Best warships that should have been built

5 Resolution class SSBN were built instead of 4. The fifth boat was ordered in 1963 along with the other four boats. It was laid down in 1965 at Vickers, Barrow or Cammel Laird and completed before the end of 1969. Furthermore, all five boats were refitted with Poseidon immediately after the USN finishes rearming its SSBNs with Poseidon. Consideration was given to rearming them with Trident 1, but it was decided that Poseidon would be adequate until the Vanguard class entered service.

5 Vanguard class SSBN were built to replace the Resolution class. They were also built at a faster rate than the OTL boats. IOTL the 4 boats were laid down 1986-93 and completed 1993-99. ITTL the 5 boats were laid down 1986-90 at a rate of one per year and completed 1993-97 at an average rate of one per year.
What would be the use in building 5 submarines instead of 4? The purchases of four submarines were made because that many submarines are needed to maintain one on station at all times. What does that fifth submarine get you in terms of deterrent capability?
 
That barely gives you a submarine to account for transit time to and from station, much less any shipyard maintenance that has to be done. The US Navy maintains 4 submarines on station with a total fleet of 14 submarines.
My understanding was that the 5th boat would be in dry dock or undergoing more intensive repair freeing the 4th boat to be more active. That put two boats deployed with one always in transit, either going to or returning from station, and that 4th boat undergoing minor repair, crew change, resupply and training pre-deployment.

I would guess patrol areas are a shorter distance away to cut transit times, that allows for more deployed time and only one boat needed to cover transit. Again that might mean a more frequent repair schedule on each boat so only one is fully out of service and to cut necessity for the shorter refits after or before each deployment. Another hull might ease training time for active boats too. But I think the idea was that 5 boats can assure two are deployable not necessarily two will be deployed. I believe there were times when the RN had effectively no boat deployable. And as mentioned it eases the burden to get any surge capability.
 
What would be the use in building 5 submarines instead of 4? The purchases of four submarines were made because that many submarines are needed to maintain one on station at all times. What does that fifth submarine get you in terms of deterrent capability?
Have you never heard of the old saying . . . "Never put all your eggs in one basket"?

What if the 'one on station' happens to be incapacitated for some reason?
 
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Have you never heard of the old saying . . . "Never put all your eggs in one basket"?

What if the 'one on station' happens to me incapacitated for some reason?
It's possible to maintain an at-sea deterrent with only two submarines, one on station and one either in transit or in port. A 90-day patrol with 10-day transits and 70 days on station gives the off-duty ship 50 days in port on the other end. Of course, this is only possible over the short-term, because it does not consider intensive maintenance concerns. The third and fourth submarines are the backups. The US deterrent system maintains 3.5 submarines for each submarine on station (4 out of 14 on station).
 
What would be the use in building 5 submarines instead of 4? The purchases of four submarines were made because that many submarines are needed to maintain one on station at all times. What does that fifth submarine get you in terms of deterrent capability?
It is well known that a fifth Polaris submarine was planned and that the decision not to build it was taken in 1965.

For decades I had though that the fifth boat was required to enable two to be on patrol at all times.

However, the entry on the Resolution class in Conway's 1947-1995 contains the following paragraph.
A special Polaris Executive was set up to supervise the building of the boats and the creation of training and support facilities, and so successful was the collaboration between the administrative and technical sides that the first boat, Resolution, went on patrol as planned in 1968. With Dreadnought it was the only British post-1945 defence programme to remain within its financial budget. Only one problem was encountered: the figure of five boats was arrived at after a careful study of refit schedules, and when the new Labour Defence Minister, Denis Healey, cancelled the order for the fifth boat as a gesture of appeasement, it became difficult to guarantee that one Polaris "bomber" would remain on patrol at all times. Up to 1992, however, there had officially been no gap in the patrol.
 
The French were able to do that with 6. 5 is really a stretch.
AIUI the French originally planned a force of five boats so that two would be on patrol at all times and that the sixth boat was built to make it easier to keep two on patrol at all times.

This is from the entry on L'Inflexible the sixth French SSBN in Jane's Fighting Ships 1986-87.
In September 1978 a decision was taken by President Giscard D'Estaing to proceed with the construction of a sixth SNLE to be of an intermediate type between her predecessors and a new class planned for 1990-2000. Ordered 26 November 1978. Her cost will be about 2,000 million Francs. The reasoning behind this order is that in order to have three submarines continuously available, of which two are on patrol, six hulls are required. If the ordering of this boat had not been delayed in December 1975, she would have been built with the M-20 missile system instead of the M-4 system which was operational in 1985. Having accepted that France would need six SNLE operational by 2000 the logic of having the most up-to-date missile system is clear.
 
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It is well known that a fifth Polaris submarine was planned and that the decision not to build it was taken in 1965.
The rumour I heard was that the 5th boat was really there to give Labour something to cut without affecting capability too much (although it would have been useful).
 
The rumour I heard was that the 5th boat was really there to give Labour something to cut without affecting capability too much (although it would have been useful).
Rule 1 of how to get a sane order in the British defense procurement system is to request far more of system than you actually need so you get the numbers you require an example of how not to do this is the Type 45
 
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It's possible to maintain an at-sea deterrent with only two submarines, one on station and one either in transit or in port. A 90-day patrol with 10-day transits and 70 days on station gives the off-duty ship 50 days in port on the other end. Of course, this is only possible over the short-term, because it does not consider intensive maintenance concerns. The third and fourth submarines are the backups. The US deterrent system maintains 3.5 submarines for each submarine on station (4 out of 14 on station).
How do you know that SSBN's have 10 day transit cycles?

Aren't they supposed to be secret?

You car and other mechanical devices that you have must have a 100% reliability rate if you think that.
 
How do you know that SSBN's have 10 day transit cycles?

Aren't they supposed to be secret?

You car and other mechanical devices that you have must have a 100% reliability rate if you think that.
It took Vanguard 10 days to get back to the Clyde after Triomphant ran into it out in the patrol zones. A modern SSBN can move silently at speeds of more than 10 knots, so a sub moving at 10 knots for 10 days can go 2400 nmi. This will get you from King's Bay to the Azores or from the Clyde to well inside the Barents Sea. US subs probably have longer transits to get farther north, while British and French subs probably have shorter transits. The patrol zones for all NATO SSBNs in the Atlantic are probably in the deep water south of Greenland and Iceland. We know that the Ohios have have patrol periods of 70 to 100 days and sometimes more but usually not less.
 
It took Vanguard 10 days to get back to the Clyde after Triomphant ran into it out in the patrol zones. A modern SSBN can move silently at speeds of more than 10 knots, so a sub moving at 10 knots for 10 days can go 2400 nmi. This will get you from King's Bay to the Azores or from the Clyde to well inside the Barents Sea. US subs probably have longer transits to get farther north, while British and French subs probably have shorter transits. The patrol zones for all NATO SSBNs in the Atlantic are probably in the deep water south of Greenland and Iceland. We know that the Ohios have have patrol periods of 70 to 100 days and sometimes more but usually not less.
That's the point I'm making . . . no one knows how long the transit time of each SSBN is as it's entirely up to the Cmdr of each sub where he travels to and where he 'patrols' Only because a SSBN can silently run a 10 kts per hour doesn't mean he's going to do that.

Vanguard took 10 days to get back back home, of course she did, but you're making transiting & patrolling two different things when there not. A SSBN out of the Clyde starts it's 'patrol' as you call it as soon as it leaves port. SSBN's don't go travel around in the same area as it would make them more easier to locate by enemy SSN's.
 
entirely up to the Cmdr of each sub where he travels to and where he 'patrols'
This is complete BS and it belongs in the cow you pulled it out of. SSBNs patrol in designated patrol boxes so there are always missiles in position capable of reaching a certain set of designated targets. That patrol boxes exist is common knowledge. If they weren't operating in a constrained area, the SIOP (or whatever it is now) would have to be continuously recalculated to account for the targets each submarines could hit from its current position. You would have to redevelop your entire nuclear utilization plan every twelve hours, including disseminating the exact location of all of the underway submarines to all of the nuclear planners. With designated patrol boxes, and by assuming that the submarine is at the far side of the box from whatever target you are looking at, you will have a constant targeting assignment ready for the submarine in each patrol box, and there would be an orderly transition of target coverage as each new submarine arrived in the patrol box and took over watch duty from the previous submarine. The only change in targeting is if the planners decide to change where the warheads fall, which is irrelevant to the submarine as long as the missiles can fly far enough. Considering the range of a Trident II missile (at least 6,000 miles with the light MIRV loads), the range penalty for a 500 x 500 mile patrol box is quite minimal, but it gives the submarine an area half the size of the Norwegian Sea to hide in. From a patrol box south of Iceland, a Trident II submarine would be able to make transpolar shots at the entire land area of Russia.

A SSBN out of the Clyde starts it's 'patrol' as you call it as soon as it leaves port.
Yes, it starts its patrol period when it leaves port, and yes, there is no real difference to the crew, but it is not able to take over those targeting responsibilities until it is in the patrol box. In a no-warning nuclear war, submarines in transit probably wouldn't engage without receiving specific targeting information tailored not only to the situation but to the submarine's location, so they would essentially be a reserve force supporting the action of the alert force submarine-based SLBMs and land-based ICBMs.
 
For US SSBNs it’s about a 100 day cycle. 2-3 days turnover at each end, 25ish days for refit, transit time and then the actual patrol is around 70 days. If you really want to figure the patrol area, look at the range of the missiles. A3s had a range of 2500 miles. That put our 41 for Freedom class and their A3 boats patrolling up north. Tridents can patrol just about anywhere because the missiles have a range of around 4,600 miles. SSBNs don’t just head straight for their patrol areas. If they think there are other countries fast boats around they will get de-loused by a SSN or even another SSBN. They will then go deep and head out. On the back end they’ll come off of alert and start doing all the administrative crap. Either coner or Nuke drills/inspections. Then they come in and turnover to the other crew. Trident crews have what’s called refit assist now. The off going crew gets two weeks off then comes back and helps with general maintenance until the on crew goes to sea. A boat can also be on patrol but not actually on alert. STRATCOM controls the alert times.
 
This is complete BS and it belongs in the cow you pulled it out of. SSBNs patrol in designated patrol boxes so there are always missiles in position capable of reaching a certain set of designated targets. That patrol boxes exist is common knowledge. If they weren't operating in a constrained area, the SIOP (or whatever it is now) would have to be continuously recalculated to account for the targets each submarines could hit from its current position. You would have to redevelop your entire nuclear utilization plan every twelve hours, including disseminating the exact location of all of the underway submarines to all of the nuclear planners. With designated patrol boxes, and by assuming that the submarine is at the far side of the box from whatever target you are looking at, you will have a constant targeting assignment ready for the submarine in each patrol box, and there would be an orderly transition of target coverage as each new submarine arrived in the patrol box and took over watch duty from the previous submarine. The only change in targeting is if the planners decide to change where the warheads fall, which is irrelevant to the submarine as long as the missiles can fly far enough. Considering the range of a Trident II missile (at least 6,000 miles with the light MIRV loads), the range penalty for a 500 x 500 mile patrol box is quite minimal, but it gives the submarine an area half the size of the Norwegian Sea to hide in. From a patrol box south of Iceland, a Trident II submarine would be able to make transpolar shots at the entire land area of Russia.


Yes, it starts its patrol period when it leaves port, and yes, there is no real difference to the crew, but it is not able to take over those targeting responsibilities until it is in the patrol box. In a no-warning nuclear war, submarines in transit probably wouldn't engage without receiving specific targeting information tailored not only to the situation but to the submarine's location, so they would essentially be a reserve force supporting the action of the alert force submarine-based SLBMs and land-based ICBMs.
Pretty much correct. Since I signed an NDA when I retired I’m not sure what I’m allowed to talk about. SIOP, patrol areas, target packages, alert times are all crazy top secret.
 
This is complete BS and it belongs in the cow you pulled it out of. SSBNs patrol in designated patrol boxes so there are always missiles in position capable of reaching a certain set of designated targets. That patrol boxes exist is common knowledge. If they weren't operating in a constrained area, the SIOP (or whatever it is now) would have to be continuously recalculated to account for the targets each submarines could hit from its current position. You would have to redevelop your entire nuclear utilization plan every twelve hours, including disseminating the exact location of all of the underway submarines to all of the nuclear planners. With designated patrol boxes, and by assuming that the submarine is at the far side of the box from whatever target you are looking at, you will have a constant targeting assignment ready for the submarine in each patrol box, and there would be an orderly transition of target coverage as each new submarine arrived in the patrol box and took over watch duty from the previous submarine. The only change in targeting is if the planners decide to change where the warheads fall, which is irrelevant to the submarine as long as the missiles can fly far enough. Considering the range of a Trident II missile (at least 6,000 miles with the light MIRV loads), the range penalty for a 500 x 500 mile patrol box is quite minimal, but it gives the submarine an area half the size of the Norwegian Sea to hide in. From a patrol box south of Iceland, a Trident II submarine would be able to make transpolar shots at the entire land area of Russia.


Yes, it starts its patrol period when it leaves port, and yes, there is no real difference to the crew, but it is not able to take over those targeting responsibilities until it is in the patrol box. In a no-warning nuclear war, submarines in transit probably wouldn't engage without receiving specific targeting information tailored not only to the situation but to the submarine's location, so they would essentially be a reserve force supporting the action of the alert force submarine-based SLBMs and land-based ICBMs.
You've just contradicted yourself.

On the one hand you say they need a 'patrol box' in a said area to stop the SIOP being continually updated . . . but then you say

"In a no-warning nuclear war, submarines in transit probably wouldn't engage without receiving specific targeting information tailored not only to the situation but to the submarine's location, so they would essentially be a reserve force supporting the action of the alert force submarine-based SLBMs and land-based ICBMs."

That's the point . . . the UK's SSBN fleet are a 'counter strike' force. The boat on patrol is expected to ride out the USSR's first strike then travel North after receiving it's orders and the Cmdr reading the PM's "Letters of Last Resort" to it's firing position where it's missiles are in range. By doing that the RN's boat can go anywhere it wants to until ordered to attack as it increases it's survivability.
 
That's the point . . . the UK's SSBN fleet are a 'counter strike' force. The boat on patrol is expected to ride out the USSR's first strike then travel North after receiving it's orders and the Cmdr reading the PM's "Letters of Last Resort" to it's firing position where it's missiles are in range. By doing that the RN's boat can go anywhere it wants to until ordered to attack as it increases it's survivability.
Letters of Last Resort may sound cool, but that's not how nuclear war is actually fought. Because of the severe limits on the availability of launch platforms and warheads, the conduct of nuclear war is very tightly controlled. In the real world, the Soviet first strike is detected by DSP and other satellites designed to spot the thermal bloom of a large rocket launch. National command authorities are alerted and issue orders based on prior contingency planning, so a set of targets and assignments is ready for any order that might he given based on the response deemed appropriate according to civilian political priorities. Orders are then disseminated to launch platforms to inform them of the selected target package and the initiation time; the launch platforms already know their role (which targets they have to hit and what time after initiation) in each target package scenario. The first salvo of the nuclear war unfolds exactly according to plan, at least on the launch side. After that, subsequent operations are planned and conducted based on the results of previous strikes. I am not saying that planning cannot be dynamic, but rather that the initial missile salvos in the first hour of a nuclear war will be very highly orchestrated, especially compared to the missions that nuclear-armed aircraft will fly in the subsequent 6 to 24 hours.

For example, the US has pre-made plans for limited nuclear wars with Iran and North Korea, responding to single digits of missile launches against military targets in foreign countries and overseas territories, and plans for more general nuclear war with China and Russia, which have the ability to lay down large numbers of warheads in the contiguous United States. The point of these plans is to prevent a situation where a civilian politician has to invent a nuclear warfighting strategy in about two minutes. The objective of nuclear utilization planning is to ensure that targets are not hit more than necessary (wasting resources on destroyed targets), and, more importantly, to ensure that important or dangerous targets are not missed. This kind of planning cannot happen when enemy missiles are downbound.
 
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