Sinking Ships/Anti-Surface-Warfare discussion (with DCS World 2.5 examples)

The Molniya boats soak up a lot of damage – two AGM-65s, a GBU-16, two Sidearms, and 20x25mm cannon shells before it sank.

Perhaps I should try that with Rockeyes in place of the Sidearms…

Ships are rather hard to sink in reality. Praying Mantis is the most recent naval slap fight I can recall. In it three ships were engaged. One was the Combattante II class patrol corvette Joshan (half the tonnage of the Tarantal-III in dcs). It ate 5 Standard missiles which set it on fire real good, but didn’t sink until engaged with 5 inch gun fire.

The Sahand was a Vosper Mk 5 frigate (roughly twice the tonnage of the Tarantul-III), and it managed to “survive” three Harpoons, two AGM-123s (GBU-16s with a rocket booster), and a pair of rockeyes. It only sank when the fires set by those weapons reached the magazine.

The last was the Sabalan, (roughly same displacement as Sahand), and it was crippled by a single GBU-12 dropped down it’s smoke stack. It survived, but was hors de combat, and would take years to rebuild.

Now, the thing to consider is while those ships took an extreme beating before they finally stopped floating, the threshold of combat in-effectiveness is a much lower bar to cross. Antennae, weapons, computers, machinery, sailors, are all far more fragile than the steel canoe in which they ride, and if all those break, the ship is essentially useless.

To an extent, DCS models this. The more damage a ship takes, the less effectively it can respond. Past a certain threshold they reduce speed, they become incapable of firing back, until ultimately they just sit there and burn. Depending on the damage, after a while they’ll either sink, or “repair the damage”, put on about 8 knots of speed, and limp along. I’d personally like a more nuanced damage model, especially with respect to how radars are represented, but it’s a start.

Also Sidearms should be able to nail the Plank Shave on the roof of the bridge (the drum looking thing, it’s used to steer the CIWS), but outside of that you might as well pop the canopy and throw your charts at them for all the good a Sidewinder is going to do. I’ve found three Mavericks are sufficient to reliably sink a Tarantul.


I noticed that because after the first Maverick hit, the ship’s Kashtan system quit trying to shoot at me. I think I also used a GBU-12 rather than a 16 on it the other day, because a single 16 to the centerline sank it this time around.

I was a bit surprised the other day when I found that Sidearm would lock onto it. Almost makes me wonder if it will lock onto jammers, too.

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Finally scored some hits with the Rockeyes and boats. It’ll damage 'em, but not real super effective.

Keyword is “all.”

The amount of redundancy built into even smallish warships is impressive.

Pretty sure this thing is rigged for sinking, and still takes a bunch of hits. I think the torpedo finally does it in.

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Impressive. If the YouTube comments are to be believed, after soaking up multiple harpoons, hellfires, mavericks, bombs and a mk 48 torpedo, she still took 12 hours to sink. Hats off to the people who designed and built her. Makes me wonder what it would take to sink a DDG, CG, or even a Carrier.

Yeah, it would of been marked to add to a part of a reef. Therefore i would assume all bulkheads are left open, lots of open space and of course no crew to combat damage and flooding. Though saying that, fuel, oils and fluids would also be carefully drained so i also wonder what impact that would have as well.

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Actually quite the opposite. They go through the target ship and secure all the watertight doors, hatches, and fittings, just as we would when going to GQ aboard an active duty ship. (@Navynuke99 Setting Yoke? Or is it Zebra? They might also set Circle William on target ships)

Why? It’s a total efficiency thing. You want as many units–air, surface combatants and a sub–to all get a chance to shoot at it. I recall a certain CG got yelled at for taking too many 5” gun shots. The Mk-48 is designed to break a ship’s keel. It wil definitely sink an OHP-class like this with one shot…so the sub goes last. :sunglasses:

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Ahh interesting, most target ships i have seen have bee left open. (videos of course). But makes sense to try to keep it afloat for additional target practice.

Just thought i would put this in. not sure why. :wink:

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Before you take on a ship you need to decide what you want. Essentially there are three “goals” to choose from:

  1. Mission kill - sufficient damage to weapon systems and sensors (radars) that it can no longer fight. But it can still maneuver. A couple of AGM-88 to take care of the radars and then something else to take out the weapons - likely ASCM launchers, SAM launchers and guns, in that order. (That’s why vertical launch systems are nice…”one-stop-shoping” to take out the first two.). In such a case something like a Rockeye or more advance cluster munitions can prove useful-a couple can cover a small combatant or a good portion of a large combatant’s decks. However, you may not get everything like torpedo tubes, RBU-6000 and the AK-630s (Russian CWIS). Not getting all the AK-630s could prove unfortunate.

  2. Mobility kill - The ship is dead in the water but still afloat. Basically take a big PGM and hit the ship’s stern-that’s where the props and rudders are located. You might even blow off the entire stern. You need a Mission kill first unless you don’t mind going home in a raft.

  3. Sink it. Call you friendly SSN and have them put a Mk-48 under its hull.

So, if the ship is essentially hors de combat, don’t waste “the powder” to send it to Davy Jones’ Locker. Us intel folks will keep an eye on it on the off chance they fix it enough to constitute a threat, and let you know.

BTW, does this model AGM-84? That’s usually a good starting weapon.


If the the ship is meant for an artificial reef, that makes sense. In the last SINKEX I did out in the Pacific (2004) as part of RIMPAC, we had several aircraft dropping PGMs and a 5 to 6 ship gun line, each taking their turns shooting at it.

It’s like T-Ball…everybody gets a chance to hit it. :slightly_smiling_face:


I’ve heard conflicting reports on this myself, so I not 100% sure if they set Zebra or even Yoke every time. PS, here’s a guide to what we’re talking about for the landlubbers in the group:

Even though I know it’ll be very highly classified for a very long time, I’d love to someday read the report from the SINKEX on the America (CV-66).

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That’s right. Yoke at night time at sea…along with darken ship (yeah, like that little light lock on the door going out to the cat walk is really doing anything when we leave the hangar deck elevator doors wide open)

Zebra is for battle stations.

I’d imagine that if they wanted the target ship to float for a while, but not all day, they’d set Yoke.

AGM-84 and RGM-84 are in game, but they’re both AI only and extremely simplistic at the moment. I’d imagine the former will get more nuanced when they integrate it with the F/A-18. The bigger issues with ship killing in DCS, at least in the eyes of this sport fan, are electronic warfare and damage models.

Without going too deep, the sensor modelling of ships in DCS is extremely simplistic. Taking the Slava class CG for example, it is configured with a Top Pair, a Top Dome, and a Pop Group for search/fire control like you would expect. However these radars are logically associated: they are not physically associated with any of the actual radar antenna on the ship, and as far as I can tell emit out of the model centroid.

Furthermore I just drove an invincible Su-25T into the side of one, and while the Fatasmagoria pod was able to pick up the Top Pair, it never picked up the Top Dome or Pop Group. When the Moscow started engaging me, the game just treated it as the Top Pair had gone into STT and was now guiding SA-N-6s on me.

That’s a huge problem because without that sort of damage granularity, hitting ships is extremely difficult. The first part of any attack on a ship of that capability would be a barrage of ARMs aimed at crippling its radar systems, starting with the SA-N-6 radars and working down through the SA-N-4s through to the Plank Shaves (payload permitting, of course). Without those defensive systems, the ships are clearly more vulnerable, and depending on the type, can open large holes in the enemy air defense plan. As it is any ARM fired at a ship tracks straight into the centroid, and subtracts from the larger pool of health, which isn’t nothing, but it sure isn’t what you want.

Combined with the total lack of stand off ECM at the moment, that means the only viable way to strike naval targets is massive saturation. Russia has it a bit easier because they invested in a wider variety of highly capable (but platform specific) weapons. The venerable Harpoon has the advantage that anything and it’s mom can mount two or more, but that means it takes a bunch to punch through anything more capable than a blob of Krivak FFGs. Putting a SA-N-9 equipped ship in any task force doubles your ASCM requirement. If you dare put anything like a Slava, Kirov, or a Luyang in, you’re going to need a full up Alpha strike (30+) Hornets to have any hope of punching through.

Salt - Lubber conversion
SA-N-4 = SA-8
SA-N-6 = SA-10
SA-N-9 = SA-15

Tl;dr it could be better.


Got bored. Threw together a “Soviet” SAG consisting of the Kuznetsov (standing in for a Kiev), a Slava CG, two Luyang I DDGs (standing in for Sovremennyys), two Neutrashimy FFs (standing in for Udaloys), and two Krivak FFs.

Then I threw two squadrons of Hornets, each rocking 4 Harpoons (for a total of 96(!) missiles) at that SAG. Of the 96 missiles, three quarters were shot down. I’d guess about a third of that due to the SA-N-6, a little less than two thirds by the SA-N-4 / SA-N-9 swarm, and then the remainder by CIWS or Kashtan. The twenty or so Harpoons that did hit bough us one “Udaloy” and one “Sovremennyy” sank, severe damage to a Krivak, and moderate to light damage to the Slava and “Kiev” (flight deck was definitely holed).

If it were a continuing scenario, I’d say the opportunity for re attack would be pretty good. The Slava expended a significant proportion of its magazine, and that, coupled with the loss of the Sovremennyy seriously weaken the enemy’s ability to withstand sustained standoff attacks. Once they’re gone the remaining ships could be finished with Mavericks or Walleyes. Problem is I don’t know how many Harpoons your average carrier lugs around, but I’m doubtful it’s much more than 100 (if that).


Pix or it didn’t happen! :grin:

(That sounds spectacular)

First group attacks

Moskva opens fire with it’s SA-N-6s

Second group begins to shoot

Enough Harpoons have punched through the Moskva has begun opening up with it’s secondary SA-N-4 launchers.

The lead Krivak joins the melee.

An “Udaloy” unleashes the Gauntlet swarm.

That Krivak takes its first Harpoon

It’s getting real

That poor Krivak gets a spot of dubious “luck” as the Moskva splashes what would have been the fourth Harpoon to hit about twenty feet from the super structure. I’d imagine eating the combined fragments of an SA-N-6 and a Harpoon was an unpleasant experience.


The Moskva continues to contribute, but it’s now the Kuznetsov itself and the “Udaloy” at the top of the screen that are splashing the majority of Harpoons at this point.

Putting those 6 AK-630s to use.

The southern “Udaloy”'s luck begins to run out.

The first wave of Harpoons is essentially depleted, but it bought time and space for the second wave.

The wounded Udaloy engages with it’s Kashtan system…

But its moments are numbered.


As the “Udaloy” burns and the “Sovremennyy” takes a missile in the background, The Kuznetsov opens up with ten(!) different 30mm rotary cannons…

but the bomber missile gets through.

Aftermath of the attack. Smoke cloud at the top is the now sinking “Udaloy”. The left most plume is the “Sovremenny”, which is the process of joining it. At the bottom is the Krivak that took the brunt of the initial wave, and by some miracle has survived. The Kuznetsov and the Moskva have also taken various amounts of damage, but aren’t in any real danger of sinking.


This post makes me dream of an interface between DCS as a visualiser and CMANO as a simulation engine…


Just to further push the cart further in front of the horse (and my luck with it). Here’s a (incomplete) set of pictures illustrating the different radars on ship models in DCS. In a more perfect world, each would be a discrete emitter. Some, like the TOP PAIR and TOP STEER on the Moskva are semi redundant, some are not, many ships have different, layered systems. Modelling this makes naval attacks more feasible, but also makes it a more captivating gameplay loop.

Instead of there-is-ship-shoot-ARM-at-ship, it becomes a complex problem set. I have a discrete number of missiles, what emitters do I need to shoot at to accomplish this mission’s goal? How do I destroy or suppress the right radars for the window I need to? That’s the actual challenge of a SEAD mission, dodging missiles is just ancillary.

and don’t get me started about ECM