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Strike Cruiser (CSGN)

The Navy originally planned to procure 11 ships of the Virginia class, in combination with CGN's of earlier classes, would have provided each of the projected CVN's with four nuclear powered escort vessels. However, after four units of the Virginia class had been laid down, further orders were suspended while consideration was given to a Strike Cruiser (CSGN) concept.

In 1974, the Navy proposed a program for a nuclear powered strike cruiser (CSGN). During the Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council (DSARC) review, the Navy was asked to provide options for retrofit of the Aegis radar (based on a phased array proof of concept study conducted by JJMA) and to examine alternatives, both nuclear and conventional, considering both quantitative and qualitative factors. In June 1975 the Deputy Secretary of Defense (DEPSECDEF) directed the development of the gas turbine powered Aegis Destroyer (DDG 47), which was subsequently redesignated the CG 47 Ticonderoga class of Aegis cruisers.

Robert Taft, Jr., the son of Robert Alphonso Taft, grandson of President William Howard Taft, and grandnephew of Charles Phelps Taft, was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1970, and served from 03 January 1971, until his resignation 28 December 1976. William Sturgiss Lind worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., from 1973 through 1976, and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 through 1986. In 2004 Lind wrote: "My wake-up call came when the Navy approached the Senate Armed Services Committee, on which Senator Taft served, with a request for $1.4 billion (in 1974 dollars) for a nuclear-powered "Strike Cruiser." Senator Taft and I had the same response: How do you fight the Soviet Navy, which was largely a submarine navy, with nuclear-powered cruisers? The Navy had no answer, and Taft led the fight to kill the program. The ship was never built, and the Navy has hated me ever since."

CGN-9 Long Beach appeared to be a prime candidate for Aegis anti-air warfare system because she already carried phased array radars. But her radar was primitive compared to the Aegis SPY-1, and "conversion" would have been, in fact, reconstruction. In May 1975 Congressman Melvin Price, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, fired a salvo against OSD: "the committee tied the use of RDT&E funds for Aegis to your provision of a plan for a nuclear platform for Aegis .... As a start we expect to have Aegis installed promptly on the USS Long Beach".

In 1976 The Naval Ship Engineering Center (NAVSEC) initiated a model experimental program at the David W. Taylor Naval Ship R and D Center (DTNSRDC) to aid in the evaluation of a proposed design of the Nuclear Guided Missile Strike Cruiser (CSGN). David W Taylor Naval Ship Research And Development Center performed roll motion predictions for two Strike Cruiser (CSGN) candidate hull forms, unstabilized and stabilized with a proposed bilge keel. Sizing computations for bilge keels and anti-roll fins were made for one hull form for various stabilized configurations. The configurations included (a) bilge keels only, (b) one fin pair with bilge keels forward, and (c) two fin pairs with bilge keels forward and in between the fins. Recently developed techniques for determining ship response time histories at various locations other than the ship CG and in short-crested seas were used to calculate sample time histories of important ship responses. Model experiments were conducted prior to the roll predictions to obtain realistic roll decay coefficients. Also, the performance of selected bilge keel and active fin stabilizer configurations was predicted for the range of ship operating speeds in various sea conditions. Extensive seaworthiness experiments were carried out for the large waterplane version with a comprehensive program being conducted for the conventional version as well. The results indicate the two versions are similar with the conventional version exhibiting generally better seaworthiness characteristics.

The FY 1977 program was proposed as the first step of a sustained effort to assure that the United States, along with its allies, can maintain maritime defense, deterrence, and freedom of the seas. Congress failed to authorize $1.7 billion requested for new ship programs that were needed to strengthen US maritime capabilities. In particular, they denied funds for the lead ships for two production programs -- the nuclear strike cruiser and the conventionally powered AEGIS destroyer -- and for four modern frigates. In 1976, the Senate Armed Services Committee completely deleted a Navy request for the nuclear-powered strike cruiser, while the House Armed Services Committee cut the Navy cruise-missile program by 40 percent.

During the late 1970s, two nuclear-powered cruiser options were considered for the new cruiser to mount the new Aegis defense system. The 17,200-ton nuclear- powered strike cruiser (CSGN) and the 12,100-ton CGN-42 [derivative of the CGN-38 class] were both rejected in favor of a design that mounted the Aegis system on the smaller, conventionally powered Spruance (DD-963) class hull. The CSGN was estimated to have a unit procurement cost double the DD-963 option, while the CGN-42 was estimated to have a unit procurement cost 30% to 50% greater than the DD-963 option. The DD-963 option became the 9,500-ton [light] Ticonderoga (CG-47) class Aegis cruiser, the first of which was procured in FY1978.



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