Modern warships (I) - Introduction


Naval technology and warfare is far from my speciality or focus (I do rather consider land warfare art of war to be my focus), but I still want to write near-universal article series on modern warships.

Keep in mind my focus is on deterrence and defence; the preservation of peace and the minimisation of harm done by warfare if peace was not preserved. For this reason I will not show myself concerned about naval topics such as how to operate with carrier groups in range of Chinese land-based tactical missiles and air power. Security of Persian Gulf exports is the problem of the exporters in my opinion; they could build additional pipelines or afford a ridiculously more expensive naval security solution themselves. I'm furthermore not concerned about how best  to destroy SSBNs (submarines with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles) simply because any such effort could provoke the employment of their missiles before they were lost to hostile action.

An important and in my opinion extremely neglected point I want to make about naval affairs is that a great deal of military missions that need to be accomplished at sea can be accomplished without warships by dominantly land-based power such as land-based air power (including naval helicopters), missile units, OTH radars, orbital satellite operations, boats, land-launched drones for mine countermeasures and land-controlled naval surface drones. Warships are usually less cost-efficient than those land-based and coastal units.

The West furthermore lacks the shipbuilding capacity to arms race at sea against the PRC (South Korea would likely abstain from providing the West with output of its shipyards, as this would put South Korea itself at great risk).
My conclusion from this is that the West should make much more use of land-based and coastal assets and reserve its dedicated warships for high seas actions such as securing the most important transoceanic maritime trade lanes (main convoy routes) and more rarely some distant naval blockades. This should be rested on cost-efficient platforms as well and at least the Americans and Japanese should configure their navies for this with the superior shipyard capacity of the PR China in mind.

There's a widespread notion that one should have offshore patrol vessels or helicopter corvettes for easy tasks such as UN trade embargo enforcement, as doing these missions with frigates and destroyers would be too expensive.
I disagree. OPVs and corvettes are an expensive misallocation of resources in a shooting war because of their poor equipment with sensors, munitions and aviation component. The costs of building, modernising and operating frigates and destroyers are sunk costs anyway because these expenses are deemed necessary to deter or fight wars; sunk costs should never have any influence on decisionmaking. Corvettes with their combat power barely above fast attack craft levels are not the way to go. Nor are oversized OPVs such as the mis-labeled F125.

I will address many topics on modern (surface) warships - essentially what would commonly be called frigates, destroyers and cruisers (FFG, DDG, CG) - in the next posts. There will be rather few links in the texts, but the final part of the series will include a list of links especially to what I wrote before on naval topics. Those linked blog posts have many of the explanations that I'll omit in the series itself.

Feel free to read my magnus opum on blue water surface warfare. Be advised; it's long. Some of the conclusions are only very late in the series. You may wonder what I'm working towards in some part or another - well, that's in a later one.

Part II (ASW) : 31 January 2018
Part III (AAW) : 13 February 2018
Part IV (ASuW) : 16 February 2018
Part V (land attack) : 18 February 2018
Part VI (other topics) :19 February 2018
Part VII (conclusion; the two paths) :21 February 2018
Part VIII (links to previous naval-themed blog posts at D&F) : 23 February 2018



  1. What is the URL of your "magnus opum on blue water surface warfare"?

    1. Part II is scheduled for in a few hours.
      Part III awaits preview feedback.

  2. I am thoroughly enjoying this series. Keep up the good work!
    Would be nice if you briefly also covered mine warfare, as it is probably the most cost-effective option for smaller nations that can't build a proper navy or air force.

    1. Thanks. MCM will be mentioned in part VI briefly.
      This series is really centred on the defence of oceanic convoys.