Alt 60s US Navy

uk 75

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The Royal Navy in the 1960s has been the place for many alternative history threads helped by the excellent books on the subject and the enthusiasm of Brits like me for CVA01 and co. The US Navy offers even more scope for programmes that could have been. Some thoughts to kick things off.
Enterprise was the only nuclear carrier till the 70s. Nukes vs conventional options.
The large cruisers of the 50s reached their zenith with Long Beach. In the 60s frigates like Bainbridge, Truxtun, Belknap and Leahy were the big ships, though to Europeans they were destroyer leaders/cruisers. Typhon was ditched and AEGIS didnt arrive .
Huge numbers of warbuit destroyers were converted with ASROC but could have had better helicopters than DASH.
The Knox and then Spruance classes came along, but were they the best answers.

Lots of scope and I havent even mentioned subs, helicopter carriers etc
 

isayyo2

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Ideally a quicker adoption of gas-turbines for surface ships and a more coherent high-low strategy.

Keep Typhon as a developmental project, rather than doubling down on its future and scrambling when it gets cancelled.
Further develop the DASH drone with more reliable parts and multi-use sensors or armaments.
Hamilton class Cutter as a FRAM DD replacement?
Continue development of diesel submarines for coastal defenses against Soviet SSG/SSGNs.
Never forget the importance of heavy naval artillery, get a Mk 71 out into the fleet or develop dedicated bombardment monitors
 

SSgtC

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Mk 71 out into the fleet or develop dedicated bombardment monitors
Not really needed to be honest. The USN had 16 Heavy Cruisers either in active service or in reserve up through the 70s with 3 remaining in reserve up until 1991. Plus you have 10 battleships in reserve at the start of 1960 with that dropping to 8 in June, 1960 and to 4 by June, 62. If you really need heavy gunfire support, just keep the battleships in reserve longer and/or pull some of the CAs back into service.


Hamilton class Cutter as a FRAM DD replacement?
That's a possibility, but the first one wasn't laid down until 1965, the same time at the Knox-class. Which would have the exact same mission in the Navy. So going with the Hamiltons means no Knox. Either or here choice here. Maybe if you combine the power plant of the Hamilton with the larger hull of the Knox you'd have a winner for the Navy.


Continue development of diesel submarines for coastal defenses against Soviet SSG/SSGNs.
Not really a need. The Navy did not plan to engage Soviet subs in American Littorals. They planned to engage them in deep water as they crossed the SOSUS line. For that mission, nuc boats were the better option.
 

CV12Hornet

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Well, this was the wishlist in 1958.

APPENDIX

THE NAVY OF THE 1970 ERA

A. TENTATIVE ACTIVE FLEET OBJECTIVES

52 MISSILE-LAUNCHING SUBMARINES, ALL NUCLEAR POWERED

40 with POLARIS or a successor, 1500-mile or greater range
12 with smaller missiles, 1000-mile or greater range

87 SHIPS IN SURFACE STRIKING FORCES

12 Modern Attack Carriers (6 with Nuclear Power)
3 Large Training Carriers
18 Guided Missile Cruisers (12 with Nuclear Power)
54 Guided Missile Frigates (18 with Nuclear Power)

398 SHIPS IN ANTI-SUBMARINE FORCES

9 Anti-submarine Aircraft Carriers
75 Submarines (65 with Nuclear Power)
72 Destroyers
60 Ocean Picket Ships
182 Ocean Escorts

90 SHIPS IN AMPHIBIOUS FORCES

18 Helicopter Assault Ships
58 Assault Transports and Landing Ships
14 Command and Support Ships

110 MINE WARFARE AND SMALL PATROL SHIPS

190 AUXILIARIES

50 Fast Underway Replenishment Ships
140 Tenders, Tugs, Repair and Supply Ships

927 [Total Ships]

SHIPS WITH NUCLEAR POWER............................................150-Plus
SHIPS WITH LONG RANGE SURFACE MISSILES................52-Plus
SHIPS WITH AIR DEFENSE MISSILES...................................200-Plus
SHIPS WITH ANTI-SUBMARINE MISSILES...........................450-Plus
SHIPS WITH ANTI-SUBMARINE AIRCRAFT.........................150-Plus

B. TENTATIVE OBJECTIVES FOR OPERATING AIRCRAFT
(Approximations: Air Reserve Aircraft Included)

600 FIGHTERS WITH LONG-RANGE AIR-TO-AIR MISSILES

400 for Attack Carriers
200 for Marines

1250 LIGHT ATTACK AIRCRAFT

1000 for Attack Carriers
250 for Marines

400 RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT (Navy and Marine)

70 Long Range Seaplane, Mining and Recco
180 Early Warning and Air Control
150 Photographic, Electronic, Tactical Recco

1300 ANTI-SUBMARINE

500 Long Range, Land and Seaplane
400 Short Range, for Carriers
400 Helicopter

500 ASSAULT TRANSPORTS (MARINE)

1250 AIRCRAFT FOR SUPPORT OF FLEETS (Target, Logistic, Development and Test, Rescue, Fleet Training)

1700 AIRCRAFT FOR TRAINING COMMAND 7000

7000 [Total Aircraft]

Naturally, by the time 1970 actually rolled around the US Navy was short in just about every category except Polaris submarines.
 
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isayyo2

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@SSgtC nice to see you online and a good retort :)

My primary thought were keeping manning costs lower than IRL. Love me some cruisers and battleships, but their operational costs are prohibitive so realistically how many of those reserve ships would be brought back? Perhaps a good compromise would be single-ended Talos CAGs with at least one forward turret active? Ditto on the steam turbine manning vs gas turbines with the Knox having 70 more Officers and Enlisted. Maybe skip the Knox entirely and have a re-order of the Brooke Class with the Hamiltons FT4/Diesel propulsion? Staying with the reduced manning crusade, how much manpower and $$$ could have saved by improving DASH over the three LAMPS competitions? How many officer slots did the SH-2s and 60s take up?
 

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@SSgtC nice to see you online and a good retort :)

My primary thought were keeping manning costs lower than IRL. Love me some cruisers and battleships, but their operational costs are prohibitive so realistically how many of those reserve ships would be brought back? Perhaps a good compromise would be single-ended Talos CAGs with at least one forward turret active? Ditto on the steam turbine manning vs gas turbines with the Knox having 70 more Officers and Enlisted. Maybe skip the Knox entirely and have a re-order of the Brooke Class with the Hamiltons FT4/Diesel propulsion? Staying with the reduced manning crusade, how much manpower and $$$ could have saved by improving DASH over the three LAMPS competitions? How many officer slots did the SH-2s and 60s take up?
Thanks. I got covid so I've been out of it for awhile.

Obviously, a single Mk71 mount well require less crew than an entire cruiser or battleship will. But the point I was making was, if there is a big enough need for NGFS that the Navy is developing an entirely new system to mount on destroyers and cruisers, then the need is probably great enough to warrant either reactivating some cruisers or keeping the battleships in reserve longer.

The problem with keeping the CAGs around was that they were pretty worn out by the time they were retired. The Navy ran those ships hard. The 8" ships in the reserve fleet were probably in better condition.

More Brooke Class instead of the Knox may be a good thing, but they were very limited in the air defense role. They had a single arm launcher and only 16 Tartar missiles. Of course, that's still better than the Knox and their lack of any kind of anti air weapon other than close range, self defense systems. Just going to a full gas turbine may be the answer, honestly. On the other hand, having all those steam powered ships makes it pretty simple to reactivate the older BBs and CAs should they be needed. That's probably not a deciding factor, but it wouldn't surprise me if that thought at least crossed the Navy's mind.

DASH is good to have, but it's really no match for a LAMPS helo. Minimal weapon and sensor load, short range. It's better than not having anything, but a LAMPS pretty much beats the brakes off of it.
 

CV12Hornet

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I'd say what a Brooke brings to the table over a Knox isn't really all that important. As we can see in the fleet plan I posted, the US Navy weighed ASW ocean escorts more than the Ocean Picket type the Brookes fall under. And with the Sumner and Gearing classes starting to age out it's definitely an impending hole in the force structure.
 

Moose

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In 1959 BuShips proposed a multiple-tier Typhon fleet and, with greater forethought than is normally seen, included alternative schemes for the proposed combatants to be completed without Typhon if it wasn't ready. The death of Typhon and the issues with SCANFAR aren't easily waved away, but a 1960s USN with active large-hull CG, DLG, and/or DDG production lines would be pretty interesting regardless. Especially if they were built light in the non-Typhon configurations and thus had abundant growth margin.
 

Foo Fighter

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I cannot understand the cessation of development in conventional subs. The Baltic and eastern Atlantic have choke points that have long been used in exercises against a theoretical surge of Soviet nuclear and conventional subs.
 

Dilandu

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Obviously, a single Mk71 mount well require less crew than an entire cruiser or battleship will. But the point I was making was, if there is a big enough need for NGFS that the Navy is developing an entirely new system to mount on destroyers and cruisers, then the need is probably great enough to warrant either reactivating some cruisers or keeping the battleships in reserve longer.

The problem with keeping the CAGs around was that they were pretty worn out by the time they were retired. The Navy ran those ships hard. The 8" ships in the reserve fleet were probably in better condition.
But they would not be readily available. It took time to pull ship out of mothball. Also, those old 8-inch cruisers were not suited for modern warfare; they were near-defenselsss against air or missile attacks. I.e.even after being recommissioned, they would still need to be either refitted with new sensors, commsystems and ECM's, or their protection would require disproportionally big efforts.

The Mk-71 gun main advantage was, that it could be installed on existing ships - destroyers and missile cruisers - and thus be "on hands" anywhere and anytime it needed. US big destroyers and missile cruisers were everywhere;if each of them have one 5-inch turret replaced with 8-inch, the gun support would be available everywhere it may be required.
 

CV12Hornet

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I cannot understand the cessation of development in conventional subs. The Baltic and eastern Atlantic have choke points that have long been used in exercises against a theoretical surge of Soviet nuclear and conventional subs.
The problem is that on a tactical level nuclear subs are so vastly superior it's not even funny. There's no contest whatsoever, especially on 1960s tech.

If you want a good hunter-killer sub, and you can afford it, you buy nuclear. Period.
 

Foo Fighter

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Thank you, Sir. I forgot we were talkling about old tech rather than current. Must keep up.
 

Dilandu

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I cannot understand the cessation of development in conventional subs. The Baltic and eastern Atlantic have choke points that have long been used in exercises against a theoretical surge of Soviet nuclear and conventional subs.

Well, the main problem with conventional subs for USN was, that their European and Asiatic allies have quite a lot of them anyway.

By 1980, Western Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway together have about 58 conventional submarines on Baltic and North Sea.

France, Italy and Spain have 43 submarines on Mediterranean.

Japan and Australia have 18 submarines on the Pacific.

To put it simply, another bunch of conventional subs, this time - American, would add little to already formidable European submarine navies, and only cause additional problems with organization and identification, as well as logistic ones. Since American submarines would be required to operate in European waters in case of the war, they would require... excessive range, which would made them bigger and less suitable for coastal seas operations. Those submarines would also be rather poor hunter-killers, since they were slow, and American navy did not have such cool missile and submarine rocket toys as Soviet ones (one of the reason USSR liked long-range ASW rockets on conventional submarines - they gave a good chance to knock out a fleeing nuclear one). Basically, they would be strange ships with no explicit purpose.

So, just not worth it.
 

Foo Fighter

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Thank you, Sir. Got it.
 

James1978

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Those submarines would also be rather poor hunter-killers, since they were slow, and American navy did not have such cool missile and submarine rocket toys as Soviet ones (one of the reason USSR liked long-range ASW rockets on conventional submarines - they gave a good chance to knock out a fleeing nuclear one). Basically, they would be strange ships with no explicit purpose.
Does the UUM-44 SUBROC not count?
 

isayyo2

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Had an interesting talk with a Capt. James Patton about "Diesel Boats Forever" and the benefits of the Barbel class. His best attribute to the diesel subs was "attritable" as having a lot of good boats on patrol was better than having only some of the best out there. A squadron or more of SS's based out of Yokosuka and Sasebo would have been a welcomed addition for PACFLT.
Some other economical benefits were:
1. Did not need the Blue/Gold crew scheme
2. Smaller crews that did not require Nuke School training
3. Could be built in a variety of yards that aren't Electric Boat or Newport News
4. The 1000ft + test-depth of the SSNs are not regularly used outside of the Atlantic
5. Development costs could be offset by export sales
Alas, Rickover had full control of the subs in the Navy and on the Hill as well as his acolytes spreading throughout the Navy as each decade passed. Ending up on a diesel boat was essentially a death sentence for anyone hoping to reach Flag and get that shiny star.
He also mentioned the Mk71 had more issues than is commonly known and placed the blame on Dahlgren themselves.
 
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royabulgaf

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Remember the subs are diesel ELECTRIC. How much noise does a flashlight make? With a SSN you all sorts of pumps and pipes and coolers and whatnot gurgling away to prevent another K 19. With improvements in battery technology and quieter charging engines (turbine?] you can have a very capable sub at a reasonable price.
 

isayyo2

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Remember the subs are diesel ELECTRIC. How much noise does a flashlight make? With a SSN you all sorts of pumps and pipes and coolers and whatnot gurgling away to prevent another K 19. With improvements in battery technology and quieter charging engines (turbine?] you can have a very capable sub at a reasonable price.
And thankfully we're finally now moving towards Nuclear-Electric drive for Columbia and the SSNX follow on. Some of the more "exotic" reactor designs like molten salt have the potential to run solely on natural circulation, could be very quiet on a sub.
 
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