Your Mission, if you choose to accept it...CVLN's

Could the USCG make good use of disaster relief aircraft carriers?


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At this point I really want to ask, again, why not plug an SSN into the power grid, using it's crew ashore and keeping air operations at sea where the ship can actually maneuver to optimize air capability?
 
At this point I really want to ask, again, why not plug an SSN into the power grid, using it's crew ashore and keeping air operations at sea where the ship can actually maneuver to optimize air capability?
Good question!

There isn't any good reason not to be able to plug ships into shore based power grids in the case of an emergency, it's just that we as a civilization have not seen fit to do so, not that it poses some insurmountable challenge.

Pugging in a sub or three would be good, if you have the 'plugs' to connect to, but why should it stop there? What if LA somehow lost power completely for a number of weeks or months, could all the subs in the US fleet provide enough power to get that one city back up and running again?

Subs could provide some power, but they cannot provide airlift nor cargo capacity, they completely lack the mass evacuation/casualty handling that a CVLN would bring to the party.

Power lines up on poles where the wind can blow trees down on those lines may be cheaper to put in place and easier/cheaper to maintain, but what about putting power lines underground? Back in the early days, cities were covered in a multitude of 'lines' running all over the place, but nowadays, most urban power lines are underground, and not as vulnerable to wind damage, so getting off-shore nuclear power into such a power grid would seem like a sensible thing to prepare for.

My Notional CVLN's could provide much more power than a sub, when needed, and if not needed, could provide a variety of needed functions as the situation requires, and the subs, not so much so. No subs are going to have an engineering complement/heavy equipment capable of being airlifted ashore, to prepare the 'plug' for use, let alone install such a plug during a disaster.

So far as the 'ship to shore' power situation, it really just comes down to two things, do you have the existing infrastructure in place to receive it, and how much can you take in/can the ship(s) provide. Right now, the existing 'shore to ship' plugs are designed with the idea of powering a ships minimal needs when tied up alongside, without it's own power plant needing to be operational, but not to provide as much power to the ships as they can generate themselves on their own. My notional CVLN's would not just be designed to be able to provide all of their generated power to shore, but to also be designed to have far more power then the ship itself would ever need, just to make possible a massive amount of electrical power ashore, and when you combine this with electric/hybrid equipment being airlifted into the disaster area directly from the carrier, to bulldoze debris and cutdown/chop up fallen trees and other needed functions, independent of local power/fuel infrastructure, I think that a class of CVLN would indeed be an ideal choice for DR/HR efforts, and would likely provide the 'core' for any such future efforts, should they actually be made a reality, as unlikely as that may be...

Anyone want to start posting different types of disasters that a CVLN might be good for? Hurricanes/Tsunami's are already in the mind's eye, but what about other types of disasters? Blizzards would seem to be a potential candidate for this list, if the CVLN could have electric/hybrid snowplows loaded aboard ready to get airlifted into position...
 
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wait, so we are talking about nuclear power aircraft carriers as relieve/rescue ships?

Whats wrong with a hospital ship accompanied by some massive auxiliary ship that can do all sorts of good stuff, including repair, support, research and transport?
 
Welcome to the thread!

wait, so we are talking about nuclear power aircraft carriers as relieve/rescue ships?
We are indeed, but to be clear, the proposed notional CVLN's are US Coast Guard ships, intended for Humanitarian Relief/Disaster Relief functions as their primary role, as opposed to US Navy aircraft carriers.
Whats wrong with a hospital ship accompanied by some massive auxiliary ship that can do all sorts of good stuff, including repair, support, research and transport?
Nothing at all wrong with a hospital ship, but can a hospital ship airlift massive numbers of refugees? Define the 'Massive Auxiliary Ship' you intend and/or envision as an alternative to the notional, full on CVLN? Does it include rotary wing aircraft? or what exactly? The only thing I would think my CVLN wouldn't have that an amphib would, would be the landing craft, and there wouldn't be any reason that existing amphibs couldn't work alongside the hospital ships and the CVLN's is there?
 
Welcome to the thread!


We are indeed, but to be clear, the proposed notional CVLN's are US Coast Guard ships, intended for Humanitarian Relief/Disaster Relief functions as their primary role, as opposed to US Navy aircraft carriers.

Nothing at all wrong with a hospital ship, but can a hospital ship airlift massive numbers of refugees? Define the 'Massive Auxiliary Ship' you intend and/or envision as an alternative to the notional, full on CVLN? Does it include rotary wing aircraft? or what exactly? The only thing I would think my CVLN wouldn't have that an amphib would, would be the landing craft, and there wouldn't be any reason that existing amphibs couldn't work alongside the hospital ships and the CVLN's is there?

So what is wrong with amphibious landing ships with helicopters? Helicopters can take tremendous loads, plus a lot of can also land rotary wing aircraft(which are basically helicopters) like Ospreys.



doesn't this come very close to what you want?

All it lacks in the nuclear portion, which i guess you just find cool(i agree). because it really doesn't have to be nuclear, at all. its also not civiliant of course, but lets face it, what else to conduct such a large and complex and long operation like a disaster relieve effort than the navy? A private company?
 
Interesting thoughts.

Is anyone else having a bit of trouble with the new forum software, in respect to breaking up a post that you want to respond to into smaller, bite sized pieces? The old software I had down to a tee, but this new stuff is causing me some problems. The cost of progress, lol.

So what is wrong with amphibious landing ships with helicopters? Helicopters can take tremendous loads, plus a lot of can also land rotary wing aircraft(which are basically helicopters) like Ospreys.
Nothing is wrong with the amphibious ships, except all the space wasted for the well deck/landing craft. I may be thinking wrong, just like historically when the missile advocates wanted to remove 'guns' from america's jet fighters, only to discover that there were indeed situations where the gun was needed and preferable to the missile.

We already have the good, useful, multi-role amphibious ships, but let's say the beaches/shoreline are so smashed up as to be impassable/useless, ships that are designed to bring their loads into action are then left without the ability to intercede quickly, and while there is still the ability to operate a limited number of helicopters and ospreys, this will be less than that offered by my notional CVLN, which concentrates is full loaded aboard volume to operations independent of the conditions on the beach/shoreline, and thus more deliverable aid per ton of ship.

One need look no further than the America class ships, to see this very debate/design choice played out, albit with a military rather than civilian function in mind.


doesn't this come very close to what you want?
It does come close! :)
It is also a matter of scale, though. Those ships are far to tiny to provide the material aid that I envision being needed in a major disaster. For example, what numbers of folks ashore would be able to count on fresh water deliveries from such ships? Their light displacements make me think that they would have limited capabilities to create and deliver fresh water, and no real capacity to bring in supplies/equipment for dealing with the cleanup.
All it lacks is the nuclear portion, which i guess you just find cool (i agree). because it really doesn't have to be nuclear, at all. its also not civilian of course, but lets face it, what else to conduct such a large and complex and long operation like a disaster relieve effort than the navy?
Non-nuclear vessels have to devote space to fuel, that could otherwise be used to haul additional equipment/personal/supplies, and when this fuel is gone/runs low, they either have to bring more fuel in, or leave, so...
A private company?
I just have a mental image, of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, where the relief effort was run by a private company, known and hated by its customers as "Comcast". It would give a whole new (and worse) meaning to the phrase, "It's COMCASTIC!!!"
 
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and batteries, don't forget the batteries :)

You get around 150-200W per sq. meter in good sunlight. Your typical marine propulsion nuclear reactor produces a few hundred megawatt. Lets say 200MW, so 'all' you need is a million square meters of solar ... but actually that's wrong .. what you really need is around 3 million square meters because you have to generate enough power whilst the sun shines to keep going in the dark. That's around 32 million sq feet. The batteries, on the other hand, seem to be 'easy' ... you only need to store say 18 hours at 200MW = 3600MWhours = 3,600,000 kWh to keep you going at night and on dull days ..... and it looks as if 1 kWh per 1 kg of battery might be possible, so that's 3,600,000kg or only around 4,000 tons ... and this assumes you never sail too far north (or south) in the winter, since you need at least 8 hours of good sunlight per day ....

Now the Nimitz class carrier is around 1,000 feet long x 250 wide = 250,000 sq feet. So for 32 million sq ft you need to cover an area equal to 124 Nimitz class carriers in solar to get the same power as a nuclear generator ...

PS That's ignoring the wind generators. If you can guarantee some 'average' wind speed, then you can up the batteries and reduce the solar ... problem is, a couple of days of low wind speeds could then see you stuck at sea with flat batteries ...

Of course, what you REALLY need is back-up generators for dull no wind days :)
Maybe some large barges could be pre positioned along each coast. These barges could have the appropriate switch gear, cables, transformers etc to allow banks of large industrial trailer mounted generators to be used to provide back up power. Fuel could also be stored on other barges.
 
This is an interesting idea. There are just too many issues with it being nuclear powered.

Coast Guard belongs to Homeland Security. CG budget is around 12B/year. A Virginia class sub costs around 3B. They couldn’t afford a nuclear powered ship. Either to buy or to operate.

The engineering crew would have to be nuclear trained. The CO would have to be nuclear trained. (Current carrier COs have to be from plane world. When they go to PCO school, they go through the Nuke pipeline to qualify). That’s somewhere between 40 and 500 ish enlisted. 4-5 Junior officers. 1 O-4 Engineer qualified person and the CO. All of those people would have to rotate off at the end of their tours with new people rotating in. They would need a career path. There wouldn’t be one since nothing else in the CG uses nuclear power.

As mentioned before, the ship would be limited in the ports it could visit. The ports have to have the infrastructure to deal with possible accidents. Not going to have that in an under developed country.

Even the US couldn’t afford nuclear powered cruisers. Nuclear powered ships just have too many issues. Interesting idea, but the devil is in the details.
 
Interesting thoughts.

Is anyone else having a bit of trouble with the new forum software, in respect to breaking up a post that you want to respond to into smaller, bite sized pieces? The old software I had down to a tee, but this new stuff is causing me some problems. The cost of progress, lol.


Nothing is wrong with the amphibious ships, except all the space wasted for the well deck/landing craft. I may be thinking wrong, just like historically when the missile advocates wanted to remove 'guns' from america's jet fighters, only to discover that there were indeed situations where the gun was needed and preferable to the missile.

We already have the good, useful, multi-role amphibious ships, but let's say the beaches/shoreline are so smashed up as to be impassable/useless, ships that are designed to bring their loads into action are then left without the ability to intercede quickly, and while there is still the ability to operate a limited number of helicopters and ospreys, this will be less than that offered by my notional CVLN, which concentrates is full loaded aboard volume to operations independent of the conditions on the beach/shoreline, and thus more deliverable aid per ton of ship.

One need look no further than the America class ships, to see this very debate/design choice played out, albit with a military rather than civilian function in mind.

It does come close! :)
It is also a matter of scale, though. Those ships are far to tiny to provide the material aid that I envision being needed in a major disaster. For example, what numbers of folks ashore would be able to count on fresh water deliveries from such ships? Their light displacements make me think that they would have limited capabilities to create and deliver fresh water, and no real capacity to bring in supplies/equipment for dealing with the cleanup.

Non-nuclear vessels have to devote space to fuel, that could otherwise be used to haul additional equipment/personal/supplies, and when this fuel is gone/runs low, they either have to bring more fuel in, or leave, so...

I just have a mental image, of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, where the relief effort was run by a private company, known and hated by its customers as "Comcast". It would give a whole new (and worse) meaning to the phrase, "It's COMCASTIC!!!"

I appreciate your approach but i think you are overlooking a few things.

I mentioned the japanese helicopter carriers because they are pretty new and modern, but the America class you mentioned yourself are at least twice as big(40,000 tons). They can easily carry hundreds of tonnes of supplies.

Did you know that a Super Stallion can carry almost 30 tons of supplies? Have a dozen of those on board, the relief effort is highly efficient. No need to land either.

You seem to be confused with fuel being a waste of space whilst suggesting replacing it with nuclear reactors, each with 2 steam turbines, those things are huge. The bigger the ship the bigger the steam turbines too, if you want to go to the 100,000 tons range. And if they have to do what you want them to do(supply power) they are gonna need 3 of them, so thats 6 steam turbines. I'd say that takes up more than fuel does, plus these things take a lot of maintenance space and safety protocols with them.
Imagine they can put the fuel on the lowest deck, spread out over the entire bottom. Way more efficient than 3 nuclear powerplants with steamturbine of a couple of hundred thousand HP.

Besides, fuel based carrier have an operating range of over 12000 kilometers. Where do you want them to go? All you need is some tankers ready to refuel them, occasionally.
 
Maybe some large barges could be pre positioned along each coast. These barges could have the appropriate switch gear, cables, transformers etc to allow banks of large industrial trailer mounted generators to be used to provide back up power. Fuel could also be stored on other barges.
I like your input. My own (as yet undisclosed) ideas centered around offshore platforms being built far enough out to allow for deep water ships to make the ship to shore connections.

I like the idea of staging such barges in/nearby likely areas that are prone to disasters, and this would allow for shortened response times by pre-positioning materials, equipment, and supplies 'in theater', as opposed to even having them sitting around in storage depots onshore. There would be the need for moving these barges from their staging areas to the disaster areas, but that would not be anything like an insurmountable problem.
 
So, there seems to be some doubts about offshore Nuclear Power plants being safe, or cost effective, or even feasible and I just wanted to post the following three links to get further (informed) opinions about this aspect of my notional CVLN's missions.

Some links:
Link #1
Link #2
Link #3

It looks to me like offshore Nuclear power plants can, and actually are going to be built going forward, which puts to rest the arguments of cost and feasibility. Safety we will just have to wait and see about. Hopefully, I can get new votes on the poll, that reflect the changing perceptions on just how possible some aspects of my idea actually are.
:)
 
From what I can tell, the core issue is that nuclear power is much less cost effective then oil for ocean-going ships. It only really makes sense to go nuclear if you need massive, long haul endurance AND speed and are willing to pay a premium for it; this means submarines (for whom stealth is paramount and staying underwater as long as possible is a must), carriers (too valuable to risk in port), and maybe ice breakers. Aside from that, you're much better off just using conventional engines for cost reasons. You could make a disaster relief nuclear-powered carrier, and it would come in handy at times, but for the same price you'd be better off investing in a conventional ship and putting the rest of the money elsewhere.
 
So, there seems to be some doubts about offshore Nuclear Power plants being safe, or cost effective, or even feasible and I just wanted to post the following three links to get further (informed) opinions about this aspect of my notional CVLN's missions.

Some links:
Link #1
Link #2
Link #3

It looks to me like offshore Nuclear power plants can, and actually are going to be built going forward, which puts to rest the arguments of cost and feasibility. Safety we will just have to wait and see about. Hopefully, I can get new votes on the poll, that reflect the changing perceptions on just how possible some aspects of my idea actually are.
:)
There's a big difference between an offshore power plant (which does not have to move and can be more or less arbitrarily big) and a nuclear-powered ship.
 
SS Savannah.
 

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Everyone is assuming that there will be a shore grid to plug into. The first thing that gets destroyed in a disaster is the power greid. Having multiple smaller generator/power supplies that can deployed close to the immediate need is a much more flexible solution. Back in the 70s the U.S> Navy had a DE that had been converted to be a portable power ship. The ship chosen was a WWII design that had been built with Turbo-electric propulsion. That meant that the powerplant that normally powered the ship could have its electrical power diverted to power cables that could be routed into the local grid. To connect to the grid she carried a HUGE spool of cable that took a large amount of deck space that had been taken up by a deck house an 5 tube torpedo mount. The Lexington could do what she did because she was designed with turbo electric propulsion. For modern ships to do the same they would have to design in much larger generators than they normally have

For emergencies like Blizzards and such Diesel locomotives have often been used as emergency power supplies . They are put at a location near a power station or transformer/switching location and hooked into the power grid. Again this works because the locomotive contains a complete generator set and they can reroute the output from the drive motors to the local grid. Most ships do not have generators that can absorb all the power that their powerplants put out.
 
I appreciate your approach but i think you are overlooking a few things.

I mentioned the japanese helicopter carriers because they are pretty new and modern, but the America class you mentioned yourself are at least twice as big(40,000 tons). They can easily carry hundreds of tonnes of supplies.

Did you know that a Super Stallion can carry almost 30 tons of supplies? Have a dozen of those on board, the relief effort is highly efficient. No need to land either.

You seem to be confused with fuel being a waste of space whilst suggesting replacing it with nuclear reactors, each with 2 steam turbines, those things are huge. The bigger the ship the bigger the steam turbines too, if you want to go to the 100,000 tons range. And if they have to do what you want them to do(supply power) they are gonna need 3 of them, so thats 6 steam turbines. I'd say that takes up more than fuel does, plus these things take a lot of maintenance space and safety protocols with them.
Imagine they can put the fuel on the lowest deck, spread out over the entire bottom. Way more efficient than 3 nuclear powerplants with steamturbine of a couple of hundred thousand HP.

Besides, fuel based carrier have an operating range of over 12000 kilometers. Where do you want them to go? All you need is some tankers ready to refuel them, occasionally.

From what I understand when youre talking about a supercarrier sized vessel the needed reactors ( and assosciated nuclear engineering spaces) are a lot more compact then the equivalent conventional powerplants and petroleum based fuel for said powerplant. As in on a nuclear carrier it allows for something like 50 percent more space to be devoted to storage space for aircraft fuel and munitions.

The problem for the suggested vessel is that the nuclear powerplants ( unlike on a regular supercarrier) just aren't worth the cost and the vessel is overspecialized.

Makes more sense for the purpose to go for something like something like the expeditionary transfer dock. Basically either convert an existing large merchant vessel of the type or build a new one to civilian standards ( much much cheaper then the ones needed for naval vessels). Basically build in or modify the capability to carry multiple helicopters, multiple landing craft and small rescue boats, a large medical facility or spaces that can rapidly be modified for said purpose, large amounts of storage space for generators, trucks, heavy construction equipment, food, water purifiers, and space for a sizable complement of engineers, rescue workers and medical personel.

Have one of the first things they do upon arrival be repairing existing port facilities and building or repairing existing airfields. That allows normal merchant vessels to use the port facilities to unload supplies and commercial/ military cargo planes to unload larger amounts of aid cargo.

If their are no port facilities ( so instead of a city some isolated coastal area) use the ETD variants landing craft ( and built in cranes on the ETD to unload other normal civilian ships aid cargo.

Much much much cheaper and better suited to the task.
 
There's a big difference between an offshore power plant (which does not have to move and can be more or less arbitrarily big) and a nuclear-powered ship.
True, but then that post is focused on providing links to real-world applications of off-shore Nuclear power to land power grids, because it doesn't seem like folks are aware that this has been done in the past, and were thinking that it is not cost effective form of power or some such.
 
Everyone is assuming that there will be a shore grid to plug into. The first thing that gets destroyed in a disaster is the power grid.
In many cases, right now today, that may be the case. Puerto Rico for instance, is a classic example of what you are talking about.

As a child, when I was growing up, I was always amazed by the vast tangle of power lines in the suburbs where my grandparents lived compared to the relatively few power lines one sees today. Currently, I live in a small apartment community of ~ 500 apartments, and all of our power lines here are buried. We get plenty of rain and snow here, and never has that been a problem, whereas the unburied power lines all around us commonly suffer wind damage/ice buildup.

I say this by way of pointing out that, as there are alternatives to the cheap and vulnerable power grid strung up in the air running from pole to pole, let us acknowledge that while your first point is demonstrably true today, it need not be so in the future.
Having multiple smaller generator/power supplies that can deployed close to the immediate need is a much more flexible solution.
While that sounds good in theory, I feel compelled to question this assumption, in the case of a large scale disaster, would not each and every one of these 'smaller' plug-in's not each need to be cleared before they can be made use of? What good, if 20 locations need cleared, versus just one for a CVLN?
Back in the 70s the U.S> Navy had a DE that had been converted to be a portable power ship. The ship chosen was a WWII design that had been built with Turbo-electric propulsion. That meant that the powerplant that normally powered the ship could have its electrical power diverted to power cables that could be routed into the local grid. To connect to the grid she carried a HUGE spool of cable that took a large amount of deck space that had been taken up by a deck house an 5 tube torpedo mount. The Lexington could do what she did because she was designed with turbo electric propulsion. For modern ships to do the same they would have to design in much larger generators than they normally have.
Let us not forget that in the same time frame, the Panama canal was getting powered by a converted WWII Liberty ship housing a nuclear power plant.
 
From what I understand when you're talking about a supercarrier sized vessel the needed reactors ( and associated nuclear engineering spaces) are a lot more compact then the equivalent conventional power plants and petroleum based fuel for said powerplant. As in on a nuclear carrier it allows for something like 50 percent more space to be devoted to storage space for aircraft fuel and munitions.
Thank you! I had the same impression, but health issues have precluded me from doing much lately, and that included researching and posting a rebuttal. Before the last round of health problems, I had started looking for facts and hard data, but not knowing where to look for this info prevented a timely reply here in thread.

The problem for the suggested vessel is that the nuclear power plants ( unlike on a regular supercarrier) just aren't worth the cost and the vessel is overspecialized.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this one. Why is a purpose designed, non-combat USCG CVLN going to be overspecialized when compared to a USN CVN? My vision includes the capacity to carry far more cargo than a fleet carrier can, even with both the flight & hanger decks crammed with DR cargo, in addition to many other missions, one of which is to provide massive 'ship-to-shore' power when needed, so, how overspecialized?
Makes more sense for the purpose to go for something like something like the expeditionary transfer dock. Basically either convert an existing large merchant vessel of the type or build a new one to civilian standards ( much much cheaper then the ones needed for naval vessels). Basically build in or modify the capability to carry multiple helicopters, multiple landing craft and small rescue boats, a large medical facility or spaces that can rapidly be modified for said purpose, large amounts of storage space for generators, trucks, heavy construction equipment, food, water purifiers, and space for a sizable complement of engineers, rescue workers and medical personel.

Have one of the first things they do upon arrival be repairing existing port facilities and building or repairing existing airfields. That allows normal merchant vessels to use the port facilities to unload supplies and commercial/ military cargo planes to unload larger amounts of aid cargo.

If their are no port facilities ( so instead of a city some isolated coastal area) use the ETD variants landing craft ( and built in cranes on the ETD to unload other normal civilian ships aid cargo.

Much much much cheaper and better suited to the task.
I'm starting to get tired and feeling sick again, but I did want to post this link before taking a break again, and hopefully one that won't keep me from posting for three weeks this time...

ETD.
 
fixed wing aircraft need be as big and heavy as current combat capable jet aircraft, so even there, the lighter aircraft (especially the unnamed ones), are probably not needing WOD to operate, so...
IDK about you, but I'm picturing something like the DHC Dash-7 or -8, or a Cessna 208. For the helos, I'd want civilian CH-54s or Mi-10s.
if the local power grid can send GW forth, then surely a shore "plug" could be built to tie into said grid
The problem isn't "plugging in", it's having a grid to plug into. In PR, much of the grid was (remains!) down as a result of the storm. IIRC, that was also true after Katrina. It frequently is. If the grid isn't working, being able to plug into it, or not, is irrelevant.

Whence the demand for generators.

If I was looking at a solution to fuelling them, I'd be getting away from fuel bladders in favor of something like a kerosene-tight flexible pipeline that can be unrolled from a truck. (I believe this kind of thing already exists, with a smaller-diameter hose.) Perhaps a cable-laying truck can be adapted?
I like the idea of staging such barges in/nearby likely areas that are prone to disasters, and this would allow for shortened response times by pre-positioning materials, equipment, and supplies 'in theater', as opposed to even having them sitting around in storage depots onshore. There would be the need for moving these barges from their staging areas to the disaster areas, but that would not be anything like an insurmountable problem.
This makes me think the need for a dedicated "HQ" ship is much less than you propose. If the supplies & equipment are pre-positioned, all that's needed is a means to move the barges, & that means a number of oceangoing tugs, not an LPD or LHA. Base the heavy-lift helos ashore.

That doesn't even account for the number of disasters that can (& will!) be far inshore, out of range of a ship like this. (Yes, given hurricanes & flooding, it seems shore access takes care of quite a few.) Which makes me wonder if an even nuttier idea might not be better: a very large airship carrying supplies in. (After all, what's an AH without airships? :openedeyewink: )
 
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