May 4, 1982 – HMS Sheffield burns down after being hit by an anti-ship missile from Argentina. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Published on June 30, 2022 at 9:39 p.m.


[By Dr. Steven Wills]

Recent damage to the Russian Navy guided missile cruiser RFS Moscow Many comparisons were made with the previous losses of large surface combat troops, including Argentina’s cruiser ARS, from the cruise missile strike. General Belgrano And even the Japanese super dreadnought Yamato. However, only a few remembered HMS Sheffield From the Falklands War. While Moscow It was a large and capable surface warship that invites to compare the loss of large combat troops, the death of a Russian cruiser could be more similar to that of a Royal Navy Type 42 destroyer. Belgrano Or World War II warships.

The birth of modern cruise missiles in the Cold War, and the many sensors, means of communication, and other systems needed to use or defend anti-ship missiles, ushered in a whole new era in naval warfare. A series of unfortunate incidents opened up British warships for attack and a similar version of those events may have been destined Moscow Too. Modern warships are very “hammer-equipped egg pellets” and even one hit is enough to keep the ship away from combat action or to sink it. The 40th anniversary of the first successful cruise missile attack of the Falklands War has just passed, it is worth reviewing the future of HMS Sheffield To understand what her losses and disadvantages are Moscow The meaning of war at sea now and in the future.

Sentinels in Dangerous Littorals

Air defense is one of the most challenging warships in the current environment of cruise and ballistic missiles as well as conventional aircraft threats. Sheffield And Moscow Both were at the forefront of their respective wars and served as air defense units protecting other ships from air and missile attacks. Sheffield The British Task Group aircraft carrier HMS acted as a picket ship with a mission to engage any aircraft and missiles that pose a threat. Hermes And HMS Invincible. Of Moskva The task organization is unknown, but as the Black Sea Fleet’s best air defense warship, it may provide air and missile protection for other nearby Russian warships.

The warship’s defense posture is crucial in its ability to respond effectively to air and missile attacks. This preparation may also depend on other ships in the same working group.

Sheffield The air and missile were nominally ready to respond to the attack, but its response was limited by a number of factors. According to the post-attack investigation and subsequent revelations, Of Sheffield Anti-air warfare officers were out of the operation room at the time of the attack, and satellite telephone calls interfered with the ship’s electronic support measure (ESM) gear. That disruption blinded the ship’s ability to “see” the incoming missile, and it was too late until investigators identified the attacking weapon. Sheffield To respond with weapons and resistance.

Of Sheffield The crew may have been forgiven for that problem, plus other British task force units were fighting around them while tracking alleged missile contacts. The second British air defense destroyer HMS Glasgow The group was trying to identify the air threat, but time from the beginning Of Glasgow The involvement of an unidentified aircraft was less than 3.5 minutes for the impact of an exoset missile fired by one of them. Missile warfare is fast and any downturn in readiness can be fatal.

Moscow May also be involved in normal activities that masked the capabilities of her onboard sensors Of Sheffield Satellite phone calls. Moscow The threat of air and missile strikes may have been ignored, as the USS, like subsequent cruise missile victims, Done (Also hit by Exoset missiles in 1987), its defenses were discontinued and they were no longer available.

Due to the close range of the shore-based platform and the limited time for response, warships must always be vigilant in coastal waters where the risk of cruise missile attack is high. Israeli Corvette हणित Such an accidental attack in 2006 resulted in serious damage or loss because the missile did not touch and struck a blow.

What history shows us is that many warships that fell victim to anti-ship missile attacks were killed due to poor preparation and situational awareness. These ships were not hit because their defenses could not protect them against the powerful missile Salvos. Instead, these ships were hit by extremely small salvos of only one or two missiles, the attacks were expected to be able to manage them. But due to poor preparation and awareness, their rescue operations were virtually absent from the engagement, causing huge damage due to small missile attacks.

May 18, 1987 – The second day after the USS Stark (FFG-31) was hit by two anti-ship missiles. (US Navy photo)

Egg shell armed with a hammer

Winston Churchill was probably the first recorded personality to describe egg shells with hammers of modern warships, but his description is more valid today than it was first quoted in 1914. , Cannon towers, conning towers, and other critical command and control or engineering departments were common in warship construction from the time of the American Civil War until the end of World War II. While the evaluation of armor effectiveness was mixed, it was assumed that steel plate was useful to some extent to protect large and medium warships from damage. Destroyer-sized ships and smaller ships didn’t have much armor, but there was still some extra protection around the gun mounts.

Today, on the other hand, only the largest ships, such as aircraft carriers, have armor. HMS Sheffield One was devastating but larger than its World War II counterparts and probably carried armor. Moscow There was a cruiser and the rear cruiser had moderate armor protection, but the Russian cruiser was also unarmed. What changed when most warships avoided armor protection altogether, especially during cruise missile attacks?

The design of warships changed radically during the early Cold War, with the addition of electronic devices needed to detect missiles and rivals and target weapons. The missiles were not mounted on the turret, and were fired initially from revolving launchers and then from vertical tubes inside the hull. Sensors will have to be installed on the high mast and missiles and other heavy gear will have to be put down on the ship to keep the ship stable. It is advisable to arm the ship’s hull, but the introduction of missiles changed weapons technology in many ways. These weapons were large in terms of the earliest versions of the 1,000-pound warheads built as ship killers. Some anti-ship missiles can strike a ship at supersonic speeds and provide dynamic power to collide with warship shells. The latter variant consists of shaped-charged warheads that inject a superheated melt jet into the armor after impact, melting holes for the remaining warheads. (The javelin missile, used so effectively by Ukrainian forces against Russian tanks, has a size-charged warhead.)

In addition, the introduction of nuclear weapons made armor useless. While the targeted ships survived the horrific nuclear test explosion, the radiation from those weapons could not have been distracted and the crew would have been killed without the weapon that had entered the ship.

Chinese YJ-12 anti-ship missiles at the PLA 70th anniversary parade in 2019. (China’s Ministry of National Defense)

Once a missile enters and explodes, the damage can be rapidly stabilized or the warship can become unusable. Exhaust missiles that strike Sheffield The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a crowd of 2,000 people, but the tank did not explode. Deprived of water to fight fire, crew of Sheffield The ship was taken to the open deck in front of the bridge and behind the helicopter hangar; Conditions that hinder firefighting efforts.

Of Moskva The final pictures show extensive damage caused by a missile strike in the center of the ship, and also several burning signs indicating a large-scale fire from holes in the harbor and other non-corrosive parts. Commercially available Wargames also suggest that Slava-Class Cruiser (Moscow Named Slava Before its 2000 Rifit) many cruise missiles were able to survive, but in this case only two hits of medium-sized weapons appear to have fallen victim.

This is not surprising and not a new development. Strong warships from World War II, including capital ships, can be stabilized with one or two torpedo hits. Evidence that even a cruise missile strike can be devastating for a small or medium-sized ship is provided by a cruise missile attack on a U.S. high-speed vessel prior to 2016. AgileIt is then operated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE.). 270lb target drones and cruisers An unarmed drone can also make a big hole in the ship as evidenced by the 2013 crash of the USS. Chancellor’sville During tracking exercises.

Moscow One of the author’s NATO colleagues reported after the 2007 shipwreck that her officer’s quarters were still filled with flammable paneling and poorly maintained damage control gear. But today, with the exception of large aircraft carriers, most warships are equipped with hammer-equipped egg shells.

Sheffield and Moscow: A Common Fate?

The SheffieldSuch as Moscow, She was not immediately drowned by the impact of her cruise missile, but she lingered for several days until she sank in rough seas while being taken to the island of South Georgia for emergency repairs. Moscow Although it survived at first, it appears to have sunk later, and the weather has not changed much for the heavily damaged warship to sink.

The lesson to be learned from cruise missile warfare is that Wayne Hughes, a renowned professor of naval strategy, has taught his students for nearly four decades. Hughes always says, “Attack effectively first.” Don’t come to the end of a cruise missile attack because history suggests there may be only a few minutes or seconds to respond. Opposition parties should reject information that allows them to confidently target and fire on warships, while their own forces should prefer to secure the same targeting information for the first firing.

Sheffield did not see her lethal missiles until it was too late to respond, and Moscow Maybe that’s what happened. Advanced cruise missiles are now part of the arsenal of many nations and are improving in terms of speed, tactics, range and effectiveness. Lessons from both Moscow And Sheffield Naval missile attacks are not new revelations for naval warfare, but rather a timeless reminder that those who do not prepare their ships and crews to face the most prevalent threats may face tragic fate.

Dr. Steven Wills is a Marine of the Center for Maritime Strategy in the United States Navy League. He specializes in US Navy strategy and tactics and US Navy surface warfare programs and platforms. His research interests include the history of the development of U.S. naval strategy in the Cold War and the immediate aftermath, and the history of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet after World War II.

This article is courtesy of CIMSEC and can be found here in its original form.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.