Patterico's Pontifications


Navy/Marine “Gunboat”

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 9:12 pm

[Link from DRJ]

US Marines sailed through the Strait of Hormuz with an armored vehicle on the flattop’s flight deck, ready to fight off Iranian gunboats:

Photos from a recent Strait of Hormuz transit by the US Navy amphibious assault ship USS Boxer showed an 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit light armored vehicle parked on the flight deck, a sign that this warship was expecting trouble in the hostile waterway.

The Boxer was harassed by Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz last month, and the US says the warship downed one, if not two, of them. Another potential threat in this region is Iranian gunboats, which have targeted commercial shipping in recent months.

Last fall, Marines with the 31st MEU embarked aboard the USS Wasp for an exercise with an LAV on the flight deck for the first time in the South China Sea, experimenting with options to boost the combat capability of the large amphibious ships against threats such as fast gunboats.

The photos are worth a look.


18 Responses to “Navy/Marine “Gunboat””

  1. There have been elevated tensions in the Strait since the UK seized the Iranian Grace 1 tanker in Gibraltar for violating sanctions, including Iran’s subsequent seizure of the UK tanker Stella Impero. Now the UK has released the Grace 1, despite the US’s request and warrant for its seizure.

    DRJ (15874d)

  2. “Weapons Company assets improved the integrated defensive posture aboard the Wasp.”

    In plain English, I think that roughly translates to: “Come at me, bro.”

    Dave (1bb933)

  3. Land war on the sea.

    nk (dbc370)

  4. Back in the day, the marines’ job was fighting on the deck of their ship (or preferably the enemy ship…) so I guess it’s actually kind of old-school.

    Dave (1bb933)

  5. It is strange, though, that the vehicle has better sensors than the ship when it comes to other boats.

    DRJ (15874d)

  6. Just speculating, but it could have to do with a blind-spot of the ship’s sensors.

    It might also have to do with the size or distance of the object(s) to be detected.

    Dave (1bb933)

  7. I’m guessing size.

    DRJ (15874d)

  8. Just speculating, but it could have to do with a blind-spot of the ship’s sensors.

    It might also have to do with the size or distance of the object(s) to be detected.

    It’s due to how the weapons configuration is on an LHD, whether its a Wasp or America class. They’re not really armed for point defenses against surface targets, they have some AA capability, and technically a Phalanx can engage surface targets, but it’s not built for that, that’s what a destroyer or frigate is for, or a helo. A LAV-25 can engage cheaply, and at range, with it’s Bushmaster 25MM and it will rip apart a small craft like the Iranians field. They’re working to fit a laser system on future America’s, and retrofit into the existing fleet, but that’s a future thing.

    I’ve had a few close encounters with both LAVs and Strykers, to the point of permanent hearing damage and terrible tinnitus. Don’t take off your ear pro to talk to someone when they’re firing next to you, it’s like firing a 12 gauge in a shipping container X 100. Not cool, but they’ll disintegrate a concrete building in about 30 seconds, so that’s cool.

    Colonel Klink (Ret) (6e7a1c)

  9. Every now and then you meet a concrete building that just needs to die.

    Dave (1bb933)

  10. That sounds painful, Colonel.

    So the targets it is designed to deal with are in the air and underwater?

    DRJ (15874d)

  11. An LHD, or any aircraft carrier/amphib craft basically have a small arms only for surface combatants, maybe a couple rail mounted M2s, or airborne point defense, and that all last ditch type of armament. They have little to no surface combat capability, of course most embark aircraft that could prosecute surface targets, and I’m not aware of any subsurface combat capability. That’s the job of the actual surface combat components, FFGs and DDGs mostly, LCS has a limited capability too, but that was a boondoggle, they’re built to handle all sub/surface/air threats, but the geography of the straights make it more difficult when the main channels all are within a couple of miles of Iranian waters, at 40 knots, an Iranian fast attack boat can get into annoyance range quick.

    Realistically there isn’t much of a threat to an actual warship from them other than suiciding, or with some small man portable rocket/missile, and even that isn’t going to sink a capital ship. If the Iranians want to, they have ample stockpiles of modernized Silkworm missiles built off of the latest gen Chinese Fei Long platform that are land based anti ship missiles. They’re a huge threat, and those fast upgraded speedboats can feed targeting data back to the launch site, that’s what makes them a real threat, same with even a rudimentary drone, bearing and range will get an FL close enough for it’s sensors to engage a target, and they’re firing from over the horizon, are low altitude and moderately high speed cruise missiles, in a narrow ship channel with little maneuver room, that makes them deadly, especially if your using saturation fire to overwhelm the defenses.

    It’s expensive and not all that likely to succeed, but the threat is real. Engaging a fast attack boat is a last resort type situation, because it can lead to the Iranians escalating due to a significant lack of discipline, some schlub major gets an itchy trigger finger and tries to ensure his place in heaven, and we end up with a major shooting war in a goldfish bowl, where a large minority of the worlds oil needs to go through. That’s a known issue, especially when you get the Revolutionary Guard involved instead of the main line Iranian armed forces, different command structure, and zealotry gets you promoted, a bad combo.

    Colonel Klink (Ret) (6e7a1c)

  12. Sailing an amphibious assault ship past the Straits of Hormuz seems a bit provocative, since it represents a very particular kind of up-close-and-personal threat (almost a battalion of assault-capable marines) that we’re unlikely to need anytime soon unless there’s been a major decision to escalate by landing on the shores of Iran.

    Of course, we have the right to sail through international waters, and often the navy does that in various places merely to reinforce that point to those who would prefer we didn’t. Another possibility is they did this to practice the “tanks on the flight deck” configuration for a future time when it might be needed in a shooting war.

    Dave (1bb933)

  13. The 25mm on the LAV is nicknamed “Ma Bell” – you use it when you want to “reach out and touch someone”.

    HMCS(FMF) ret (3ec28b)

  14. Thank you, Colonel. I think I understand. If I don’t, it’s on me because you’ve certainly done everything you can to help me understand.

    DRJ (15874d)

  15. That’s classic, HMCS.

    DRJ (15874d)

  16. Made my day, HMCS[FMF]

    mg (8cbc69)

  17. American military ingenuity… like the guys who modified Sherman tanks back in Normandy in ’44 so they could blast through the hedgerows. No orders from Washington… just guys on the ground who saw a need and made it happen.

    B.A. DuBois (8ed1cc)

  18. 11- Colonel Klink
    Can we take out the stockpile of silkworms and the boats used to implement?

    mg (8cbc69)

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