Preserving Logistical Support for Deployed Battle Groups in Hostile Environments: A Decentralized Approach

Preserving Logistical Support for Deployed Battle Groups in Hostile Environments: A Decentralized Approach

Brian Colburn (US Navy, USA) and Emily Craparo (Naval Postgraduate School, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 43
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5513-1.ch011

Abstract

The U.S. Navy's at-sea replenishment system is a mobile supply line designed to support the deployed carrier task force (CTF)/cruiser/destroyer (CRUDES) surface action group (SAG) and forward deployed units while at sea. In the Pacific, the main component of the mobile supply line, the combat logistics force (CLF) ship, has become a possible target with the development of the anti-ship ballistic missile. With the ability to target and disable a CLF, an enemy can now disable a deployed CTF/CRUDES fleet by eliminating its required resources. With the goal of preserving the CLF's capabilities to perform its mission while avoiding ASBM threat, the authors consider the possibility of utilizing a “mini-CLF” to shuttle fuel between CLFs operating in a safe environment and warships operating in a threat zone. The authors perform two analyses: they (1) analyze the feasibility of using the Littoral combat ship/joint high-speed vessel, reconfigured as a shuttle to transport resources, and (2) analyze requirements for development of a new class of ships to support the CTF/CRUDES SAG while deployed in the Pacific.
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Background

The U.S. Navy’s at-sea replenishment system is a mobile supply line designed to support the deployed Carrier Task Force (CTF)/Cruiser/Destroyer (CRUDES) Surface Action Group (SAG) and forward deployed units while at sea. In the 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) the main component of the mobile supply line, the CLF ship, has become a possible target with the development of the Dong-Feng-21D (DF-21D), a Chinese-developed anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). With the claimed ability to target and disable our current CLF fleet with a DF-21D, if within range, an enemy can now disable a deployed CTF/CRUDES SAG by eliminating its required replenished resources, rendering it combat ineffective and more vulnerable to attack. With the goal of preserving the CLF’s ability to perform its mission while not subjecting it to an ASBM threat, this chapter considers the possibility of utilizing a “mini-CLF” to shuttle fuel between CLFs operating in a safe environment and warships operating in a threat zone. This study: (1) analyzes the feasibility of using existing assets such as LCS/JHSV, reconfigured as shuttles to transport underway replenishment requirements from the CLFs to the CTF/CRUDES SAG while deployed in the Western Pacific, and; (2) analyzes requirements for development of a new class of ships to support the CTF/CRUDES SAG while deployed in the Western Pacific. Examination of a shuttle’s performance and ability to support the deployed CTF/CRUDES SAG is based solely on the potential for a shuttle to connect with and transfer commodities from a port or CLF outside of the threat area to the deployed CTF/CRUDES SAG in the assigned AOR.

It has been suggested that LCS/JHSV could act as a shuttle supplying the deployed CTF/CRUDES SAG adequately. This work seeks to determine whether that is possible for our scenario, and if not, what would be the configuration requirements for a shuttle to perform this mission. Such a shuttle could act as an intermediate CLF less vulnerable to attack in an A2AD environment due to decreased size and possibly increased speed relative to traditional CLF vessels. To accomplish this, this work develops an optimization model that prescribes a refueling schedule for a set of warships, shuttles, and CLF ships, with the goal of maximizing on-station time for the warships while keeping the CLF ships out of harm’s way.

This work contributes a valuable network performance assessment and alternative to the 7th Fleet and Operational Navy (OPNAV) leadership. The tools developed for this study can be easily adapted to evaluate shuttle performance under a host of other employment parameters. The resultant understanding of how shuttle deployment affects a supply network’s ability to support mission critical replenishment will be invaluable in future systems analysis and CLF ship development.

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