Kearsarge’s Lone Mission

David Axe posted his latest report on the USS Kearsarge at Wired.com. It began like this:

“It’s unusual for one of the Navy’s capital ships to go it alone. Aircraft carriers and amphibious ships usually sail in the company of at least a destroyer, and often with multiple destroyers, cruisers and frigates that screen them from potential attackers. But on her four-month mission to South America, USS Kearsarge is sailing all by its lonesome.

“Is her skipper worried? “In our region, we feel pretty secure,” Captain Walter Towns tells DANGER ROOM. Besides, he adds, “the ship has an awesome self-defense suite -– 40 millimeter [guns], .50-caliber [guns] -– so we’re designed for self protection.” Not to mention Kearsarge sports sets of both Rolling Airframe Missile launchers and Phalanx guns plus Navy H-60 choppers that can be fitted with their own guns.

“Still, these are all just last-ditch “point” defenses. Against any serious threat, Kearsarge would be a sitting duck. But there is no enemy on this South American cruise -– at least not in the conventional sense of the word.”

Now Venezuela’s strongman Hugo Chavez might take exception to this latest statement — if he can spare time out from bragging about his new Russian fighter jets.

Would it be madness for Chavez to attack the Kearsarge or any other US ship? Of course. American fighters can scramble from Florida in short order, and US and allied warships patrol the Caribbean.

But that doesn’t make the Kearsarge’s journey a cruise in placid waters. Their defenses will be up at all times, against anything from bomb-laden speedboats to mine-bearing divers to Venezuelan attack aircraft.

But like the US Navy says — these colors don’t run!

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