Sunrise Ace in all its splendor
Outwardly, this ship looks strange: a huge box with screws and a rudder. Its silhouette is most reminiscent of a cruise ship, but with absolutely no portholes - a blank side. At first glance, the ship causes a slight rush and even some rejection, yet we are used to a certain marine aesthetics. But this is only until we have looked inside.
Inside the ship is able to cause delight in any army rear. And there is something: 11 cargo decks and a “garage” - a superstructure on the upper deck, 54,8 thousand square meters. meters of deck area, the capacity of 5196 cars. Is this not a dream for military shipping? Tonnage - 60,9 thousand tons, maximum deadweight - 20,4 thousand tons. Length - 200 meters, midship width - 32,2 meters, midship height 34,5 meters, draft - 9,7 meters. From the waterline to the upper decks, the height is almost like that of a 9-story building. And this box can develop a stroke of up to 20 knots.
This article will focus on car carriers: Sunrise Ace and Carnation Ace. Both are built at Shin Kurushima Dockyard Co., a Japanese shipyard. Ltd and the same type.
I pay so much attention to the details of the construction of these vessels because they delight me and delight in how much they can give for transoceanic shipping of troops, equipment and supplies. If you are going to seriously fight overseas, you cannot do without such ships. The problem of transporting troops and goods across the ocean is a very serious problem, not without reason Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, in response to the harassment of army generals, as soon as possible to start a war against the United States, answered briefly and succinctly: “Will you cross the bottom of the Pacific Ocean?” Therefore, do not underestimate this task. I would even say that without such transport vessels the rest of the navy, with all its aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, corvettes, submarines, is essentially useless, since the Navy itself is not able to achieve complete victory on the enemy’s shore and the crushing of an enemy located overseas. If we ever get ripe to challenge the United States, to smash through the Capitol Hill with pickaxes and write something indecent on the ruins of the White House, then this type of transport ship will win this victory.
Transport ship - the root of victory
The experience of many wars shows that it is not so difficult to seize a bridgehead or port, to land troops. The most serious problems begin later, when a large group of troops landed on the coastal bridgehead, which was drawn into fierce battles. Battles for coastal bridgeheads are usually stubborn and fierce; the enemy understands perfectly well the importance of owning a coast and, all the more, a port, is doing everything possible to drop troops in the sea. Procurement becomes the key to the whole operation; fighting troops must receive everything in full and without delay, and this supply falls primarily on transport ships.
Procurement is the key to operational-tactical operations to capture, hold and expand a suitable coastal bridgehead. But then, when the enemy was driven away from the coast and an offensive inland develops, supply is still the key to victory, since the group of forces must be supplied and equipped. For this, we also need vessels, large, spacious, which can carry a lot of various cargo in one voyage.
The requirements for such vessels are as follows: large capacity, the ability to carry a wide variety of cargoes, from heavy armored vehicles to personnel, speed, seaworthiness and maneuverability, as well as the ability to quickly load and quickly unload. The last very important requirement: time plays a role, and the speed of unloading reduces the likelihood that the enemy will be able to cover the ship with cargo aviation or missile strike in port.
In my opinion, a car carrier of the type under consideration meets these requirements to the greatest extent compared to other types of sea vessels, in particular dry cargo vessels and container ships. But first things first.
So, as already mentioned, the Sunrise Ace car carrier has 11 cargo decks, numbered from top to bottom. The main deck is the 7th, onto which cars enter through the stern and side ramps. The communication between the decks is carried out using internal lifting ramps leading from one deck to another. After loading, they rise. The 4th and 6th decks can be moved up and down in separate sections to increase the height of the 7th and 5th decks if necessary.
Deck 7 is the main deck for three reasons. Firstly, through it, cars enter the ship from the pier and from there are placed on all other decks. Secondly, it is on this deck that heavy equipment can be placed up to 100 tons in weight. Thirdly, the strength of this deck is determined by the fact that it provides a waterproof volume of the vessel, which ensures its unsinkability. The inner ramp from the 7th to the 8th deck also closes like a waterproof hatch. Essentially, the hull is a structure from the keel to the 7th deck, and everything above it is a solid superstructure. Unusual architecture, nothing to say.
For military traffic, the ship’s ability to transport cars is of little interest, although there will also be such needs, since any large army will obviously be highly motorized in the future. More interesting is the ability to transport heavy equipment. From a typical loading plan, you can find out that a truck can take on board either 40 units of cranes 80 tons each, or 32 units of bulldozers 100 tons each, or 24 units of trucks of 80 tons each, or 41 units of trucks of 50 tons each. Heavy equipment is located on the 7th deck. If you take dump trucks of 20 tons each, then on the 7th deck you can place 90 units and on the 5th deck 82 units, a total of 172 cars.
Thus, a car carrier can transport Tanks and other armored vehicles, tactical missile systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, engineering and pontoon equipment.
The remaining decks can be adapted to accommodate other goods in pallets, plastic containers, crates, barrels; a kind of floating warehouse that can be easily loaded and unloaded using forklifts. The 1st and 2nd decks can be set aside for personnel, which are equipped with berths and temporary bathrooms.
How much will fit?
On such a vessel, it is advisable to transport any part entirely, with all units, equipment and supplies, which can immediately turn around and engage in battle. However, preliminary estimates showed that of all the units that are in the Russian army, only the air assault brigade fits into the car carrier entirely.
It has 2700 personnel, 13 T-72, 33 BMD, 46 BMP-2, 10 BTR-82A, 18 BTR-D, 6 2S9, 8 ZSU-23 "Shilka" and 616 vehicles. Heavy armored vehicles - 13 units (for 41 pieces), light armored vehicles - 121 units (for 172 pieces). It fits perfectly, and even with additional ammunition, food and fuel.
Tank brigades no longer fit on the ship due to the large amount of heavy equipment. For example, in the tank brigade there are 94 tanks, 37 BPM-2, 6 armored personnel carriers, 18 Msta-S and other equipment. There are too many tanks; it will take three flights to transport them, with the need to divide the brigade in parts. The motorized rifle brigade has 31 tanks and 268 armored personnel carriers, which is also a lot; there are not enough cargo spaces for light armored vehicles. In general, this is not surprising, since our tank and motorized rifle brigades were created as land brigades and they never had the task of completely diving into a sea vessel.
Hence the conclusion: if you fight overseas, you will have to reform the tank and motorized rifle brigades so that they correspond to the capabilities of the transport vessel. In fact, to create parts of overseas operations, you need to do this: there is a fleet of transport ships of the type in question, there is their loading plan, and based on this plan, the staff of the brigade is developed.
Sharing is a bad decision. You never know what can happen during transportation and unloading, and there is nothing worse when the brigade enters the battle in parts, when the tanks are in place, and the motorized rifle and headquarters are not known where.
Three unloading options
The main advantage of a car carrier over other types of bulk carriers is two points. Firstly, unloading cranes are not required. There may not be cranes in the captured port if the enemy prudently knocked them out and left you with your nose. Cranes installed on the ship itself partially solve this problem, but unloading, especially of heavy equipment, takes a long and painful, piece by piece. The enemy can send a tactical missile to help unload, since the coordinates of the berths in the port left by him are well known to him. Equipment leaves the car carrier on its own, which greatly speeds up unloading. Secondly, all cargo in small containers can still be loaded on board in advance in vehicles, which eliminates the need to transship this cargo from a vessel into cars on a berth. Say the ammunition leaves the truck together with the trucks under its own power. This is very beneficial, since the brigade deployed by the car carrier is immediately loaded with ammunition, fuel and food on wheels and is thus ready for battle as soon as it leaves the pier.
The second variant of unloading is when the car carrier operates as a floating warehouse full of a wide variety of cargo. On board are two automotive units of 80 trucks each (occupy the 7th and 5th decks). Before entering the port, trucks on the 7th deck are loaded and leave the ship immediately after mooring. The car carrier immediately withdraws and goes into the sea, so as not to be an immovable target, at this time the trucks from the 5th deck are transferred to the 7th, loaded and also leave as soon as the ship is moored. After the loaded cars leave, empty cars call on the ship, the ship again goes to sea, loads empty cars and enters the port. And so on until all the cargo is on the shore, and not dumped into the mountains at the port, but delivered to its destination. Then the ship picks up both units and leaves for the next batch of cargo. It is advisable to go to sea with each cycle of loading cars on board in order not to turn the vessel into a fixed target and not to occupy a berth.
A third variant of unloading the vessel is also possible, when the port has just been captured, it is unsafe to enter it, but troops on the shore require supplies. Cargo from the ship can be removed by helicopters. This will require some refinement. At the top of the “garage” a technological opening is cut out, into which a crane is placed and fixed. The deck under the crane is suitably reinforced. In the "garage" next to the crane, consignments are formed in accordance with the carrying capacity of the external suspension of the helicopter and are folded into the cargo net. The crane lifts this net with the load to the top of the “garage”. The helicopter hangs, releases slings, hooks the net and lifts it from the ship. Mi-8 can lift up to 5 tons on external sling, Mi-26 - up to 20 tons.
In principle, it is possible to convert part of the top of the “garage” to the shipyards into a full-fledged helipad, which allows the helicopter to land and load cargo into its cabin. In this case, the car carrier becomes partly a landing ship and can operate together with the UDC, helicopter carriers, destroyers and corvettes, taking part in the landing operation itself. As soon as the marines more or less seized and secured the port, the car carrier landed an entire airborne assault brigade in it, the appearance of which would greatly change the operational situation. The whole brigade with all the equipment and supplies is a very weighty argument in any landing operation.
How to sink?
Alas, so far we have no such wonderful vessels, and it is not known when they will be. The probable adversary has such vessels and there is no particular doubt that they will be used in the event of war for transport operations. Hence the task: how to sink?
Car carrier is quite vulnerable to sea arms. The hull below the 7th deck is single-breasted, about 25 mm thick; superstructure - thickness 8-10 mm. For machine-gun fire (except for the bridge), the ship is slightly vulnerable. Large-caliber machine guns and 20-mm or 40-mm guns are better, but it is doubtful that they would cause significant damage to the ship.
Therefore, the main argument against him is torpedoes. But how many do they need? The vessel has an interesting feature: it is more vulnerable with partial load than with full load. For example, flooding when one, two, or even three compartments of a waterproof hull is fully loaded will only lead to a more or less noticeable roll that does not threaten the ship. With partial loading, even one compartment may be enough to cause the ship to tip over and sink.
A review of the tables from the Damage Control Manual, used to quickly assess the situation, shows that the flooding of compartments located along the midship of the vessel is the most dangerous for him; with partial loading, this leads to the death of the vessel or to a strong roll. Therefore, comrade submariners, if you attack such a ship, shoot in the midsection. At least three hits - and it will go to the bottom. In wartime, ship loading will in most cases be partial. It is better to use torpedoes with a contact fuse when deepening about 2-3 meters; in this case, the hole will be on the lower automobile decks.
Anti-ship missiles. You can try to destroy the bridge, break through the board on the upper decks to cause a fire or explosion of the cargo placed on them. Not a very effective solution, it will take 4-5 missiles to inflict damage on the vessel.
Artillery. If your ship has a gun of 76 mm caliber and higher and you have the opportunity to fire a ship, then you can do something. It is best to shoot at ramps, stern and airborne. With damaged or broken ramps, the vessel is almost useless, cannot load and unload, and will require factory repairs. You can also shoot aboard the upper decks (approximately in the middle of the freeboard height) in order to cause a fire or explosion. Fire for such a ship is very dangerous. If it was loaded with ammunition and explosives, then consider yourself lucky.
With a cash naval weapon, such a transport vessel can either be drowned or permanently incapacitated. Everything else depends on luck and cheek.
There are still moments connected with vessels of this type, for example, questions of its construction in sufficient quantity, its modifications for military needs or various subtleties of cargo transportation on it. On this we, perhaps, will stop.