The Last Ship


So I saw the most recent episode, where the ship beat up a defenseless coral formation (those jerks! coral is threatened by rising sea temperatures and they contributed to its' demise!).

I sort of dozed off during parts of the episode and even though I rewinded and skimmed the part I missed, I still have a question. So I thought I'd bring it to the best minds on the internet: the Russian Captain said he had something the foxy scientist needed to make the vaccine... I don't recall anyone ever saying what that was. However, I did see the last scene with the somewhat nutty guy and his white mouse (mice?) and his strange breathing in the plastic containment thing on the Russian ship. So are we to infer that's what the Captain was alluding to? Something the nutty guy has or does?

Also, radar is based on reflecting the signal off the ship surface... so turning off the electronics will make us invisible to radar? Like the ship already isn't set up to minimize any electrical emissions in the first place? Please 'splain that one! That reminded me of the typical submarine flick scene where they have to shut down all noise to sneak past something (and of course, someone has to drop a wrench at the most inopportune time). Maybe that's what these writers were going for.

So yeah, it's still a dumb show but I agree it continues to be entertaining.


It's not what the nutty guy has or does. It's what he is.

It's fairly clear that he's a carrier, infected but personally immune. He's quarantined, and his area is a mess because no one can go in there without protective gear.


I am liking it way more than the DOME, I guess that's something. :)


Yes, it's better than herpes.


Something I didn't understand, why didn't the American ship just blow the Russian ship up?


Yes, thank you. At first I could believe it was because the Russian ship had the jump on them in readiness, with all weapons systems armed and locked in on the US ship, making it suicide for the US ship to even go to General Quarters, much less start arming weapons systems. But after the Russian ship stood down and moved off, the US ship should have simply armed all weapons systems and destroyed it. They went to great lengths to explain that the Russian ship was older and less sophiticated than the American one, so the battle would be lopsided if the Americans weren't taken by surprise.

I also found the explosive boat and crew retreival to be laughably ridiculous.

Still, there isn't much on right now to compete with this, so...


All other things being equal a Kirov class cruiser should be able to crush an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer.

An Arleigh-Burke is 8,300 tons, and is designed as a multi-role ship such as acting as a defensive escort in a carrier group for anti-aircraft and anti-submarine protection, while it can be used for anti-surface warfare, that's not it's specialty. A Kirov is 24,300 tons, it is the largest and heaviest non-aircraft carrier warship in the world and its primary role is to destroy other ships. As far as sophistication goes, the US has not done a good job keeping up it's anti-surface capabilities. The Harpoon missile which is our primary anti-ship missile is considered very old and outdated, it's range is short. We used to have anti-ship Tomahawk cruise missiles, but they are no longer in service. This is a known defect in the US arsenal and there have been some attempt to rectify it, but they aren't in production yet.

I assume the "the Kirov was taken out of mothballs" comment was so that the Kirov isn't entirely crushingly superior. But in a straight fight, with both combatants knowing where the other is and just trying to pound each other, the Kirov should have a decisive upper-hand.


They did a poor job of conveying the mismatch. While I've heard of the Arleigh Burke DDGs, I didn't know anything about the Kirov class, and they didn't really show how damned big those ships are. "Cruiser" could mean anything - Burkes are 4x the size of WWII DDs, and are comparable in size to light cruisers.

Didn't Jayne, er, XO Slattery tell the bridge crew to spin up 6 Tomahawks? I'm pretty sure he didn't say Harpoons. Wikipedia says they're still in service.


Yep, he said Tomahawks, and it was probably wrong, I assume they did it because everyone has heard of Tomahawks, but not many have heard of Harpoon missiles. We still have Tomahawks in the arsenal, but they're Tomahawks for attacking things on land, we use them all the time to pound stuff on land. The Tomahawks that were taken out of service were the ones that were designed to attack ships. See variant list here (the Anti-Ship version is listed as a TASM on that page).

The land variant's guidance system used TERCOM to check the contours of the surrounding terrain to make sure it's on target. The anti-ship version used active radar to seek out a moving ship as its target.

If the Kirov is just sitting there and the range is short, I suppose a land-attack Tomahawk could hit it, before the Kirov moved. I'm not altogether sure why we got rid of the anti-ship versions, and my Google-Fu has failed me, but it does confirm that the ASuW version of the Tomahawk has been out of service since the 1990s.

It does seem to have gotten rather nebulous. The latest version of the Arleigh Burke has roughly the same displacement as a Ticonderoga-class cruiser.


Careful - in this context, "multi-role" doesn't mean jack-of-all-trades, it means that the design of the ship allows for multiple configurations and specialties. Thus, an Arleigh-Burk might be specialized for anti-submarine, surface-to-surface, or anti-air warfare. Some versions of the class do not have the Harpoon launchers, some don't have the big towed sonar, some don't have a helipad, etc. That said, they are all pretty much built around the big Tomahawk launchers and the Aegis anti-air systems.

Any Arliegh-Burke crewman will try and slip in the fact that if you take the total firepower per pound of the ship, it is more powerful than any other ship in history. The fact that it's actually more powerful and just as big as a Ticonderoga and yet is classified as a destroyer rather than a light cruiser is a sore spot, and bringing that up (along with a free beer) will probably get you a 45 minute lecture on outmoded ship roles. The only thing that would get them more fired up is to suggest that a Kirov battlecruiser could take an Arleigh-Burke in a fair fight.


Clearly we need someone to model this for us in Command: Modern Air Naval Operations. I've been meaning to get it, but that $80 price tag is just a bit too daunting.

Tin Wisdom, from watching the show can you tell what the USS Nathan James is configured for?


Haven't seen the show, I'm afraid. Every day I read the thread title and am tempted... and then I read the new posts and the temptation goes away. I just saw an opportunity to lecture and took it!

And as an aside, I didn't want to give the impression I'm former Navy or anything. My ex-girlfriend was aspiring to be a Navy pilot and she served on a destroyer (not an Arleigh-Burke) for several months right after college, so I got to tour one and went out drinking with the other midshipmen and whatnot. Funny you mention the game: back then Harpoon was the big thing, and pretty much every officer had it running on their laptop as we toured the ship. About two months later she tore out my heart and chucked it into the Atlantic, leaving me the broken husk of a man you see before you.

But ANYWAY, if the show is being done with Navy help/approval/encouragement, I'd imagine that it's probably based on one of the newer Flight IIA configurations with room from two helicopters in semi-covered hangers in place of the Harpoon launchers.


That last snippet has me fired up.


It's definitely got a helicopter and one of hangers has been converted to into a research lab.

Nice! Speaking of the USS Iowa, another dumb show with pluses and minus is the movie Battleship. I found the main character incredibly annoying, however it does have some very nice naval action in it. I'm kind of a sucker for this stuff though, I have a DVD of Sink the Bismark (1960) which I've watched countless times.


My thoughts on some issues-

Disappearing on radar, my understanding is that with all their gear on, to target the Russian ship among other things, the US ship creates a blip visible to the Russians in whatever scale they are looking at. You know how you can zoom in on a minimap in a game to make locations larger? Like that. So by shutting down everything they are emitting, they reduce the size of the blip they make. Meanwhile, the Russians are still looking for a certain scale of blip, which the aluminum provides. It may not work that way in real life but it works for me as a story device. The captain even says something like "They'll see us like any other ship here", implying that they will not be invisible to radar, simply a different size target from what the Russians expect.

About not blowing up the Russians, I think that's due to the mission priority. Creating this vaccine or cure, that's it, that's the whole ballgame for the US ship. Engaging in an unnecessary ship battle, even if you have an advantage, does not serve that purpose. You're risking too much attacking them.

One thing I was thinking about, the Russian commander has a good point. Human civilization, as far as I can tell, is effectively destroyed. Let's say you do create a vaccine, now what? If you're on that US ship then you know the US government and military no longer exist, that's why you can't get anyone to respond to your ship. Who are you serving if not yourself?


Ship broke down this week. Wonder if the parachutes would actually be able to pull a destroyer.


Yeah I was wondering about that too...


The episode Sunday was so aggressively stupid and cliche, I'm not sure I can watch any more. The iPad thermostat melodrama made me want to cut myself. The stoic black guy's car crash speech pushed me over the edge. And thanks to Adam Baldwin's dehydration make-up, I am officially dead now.


PS: Do not destroyers have desalination plants? Are navy personnel too dumb to build solar stills? Shouldn't you secure a beach before throwing a party there?


I find it exceedingly unlikely three piddly little parachutes would have any meaningful effect whatsoever on a 9000 displacement ton vessel. Even less likely that enough motion would be generated to in turn have drag rotate the propeller. Even less likely again that the propeller would be driven hard enough to generate any significant electrical output from an alternator.

I mean, I am happy to hear comment from any general, fluid dynamics and electrical engineers, but I am not buying it.

The stoic black guy's car crash speech pushed me over the edge. And thanks to Adam Baldwin's dehydration make-up, I am officially dead now.

That bit just seemed to come out of nowhere and seemed really out of place.

PS: Do not destroyers have desalination plants? Are navy personnel too dumb to build solar stills?

That was the 'RO' they were talking about - reverse osmosis unit. It was offline because damaged intake filters or no power, or something. They showed plenty of bits of crew setting up stills, but apparently at was ineffectual? Don't these boats have water storage tanks anyway? They don't live off the RO unit day to day - it's just there to replenish tank supply. I honestly be terribly surprised if an offline RO unit would bring a combat ready naval ship to its knees inside several days when rations were implemented early.