Spruance-derived helicopter destroyer (DDH)

Triton

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For fiscal year 1978, Congress authorized the production of two additional Spruance-class destroyers, though they funded only one. These were intended to be built as helicopter destroyers (DDH), provided they would not cost more than a standard Spruance-class. Litton-Ingalls completed design work for DDH-997, which moved the helicopter deck aft, stretching the length of the hangar and displacing the Sea Sparrow launcher to the top of the hangar. The design would have accommodated two SH-3 Sea Kings or four smaller SH-60 Seahawk or SH-2 Seasprite helicopters. While the prospective DDH-997 probably wouldn't have cost much more to build than a standard Spruance-class, the detail design and engineering work required before the ship could be built would have been substantial (similar work for the Kidd-class cost $110.8 million). This raised the cost of the DDH substantially above a standard Spruance-class destroyer. While this additional cost might have been justified if the DDH was going to enter series production, it was difficult to justify for a single ship. Accordingly the Navy built USS Hayler (DD-997) to the same design as the rest of the class.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Hayler_%28DD-997%29
 

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Just call me Ray

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As depicted on Shipbucket:

USA%20DD-997%20Spruance_%20Hayler%201.gif
 

Triton

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From Layman and McLaughlin's The Hybrid Warship: The Amalgamation of Big Guns and Aircraft:

The air defence and ASW potential of VTOL aircraft has led to the consideration of a new type of vessel, the 'air-capable' warship. There are links between the modern air-capable ship and the flying-deck cruiser of the 1930s, both in form and intended functions; another interesting reflection of the 1930s is the fact that the air-capable ship has come at one point to the attention of the US Congress.

In the Fiscal Year 1978 shipbuilding programme, Congress approved the construction of a single air-capable Spruance (DD963) class destroyer. This would have involved simply increasing the size of the hangar and flight deck, allowing the ship to operate up to four helicopters, or, ultimately, some form of VTOL aircraft.

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The US Navy did not really want this ship, and in the end managed to get the funds redirected to a standard unit of the class. However, the basic idea has inspired several other projects.

One of the earliest of these designs to appear was the work of Dean A Rains and Donald B Adams, both of Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, for a 'flight deck DD 963'. This proposal resembled Croker's 'through-deck cruiser', and called for a complete revision of the Spruance design. The beam would be increased from 55ft to 68ft, the superstructure would be rearranged and a hangar built on the main deck; there would be a flight deck forward of the hangar, including a ski-jump in some versions of the design, and a landing deck abaft it. In no meaningful sense a hybrid, this was really an attempt at a small carrier.

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Another Spruance conversion design was worked out by the Grumman/Santa Fe Corporation and bears a strong resemblance to traditional hybrids. This scheme is one of several proposed 'mid-life' modernisations of the Spruance class ships. It shows the basic destroyer design from the bow to the after superstructure, but aft a large hangar has been built onto the hull, with a flight deck above. The resulting 9000 ton ship could embark as many as eight helicopters or four ASW VTOL aircraft; the sketches show an early version of the never-built Grumman turbofan Model 698 aircraft. This gull-winged aircraft featured swivelling engine nacelles attached to the fuselage and was intended to travel at up to 500 knots.

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Still another Spruance-based VTOL design bore a strong resemblance to HMS Invincible and was intended to provide the advantages of STOL operations. Proposed by Commander Ronald J Ghiradella, US Naval Reserve, it featured a basic Spruance hull lengthened to 606ft overall; the gas turbine uptakes are trunked to starboard where an island superstructure is located, making room for a 470ft flight deck angling to port. Forward, there are conventional weapons: a 5in gun and Harpoon anti-ship missile canisters, with 30mm guns sited on each quarter to provide close-in AA defence, and a Basic Point Defense Missile System is located aft of the island. There is a long, narrow lift (62ft by 26ft) aft of the island. Ghiradella foresees two hangar decks, the main one on the original main deck, with a lower hangar deck extending from the lift aft to the stern. In spite of the fact that the lift is too narrow to handle Harriers, Ghiradella gives the aircraft complement as twelve 'medium-sized' helicopters and four 'Harrier-type' aircraft.

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Source:
http://www.shipbucket.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2171
 

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blackstar

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Fascinating stuff. I never knew that these proposals existed.

I can see problems with all of these ideas. The "air capable destroyer" didn't really add much capability. Do an extra two helicopters really matter all that much? And it only makes sense if the plan was to put the ship into series production.

As for the more extensive redesigns, they too had a tough hill to climb. For starters, the Navy never wanted smaller carriers and the carrier mafia would have fought that like crazy. And if you want to support VTOL capability, the best way to do that was with the amphibious helicopter carriers and Harriers, just like the Navy did. Probably the only thing that could have made this concept viable would have been a VTOL anti-submarine aircraft. That would have allowed the small carriers to operate as sub hunters in the open ocean and might have made more sense.

There's a technical problem with the drawing for the "Invincible" version. Look at the side view. Note the level of the flight deck at the stern. Now note the level of the flight deck forward of the island. It's lower than the flight deck at the stern. Unless that flight deck angled downward, it wouldn't look like this. (Note also that on the side view there is what looks like a missile launcher forward of the island, but it's missing in the top view. Oops.) Also, note that the island is about the same width as the Sea Sparrow launcher, which is less than 12 feet wide. Can you really have an effective island only 12 feet wide?

Still, they're some neat ideas. Thank you for sharing.
 

Triton

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Wouldn't these ships be useful as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) escorts for Atlantic convoys to Europe against Soviet submarines? Wasn't the idea to free aircraft carrier battle groups from convoy duty in the event of war in Europe? A variation of the Sea Control Ship (SCS) idea?
 

blackstar

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Triton said:
Wouldn't these ships be useful as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) escorts for Atlantic convoys to Europe against Soviet submarines? Wasn't the idea to free aircraft carrier battle groups from convoy duty in the event of war in Europe? A variation of the Sea Control Ship (SCS) idea?

Yeah, but the Spruance and the Perry's already performed that duty. That's why I think that the bigger variation would really only have made sense if they had a V/STOL anti-submarine aircraft with longer legs than a helicopter.
 

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blackstar said:
Also, note that the island is about the same width as the Sea Sparrow launcher, which is less than 12 feet wide. Can you really have an effective island only 12 feet wide?

...and notice all the ducting for the gas turbine intakes and exhausts still have to go through them. It would be unworkable for that reason alone.
 

Pioneer

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Great subject!
A pity I think that some of these designs were not pursued

Can I deviate a little and ask where I can find more on these Croker 'Through-Deck' design's ???

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Pioneer
 

blackstar

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Looking at the other two designs, I cannot see how they would work either.

Look at the RainsAdamsSpruance design. Note that the forward exhaust is in front of the bridge. Now imagine the ship with a crosswind coming across the deck. Could that blow exhaust gasses straight at the bridge?

The GrummanSantaFeSpruance looks like it would also have problems. That's a lot of metal above the main deck, and a very high flight deck. It seems like it would roll a lot, and the flight deck, being so high, would move a lot in even moderate seas, making flight ops impossible.

Of all of these, the Air Capable Spruance looks like the only realistic design. If the Navy was going to build a bunch of them to increase the number of helicopters that each ship could bring to its duties, that might have made sense. But the Spruance was too small to get substantially more aircraft capabilities. You really needed a bigger ship, such as the proposed Sea Control Ship from earlier in the decade.
 

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If the USN decided it had wanted to operate more Sea Kings in support of the smaller LAMPS helos, constructing a few bigger-hangar destroyers after the JMSDF DDH types might have been reasonable, though obviously a luxury.
 

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Madurai said:
If the USN decided it had wanted to operate more Sea Kings in support of the smaller LAMPS helos, constructing a few bigger-hangar destroyers after the JMSDF DDH types might have been reasonable, though obviously a luxury.

It would be worthwhile comparing the capabilities of the Sea Kings and the LAMPS at that time. The Sea King was generally headed for retirement, and I suspect that they were not being upgraded as much as the LAMPS was.
 

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In 1978? That's another 15 years before they were fully replaced by the SH-60F.
 

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Madurai said:
In 1978? That's another 15 years before they were fully replaced by the SH-60F.

But they were not carrying the full electronics capabilities of the LAMPS. Could a Sea King do what a LAMPS was doing at the time?
 

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Given that LAMPS III didn't reach the fleet until 1985, Sea King was clearly the superior option compared to LAMPS I.
SH-3H had the same basic sonobouy setup as LAMPS I, plus a dipping sonar. By the mid-1980s, Sea King also had on-board rather than off-board sonobouy processing. Frankly, it was superior in many ways. It's just that the USN felt (for some reason) that it was too big for small ships.
 

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Okay.

The Navy did use the Sea King a lot for search and rescue during Vietnam, operating it from destroyers and frigates, although apparently not basing it on them. This might have convinced Navy brass that it was too big to operate from anything other than carriers.
 

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Can I find somewhere the full data (displacement, speed, dimensions, etc) on these proposals?
 

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