Phalanx Gun

Most of you have seen or read that some Iranian boats buzzed a few of our ships that were steaming in international waters near the Straits of Hormuz. The US ships were a cruiser (USS Port Royal, CG 73), a destroyer (USS Hopper, DDG 70) and a frigate (USS Ingraham, FFG 61).

Here is some raw video of the incident:


Maybe it is because I am not as charitable as most, but I would have 100% for sure put those tiny craft on the bottom, right into Davy Jones’s locker. The video shows those boats, of which I have seen faster on Miami Vice, approx 500m from our warships. Screw that.
Lets take a look – yep, all three of our ships have the Phalanx CIWS (Close In Weapons System). That would have sunk those pieces of crap quick and easy. I love that damned gun. 3,000 rounds of 20mm per minute with automatic fire control from the computer controlled radar. You want demos? We got ’em.
Here is test firing of the Phalanx:

Here is the Phalanx showing what it can do on a floating target in the distance. Imagine this is one of those cigarette boats:

Hard to say why the commanders of our ships were being so charitable. All I know is that if it were me, I would blow those jerks out of the water.
Cross posted at LITGM.

30 thoughts on “Phalanx Gun”

  1. I agree, but as always there is probably a lot of protocol involved ON OUR SIDE. The rogue nation, of course, will never follow protocol such as identifying themselves. Next time they may have a torpedo or something strapped to their bow and be able to inflict damage on our ships. Hopefully that isn’t what it will take for us to take action.

    Like I said in the post, if I am the captain of any of the US ships, there is no way these guys are getting that close.

  2. I suspect that the rules of engagement, no doubt in part because of political pressures, have been modified to such an extent that the safety of our ships and sailors is secondary.

  3. Ralph Peters agrees with you. The Iranians, by these activities, learn a lot about our defenses which will be useful for future attacks. As Peters puts it, by failing to respond, we are guaranteeing that many Americans will be killed in the future.

  4. That is a pretty good discussion. As I thought, our CO’s were pretty much following the rules and showing remarkable restraint. Also, as I assumed, we aren’t seeing all of the video either.

  5. I am reminded of the many times the US taunted, buzzed, or bugged our enemies…you simply do not sink a ship, declare war, and then get involved in another war. There remains warnings, counter measures, and diplomacy–for those responsible for the lives and saftey of our people. Aways nice to have hawks calling for shots to be fired so long as they remain safe at home.

  6. I don’t agree with N. Lex on this one. I do agree that our guys’ skill and professionalism are admirable. However, this confrontation was not a self-administered training exercise for which our side will be graded by other Americans on skill and professionalism. This confrontation was a probing attack by our enemies. They, and other observers in the Middle East and elsewhere, are the audience that matters, and they are grading us on resolve. We either failed this test or gave an ambiguous performance which will lead to further tests. Sinking their boats would have established immediately that our defenses are sound and that our enemies cannot easily use our rules against us.

    The strong man’s “restraint” in this kind of situation is not much different than the weak man’s rationalization of “moral victory” in allowing himself to be beaten up. In both cases the bully will miss the fine points but will understand that he has prevailed and will attack again.

    We are stronger than the Iranians but only if we do not hesitate to use our strength. Otherwise our strength may be a handicap if it lulls us into complacency about attacks against us. We would do better to kill a few Iranians now in order not to have to kill a great many more Iranians, and see many more Americans killed, later.

  7. Joseph Hill: “warnings, counter measures, and diplomacy” are for dealing with misunderstandings. This probe by the Iranians was no misunderstanding, it was a deliberate attack. There is nothing to discuss or negotiate about such an event. The only question is where we draw the line in responding. Iran now knows that we will tolerate a significant threat, and that our response to that threat, when it comes, will be measured and proportionate — all of which lowers the cost to Iran of attacking us.

    Your chickenhawk slur is despicable and reflects more on you than it does on anyone else.

  8. a deliberate attack? like Pearl Harbor? How many shots were fired at American ships? I am delighted that our military are able to use sound judgement and not reach for a gun ASAP…that shows skill, understanding, constraint, and a possible death wish seeing those cigarette boats got to within just a few hundred meters of our equipment–admirable qualities in a superpower. I note that Iran back off immediately, as was expected, and they too know enough not to push things too far.
    Since the iranian military always plays by the rules of engagement.
    I would also like to say that I think that Dan from Madison’s posts are some of the best on the web as far as content, and the general use of the English language go on the entire internet. The one that Al Gore invented. And don’t any of you warhawk ChicagoBoyz tell me different, or I will wish upon you a hundred global warmings along with a visit from the Iranian consulate – who will be polite and present you with fine gifts including myrrh.

    comment edited :)

  9. When oh when will there ever come a time when Iran does one of its little tests and whack them the F down 100 notches?

    I’m so despondent by our increasingly out of whack government.

  10. Did first reports say “500 m”? 200 m (650 ft.) is awfully, awfully close, it seems to my non-military eye.

  11. First reports said 500m, then I have seen 200m. EITHER are too close for my taste. I would give them a nautical mile and if they didn’t identify themselves/turn away, down they go.

  12. There have been incidents in the middle east when “restraint” cost US servicemen their lives. Two come to mind quickly.

    First, in 1982 the Marines encamped at Beirut failed to fire on an approaching suicide truck bomer resulting in the deaths of 231 Marines. A French base operating on a shoot first ask questions later basis suffered much lower casualties during the attack.

    Second, the USS Cole also failed to fire on an approaching bogey.

    I would like to know what the exact tactical situation was. Distance is very important. But also, were the US ships ready to fire? The Phalanx is a fearsome weapon, but I assume that it must be first turned on and aimed.

    Until this is all clarified, I remain quite disturbed.

  13. Robert Schwartz – good points all. I assume a lot of this incident will be classified for a long time to come so a lot of these questions will have to go unanswered. Judging from the video that we are seeing, I think those boats are too close to our warships. At a certain point all of the deck guns are useless as the angle “down” is too severe for our guns to do anything and we would be left only with sailors on deck with small arms – not promising against a suicidal attack or torpedo boat.

  14. Kute (cute). A troll then is anyone who does not agree with you and thus becomes subject to ridicule rather than argumentation. Try to uderstand this: the military has strict terms of what they can and can not do and how and when. They do not randomly decide to fire when some lt commander gets pissed because he has just seen a Democrat on tv calling for universal health coverage.
    If you believe they should have done otherwise, then why not suggest an inquiry and/or a courts martial?

    now go edit this and show how snippy, clever, mature you are.

  15. My plesure. thanks. And I want to wish all peo-ple who post or comment here a very happy and vey healthy 2008! And bless America. Always.

  16. After reading this morning’s NYTimes P. A1 article (cited and quoted below, I am even more concerned about the incident than I was, and I was very concerned. It seems to me that the Navy needs to establish doctrine to deal with this situation. They need to establish a radius and protocol for ships approaching US Navy ships in the Gulf, violation of which will be swiftly dealt with. Actions that endarger our ships should not be tolerated. It is just like building a moat around a tiger’s den.

    “Iran Encounter Grimly Echoes ’02 War Game” By Thom Shanker in the NYTimes on January 12, 2008:

    WASHINGTON — There is a reason American military officers express grim concern over the tactics used by Iranian sailors last weekend: a classified, $250 million war game in which small, agile speedboats swarmed a naval convoy to inflict devastating damage on more powerful warships.

    … American officers have acknowledged that they have been studying anew the lessons from a startling simulation conducted in August 2002. In that war game, the Blue Team navy, representing the United States, lost 16 major warships — an aircraft carrier, cruisers and amphibious vessels — when they were sunk to the bottom of the Persian Gulf in an attack that included swarming tactics by enemy speedboats.

    “The sheer numbers involved overloaded their ability, both mentally and electronically, to handle the attack,” said Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper*, a retired Marine Corps officer who served in the war game as commander of a Red Team force representing an unnamed Persian Gulf military. “The whole thing was over in 5, maybe 10 minutes.”


    In the simulation, General Van Riper sent wave after wave of relatively inexpensive speedboats to charge at the costlier, more advanced fleet approaching the Persian Gulf. His force of small boats attacked with machine guns and rockets, reinforced with missiles launched from land and air. Some of the small boats were loaded with explosives to detonate alongside American warships in suicide attacks. …

    * Apparently not related to Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper.

  17. maybe we are just trying to lure the iranians into providing a casus belli of signifigant magnitude.

    as regards “swarms of speedboats”, i have only one word in response – Thermobaric.

  18. I know this is late but we have already had such casus belli and have been in a defacto state of war with Iran for just over 28 years. What’s that you ask? Said casus belli was the storming of our Embassy in Tehran Nov 4, 1979. Yeah, I know we signed an accord releasing the hostages 1/20/81; but the Iranians have been attacking us repeatedly ever since.

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