Forbes suggests that the Chinese are planning to use some of their new ships to shoulder US ships.
Those flat sides aren’t an aesthetic choice, according to Jerry Hendrix, an American naval expert and author of the new book To Provide and Maintain a Navy. They’re for what sailors calls “shouldering.” That is, muscling into a rival ship and forcing it to change course.
Given that the Coast Guard is sending ships into the Western Pacific and participating in Freedom of Navigation Exercises, this threat is significant for us.
I have a lot of respect for Jerry Hendrix. I bought his book. But first, of course, most ships incorporate flat sides over a significant length simply because it is the cheapest construction method. Our National Security Cutters may have stealth incorporated in their design, but look at the OPCs.
The article specifically calls out two classes of Chinese ships as likely to be used for shouldering, the Type 055, which is a cruiser or large destroyer, and the “Chinese coast guard’s patrol ship Haixun.”
I certainly would not dispute the Chinese’s propensity for employing shouldering or even ramming. They have employed these techniques in enforcing their claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea, as identified by their still ill defined “nine dash line,” but I think they have called out the wrong ships.
Haixun is not part of China Coast Guard, it is a unit of the China Maritime Safety Administration which is their SAR agency. This agency has not been used for law enforcement.
The Type 055 is a very well equipped combatant and probably one of the most expensive units in the Chinese Navy. Her hull is not unusual and not a significant departure from that of the preceding Type 052D class. Their sides are not particularly flat. They are not units the Chinese would risk damaging.Zhaotou class cutter Haijing 2901. Photo from http://defence-blog.com/news/photos-charge-of-the-10000-ton-china-coast-guard-cutter.html
Any of the China Coast Guard units could be used for shouldering or even ramming, but their heavy weights are two ships of the Zhaotou class, Haijing 2901 and Haijing 3901. These are the world’s largest Cutters and probably over 12,000 tons full load–about three times the size of the National Security Cutters. They are also capable of 25 knots.
The post suggests that the Mumford Point class T-ESDs and ESBs, based on a double hull tanker design would be an appropriate counter, but while they are large (60,000 tons and 785 ft (239 m) long), they are also slow (15 knots), not very powerful for their size (24 MW or about 32,000 HP), and not very maneuverable.
If we had more icebreakers, we might want to send one of them. We know what can happen when a lightly built ship plays bumper boats with an ice class vessel. On the other hand, the Chinese have started building icebreakers and ice strengthened merchant vessels, so we might want to keep that in mind.
Maybe the Navy has another reason to consider ice-strengthened ships.
Apparently I overstated when I said the China Maritime Safety Administration did not do law enforcement. This is a description of their law enforcement responsibilities. http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/defence-news/2021/january/9563-china-to-commission-this-year-first-local-made-10-000-ton-class-law-enforcement-and-maritime-patrol-vessel.html
“The Maritime Safety Administration of the People’s Republic of China is a government agency that administers all matters related to maritime and shipping safety, including the supervision of maritime traffic safety and security, prevention of pollution from ships, inspection of ships and offshore facilities, navigational safety measures (including Search and Rescue, Aids to Navigation and the GMDSS), administrative management of port operations, and law enforcement on matters of maritime safety law. It was also responsible for marine accident investigation.”
Just one more reason to have a snap weapon that can make a hole below the water line.
Chuck, I agree with most of your points actually. Since you read the book you know I raised the shouldering potential in it and my point is the longer hull forms and larger displacements are going to put us at a disadvantage. My point to Dave was the only thing we had in the inventory big enough to “shoulder back” was the MLPs, and I agree they ain’t optimal.
@Jerry, thanks for the clarification. Its a real potential threat and the Chinese have a lot of options.
I think small above-deck VLS like the JQL/JAGM, Griffin ATGM, or Longbow Hellfire modules could add some much-needed punch to the OPVs and NSCs to keep bullying ships at a distance. Having deck pillboxes of 24-36 ATGMs would make any adversary wary of receiving at least some damage depending on the warhead type. Most ATGMs have EFPs or dual-tandem charge warheads to penetrate through armor. The punch may not be that great, but any ship hit would pass along the message. The NSCs and OPCs seem so anemic in organic firepower without some self-protective close-in guided missile.
There is a very good rolling debate on USNI News Frigate post about gun caliber size.
The new ULWT torpedo maybe?
Constantly surprised how ‘ramming’ is forgotten.
I once posted a picture and base spec of a Russian ship with ice strengthening on Think Defence. And it took about 5 minutes before one of the Brains’ Trust there said ice isn’t a problem for us here in the UK.