How Do America and China’s Huge New Warships Stack Up?
This story originally appeared on Oct. 15, 2016. On Oct. 15, 2016 in Baltimore on the U.S. East Coast, the U.S. Navy commissioned the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt into service following a protracted and costly development. Six hundred feet long and displacing 14,500 tons, Zumwalt — the first of three stealthy... Read more
This Weird Drone Feeds on Hurricanes
This story originally appeared on Aug. 14, 2013. Most boats need to avoid storms. But a new line of swimming drones coming out of a California start-up actually works better as the waves get higher. The Wave Glider, designed by Liquid Robotics, is powered by water. More specifically, by... Read more
What Would the Athenians Think of the U.S. Navy’s Mishaps?
U.S. Navy leaders should drink hemlock! Some of them, I mean. Figuratively. That would be the Greek approach to solving the Navy’s woes, at any rate. Take Athens. Ancient Athenians were hypersensitive about individual accountability. Athenians enforced accountability remorselessly, and these radical democrats seldom did things halfway. They went... Read more
The U.S. Navy Is Flat Worn-Out
The U.S. Navy is supposed to be adapting to face a series of threats it hasn’t seen since the Cold War. In particular, China’s growing — and increasingly assertive — navy comprised of warships that outrange American ones. The United States’ sailing branch has to do all of this... Read more
U.S. Navy Really Might Bring Back Old Frigates
The U.S. Navy is seriously considering reactivating as many as seven recently-decommissioned Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates in order to quickly boost the size of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet. But the Navy would not significantly modernize the recommissioned frigates, nor add heavy weaponry, Secretary of the Navy Richard... Read more
During World War II, the Submarine USS ‘Barb’ Rocketed Japan
In the closing months of World War II, heavy losses and depleted fuel stocks kept many of Japan’s remaining combat aircraft grounded and warships in port, awaiting an anticipated amphibious invasion. Starting in July 1945, Allied battleships embarked on a series of naval bombardments of coastal cities in Japan... Read more
The Royal Navy Faces a Future Without Anti-Ship Missiles
Right now, the Royal Navy’s main surface-to-surface anti-ship weapon is the over-the-horizon Harpoon missile, which is also the primary equivalent weapon in service with the U.S. Navy since 1977. Back then, the missile soon became a workhorse that provided considerable range compared to other anti-ship weapons at the time.... Read more
A Half Century of Half Aircraft Carriers
This story originally appeared on Feb. 28, 2015. Starting in the 1960s, the world’s leading navies experimented with a new kind of warship. Heavily-armed and sporting huge flight decks for helicopters, the vessels were hybrids—not quite cruisers, not quite aircraft carriers. Ungainly and in many cases conceptually flawed, the... Read more
So You Want to Be a Soviet Navy Political Officer
The term “Soviet political officer” aboard a warship during the Cold War conjures up images of an iron-willed dogmatist — in the style of The Hunt for Red October — at odds with the military officers entrusted with running a ship at sea. In reality, the job wasn’t that... Read more
How a Rocket Explosion Nearly Consumed a Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier
A series of collisions involving U.S. Navy destroyers in 2016 and 2017 — including two incidents this summer that left 16 sailors dead — have raised questions as to why the maritime fighting branch appears to be suffering the same accident again and again. However, it can take time... Read more