Navy's Tiniest Warships Could Lead Assault on Iran | Danger Room | Wired.com
- If the U.S. Navy goes to war against Iran, its tiniest ships could play the biggest role. Diminutive minesweepers and coastal patrol boats are being upgraded, rearmed and pushed to the maritime front line in the Persian Gulf. Which is kind of ironic: the bigger-is-better Navy has been trying to get rid of the warships for years.Small ships have never really been the Navyâ€™s thing. Tasked with deploying all over the world, far from its U.S. shipyards, the Navy prefers big vessels capable of carrying lots of fuel and supplies and taking a beating on long ocean crossings. The average size of an American destroyer has more than doubled since the early 1990s, now tipping the scales at 9,000 tons displacement.But small ships have an edge in certain situations. For one, they can safely sail in shallow waters and get closer to an enemyâ€™s coastline. These advantages didnâ€™t stop the Navy from planning to replace a few dozen patrol boats and minesweepers, each weighing in at just 1,000 tons, with Littoral Combat Ships that were three times the weight. Over the years the Navy gave away several of its patrol boats to the Philippines and the Coast Guard. In 2006 and 2007 the sailing branch decommissioned half its minesweepers, even though they were barely 10 years old. The remaining small ships werenâ€™t expected to stick around much longer.
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