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Subject: U.S. Navy vs. the Rest of the World rss

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Drew Heath
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My brother and I got into a lighthearted debate during the U.S. Presidential Debate over the outcome to the following hypothetical scenario:

* hypothetical bathtub ocean (meaning calm, endlessly large, no land-based forces involved, whatever)
* entire current U.S. Navy at full strength on the left
* combined forces of all other nations' navies on the right
* only conventional weapons allowed (no nuclear warheads)
* battle to the death
...
who wins?

I was arguing, based on defense spending and carrier strike groups, that the U.S. would probably be able to battle to a tie if not outright win.

But most of you know a lot more about naval wargaming than me!

Bonus points if anyone knows of a wargame (board or PC) that allows such fanciful battles to be created?
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J.L. Robert
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The only significant threat to the USN would be the numerous submarines in the Pacific Rim. However, since a large majority of them are diesel powered, that threat would be minimal.

Once that is contained, the ridiculously-huge USN should be able to dominate the rest of the seas. The Russian Navy is about the closest on a technology level, but is only about 1/4 the size.

Plus, the USN has a decided numerical superiority in capital ships compared to the rest of the world.
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Jeremy Fridy
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Well, it's hard to even factor in stuff, because the US Navy has ships NO ONE else has equivalents to, particularly US supercarriers. The US has all 10 that currently exist, and the only nations building them are British (2 in the works, both about 30% smaller,) and France (1 in the works, about 50% smaller.) Combine that with the staggering air power (the US Navy is the 2nd largest Air Force on Earth, after the US Air Force,) and you have the enemy navy trying to weather the US until the US runs out of missiles, and then trying to grind them down.

What nations that want to challenge US naval power do it regionally, hoping to make the US worry about losses from land based defenses on the coast, such as air power and missiles.
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Rob Arcangeli
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Easy, the British win.

There is even a song about it.
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carl huber
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Article on Global Asia site "When Comparing Navies, Measure Strength, Not Size" by James R. Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara is worth reading.

Doesn't quite answer the "hypothetical bathtub ocean" scenario, but has some interesting comparisons between the US Navy and China's People’s Liberation Army Navy.
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Jan van der Laan
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Freitag wrote:
Well, it's hard to even factor in stuff, because the US Navy has ships NO ONE else has equivalents to, particularly US supercarriers. The US has all 10 that currently exist, and the only nations building them are British (2 in the works, both about 30% smaller,) and France (1 in the works, about 50% smaller.) Combine that with the staggering air power (the US Navy is the 2nd largest Air Force on Earth, after the US Air Force,) and you have the enemy navy trying to weather the US until the US runs out of missiles, and then trying to grind them down.

What nations that want to challenge US naval power do it regionally, hoping to make the US worry about losses from land based defenses on the coast, such as air power and missiles.
As far as we Europeans know the US military apparatus is mainly funded (financially and technically) by the supposed "opponents" in this imaginary war scenario. By withdrawing their support countries like China and Japan are able to paralize the US Navy or at least hamper their military might. During the actions of the multi-national/US troops against Irak in the second Gulf War the US were able to maintain their pressure on Irak thanks to international (especially Japanese) help otherwise the US had never been able to deploy enough militay force for an ongoing battle lasting longer than a few weeks. So on the short run the US Navy makes a chance, on the long rong I probably would put my money on "the rest of the world"....
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Steve Arthur
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For what it's worth the US amphibious warfare fleet ALONE is larger than most other navies...for power projection I don't think anything else comes close...always excepting nuclear weapons of course
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Pete Belli
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It wouldn't be a "battle to the death" for political reasons.

Quote:
...nations that want to challenge US naval power do it regionally, hoping to make the US worry about losses from land based defenses on the coast, such as air power and missiles.


Exactly right.

Depending on the intestinal fortitude of the man (or woman) in the White House the loss of one carrier along with hundreds of sailors could result in a hasty withdrawal and a quick attempt to save face with a demonstration of "more flexibility" at the UN.
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Colin Parkin
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wetwebwork wrote:
Article on Global Asia site "When Comparing Navies, Measure Strength, Not Size" by James R. Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara is worth reading.

Doesn't quite answer the "hypothetical bathtub ocean" scenario, but has some interesting comparisons between the US Navy and China's People’s Liberation Army Navy.


An interesting article. As the national economies of the USA and other western powers decline in comparison to the likes of China and India it will be interesting to see how long the US can maintain the will or indeed the ability to pay for naval forces able to dominate globally, or whther economics will dictate a much more selective prioritisation of available (and declining) naval resources.
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jumbit
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The question, though hypothetical, is invalid. War is politics by other means, and without politics there is no war. You're a wargamer, eh? Set up a game and test it out. Let us know how it turns out. With photos. Now THAT'S a post.

Otherwise this is just political flamebait that doesn't belong here. We already got one poster above going political, and it's just going to get worse.
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Leo Zappa
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In terms of a straight up, navy fight in a 'bath tub' environment, it wouldn't be close - the US Navy's fully deployed might would wipe out the 'rest of the world' fleet fairly handily. It's airpower and submarine force would dominate the battlespace, and its enormous fleet of Aegis-equipped cruisers and destroyers would likely ensure that the carriers remained intact. Of course, as some have pointed out, things get a bit dicier when the fleet has to operate close to hostile land, but given the scenario the OP presented, it wouldn't be a contest.

Also - I don't think the political component has a place in this discussion, since the OP made it clear this is just a purely theoretical 'military-only' comparison. I'd say assume for the purposes of this thread that both the US and the 'rest of the world' are fully committed to an all-out naval war to the death!

As for a game or set of games to depict this, it's tough. The closest thing would be the old Victory Games "Fleet" series. However, those games (5 in total) depict Cold War fleets, and the world's fleets have changed since then (if anything, the US has gotten more dominant, with the demise of the vast majority of the old Soviet fleet). I suppose Dan Verssen's "Modern Naval Battles - Global Warfare" might be the way to go now, but you'd need multiple copies of the game because the entire fleets of the world are not included in a single box - only representative vessels from various nations.
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Pete Belli
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OK, ignore all political factors (How that can be done is a mystery...) and look at the pattern of historical results with coalition fleets in action. It ain't good. Trafalgar, Java Sea, etc.

To paraphrase Napoleon, one bad admiral is better than two good admirals.

Therefore, even the Chinese fleet (to use one example) would have an advantage against a group of regional powers attempting to form a coalition fleet, even if that coalition fleet had superior numbers or equipment.
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Bill Eldard
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Arcangeli wrote:
Easy, the British win.

There is even a song about it.


I remember it from the days of my misspent youth.

"We all live in a yellow submarine,

A yellow submarine,

A yellow submarine
. . . . "
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Glenn Martin
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Hmmm Interesting idea. The large US navy VS a somewhat smaller conventional force. But wait! You said ALL the worlds naval forces. So there would be tens of thousands motor boats packed with explosives. So many! Could they all be targeted and taken out before they start taking out destroyers and cruisers?
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Bill Eldard
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pete belli wrote:
OK, ignore all political factors (How that can be done is a mystery...) and look at the pattern of historical results with coalition fleets in action. It ain't good. Trafalgar, Java Sea, etc.

To paraphrase Napoleon, one bad admiral is better than two good admirals.

Therefore, even the Chinese fleet (to use one example) would have an advantage against a group of regional powers attempting to form a coalition fleet, even if that coalition fleet had superior numbers or equipment.


True.

Modern naval open ocean ("blue water") warfare involves precision-guided munitions fired at targets often beyond the range of shipborne sensors. Battlespace awareness is attained by linking the data of surface, subsurface, aerial, and space platforms into what military folks refer to as the Common Operating Picture, or COP. Naturally, this means networking compatible data systems which can be defended against cyber-attacks.

The COP allows commanders to optimize their view of the battlespace when making decisions. That knowledge accelerates their OODA Loop (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) so that they are cycling through faster than the enemies are -- this is known as "Getting inside the enemy's OODA Loop" -- rendering the enemies' operations ineffective.

Without common data systems, let alone a COP, coalition forces will be incapable of conducting operations at the same battle tempo as the USN. Most likely, they will separate from each other to avoid friendly-fire mishaps, and attack as independent task forces.

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Simon
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Its difficult to see any result other than a USN win under the definition of the scenario. The only possibility, is if the European and Russian nuclear and attack subs managed to cause a serious upset.

The thing is, i don't think theres been serious post WWII naval conflict other than possibly the Falklands war, and that ended up being more Navy vs Air Force, so its hard to tell the exact out come. You only need one sub to get through your defenses and things could get bad fast.
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Bill Eldard
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Jan van der Laan wrote:
As far as we Europeans know the US military apparatus is mainly funded (financially and technically) by the supposed "opponents" in this imaginary war scenario. By withdrawing their support countries like China and Japan are able to paralize the US Navy or at least hamper their military might.


??? How do you figure that? In the scenario postulated, the USN and the ROTW (rest of the world) are engaged in a war at sea. The USN isn't reliant on either China or Japan for money or technology. In fact, the best surface combatants in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force are AEGIS ships -- American technology.

Jan van der Laan wrote:
During the actions of the multi-national/US troops against Irak in the second Gulf War the US were able to maintain their pressure on Irak thanks to international (especially Japanese) help otherwise the US had never been able to deploy enough militay force for an ongoing battle lasting longer than a few weeks. So on the short run the US Navy makes a chance, on the long rong I probably would put my money on "the rest of the world"....


???? If you are referring to sealift for logistics, the US certainly relies on commercial carriers, just as the Allies did in World War Two. The big difference between then and now is that American-flagged merchant shipping today miniscule compared to the Forties.

But in terms of naval logistics ships for replenishing warships at sea, no one has the capacity that the USN has. In addition to a handful of ships in the USN proper, they have many ships in the Military Sealift Command; these ships are crewed by civilians vice sailors, and are designated USNS (United States Naval Ship) vice USS. Mainly due to the fact that most navies do not operated far from homewaters, they return to port to take on logistics.
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Rainer Kraft
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Some of the sneaky European hydrogen-cell subs and enough of the US supercarriers go glug-glug. The small carrier force of the rest of the world can then go mopping up.
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Bill Eldard
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Manimal wrote:
Some of the sneaky European hydrogen-cell subs and enough of the US supercarriers go glug-glug. The small carrier force of the rest of the world can then go mopping up.


Hydrogen-cell subs, and for that matter, all submarines, are potentially the biggest problem for both sides, and the best platform to use against a sub is another sub. The dozens of USN SSNs would be hunting for ROTW subs and vice versa.

But beyond the subs themselves are their weapons. Most torpedoes require the shooter get to within close tactical range, whereas SSMs like Harpoon allow the shooter to stand off at safer range.
 
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Kevin Goodman
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fluffyevil wrote:
So there would be tens of thousands motor boats packed with explosives. So many!


I totally agree here. This is one reason for the development of the LCS class of warships, which among other things, is a giant speedboat. Consider also that the US armed forces spend an enormous amount of their resources on the political side of war (including safety of their soldiers, collateral damage avoidance, etc.) A civilized approach to be sure, however, a nation that culturally has a different expectation of acceptable risk or for which public opinion isn't really a factor, can achieve a much lower $/kill ratio.

That said, if the US Navy can draw their opponent into blue water they'll be much more in their traditional element. Even so, a NATO exercise Ocean Venture, showed that while a carrier battle group is powerful, it is not infallible:

wrote:
During the exercise, a Canadian submarine slipped quietly through a carrier's destroyer screen, and conducted a devastating simulated torpedo attack on the ship. The submarine was never detected, and when the exercise umpire, a U.S. Navy officer, pronounced the carrier dead, his official report was promptly stamped classified to minimize the potential fallout. Unfortunately, a Canadian submariner leaked the story to a local newspaper, and indicated that this successful Canadian attack on an American supercarrier was by no means an isolated incident. This news caused quite a stir in Congress, and the U.S. Navy had a lot of explaining to do. Why indeed had a small, 1960s-vintage diesel submarine of the under-funded Canadian Navy been able to defeat one of America s most powerful and expensive warships, and with such apparent ease?

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Wendell
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The real winner would be shipyards and defense contractors...
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Isaac Citrom
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ZyronEnder wrote:
fluffyevil wrote:
So there would be tens of thousands motor boats packed with explosives. So many!


I totally agree here. This is one reason for the development of the LCS class of warships, which among other things, is a giant speedboat. Consider also that the US armed forces spend an enormous amount of their resources on the political side of war (including safety of their soldiers, collateral damage avoidance, etc.) A civilized approach to be sure, however, a nation that culturally has a different expectation of acceptable risk or for which public opinion isn't really a factor, can achieve a much lower $/kill ratio.

That said, if the US Navy can draw their opponent into blue water they'll be much more in their traditional element. Even so, a NATO exercise Ocean Venture, showed that while a carrier battle group is powerful, it is not infallible:

wrote:
During the exercise, a Canadian submarine slipped quietly through a carrier's destroyer screen, and conducted a devastating simulated torpedo attack on the ship. The submarine was never detected, and when the exercise umpire, a U.S. Navy officer, pronounced the carrier dead, his official report was promptly stamped classified to minimize the potential fallout. Unfortunately, a Canadian submariner leaked the story to a local newspaper, and indicated that this successful Canadian attack on an American supercarrier was by no means an isolated incident. This news caused quite a stir in Congress, and the U.S. Navy had a lot of explaining to do. Why indeed had a small, 1960s-vintage diesel submarine of the under-funded Canadian Navy been able to defeat one of America s most powerful and expensive warships, and with such apparent ease?



It wasn't so easy! Many Bothans died acquiring not only the plans to the USN's supercarriers but also the code (though an older one) to get through the USN's sensornet.
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Bill Eldard
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ZyronEnder wrote:
. . . Consider also that the US armed forces spend an enormous amount of their resources on the political side of war (including safety of their soldiers, collateral damage avoidance, etc.) A civilized approach to be sure, however, a nation that culturally has a different expectation of acceptable risk or for which public opinion isn't really a factor, can achieve a much lower $/kill ratio. . .


So, Kevin, are you saying that the USN is more risk-averse than the ROTW navies, and therefore at a bit of a disadvantage there?

ZyronEnder wrote:
That said, if the US Navy can draw their opponent into blue water they'll be much more in their traditional element. Even so, a NATO exercise Ocean Venture, showed that while a carrier battle group is powerful, it is not infallible:


The USN does have a problem with defending carriers. The CVNs require a host of escorts and ASW assets to support it. If the ROTW navies can get subs in for shots (and it will take more than one hit to sink a CVN), the USN has a problem.

wrote:
During the exercise, a Canadian submarine slipped quietly through a carrier's destroyer screen, and conducted a devastating simulated torpedo attack on the ship. The submarine was never detected, and when the exercise umpire, a U.S. Navy officer, pronounced the carrier dead, his official report was promptly stamped classified to minimize the potential fallout. Unfortunately, a Canadian submariner leaked the story to a local newspaper, and indicated that this successful Canadian attack on an American supercarrier was by no means an isolated incident. This news caused quite a stir in Congress, and the U.S. Navy had a lot of explaining to do. Why indeed had a small, 1960s-vintage diesel submarine of the under-funded Canadian Navy been able to defeat one of America s most powerful and expensive warships, and with such apparent ease?


USN SSNs sneak up on CVNs all the time. In exercises, the SSNs traditionally fire a green flare to let everyone know they've succeeded (Well, at least they did 30 years ago; I don't know if they still do). That's why the sub v. sub hunting would be a critical aspect of the scenario.
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Isaac Citrom
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Seriously, I think it could go either way:

Does the US Navy organically have the capacity to shoot down satellites? If so, I should think the first step would be to blind the ROTW's fleets.

Air power more than anything else: The above missions would easily be protected by the USN's air power.

Then the USN could project its sensors well over the horizon with E2C Hawkeyes, locating the enemy. On the other hand, the ROTW, now blinded, cannot.

With the USN's GPS system still intact, it could take out ships at very long range via cruise and other anti-ship missiles.

Strike force after strike force could be launched by the USN, while not having to worry very much at all about the same.

Indeed, I'm guessing there would be a distinct submarine battle going on simultaneously. Can the ROTW's submarines get in enough hits? Can the USN sink the ROTW's subs fast enough?

If the USN is found at all, then can she target and handle fast enough wave after wave of all kinds of targets, namely the aforementioned swarms of motor boats. It could well be that the USN will be overwhelmed by numbers and/or just run out of ordinance.


So, I think the USN outclasses the ROTW and ought to win. Then again, she might just be overwhelmed if the ROTW fleet can get close enough. I think this would make for an excellent wargame, drawing in every single facet of modern naval combat.
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Luke Morris
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wifwendell wrote:
The real winner would be shipyards and defense contractors...



The real winner would be bathtub manufacturers.
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