Sunday, May 22, 2016

In Defense of Modularity

In light of my proposal for modularized auxiliary cruisers for use by United States Africa Command as a power projection platform (in "The AFRICOM Queen") it is good to read a defense of modularity notwithstanding the problems with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) which provided the basis for my idea.

Modularity is good if done right:

Modularity, however, hasn’t been eo ipso the problem. The problem has been the Navy’s particular implementation of modularity [with the LCS].

In contrast, we know it’s possible to get modularity right, because the Royal Danish Navy has been getting it right since the early 1990s. Way back in 1985, Danyard laid down the Flyvefisken (Flying Fish), the first of a class of 14 patrol vessels. ...

At 450 tons full load, a Flyvefisken is much smaller than a Freedom (3900 tons) or an Independence (3100 tons). Her complement is much smaller too: 19 to 29, depending on the role. At not more than 15 tons, the Stanflex modules are also smaller than the particular system designed anew for the LCSs. But a Flyvefisken came with four such slots (one forward, three aft), and a range of modules surprisingly broad[.]

"Eo ipso?" Holy erudition, Batman! That guy spends way more on his words than I do!

I cited a larger Danish ship (Absalon, which is also cited in the article) that used modules to change the capabilities of the ship as an inspiration, but these small Danish vessels will do, too, despite our need for larger ships with the ability to sail long distances. Unlike Europeans, we don't have the option of sailing out of the harbor to reach our patrol zones in 20 minutes.

The author raises another issue--responding to a surprise attack--in support of modularized construction:

Because on December the 8th, when you need a face-punched plan, you’d rather be building new boxes than new whole new ships.

And if you put stockpiled boxes on existing civilian ships to create auxiliary cruisers, you don't need to build new ships--or need to rely on existing ships to reconfigure.

As an aside, let me just say that the author defending modularity as a concept was rejecting a criticism of the LCS logic by Lawrence Korb, who is as valuable in defense discussions as taking an accordion on a hunting trip, as far as I'm concerned.