Protecting the Gunner, Protects the Ship, Protects the Mission

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COLONIA, Yap (July 3, 2019) Mark VI patrol boats, assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 2, Coastal Riverine Group 1, Det. Guam, arrive to Colonia, Yap. CRG 1, Det. Guam’s visit to Yap, and engagement with the People of Federated States of Micronesia underscores the U.S. Navy’s commitment to partners in the region. The Mark VI patrol boat is an integral part of the expeditionary forces support to 7th Fleet, capability of supporting myriad of missions throughout the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released)

OK, This is a pet peeve of mine, but to me, not providing ballistic protection to the crews of deck mounted .50 calibers, that we make a target by putting them on exposed crew served mounts, is irresponsible and frankly, lazy and unconscionable. It is just not that hard.

We have talked about this before, here, and here.

If you look at the photo above, you will see simple flat plates outboard of the .50 caliber mounts. Now look at the photo below (you might need to click on the photo to enlarge it). There is no comparable protection. This does not have to be heavy if you think that might be a problem. Kevlar reinforced plastic can provide protection against machinegun fire.

The Coast Guard Cutter Lawrence Lawson crew mans the rail during sea trials off the coast of Miami, Florida, on Dec. 12, 2016.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Eric D. Woodall)

There is talk of escorting merchant ships through the Straits of Hormuz. I don’t know if our WPBs there have any form of ballistic protection, but the pictures I have seen in the past showed no such protection.

This is about more than simply protecting the gunner. The gunner protects the ship; the ship is needed for the mission. Take out the gunner, the ship is vulnerable. If the ship is vulnerable, it may not be able to complete the mission.

 

New Light Weight Armor–Army Times

The spheres inside the composite metal foam absorb the energy of a bullet. (North Carolina State University)

Army Times has a story about a new form of armor that might be use to provided repeated protection against small arms and fragments.

A 7.62mm rifle round will go through 3 inches of steel, so a catcher material is put behind the steel, he said. (This is probably incorrect. Probably should have been 0.3 inches–Chuck)

“When the bullet hits the ceramic, it stops and absorbs the energy,” Portanova said. “The problem is you can only shoot it once because then it’s cracked.”

Composite metal foam, however, has a bunch of hollow spheres inside. When struck with a bullet, the spheres are crushed, similar to bubble wrap.

Because of its resilience, you can hit it numerous times,  Portanova said.

Researchers at the directorate have helped make the material lighter and also stop bigger threats.

“It would only be slightly more expensive and will weight half or one-third of what they’re hanging on the side of a Humvee.”