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Can military naval vessels easily survive any hurricane/typhoon?

  1. Feb 20, 2013 #1
    This question is for any naval military folk out there . . .

    Can naval vessels, from the largest aircraft carriers down to the smaller ships, easily survive severe ocean weather like hurricanes and typhoons? If so, do they even change their training schedules due to bad weather?
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  3. Feb 20, 2013 #2


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    Larger ones yes, smaller ones no. All might alter their schedules for most routine missions.

    On a more basic level, weather is always a factor in any mission planning.
  4. Feb 20, 2013 #3
    Russ, thanks for the reply.

    Also, can large oil tankers and container ships easily survive any type of hurricane or typhoon? For both types of ships it would seem that they would be in more danger when fully loaded -- is this true?
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  5. Feb 20, 2013 #4


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    I don't think there are any ships that can easily weather a large hurricane. There is always risk. This article might be of interest to you
  6. Feb 20, 2013 #5

    jim hardy

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    From http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq102-4.htm [Broken]
    I think that's an episode in "Victory at Sea", a 1950's documentary that mesmerized my family around our 14 inch B&W tv. It is now in the $5 pile at Walmart.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  7. Feb 20, 2013 #6
    This is, of course, an overgeneral question that is unanswerable other than to say "No," Obviously no craft is able to survive ANY incidence without establishing what the parameters of the particular situation it is in. I'm sure each Naval vessel and, in fact, commercial transport vessel, is rated for various weather and other conditions. I'm not sure at this instant where to find those specs but I imagine they are available somewhere.
  8. Feb 20, 2013 #7
    Ryan and Jim, thanks for the replies. Good info there.
  9. Feb 20, 2013 #8
    As others have stated, this is a fairly general question. I'm going to make the assumption that you're referring to the the structural integrity of such vessels in severe weather conditions.

    The short answer is dependent on the the actual type of vessel you have in mind. The Royal Navy, for example, requires a very high standard of construction for it's vessels. The ships are designed to withstand harsh conditions and operate effectively in such environments. At high readiness states (situations where the ships company ready the platform for combat or poor weather) each ship essentially becomes an air-tight steel box. No ship is unsinkable however, so any storm that is outside of the ships capabilities is likely to do significant damage.

    One of the best ways that warships are able to effectively operate in such conditions is the training of the men and women on-board. The Mechanical engineers study ship stability and hydro-dynamics so can calculate the risks of flooding and combat them with effective action when the situation arises.

    A broken fridge will cause a change to training schedules, so inclement weather would definitely impact the commands decision making in a training situation.

    In the end, warships are ships. They are designed as floating platforms for waging war on and from the water. Ships can sink, and so can warships, but the crew training and the quality of construction give them improved odds over most civilian ships.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  10. Feb 20, 2013 #9


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    Yep, my first thought - "Halsey's Typhoon". I think Wouk's novel/film The Caine Mutiny is notionally set in that typhoon, where Captain Queeg is relieved by his executive officer after Queeg bungles the handling of the ship in the storm.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  11. Feb 20, 2013 #10


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    Bad weather doesn't necessarily mean isolated storms. I know a retired navy officer who has a few stories about patrols around the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. Several times they were just stooging around for weeks at a time, waiting till the wind speed dropped to Force 10 (say 60 mph) so they could actually choose what direction THEY wanted to go, rather than the weather choosing for them.

    They couldn't do anything of military significance in that weather, so having checked the warship was designed to heel over to 45 degrees without capsizing, they used to pass the time having steering competitions, to see who could maintain a steady 40 degrees for longest.
  12. Feb 21, 2013 #11

    It would be scary as hell to go through a typhoon in a tin can [destroyer].
  13. Feb 21, 2013 #12


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    Even if the ship can take it the people can't. While in the Navy we had a main engine failure while off the coast of SE Asia during a typhoon. For two days we strapped ourselves in with ropes on beds and had to crawl instead of walking to move around eating only crackers because no food could be cooked. We had only the power to keep the ship pointed into the waves but even so we rolled so far over the catwalks were touching the water.

    We came very close to sinking. Nothing on the surface 'easily survives' a hurricane/typhoon.
  14. Nov 7, 2013 #13
    Navy and merchant ships not built to stand up to all seas

    During both Naval and Merchant Marine exercises in the South Pacific I and my brothers have come to the conclusion that it largley depends on the quality of the crew, and sometimes on tankers what your cargo status is. Sometimes after offloading oil in say Japan and returning to the South China sea, the ship was riding at half draft as the tanks were not used for ballasting the load and keeping the ship at optimum load carrying draft, around 38ft. She was riding high and light in increasingly intemperate seas, there for unstable and pitching past maximum list angle of 30 degrees. As the Seas rose in height, more and more of the waves were breaking over higher levels of the main house and eventually went down a funnel onto an unprotected Generator shorting out the circuits for both the main and backup generators. This condition was the fault of a complacent officers that did not consider the storm a threat, and remiss in calling of rigging for heavy seas. None of the funnels was facing aft or covered with lashings as is normal for storm running. We were at the mercy of 60ft seas for approximately 6hrs before the Engineers could constuct a solution.

    As more and more weapons are loaded on to the superstructure of the modern warships, they become increasingly top heavy, solutions of adding more aluminum to the upper decks is only partially effective. Almost all modern ships are built for speed and not for stability, it was even worse in the WWII days Superstructures on the smaller Destroyers and Destroyer escorts were dangerously top heavy and as was the case in Halsey incident several were lost to capsizing. Some ships are better suited to weather heavy seas, larger ones are engineered to span larger distances over waves, and therefore don't come under the same stresses that can break smaller vessels apart, ergo suspend half vessels weight in mid air as the waves pick up half a ship out of the water as another wave approaches to lift suddenly on the other half of the vessel suspending and flexing the structure to massive stresses both on the up-heaving and heart rending bow crashing into the next assailant. I have seen the metal along the length of a ship flex as much as 3-4ft from the aft end of the ship and marveled as she held together.. scary stuff!

    Tankers are more stable and structurally capable when full, not when the load is uneven or partially full, the hull bears more weight when half loaded. Waves would in heavy seas break over the ship rather than lift the empty weight out of the water. EOF

    I have no doubt that larger surface hugging vessels are better capable of handling these stresses. And pray somebody takes notice of the hazards of surprise circumstances that risk the lives of so many quality seamen who are not privy to such knowledge. Serious weather requires people of responsibility take appropriate measures in a timely manner and educate others as is the custom of international brotherhood of seafarers.. knowledge can save lives.

    eor ... end of rant .... answer is no, mother nature can snuff anything
  15. Nov 10, 2013 #14


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    I rode the Saratoga through some heavy swells(~50ft) in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida back in 1978. It was fun. The waves would crash into the side of the ship and shoot up another 100 feet. It was quite impressive from the cat walk around the flight deck.


    The extraordinary rogue waves the hit the ship broadside were the most impressive. Here's a mini-me version.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UaM2RIvFTs ​

  16. Oct 29, 2015 #15
    I was in the South china Sea aboard three Aircraft Carriers, The USS Bennington CVA20, the USS Midway, CVA41, and the USS Coral Sea CVA 43, and went through several typhoons. This was pre-Vietnam. On the USS Bennington after experiencing the typhoon, the ship titled to a 45 degree angle. I thought we were done for. Later, maybe due to the Typhoon, the elevator fell off, taking a plane and the crew with it. Once, don't remember which carrier, we ended in the 'Eye" of the Typhoon. The water was smooth as glass. Beautiful, but I knew we had to go back into the storm to get out of the eye. I saw 50=60 foot waves crashing over the bow of the ship. I stepped out onto a small catwalk and looking up and seeing those massive waves crashing on the ship, I stepped back in. Didn't want to be washed overboard.
  17. Oct 29, 2015 #16


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    I spent some time on CVA 43 the "Ageless Warrior" in 1980 at Gonzo Station. She was a rust bucket then but still on duty. It's a shame that Richard Dunleavy was black marked later by Tail Hook as he was one hell of a Capt.

    The surface of the ocean near Iran and the gulf was as smooth as glass, we would watch flying fish skip the surface for yards and yards on the ships wake.
  18. Oct 29, 2015 #17


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    Lost at sea: Ship with 33 people missing in Hurricane Joaquin

    One lifeboat, one life ring, and one body was found. El Faro was a container ship heading to the Bahamas from the US. It ran right into Hurricane Joaquin, and apparently went down.
  19. Oct 29, 2015 #18
  20. Oct 29, 2015 #19
    The El Faro was a large ship, but it was not a true container ship.

  21. Oct 29, 2015 #20


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    Or not, it depends on the operating depth of that submarine and the depth of the water. Any storm that can produce large sea states will also cause changes in ocean currents and turbulence underneath the surface. This can cause destructive vibrations in submarines, kick up silt or perhaps large objects that can damage propulsion systems/the hull, affect the ability to navigate via sonar, and hosts of other issues.

    No one, not even the US Navy, is purposely navigating into large storms.
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