We previously reviewed consequences of a global nuclear war, as well as how ground military equipment and aviation... In this article, we will consider what the fleet of the post-nuclear world will be like.
Let us recall the factors that complicate the restoration of industry after a nuclear war:
- extinction of the population due to mass death at the very beginning of the conflict due to the highest urbanization and subsequent high mortality due to a general weakening of health, poor nutrition, lack of hygiene, medical care, unfavorable climatic and environmental factors;
- the collapse of the industry due to the failure of high-tech automated equipment, lack of qualified labor and globalization of technological processes;
- the complexity of resource extraction due to the exhaustion of easily accessible deposits and the impossibility of recycling many resources due to their contamination with radioactive substances;
- a decrease in the area of territories available for living and movement due to radiation contamination of the area and negative climate changes;
- destruction of government in most countries of the world.
Production in the first decades, and even in the first century after the nuclear conflict, will be artisan workshops equipped with primitive equipment. In more developed quasi-state formations, manufactories will appear, at which, to some extent, the conveyor division of labor will be realized.
Problems and needs
The question arises: is it possible to build a fleet in the face of a significant collapse of industry and technological chains?
On the one hand, modern ships are not inferior to aviation in terms of the complexity of the technologies used, but, on the other hand, the initial technological level required for the construction of ships can be much lower: a boat carved out of wood is also to some extent a ship. On the one hand, integrated development fleet requires enormous forces and is possible only with a high concentration of state efforts in this direction, on the other hand, even countries that are very limited in resources and access to technologies can afford to build ships: the issue of their technological perfection is not so critical if everyone's technologies are equally primitive ...
In other words, the post-nuclear industry will be able to build ships, but the question arises: are they needed?
Definitely yes. Moreover, in the absence of transport aviation and railway communication, the fleet can become the most effective way to ensure cargo turnover between the future centers of civilization. Ships do not require the laying of roads and rails, they require much less fuel in terms of the volume of cargo transported. Low-quality fuel oil, coal and even firewood can be used as fuel for ships. A return to sail propellers is not excluded.
Transport ships will need to be protected from "competitors" and pirates, which will require equipping them with weapons, or an escort from specialized warships.
As we covered in the article "Weapons of the Post-Nuclear World: Ground Forces", the lack of fuel and the superiority of defensive assets over offensive assets can lead to the fact that wars will become in many respects positional, non-maneuverable, with the predominant use of reconnaissance and sabotage units. In this case, the tasks solved by the primitive post-nuclear, for the most part, will be reduced to reconnaissance, the deployment of reconnaissance and sabotage units, the delivery of urgent cargo and periodic strikes according to the "hit and run" scheme.
In the post-nuclear world, the fleet may for a long time remain the only force capable of waging a mobile war.
Finally, the fleet will provide the post-nuclear civilization with access to the natural resources of rivers, seas and oceans. It can be assumed that the restoration of ocean and marine natural resources will occur much faster than on land. The reason for this will be a reduction in emissions of garbage, industrial waste and wastewater into the ocean, the lack of industrial fishing in the existing volumes, as well as more stable climatic conditions, providing a large mass of water with temperature inertness.
For ocean ecology, a global nuclear war can go ... only good
It can be assumed that the currently existing vessels will remain in the coastal regions not directly affected by nuclear strikes. Since a shortage of fuel is inevitable, first of all the most "voracious" ships will freeze at the piers, and then all the others equipped with internal combustion engines. For a while, only the simplest rowboats will be able to be used, perhaps people will be able to equip some ships with sail propellers.
Despite the fact that the skills of creating sailing ships are largely forgotten, they can be restored rather quickly.
Small sailboats are still in production and are affordable for the price of a B-class car
Of course, rowing and sailing ships can hardly be attributed to warships, but they will be the first step in the return of humanity to the ocean.
The main advantage of ships over ground vehicles is their significantly large size, which not only allows you to place a large amount of cargo, which makes sea transportation the cheapest type of transportation, but also allows you to place large-sized power plants, for example, steam boilers operating on low-quality liquid and solid fuel. - wood, fuel pellets, coal or peat.
Coal and peat in general can become the main fossil fuels that provide the energy needs of mankind at the initial stage after a global nuclear war. Coal resources are not as exhausted as readily available oil and gas reserves, and can be extracted both open-pit and mine. An even more affordable resource may be peat.
Coal and peat can be mined in the open pit. For several decades, or even a century, they can become the main fuel of the post-nuclear world
As the post-nuclear industry recovers, it is more likely that existing ships will be converted to reciprocating or turbine steam engines. Steam engines are fairly modern, but at the same time relatively simple technology. The first steamer was built at the end of the 80th century, and the construction of steamships was stopped only in the XNUMXs of the XNUMXth century.
Until the mid-70s, the maximum power of ship steam turbine power plants exceeded the power of ship diesel engines of that time. The efficiency (efficiency) of piston steam engines of the 50s was up to 25%, in boiler-turbine power plants it reached 35%. Steam boilers are still used on warships of the Russian Navy (Navy) - Project 956 destroyers and Project 1143.5 aircraft-carrying cruiser; steam boilers are installed on Project 1144 nuclear cruisers as a backup engine.
"Steamships" of the Russian Navy: destroyer of project 956 and aircraft-carrying cruiser "Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov" of project 1143.5
Building the hull of a relatively large ship from scratch is a rather complex technical task that requires appropriate infrastructure and materials. Therefore, the first large post-nuclear ships are likely to be manufactured on the basis of decommissioned ships. Probably, some of the abandoned ships can be restored by patching and strengthening the hull, others will serve as a source of elements for SKD assembly of some ship "monsters of Frankenstein". In this way, large enough ships can be created - with a displacement of hundreds of tons or more.
Decommissioned ships can find a second life in the post-nuclear world
Criminal shipbuilding experience
The experience of building ships and submarines by drug cartels can be cited as a specific example of the development of the shipbuilding industry. As the Colombian and American authorities blocked the routes of cocaine delivery from Colombia to the United States, drug traffickers were inventing new ways to solve the problem.
One of these ways was to create semi-submersible ships... Made of fiberglass, they are minimally visible on radar screens thanks to their low draft and hull contours optimized to reduce visibility. In principle, their technical simplicity makes it possible to implement something similar in the post-nuclear world.
Colombian drug traffickers semi-submersible vessels
An even more impressive example is the submarines created by the Colombian cartels. With their outlines, they already resemble submarines of the Second World War, although they are inferior to them in characteristics. Submarines of drug dealers go under the snorkel most of the way, but the latest modifications have been equipped with electric motors and batteries, which provide them with the possibility of short-term diving to a depth of nine meters.
Submarines of drug cartels
The semi-submerged ships and submarines described above are being built on the lines lost in the jungle and mangrove forests of Colombia. The lack of a developed infrastructure necessary for the construction of such ships suggests that their counterparts can be replicated in the post-nuclear world under severe technological constraints.
Aviation of the post-nuclear fleet
The experience of developing the navies of the leading countries of the world has confirmed the importance of air support for ships. Of course, creating a full-fledged aircraft carrier is not easy even now, and not every power can afford it, what can we say about the post-nuclear industry. However, one way or another, but the aircraft will return to the fleet.
As it was at the dawn of the formation of the aircraft carrier fleet, first of all, these will be the seaplanes, which we mentioned in the previous article. The seaplane can be based on a ship, and take off and land from the water surface.
An even more interesting option is gyroplanes due to their ability to perform short take-off and near vertical landing. This expands the possibilities of their application, since the takeoff of the gyroplane can be carried out both from the water and from the deck of the ship, if its length is at least 10-20 meters, and landing can be carried out at all on small-sized platforms.
Takeoff of the S-ZOR autogyro from the deck of the ship "Daedalus" in 1934
Ship gyroplanes and seaplanes can carry out reconnaissance in the interests of the fleet, ferry the sick or wounded, and deliver small, critical supplies.
The development of aviation and the navy will lag behind the development of ground forces, both because of the greater urgent need for the latter, and because of the greater complexity of the creation of ships and aircraft.
As we said earlier, ships for the post-nuclear fleet can be created on the basis of the remnants of surviving and decommissioned ships and even hulls of new construction. But with their armament, difficulties may arise, since the recreation of artillery pieces or anti-ship missiles requires a sufficiently high level of technological development.
The first armament of the ships will be small arms weapon of various types: large-caliber machine guns and sniper rifles, hand grenade launchers mounted on rotating machines and equipped with protective shields.
Nowadays, large-caliber small arms are used on ships to destroy low-speed small targets
The main caliber of the post-nuclear fleet at the initial stage will be multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) of various types, which, like the ammunition for them, are much easier to manufacture than artillery pieces and shells.
MLRS may be the easiest way to arm a post-nuclear fleet
In the future, as the element base develops, they will evolve into guided munitions, controlled by wire or radio command guidance, that is, unguided rockets will turn into classic anti-ship missiles (ASM).
Mines will become an even simpler and more widespread weapon of war at sea. They are relatively easy to make, yet extremely effective. In the absence of developed anti-mine weapons, they can disrupt the landing of an assault force, block the entrance to the water area or fairway, and help break away from the pursuing enemy ship.
Sea mines are one of the simplest and most inexpensive types of weapons, but at the same time they are extremely effective and dangerous.
There is no escape from the return of torpedo weapons. The first torpedoes were created at the end of the XNUMXth century, and their equivalent can be recreated in the post-nuclear world, for a start in an uncontrollable version, and then with control by wire. They will be used both from ships and submarines, and subsequently from aviation.
The evolution of torpedo armament in the late XNUMXth - early XNUMXth centuries
Tasks to be Solved
As we said earlier, the main tasks of the post-nuclear fleet will be the transportation of goods and the extraction of marine resources. Proceeding from this, combat operations at sea will primarily consist in the capture or destruction of enemy transport and fishing ships. In fact, it will be a kind of analogue of piracy or privateering. The main tasks of the post-nuclear fleet will be to protect their ships and capture / destroy enemy ships.
Pirates in a post-nuclear world are unlikely to be treated humanely
A more difficult but solvable task can be the implementation of full-scale invasions with amphibious assault and attack on ground targets. Land operations of a comparable scale will be much more difficult due to the shortage of liquid fuel, while steam ships require much more affordable coal and peat. For the enemy, the main threat of such an invasion will be the unpredictability of the attack time and the ability of ships to transport sufficiently large forces.
Compared to a war on land, which can degenerate into positional conflicts during the First World War, battles on water can be quite intense, since it is impossible to build defensive lines on the high seas, which gives room for the implementation of various tactical battle scenarios.
As the size, seaworthiness and cruising range of ships increase, they will increasingly expand the zone of influence of the enclave that created them, ensuring the search for resources and exchange of goods with other surviving human enclaves, contributing to the formation of new cooperative ties and the exchange of technologies, which means that the fleet can become one of the most effective tools for the formation of new great powers in the post-nuclear world.