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Power Growth in Naval Surface Combatants

Commentary, 18 October 2005
Maritime Forces, Technology, Europe
Installed power on naval surface combatants has steadily grown over the past few decades. The principal reasons for this are two fold: ships have got larger and faster, and ships have more power demanding mission-systems. This paper examines the technical drivers behind the trends.

Until recently only a few nations possessed ships and infrastructure capable of long term naval deployment worldwide, now many nations are committing to global operations albeit mostly in concert with multi-national task forces Multi-national global operations bring many demands on navies’ ships and their supporting infrastructure but one thing particularly relevant today is ‘mission unpredictability’ and hence the need for multi-mission flexibility. In order for a ship to be of use in the current climate of world-wide security it must be able to reach its destination rapidly and with as much autonomy as possible; it must be effective when it gets there and effective in a multitude of operation types ranging from humanitarian support to embargo enforcement to anti-terrorist operations.

A multi-national task force requires a minimum level of mission compatibility if each nation’s contribution is to add to the task forces impact rather than detract from it. Ship’s sustainable speed, aviation capability and communications are three areas but when operating across the globe, re-supply of equipment and weapons will also be a significant factor.

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