Samson, the Philistines are upon you!

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By John Barnhart

She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him. (Judges 16:20 NSAB)

    In the Biblical account of Samson, Samson was gifted with supernatural strength until he got involved with a pagan woman who sheared him. Not realizing that God, the source of his supernatural strength had departed from him, he went out to fight the Philistines, as he had done before, and was taken prisoner by them.
    I recently saw that Russia is planning a new class of destroyer, called the Shkval class.
    At present, the Russian Navy is no match for the U. S. Navy. It has one aircraft carrier which is more than 30 years old and was very inferior to our carriers even when it was brand new. Most of its current surface combatants are Soviet-era ships that were less capable than what ours. They also have fewer of them.
    The value of a navy for projecting power has often been demonstrated over the years, most recently this past April when President Donald Trump used two destroyers to send Bashir al-Assad a message about using poison gas. A strong navy is also important for a country like the United States because most of are allies are separated from us by the Atlantic Ocean or Pacific Ocean.
    The proposed Shkval class destroyers, along with a class of aircraft carriers Russia has proposed  seem to be aimed at remedying their deficit in this area. The new class of destroyer would address the weaknesses of previous Soviet designs that were  either anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platforms, air defense ships or surface warfare ships, but lacked capabilities in all three areas. Like our Arleigh Burke class destroyers, and Ticonderoga class cruisers, the proposed Shkval destroyer will be a multirole surface combatant. It will also be nuclear powered, which means fuel will not be a limiting factor for its at-sea endurance.
    The Russians began construction of one of these ships this year. They plan to build eight.
    Even if they build all the new warships they propose, the Russians won’t have a Navy to match what we do. We already have 10 large nuclear powered aircraft carriers in the fleet, and we are building  more. We also have 62 Arleigh Burke class destroyers and more either under construction or planned. We also have 22 Ticonderoga class cruisers, although they are getting some age on them.
    Even if the Russians have enough money to build all eight of the Shkval class destroyers they plan, the numerical advantage of 84 to eight is huge, even if theirs will be nuclear powered and ours are not.
     However, the Ticonderoga class ships are getting old and the Arliegh Burkes will need to be replaced. The follow-on class for the Arleigh Burkes, the Zumwalt class stealth destroyers, has been reduced to three ships, instead of the original 32, due to cost and there is no follow-on class for the Ticonderogas
     A future president may find himself with fewer good options for sending a message like President Donald Trump did. Our big powerful aircraft carries also depend on a screen of warships to provide an ASW screen and antiaircraft missile defense.
    The day may come when Uncle Sam, like Samson of old, may find the Philistines upon him and also find himself no longer able to shake himself free.