Thursday, January 14, 2016

Modern Battleship

Let’s face it, battleships are a combination of beauty and power that appeals to all of us.  Many still want to return the battleships to duty and, honestly, there’s a lot of reasons why that would be a good thing.  However, that’s not what this post is about.  Along with lamenting the absence of the battleship, people often wonder if we could build a modern battleship.  Let’s take a look at that – a modern battleship.

The first question is what would a modern battleship (BB) be?  Would it be a simple rebuild of the last BB built?  It could be and that’s certainly a worthwhile thought but there is another answer.  A modern BB would encompass the qualities and characteristics of the old BBs but in a modern form.  Thus, a modern BB would not incorporate 16” guns, for example. 

OK, so what would a modern BB look like?  To answer that, we have to understand what an old BB was intended to be.  Here’s a reasonable list of the characteristics of an old BB.

  • Striking Power – a BB was built to apply offensive firepower in overwhelming amounts.  The 16” gun was the hardest hitting, longest ranged weapon of its day (carrier aircraft not withstanding).

  • Stand and Fight – a BB was intended to stay in the fight, not run.  It was built to slug it out, to take damage, to give damage, and to be able to fight damaged.  It was not a ship that was susceptible to mission kill from a single hit like today’s vessels.

  • Defense – a BB was an awesome anti-aircraft platform with huge numbers of 5”, 40 mm, and 20 mm AA guns.  A BB was the area AAW platform of the time.

  • Command – BBs were often used as flagships and contained facilities for embarked Admirals and staff.

  • Independence – BBs were envisioned to be capable of independent operations as the center of a surface action group and, indeed, did so.  The Washington and South Dakota’s action at Guadalcanal is a notable example.

  • Endurance and Speed – a BB was fast at 30+ kts and long ranged at 15,000 nm.

Those are the characteristics of a BB.  Now, how do those characteristics translate to a modern ship.  In other words, what kind of ship would we build, today, that embodies those qualities?

  • Striking Power – Missiles have taken the place of guns but a modern BB should have the heaviest, fastest, most powerful missiles.  The modern BB should have large, supersonic anti-ship/land missiles along the lines of the Soviet/Russian P-270 Moskit (also reported as SS-N-22 Sunburn) or Indian Brahmos.  Further, a BB might well carry intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBM) for deep strike.  Secondary armament would include a long range, high subsonic anti-ship missile like the Naval Ship Missile or Swedish RB-15.  Finally, a gun fit of two 6” triple mounts would provide inshore or close range gun power and four 25-30 mm guns would round out a self-defense fit.

  • Stand and Fight – there’s no getting around it, a modern BB needs armor that incorporates traditional armor, meaning thick steel, and modern advances in armor along the lines of tank composite and layered armor.  Double layer void and crush spaces would be included below the waterline and along the keel along with reinforced keel and bulkhead structures.  Weapons and sensors need to be enclosed within armor to the extent possible consistent with their function (there’s a limit to how much armor you can place over a radar and have it work!).  This might take the form of retractable weapons and sensors to some extent.  Stealth shaping of the hull and superstructure would contribute to the ability to stand and fight.  Stealth would include extensive IR suppression.  Redundancy is key to fighting damaged and would be an important characteristic.  The AMDR would be backed up by a multiple, lesser radars, for example.

  • Defense – a BB would incorporate a Ticonderoga’s AAW capabilities including AMDR and VLS fits with 120 or so VLS cells, not counting any IRBM cell requirements.  Passive defenses like ECM and decoys would be far more emphasized than those on current ships. 

  • Command – a modern BB would have extensive communications facilities for flag staffs.

  • Independence – a modern BB would be able to act as the centerpiece of surface action groups in concert with Burke escorts.

  • Endurance and Speed – as with the old BBs, a modern version would have a range of 15,000 nm and be capable of 30+ kts.

Notable among missing characteristics is any ASW fit.  Just as the old BBs did not have an ASW role, neither would a modern BB.  We have plenty of Burkes to conduct ASW.

Also absent is a helo hangar.  A small flight deck for a single helo would be incorporated but there is no need for a hangar, one of the huge consumers of volume and deck space on modern ships.  With Burkes always around and no role in ASW, there is simply no need for hangars or permanently embarked helos.

Clearly, this would not be a cheap ship.  For those concerned with budgets, go build frigates and wait to be destroyed.  This is somewhat akin to the Zumwalt but with added guns and VLS cells plus a conventional hull.  Thus, the cost would probably be comparable or a bit more, say $4B-$5B per ship.

Size would be comparable to the old Virgina class CGN or the Long Beach which would put it in the range of 600-700 ft, probably leaning to 700 ft and a displacement of around 20-25,000 tons.  Hey, I’m not a naval architect so don’t bother telling my why those numbers may not be feasible.  This is just moderately informed speculation.  We have engineers to generate the actual numbers.

Automation would be a part of this ship but would not significantly affect crew size.  This ship is expected to fight and would need plenty of crew to man combat stations, replace casualties, and conduct damage control.  What automation would do is make the crew more efficient.  I would guess a crew of around 500 might work.

This would be a ship built to go in harm’s way.  No, this is not a ship intended to take on the entire Chinese military single-handed.  It is a ship intended to fight, hit hard, take damage, and keep fighting.  Consider a surface group of three modern BBs and several Burke escorts – today’s fantasy/idiocy of individual ships will quickly give way to large groups as in WWII when combat starts.  Such a group would present a formidable defense against any aircraft and missile attack while simultaneously carrying out heavy strikes against land or surface targets.  With strike ranges of 1000 – 1500 nm, such a group could strike key Chinese naval and air bases without need of carrier air protection.  The number of anti-ship weapons that could reach such a group ought to be well within the capability of the group to handle.


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    1. Well, that's one idea.

      A $250M ship? Let's see ... That would make it about a half to a third the size of a LCS, a bit bigger than a PC. What kind of endurance and range will a ship that size have? We've seen that the much bigger LCS has no combat useful range. In order for your flotilla to get within range they need sufficient endurance.

      Sensors. A ship that size won't have organic sensors capable of targeting at the range of the weapons it carries. That requires off board sensing and data linking which borders on the network/information fantasy currently in vogue (you're aware that the Rota DDGs are now trying to relearn how to fight in EMCON because all the radiating and communicating is giving away their positions?). So, you'll have a flotilla that can't reach their firing positions, won't know where their targets are, are highly susceptible to defeat in detail, and have absolutely no protection against enemy attack. Sounds like the kind of plan the Navy would come up with!

      As far as being nothing more than nostalgia, I think any objective wargame would demonstrate their value quite convincingly. If a battleship is nothing more than nostalgia then a flotilla of networked small ships is nothing more than lusting after a Star Wars fantasy.

    2. "Basic Salvo Model. Lose that one ship and you lose all of its offensive, defensive and staying power."

      Hmmm .... So, by that logic, instead of building one carrier with an air wing of 65 aircraft we should build 65 ships, each carrying one aircraft.

    3. "Driving huge, expensive, 30kt ships into a 500-1000kt A2/AD zone is silly."

      Well, if it's silly then I take it all back. No one, me included would want to do something silly.

      On the other hand, just to play Devil's Advocate, if we could send a huge, expensive, 30 kt ship into an A2/AD zone and survive while destroying enemy targets, why that's the kind of radical thinking that just might win a war!!!

      No, you're right. I'm just being silly. Better to send dozens of tiny ships that can be destroyed by a single helo.

    4. You read the post, right? A group of three with several Burke escorts. That's on the order of 1000 VLS cells plus IRBM loads.

    5. "Of course my flotilla of ships aren't worth shooting ballistic missiles at. Your BBs are."

      Correct. Of course, a couple of helos can sink your entire flotilla!

    6. "A BB without organic helicopters is not much better. It may be able to handle the ABM job, but it as no means of finding OTH targets."

      Seriously, you read the post, right? A group of three plus several escorts would carry a dozen or more helos and cover a pretty good range just with Aegis/AMDR which can volume search many hundreds of miles out. Add to that the passive search capability of the Burke COBLU system and you've got a pretty good tactical picture for many hundreds of miles with just organic sensors. Ships of this size are also capable of operating UAVs with useful range.

    7. Smitty, c'mon, if you want to discuss concepts, that's fine but if you just want to construct one-sided worst-case scenarios for my comments and fantasy level scenarios for yours then I'm out. My group can't see anything, do anything, has no strike capability, and won't survive two minutes in an A2/AD zone while your flotilla will survive unscathed, see the tactical picture for 10,000 miles, destroy everything for a thousand miles around, and spread democracy to smiling, liberated people. Do you want to take a shot at some degree of balance?

      Both concepts have advantages and disadvantages. A flotilla of small craft lack sensing, defense, and endurance while featuring distribution of risk and striking power. A larger combatant concentrates risk while maximizing sensing, defense, and endurance. Sort of two sides of the same coin.

      Seriously, your small combatant, half the size of an LCS or less, is, you claim, going to feature good speed, long endurance, panel arrays, low observability, medium range AAW, a flight deck, and significant strike capability - and the list is growing - all for the sum of $250M???? The Ambassador class missile boat cost $250M - $300M and didn't have a fraction of that capability but if you say it can be done then sign me and the Navy up!!!

      I'll now reveal my revised cost estimate for the modern BB I proposed ... $125M each in serial production. Possibly as low as $95M each if we optimize the shipyard processes. Thus, my BB has more capability and costs less! This is fun, making up completely unrealistic numbers to argue about!

    8. OK, that's better discussion. We all think the costs for ships are way out of line. Nonetheless, they are what they are. The LCS, with a fraction of the capabilities you describe, costs $500M. The Ambassador, which is smaller and has a fraction of the capability costs $300M. The National Security Cutter sounds like it's somewhat in the ballpark of what you describe with some equipment swaps and it cost around $800M.

      The data points are crystal clear. What you describe will cost far, far more than $250M. Slotting it into the data points, I'd guess around $800M.

      As we've discussed, serial production savings just never materialize.

      We can certainly discuss what ships ought to cost but the reality is that they cost far more than we wish. That "throwaway" ship at $250M suddenly is no longer expendable at $800M.

    9. I'm not sure why you're so down on the Ambassadors. They actually meet your main criteria which is low cost, distributed strike. What is it you don't like about them? I'm neither for nor against them. I just see them as meeting your criteria and puzzled why you don't like them?

    10. The salvo model is badly flawed due to its simplistic assumptions. It's useful for grasping overall concepts but not much more. That aside ...

      My problems with small ships and distributed strike is how do you get them to the fight (endurance/range), how do you find the fight (targeting), and how do they survive when found (no significant AAW - a handful of RAM will keep you alive momentarily but any helo or fixed wing attack will decimate the flotilla - again, be fair, if you think a handful of RAM will keep these craft afloat then you have to credit a BB/Burke group with Aegis/AMDR and scads of Standards/ESSM/RAM with significantly better survivability!).

      On the plus side, if the ships can be had for $250M and we consider them expendable then they certainly do present a challenge for the enemy. Again, though, at $250M we won't get half the characteristics you suggest so is what we will get worth it? That's the crux of it.

    11. All right, you're changing your ship specs. You said you wanted a planar array and Mk41 VLS for ESSM, neither of which the LCS has so, no, the LCS doesn't have more capability than you want, it has less, at least in regards to those characteristics. You also want low observability, flight deck, and 5000 nm range. Presumably, you want some type of Tomahawk-ish strike missile and a LRASM-ish ASM. All on around 95m and 2000 tons. I'm not aware of anything in the world that even remotely comes close to that and certainly not at that price.

      You're describing something that can't exist which makes it impossible to argue!

    12. "I see them more valuable in blockade enforcement, distributed ASuW, "swarming" ASW, or secondary MIW missions. Not primarily striking land targets (though LRASM may have this option, or a MLRS module). They are a component of a forward, deployable A2/AD zone that we can impose on the enemy."

      OK, now you're starting to get realistic. You're describing a general purpose ship with limited strike range or capability that would be useful in multiple, ancillary roles. I have no problem with that. However, that's a far cry from being a direct alternative to the modern BB concept.

      We need a means to conduct significant strikes against enemy bases and surface forces. That requires platforms that can penetrate an A2/AD zone to some extent, strike hard, and survive to do it again. Almost by definition that requires a major ship. The ship you describe would be quite useful but not for this role. I've stated that I'm in favor of smaller, single function vessels. You're saying the same thing although attempting to add a bit of multi-functionality (I don't think that can be done without wrecking the cost point but that's a debatable point that's worth investigating). See, when we make realistic assessments we wind up largely agreeing!

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    14. No wonder I couldn't place the CS-90, it doesn't exist!!

      To offer some perspective, the LCS sounded wonderful as a paper concept and failed miserably as a real ship.

      As with any platform, if built, it will deliver half the claimed capabilities at twice the price.

      The ship, even if it met every claim, is incapable of performing the mission set I laid out for the modern BB, no matter how many are built. It hasn't got the missiles or missile range to conduct mainland strike missions, among other things.

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    16. Smitty, here's another cost data point. The Polish Gawron (MEKO A-100) sounds like it is very close in size and capability to what you describe. The class was cancelled but was estimated to cost $450M(US). Of course, foreign cost data points are notoriously suspect but it offers a ballpark idea of cost. Check it out. I think it's pretty close to what you want and looks like a nice vessel.

      You might check out the lower end of the MEKO family for relevant costs?

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    18. I have to ask you to stop claiming cost reductions due to serial production. It just doesn't happen. Perhaps it does occur (probably so to some small extent) but the magnitude of the effect is swamped by other factors (concurrency, change orders, design modifications). Regardless, the net result is that each ship is the same or more expensive than the one before it. You can wish cost reductions occurred but the reality is they don't. The data on this is real. You may not like it (and neither do I) but it is what it is. You're going to lose credibility if you continue to insist that cost reductions will take place. They never do!

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    20. I've seen the numbers. The Burke is the only ship class that exhibits even a hint of cost savings. Unfortunately, the Navy's accounting games have made the Burke costs, which are spread over decades, impossible to reconcile.

      I've collected data on every recent ship class cost and that's the only one that even hints at it. ALL the rest show nothing but steady upward trends. I thought the Virginia's might show decreases but they don't. Again, the Navy's accounting makes collecting valid numbers very difficult. The latest trick whereby the Navy is postponing actual construction until post-delivery outfitting and refitting is the latest way of obscuring costs. Even GAO has pointed this out. If the Navy would put half the energy into maintenance and tactics and whatnot that they put into hiding costs we'd have a ready Navy!

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    23. Cost of Construction of LSD-41 Class between 1981 and 1992 (via Global
      - LSD-41 “Whidbey Island” ordered 09 February ‘81
      commissioned 09 Feb ‘85 = $339 M
      - LSD-42 “Germantown” ordered 26 March ‘82
      commissioned 01 Feb ‘86 = $304 M
      - LSD-43 “Fort McHenry” ordered 27 January ‘83
      commissioned 24 July ‘87 = $272 M
      - LSD-44 “Gunston Hall” ordered 21 Nov ‘84
      commissioned 24 Feb ‘89 = $167 M
      - LSD-45 “Comstock” ordered 26 Nov ‘84
      commissioned 12 Jan ‘90 = $153 M
      - LSD-46 “Tortuga” ordered 26 Nov ‘84
      commissioned 07 Sept ‘90 = $153 M
      - LSD-47 “Rushmore” ordered 11 Dec ‘85
      commissioned 26 Apr ‘91 = $149 M
      - LSD-48 “Ashland” ordered 11 Dec.’85
      commissioned 12 Mar ‘92 = $149 M

      LSD-41-43 were built at Lockheed, Seattle.
      LSD-44-48 were built at Avondale, New Orleans.

      Average Cost of LSD-41 class = $211 M per vessel versus lead-ship LSD-41 @ $339 M

      Only 8 ships built.

      And in two far-apart yards without direct hands-on Learning Curve to reduce the cost sooner and faster.

      At $149 per last two hulls, larger-buy economies would be tempting to extrapolate.

      Using’s CPI (Consumer Price Index) Inflation Calculator:

      - LSD-41’s $339 million Vessel-Cost in Feb’81 would equal about $900 M. today.

      - Class-Average $211 million per vessel in 1984 would equal about $500 M. today.

      - LSD-48’s $149 million in Vessel-Cost in March’92 would equal about $270 M. today.

      Would producing 10 such hulls mean $250 M each of these 12,500tons ships in today's Dollars ?

      Known numbers !
      Extant Ships.
      12,500 ton light, 15,800 f.l.
      Proven type - just SLEP'd. to last 40+ years.

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    26. Smitty, you do recognize that the Navy has made it all but impossible to intelligently discuss cost numbers with their accounting gimmicks, right? GFE obscures costs. Contracts issued for seaframes only obscure costs. Cost-plus contracts obscure costs. And the latest trend, postponement of a portion of construction until post-delivery fitting out just totally obscures cost accounting. Ford, for example, has had the "construction" cost capped and the Navy has opted to get around it by deferring construction until post-delivery.

      It has become patently impossible to compare year to year costs. I attempted to assemble serial production costs and gave up because the "contract" conditions changed every year. Less and less is paid for in the contract. Ships are now being delivered unfinished on a routine basis. How do you compare a contract for an unfinished ship to a contract for a finished (or more so) one in previous years? You can't. As I said, I gave up. There's nothing more to say on this. If you believe those numbers mean anything then you're welcome to your fantasy.

    27. The numbers on LSD-41 remain instructive in matters value-per Dollar, USN Ship-Building Plans, immediate impact upon USN and USMC Amphibious Capabilities, thus Doctrine, and of course juicy politics:
      - LSD-41 = $339 million
      - LSD-47 and LSD-48 = $149 million, or $270 mil today.

      A price-drop down to 42% of the lead-ship across just 6 hulls !

      Lots of feeding-at-the-trough nowadays via not enough competition ?

      Contrast that LSD-48 $270mill. today to $1.3+ Bill. for a short well-deck-only LPD-17-2.

      We sure are not getting 5x the MEU-capabilities despite an extra 8000-tons of bulk and getting stuck with that Shorty 190' well-deck versus 440' on LSD-41.

      These are implausible fiscal peculiarities.
      No ship-building budget will ever be big enough under those conditions.

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    29. If current numbers are deemed unreliable, would this state of affairs date back to the 1980s ?

      If so, then it is all a comparable mess.

      If not, then we have an empirically-correct baseline to orient ourselves by looking at new budgets and claimed 'value-per-Dollar'.

      Instructive either way.

      Inquiring HASC and SACC-members eager to demonstrate fiscal prowess may want to know...

    30. Do some digging on the type of contracts issued over the last several years, the types of items included, the degree of completeness at delivery, etc. and you'll see what a mess it is to try to compare costs. An excellent reference is "Electronic Greyhounds which covers the procurement of the Spruance class. You'll see just how much the Navy's contracting and accounting practices have changed. Ship acquisition used to be a fairly straightforward exercise. Not any more!

      Consider the Ford. A contract was issued for the construction of the ship - a contract which will, no doubt, be cited by some future commenter trying to make some point about costs "back then". What that commenter won't get from the contract amount is the billions in added costs that have occurred as supplemental (or whatever term the Navy uses) costs each year. Even now, the carrier can't be finished and the Navy is deferring construction until post-delivery and going to use post-delivery funding. That won't show up in the "contract" amount. The same has occurred in all ship classes over the last several years and decades.

      Check out the various reports about the degree of completeness of the LPD-17s - millions (literally) of man-hours of incomplete construction work was completed post-delivery. The LCSs were delivered significantly incomplete as well. How do you compare construction costs for incomplete ships?

    31. Sounds like we are getting worse value yet than the basic numbers put into this Thread suggest.

      Why are we putting the Ship Building Plans at such risk from 'mad-hatters' budgeting in general and the future of, say, Amphibious Assault Capabilities in particular, with
      triple, quadruple cost for less capabilities ?

      Since apparently independent from whomever is in the White House, this is thus a bi-partisan challenge, concern, opportunity, nightmare.

      'Entitlements' will always have more voters to insist on than Ship-Building jobs. Without veering into 'politics' here, this unsustainable trend in ship-building far beyond any past excesses can only have a political solution.

      Ship-Builders may want to be pro-active on that before some crude set of tools is built by any colors-Congress, since the whole philosophical spectrum has in each sector hard-core budgeteers that may act harshly in the face of out-of-plausible-control program-costs matched by equally-hard-to-stomach under-performance of the product that are indefensible before any Townhall-Meeting under any political flag.

      Time to demonstrate disciplined reason by Shipbuilders offering an LSD-41/21 10/20-ship budget somewhere near the inflation-adjusted cost cited earlier, plus upgrades and radar-signature-reductions as proposed in that Dec.'15 PROCEEDINGS Letter.

      What are the odds of that ?
      If no response from builders, then Congressional action after all ?

      Picture a coalition of isolationist Libertarians, Chamber-of-Congress budget-hawks, and Progressives moving together, all eager to 're-balance' the budget to match their constituencies !

      Conceivable alright...

  2. Wouldn't more SSGNs be just as effective without the need for AAW and support ships?

    BTW, I'm new to this site and have read many of the articles and discussions. Could I suggest a topic of notional fleets for the US (within budgetary constraints) for all to suggest and critique?

    1. Friend, welcome! Yes, there is a very good argument to be made for SSGNs and we've discussed them often on the blog. I encourage you to make use of the archives. You'll find lots of useful and interesting information.

      One of the drawbacks to SSGNs is their limited sensing range. On the other hand, their stealth is unmatched. Also, a surface ship with AAW capability can contribute to the AAW campaign whereas a sub cannot. As I said, potentially a very useful platform with advantages and disadvantages, like any platform.

  3. I think battleships are very much a function of the gun
    A 16" gun weighs 120tons and fires 1ton shells 20 miles

    Even the heaviest of Anti SHip Missiles weighs only 7tons and a range of 380 miles.
    More likely missiles weigh between 0.5 and 2.5 tons and ranges of between 100 and 200 miles.

    Battleships existed because battles were won, in theory, by the side with the most big guns, and battleships were the best way to deploy lots of big guns.

    The Skjold class Corvette carries 8 medium weight antiship missiles. The entire vessel weighs less than a three gun turret.

    Bigness was a necessity of strength, but that not the case anymore

    1. JANE'S lists the all-up system-weight of a complete multi-story and armored 16" triple-gun turret at about 1700 tons.

      Armored system on/in an armored hull.

  4. Would you consider the old Kirov's a form of BB or CA?

    Smitty, is your idea close to the new navy fighting machine?

    1. The Kirov's are in the ballpark of what I'm describing.

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  5. This post is wasn't more than two days ago that I was looking at a model of an Iowa class battleship in its 1990 configuration and thinking what a beautiful ship it was, and what a symbol of American power. The combination of the superstructure design the three large turrets, and numerous five inch turrets just oozed intimidation. That's a great hull for a "show the flag" or "presence" mission.

    A characteristic that you alluded to but didn't specifically call out is the propulsion. For a ship of this size and capability, nuclear power should be considered for all the obvious reasons. Another characteristic that was alluded to be not called out is growth potential...a large hull with power to spare gives growth potential for future capabilities. Rail gun might still be out there, but can you ensure that the "bucket" in the ship is available for a future install? Do you consider a mix of MK 41 VLS and a variant of the Virginia payload module for flexibility for larger diameter weapons?

    Fun thought exercise.

    - interestedparty

    1. Glad you liked it. Interesting thoughts about propulsion. I'm on the fence about nuclear power. The benefits are obvious but there are drawbacks, principally upfront cost. Further, when operating in a group with escorts, as I described, the escorts still need refueling so the group doesn't really gain anything from one member being nuke. So, I'm on the fence.

      Do you think the advantages are enough to compensate for the cost and the escort limitations?

    2. " Do you consider a mix of MK 41 VLS and a variant of the Virginia payload module for flexibility for larger diameter weapons?"

      Yes, I see a mix of Mk41 VLS and whatever size "cell/launcher" is needed for IRBMs.

    3. "the escorts still need refueling so the group doesn't really gain anything from one member being nuke"

      True, but a nominal platform with a 15,000 nm range still has legs that would require the resupply to be dictated by the shorter range escorts (Burkes). There would be fewer platforms that would require a relatively complex and vulnerable resupply evolution. A real missing ingredient is the ability to reload while at reason to think that weapons loads wouldn't get used and you would want to avoid a long trip back to a port for reloads.

      Do you think the advantages are enough to compensate for the cost and the escort limitations?

      I don't know enough about the upfront and disposal costs versus the recurring savings, including impacts on manning, training requirements, fuel costs, overhauls, etc. I'm sure there are some studies out there that have the business case with assumptions for fuel costs, steaming time, etc but that's from a pure dollars and cents perspective. How do you account for the operational/tactical advantages? Are there any political costs (ie, cannot make port visits in certain "nuclear-free" sites)? I just don't know.

      - interestedparty

  6. One thing I'm not clear on is the mission.

    BB's like the Standards were built with a very specific mission in mind: line of battle slug fests to defeat an enemy fleet in the Pacific. They had everything they needed for that: Lots of big guns, good all or nothing armored raft, great range, and 'sensors' that were to work with each other (okay, directors mounted high and range clocks...). Great speed wasn't considered a huge thing because we'd make the enemy come to us by planting the fleet where he couldn't ignore it. And to further narrow it down, the 'He' specifically was the IJN.

    We build a modern battleship, what is its purpose. I see lots of AShM's and land attack missiles... as well as ESSM...

    but what is it going to be fighting against? Is this going to be sitting outside the A2/AD zone and attacking the source of the A2/AD power from a distance? Used as a surface action group against any enemy (here likely Chinese) ships that leave the A2/AD? Sailing into the teeth of the A2/AD and essentially fighting a far off fort?

    Not against the idea per se, just curious what we'd do with it.

    1. Jim, you've asked absolutely the right question. Well done. Without mission, the rest is meaningless. I didn't explicitly describe it but the mission is naval and air base strikes from the outer third of the A2/AD zone and anti-surface warfare. The base strikes will help open the way for AF strikes by degrading the enemy air-to-air capability and the naval attrition will open the way for carrier ops.

      Does that make sense?

    2. It sounds like you are back to a mission for SSGNs where target locations are fixed and sensor limits aren't a major factor. At sea missile replenishment seems like more bang for the buck. Navy friend.

    3. Partly. SSGNs could certainly do the fixed target strikes and do it better and safer. The BB offers bigger missiles (IRBM), the ability to find and engage surface targets over a much wider range, and the ability to conduct significant AAW warfare which would assist the AF and carriers to do their jobs. Thus, the BB offers more than an SSGN although the SSGN would certainly be a valuable component of an overall force structure.

  7. even ignoring the $250 mil corvettes, you could build 4 burkes for the cost of one of your BB's, thats 1000 crew, Aegis, even ballistic missile capable Aegis, plus lots of ASW off 4 platforms, and, at least as much strike capability as your one BB, diffused, and protected from threats, on the surface, bellow, and above. So why build the BB when your existing platforms do the same Job you propose, better, at less cost, and much less risk.
    I'd say theres a very very good reason why no navy's on earth have built a battle wagon since the 40's...

    1. If you read the post carefully, you noted that the modern BB concept includes significant armor,which Burkes don't have, to enable the ship to take damage and keep fighting, which Burkes can't do. You also noted that I called for IRBMs which Burkes couldn't do as they don't have the space for larger missiles.

  8. As the saying goes... Everything that is old, is new again. A modern BB is quite feasible, thou like the early days of airpower it has its critics. A new BB class, of modern design and capabilities could shore up quite a few of our navy's short comings, particularly surface combat ability. With my beginning phrase, I mean to illustrate how armor could quite be the answer to the current A2/AD problems in now a mostly near-peer or peer-to-peer world. As ComNavOps pointed out in his earlier posts about armor, it is impossible to make a unsinkable ship. But, as the Salvo model was brought up in earlier comments, a BB actually, fits in quite well. The term Dwell time should be familiar to most long time readers. A modern BB designed to survive at least 3x the exocert equivalency on a section, requiring multiple hits from smaller missiles like the exocert to do anything or less capable silkworm types to do significant damage quickly. Throw in large amounts of passive and active countermeasures ranging from ciws/rams to jamming/chaff you can further increase the amount of missiles needed to eliminate the BB. Then that is were the damage control comes into play. Keeping the ship afloat long enough and fighting to convince the enemy its still a threat and to launch a second or third salvo at it. How many missiles would that take, I don't know. But I think it more likely to survive longer then a LCS or anything else the Navy currently has trying to fulfill that role. That was the original concept of battleships, to slug it out with equal threats like battleships, not things like torpedos, aircraft, and missiles were threats. So when BBs faced this weapons they were not designed to face, some sank. Yet quite a few survived. Modern ships are not designed to survie more then a few hits, thus the no armor scheme and increase agility and defenses to deal with them, because it was a waste to but all that armor on something when it would be sunk anyway. Now the current theme is not to be seen at all. The classic evolutionary arms race. As weapons evolve, so dose the way to defeat them. Most anit-ship weapons are designed to sink Burke style ships or carriers. They're small, fast zig-zagging smart weapons designed to evade counter-fire and hit the target, not solid, layered steel/composite. That would require most of our potential enemies to design new weapons, with new platforms to carry them just like the Dreadnought of old did to most navies. What type and layout of the armor to be used could be focused on dealing with these threats, and not Naval guns, probably increasing its survivablility even against the powerful, currently fielded weapons.

  9. What would such a ship look like? In my opinion, in the spirit of a IJN Ise class post-1944 but in the 32-38k ton range, with 2 twin 12in gun turret facing front, 4-6 Goalkeeper CIWS and 4 RIM-116s to provide 360 layered active defense, 64 Mk41 cells to carry what ever desired load-out of long range missiles, not to mention the small helicopter deck aft for 3-5 helicopters or UAVs. Why 12in guns? For fire support, anti-ship, and cost. WW2 vintage 12in guns had a range of 20ish miles for a fraction of the price for a missile to go a similar range and shells can't be shoot down. I feel in this modern age, we could design a 12in gun better with more range and accuracy then ever before and large calibre naval guns are proven technology so it would require minimal R&D. If rail guns become viable options, the 12ins could be replace by smaller weapon systems, for similar performance with the previous magazine and turret space being re-purposed for that means. Nothing exotic, but proven weapon systems would be the rule. The excessive amount active defense because, naturally, its a large ship. Large things would be pop up on radar earlier then smaller ships, thus becoming the focus of an enemies attack and not the less survivable ships escorting it.
    Now what about cost? In 1943, it cost 100mil to build one Iowa class Battleship, which today would cost 1.4bil due to inflation. R&D is kept at a minimal for the goal of keeping prices low, combined with more efficient production compared to 1943, I believe it could be keeped it at that number by re-purposing an older design, with the added capabilites. Limiting crew staffing requirements to 900-1,200 would free up a lot of internal space with in specs of an older blueprint, thus allowing room for the new systems to be installed and additional survivability to be built into the design.
    In summary, the purpose of any modern Battleship, is to increase the survivability of the fleet as a whole and to shore up its surface combat power by using reliable, proven systems for cost reduction, and the armor would cause potential gaps in our enemies' offensive capabilites. Thank you for reading what turned into a bit of a rant, and I look forward to a reply.

    1. "Now what about cost? In 1943, it cost 100mil to build one Iowa class Battleship, which today would cost 1.4bil due to inflation."

      At present, the listed replacement cost of an Iowa-class Battleship is $2.5 Billion dollars.
      In 2010-11 I believe that the US Navy considered to upgrade cost of an Iowa-class Battleship (to Phase III standards, which means VLS tubes) to be roughly $1.1 Billion dollars per ship, but I'm not quite sure on the source of that claim.

      Perhaps that would help your figuring a little.

      - Ray D.

    2. I tried to do a quick find on the price per VLS unit, but couldn't find one. Also I was thinking that the 12ins would give reasonable performance for shore bombardment, hardened targets, or counter-fire for not taking up much room and reduce the need for larger VLS numbers. Thanks for the info on the VLS prices

  10. Don't try and build kirovs.

    Large ship, heavy armor. As good as we can make today.Lots of compartmentalization.

    Phalanx or similar CIWS x4 (2 per side)

    SeaRam x4 (1 per side and 1 forward of the bridge; 1 aft)

    AMDR or next gen AEGIS

    120-140 VLS cells (40 in the rear 80-100 forward)

    MK-71 8in guns x3 forward of the bridge
    (this allows for cheaper NGFS better than AGS and later if desired can be upgraded to rail guns)

    Nuclear powered. All electric. Other than that like you describe. Probably a little heavier than you thought though. Each 8in would need around 250 or so rounds per gun at the very least.
    Prefferably I'd give it a escort of 2 DDG for AA and ASW as well as a virginia for escort. Couple of Frigates like the Absolons for ASuW and such.

    Just my view. Could operate by themselves most of the time. Sail with MEU's for operations also.

    Basically we need something to defense the MEU's when the marines go ashore and to provide a lot of firepower for the landings and ops. This does both.

    1. Just curious James, would you do 1 triple mount or 3 singles? Other then that, like the nuclear option, would make speed and power requirements.
      Other then that I think it would be a viable option, thou the arrangement and number of VLS is odd.

    2. As far as I know the MK-71 is built as a single unit weapon. Another for a three gun turret could be developed but personally I think having 3 turrets would be better. Three turrets is much harder to take out. A chance of a mechanical problem would leave 2 others up to fire.

      As far as the gun arrangement and VLS cells I'm figuring the new larger cells used on the DDG-1K. and comparing that for the TICO's. 120 should provide a large enough amount of cells for Tomahawks (or their replacement) and SM-3 or their next advancement.

  11. With all due respect, CNO (and that is a lot of respect!), that's a nice Large Missile Cruiser you designed there.
    Really, I like the design concept, but I'm not sure you're pushing this as far as is reasonable for the (assumed) mission.
    That being said, I can see the point (if that is the right term) of your design.
    It is, however, only a large guided missile cruiser - a modern Alaska, so to say.
    4/5ths the cost of a full battleship, but only half the capability - which may actually be all you're needing.

    Personally, I'm still in favor of the large gun Battlewagons because I do not believe that the big guns have been pushed to their technological limits yet. (I - and Pratt and Whitney, I seem to recall - believe that Scramjets function easier when fired out of the barrel of a gun).
    In fact, when I set out to design a modern battleship, I actually end up with a 1200' long, 150' wide, 4 x 2-gun turret monster that dwarfs the Yamato and whose mission statement is 'If it floats, send it under; if it drives, blow it up; if it flies, bring it down; if it dives, make sure it never comes back up'.

    I would start speaking on specifics of what I would design, but I have yet to complete that submersible frigate/destroyer design yet, so I will not push my luck.

    - Ray D.

    1. Ray, interesting points. I did not include larger guns because I see little need for near shore (within 20 miles) bombardment in support of amphib assaults because I see little likelihood of major assaults. Now, my opinion might well change if the range of the guns significantly changed.

      As regards surface (anti-ship) combat, the problem with guns and their range is that if you're in range with guns (20 miles) then the enemy is also in range. That's bordering on a fair fight and not what we want. Hundred-plus mile missiles are a much better option for surface combat.

      So, the combination of unlikely shore bombardment and undesirable surface combat lead me to downplay the role of large guns. As I said, if the range of the guns changes then my opinion might also! I was trying to hold the design to existing or very nearly so technology.

    2. Valid point, CNO, especially on the technology development aspect.
      Scramjet Projectile development was, unfortunately, all but stopped with the retirement of the Iowas and it would take time to bring the old designs to fruition.

      That being said, I recall reading that in WW2 they calculated the range tables for firing the older, much lighter munitions as well as the newer Super-Heavies.
      IF I recall correctly (and it has been a lot of time), the old Mk 2 900lb projectile they figured as having a maximum range of roughly 117 nautical miles. (I do believe that their 11-in sub-munition in the 80s was projected to have a similar range.)
      Now, at that time it was considered impossible to aim at that range and the accuracy of relying on good old Issac Newton was more than a little questionable, but since then we've made doing just that relatively easy.
      With already existing technology (smaller projectile, rocket booster, glide wings, guidance packages, etc) there is no reason why the already existing 16/50 Mk7s could not be lobbing 'lightweight' shells over 150 nautical miles - well outside the no go zone for amphibious assaults/land strike.

      Surface Warfare, however, is a trickier beast all around for the same reason that 300nmi anti-ship missiles are unreasonable (as you have said repeatedly in this blog).
      In the old days, targeting at 20-30nmi was difficult but doable, but even today 100nmi+ targeting relies on having someone else relay the coordinates - and that relies on the... unreliable communications grid remaining online, which we all know is not going to happen.
      A ship's own detection range is limited by physics to about 80nmi, and that's super-capital to super-capital. I don't really know if that 100nmi+ missile is going to do you any good in a contested environment.
      In Shore Bombardment, of course, it is assumed that you have fought close enough to the shore to have a somewhat reliable communications connection with your FO or are targeting a fixed location, so bring on the 1000nmi+ land strike missiles/projectiles.

      Just some thoughts.
      - Ray D.

    3. Modern guided rounds however can extend the accurate range out beyond 20mi.

  12. Sounds like the UK's Dreadnought 2050. I think that if you get railguns big enough for out range anti-ship missiles it may make sense.

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    2. You're focusing on only the long range land strike. The modern BB design is intended to encompass that mission, ASuW, and AAW. Naval gun support is an additional but secondary mission. The mini-arsenal ship, while a potentially useful asset, can only perform one of those missions. Therefore, the modern BB is a multi-mission platform. You've made clear that you are a multi-mission enthusiast so I know you support the BB! Glad you agree with me!

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    4. Oh, c'mon! You can't imagine any possible way that a surface group can find a surface target? Setting aside any networking inputs from external sources because I don't think those will be more than intermittently available, there are multiple organic sources of targeting for the group.

      The Burke's COBLU is supposed to be incredible in its ability to passively detect and localize targets.

      Aegis can see major surface targets at quite a distance. I've only ever seen conjecture on actual ranges but, if true, it's quite good.

      Any Burke or BB can carry UAVs that can extend the surface picture out a couple hundred miles or so.

      Helos can be used as a poor man's AWACS.

      Again, it amuses me that your notional, tiny ships will have no problems finding targets but much larger ships will be blind. Seems odd. Be fair, objective, and consistent in this discussion.

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    6. COBLU is an absolutely fascinating technology, almost bordering on Star Wars, from what I can gather. I've chased down every scrap of info and talked to one guy who worked with it. It's highly classified so the available info is sketchy, to say the least. However, it appears to be capable of producing targeting quality data world wide (unlimited range). If even half of what I've surmised is true, it's astounding. If you want to know more, contact me via email. What I know isn't classified but it's also not information I'm going to widely broadcast.

    7. Smitty, you've got to be consistent in your arguments. In the past, I've been critical of UAVs for ocean surveillance and you've strongly supported them. Now, you're taking the opposite stance. Pick an opinion!

      Any halfway decent UAV can provide good coverage and a group of several ships can put several aircraft up at a time.

      Again, by changing your performance expectations you've set your small ships up as being omniscient while much larger ships can't see anything. You state that the BB group won't see the enemy because they won't be emitting but that, apparently, doesn't apply to your ships.

      Your 80 ships will last about 80 seconds in an A2/AD zone once they begin broadcasting with all their radars. They have no defense! They're a live fire exercise for the enemy.

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    9. So your ships will rely on "E-2Ds, E-3s, BAMS, and other long ranged sensors" but my ships will be blind? If all those sensors are available for your ships, they're available for mine. My personal opinion is that they won't be but for the sake of consistent discussion you have to credit it for both of our ships. Beyond that, large ships will have much greater detection ranges from Aegis/AMDR (to whatever degree and range it can detect surface contacts), helos, UAVs, ESM, etc.

      You seem to be creating a straw man argument by claiming that 80 ships, spread out can cover a larger area. Setting aside the factualness of that statement, it's totally irrelevant. I never claimed that the BB's task was whole ocean surveillance. That was a task you made up. I stated that the mission of the BB was to conduct deep strike, ASuW, and AAW. Given that foreseeable ASMs are only a hundred miles range or so (anti-ship Tomahawk notwithstanding), there's no need to monitor an entire ocean when you can only shoot at targets within a hundred miles or so. Further, the threat axis is generally well known. Sending helos and UAVs out along the threat axis will provide plenty of coverage.

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    11. FYI, Fire Scout is, apparently, using RDR-1700 radar which Wiki credits with 16 mile - 50 mile range depending on level of detail desired. It's an X-band with 360 deg ISAR and SAR modes among others. With the UAV's 100 mile range and 5 hour loiter on station this would provide more than enough detection capability.

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    13. The spec was a dragonfly with one wing at an elevation of 1 cm. Seemed like an odd spec.

      I have no idea. It said "detailed" at 16 miles and max at 50. You can pretty well figure out what that means.

      I applaud your critical analysis and I look forward to you applying that same level of scrutiny to your own proposals!

  14. Naval version of trophy systems, where cheap low cost anti missile, anti gunfire can be achieved might be considered the modern equivalent of armor as defense.

    1. We essentially have that now with the Phalanx and other CIWS systems. Are you thinking of something else?

  15. I'm very pro battleship, but I think that their primary use is for naval gunfire support over anything else. They won't rule the seas (that has passed I think to attack submarines), but they can be immensely useful.

    Basically CNO has called for an arsenal ship, only with armor and much more survivability. It'd be interesting as well to consider a "gun battleship" even more like the WW1 and WW2 era ships.

    I'd like to discuss the merits between the two. I don't think either is the end-all, be-all to be honest, and both have substantial shortcomings, but it may very well be a mixed fleet of some large guns, some missile ships.

    1. You seem to have a reasoned response to my description of a modern BB. So many people think that if I make a suggestion for a particular ship that I want an entire military force of nothing but that and they proceed to tell my why that won't work. Of course it won't work! We need multiple platforms of various types and capabilities. In other words, a balanced force stucture. I applaud your grasp of that! Thank you.

      Your comment about a gun BB suggests the monitor concept - a large gun, small ship intended for use as a shore bombardment vessel. Perhaps we need such a vessel since the Navy has no effective shore gun support for an amphibious assault?

    2. It is likely that yes, a monitor is needed.

      You will need a shallow draft as well for such a vessel, because it will need to support amphibious assaults and must be able to go close to the coast to support without running aground.

      The thing about the battleship is that it won't dominate, it's not the end-all be all that it has been portrayed as during the Dreadnought Era, but it does, if used correctly and well designed, have potential uses.

      Nobody would suggest an all carrier navy. They need escorts. Likewise, any gun or missile battleship will operate as a part of a larger navy, with smaller craft, carriers, submarines, and so on.

  16. CNO,

    I had a little extra time on my hands and was thinking a little more on your design.
    Admittedly, I consider it a cruiser and not a battleship, but there was merit to be had with it and I was inspired.

    So, here, I worked out a Spring Style for your design.
    I don't know if this link will go through or if it will be caught as spam; although I suppose you'll catch it either way.
    Anyway, as it turns out, large surface ships are much easier to design than gas-electric submersible frigates!
    The faint grid in the back should assist with a sense of scale, on of the small squares is 1 foot.

    I started from the base building this ship as a cruiser, unlike ever cruiser the US has had since the Long Beach - but, the Iowas were basically built up cruiser hulls, so this is actually a boon.
    It comes out as exactly 700ft overall length (657'5" on WL) and around 43,000tons displacement, but in exchange you have a ship that is more thoroughly armored than the Iowas and better suited to guided missile warfare - but almost weighs as much and requires almost the same horsepower to go 2kts slower.
    However, using known technology there was no way to reliably armor the VLS modules, so if something hits one of them, the ship is mission killed even if it survives (I have taken precaution to heavily armor the missile rooms).
    Also, the ship has the most powerful set up of AN/SPY-6(V) that they have, PLUS two redundant arrays (one port, one starboard - there was no room for redundant arrays fore and aft), giving it the full AMDR capacity that the Navy has been bickering for - but in a combat capable hull that can defend itself against anything above the water.

    Honestly, with this set up, I think it would function well as a replacement for the aging Ticos!
    If I was to play around with the design, I would stretch the hull another ~130' and add 10' to the beam; add a below-deck hangar and elevator, and a second gun. Possibly double up the guns as well (2 x 2 6"/55cal guns), perhaps a few legit secondaries (5 inch dual-guns), add a few 30mm gun housings (the 30mms already on the ship are attache, like the 40mms of old, and thus not on the Spring Style), some torpedo batteries for Anti-Torpedo Torpedoes and slap on a nominal defensive sonar system.
    You would end up with an American Kirov and... well, a 21st century Armored/Large Cruiser. Also, thanks to the added length, you wouldn't lose that much in the way of speed (you'd have a ~30kt ship).
    The helos I would add for their command/utility assistance, less their ASW capability - pure defensive on this arrangement.
    Of course, if I was really playing around with a guided missile/IRBM focused large cruiser/battlecruiser design, I'd end up with a ship that was wildly different - but this and that are apples and oranges.

    Regardless, I thought you may enjoy seeing a half-visualization of your design.

    - Ray D.

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    2. Oh, right, I forgot to mention that I see absolutely no reason that the cost of this hull should exceed $4B (unless the Navy Budgeting bloated costs even farther), probably only costing in the ballpark of $3.5B.
      Thus, we're talking Zumwalt/Tico replacement costs here.


      I actually did consider that originally, but in the end I had decided against it for the following reasons.

      1) To do so, I would have to leave a giant strip of deck area completely unarmored (as compared to a localized hole). Not actually the biggest problem ever and was something that I was prepared for.
      2) Being on the periphery compromises the Belt, Fore, and Aft armors. Again, not the end of the world.

      The problems with 1 and 2 are the fact that this design does NOT use the All-or-Nothing armor scheme - the entire ship is protected.
      CNO made it clear that no expenses were to be spared with this design (we could theoretically always scale the design back to more reasonable levels later), so I utilized modern construction and covered the ship in about 8" of (modern) armor (adequate to stop almost anything up to IRBMs such as the Dong Feng).
      The problem here is that the hull design at this point is already pushing its theoretical weight limits (it is smaller than the Iowa by far but weighs almost as much) and I could not afford the weight of basically doubling the 8" armor steel (that would have probably put the hull in the same weight class as the Yamato).

      3) This ship, by requirements, has to carry enough fuel and such to resupply its escorts.
      This is a problem because I realized that, even if I did just put them in anyway, the systems would be sitting in the fuel bunkerage.
      Given the intentional blast deflection (part of which goes down), one of those going on actually would set the whole ship off.

      Basically, I ironically did not have the space. If I put the VLS in the citadel, that compromised the fuel bunkerage. If I put the VLS in the forequarter, the crew berthing was gone. If I put the VLS in the aft... well, at present that's the machine shop, the NIXIE house, the helo deck, and more berthings because around 800 crew is the bottom limit for a ship this size for Damage Control concerns.

      Of course, none of these problems would actually be problems if I had more length and beam to work with.
      A 840' long, 83' beamed, 30' draft hull should be able to easily handle the weight of the added armor if the hull was reinforced and a few weight saving gimmicks were pulled, and I could fit in the 32 Mk57s just outside the citadel (probably focused around the guns - I am not concerned about setting the magazine off because of the 12" barbette), but that was outside the design limits.

      What do you think, Smitty?
      On this design, is the shift in risked area worth the trade offs or would you just pursuit the long-hull design?
      I mean, you've been looking at this for a lot longer than I have. I suspect that I'm over thinking things, really.

      - Ray D.

    3. Ray, nice design. Good work! Here's a few thoughts since you designed this based on my comments.

      Armor: I would design armor to specific threats, meaning that rather than an overall xx" armor, I would design the underwater hull to resist under-keel torpedo blasts. I would design the hull above the waterline to resist cruise missiles and debris. The superstructure would be designed to resist missiles and 6" naval gun fire (the largest gun in any enemy fleet that I'm aware of our could reasonably anticipate). I would armor the VLS pits to protect the ship's internals in the event of a VLS explosion. And so on. This would likely result in uneven applications of armor. I would also rely heavily on non-traditional "armor" such as compressible void spaces, double or triple voids, shock mounted standoff armor plating, composite armor, ?reactive armor?, etc.

      The gun fit is two 6" triple mounts - necessary for gun support and lesser surface warfare (like sinking merchant ships rather than waste expensive missiles).

      Radar would have backups of a lesser capability. Something along the lines of TRS-4D or some such. Combined with the inherent redundancy of the full AMDR dual radars this would offer triple redundancy, in a sense.

      The IRBMs would be unlikely to fit in the Mk57 peripheral cells and would need their own custom sized cells. I would leave them clustered as you have them.

      That is a lot of unused real estate in the bow!

      Engine exhausts would be IR mitigated either by subsurface discharge or "waterfall" discharge through the side.

      Take these comments for what they're worth. All in all, a nice design! Thanks for sharing.

    4. CNO,

      I'm pleased to know the design was taken well.

      Due to your earlier concerns with technology procurement, I had attempted to stay strongly within the realms of tried technology with this design - with the notable exceptions of the AMDR and the IRBM tubes. Now that I know that there is some wiggle room (I'm laughing at myself for missing that plain and clear in your original comments), I would do some things differently.

      As for the armor, I chose 8" of armor as a general thickness as that will stop direct hits from everything in today's inventories shy of IRBMs and Nukes and, from my estimations, would severely dampen the force of the entire Mk41 64-cell set going off. For that reason, the VLS Pits were independently armored with that or more (12" in the case of the IRBM pit, which would probably not contain that blast in particular).

      As for the gunnery, I was unaware that you were wanting Three Gun mounts!
      I had assumed that you wanted 1 or 2 6in guns themselves to make the vessel comparable to the Ticos in that regard.
      However, now that I have been made aware, I can correct this. However, I am not confident that there is enough room in this design to allow for a second gun.
      Also, there is currently no infrastructure or modernized systems to allow for more than single-gun gun housings, the last that I know of being designed in 1968. The Turret (legit turret as compared to gun housing) that I used was based upon the Korean Black Thunder 155mm (6.1in) artillery unit (their version of the M109A7). However, I can whip something up, I believe.

      Radar, I see your point on. I had left secondary radar units off of the spring style because I was not certain what units to use (I have not been following recent radar trends so much as trying to find the most compact/power battery units).
      However, I have a few ideas for secondaries that I will incorporate into Scheme 2.

      IRBMs, I fully agree on.

      The forequarters real estate is mostly taken up by crew quarters and storage space. 6000 tons of supplies have to go somewhere!
      Yet, I probably could sacrifice a little creature comfort and cram more war material in there

      On the topic of exhausts and IR, that had almost entirely slipped my mind, I admit.
      I built the system off of the Burke's, seeing as they share common component families.
      That being said, I'm not certain that subsurface discharge would be wise with the amount of noise that would generate. Submarines would already be this ship's Achilles' heel seeing as it has absolutely no way of even knowing they are there or have struck - the reason that I believe all major surface combatants should have at least running/navigational sonar (as compared to a towed array or VDS for hunter-killer work), but such was excluded from this design.

      I think I have some ideas to take this design farther now, speaking to you and Smitty.
      Requesting permission to deviate from the specifications, 'a little'.

      - Ray D.

    5. The exhaust is one of the more speculative aspects. It's been done for smaller vessels but whether it's practical for this size vessel, I don't know. As far as noise, it might be somewhat akin to the Prairie/Masker system. Or not!

      Just to clarify, I was looking at two 6" triple mounts rather than three mounts. We made various 6" mounts in WWII and I would assume one of those designs would be dusted off and updated. Failing that, two 8" dual mounts would also suffice.

      Carry on!

  17. How about this contrarian perspective to spice things up some more ?!

    Here selected sections from the recent ARG Thread:

    IFS ?
    Shore-Bombardment as a sanction ?
    Or to perhaps support Marines ?

    Big guns close inshore ??!!
    But no armor and only modest SAM and cannon self-defenses ?

    How about this organic to a 4-ship ARG/MEU ?
    Too much ??

    PROCEEDINGS of July’13 featured LCU-F (200 tons of cargo at 19+ knots on 2400HP diesel-power and 1500+nm of range) She offers over 100-feet of vehicle lane internally under cover, invisible, thus challenging the targeting-priorities of the defenders.
    - LCU-F was designed explicitly with LSD-41’s 440’ well-deck geometry in mind.
    - Each LSD-41 could carry 6x LCU-F.
    - With each LCU-F able to carry 3x M1A MBT (plus several dozens of walking infantry) in an extreme scenario e.g. 18 MBTs could be delivered at once, concurrently in 6 different locations if need be. Not a routine load but on certain occasions at solid capability to have on hand.

    - LCU-F was designed in 2005 with an ARG stand-off distance of 200nm or OTH-200 in mind, to ‘future-proof’ the ARG/MEU against evolving shore-defenses. 19kts from OTH-200 = approx.. 12hrs dusk-to-dawn travel incl. well-deck departure, unfolding, accepting 1x AH/UH each, reversing-maneuver, releasing AH/UH, and beach-approach.

    As barely touched on in that article, and discussed at some depth elsewhere subsequently, instead of tracked and wheel GCE-assets, with roll-in weapons-suites each standard LCU-F could also serve as Inshore Fire Support (IFS) for the landing and advancing GCE. LCU-F IFS would stay inshore just out of tank-gun and RPG-range while constantly maneuvering under her thrusters to frustrate reverse-battery.

    LCU-F could carry a twin M-110 203mm mount (approx.. 8” rounds) of ex-US Army artillery system. Limited with original 39-cal barrel and ammo to around 16-17nm of range on a fine day, modern 52-cal arti does over 30nm w/ 155mm. Therefore we should expect farther distances with a 52-cal barrel and guided ammo. As a tracked but otherwise open vehicle M-110 was kept around in NATO well into the ‘90s due to its nuclear capabilities…

    - With upgraded M-110 in her rear cargo-bay, the middle cargo-bay of LCU-F can carry M-270 12-tube MLRS, the ‘big brother’ of HIMARS. 12x9” tube-protectiles or 2x 24” N-ATACMS offers IFS up to well over 150nm (w/ option to 250nm) based on an expendable close-inshore 220 (light) -420-tons(loaded) platform highly maneuverable counter-battery resistant platform.

    - Both systems aboard say two LCU-F per 4-Ship E-ARG/MEU offer each about 400 203mm rounds and approximately 6x 12 9”missile reloads, or 14+ N-ATACMS.

    There is no such capability in the fleet and none is planned, since without a 21st-century heavy-lift Connector, none of this is possible. You sure will not see any DDG with IFS in mind anywhere close enough to shore where its guns could plausibly support the GCE. And missiles are finite in numbers.

    LCU-F with the in-the-well-deck on-demand slide-in IFS suite would not offer much target-signature for shore-defenses between constant movement and an air-draft of around 11-12 feet, plus telescoping FLIR etc.

    Sea-skimming systems may see her too late. And LCU-F's modest self-defenses of one or two VULCAN cannons and USMC's AVENGER stabilized STINGER/SIDEWINDER turret together with AN/MPQ-64 F1 40nm radar might serve to intercept these along with those aimed at the ARG OTH-100-200 offshore.

    Testing such a proposition would be exciting for structural engineers to confirm afloat their desk-top assumptions via 52-cal 203mm recoil under steady left-right firing-cadence of those stabilized and 90% vessel-aimed barrels.

    The ‘Land-Attack Destroyer’ narrative was always more of a hopeful vision than likely reality, since unless permanently attached to every ARG/MEU, they would never be where they’d do the most sudden 911-correct ARG/MEU-mission any good.

  18. I should have added that US Army 155mm M-109 unstabilized tracked howitzer has been fired off LCU-1610 type.

    And the German Navy temporarily mounted a 155mm PzH-2000 turret aboard a SACHSEN-class Destroyer, but 'navalization'-issues sitting up-front in the white water wash would have cost more in re-design/upgrades than testers were prepared for.

  19. "Ship-Builders may want to be pro-active on that before some crude set of tools is built by any colors-Congress, since the whole philosophical spectrum has in each sector hard-core budgeteers that may act harshly in the face of out-of-plausible-control program-costs matched by equally-hard-to-stomach under-performance of the product that are indefensible before any Townhall-Meeting under any political flag."

    That is one downright awesome sentence (speaking grammatically, not about content). :)

  20. Heck, I can do better than that.

    English can be a fabulously-flexible tool to express dense stuff with.

  21. I agree with you. A battle ship equipped with anti ship ballistic missiles is what the navy needs. Instead of spending billions on the Gerald Ford class carrier the defense department should spend that money on battle ships. In the near future 3D printing will make missiles and drones cheaper. Third World countries will be able to create their own anti ship missiles. A Gerald ford class carrier with dozens of f35s will be obsolete due to its short range compared to missiles.

  22. I've seen this conversation had before, but this is the first time I've thrown in my two cents. First, let it be known that I love the Iowas. As a kid, their namesake was the first ship I ever boarded. Militarily, they maxed the NGF capability, they had multiple varieties of surface attack, and they were very well defended. But they were always a surface-attack platform. They don't need a huge AAW suite - CG / DDG escort. They don't need an a highly-advanced ASW outfit - DDG / SSN escort. They don't need their own airwing - at $5B-$13B a copy, I think the CVNs have that pretty well covered. They don't need ABM- capable radar - Aegis can be networked. In my humble opinion, the only job they would need to fill that isn't already covered is the shore-bombardment role, which would actually create a great argument for terminating the ridiculous (again, my opinion) LCS program. The best way (I stress the "my opinion" thing again) the Iowa design could be improved for the job properly preformed by a BB, to keep them militarily significant and carry an affordable total ownership cost, would be to modernize the main mounts to handle (4) 155mm barrels each, replace (4) mk38 turrets with Mk45s, replace (4) Mk38 turrets with SeaRAM mounts, add (8) mk32 mounts, upgrade the engine and funnel systems to accommodate an adequate LM2500-based propulsion system, update the EW suite to modern, non-Aegis standards, re-work the electrical system to carry all-electric utilities, and completely revamp accommodations and hotel services. Their original armor specs could absorb much more punishment in the littoral than could some floating piece of tin foil with an Uzi taped to the bow, they do not supplant other platforms from their roles (preserving political support from legislators heavily vested in the continued desireability of those platforms - except the LCS proponents), use common ammunition and fuel (minimizing their logistic footprint and greatly reducing the size of their supply chain by employing a high degree of system-commonality with the rest of the fleet), and the Marines would finally have the NGF support they need.

    Other benefits include the fact that the existing design already fits through all global, militarily-significant choke points; increased ordering of existing systems can help reduce the cost of upgrades, repairs, and new-builds of existing platforms; (I'm guessing that) existing ASM systems are meant to defeat modern (i.e., thinner) armor, so they'd probably be some of the most damage-resistant platforms afloat; removal of large, antiquated equipment and the subsequent reduction of the ship's company provides more space for power-generation, crew amenities, ammunition, fuel, or victuals, etc.; additional space also provides for an increase in buoyancy and stability allowances; elimination of steams lines a) increases the availabilty of the output of existing potable water generation capabilities, and b) aids in corrosion control; and lastly, leaving the weapon- and magazine-layout largely unchanged retains the lethality-minimalization from single hits retained at decommissioning. I think the biggest fiscal pain in the ass would be the retention of the ABLs and Harpoon racks, since they have given way to (unproposed for this ship) mk41 VLS systems in the rest of the fleet. I specifically propose NOT replacing these launchers with VLS because it will just temp critical minds to want to include SM3/SM6, thereby necessitating changes to the structural design and including illumination radars. At that point, we're right back to attempting to introduce the jack-of-all-trades that has been rejected by every Congress and administration since the proposal of the Sea Contol Ship 40 years ago. One man's opinion, but if the idea of discussing a viable platform doesn't address it's likely inclusion in any foreseeable defense budget, then we have inadvertently removed the concept of viability.

  23. Hi, I just stumbled onto this very interesting/informative site. Would it be possible/ok to still post comments on this topic?

    1. Yes. Comments on old posts (more than 30 days old) are moderated so they won't appear instantly but, if valid, they will be approved and appear in fairly short order. This is done to prevent spam comments on older posts.

  24. Ok thanks Com.
    With ref. to having Battleships in this day & age, I think the best way to go about it is to get a couple of the Iowas reactivated. May be the USS Iowa & Wisconsin, if they are in good condition. This way you can save on a lot of costs by not having to build any new units while still being able to get a couple of the floating sledgehammers into action. Get them properly refurbished/modified/upgraded, with the Iowa especially getting it's No. 2 turret fixed up or may be swapped for Missouri's or New Jersey's turret. If around $2-2.5 billion can be spent, you'd most probably be able to get a ship like -
    If you can spend $3-3.5 billion, you probably can get a ship like -
    The above version has a complete Thales AESPAR mast setup.
    I'm sure the no. of VLS cells aft of turret 3 can be increased from 40 to 48 in both versions. May be the extra 8 cells can be of the tactical version of the MK41, able to carry a mix of 8 quadpacked ESSMs, 3 SM3s & 3 SM6s.
    I think it would be great if they can also install a couple of AGM-114L Hellfire VLS modules to deal with suicide boat swarms. Ref -
    The 16" guns will be able to fire the standard HE & AP 16" rounds and also ERGMs - probably in the form of 10" guided sabot rounds with a range of 160-200 kms. I'm sure the USN can get them at reasonable prices if they collaborate with Italy's Leonardo Co. The 5" guns should be able to fire standard 5" ammo and Leonardo's ER Vulcano rounds that have a range of around 100 kms. Ref -
    Check their linked brochure for detailed info if needed..
    If cost is no object (wishful thinking), then the USN can go all out with ships like the one designed by this guy -
    A modernized or modern BBG like the above examples will definitely have reduced crew numbers coz of the new automated 5" & AA guns & also coz of the new turbine systems replacing the old boiler units, thereby also saving on costs in the long run. Whatever the case, the BBG will have to be escorted by a couple of properly armed & equipped Flight 2A Burkes. May be a TF of 1 BBG, 2 Burkes, an armed supply ship & VA class attack sub can be used in most hot cases instead of a whole CVBG armada with it's 70-80 fighters & 5000+ personnel...thereby further reducing ops costs, which seems to be what the bureaucrats want everytime.

    1. One of the problems afflicting modern naval ship designers is the desire to incorporate every capability into every ship instead of recognizing that ships sail and fight as groups. Each member of the group has (or should have) its own special capability and the group benefits from the sum of the parts.

      You want to add VLS with Standard missiles and ESSM. Why? As you correctly point out, a BB will sail with Burke escorts which are highly capable Aegis/AAW platforms and are packed with Standard/ESSM. Why duplicate that on a BB? And, if you're not duplicating Standard then there's no need for any advanced radar system. A basic TRS-3D/4D, or something similar, would suffice. See? We're saving money already and focusing the BB's tasks so they can actually get good at one or two things instead of trying to do everything and doing none of it well.

      To an extent, the same applies to very long range gun rounds. While greater range is nice, in the abstract, we have other assets that can conduct deep strike and do it better (aircraft, UAVs, Tomahawks, etc.). Why duplicate? Greater range also highlights the problem of targeting. It does no good to have a 10,000 mile gun round if our targeting capability is only good for 20 miles. The gun rounds don't need any more range than the sensors have and in a peer war, which is what a BB is intended for, the fantasy of UAVs leisurely flying over a deep battlefield and providing targeting is just that - a fantasy. The lifespan of UAVs over a peer battlefield will be measured in minutes.

      All that aside, your basic concept is fine and I could readily get on board!


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