Naval Lessons from the Russia-Ukraine War

I have a very extreme opinion about what we can learn from the struggle between Russian and Ukraine for control of the Black Sea. First I think it is agreed that Ukraine basically has won the struggle so far. First Russia removed naval vessels from Sebastopol to Russia proper — this is huge news as it would have been at any time in the past 150 or so years.

The ships were too vulnerable to anti-ship missiles and drones. This means that the Russian Black Sea fleet is retreating from an adversary which doesn’t technical have an actual navy.

A key issue has been Urkaine’s desire to export grain by ship sailing the Black Sea. In December 2023 Ukraine exported more grain in spite of the efforts of the Russian navy to block exports than it ever had during the period when there was an agreement to allow grain exports “KYIV, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Ukraine exported 4.8 million metric tons of food via its Black Sea corridor in December, surpassing the maximum monthly volume exported under a previous U.N.-brokered grain deal, brokers said on Wednesday.”

The Russian navy is classified as the world’s 3rd most powerful. There is not another navy contesting control of the Black Sea. I think the complete defeat (so far) of the Russian navy on the Black Sea proves that conventional naval vessels are obsolete. They are too vulnerable to land based anti ship missiles to be actually useful. If so, this implies that the US has wasted many hundreds of billions of dollars on obsolete weapons (at least we aren’t still spending money on cavalry).

Now I guess the Russian Navy still dominates the Caspian Sea, but that isn’t much of an accomplishment.

On another front, the USA just attached Houthi military targets in Northern Yemen. I note a key point here “on Thursday, the United States decided to act. Britain joined the United States in the attack against the Houthi targets as fighter jets from bases in the region and off the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower struck targets with precision-guided bombs.” I ask if things would have worked out markedly differently in the past few days if the USS Eisenhower had turned into a butterfly a week ago.

It is also true that a key concern of the USA is a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan. The US Pacific fleet is essentially not relevant to this issue, because it is assumed that the ships can not operate in the straights of Taiwan given China’s land based anti ship missiles. Hmm I have to Google. This is an expression of opinion which might not convince. I am sure I read the claim in a more reputable source.

On the other hand, that isn’t so terrible as Taiwan has ground based missiles which can sink the landing ships of a Chinese invasion fleet. Here the fact that a mere $2.37 billion of truck mounted Harpoons had a significant effect on the balance shows the importance of ground based anti-ship missiles. that’s about a third of a percent of the US defence budget (also the money is paid by Taiwan which sure can afford it).

On the other hand, I think that naval vessels mainly carry missiles (and will carry drones) which can be carried by any ship, boat or barge. It is much more useful to have many separate missile launchers so missiles (or drones) arrive from unpredictable directions.

I personally think that there should be a market for a module the size of a shipping container which can open to release FPV drones (controlled from based on land) and anti aircraft missiles. The smart munitions are cheap. Mass production of large numbers of interchangeable modules has proven to be useful in various fields. I think this is one of them.

I honestly think that Aircraft Carriers, Cruisers, Destroyers, Frigates and (of course) battleships are obsolete. I know