SSN vs CV

uk 75

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In 1966 faced with a collapsing economy the UK made the choice to give up its aircraft carriers in order to pay for its force of nuclear submarines.
I love aircraft carriers as impressive looking ships but if you want to despatch or deter any enemy fleet far from your own country, the SSN has proven itself to be an effective tool.
Faced with an opponent seeking to use its Navy to intimidate or invade one of your allies, sending an aircraft carrier looks impressive on CNN. But if you want to stop them, preferably without even firing a shot, the SSN is the way to go.
And yes I would have happily traded the two RN carriers for a fully functioning force of ten Astutes.
 

Dilandu

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to intimidate or invade one of your allies,
Er? Intimidate or invade one of your ALLIES? With such friends, who need enemies?...

But if you want to stop them, preferably without even firing a shot, the SSN is the way to go.
Problem is, that nuclear submarines could not perform a number of vital functions - like protecting convoys in Atlantic. UK could have the best submarine fleet ever, but all those boats together could not do a thing versus Tu-16 launching missiles against convoys...
 

Hood

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Do we need to rehash these arguments?
On Facebook 90% of people would reply "carriers are obsolete sitting ducks".
Well maybe, but carriers are floating airfields no more no less, you want local flexible offensive and defensive power then you need airpower and since seaplanes and flying boats died out 70 years ago you need carriers unless you happen to have friendly land bases nearby.
Submarines are good at sinking things, that's what submarines do. The RN SSN concept was a super-ASW weapon, big sonar ears and able to swat out those rattly old Sov tubs before they got too close (well until stuff like the Oscars came along).
Sure Argentina fretted about SSNs but they had a rag tag collection of 50s and 60s castoffs for ASW, if they a few P-3s and ASROC-equipped frigates they might have felt more secure. They might have chanced the Type 209s to try and hunt down the SSNs, though that could have got messy as there window of opportunity would have been small.

We know Conqueror topped her career by sailing underneath Kiev and taking photos of her sonar domes and snipping off Soviet towed arrays. By that token the USSR should have been crapping itself at the very thought of SSNs lurking around despite the oodles of ASW platforms and systems it had. But then the Conqueror wasn't firing off torpedoes at the Kiev, and nothing is more likely to advertise your position than the noise of a couple of Spearfish hurtling towards the enemy at 40+ knots. Belgrano could do sod all in return, the Soviet Fleet could pepper the area with ASW ordnance from rockets to torpedoes to instant boiling water. So yes SSNs are powerful but they have limits just like any weapons system.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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Do we need to rehash these arguments?
Yes, probably continually for as long as there are navies. As to the question in question, a question. With the likes of VPT, when does a SSN become a de facto SSGN? SSGN vs CV is a far more direct comparison. Both are capable of ASW, ASuW, ISR and land-attack missions. While it may be difficult for an Ohio SSGN to perform a Deny Flight style operation, the sheer lethality of triple-digits Tomahawks can't really be sneezed at either.
 

muttly

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You need many different types of ships and subs to take full advantage of
military use. Just one kind leaves you venerable . The argument of which is
better is apples to oranges.
 

uk 75

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The problem for Britain and France is that you wind up with too few carriers and SSNs, but also reduces numbers in the rest of the fleet.
France had to make do with fewer decent escorts than the RN to get a carrier and SSN force within budget and manpower restraints.
The same thing happened to the RN when it opted for the CVF instead of the Invincibles.
By contrast the Italian Navy has a much more balanced force.
 

helmutkohl

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The problem for Britain and France is that you wind up with too few carriers and SSNs, but also reduces numbers in the rest of the fleet.
France had to make do with fewer decent escorts than the RN to get a carrier and SSN force within budget and manpower restraints.
The same thing happened to the RN when it opted for the CVF instead of the Invincibles.
By contrast the Italian Navy has a much more balanced force.
if this is the case, do you think France or the UK for that matter, should have went some kind of hybrid route with their carriers.. sort of like what the Soviets did in having carrier aircraft with large missiles?
 

Foo Fighter

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This is essentially a circular discussion. According to Shirley, the best result is a balanced force of different assets. Subs, Carriers and other surface assets.
 

uk 75

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This is essentially a circular discussion. According to Shirley, the best result is a balanced force of different assets. Subs, Carriers and other surface assets.
Of course you are right but only the US and China have the luxury of enough money, people and industry to do all the assets properly. Even they find it difficult.
 

uk 75

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The problem for Britain and France is that you wind up with too few carriers and SSNs, but also reduces numbers in the rest of the fleet.
France had to make do with fewer decent escorts than the RN to get a carrier and SSN force within budget and manpower restraints.
The same thing happened to the RN when it opted for the CVF instead of the Invincibles.
By contrast the Italian Navy has a much more balanced force.
if this is the case, do you think France or the UK for that matter, should have went some kind of hybrid route with their carriers.. sort of like what the Soviets did in having carrier aircraft with large missiles?
The UK did do a study into replacing its carriers with long range missiles and for a time looked at the Otomat SSM as a possible weapon.
The Invincible class helicopter cruisers were originally designed to have 4 Exocet SSM forward and possibly Martel on their Seakings. The order for Sea Harriers and the fitting of a Ski Jump made the Exocets unnecessary and Sea Eagle was fiitted later to the planes.
Only the Soviet Navy developed a carrier with long range SSM.
 

uk 75

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If the UK economy and RN manpower were in better shape the force would look like this
5 SSBN
10 SSN with Tomahawk so SSGN
3 CV
12 DLG
18 FFG
8 FF (based on River class for MEZ work
4 LHD
4 Ro Ro
8 AOR

However, in the foreseeable future there will have to be trade offs.
 

zen

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Two thoughts

1. The SSN is the premier sea control system. No one risks it if they can avoid the danger of a torpedo coming up out of the deep.

But on land the SSN is.....at best an expensive missile platform.
And in the air the SSN is......useless.

So along as you want to sink other ships, submarines and sabotage enemy ports. Lay the odd mine or drop a few Special Forces chips off....it's an excellent system.
But get into Armoured formations?
Keep the skies clear of enemy aircraft?
Jam the enemies communications?
......not so useful.
In these matters the ability to port about airpower is more useful and that is done by a CV.

2. The threat of the SSN is both in the mind and yet invisible to the public.
Certainly military planners sweat buckets over the problem and vast resources are sucked away from conventional forces to achieve some sort of counter.
It is the classic invisible stick. Deadly but unnoticed until after it is used.
While the Carrier is....very visible.
Easier to find and a huge drain on resources to keep even moderately safe from enemy systems.
But the public see it all too clearly and recognise the messages it sends.
It is the classic big visible stick that occupies your mind, as it's waved around.....even by friendly states.

Obviously the ideal is to have both sticks. The one everyone sees and the one you keep hidden.

But to choose between them is to choose how you deal with the world.
For wielding the hidden stick reveals it's presence and then only by accident or by the deaths it has caused. It is all or nothing.
In peace it prowls around unseen, and unknown and day to day unrecognised as achieving anything. Even if that lack of war, or deaths is in fact it's highest achievement.

While the visible stick achieves all sorts of visible....if often ephemeral successes. A display here, a cruise there, an exercise with allies that reinforces the alliance....

Basically when at the international table do plonk your pistols on the tablecloth in front of everyone or do you keep one out in your hand cocked and ready to fire under the tablecloth?
 

uk 75

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Good summary.
I use the RAF as my visible force. Typhoons and Lightning IIs with Voyager tankers.
When I need to kill my enemy quickly and surely, the SSBN/SSN force is the way to go.
As I now have two carriers they add to the mobility of the RAF but these days they are nearly as vulnerable as a landbase defended by SAMs (ours or local).
If I had to give something up it would be the carriers rather than the RAF or subs.
I want Putin and Xi or Mr Evil to know that his navy will go to the bottom even without the US and that his capital goes if London goes. But in peacetime, sending Wingco Bigglesworth and his trustyTyphoon sends the quickest sigmal that Britain is in the game
(plus of course 'Her Majesty's Government never comments on the location operations of UK Special Forces")
 

zen

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The other feature carriers have is they exert pressure on potential providers of Host Nation Airfields.
It can be the issue that nearby states to somewhere you wish to conduct operations against, may impose too high a cost (including restrictions) on use of their facilities.
The very existence and potential presence of a carrier and it's airwing, not only threaten your operations without their consent. They can induce such HNA providers to lower the cost to you, in order to gain some semblance of influence on your actions.
Should HNA providers know you have no alternative, rhey will obviously exact the highest price on you.

Another factor is the location of HNA may be much further away from the area of operations. A carrier may be able to shorten the reaction (flight) times by getting closer. Such as with Lybia.
 

CV12Hornet

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As I now have two carriers they add to the mobility of the RAF but these days they are nearly as vulnerable as a landbase defended by SAMs (ours or local).
This is IMO not correct, even with the UK carrier force's current lack of a credible AEW asset. For one, the mobility of the carrier is itself a very serious impediment to a successful attack on it. For another, I'd rate most carrier strike groups as having a greater concentration of air defense assets than most airbases. Especially if they have a credible AEW asset they can put aloft.
 
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