AHC: Carrier justification thread.

In the 70s a new-build Invincible was rejected as too expensive and her weapons, sensors and engines incompatible with the rest of the RAN. A new-build Iwo Jima was preferred because of the low costs and compatibility with other systems in service with the RAN. At the time it was planned that the Melbourne would run until 1985.

In 1981 when the 'vince was offered the ultra low initial price was enough for the Government to ignore the compatibility issues, especially when it would be cheaper to run than the Melbourne and would save $11 million on the refit scheduled for 1981. IIRC the 1981 plan was to only fly Sea Kings, no Sea Harrier purchase was included although that it likely to have occurred later.
 
And would they just have bought the one?

Given that every 5 years or so they go out of service for 12-18 months

That is something small countries work around. In a limited-war alliance context the owner of a single carrier would advise of its availability and capability and the multi-national command leader would slot it into the Fleet for that period of time. In WW3 or sovereign limited wars the 'Hermes option' (my name, very cool if I say so myself) will be used: in April 1982 the Hermes was 2 weeks into an 8 week refit but sailed to war 5 days later. If this isn't an option then the rest of the ADF (or other single carrier owning countries) might do things like redeploy a fighter sqn to Darwin or some other place up north and ensure that more than usual surface ships and subs are available for these long refits.
 
In the 70s a new-build Invincible was rejected as too expensive and her weapons, sensors and engines incompatible with the rest of the RAN. A new-build Iwo Jima was preferred because of the low costs and compatibility with other systems in service with the RAN. At the time it was planned that the Melbourne would run until 1985.

In 1981 when the 'vince was offered the ultra low initial price was enough for the Government to ignore the compatibility issues, especially when it would be cheaper to run than the Melbourne and would save $11 million on the refit scheduled for 1981. IIRC the 1981 plan was to only fly Sea Kings, no Sea Harrier purchase was included although that it likely to have occurred later.
The Tarawas were built in the early 70s and I note that 4 of the original planned 9 where ultimately never laid down

Iwo Jimas were using some very outdated rtech having been built in the early 60s and were still serving into the 80s

Perhaps a deal could have been made with the USA to have them build 2 more of the planned 9 Tarawas?

But that decision would have to have been made in 1971
 
The Tarawas were way more ship than we could handle, they were 40,000t and designed to utilise Marine planes and helicopters rather than the Army models we had purchased. IIUC they also cancelled the final 4 of the class due to massive cost escalation, which isn't helpful for us.
 
The Spanish laid down Principe de Asturias in October 1979. Thus, a design was available. This is a Melbourne sized ship with smaller crew and operating costs, after purchase. I had considered Tarawa, but the design is far more than Australia needs. The RAN could buy and operate a SCS and an LPD for similar running costs as a Tarawa. CATOBAR carriers will be larger and more expensive.
 
My vote is the Graf Zeppelin, just not as she was conceived or built. The first task of the KM is to counter the RN, to in a nutshell Pearl Harbor her battle line, and she had one or two ways to accomplish the task. More ideally the navy would gain a long range heavy bomber that could sink battleships at anchor, add long ranged torpedo bombers to in fact pull off a Taranto or PH, and the KM opens the door to the Atlantic. Oddly the former might suggest the He177 dive bombing strategic bomber, a plane that can hit a pin point target, but we digress into odd corners. Next best is to take the aircraft to the British anchorages. So despite my best efforts to find fault with a carrier for Germany, I can see a mission, and that mission demands something not aimed at lone distance hunting of merchants, not designed to be a raider, but rather a ship that can move a strike group to position, support it, and launch a raid to sink the Battleships before they get to sea, to strike one blow to level the playing field. I offer no promises it works, but that is the mission, the Graf Zeppelin would not be the bodge it was, rather a true strike carrier. I promise nothing as to if Germany can design or build this ship or her sisters, no promises on the aircraft, but if you want a fantasy ship, that is the carrier the KM could use to its war upon the RN. So if my KM Admirals cannot get warm and fuzzy over chasing commerse, then here is a real war making ship for their consideration.
 
In immediate post Great War Italy, the conversion of Leonardo da Vinci's damaged hull into a carrier was considered. The Italians decided the hulk was too damaged for such a conversion. The Navy had also considered a new build fora carrier. Perhaps during this time of financial strain, the Italians are able to acquire the final design for Hermes, with the British concerns over her size and weaknesses. The Italians review the design in the mid to late 1920's, increasing the size of the ship by 30-40%. In 1929, the Italians order a new Leonardo da Vinci in the form of a CVL. Do they have time to develop viable carrier doctrine before stumbling into the next Great War?
 
No matter what option is chosen I think that Melbourne needs to do a war cruise in Vietnam, to have hard evidence that Australia needs a carrier.
 
Do you have reference for that? Because I can't find anything stating that American carriers were equipped with Tartar, Talos or Terrier SAMS
USS Kitty Hawk and later carriers thru USS America were equipped with Terrier launchers on the port and starboard aft quarters. I believe Enterprise was supposed to have them but they were deleated to save costs. They were not installed on JFK as built and replaced by BPMDS soon after completion
 
The Tarawas were way more ship than we could handle, they were 40,000t and designed to utilise Marine planes and helicopters rather than the Army models we had purchased. IIUC they also cancelled the final 4 of the class due to massive cost escalation, which isn't helpful for us.
Problem with any of the LPH or LHA is their speed. They are only capable of 22-24 knots since they were designed to work with the 'Gator Navy' which had a force speed of 21 knots. The Sea Control Ship and derivatives were capable of 27 knots. This would work well with FFGs that Australia operated in this Era. This would also have moved the RAN to the more efficient gas turbine powerplants.
 
No matter what option is chosen I think that Melbourne needs to do a war cruise in Vietnam, to have hard evidence that Australia needs a carrier.
Is she going to have a primarily A-4 group similar to the CVS that was deployed as a 'limited attack carrier' to spread the load off the CVAs that were doing back to back rotations. Maybe add some USMC A-4s to beef up her air group?
 
Is she going to have a primarily A-4 group similar to the CVS that was deployed as a 'limited attack carrier' to spread the load off the CVAs that were doing back to back rotations. Maybe add some USMC A-4s to beef up her air group?
With OTL plans and suggestions no. The deployment plans up to April 1967 were as an ASW asset, and Melbourne didn't pick up the first batch of Skyhawks and Trackers until September 1967 and the refit to take them happened in 1968. By the time the A4s went to sea there were no more suggestions to use the Melbourne in Vietnam that I'm aware of.

However different things could quite plausibly butterfly that of course.
 
With OTL plans and suggestions no. The deployment plans up to April 1967 were as an ASW asset, and Melbourne didn't pick up the first batch of Skyhawks and Trackers until September 1967 and the refit to take them happened in 1968. By the time the A4s went to sea there were no more suggestions to use the Melbourne in Vietnam that I'm aware of.

However different things could quite plausibly butterfly that of course.
What was her air group at the time? And this is an ALTERNATE history site after all :)
 
What was her air group at the time? And this is an ALTERNATE history site after all :)
Gannets ASW, Sea Venoms FAW and Wessex ASW helicopters.

I think the most plausible PoD is OTL talks and OTL escort missions to Vietnam turning into a War Cruise. Getting Skyhawks into RAN service earlier (the likely PoD for this is in the late 50s) doesn't make the Melbourne more likely to do a War Cruise to Vietnam.
 
Sea Venom was an odd choice for a carrier in the 1960's. They really should have been replaced with A4's by 1962. They were obsolescent in 1955 when Melbourne entered service and should have been seen as no more than a stopgap.
 
Sea Venom was an odd choice for a carrier in the 1960's. They really should have been replaced with A4's by 1962. They were obsolescent in 1955 when Melbourne entered service and should have been seen as no more than a stopgap.
In like 1958 it was decided that Melbourne would be disposed of in the early 60s, then in 1959 it was decided to retain her as an ASW helicopter carrier so 27 Wessex ASW helicopters were ordered. Then in 1963 it was decided to order Trackers then in 1964 it was decided to order Skyhawks, both of which were collected in late 1967. That's why Sea Venom were in service in 1967, not because they were any good.

Ideally the Skyhawks and Trackers would have been ordered in 1958 or 59 and entered service in 1963 or so.
 
In like 1958 it was decided that Melbourne would be disposed of in the early 60s, then in 1959 it was decided to retain her as an ASW helicopter carrier so 27 Wessex ASW helicopters were ordered.
Ordering a Squadron of A4's for defence in 1959 when they decided to retain Melbourne would have been a reasonable course of action.
 
One of my favourite almost-were ships is the RN 1952 fleet carrier design. They just didn’t have the money or the RCNC manpower to do it at the time, but ended up spending far more money and manpower on the WW2 leftovers they ran instead. If it had been built (perhaps by cutting the escort programme back - which never made sense in an era of nuclear war) then the UK would have avoided a vast amount of pain later, with both the ships and air groups. The last couple of decks would probably have just about survived to the Falklands (Hermes did, and they’re probably going to be in better condition). They might well also allow CTOL aviation to survive the FAA - bigger and better decks mean fewer expensive compromises for the aircraft.
 
One of my favourite almost-were ships is the RN 1952 fleet carrier design. They just didn’t have the money or the RCNC manpower to do it at the time, but ended up spending far more money and manpower on the WW2 leftovers they ran instead. If it had been built (perhaps by cutting the escort programme back - which never made sense in an era of nuclear war) then the UK would have avoided a vast amount of pain later, with both the ships and air groups. The last couple of decks would probably have just about survived to the Falklands (Hermes did, and they’re probably going to be in better condition). They might well also allow CTOL aviation to survive the FAA - bigger and better decks mean fewer expensive compromises for the aircraft.
That's a good point. Having either a Malta or 1952 design carrier means the FAA could order a bone stock Phantom instead of the massive redesign the was needed to get them to operate off decks smaller than the US Essex class. Though there will still probably be a political push to use the Spey instead of the J79.
 
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