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NATO Islands - An Allied Response To Policing Sea Lanes?

Kirkhill

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Dilemma:

Aircraft Carriers are very useful and there are never enough of them on hand.

Aircraft Carriers are very expensive and there are never enough of them on hand.

Solution:

Augment the "Armoured" Aircraft Carriers with a Fleet of Allied Operated "Logistics" Aircraft Carriers operated under the NATO flag by mixed crews (possibly even with a civilian RFA - Royal Fleet Auxiliary - type component).

The operational model is of course the NATO AWACs fleet.  The thought has been nourished by: the Brits and the French musing out loud about sharing a Flat Top; the Brits considering maintaining the Fleet Air Arm skills by supplying a Squadron or two of F-18 E/F Super Hornets (one up for you Mark) to fly off USN carriers; the Brits adopting Rivet Joint as their ISTAR replacement for the Nimrod R1.  Jointness is in the air (or is that combinedness - I can never keep those definitions straight).

What would happen if NATO were to sponsor the construction of a fleet of "Civil" lily pads that could be maintained on station at the rate of 3 per Ocean?  Make them to Civvy standards, not  war-fighting standards, and use them as transit points, flight ops centres  and FARPs for fixed and rotary wing assets engaged in "civil" activities.  In war time they would be moved to low(er) threat environments with the "Armo(u)red" Carriers moving to the high threat zones.

Effectively they would operate the same way that allied islands (fixed)  - Diego Garcia, Guam, Barbados, Azores, Iceland..... operate but would have the double advantages of being mobile and internationally owned in addition to their "cost effectiveness"

The mobility speaks to the primary advantages of carriers, flexibility and responsiveness - a problem with fixed nationally owned assets.

The real advantage of the plan is in its internationally owned aspect.

Consider the following:

Platform internationally owned and operated by NATO and operates under the command of forces like STANAVFORLANT. 
It would be assigned to areas like the Horn of Africa (example) where NATO is already using "civil" platforms like the Dutch LSD Johan deWitt as Floating FOBs to support "anti-piracy" policing tasks.
It would have the cover of operating as an international asset thus making it a really hard political target - sink one of these things and you are declariing war on a very large group of people.
That cover would be enhanced if operations were being conducted as part of a UN sponsored mission.

There need be nothing that commits a NATO partner to any specific operation - they could withdraw their forces from the vessel(s) at anytime as is their sovereign right and let the vessel and their partners continue with operations according to their collective sovereign wills. 

In the meantime a large number of NATO parners are learning skills that would allow them to operate from the heavy "Armo(u)red" carriers that would still be national assets of none but a very few natons.

These carriers would also improve the world's ability to manage disasters of the natural kind, speeding evacuations and the delivery of aid as well as the maintenance of order.

They are not so much weapons of war as mobilie civil airfields.
 

a_majoor

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Would these be "escort carriers" like the mini carriers of WWII era fame? The small size might really restrict their utility (and given the cost of building even modest carriers, I imagine any new builds would be fairly small).

What might make the most sense is having the USN refurbish and lease its older carriers, since they are big enough to handle a mixed fleet of aircraft (a single American carrier has more aircraft in its carrier wing than many nations have in their entire airforce) and are already built to military standards. NATO, the Japanese etc. can supply the escorts and the logistics of keeping these things running. Even old carriers like the Kitty Hawk (CV-63) wouls still be larger and far more capable than "through deck cruisers" like Ark Royal or Invincible, or the Japanese Helicopter "destroyer" Hyūga.

Just $ .02 for the discussion
 

Colin Parkinson

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Likely better to use a merchant ship hull, you could build a jump on the end and have a lift and hanger as well. Such a ship would not require a significant crew to keep running, but crew requirements would quickly grow with added air wing.

Down side is you will have a single engine and one that is not designed for significant amounts of maneuvering. Also easy to damage and sink. Some of that could be limited by placing a few bulkheads in the hold area, even if not completely watertight. a reduced car carrier design would likely work and keep costs down a bit. keep a RO/RO ramp and it could fulfil other duties. Onboard tankage for aviation fuels would not be a problem.

http://www.ships-info.info/label-car-carriers.htm
 

Kirkhill

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Sorry for not following this up earlier.  Bad connections.

Not thinking about escort carriers.  More thinking along the lines of a mobile islands.  And not weapons of war so much as civil platforms that, like police stations and hospitals, advertise their presence and find protection in their civil status.

I’m thinking about a vessel that would be primarily a warehouse from which helicopters could operate and from which a small squadron, or large flight (6-12) of Recce-Strike Fast Jets could operate.

I would also note that in 1963 the USN successfully landed a C130 on the 1070 ft, 81,000 ton USS Forrestal.  Given that perhaps it might not be too much to consider making such a platform compatible with the smaller C27J/C295, which have half the wingspan and half the landing and takeoff requirements.

The UK is building the Queen Elizabeth class carriers of 932 ft and 72,300 ton displacement.  These are breaking the defence budget despite only having a complement of 600 with 470 passengers, about 20% of the complement of a US carrier.

Meanwhile Maersk Shipping of Denmark has built the 1302 ft, 170,974 ton Emma Maersk (25 kt) for about $170,000,000.  (and is building bigger ones for about $200,000,000).

In addition to the aerial connectors (rotary and fixed) the ability to launch sea going boats would be nice to have (CBHs and LCVPs – perhaps LCUs).  Lots of POL and water. Lots of beans and bandages - some bullets.  Some limited, sparse hotel (200 slots) to manage weather delays and a Provider type hospital capability.

Just some blue sky nonsense to be shot down........
 

GK .Dundas

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I have just finished a novel by Thomas Kratman that might be pertinent to this thread the novel called the The Liberators . In the book a group of rather well funded Mercenaries Modify a Container ship into a covert assault ship using Russian built MI 8 HIPS and surplus LCM 6s as well as about a dozen Kit built replicas of the Fiesler Storch .
http://www.webscription.net/chapters/9781439134023/9781439134023.htm?blurb 
See Chapter 11 for the description .
 

Ex-Dragoon

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GK .Dundas said:
I have just finished a novel by Thomas Kratman that might be pertinent to this thread the novel called the The Liberators . In the book a group of rather well funded Mercenaries Modify a Container ship into a covert assault ship using Russian built MI 8 HIPS and surplus LCM 6s as well as about a dozen Kit built replicas of the Fiesler Storch .
http://www.webscription.net/chapters/9781439134023/9781439134023.htm?blurb 
See Chapter 11 for the description .

Reading the same book now. I am enjoying it.
 

Kirkhill

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GK .Dundas said:
I have just finished a novel by Thomas Kratman that might be pertinent to this thread the novel called the The Liberators . In the book a group of rather well funded Mercenaries Modify a Container ship into a covert assault ship using Russian built MI 8 HIPS and surplus LCM 6s as well as about a dozen Kit built replicas of the Fiesler Storch .
http://www.webscription.net/chapters/9781439134023/9781439134023.htm?blurb 
See Chapter 11 for the description .

There you go.....par for the course......a day late and a dollar short  ;D

I'll need to pick that one up. 
 

GR66

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While cheaper than complete military-spec aircraft carriers these ships would still I'd imagine represent a pretty hefty amount of both upfront cash and ongoing operating expense.  Their role would seem to be to get our aircraft "in the vicinity" of a conflict without getting TOO close (they are designed as non-combattants after all).  Is getting "in the vicinity" of a conflict a major difficulty at the moment?  I'd imagine that the bigger problem is getting from the "vicinity" right into the thick of it.  I don't see this as a solution to that problem.

Would our money perhaps be better spent on additional strategic and tactical airlift resources (which you'd probably need to make these ships operational anyway?) or even on creating a form of Navy Auxilliary...subsidising the ferry companies on the coasts to obtain Roll-on Roll-off ships that are upgraded beyond normal civilian specs that can be brought into service when required to transport troops and equipment overseas.

If we're looking to spread costs among allied nations perhaps a better target would be something along the lines of jointly owned/operated NATO AOR vessels to support regular multi-national fleet deployments. 



 

a_majoor

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Just remember a converted civilian ship does not have the same levels of protection a military ship has (even simple things like redundant power supplies; most heavy container ships today have only one (honking) engine turning one propeller, for example). The Atlantic Conveyor was carrying helicopters for the British Task force taking back the Falkland Islands (and modified enough so they could at least deploy and take off from the ship), a single hit put it out of action and destroyed all the helicopters.

So long as you are willing to accept these risks,"Pure Car Carriers" might provide a good starting point, their fully enclosed superstructure provides the "hanger" space, their top decks are fairly flat, so limited modification would be needed to provide a helicopter or aircraft flight deck, and PCC's are designed as RO/RO ships, so logistics would be simplified when in port. Building such a ship to military standard would be quite expensive.

Of course, since Kirkhill is suggesting an "Island", then perhaps something much bigger is needed. A structure built out of multiple concrete "pontoons" (not sure if that is the right word in this context) would be scalable, and possibly cheaper to build. Then again, there was a suggestion to creat true "islands" in WWII out of artificial ice floes, made of a mixture of water and sawdust (pykrete).
 

McG

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Kirkhill said:
Not thinking about escort carriers.  More thinking along the lines of a mobile islands.  And not weapons of war so much as civil platforms that, like police stations and hospitals, advertise their presence and find protection in their civil status.

I’m thinking about a vessel that would be primarily a warehouse from which helicopters could operate and from which a small squadron, or large flight (6-12) of Recce-Strike Fast Jets could operate.

I would also note that in 1963 the USN successfully landed a C130 on the 1070 ft, 81,000 ton USS Forrestal.  Given that perhaps it might not be too much to consider making such a platform compatible with the smaller C27J/C295, which have half the wingspan and half the landing and takeoff requirements.
If you want a NATO carrier from which member nations can come & go then I would suspect that it will be necessary for that aircraft carrier to accommodate transport aircraft.  Loading of stores would be done by air lines of communication for items that the USN may typically do in port or by cross-loading from a support ship with helicopters.

If Canada were to send 4 - 6 fighters to such an carrier to conduct operations, we would also be sending deck-crew for the aircraft, spare & replacement parts, munitions, and misc amenities.  You can expect the same to be true of many other NATO nations and even more true where a non-NATO allie is allowed to operate off the ship. As good an idea as NATO COLOG is, nations have thier own unique requirements (or bureaucratic limitations) that will result in each maintaining its own little stockpile while it is on board.  Many nations would want to fly the supporting personnel and materiel as opposed to wait for a ship to link-up at sea.

On the ship itself, nations will likely want magazine/armoury space, stores space and offices.

None of this make the idea unfeasible, but it does mean that a purpose build ship would necessarily look different that a uni-national carrier.  Alternately, a converted older carrier would likely support a reduced number of aircraft in comparison to its prior service under a single nation.

... the way to work around this would be for the ship and all its aircraft to all operate under the NATO banner (ie. nations do not send their own aircraft to operate from the NATO carrier).  I suspect the politics of such a capability would be far more complicated than the NATO AWACS.  A Euro Carrier may be a more politically achievable concept, but it leaves us out of the loop ... maybe an ABCA carrier?

 

The Bread Guy

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Kirkhill said:
More thinking along the lines of a mobile islands.  And not weapons of war so much as civil platforms that, like police stations and hospitals, advertise their presence and find protection in their civil status.
Instead of a "super carrier", it sounds like you're thinking like something like this (in this case, a proposed "floating airport" for San Diego)
euphlotea_1256166131229.png

but with a broader range of facilities on it, no?

Also, if police and detention facilities are part of the complex, anyone with any idea whose laws might be used to govern/regulate policing/detention?
 

Ex-Dragoon

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If said aircraft carrier was built to civillian mercantile standards, how would it fare if there was a fire in the hangar or there was a crash on deck. Those types of fires are hard enough to fight as is on a milspec CV(N), I would suspect there would be an even greater chance of losing the entire ship.
 

Kirkhill

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Interesting groups of thoughts here.

GR66 - point taken on the operating costs, but as to the use I haven't explained myself clearly.  I don't see them as going in harms way.  I see them as holding ground on the lines of communication and allowing the heavies to push forward into the "enemy's" littoral.  I see them as doing the standing patrols, like STANAVFORLANT, as well as doing anti-piracy patrols in low(er) risk areas like the Horn of Africa and the Straits of Malacca.  In the Straits I would expect them to operate in cooperation with local forces like the Singaporeans, Malaysians and Indonesians.  I wouldn't expect to see them operating in the current China Seas environment.  Could similar forces be supplied from shore bases? Yes, but only with the agreement of the host country.  A mobile platform is less likely to be held hostage by just one member of a coalition (Dubai comes to mind, as does Khazakstan).

We operate from shore and can extend outward from oil platforms like Hibernia. These vessels will move that capability out further into blue water.

The recce-strike force would be directly analogous to NORAD QRFs using Pearson, YVR and Rankin as alternative operating locations.  The "airfield" supports more than just the fighter ops.  It is haven, warehouse and distribution centre and it is a link in a conveyor belt to move goods and materials forwards (and back).

Thuc and Ex-D:

I see what you are saying about protection levels (and Colin alluded to the same issue) - obviously compartmentalization would be an issue as would fire fighting.  But a big vessel is harder to sink than a small vessel.  (15% flooding of a 170,000 ton vessel equals a Provider under water - 3% equals a Halifax).  As to the fire issue ... how does the civvy world deal with helicopter crashes on oilrig helidecks?  Or for that matter on any helideck?


On the question of the size and mobility of the island (Tony and Thuc):

Bigger than Hibernia and smaller than the state of Texas... ;D  Something that can be relocated easily and built at a reasonable cost (a warehouse and not a hotel).

McG:  good point on the logistics - perhaps a civilian warehousing and distribution company would have better operational and management protocols than the typical national Q system.  Somebody that has to cater to the needs of a variety of clients all with differing systems and differing needs in the level of support required.

Ultimately these things are about PRESENCE - maintaining the image of governance on the high seas without having to commit billions of dollars of heavy carrier to the task,  A police cruiser for the local neigbourhood when a Leo2 is just a little too much awe.
 

a_majoor

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I'm getting a king of mixed feeling about this, are we talking about an aircraft carrier or a logistics support base? Maybe I'm getting confused here, but no aircraft carrier that I know of can easily or reliably operate large transport craft. Yes, a demonstration was once done with a C-130 landing and taking off from a carrier deck, but it was a demonstration (was the plane actually loaded, or did it take off and land empty?). Landing the large numbers of planes needed for supporting an operation would need something more akin to the floating airport posted above than an aircraft carrier or converted civilian ship.

Re reading your parameters, I would go in quite the opposite direction. If you are primarily concerned with being able to support extended ops in far off waters/lands, then get a "liberty ship" like assembly line and build a fleet of bulk carriers like the PCC's or other RO/RO craft.

Fill them with all manner of trucks, pallets and seacans full of supplies, a reinforced top deck to allow helicopters to take off and land and have them at sea on station able to steam to potential hot spots within (say) a week.  Like the rest of the fleet, we have 3X groups; one at sea, one in transit and one in port undergoing refurbishment/restocking. If desired, a company of combat troops can be aboard to go in with the first lift/initial landing to secure the beachhead. Engineer/Pioneer troops would be handy as well. Of course a PCC type ship is an even BIGGER honking ship, capable of carrying an entire battalion with all their LAVs, trucks, beans and bullets (and possibly a fair slice of support arms and services as well) and delivering them to an unopposed landing. A fair sized Headquarters suite could be carried as well.

Notice the key caveat: an unopposed landing. If the ship needs to carry troops and supplies to an opposed or contested landing, then it will have to be built to naval standards, have a weapons and sensor suite and probably a different hull form for landing craft or hovercraft to deliver troops ashore. This PCC based fleet would be the follow up element coming in behind a naval task force or airborne/airmobile assault in order to bring the second and subsequent waves of troops and supplies, which I think is what you were getting at Kirkhill. 
 

Kirkhill

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These are not aircraft carriers.  Not any more than a warehouse is a truck launching facility.

They are a combination of floating garrison and floating warehouse, connected to each other and shore by helicopters and STOL carriers (like the C27J and C295) as well as by surface transport.  (An element of a pre-positioned force there).

Three in an Ocean would increase the probability of being able to 'bounce" helicopters forward to a point of use in a hurry.  The STOL capability would allow for troops to be deployed to these bases from long ranges.  The final leg of the journey could be newly arrived troops and helos marrying up on one of these bases and bouncing forward off a CVN or LPD close in to the enemy.

In low threat environments then the platform could form the base of operations for small anti-piracy teams, and/or act as a mothership for smaller boats.

In civil emergencies they would support the rapid arrival of aid and the rapid removal of evacuees via the STOL links.

The embarked fast jet force is not for striking heavily armed enemy targets - it is for recconoitring unknown targets and also for supplying air cover to the anti-piracy forces.

France and Italy supply police forces with 105mm guns on armoured cars to control organized ruffians with machine guns.  Perhaps we could consider these as paramilitary garrisons for the high seas.  Designed to establish governance, not to close with the enemy. 

But .... given that the enemy can come to the garrison, how vulnerable is it?

Did a bit of digging on the Atlantic Conveyor
Displaced 15,000 tons (vice 170,000 tons for the Emma Maersk and 190,000 tons for the new Triple Es)
Embarked 5 Chinook, 6 Wessex, 14 Harriers and Sea Harriers
Flew Off 1 Chinook, 4-5 Wessex and all 14 Harriers
Struck above the waterline by 1 or 2 Exocets - burnt and abandoned - DID NOT SINK - Scuttled.

Other converted  container ships served without incident.

Conveyors cargo included ammo and avgas apparently stored in containers above the waterline.

Atlantic Conveyor Link

As I said - these are floating islands - Mobile versions of the Azores, or Hibernia, or Diego Garcia, or Guam - points from which power can be projected and which can support forward deployed elements.

Another way of looking at these is that they move NATO shorelines forward into the High Seas to extend NATOs version of the rule of Law - which brings up the REALLY interesting question that was asked - which law is that and how would the pirates be handled once captured.

In the meantime NATO pilots have additional landing spots and NATO troops have additional bullets close to the fight, NATO reinforcements can be more easily bounced into supporting positions - and NATO can save the occasional tsunami victim and make it look as if they are the good guys.
 

Kirkhill

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Further to your last Thucydides:

29 touch and go

21 unarrested land and stop
21 unassisted take-offs (no catapults, no RATO, no JATO)  heavy seas and a 40 to 50 knot wind along the deck.

Landing weights up to 121,000 pounds all up. 

Lockheed's Ted Limmer, who checked out fighter pilot Flatley in the C-130, stayed on for some of the initial touch-and-go and full-stop landings. "The last landing I participated in, we touched down about 150 feet from the end, stopped in 270 feet more and launched from that position, using what was left of the deck. We still had a couple hundred feet left when we lifted off. Admiral Brown was flabbergasted."

The plane's wingspan cleared the Forrestal's flight deck "island" control tower by just under 15 feet

From the accumulated test data, the Navy concluded that with the C-130 Hercules, it would be possible to lift 25,000 pounds of cargo 2,500 miles and land it on a carrier. Even so, the idea was considered a bit too risky for the C-130 and the Navy elected to use a smaller COD aircraft.

Hence my suggestion to operate with the 1:2 scale C27J (or the politically correct C295) of the larger deck (1300 ft vs 1000 ft) of the Emma Maersk

C130 Link

C130 Video
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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Kirkhill said:
21 unassisted take-offs (no catapults, no RATO, no JATO)  heavy seas and a 40 to 50 knot wind along the deck.

I assume you mean that the wind over the deck, from ahead, was 40 to 50 kts, which is the normal way to launch and recover aircraft on a carrier. The old pre-nuke US carriers could crank up to 32-34 kts, accounting for most of that. We are talking about 70 to 80 km/h of wind speed in favour of the airplane before it even starts to accelerate. What is the take off speed of a Herc? So there was no surprise there. But a carrier can't come to a stop of all air operations each time a monster like that wants to come onboard. That is why you land planes on the after angled deck and with barrier (short space), launch from the bow with catapult (also short place) and use the mid section for aircraft handling/loading/preping between those two stations and the hangar below. When they did the Herc trials, it landed from end to end and nothing else could go on on deck at the same time: It was not efficient compared to the small COD planes currently in use.

Also, re: Emma Maersk (and other such ship)  compared to PRO and HAL for size: Be mindful that in the Navy, we use displacement tonnage (the actual weight of the ship, calculated by the weight of water displaced by the hull. A quick formula is to calculate the volume of the underwater part of the ship in cubic feet and divide by 35 (35 cu/ft = 1 tonne of water). Merchant ship , like Emma, use Gross and Net Registered tonnage, which is the internal volume of the ship, expressed in "ton" (meaning a barrel, as in the old barrels wood ships would carry stuff in) - basically, you take the full volume in cubic feet of everything that is enclosed in the ship (including superstructure, smokestack, full hull with freeboard) and divide by 100 to get gross and do the same formula after subtracting the volume of all spaces NOT used for cargo to get the net.

Emma Maersk is 171,000 Gross tons (internal volume/100) and 55,000 Net tons (volume of cargo/100). I do not know her actual tonnage displacement, but by looking at her specs and hull form, it is likely in the order of 100,000 tonnes light ship and 145,000 tonnes when fully loaded. If you add to her the weight of PRO in water when she is at full load, you are not talking 15% damage, you have probably knocked out 100% of her reserve buoyancy and she will sink.

Finally, I don't know what you are trying to achieve here with your "floating islands in the Sea Lanes of Communication": They would be very slow (at that size- that is for sure) and, unless at places where there is little to no threat, would need strong defences. It would defeat the purpose. If on the other hand they were in locations where there is little to no threat, they would serve no purpose because ordinary patrol by LRMPA and some lightly armed smaller types of ship would be sufficient. Finally, if you simply look at them as a means to get military equipment quickly where international situation may require it, the model already exists: It is the maritime pre-positioning ships of the USNS, operated by the Military Sealift Command.   
 

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OGBD:

I appreciate the instruction.

Thank you for confirming my understanding of aircraft carrier operations.  Indeed I suspected that the wind over the bows not only decreased the take-off distance required but also the landing distance.  And your point about the space that a Hercules takes up seems well founded.  That is why, as I noted to Thucydides, that perhaps an aircraft in the C27J class might be a better fit?  Interestingly (to me at least) the C27J and the CH47 seem to be considered usefully sized carriers for the US Army when it is conducting small unit operations from advanced and rough Forward Operating Bases.

With respect to the Emma Maersk:

Again, thank you for the instruction.  The Emma has a Dead Weight Tonnage of 156,907 tons (it is not clear from the literature whether that is long, short or metric - but it is mass and not volume).  Perhaps we can agree that if we take the Emma Maersk hull and only put 70,000 tons (long, short, or metric) into her that that will leave 86,907 tons of reserve buoyancy over and above her designed reserve?  And, I would suggest, that represents a massively larger amount of water than either the PRO or HAL can swallow thus making her a harder target.

As to the role of these units, you touch on it with the Maritime Prepositioning Force.

However the MPF has a number of shortcomings that have caused the US to move from the MPF and JLOTS concept towards "Sea Basing".

There is only one MPF of 29 vessels and it is geared to support large interventions.  It requires a port.  It can'd be easily broken down.

Consequently the US is looking at breaking it into smaller flotillas that can be distributed and which can operate on the high seas - conducting at sea transfers from RoRos to 28 (and counting) JHSVs across the decks of those semi-submersible ships whose designation escapes me just now.  The Marines funded a number of studies (one published here by FAS) that look for different concepts of operations.  The one I cited actually makes reference to vessels similar in concept to the type of thing I am proposing.

I note that all of the concepts are based on the use of Civilian Standard vessels for military purposes when the threat level permits.

I would also note that "sea bases" come in all sizes with the JHSV being touted as a mini-seabase.  On that basis I suppose that any vessel could be a seabase (marines in Daring, special forces in LCS mission bays).  Perhaps HMS Ocean, HNLMS Rotterdam and perhaps even HDMS Absalon, could all be seen as seabases - all built to civilian standards and navalized.

Edit (hit send too soon):

The Army operates from large bases at home and then projects power through a cascade of bases that decrease in size and spread out: from KAF to platoon houses and ultimately the mobile operating base known as the LAV.

These Islands-Sea Bases-Mobile Offshore Bases-Forward Operating Bases - are a means for projecting power in a distributed, nodal fashion, that increases maneuverablity and flexibility by supplying landing points and caches that will suuport ongoing small unit operations and the rapid movement of larger intervention forces.

As part of a C27J based conveyor (carrying 60 troops per AC from 2500 km) at the rate of one landing per half hour - in a 24 hour period an Emma sized platform could cross deck 2880 troops to CH47s or JHSVs or any other vessel in the area
 

a_majoor

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I'm with OGBD. You are asking for a range of capabilities which are provided by an entire base/airport/seaport. It seems far more efficient to split the "wants" into separate elements.

Logistics support could be a function of a NATO or allied "Joint Sealift Command". Even if each nation insists on using their own ships, this would not be a huge hardship, you would assemble a "logistics task force" from the participating members and steam into action. Italy's government decides it isn't interested in the mission anymore? The Italian Captain sends his regrets, takes his portion of the staff from the flagship and sails home. Perhaps the only true advantage that could be derived from this is for all the member nations to agree on the parameters of the AOR/AOE and then build them assembly line fashion to reduce unit costs (Canada wants 1-3 "Big Honking Ships" [or at least AOR/AOEs], which is hugely expensive. If 15 of the same class of ships were being produced in an alliance wide buy, the unit cost per ship would be lower and more affordable. This is ignoring the political squabbling).

I don't think flying helicopters across the Atlantic would be good for the aircraft, probably better to wrap them in plastic and sail over with them in the hold. If you really want/need the ability to fly across the ocean, air to air refueling is a pretty refined art. Airstrikes in Iraq or Afghanistan could be mounted from bases in the United States (and F-15 and F-16's provided air support from bases in the middle east against Taliban targets). A battalion of paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division was drooped on an exercise in the Ukraine after a direct flight from North Carolina; the longest air insertion in history (My copy of the Ingenuity Gap is MIA, but that is where I remember this from).

From the Canadian point of view, we might get away with buying and refurbishing older RO/RO merchant ships as the logistics arm; they will be much larger than our current AOR/AOE fleet but probably more affordable and brought into service much more quickly than any new builds.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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Be careful Kirkhill, you are introducing yet another concept with regards to Emma.

DWT is NOT an indication of reserve buoyancy (and by the way, I did not have her DWT figure, but looking at it, my estimate for her displacement tonnage is probably bang on). DWT is the maximum allowable total weight she can weigh, including cargo, the ship herself, all of the crew, food, paper, furniture, fuel, everything onboard, that will bring her to her load line (Plimsol line). At that point, she rides as low in the water as permitted by certification agencies and passed that point, she is uninsured. So, if you remove the actual weight of the cargo carried from DWT, what you are left with is the weight of the ship herself plus whatever margin of weight  there may be for all the other stuff onboard or more cargo - NOT how much reserve buoyancy she has.

If you want to estimate her reserve buoyancy, what you do is measure from the lowest point of the upper edge of her hull down to the waterline and measure the inner volume of the hull between those two points then divide by 35. That should give you the number of tons of reserve buoyancy. Again here, this is my eyeball estimate, but i would say that when she is a DWT, it would be in the order of 30,000 tonnes. And I am ignoring the fact that water may come over the top of the hull at lower amounts due to waves and swell and I am ignoring the free surface effect or other stability factors that would be affected by taking on water on a merchant ship loosely compartmentalized. I have little doubt she would flounder before using all her reserve buoyancy.
 
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