Thursday, January 28, 2016

10 Best Warship Designs

The US Navy has produced some great warships but what are the best ship designs – the ones that opened new lines of development or set the standard for ships and navies that would follow?  Just for fun, here’s my list.

1. Constitution – Old Ironsides revolutionized naval construction with a design that was strong enough to beat any ship in its class or even a bit above but retained a frigate’s speed.  It instantly obsoleted every frigate in the English and French navies.

2. Albacore (AGSS-569) – The first teardrop shaped submarine, this sub set the pattern for all subsequent submarines and helped pioneer the use nuclear reactors, the now classic stern rudder forms, propeller shapes, and much more.

3. Ticonderoga (CG-47) – This Aegis cruiser class remains the world’s most powerful AAW vessel and set the standard for effective air defense.  Recent adaptation to ballistic missile defense further enhances an already impressive design.

4. Harris (APA-2) – Built just after WWI, this troop attack transport set the pattern for all subsequent attack transports that would become the backbone of US amphibious assaults in WWII.

5. Enterprise (CV-6) – The first purpose built aircraft carrier, the Yorktown class set a new standard for aircraft carrier development and performance.  Enterprise became the most famous US ship of WWII and carried far more than her share of the combat load in the early years of the war.

6. Los Angeles (SSN-688) – The 688 class dominated the undersea world of the Cold War and remains one of the most powerful submarines in the world even today.

7. Forrestal (CV-59) – First of the supercarriers, this ship set the design pattern for all subsequent carriers.

8. Spruance (DD-963) – The finest ASW surface ship ever built, the Spruance class also demonstrated its versatility and value by providing the basic hull for the Ticonderoga class.  The Spruance ASW capability has not been duplicated since.

9. Fletcher (DD-445) – This ship became the classic American destroyer and was the workhorse and backbone of the fleet in WWII.  The combination of range and firepower remains impressive even today.

10. Enterprise (CVN-65) – The world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier not only served a long and combat filled life but set the standard for every nuclear carrier since.

What would you change about the list?





32 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I considered Nautilus but went with Albacore as the pattern setter. GW is certainly a good choice!

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    3. Can't argue with that but Albacore put it all together. Nautilus was a nuclear powered surface ship. Albacore was the true submarine and set the pattern for every submarine today.

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    5. For Los Angeles class, they were first to have land attack missiles , first out of torpedo tubes and then in their own vertical launch tubes.
      This finally changed the sub from being an ocean only weapon.

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  2. Monitor......granted limited ocean going capabilities. I would replace the TICO and Spru-Can. The sad thing was not never completely wanted by the Navy because they wanted the proposed Nuclear Strike Cruiser that proved unaffordable and initially the Spru-Can was derided for being over large and under armed for a destroyer.

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    1. I considered Monitor, however, it was not the first of its kind. The North had built several ironclads prior to Monitor, the South had already built Merrimac/Virginia, and the French and English were building various ironclads. Further, the Monitor's basic design was not a success. A significant vessel, for sure, but not a top 10.

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    2. Are we talking great designs or most influential?

      To me a great design is epitomized by something like the Fletcher or even Iowa. Not new technology per se, but durable, maintainable, versatile, and lethal. Both designs lasted a long time, and into different eras, because of the solidity of the base design. There can be some ground breaking tech (Nuclear power on the Enterprise) but it doesn't have to be there (Fletcher). It seems most of your ships fit that bill.

      Monitor and Albacore were more influential, on the other hand. The rotating turret of Monitor became a naval mainstay; as did the teardrop hull of the Albacore. But Monitor *sucked* in sea keeping and really was best kept to the coasts. Similarly, Albacore was a test bed.

      So, given that, for me, I'd replace Albacore with maybe the Sturgeon or Skipjack class. Both were workhorses during the cold war, and lasted longer in the traces than the Permit class.

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    3. Albacore was normal diesel power, no reactor. But was a true test bed with various different configurations for rear propellor and diving planes. Is now a museum boat at the superlative navy shipyard Portsmouth, Maine that designed and built her.

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    4. Ztev, oops, my mistake. Good catch.

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  3. How about the first wooden ship that had a coal fired steam plant on it.

    That was vision and careful attention to operational details!

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    1. That's a good one. Any idea what ship it was?

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    2. The first vessel that can be considered a steam warship was the Demologos, which was launched in 1815 for the United States Navy.[1]

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_frigate

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  4. Keeping with a submarine theme, the Gato-class from early in World War II. Didn't display the innovation of the Albacore or the Nautilus but a great design for the long range missions that the submarine force was tasked with in the Pacific, and helped solidify the "away game" perspective.

    - interestedparty

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    1. Not quite top ten but a very good choice!

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  5. USS South Carolina/USS Michigan with their superimposed turrets. And if they had been built a little more quickly, could we be talking about South Carolina battleships instead of dreadnoughts?

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    1. HMS Dreadnought was commissioned in Dec 1906 while USS South Carolina was only laid down in Dec 1906 and didnt have steam turbines only the old triple expansion piston engines.

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  6. I would add the Burke-class (DDG-51) as tied with the Ticonderoga-class. The Burke-class is the backbone of the current fleet and probably will be for the next 30-40 years. Granted, it lacks a second 5-in gun and has 32 fewer VLS cells, it is the premier AAW ship out there with many BMD capable. It's also one of the biggest class (in terms of displacement and numbers) of ships built since WWII.

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  7. Where's the LCS? 45 knot speed, anti-surface, anti-submarine, anti-mine, anti-piracy, gender neutral, power point friendly, multi-hull, multi-congressional district log rolling, green friendly...

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    1. I stand corrected. Should have been at the top of the list!

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    2. I was waiting for the LCS to be mentioned.
      but all joking aside, why wasn't the Iowa class on there, it was the Apex of US battleship design?

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    3. CNO, At first I thought this was a trick, like Where's Waldo. I read the post upside down and backwards - twice! And, still no Burke.

      I agree with Andy, the Iowa belongs somewhere on the list too.

      Cheers!

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    4. This list is for best designs - the ones that set standards for the future. The Burke is just an evolutionary development of all the guided missile ships that came before. It's a good, solid design but not a major achievement.

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    5. Which is why the Spruance class should be listed at 3 since the Tico's and Burke's are derivatives of the original electric greyhound.

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  8. Another forgotten type is the Coontz class ( a sub class of the Farragut class) of the late 1950s. They were the first ships to be built as guided missile carriers with the large Terrier missile. They showed you didnt need massive hulls like the converted cruisers that preceded them.
    The other important class would be the Brooke sub class ( of Garcia) which were the first guided missile frigates which carried the Tartar missile system . Coincidentally they are similar size to LCS- Freedom - shorter but more beam.
    Brooke carried Tarter launcher, Asroc with bow mounted sonar, a 5" gun, Seasprite and 3D search radar.

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  9. I'm a modern warfare geek so I think missing Nautilus is a mistake in what its lineage represent in terms of global sea control. And its something the US totally and equivocally cracked first. And shifted the nature of naval warfare.

    Other than that I'd change the order. The carriers represent significant shifts. And again arguably the last word in sea control and strike from the sea. Which order they come I'm not too sure. but they need to be higher up. The Super-Carrier is a significant development. Again in terms of Global power. But also in term of deterrence an a provable area stabiliser, stopping wars before they start in the past.

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  10. If you are judging "best" based on demonstrated combat experience, not sure any AEGIS vessel makes the list.

    An awful lot of hype has surrounded AEGIS to be sure, but how many actual air threats have they shot down? Iranian airliners don't count.

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    1. I'm not. As the post states, the list is for the greatest designs. The ones that set the pattern for those to follow and established new norms. Aegis certainly did that. How effective it will be in combat remains to be seen.

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  11. Another choice for first of, probably ahead of Harris (APD) would be Ashland LSD-1. This was the first vessel in the world which launched its amphibious craft from a floodable internal dock. Commissioned June 43.
    My understanding it was a British design concept ( like a lot of the early beaching landing ships, LCT LSD etc) but designed and built in US.
    While a few vessels still use davits most major amphibious ships use the floodable dock

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  12. Just checking back, first Enterprise wasnt first purpose built US carrier that honour goes to USS Ranger ( 1934). Plus Enterprise was second ship of the Yorktown class as you mentioned.
    For advanced design I would put Lexingtons in , as their high speed, large size set the future direction back when the direction of naval aviation wasn't clear. The Essex class can be seen now as a purposely built version of the Lexingtons

    Spruance gets another plus as being the first major combatant to be fully gas turbine powered ( was ahead of OHP frigates)

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