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Return to service? - 6/24/2020 4:03:12 PM   

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It is a long held principal that the US Navy specifically but I suspect other navies too need three ships to keep one deployed: one deployed, one in refit/overhaul, and one working up for deployment. I have mostly heard this applied specifically to aircraft carriers but I suspect it applies to other classes of both ships and submarines. So my question is three questions embedded around one central question.

1. The central question is in the event of a large scale conflict breaking out how long would it take to make the two non-deployed category of ships to be ready. I realize there would be a great variability depending on where the unit in question was in the process but was just wondering what the average time would be

2. How much does the one for three model apply to other classes?

3. Do smaller navies with fewer ships use a different model, say perhaps only two ships to have one available with some combination of refit/training going on simultaneously?

The reason for this is if a scenario designer was working on a very long scenario that say lasted weeks how could the moving units from non-available to available play out? A more likely use would be in some form of a campaign

Just figured I would ply the knowledge base of this group for answers


"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry
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RE: Return to service? - 6/24/2020 4:27:34 PM   

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It is a general 'rule of thumb' that guides procurements and deployment planning for all classes of warship. Donitz used it in WWII when developing his estimate of how many U-Boats he would need to achieve effective tonnage-war against the UK. Other modern navies continue to use it, but with modification: eg for critical units such as SSBN required to maintain a continuous at-sea deterrence presence, the ratio might be 1:4.

In times of crisis, the rule can be bent - a ship coming out of refit and doing its pre-ops work-up can be put through an accelerated process. But as you note, it would depend very much on the kind of refit. If it was a major dockyard overhaul such as a mid-life extension, with works such as engine replacement or fitting of major new systems, then the work-up period would be far longer. The more experienced navies know that any acceleration of the process or corner-cutting tends to be a false economy, with ill-prepared crews and systems rendering the vessel less than effective when it comes to the test of combat - to cite the U-Boat experience again, the survival rates of U-boats and their rates of sinking declined sharply as boats and crews were rushed into service as the war dragged on. And in any sustained campaign operational defects can account for more assets being unavailable than combat losses. The RN at the same time was able to maintain far more extensive pre-operational work-up training for ships entering commission, with training becoming, if anything, longer rather than shorter.

Resource-poor navies are always going to face a challenge - they can husband their limited number of ships by cutting back on peace-time sea-training and cruises and the associated wear-and-tear, but they then tend to pay the price with lower crew experience when mobilised. Some navies, such as the Soviet, tried to overcome some systemic crew deficiency (conscript sailors) by adopting higher levels of automation and more technological solutions (a guided missile requires far less human input over its operational life than a carrier strike aircraft).

Hope that gives some context


(in reply to vettim89)
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