I was watching some youtube videos about old ships like the Bismark and it got me thinking about how there is no great menace today. It's hard to think about an equal foe on the sea when our biggest competitor is a skiff owner with an AK-47. Yes, they are clearly getting their licks in, against defenseless civilians, but they have not directly taken on any Navy, much less mine.
It's not that there aren't some pretty powerful ships out there. The most powerful, purely from a weapons platform perspective, is probably the Kirov class battlecruiser in service with the Russian Northern Fleet. She's a 24,000 ton brute and honestly quite pretty to view from a Navy perspective. However, she is quite old as well, older than even my cruiser, the USS Antietam. There is also a carrier in service with the Russian fleet named the Kuznetzov. I can appreciate her lines and enormous payload, but she is not the Enterprise, or any other of our carriers for that matter.
Aside from the Kirov class, the only thing that even causes a modern Navy fellow to worry (besides submarines) is the Sovremenny class destroyers in service with the PLA Navy. And truth be told, they are destroyers. It's unfitting to be afraid of another man's destroyers. There's just something wrong with that. The Bismark sailors weren't afraid of destroyers, why should Antietam sailors be afraid of Chinese destroyers?
As a boy and even now, I've read countless accounts of the Bismark and the British response. I've also read about massive naval engagements from Leyte Gulf to Tsushima Straits. But there are no more Shinano's, Yamato's, or Bismark's. No one to cause concern. I'm glad, in some way, to know this. It's not that I want to perish in one of the major battles of Naval history. Still, what would it be like if we weren't the only ones out there?
Or maybe the question to ask is, "What was it like to know the Bismark was on the loose?" I wish I knew some old salts who could tell me.
In honor of those sailors who went before me, both German and British, as well as all men and women to have sailed in men of war, I leave you with Johnny Horton's, "Sink the Bismark."
I understand your frustrations. It seems that submarines are the modern equivalent of capitol ships at the moment. However, you know that the PLA(N) has BIG dreams. A cruiser force and carriers have got to be next on their wish list.
...Hit the decks a-runnin!
Thank you for your sentiments, Don! Yes, I am aware that China is up to something big, and maybe something to be in awe of someday, but I will be long gone by then, not plowing holes in the ocean by that time. India will undoubtedly continue building up as well. So it goes...
Interesting stuff. I've watched Sink The Bismarck a hundred times, and as a boy I grew up listening to Jonny Horton. (My personal fav is Johnny Reb. "You fought all the way Jonny Reb, Johnny Reb. You fought all the way Johnny Reb. Naturally, being a son of the south.)
Back in my day the Cold War was still luke warm, and as a Bubblehead, we feared the Soviet's Alpha class above all others. No offence, but we didn't fear anyone's ASW capabilities, not even you guys. (But that's a debate for another day.) Boomers are truly only vulnerable when launching, and the speed of the Alpha's meant that IF we ever had to launch, they'd be on top of us before we could go silent again. (Wow. That just brought up a vivid memory of a t-shirt I wore in those days. It said something like "24 empty tubes, a mushroom cloud. It's Miller Time! Obviously from a PAST life!) Haha. But, when it came to hiding, brother we were the best!
But if history has taught any lesson that we must learn, it is that change is inevitable. We are the king of the mountain, but we won't stay there. My eschatology aside, I am reminded of Alexander Tyler's supposed book, The Fall Of The Athenian Republic. I think this has been debunked as complete fact, but the logic is still the truth.
"When the thirteen colonies were still a part of England, Professor Alexander Tyler wrote about the fall of the Athenian republic over two thousand years previous to that time:
'A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.'"
The citation to Tyler being beside the point, we should look at this as a warning. We won't always be the world's policemen. One day, as it always has been, somebody bigger will come along and knock you off the throne. It may be China, may not. may be soon, hopefully another two hundred years. But one day, unless Jesus returns, we will face that bigger foe, and the seas will once again be a big part of that senerio.
Good post Dan. Keep 'em coming!
Steve, I remember reading about the Alpha's as a boy and knowing that our torpedoes (at least in the early times) couldn't close on an Alpha because it was too fast. And don't worry about offending me on the ASW stuff. I'm an anti-air man (AEGIS), so I already know the truth. It's always easier on my nerves when I know a sub is WITH us, not just a potential foe out there looking FOR us! Although there was this one time off the coast of Iran...
I do think that someday someone will put up some good stuff that will challenge our supremacy. I would assume it would be China or India as both of those countries have developing economies and an industrial base to work from, but I could be wrong. And as I told Don a few comments ago, it won't be until well after I get out of the Navy. I will have lived a career in mostly total security and supremacy.
I can't get this song out of my head now!!!
You should post The Village People's In The Navy. At this point, anything to get Sink The Bismark out of my head!
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