Is This the End of the Aircraft Carrier?

Ever since pilot Eugene Ely watched his biplane from the forecastle of the U.S. armored cruiser USS Birmingham in 1910 -- or certainly since the commissioning of the first Lexington-class aircraft carrier in 1927 -- it's been clear: Naval air power is essential to controlling the seas.


USS Birmingham (on right) fights fire on bomb-damaged USS Princeton. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Don't get me wrong. Battleships are great for pummeling surface targets. There just not that great at swiping armed airplanes out of the sky. Submarines have their uses, too. They're nigh on invisible, for one thing. They're good at killing surface ships, and at throwing missiles at faraway targets -- but not so good at delivering air superiority.

For that matter, even aircraft carriers have their vulnerabilities. (Just ask Admiral Yamamoto). They're perversely vulnerable to enemy aircraft. In the modern world, they're also at risk of being made extinct by new weapons such as China's DF-21D "carrier killer" cruise missile.

But what if we could build a warship that offers the best attributes of all three of these kinds of vessels, but avoids their more glaring defects? A vessel that glides beneath the waves, invisible to searching eyes, capable of taking on the adversaries both below water, above water, and way above water -- even unto the sky?

Casting call for mad military scientists
That's the question that DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, posed to its contractors earlier this week at a "Proposer's Day" event at Johns Hopkins University. Inviting contractors to submit ideas for a new underwater weapon system known as the "Hydra" that it's thinking about funding, DARPA has taken the first step toward building the world's first all-things-to-all-people warship.

A robotic underwater vessel, itself capable of launching robotic unmanned undersea vehicles, unmanned surface vehicles, and even unmanned aerial vehicles -- UUVs, USVs, and UAVs -- Hydra has the potential to revolutionize naval warfare in the 21st century and beyond. In a special notice to contractors published last month, DARPA described how it wants Hydra to "use modular payloads within a standardized enclosure to enable scalable, cost-effective deployment of rapid response assets."

Put more simply, what DARPA wants is an underwater aircraft carrier, a kind of mothership capable of deploying a robotic army (navy and air force) anywhere around the globe, anytime, and literally at the touch of a button.

If you can build it, DARPA will come (check in hand)
Who might build such a super vessel for DARPA? Key military shipbuilders Huntington Ingalls (NYSE: HII  ) and General Dynamics (NYSE: GD  ) are the most likely suspects, of course -- they being the two companies charged with building the nation's nuclear submarine fleet already.

But in the sphere of robotic submarines in particular, well, several companies have tried their hands at building UUVs of late. Oceaneering International (NYSE: OII  ) has been building remote-controlled submersibles for years. Smaller iRobot (NASDAQ: IRBT  ) , too, has been making headway underwater with sales of its Seaglider UUV. Probably the biggest player in this nascent space, however, is Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) , whose Echo Ranger robo-sub is already bigger than anything the competition has to offer -- and perhaps even big enough to begin scaling it up into a prototype of DARPA's Hydra.


Boeing Echo Ranger at night, Source: Boeing.

For the time being it's a work in progress, sure. But one day, one of these companies just might wind up building the future backbone of the U.S. Navy.

Boeing operates as a major player in a multitrillion-dollar defense market in which the opportunities and responsibilities are absolutely massive. However, emerging competitors and the company's execution problems have investors wondering whether Boeing will live up to its shareholder responsibilities. The Fool's premium research report on the company provides investors with the must-know issues surrounding Boeing. They'll be updating the report as key news hits, so don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.


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  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 11:14 AM, Riggerwo wrote:

    Right now the DOD is having problems paying me to work 5 days a week..Obama and Congress seem to want to destroy the military...so this is just "pie in the sky"...They just need to build a better anti aircraft carrier missile defense system. Now...I believe the manned fighter plane era is coming to an end...the most fragile part of these aircraft is the pilot....we need to develop fighter UAV's...cheap....fast and in great quantities. The USAF of course will dig its heels in..they do not deal well with change.......but they know they are on probably the last fighter project right now...in 20 years it will be replaced with a UAV.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 11:19 AM, N2Oblivion wrote:

    Didn't the Japanese try something similar in WWII. With small bombers aboard submarines designed to carry them? Another thing is all the unmanned vehicles are making things look like Armageddon is coming closer. Eventually only some secluded person will be alive and he is thinking it is only a video game he is playing when he wins, but eliminates the earth's population.

    Just my humble opinion.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 11:20 AM, retiredhm wrote:

    Battleship/Dreadnaught had its 100 year history from the Dreadnaugts by the British of the late 1880's, and the second class Battleship USS Maine 1985 to the last Battleship being decommissioned in 1992, USS Missouri. Aircraft carriers will be celebrating their one hundredth birthday in a couple of years, maybe it is their time also. Personally the Aircraft Carriers look impressive but there will be nothing like the USS Battleship, of any size from the USS Maine of 1895 to the USS Missouri, USS Texas, USS Massachusettes, USS Iowa, USS New Jersey, USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, or the madem USS Wisconsin. Would be honored if these ladies were resurrected to serve haze grey and underway.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 11:25 AM, trebzak wrote:

    Combat is a series of tactic, counter-tactic, and counter-counter-tactic. Modern US carriers are nowhere near as vulnerable as Yamamoto's. Modern US carriers don't sail alone, but in a carrier battle group (CVBG) comprising 20+ vessels, including submarines. Most of those additional vessels have protecting the carrier as part of their mission. I work for a military contractor. Modern weapon systems have a long design cycle and I guarantee you that the US military looks 2-to-3 decades ahead in planning the next level of offensive and defensive weapons. No one can predict all future enemy tactics; there will always be a need to respond quickly to unanticipated tactics. But on a carrier the greatest danger to the sailors is flight deck operations, not enemy attack.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 11:45 AM, Rotomoley wrote:

    Carriers are obsolete already. We're just now figuring it out. And that's good. The 21D is not a cruise missile it's a ballistic missile. So it goes into low orbit and comes straight down on the carrier at Mach 10. They launch in 3 clusters of 3. They penetrate the superstructure and detonate a very large conventional warhead. The idea is to stop carrier operation. Then submarines, cruise missiles, and planes pummel the carrier until it sinks. There's virtually no effective defense and likely won't be. Once perfected no carrier is going to be able to get closer than a few thousand miles from a target. Planes can not operate from there. Carrier defense hence is obsolete. A submarine based carrier, battleship, missile cruiser makes perfect sense, especially robotic. The evolution of war.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 11:46 AM, morningstar808 wrote:

    Sweet! Maybe I can show them the plans to my kevlar reinforced concrete submarines that go 3 times deeper and 5 times cheaper than the usual welded metal alloys! Deeper- cheaper!

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 11:53 AM, zorro6204 wrote:

    Probably defense systems can handle any new missile or torpedo that comes along, I assume they work every day on such matters. The real problem is the cost to maintain so many carriers on station with their battle groups, we're living in an age where we just can't afford it anymore.

    China is jonesing for a carrier, why don't we sell them a third of ours (the oldest say), lock stock and barrel. We can make money for years selling them parts and doing upkeep, all the infrastructure's in place. Beyond that point, our builders split it up, one carrier for them, two for us. Keeps the industry alive. And building out the support facilities will boost China's economy with some nice useless domestic spending.

    Sound crazy? Well, what are they going to do with them? Attack us? Their biggest customer and debtor? Right now China's military is very jingoistic and anti-American, that's dangerous. In reality we have nothing to fight over. If we form a military alliance with them, all that risk goes away. It could be the foundation for a new world order that keeps us in the game.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 11:58 AM, nalayelserp wrote:

    Robotics are key to effective and cost efficient limited engagements including small wars like Iraq and Afghanistan. They are rightfully being developed and implemented to replace men on land sea and air. Full scale World War as in a war with a superpower player like China would involve mutual destruction of electronics and satellite communications needed for robotics. A major natural disaster like a large asteroid anywhere on the planet also destroys electronics and robotic capabilities while such an event would also enable opportunists like the Iranians to try to fill voids for their aims. Both manned and unmanned capabilities are needed. The risks are to be balanced and funds appropriated accordingly. We may be near end times, so prepare.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 12:13 PM, Simonliao89 wrote:

    You stupids are wasting tax payer money. Underwater carrier with machines. The future will be on the water as today carriers with different technologies . Wake up and do not your nation into forever debts. There is always to build with better tech and excellent solution with cheap. I do have the future spec.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 12:14 PM, BorisBadenov1520 wrote:

    Another fool's errand and inexperienced warrior at work here. We are broke from shooting 16K USD smart shells at a single mortar round and 400M in cruise middles or a single precision bomb whose cost exceeds the entire town that the target is in. Stop the engineering madness and ignorant businessmen and corrupt Congress from wasting money on programs we do not want or need and civil servants that build nothing but PowerPoint and DAU certificates for courses long archaic.

    War at sea is unpredictable and man makes the carrier so...coming up and out of the water will be heard around the world and targeted I minutes. And under the water I can hear shrimp noise from my home. We are not talking about a submarine but something else that will prove a failurelikethe F-35, built for jobs and not combat.

    Lets get real...robotic bombers like the Navy now has to fly with manned attack air raft is the next step...but the cost of these new toys is more expensive than the planes we have.

    Concentrate on precision smart vehicles and weapons and get their cost down. We really need a new attack medium bomber as when the A-6 died so did our ability to fight the likes of China...Japan is not waiting as Obama insulted their intelligence and interests as did Russia and Canada...British and French have news carriers as now Japan does. Pander and ponder the carrier and listen to the jealous Air Force whiners but a carrier battle group with trained yet unpredictable flight leaders is still what the enemy fears the most. Those robots will be overwhelmed as China already has traitors feeding them data while you sorry liberals celebrate Snowden and Manning who should be shot along with every Wikileaks member for our security. In the real world you idiots intelligence keeps the peace and when it fails you have wars. For now the carrier and the Air Force hypersonic missile are what we should've funding...tanks that our Army and Egyptians are forced by Congress to buy are criminal a dude less.

    From a 25 year veteran from Nam thru Gulf WR I, cut listening to these techno dweebs and get control of Congress and the most dangerous President in US history. Given the choice between America and the Constitution, and you and your liberal despot you are forcing the officer corps to choose between federal vv. Individual freedom...and saving the nation from ruin from within and destruction from without.

    Going to war, then give me a place with a fast carrier battle group going I to harm's way full of fight for 90 days non-stop 24-7!

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 12:19 PM, nalayelserp wrote:

    Selling carriers is an idea to consider. We sell everything else to our allies. It would be cheap enough for our allies to pay us to refit a few retired oil burners and stock em up with older aircraft we don't need as we bring newer aircraft into service. Israel. Phillipines. Japan. South Korea. This requires us to be more of an even ally and not as control oriented with them all, cause they would have more independent capabilities. We could steep back more and let them handle their security costs and they would be a big help in a major engagement.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 12:27 PM, iabutt wrote:

    Like other businesses, arms industry also follows a business plan with timelines and thats very important factor to consider.As the global security scenario is quite stable for intermediate future hence no chances for unnecessary change in arms industry investments patterns are expected.So ,the future investment will be in tecnologically superior stand off weapons in combo from space to surface and subsurface.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 12:32 PM, nalayelserp wrote:

    Thank you all for your comments. Its how we learn and its quite interesting. Respect each other please. We're all in it together as Americans. Be safe.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 12:53 PM, shootz223red wrote:

    YEAH UH EVERYONE KNOWS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS ARE WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY. SUB WARFARE AND THE BB BATTLESHIPS HIPS LIKE THE USS NEW JERSEY ARE THE WAY TO GO. THESE NEW BATTLESHIPS ARE JUST PLAIN FOOCKIN GARBAGE!! MADE BY DWEEBS FOR DWEEBS.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 12:55 PM, shootz223red wrote:

    THE NEW AMERICAN BATTLESHIPS ARE KRAPOLA!!

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 1:24 PM, TMFDitty wrote:

    Give that man a cigar! Yes, N2Oblivion, all three Axis powers experimented with sub-borne seaplanes in WWII. Only the Japanese succeeded in making it work, building three such subs -- and getting two of them to sea.

    The Japanese also used submarines to refuel seaplanes, most notably at Midway.

    Right now, the Germans and the U.S. are the two nations known to be working on UAV-carrying sub concepts.

    --TMFDitty

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 1:29 PM, Ignorancisbliss wrote:

    Unfortunately, and keeping watchful eye, this may mean that in the upcoming months, Iran will announce the "development" of a similar weapon.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 1:31 PM, Sliide wrote:

    With the dawn of the UCAV the days of large surface aircraft carriers are coming to a close,

    Daisy Chaining unmanned RC130's and F18 Refuelers, much like what the Brits did in the Falklands to deliver a single bomb on to Port Stanley is the best defense against Carrier killing projectiles.

    So much distance can be made between the UCAV Mother Ship and an enemy that subsurface running is pointless. (UCAVs can operate for as long as their engine can stand. thus operations can be ongoing as long as their is fuel delivered.)

    A Study of the Naval losses in Falklands proves how vulnerable all navies are in a close in conflict, because the Air Defense Systems do not work all that well.

    Thus the above will be your new doctrine, because the F35 will cost so many lives being unsurvivable, the UCAV will be clamored for by the Mil. Establishment.

    Jets are their size mostly because of the human who must be in them. Submarines are their size because of all of the humans who must be in them, second only to the ICBM's they carry.

    Aircraft Carrier. Same.

    If arming and maintenance on UCAVs were handled by 2 internal Assembly lines of robots, well, I predict the ship will be headed to half its size, thus a smaller target. it will also be a stealth ship.

    Fast attack subs will become a Mother Sub with Operators of 2 packs of 5-7 UUAV carrying 4 torpedoes each. These manned craft would actually grow in size.

    Carrier is not done.

    Combat manned Carrier well, that is pretty much done.

    As for Wasp and America Class Carriers, they are going to be in for a drubbing, because they have to go in where the metal meets the meat.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 1:34 PM, BilFoxsoapbox wrote:

    Obama outsources NASA rockets to Russia. NASA is now a Muslim outreach organization. Obama has a feud with Putin. I wonder how America is going to get to the Int’l Space station now – walk? Obama hollows out military to make his radical left base happy. America runs up enormous borrowed debt to China. That interest payments fund China's military. Why is Putin smiling? Why are these little guys in Beijing smiling? They can't believe their good fortune to have this radical incompetent hack as the POTUS.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 1:50 PM, mike14706 wrote:

    There is nothing wrong with the aircraft carrier or the battleship. The battle ship like say the New Jersey is very hevily armored. They have lots of room they can haul a large number of Marines and could also haul V22 ospreys, and Harrier or the new Marine version of the F35. The ship can also carry the cruiise missels and other long range weapons. They sh`ould also be fitted with meadium and short range weapon to protect them from serface ships, submarines and patroll boats. The battle ships and the aircraft carriers need to have the klatest weapons to protect them from planes and subs.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 2:23 PM, WJP1940 wrote:

    The carrier is a very costly dinosaur. Its time has come and passed. They keep building them because the Navy brass has limited thinking.

    With the new Chinese missiles that any third world country can afford, the carrier is a sitting duck.

    The Navy could reach into the past to use the 1895-1905 designs of monitors combined with the new 100 mile range rail gun the Navy has developed to do more at far less risk and cost. The 95/05 Navy even designed a monitor that took on ballast water to lower its target profile.

    The Navy then had to do more with less. Our current Navy combined with ship building contractors only wants to build costly dinosaurs!

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 2:24 PM, Unamatrix wrote:

    What the DoD needs are real-world "Sky-Divers": the underwater sub-fighter jet combo warships from Gerry Anderson's 1970 TV series: U.F.O..

    Real-world versions of them would be perfect. The Navy should check them out.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 2:27 PM, SgtStedanko wrote:

    An Aircraft Carrier Filled with drones will not be obsolete in my opinion

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 3:53 PM, voiceinshadows wrote:

    I'm not sure where to start...First, we have no battleships, last one to see service was in the first gulf war, they are obsolete. Bombardment by sea has been replaced with cruise missiles and air strikes....Second, a submarine aircraft carrier? Really? They are worried about funding and they want to build something like that which is likely to be as expensive as a conventional carrier? And, guess what, subs already carry cruise missiles.... Third, comparing carrier defenses to a World War II scenario is laughable, early warning systems and modern countermeasures largely negate that threat. In the end do we need as many carriers? Probably not. Are drones the wave of the future? Yes they are. This is an absurd article written by someone who clearly has no idea how the modern Navy functions or even what kind of ships we have or their capabilities.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 4:08 PM, slimkona wrote:

    My father was aboard that ship or perhaps in the water already when that picture was taken and it brought tears to my eyes. From what I know, a single Japanese plane had dropped a bomb crippling the ship and killing some men aboard.. The decision was made to scuttle the carrier with the aid of the destroyer pictured. The men abandoned ship and waited hours to be plucked from the water. The Destroyer fired two torpedoes at the burning Prinston. One circling back towards the men in the water. The second sank the U.S.S. Prinston to the bottom of the sea. What a war...I cant imagine... Thanks Dad. I love you.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 4:56 PM, AlexzGreat wrote:

    Robotic warship - launching robotic drones?

    I can hear Skynet's voice in a foreign accent:

    "I'll be back" :-)

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 5:22 PM, rotorhead1871 wrote:

    the face of conflict is in constant change....but conflict will always exist. the USA has the foresight to see this and is asking the questions that will result in the best solution...the NAVY will play a huge part as the world is 75% water.....

    GO NAVY!!!

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 6:38 PM, krazor8 wrote:

    tbh this sounds like another 20 trillion in debt... smh

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 7:38 PM, philthymcnasty wrote:

    This is old news. I am surprised it took so long to get out. There are a lot of reasons for why the navy wants to abandon carriers. Here are just a few:

    Manpower: it is getting harder and harder to find qualified volunteers for the carriers. Some people like them, other sailors do not. I preferred the smaller ships when i was in because those had a lower draft, and had to refuel more often. this meant that i had better port visits(ho chi min city in 2005, and Cambodia in 2007)Carriers have more crew, and stay out longer, this makes for some unpleasant deployments when combined with navy rules.

    Size: they are too big. this makes them an easier target, and because of this, several ships have to deploy with them. The smaller ships have to act like "missile sponges" in case of conflict. Also a battle group can not deploy in secret, there is not element of surprise with a strike group.

    there are a lot more reasons why carriers are obsolete, and need to be replaced. But the biggest is that fewer civilians are killed in drone strikes then in conventional air strikes. Drones are safer for the non-combatant population, and therefore we have an ethical requirement to use them more often.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 7:41 PM, Dadw5boys wrote:

    hmm nah !!!!

    time, salt water and man made materials ?

    I see a lot of waste trying to make it work then years of problem solving only to end up with a carrier staffed with personnel the change out parts that will keep these weapons operational.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 7:59 PM, fyrejohnny wrote:

    To krazor8 and others that are worried about the cost. Somebody please tell me what you think the price tag of FREEDOM should be.

    Are you the kind of people that see things happen

    the kind that make things happen or are you the kind of people that wonder what the h l happened.

    personally, I don't want to wonder what happened to the freedom we used to have before some other country imposed their will on us.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 8:14 PM, 1fred1 wrote:

    The future is near: a psuedo sub/stealth carrier armed with missiles and drones.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 8:52 PM, flybymike2002 wrote:

    Rotomoly you are hilarious !

    1st, the only thing the Chinese has that will do mach 10 is gas after eating General tso's !

    Lots of armchair BS here, I wonder if any posts here are actually from people who have used any of the weapons mentioned, or defended against them !?

    Or been on a carrier, or at China Lake for example ?

    I think not ! Carriers are near the end of usefulness not because of a Chinese weapon, but because of new capabilities on the horizon of our own systems. Carriers are more at danger from Subs than anything, the Carrier is surrounded by the Aegis system on Destroyers, which by the way can EASILY take out a large BALLISTIC or CRUISE weapon coming from 1700 miles away, and not just one BUT DOZENS from just ONE SHIP, the Carriers are surrounded by MANY ! Then you have your own aircraft with weapons that can take said weapons out as well, hundreds of miles away. And known number of the DF-21-D is about 80 units, really, the DF-21-D is more of a psych tool than anything. Russia and France have way better anti ship weapons than the DF, So really all of this is moot.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 9:38 PM, DAenemyISus wrote:

    Today's war will be fought with drones and nuclear arms.

    Tomorrows wars, then, will be fought with sticks and stones.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 1:12 AM, lamottaart wrote:

    Why spend all that money and energy, when we can launch a high-speed drone attack from the US mainland to North Korea in a matter of hours. Air Craft Carriers are sitting ducks in the waters. We should rather have a satellite-based nuclear-powered drones and satellites armed with laser (to neutralize enemy launch pads on the ground).

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 7:49 AM, KUBLOTNIK wrote:

    why do we have a problem with the chinese having all this good missile tech.?? we loved slick-willie ,and he's the one who did an executive order giving U S contractors like loral permission to sell china the tech. until then china couldn't hit THE BROADSIDE OF A BARN with a shotgun. now they have the means to kill our carriers,subs,satellites and cities.and for all that we get their cheap junk in return. what a bargain. !!!!

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 10:33 AM, True411 wrote:

    I agree with voiceinshawdows - this Fool analysis is absurd.

    The Nimitz-class carriers are scheduled for retirement in 2058, and the US is already building the next generation Gerald Ford-class carriers. Aircraft carriers aren't going away any time soon.

    In addition, the difference in displacement between the largest (Ohio-class) submarines (16,700 tonnes surfaced) ever built and the Ford-class carrier (101,000 tonnes) should have given the author a clue how ridiculous his analysis is.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 5:55 PM, tsamuelh wrote:

    Please people, think DARPA. Think about AEIGIS as an example, an early '60s DARPA project that was battle ready in the '80s (they gave Reagan an 80% and he green lighted it for deployment). All this talk about what we can right now do is not all that relevant. This will move through a long development. It can be done quicker if they start from boomers. They will be deployed in small numbers initially until they are combat tested. And they do not replace aircraft carriers unless the things deploy as surface ships so their UCAVs can land as well as take off, and then what’s the point? Simply put, don’t hold your breath.

    And aircraft carriers fight between 250mi and 1,500mi off, giving them a psychological value a hidden sip lacks. Also, what battleship? A battleship would be a bunker buster, and I don’t think we have a ship class that seriously does that.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 11:47 PM, Sliide wrote:

    Does anyone remember the Chinese picture taken from a Submarine of a US Carrier at Sea?

    Which one was it?

    A. They got in undetected; or;

    B. They were allowed in to make them believe they have the ability to reach carriers, but costing a Fleet Admiral his career.

    Either way, Sub launched carrier missiles can make the long reach of the carrier useless as a protective attribute.

    By the way, air defense systems sucked in the Falklands and on the USS Stark.

    If Super Tankers could be built with internal Drone Launch decks that curve up like the British Ski Jump and can be disguised opening and closing, now a covert Power could slip past most reasoned detection.

    If lower decks armed, fueled and repaired drone craft, manned by robots, then there are fewer people needed as now you do not need shifts of workers, just maintenance and parts replacers.

    Make the Keel open like the Exxon Global Explorer which reached 3000 feet to pull up a sunken Russian sub, but instead making it a Well deck to receive drones (via cargo submarines) that landed at US Land bases, now you can keep things going without need of a landing Deck.

    A Slow Process, but really sneaky.

    Oh yes, Put a Liberian Flag on her.

    Otherwise, make it a stealth ship.

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2014, at 1:26 PM, James902 wrote:

    You want a good 'battleship.

    Take a massive container ship, modify it to hold 'stacked' cruise missiles, and you have a massively capable shore bombardment ship. Or, the capability to swarm cruise missiles against an enemy surface battle group.

    But the main use would be massive shore bombardment of airbases, naval and infantry bases, power plants, etc.

    As I recall the Navy once had a plan similar to this with a modified container ship carrying over 8,000 cruise missiles.

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