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Subject: Mobile Offshore Base concept
jbwill2    6/17/2003 8:47:58 AM
I am sure that everyone has read something about the MOB concept. I suppose there is research going on right now into the practicality and cost of developing some version of this idea. I don't know too much about the plan, but I know that it involves building several modules that can transit on their own to a place of interest, and then be combined to form a floating air and amphibious base of variable size, depending on the number and kind of modules assembled together. What does everyone think of the MOB concept? Is it even a possibility, or are there too many negatives associated with the MOB? Finally, let us assume that it is going to be built and used by the US. What service would operate the MOB's and what impact would they have on America's warfighting abilities?
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Slade    RE:Mobile Offshore Base concept   6/17/2003 3:44:55 PM
Polmar's 17th ed. of Ships and Aircraft of the US Fleet discusses the MOB concept and figures the technically a relatively low risk option ad it uses off-shore oil drilling rig technology as it's basis. And sees aircraft up to C-17 sized operating from it if enough sections are used. I see budget problem developing. The Air Force won't want to pay for it because it is a ship, the Navy won't want to reduce their carrier force. The Marines operate off the Navy budget. The Army won't need anything that big if all they can have is rotor-craft. Air Force aircraft aren't built to operate in a salt-water enviornment, they won't be too happy about landing their stuff on it. I have a legal question in that if it is moored to the sea-floor is it a ship? Or is it more akin to a age-of-sail floating battery and does that have implications for needing permission of the EEZ controling entity under the UN Law of the Sea convention? It also has some of the problems of land bases in that it can only operate aircraft when it in a fixed position, so eventually those who care to will be able to hit it easier that a carrier. But defending it may actually be easier on water than would be a fixed land base. In all it is an idea that has merit in places like the Persian Gulf or other areas of long term US interest where there are basing issues. Okinawa also comes to mind.
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Shaka of Carthage    RE:Mobile Offshore Base concept   6/17/2003 4:17:42 PM
My question would be what area would require something like this instead of using an island?
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jbwill2    Possible places to use a MOB   6/17/2003 6:58:23 PM
To answer the question of places to operate a MOB, the only area that really comes to mind is East Asia. If something happens with the PRC and Japan and South Korea are unwilling to allow the US to use their territory, then the US has a BIG problem. Furthermore, if something happens with the PRC, the US is going to need A LOT more in-theater warfighting capability than what can be provided by two CVBG's and one or two ARG's. It looks like the US will have bases in the Middle East from which to operate for quite some time; I don't really see much need for a MOB in the Persian Gulf or Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
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Shaka of Carthage    RE:Possible places to use a MOB   6/17/2003 7:13:58 PM
Ok... assume Japan/S.Korea aren't available, and the US, for whatever reason has to confront China. There is Vietnam, Russia, and Taiwan from what I remember that give us sea access. The mothballed carriers we have could be reactivated, and during that six months we train the crews for them as well. And this is what I mean about having to deal with the new reality. The Army only has 10 divisions. Marines 3. I would hope we don't get silly and try to "handle" China with 13 divisions. So we would have to raise new units, which take at least 6 for the existing NG divisions, lot longer if we are raising divisions from scratch. I don't see any advantage of MOB, since its really a "cheap" aircraft carrier. And the time we need to raise those new units, we could produce a MOB(s) if we needed them.
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Slade    RE:Possible places to use a MOB   6/18/2003 6:25:41 PM
"My question would be what area would require something like this instead of using an island?" To use a recent example: Turkey refusing to allow basing rights, Saudi's limitatons on offensive air raids during Iraq or to go farther back. France and Spain refusing overflight rights for Eldarado Canyon. Turkey's limitations on sorties during Northern Watch. The island may not be in the right place either. As for having the time move a MOB into place if we need to, maybe but you are making the assumption that the opposition will be as stupid as Saddam was in 2 wars and doesn't strike during the setup phase, it's not like a carrier in that it can fight while moving.
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Shaka of Carthage    RE:Possible places to use a MOB ... Slade   6/18/2003 8:42:00 PM
In every example you gave, or could possibly give, you find another solution. There are always alternative options, even for land base use. And on the off chance that a military solution can't be performed, then you do just like everyone else does... you state "No can do". Tell you what... make it real simple. You can have MOB if you take the money from air tankers. The need just isn't that great.
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jbwill2    RE:Possible places to use a MOB   6/18/2003 9:54:06 PM
I agree with Slade that a major drawback to the MOB is that it is unable to fight while in transit. Let me add another serious problem. The US often sends CVBG's to regions for missions short of combat (like their presence in the Taiwan Strait in 1996). It is feasible to do this because the battle group can easily reach an area, stay on-station for however long needed, and then go away. It seems to me that the US would have to go through a lot of trouble to set up a MOB to meet a regional threat. Its operational capabilities are not nearly as fluid as a CVBG's. And, if you are an enemy leader and the US is setting up a huge floating air base off your coast, it's safe to assume that the US is going to be using that base to rain down bombs on you. So, there is no ambiguity associated with this platform, and therefore the enemy would be more inclined to attempt a pre-emptive strike on the MOB.
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Slade    RE:Possible places to use a MOB ... Slade   6/19/2003 8:14:50 AM
I agree, there are always other options,even if that option is to say I can't do it. A MOB is a idea that has a very specific nich an area where we have a long term interest, at least decades, whre we can set it up in peace time and have had problems with basing rights/local relations. If that nich is big enough to require building it is another matter. I'd say there are about 2 places that might meet that requirement but it is at best arguable that they do.
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Shaka of Carthage    RE:Possible places to use a MOB ... Slade   6/19/2003 8:38:20 AM
Good way of putting it. I should have stressed the time element myself. You have expressed my reservation about the idea exactly. If we are in a position that we need to build this "sea base", the time would be better spent exploring other options.
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cobra79    RE:Mobile Offshore Base concept   7/23/2003 10:52:05 PM
Looking at the responses to this question there seems to be a lack of knowledge on the subject. Although it is plausible to send an aircraft carrier this would cost more money because of the extra ships needed(Crusiers and Destroyers) and the fuel and personnel problems assciated with the need to extended service. Also most importantly the MOB would be capable of landing 747 type aircraft of the CRAF(Civil Reserve Air Fleet) and C-17. Can a current carrier do that? Currently there is no long-term need yet, but soon we will probhably be losing japan(okinawa too) and guam. The nearest base when this happens will be S Korea and Pearl. Its a long trip for any invasion force sent to S Korea. The Mediterranian would also be a prime location also, although we do have a base at Aviano in Italy, but again its a long reach from Aviano to Central Africa. In the future there may also be a need for some basing in the North Sea and without Norway, Iceland, or any of our bases in Europe this would again be a long reach. This concept is a very innovative and clever idea the basing of a Marine Expeditionary Brigade and an Army Prepositioning Squadron(a Brigade when personnel arive from the US) was a nice addition. As far as the issue of defenseability of the MOB in transit is concerned, I would guess that a 1000m runway would be enough to launch smaller aircraft from. Before World War II no-one anticipated a need for a "Ready-Made Harbor" but two were created under Project Mullbery for use at Normandy Beach. Future application of the ideas was later used in Cam Rahn Bay during Vietnam. Basically anything that gets produced gets produced the way it was envisioned and then some. Thanks! Nate
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