Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This is Stealth?

DDG 1000's composite deckhouse was revealed this week down in Gulfport. The uniquely angled 48.8m long, by 21.3m wide, by 19.8m high balsa-wood core carbon fiber super-structure is designed to provide the Navy's newest guided-missile destroyer a low radar and infrared signature.  The deckhouse, combined with a low-profile tumblehome hull will likely achieve this goal, but is it truly fair to say that this design is "stealthy?"  Today's enemies will not operate long range maritime patrol aircraft and radar satellites like the Soviet Union did to locate U.S. fleets on the open ocean 30 years ago.  They will, however, use a network of tattletale fishing dhows equipped with satellite phones, cheap tactical UAVs, and HUMINT networks in nearby logistics ports with twitter accounts and smart phones to find ships operating in narrow seas such as the Arabian Gulf.  A singulary-unique profile 14,000 ton combatant is not likely to be able to hide from these intelligence platforms, no matter how innovative her design may be.  One hopes that the three staggeringly expensive DDG-1000 destroyers will validate many new naval technologies, but how to hide a ship in the littorals during 21st Century irregular warfare will not likely be one of them.

Ingalls Photo of the Week: Ingalls shipbuilders at the Gulfport Composite Center of Excellence watch as the DDG 1000 deckhouse begins its journey from the factory to the barge that will deliver it to Maine. Photo by Steve Blount.

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the US Navy, or any other agency.

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