Monday, April 28, 2008

The New Wolf Packs

Ominous forebodings are in store for the surface navy, according to this in a continuing series by Martin Sieff:

The Nazi wolf packs were faster than slow-moving convoys of
cargo ships, however, when they surfaced. So wolf pack attacks were not launched
from underwater, or by day. They were carried out on the surface of the Atlantic
by night. The aim was to have so many submarines that they could overwhelm the
smaller number of surface escort warships protecting the merchant

The new tactical concept of the Chinese wolf pack that could
threaten U.S. aircraft carrier task forces in coming years, however, is very
different. Modern diesel-electric submarines can stay underwater for long
periods of time and can travel fast in spurts of speed, though they don't have
the endurance of nuclear-powered subs. That speed means they don't have to
surface where they would be easy targets for carrier-launched aircraft. And they
don't have to await for any attack by night either.

But the new U-boats are out for larger prey than slow-moving merchantmen:

...their goal wouldn't be to just sink cargo ships like the German
Kriegsmarine subs of World War II...They would be out to kill 90,000 ton
nuclear-powered super-aircraft carriers.

This is why I doubt the logic of current navy planners to place all of our expensive and vulnerable eggs: giant carriers, super destroyers, amphibious assault carriers into so few and highly vulnerable platforms. While modern warships are far more capable than ever before, this doesn't mean they are any more unsinkable than the US battle fleet at Pearl Harbor.

To combat a similar enemy surface fleet in a future war at sea, or attack a Third World power which possesses little or no navy, I think we are well prepared. But the former no longer exists, and it is doubtful we can count on all our enemies sitting idly by while our unmatched fleet cruises leisurely off their coastlines, not while modern precision weapons fired from inexpensive d/e subs might offer them an effective counterweight.