Modern naval vessels have much more dramatic challenges to face than the broadside cannon attacks of yester-year, particularly in the form of anti-ship missiles. Unlike torpedoes, which are difficult to intercept but tend to be fairly slow compared to the speeds demonstrated by missiles, anti-ship missiles can be fired from significant distances away – in some cases, well before the ship being targeted has a chance to notice the ordnance heading their way.
The possibility of an attack on America’s naval vessels in the form of super-sonic anti-ship missiles is far from unheard of. America’s fleet of Nimitz and soon to be Ford class super carriers offers our potential opponents with huge targets, after all, and even the most advanced aircraft carriers in the world have yet to find a technological solution to having a hole blown in its side. Although the Ford Class carrier may be a model of technology on the battlefield, it still faces the same challenges the USS Constitution did when it first took to the sea – with enemy ships hoping to poke enough holes in the sealed belly of the vessel to send it sputtering into the depths.
In order to learn how to counter these potential threats, we must learn about them – and learning is just what large-scale exercises like the Rim of the Pacific exercise the video below comes from are for. Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, occurs every two years and sees participation from as many as 26 nations’ navies. In 2016, for instance, RIMPAC saw 45 surface ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and as many as 25,000 military personnel participating in the exercises, all hailing from nations as diverse as Australia, Italy, Canada, and China. The next RIMPAC is scheduled to take place next summer.
This video comes from what’s commonly referred to as a SINKEX (sink exercise) where vessels from the South Korean Navy and the Royal Norwegian Navy joined up to deliver a one-two punch against a decommissioned U.S. Naval Vessel formerly called the USS Ogden.
The test took place on July 10th, 2014 and first saw the South Korean submarine LeeSunSin (SS 068) fire a harpoon missile into the ship’s starboard side. Soon after impact, a Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from the HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) impacts the deck of the vessel. Between the two direct hits, the former USS Ogden, which was an Austin-class amphibious transport dock that was decommissioned seven years prior, stood no chance.
Of course, in a real combat scenario, one would hope that the U.S. Navy’s missile defense systems would be able to locate and intercept anti-ship missiles before they could reach the hull of our massive carriers or any of the other vessels employed by the most powerful navy on earth, but make no mistake, there are no guarantees. As a number of experts have put it, intercepting a missile is a lot like trying to shoot a bullet out of the air with another bullet, and the lower and faster the missile flies (as is often the case with anti-ship missiles) the less likely American defenses will be able to successfully eliminate it before it reaches its target.
In other words, anti-ship missiles like those launched by North Korea last week do pose a serious threat to American ships – and this video serves as a stark reminder of just how terrible a direct hit from such a missile can be.
Check out the video below:
Image courtesy of YouTube
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