F-22 but he is absolutely wrong as to why.
    The F-22 is the USAF taking its obligation to provide air superiority seriously. And the BS that it F-22 is somehow not relivant today because it traces its origins back to the Cold War is just that, BS. The F-22 was developed & built to provide air superiority. It does not matter if it is a Cold War scenario or a Bosnia scenario, air superiority is a CRITICAL mission.
    The DDG-1000 is the USN NOT taking its obligation to provide NSFS seriously & using that obligation to fund the new technology to be used in its future surface combatants. While a 155mm (6.1″) gun is good secondary NSFS gun to replace 5″ guns on existing hulls it is pathetic as a primary NSFS gun - even worse when developing an all-new gun, projectile & ship that are SUPPOSED to fulfill the USN’s NSFS obligation. When the USMC says that it would take at least 24 DDG-1000 to fulfill the need you KNOW something is wrong - espesially when there was never any realistic chance that we would get half that many.

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Morning Folks,
    I agree with George (we are related, at least as far as I know) on this issue. The Zumwalts have taken just to long in development and many if not most of it’s ground breaking technologies can now be found in surface warships being built in such places as the UK, Sweden, Germany, Italy etc. It’s time to think the next generation of surface ships.
    Of course some Zumwalts must be built in order to keep the yards in work but efforts should, like in the case of Seawolf, be moved to a successor. The DD51’s have proven to be a very servaceable and adaptable ship (unlike the Turkey Spruance Class) thay can be expanded and stay in production for at least another decade. I know this will result in Burkes being decommissioned as new one are launched but for now there appears to be no other alternative.
    ALLONS,
    Byron Skinner

  • DopplerDave

    “The DDG-1000 is the USN NOT taking its obligation to provide NSFS seriously & using that obligation to fund the new technology to be used in its future surface combatants. While a 155mm (6.1″) gun is good secondary NSFS gun to replace 5″ guns on existing hulls it is pathetic as a primary NSFS gun - even worse when developing an all-new gun, projectile & ship that are SUPPOSED to fulfill the USN’s NSFS obligation. When the USMC says that it would take at least 24 DDG-1000 to fulfill the need you KNOW something is wrong - espesially when there was never any realistic chance that we would get half that many.”
    —How is a gun that matches the caliber of the guns the USMC uses itself “pathetic”?
    How is a gun that can provide the sustained firepower of 6 towed 155mms “pathetic”?
    Oh and each DDG-1000 would carry two of those very same guns, so each DDG-1000 would carry the same firepower as 12 towed 155mm guns.

  • DopplerDave

    “Can you say battleships? The navy could take back their museums. Part of the deal in turning those ships into museums was the fact they had to be maintained in a manner so the navy couold take them back. Not only the 4 Iowa class battle wagons but North Carolina, alabama, and the Mass.”
    -This sounds like a great idea, until you take a hard look at what it is you’re proposing.
    Bringing back the BBs means bringing back the logistical, personnel, training, and industrial support to operate them. Also your idea of bringing back older BBs is a non-started, since they were used as spare parts bins to bring the 4 Iowa class ships back from the dead in the 80s.
    We won’t even go down the path on how the BBs don’t support the USMC’s STOM philosophy.

  • Old Crusty Chief

    Re: DopplerDave
    Raising Bravo Sierra on your BB dismissal.
    The IOWAs would more than adequately have fulfilled ALL USMC NSFS requirements and can fulfill them in the future. The anti-BB cabal have used the 16″/50’s range of 24 miles as a red herring from jump street while at the same time spending money like drunks on “systems” that have yet to see day one in the Fleet.
    IIRC, it wasn’t even US ships that provided the NSFS at Basra but the Brits with their 4″ guns because our ships couldn’t get close enough for our 5″ guns because of draft constraints. Ain’t THAT a pisser, boys?
    The money we’ve irretrievably pissed away on DDG-1000 (nee DD-21, nee DDx) could have given us the refit, the crew, the fuel, the maintenance, and the ammo for all four BBs plus enough to buy every Sailor a beer for his birthday. What’s more, the programs that date all the way back to the 60s could have given us in short order rounds that could have hit targets in Baghad.
    With regard to the argument about the firepower of a 155mm round: Sure, 12 rounds of 155mm are much better than 12 rounds of 127mm (5″), but 9 rounds of 16″ makes the 155mm seem rather… well, pathetic. Or, why not several rounds from a 8″ gun? We had that, too. Tested in USS HULL back in the latter part of the 70s. The Mk71 MCLW worked just fine, even when fitted on too small a hull. Intended for the SPRUANCE and TICO hulls, it was canceled for approximately the same reasons every major caliber gun has been sent to the breakers since Viet Nam: the fighter, submarine, and missile mafias don’t want the graybearded black shoes taking one iota of “their” territory.
    And, your logistics argument is flawed, too. EVERY system has its own logistics and manpower tail…. The vaunted 155mm AGS is different only in that it will have to be created from scratch, rather than reconstituted.
    Cheers,
    Chief B.
    P.S. There’s a Master Chief Gunner’s Mate hereabouts who ought to report in on this about now….

  • Mike S

    What is going to be left of the surface fleet after dozens of swarming chinese subs come out of their mountain cave at one time and overwhelm the few subs we have watching????
    They have been planning and building for a scrap with us for 25 years and dont hink they wont do it for one second.
    we are still building for the last war, not the next one…..fools we are!

  • pfcem

    DopplerDave,
    You obviously no nothing of NSFS. This is the simplest way I can put it for ignorant people such as yourself…If a ~100 lb warhead containing ~24 lbs of explosive were the be-all-that-is-all there would not currently be nor would there ever have been anything more. ;)
    Like I said, when the USMC says that it would take at least 24 DDG-1000 to fulfill the need you KNOW something is wrong.

  • G

    More submarines, please.

  • EM2(SS)

    Would someone promote Old Crusty Chief to SecNav, please? Thanks!
    I think that too many people in the Pentagon and the whole procurement system have fallen in love too much with high tech equipment at the expense of realistic, tried and tested systems. At least OCC has a grip on reality. But reality and Washington DC have never really met, have they?
    Yes, we need to have a constantly evolving R&D process, but we also need to keep the shipyards open, and keep enough hulls in the water to allow for maintenance, down time, or God forbid -battle damage. Do we have that ability now? Not so much.
    And Mike S is right -the Chinese are preparing for a scrap, even if we are not. We need to have both the technology and the numbers of hulls ready for that eventuality.
    Regarding the BBs -I’m all for bringing them back. They are a huge deterrence force, just by their presence alone. The mere act of refitting them and sending them on a world tour (or just around the Persian Gulf), showing the flag would definitely send a big, 16″ message around the world. Go for it. If the B-52 can still be in service, so can the BB.

  • DC2 Jennings

    The fact that this ship is going away is HUGE. What is to replace the Tycos? The Navy has recognized the shortcomings of fire support from Naval ships. That is why this gun will have increased range.
    The Iowas were great in their own day and age. I was amazed by their looks when I saw them in Norfolk in the early 90s. But their day is passed. The days of boiler fired ships are gone and I would not imagine what a refit would involve. Basically creating a new ship. And I was on a 50 year old ship doing Med Cruises back in the early 90’s. That sucked, especially as a Damage Controlman or any other engineering rate.
    We cannot continue to focus on brown water operations at the expense of our blue water Navy. We need to prepare for all eventualities in war, not just what is happening today.
    This sucks.
    DC2

  • George Skinner

    I’m sure this’ll provoke a howl of outrage from Marines and the old Chief, but is naval fire support even NEEDED anymore? When was the last time that ANYBODY launched an amphibious assault on a coastline? Such an assault was used as a feint in the 1991 Gulf War, but I don’t think there’s been a major assault since Inchon.
    The use of battleships for fire support was always more of a function of their availability rather than having been designed as such for a primary role. Battleships were meant to kill other battleships, and were really surpassed in that role after WW1. The Iowas were expensive to operate and limited in how close they could get to shore. Too bad that the Arsenal Ship proposal was nixed - a purpose-built vessel for fire support would make much more sense.

  • EM2(SS)

    DC2: I am in complete agreement with you on this:
    “Today we man a ship to the minimum requirements for watch stations after automation has been added. So what happens when you have a main engine room fire? It’s all fun and games until you are treading water for a couple of days.”
    We need larger manning on combat vessles for so many reasons: DC and firefighting, flex in case of injuries, illness, leave or casualties, the list goes on. A combat ship needs higher manning in order to stay combat effective. Minimal manning is just plain stupid, IMHO.
    However, I will respectfully disagree with you on the DDG-1000. From my perspective, the whole thing is a class act boondoggle. It’s attempting too many technological leaps forward, when we just need new ships -period.
    If we need artillery support for the Marines, then make it smaller, and specialized to work with them and their battle groups. But this ship seems to be too much of an attempt to make it one-ship-fits-all-needs, and adding too much untested design and ideas. Incrimental improvements are fine, but this seems like they are trying to jump a generation or three, and they failed.
    I’m not against rail guns, or anything else they are trying to do… but we need new ships now. And for a much lower price tag.

  • Old Crusty Chief

    Re: DC2, EM2, PHIBOPS, etc.
    Amphibious Operations really are something of the past… if you’re thinking of the opposed movement of troops and materiel from ship to shore with the transitional pause on the beach. That truly is a relic.
    However, if you think of it as simply a forcible entry it takes on a different color. I can’t recall whether OMFTS (Operational Manuever From The Sea) or STOM (Ship To Objective Maneuver) is the jargon-of-the-moment, but they both describe essentially the same thing: skipping the transition at the beach by leveraging the mobility provided by helos and the V-22, AAAV & EFV, and the heavy-lift capability of the LCAC. Its still Marines kicking down an unfriendly door.
    And those Marines still need accurate fires to suppress or kill the bad guys. The Navy is bound by law (and honor) to provide it to them via Naval Surface Fire Support; as they have been since Presley O’Bannon went tear-assing around Tripoli. Again, the only difference is the leverage provided by modern technology.
    The ability to hit a point target, repeatedly if need be, obviates the need for large volumes of fire to treat that target. The small diameter bomb is but the latest fruit of the every shrinking “circular probable error” tree. That reasoning should make the 155mm AGS sufficient for most NSFS requirements.
    The problems that arise are ones of physics and time.
    Regardless of the ability of the AGS to hit a gnat’s ass at 100nm, the gun is only as good as the number of rounds in the magazine. The size of the deep mag on a ship is quite naturally limited to the size of the hull. Shoot those rounds and its a trip off the gun line to the AE for an unrep of more rounds and powders. The same thing (plus money) that made the argument for NSFS with Tomahawks and Standard missles just plain silly. Small ships just can’t carry enough of anything to provide credible and sustainable NSFS to the Marines (or Army for that matter) during the critical opening phase of a forced entry.
    The battleship can do both. Whereas the enormous blast of a 16″ round can do wonders for reducing the enemy, it also has the capacity to put sub-caliber rounds on point targets at far greater ranges than the erstwhile AGS. Plus, the magazine capacity of a BB absolutely dwarfs that of a cruiser or destroyer thus giving the ship a long dwell time on the gun line ready to answer calls for fire.
    As for the engineering questions, why is it that we must stick to the plant that’s there? Is it less of an engineering/architectural problem to remove boilers and replace them with GTM plants than to dream up a entirely new form of propulsion for DDG-1000? In the time we’ve lost waiting for DDG-1000 to hit the water we could have used the four IOWAs to test all manner of things by replacing one power plant at a time. And while we’re at it, why not pull out all those obsolete 5″/38s and test various iterations of the AGS, or use the space for VLS? We could have used one of the 16″/50 turrets to test crazy ideas for propellants, automation, new rounds, etc. without neutering the ship if something went wrong… as you would with a ship with only one gun.
    Guys, we could go on all week with this and not exhaust all the great ideas. Its a damned shame that Ted Yazlowski doesn’t have the USNFSA.ORG site up anymore. There was a TON of info there that makes the case for the BBs better than I can ever dream of doing.
    Cheers,
    Chief B.

  • pfcem

    DC2,
    No the DDG-1000 was never intended to replace the Ticonderogas. The “follow-on” CG(X)/CGN(X) are intended to replace the Ticonderogas.
    The latest that I have heard is that the USN plans to replace the 22 remaining Ticonderogas with 14 CG(X) “escort cruisers” (essentially 14,000 ton DDG-1000 hull fitted for fleet escort/defense rather than littoral/NSFS) with the 1st to be ordered in FY2011 and 5 CGN(X) “BMD cruisers” (20,000-25,000 nuclear-powered ships with a more conventional flared bow) - the large size of the CGN(X) dictated mostly by the proposed 40″ diameter & 39′ long Northrop Grumman Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) which requires a launch tube the size of 6 Mk-41 cells.