Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Why Not Battleships?

The WWII battleships were retired, multiple times, for various reasons, none of which were particularly valid.  The fact remains, we don’t have any in commission today and we’re unlikely to ever have them again.  But why?  What is so horrible about battleships that we can’t even contemplate having them in the fleet again?  Detractors see the issue as almost a religious thing.  They oppose the evil of battleships and spew forth the Word of the Modern Navy to shout down any talk of battleships.

Let’s look a bit closer at the arguments against battleships and try to understand why a modern version of an Iowa/Montana class battleship can never be part of a modern navy, in the minds of opponents.

Firepower – This is a less common argument because, well, it’s simply not true.  The argument is that a battleship can’t match the firepower of a carrier.  The reality is that the opposite is true.  A carrier can’t match the firepower of a battleship. 

WWII battleships carried 100+ shells per gun.  Navweaps website lists a total of 1220 shells per ship.  The secondary armament magazines contained around 500 rounds per gun (I assume this means per mount rather than per barrel) for a total of around 5000 rounds.

A battleship can fire salvos of 16” 2200+ lb shells at a leisurely rate of 9 shells/minute (19,800+ lbs per minute) and do it on a sustained basis.  A carrier can’t even come close to matching that kind of explosives delivery rate.  A carrier maximum effort strike of, say, 20 Hornets – a carrier always retains aircraft for self-defense and needs several strike aircraft for tanking – can deliver oh, let’s be generous and say 12,000 lbs of munitions per aircraft – remember, some of the hardpoints are taken up by air-to-air weapons and fuel tanks and a max loaded combat aircraft would be an unlikely occurrence.  So, that’s a pulse salvo of 240,000 lbs of munitions.  Let’s also be generous and say each aircraft could generate three sorties per day.  That’s 720,000 lbs of munitions per day delivered sporadically, in three pulses.  By comparison, the battleship can maintain a steady 18,000 lbs of munitions fired until its magazines are depleted.  That’s 2.44M lbs of munitions.  And, this doesn’t even begin to consider the battleship’s secondary 5” guns which adds another 275,000 lbs of munitions!

A battleship’s firepower is also available 24/7, on call within minutes, is unaffected by weather, and can’t be electronically jammed, decoyed, or shot down.  There are no pilots put at risk.  This is kind of the same rationale being put forth for UAVs except that UAVs can be electronically jammed, decoyed, and shot down!

Clearly, firepower is not a valid reason for not having battleships in a modern navy.

Gun Range – Range is limited to around 20 miles but the vast majority of worthwhile targets are within 20 miles of the ocean.  The mere fact that some targets may be out of range is not a reason to pass on a weapon.  There are targets that are outside the range of a Tomahawk cruise missile but no one is calling for their elimination because they can’t reach a particular target.  Being able to utterly dominate a 20 mile strip along all coastlines would be a staggeringly beneficial capability.

There have also been developmental efforts directed at creating longer range battleship shells.  In fact, the Navy built an entire, if abbreviated, class of warship, the Zumwalt, predicated on extended range munitions fired by 155 mm guns.  If this was sufficient justification for the Zumwalt, surely it would be sufficient for a battleship.

There is every reason to believe that sub-caliber, sabot rounds could be developed with greatly increased ranges.

Clearly, gun range is not a valid reason for not having battleships in a modern navy.

Manning – This is one of the major reasons cited for the undesirability of battleships.  However, objective analysis shows this to be a false argument.  The WWII battleship crew size was around 2700 with much of that being devoted to the manpower intensive 10x dual 5” mounts (~17 crew per mount including fire control), 20x 40 mm quad Bofors mounts (~14 crew per mount including fire control), and 49x 20 mm single mounts (~5 crew per mount).  A rough estimate puts the secondary and anti-air manning at around 695.  None of that would exist today.  Even a modern secondary armament fit of 5” guns has very low manpower requirements.  As partial evidence, the crew size of the battleships in the 1980’s was reduced to around 1800.  A modern battleship, with modern computers and electronics, modern turbines, and extensive automation could reduce crew size further to perhaps 800 or so.

As evidence, the Zumwalt has a crew of around 150 on a ship of 15,000 tons.  If scaled up, a battleship with a displacement of 57,000 tons would require a crew of just 570.  ComNavOps has severe reservations about the wisdom and suitability of the Zumwalt crew size but that is the official Navy manning level.  Further, the Zumwalt has demonstrated that we could, if we want, 100% automate the main and secondary batteries and require no gunnery crew.

The big deck amphibious ships such as the America class LHA have crews around 1000 and we cheerfully operate around 33 of those so we can clearly afford to operate a ship with a “large” crew, if we want.

Clearly, manning is not a valid reason for not having battleships in a modern navy.

Operating Cost – This is a common but completely unsupported claim.  We’ve operated 15-20+ carriers in the past.  We operated a 600 ship fleet in the Reagan era.  We currently operate carriers and big deck amphibious ships.  Our current fleet is at a several decade low.  We have more than enough budget to operate a few battleships, if we choose to. 

Operating cost just a red herring put forth by battleship critics.

Survivability – Ironically, this is one of the more common arguments against battleships even though a battleship is the most survivable ship ever built!  Opponents claim that battleships are not survivable – that modern torpedoes will easily sink them and modern anti-ship missiles will devastate them.  These same opponents then go on to ask for more carriers and Burkes and frigates whose survivability is far less.  The inconsistency in logic is stunning!

We’ve already debunked the torpedo myth.  It would take many torpedo hits to sink a battleship.

Clearly, survivability is not a valid reason for not having battleships in a modern navy.

Construction – Another common argument is that we no longer possess the industrial construction ability to build 16" guns and heavy armor.  This is true but not persuasive.  Whatever we currently lack, we'll simply create.  We had no ability to build gigantic laminated wooden panels for the Zumwalt superstructure and yet we developed the ability as part of the construction effort.  We had no ability to build large trimaran warships until the LCS and now we can.  We had no ability to build ships by superlifts and now it's routine.  History is a non-stop series of new developments that happened because we needed/wanted them.  How much easier must it be to re-develop technology that already existed?

Clearly, lost construction techniques are not a valid reason for not having battleships in a modern navy. 

Funding Competition – This is not a common argument against battleships but it is, perhaps, the most valid one.  The Navy has a fixed shipbuilding budget in any given year and choices must always be made and shipbuilding priorities set.  This is, essentially, a question of value and need.  Which ships provide the most value for the cost and which ships meet our most pressing needs? 

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine that 55 LCS offer more value than, say, four battleships.  The LCS production run would cost $27.5B or thereabouts and that’s without modules or the developmental costs.  Surely, we could build four battleships for $27.5B and get much more value.  Certainly, they would meet our needs more than a bunch of toothless LCS.  Had we not wasted $24B on the Zumwalts we could have easily built four battleships.  If we would stop building $15B Fords and revert to evolutionarily upgraded Nimitzes we could save around $8B per vessel which would easily pay for a couple of battleships for each carrier built.  And so on. 

Thus, while funding competition is potentially a valid argument, we see that it is actually not.

I’m running out of arguments against battleships and I have yet to find a compelling reason not to build them.  Shouldn’t that tell us something?

On the flip side of the coin, one of the major justifications for naval ships, in general, is ‘presence’.  Presence supposedly deters war and promotes peace.  ComNavOps believes that is bilgewater but it’s part of the Navy’s formal justification.  Well, nothing shouts ‘presence’ like a battleship!

Maybe it’s time to rethink battleships in the modern navy?


  1. There are NO valid reasons for NOT having battleships. There are, however, multiple valid reasons for NOT having LCS and Zumwalt. And as far as Zumwalt is concerned - what gun system, cancelled as the rounds were too expensive (more than a Tomahawk) and the guns aren't capable of firing standard 155mm ammo. What started as a good idea, industry and the Navy managed to screw up.

  2. My heart agrees with all you have said. My head, however,is not so settled. I'm not sure if you were talking about reactivating the Iowas, or building new equivalents? If the former, that would be a tough sell for multiple reasons, not the least finding the requisite skills and people to man the main armament and the propulsion plants.Yes I saw the movie. Loved it. If the latter: We no longer posses the skills or infrastructure to make armor plate. Could it be done? Probably, but your cost argument becomes pretty cogent. On the other hand, we could build a modern, well protected surface ship with major caliber guns and up-to-date everything else and call her a "Battleship". I'd go for that.

    1. I think that unfortunately you bring up a valid point on the knowledge base in the industry. Forming 16" thick hull armor hasn't been done in a while. 3" thick steel for ice breakers is about the most you hear of. Still, if you use a double hull design, each with 3" thick steel, you just shut down almost all anti-ship missiles, if not all. A heavy cruiser design with 8" guns, modern projectiles, good armor, and many VLS cells is not outside the scope of what industry could put together with off the shelf tech.

    2. I love the 8" cruisers give me 30 of them 2 three gun turrets plus 48 vls and I'm all in

    3. " I'm not sure if you were talking about reactivating the Iowas, or building new equivalents?"

      While I'd be happy to bring back the Iowas, I'm more focused on new versions.

    4. "We no longer posses the skills or infrastructure to make armor plate."

      We didn't possess the technology to build giant, laminated wood panels for the Zumwalt superstructure but we developed it as part of the project. We didn't possess the technology for EMALS for Ford but we developed it (sure, still some problems). We didn't possess the technology for any of the F-35 but we developed it. The point is that we can develop any technology we currently lack and redeveloping an old technology is certainly easier than trying to develop a brand new one!

  3. What do you want Battleships for?
    -As an anti ship platform they really are obsolete. Peer air and submarine forces make them vulnerable and modern fleets shouldn't have any difficulty avoiding them.
    -As a bombardment platform they make more sense, heavy bombardment up to 20 miles inland (or more with specialist munitions), but wouldn't a better designation be a modernised Monitor. Armoured and designed to resist counter battery fire(This might be done through use of spaced armour, voids and multiple redundancy of key systems rather than thick plate) and with a selection of as autonomous as possible 155+ calibre artillery and MLRS.

    1. SEAD, Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, the US Army artillery has this as one of their core missions, and our gun cruisers did this in Vietnam to good effect.

      It would have annoyed the Vietnamese, but it would not have crippled them, after all they didn't have a navy to lose. China, on the other hand, would have fixed naval bases and warships requiring protection, a modern Iowa would be able to place precision guided sabot ERFB rounds from over 200 miles out from a naval base, quickly clearing enemy air defenses for either a missile strike or supercharging an air raid. 'Put a batleship in range of their naval base' is as close to an I WIN button as you are going to get in modern naval warfare.

      Clearing the way to push that button is of course another matter entirely, but it's still a fantastically useful tool to have.

      Besides, our marines will need gunfire support to reinforce/liberate Taiwan when the time comes.

      We 'are' planning on supporting them, right?

    2. "AnonymousJune 27, 2018 at 6:12 AM
      What do you want Battleships for?
      -As an anti ship platform they really are obsolete. Peer air and submarine forces make them vulnerable and modern fleets shouldn't have any difficulty avoiding them."

      A battleship, armed with 16" guns, 5" guns, and long range anti-ship missiles (LRASM) combined with nearly unbeatable armor is the ultimate anti-surface killing machine. Add to that, the utter domination of the ground battlefield and the ability to obliterate any base, port, or facility and you have overwhelming justification.

      " Peer air and submarine forces make them vulnerable"

      What an odd and logically inconsistent statement! There is no less vulnerable ship than a battleship. That's simple fact. Now, if you're thinking of a solitary battleship, floating motionless in the enemy's water while waves of aircraft and submarines attack it then, yes, the battleship is vulnerable. However, if that's your vision, then you have no concept of naval operations. A battleship would operate as part of a group with Aegis AAW protection and Burke ASW assets. There would be no more powerful surface group in the world.

    3. "It would have annoyed the Vietnamese, but it would not have crippled them, after all they didn't have a navy to lose."

      I'm not quite sure what you're referring to here but a battleship could have sailed, invulnerable to anything the NVietnamese had, into Hanoi harbor and utterly destroyed it and put a complete halt to resupply. The war would have been over in a couple of weeks.

    4. Not saying you are wrong, but then why didn't we do just that at the time, Nixon certainly was eager to pressure the Vietnamese during Linebacker II!

      What I meant was that none of Hanoi's objectives required a navy, and all it's centers of gravity were out of reach of the US(some self-inflicted): The resupply by China and the Soviet Union, and it's ability to supply manpower. closing Haiphong harbor certainly would hurt their resupply efforts -but we already accomplished that with naval mines dropped by B-52s. In order to conquer the south, Hanoi needed to get it's army into south Vietnam and achieve victory against the ground forces there, the Battleships and CA's certainly helped in that battle, but were only one factor among many. In contrast, of Hanoi had been forced to assemble and launch an amphibious assault, the war would have been summarized as: "They put to sea, the US Navy blew them to bits, the US Navy destroyed their naval base and everything in it, the end."

    5. "but then why didn't we do just that at the time"

      Vietnam was a badly managed war run for political purposes and with political objectives rather than military. Why we did what did (or didn't do) is a question for those condemned thousands of Americans to die for no good military purpose.

      By the way, I meant to say Hai Phong harbor rather than Hanoi!

      We should have, on day one, destroyed every NVietnamese port, blockaded the entire country, destroyed every factory and assembly point within 20 miles of the coast - all by battleship. The Air Force should have imposed a total interdiction of any land resupply routes into the country. The military depots that filled the countryside around Hanoi should have been obliterated. Hanoi itself should have been a major military target and been seized. And so on. The war would not have lasted long and far fewer people on both sides would have been killed.

      This is a great illustration of ComNavOps philosophy about war: in it to win it or don't get in it.

    6. ...
      I think it's a testimony to how messed up that war was that I asked "what would be day 1?" and came up blank.

      Agree with you on the interdiction, apparently they know the Vietnamese were shipping in SAMs and did nothing about it. A blockade would have made the war far more manageable, interdicting the Chinese border would have been a challenge comparable to the Ho Chi Minh trail however, useful but not total or decisive on its own.

      Invading Hanoi would have never flown during any of the administrations in Vietnam, the fundamental strategy -as I understand it- was to keep the South Vietnam military and government intact and non-communist until they could pull themselves back together after the Diem assassination. The list of things wrong both with the basic strategy and execution could fill whole libraries, but the killer to the whole war was our exaggeration of success while we were still building the port and airfield infrastructure to simply get into the country and support the troops we had there. The US public thought we had them running, so when Tet happened and that proved false, they lost faith in the military, even though we actually achieved the strategic objective of a semi self-sustaining South Vietnam, but with the military having it's credibility shot and the war losing legitimacy, we were not even permitted to provide air support to the Vietnamese -even though we were obligated to by the peace agreement, and their force structure was built around it.

      They stood their ground, and fought, mission accomplished. We simply didn't hold up our end.

      Anyways, back to battleships. My original point was that in Vietnam, our gun cruisers preformed the SEAD mission extremely successfully and the NVA had no way to stop them, and all without putting valuable Wild Weasel teams at risk. This was not decisive tactically because with Air Defenses suppressed, we were able to bomb the same targets as before they got SAMS, namely their factories (few and not their main suppliers) Army (guys with AK-47s and free Tanks/Artillery) and lastly, roads and trucks (freely supported by Chinese engineers and Soviet factories respectively). In short, the targets we were hitting, the only targets we COULD hit with airpower, were all suppressible, not destructible. We could blow them up, but more would quickly take their place.

      In contrast, in a war with China, a battleship taking out their air defenses and sniping targets based on instructions from a strike force would allow us to completely destroy a Chinese naval base and everything in it with the only way to counter being to destroy or deter our SAG.

      In short: Vietnam was a land war where our Battleships and Cruisers made it easier to attempt to hurt the enemy. In a (sea) war with China, modern battleships will ENABLE us to destroy the enemy, because the nature of the war and the assets targeted (valuable, slow-building warships vs. conscripts with free weapons) are fundamentally different.

  4. And how much would that design cost anyway. Everything you are suggesting , Big caliber guns, turrets, loading mechanism, new hull design etc. must be designed from scratch that would cost a lot

    1. I'm guessing more than ten dollars but less than ten trillion. If you're suggesting that we can't design a brand new ship for free, I'd have to agree. On the other hand, we spent upwards of $25B to build three toothless Zumwalts. Surely we could have designed and built a battleship for that or less so, yes, it's affordable, even if not cheap. How many billions have we spent, and continue to spend, on the useless LCS? Had we opted to continue building evolutionary Nimitz'es instead of Fords, we'd have an extra $24B to spend on a battleship. It's all about where you spend your money more so than how much.

    2. You're going to have to build a whole shipyard as well. The only yard that can build anything that big is Newport News and they're busy with carriers. Which are much more useful.

    3. Newport News got into the carrier business very early, so it had mostly left the battleship construction to other large East Coast yards. The government owned shipyards in Brooklyn and Philadelphia were the main ones for battleship construction during the thirties and fourties. The Brooklyn yard was turned over to commercial development leaving Philly the remaining contender.

    4. "You're going to have to build a whole shipyard as well."

      Yep. Just like we built shipyards for the LCS and factories for the F-35 and so on. It will be a large jobs program and Congress will love it!

  5. I'll throw in my 2 cents.
    There are three reasons we don't have battleships, one for why they were retired after WW2 (but brought back when needed) and two for why we don't have them today.

    The reason why the were put in reserve after the War? range, the only possible naval threat was the Soviet MMF, which had no capital ships and half the country to rebuild, Carriers were by far the best contribution the navy could provide in that scenario (beyond the obvious convoy escort), and while the battleships were superb gunfire platforms, they were not necessarily the most cost effective, remember, we had the Des Moines class CAs coming out of drydock at the time. Battleship guns today would open up fantastic range/payload options, but at the time those guns were built that big to overmatch enemy battleship armor- and there were no more enemy battleships, surely 90 rounds a minute of 8 inch shells was enough for shore bombardment and popping cruisers?

    As a result, we put our newest battleships (the Iowas) in reserve, scrapped the rest which were not designed to operate with carriers, and when the need arose brought them out of reserve and put them to good use. Where we went wrong was letting the WW2 largesse of gun armed warships justify putting off developing replacements (or scrapping them early, in the case of the Alaska class CBs) until USS Newport News was decommissioned.

    Right after Vietnam.

    During the Carter administration.

    Soooo- yeah, needless to say, no replacements were built.

    Of course, Reagan brought the Iowas back, and they gave sterling service- to the point the Iraqis were surrendering to the USS Missouri's targeting drone! But then they were finally retired -again, during a post war drawdown- and congress did the smart thing and ordered the battleships kept in usable condition, while the navy finally got around to figuring out what would follow the battle ship.

    Their first attempt was the arsenal ship, crammed full of 500 cruise missiles (no or minimal gun armament, as far as i can tell).

    Their second attempt was the Zumwalt.

    Which brings us today, 40+ years after Newport News was decommissioned, decades after the navies of the world essentially abandoned armor, and years after the US navy officially declared they could not operate within 50 NM of shore.

    That is probably the doctrinal reason -insomuch as we have a doctrine these days- why build a capital ship that has to get close to shore when we are unable/unwilling to send anything else there? in fact,wasn't that the main reason for the LCS concept?

    1. My apologies, I should have put "Ford administration", my bad.

    2. " why build a capital ship that has to get close to shore when we are unable/unwilling to send anything else there?"

      The Navy is developing their doctrine backwards. Equipment is determining doctrine instead of the other way around. That aside, the reason our current doctrine mandates extreme separation from land is fear of land based anti-ship cruise missiles. This is, of course, absurd as Aegis is designed to handle far more than this. That, too, aside, a battleship has nothing to fear from land based cruise missiles and can operate freely close to land. Toss in a few Aegis escorts and the battleship is nearly invulnerable.

    3. "surely 90 rounds a minute of 8 inch shells was enough for shore bombardment and popping cruisers?"

      That's a very interesting proposition. To me it suggests that we should look at designing a "cruiser" to complement the battleship (as in WWII) rather than replace it.

      All empirical evidence and eyewitness soldier reports are unanimous that the destructive power of the 16" gun is unrivaled. The 8" gun simply can't match that.

      But, I do like your idea for a modern gun cruiser! Would you suggest an all-gun ship or a combination of gun and missile? If combination, in what numbers?

    4. The main reason they reactivated the Iowa's was that it seemed to be a cheap (it was not btw) way to add ships to the 600 ship target. The other reason was that it was big enough to be a stable platform for launching nuclear Tomahawks in the Barents Sea in winter.

    5. There was another reason for the 1980's Iowa class reactivation not often mentioned. During the 70's, the Soviets designed the Kirov class super cruisers; started getting them out to sea in the early 80's. The Kirov's were big, fast, long-range, and loaded with lots of anti-ship missiles designed to do massive damage to a US carrier battle group. So we threw our battleships back into the mix. An Iowa class could most likely survive an attack from a Kirov, chase it down, and destroy it.

    6. A reason why the Kirov's were so big was the operating in the winter seas. I think their strategy wasn't going out to find trouble but letting it come to in. They were protecting the 'Bastion' for the SSBM's.

    7. "There was another reason for the 1980's Iowa class reactivation ... the Kirov class"

      I've heard that claim a couple of times but I've never found any documentation to support it. Are you aware of any?

    8. (part 1)
      "...fear of land based anti-ship cruise missiles. This is, of course, absurd as Aegis is designed to handle far more than this."

      I agree, but probably not for the same reason, cruise missiles are nothing to sneeze at -they are after all the primary ammunition of naval combat today- but they are no more or less dangerous at 10 miles then at 300, naval mines are certainly likely, but again are not limited to 50 miles off the coast. the only reasons I can think for the 50 mile threshold are long range artillery like the PION and KOKSAN, and large caliber MLRS like the URAGAN and SMERCH, both of which would need naval gunfire to deal with efficiently.

      "Would you suggest an all-gun ship or a combination of gun and missile? If combination, in what numbers?"

      Depends on if we fill all the other holes in our naval OOB and what our amphibious doctrine comes out as. Setting that aside, the conops would be:

      1. Operates as part of a task force with AAW support and air cover, usually paired with amphibs, but fast enough to work with carriers if need be.

      2. Would provide very high volumes of fire for rapid destruction of exposed and semi-hardened targets within range. Primary missions would be operational fires, interdiction and Marine/Army support as needed. SEAD could be done as well, but CA SEAD would not be nearly the tactical/capability revolution that BB SEAD would. One high priority mission would be monitoring North Korea, the sheer volume of fire these boats could put out would allow quick elimination of targets almost anywhere in the country (assuming a 50% increase over the AGS proven range of 59 NM).

      3. Since the primary mission would be land bombardment, and guns comparative advantage to missiles is their magazine size, the main armament would be 12 (4 x 3 gun) 8" L70 guns with 300 rounds per gun. Using the AGS and the 6"/47 Mark 16 of WW2 as benchmarks for shell size, we get 105 lb(Mark 16 HE) to 201 lb(AGS) for a multiplyer of 1.91, applying that to the 8"/55 Mark 16 we get 335 lb * 1.91 = 639.85. Bigger than a harpoon warhead, and hits a lot harder. The ship would be specifically designed to quickly and safely take on additional ammunition while underway(small wetdock?), and the Turrets would be designed to have barrels either re-lined or replaced while at sea, provided a support vessel was available. This vessel is meant to go to a combat zone and keep firing non-stop until the war is over, or there is nothing left to shoot.

      Secondary offensive armament would be 60 VLS, loaded for anti-surface or anti-land depending on the mission. The boat would also be equipped to serve as a flagship for either a task force or an amphibious assault.

    9. (Part 2)

      4. This ship will be providing a staggering concentration of pain on the enemy, and unlike the battleship, it would be operating mostly independently within sight of land. The enemy will throw everything they have at it. As such, defensive measures must be equally heavy: good armor, intense compartmentalization, a powerful and over-sized E-war suite, numerous chaff/decoy launchers, 16 VLS with 64 ESSM with at least 8 widely spaced targeting radars, and at least 10 CIWS (5 x 2) per side of goalkeepers, equipped for both point defense and C-RAM use, again this ship will be the target of every shell and missile the enemy has.

      Why goalkeeper? if we start building armored ships, the enemy will start building armor-piercing warheads for their missiles, then purpose-built new missiles for just this task. The hardening required will make them resistant to the 20 MM on the Phalanx, and may also increase their survivability against our AA missiles as well. Goalkeeper will shut that down hard, no missile can withstand a GAU-8 Avenger.

      5. Size would be between the Kirov and just larger then the Zumwalt, cost is probably comparable to or slightly less then the Zumwalt (No exotic materials or shaping). This ship would focus on supporting the ground forces and leading smaller surface groups, allowing the Battleship to focus on it's comparative advantage, long range unstoppable SEAD, stratigic strike, and turbocharging air raids.

    10. "cruise missiles ... are no more or less dangerous at 10 miles then at 300"

      Quite right. Unless the Navy knows something about a weakness in its Aegis system that makes short range engagements problematic, there is no reason to fear a close range missile encounter. That's what full auto mode is for. A second or two warning may not be enough for a human but it's an eternity for a computer.

      I suspect the reason for the Navy's stand off philosophy is cost. Our ships have become so expensive that the Navy is now risk-averse. They refuse to risk a multi-billion dollar ship doing the very job it was designed to do.

      Reluctance to risk multi-billion dollar investments is not an unreasonable attitude - that's a LOT of money and risk! What's unreasonable is building multi-billion dollar ships to begin with when their stated purpose is to go in harm's way.

    11. " the only reasons I can think for the 50 mile threshold are long range artillery"

      And isn't that exactly what an armored battleship with counterbattery radar would be ideal for?

    12. " the main armament would be 12 (4 x 3 gun) 8" L70 guns"

      That, along with the other requirements you sketch out, is some massively large space requirements! At some point, why not just go with a battleship?

      That aside, I do like your train of thought about this conceptual cruiser! Maybe you'd like to write a guest post about it?

    13. "That, along with the other requirements you sketch out, is some massively large space requirements!"

      That is because this ship is essentially a 21st century battlecruiser, with the appropriate gun caliber for a world of mostly destroyers. Also, while it would be substantially larger then the Burkes, it would be keeping roughly close to the size ratio of the treaty battleships and cruisers, 1/2.333, for an Iowa sized battleship that would make a comparable cruiser 19,285 tons standard displacement. No idea what the exact displacement would be, but that's pretty good for a ballpark estimate.

      "At some point, why not just go with a battleship?"

      Two reasons, rate of fire and opportunity cost. As I see it, given both the lineage and appearance of the battleship, it is easy to slip into thinking of battleships the way they were thought of during WW2, AKA That-Floating-Steel-Fortress-On-The-Horizon-Blowing-Up-Everything-In-Sight, while they can do that extremely well, that is not their core function, anymore then direct(LOS) fire was the core function of WW2 artillery.
      21st century battleships are essentially floating Wild Weasels and B-52s, they would clear enemy SAM sites from range, rapidly crack high value targets, and do pretty much any mission we would currently assign a B-52 to do.
      Now, this DOES include close air support, just as B-52s get used in that role from time to time, but only as an extraordinary measure, not an ordinary one, battleships are of course fantastic at ground support, but there is so much more they could be doing that everything else we have cannot do as well, or cannot do at all. They will of course support amphibious landings, and lend their fire power during defenses of vital points, and attacks against those of the enemy, but by and large they should be working hand-in-glove with the carrier group shredding enemy air defenses, cleaning up during and after air raids, and rapidly destroying hardened infrastructure that is underground and/or protected by lots of reinforced concrete.

      By contrast, if your battleship is floating B-52, my cruiser is a floating A-10, it does not have nearly the impact of battleship shells, but it's targeting large masses of men, tanks and artillery in the field, field fortifications, motor pools and supply dumps, it does not need the sheer shell weight. What it does need is the ability to spread that destructive power over the widest possible area, and to hit an almost infinite number of targets that would be overkill for a 16" shell, for a ship doing large scale ground support, there are just too many targets for a ship to carry enough battleship rounds for. In the Gulf war, our battleships fired 1,102 rounds, but how many did our army artillery fire? I have no idea, but it was lot. My cruiser design is intended to contribute to that undefinable 'a lot' to the tune of '3600 rounds, with more added as fast as we can through the systems built to take them on board'.

      Does that answer your question?

      "That aside, I do like your train of thought about this conceptual cruiser! Maybe you'd like to write a guest post about it?"

      Oh, wow, what would you need me to do, and what exactly would you be looking for, something like your "modern battleship" posts? If you wanted it, I would be honored.

  6. (Part 2)
    The final two reasons why we won't/are not building BB's today are: because we can't, and because it means completely rethinking doctrine and conops -something the navy has no interest in doing.

    We can't, because making battleship grade armor is lost art, the main manufacturer was Bethlehem Steel and- well, just try a google search for their factory. "urban decay" and "possible museum" are good keywords. We would have to relearn a LOT to get that capacity back, there might be other ways to go about it, after all, as you have pointed out there has been little work on armor experimentation for warships, which means we have no idea what an anti-missile armor scheme would look like. Which brings me to the real reason it will not happen under current leadership.

    Risk-taking, specifically the lack of it in our current naval leadership. For comparison, in the 1980's, as the Iowas were being recommissioned, the US was laying down a brand new class to fill a vital mission, the Perry class ASW frigate, it was state of the art at the time, many of our current naval leadership probably served on one at some point, and they are still being upgraded and put to good use by our allies.

    The Navy has moved heaven and earth to get rid of them, partly because they competed with the LCS, but mostly to prevent having to go back to them -in other words, having to not get prestigious new technology, regardless of if it works.

    Battleships would be 100 times worse, because building them would require challenging a bedrock cliche -armor and guns are obsolete- and as a capital ship, they would be seen as competing against carriers -the Gerald Ford Class- rather then anything else in the fleet.

    There is good news in all this, however. Warship classes can come back, the battlecruiser came back with the Kirov's, after all, and the Iowas got pulled out of reserve again and again in spite of the naysayers. Hope is not lost.

    PS: ComNavOps, don't know if your open post is still open, but had a number of ideas and requests (that will teach me to procrastinate) don't know if you wanted them in that post/at all or not. If not then the only suggestion I would have is a multi-part series, similar to the one you did on D-day, on the German-British naval arms race. You, me and the neighbors dog have seen the obvious parallels between then and now, and I would be fascinated on your view of the events then, in particular on Jackie Fishers rebuilding of Royal Navy leadership.

    Keep the sanity coming, ComNavOps, lord knows there is a critical shortage of it.

    1. "We can't, because making battleship grade armor is lost art, "

      This is the weakest of any excuse not to build a battleship. We didn't possess the technology to build giant, laminated wood panels for the Zumwalt superstructure but we developed it as part of the project. We didn't possess the technology for EMALS for Ford but we developed it (sure, still some problems). We didn't possess the technology for any of the F-35 but we developed it. The point is that we can develop any technology we currently lack and redeveloping an old technology is certainly easier than trying to develop a brand new one!

    2. " don't know if your open post is still open,"

      All posts are open. Posts older than 30 days undergo moderation to limit spam but you can still freely comment. I'm happy to hear any thoughts you have.

    3. "building them would require challenging a bedrock cliche -armor and guns are obsolete- and as a capital ship, they would be seen as competing against carriers -the Gerald Ford Class- rather then anything else in the fleet."

      Your assessment is spot on. I write on two levels: one is the current realilty and the other, such as this post, is the way things ought to be. Generally, the two are incompatible. So, your assessment is absolutely correct for the current situation. This post addresses the way things should be. If we don't dream and challenge the status quo, nothing will ever change!

    4. "We can't, because making battleship grade armor is lost art,"

      I've added a section to the post to address this.

    5. "This is the weakest of any excuse not to build a battleship."

      I would have put it as being the strongest excuse- but the weakest justification. The reason it would fly is because your examples, and just about all other types of ship classes have visible antecedents in production somewhere. Mag-lev trains for the EMALS, composites and stealth bombers for the Zumwalt, Harriers for the F-35. Some were a stretch, some were good ideas done stupidly, and some (f-35) were just plain stupid, but they all had the advantage of being like something that was in current use, making them far easier to justify to congress.

      My point was not 'we don't know how, and it's not worth developing', my point was that we don't CURRENTLY know how, and building that capacity would require the Navy explaining to congress that they were actually wrong about the Iowas.

      This is the navy leadership that sank the Spruances, and is trying to get rid of the Perry's as fast as possible, they are not going to admit to Congress, themselves or anyone else that they have been wrong about something this basic in ship design for the past 40+ years. Not going to happen, not because they are right, or because being wrong about ship design philosophy is unheard-of (in fact, it's historically business as usual) but because it would jeopardize careers and production lines.

      And really, isn't that what the Navy is all about? 'Battleship armor is hard' is merely the pretext screening for 'armor is useless', as long as that truism stays intact, so will everything that matters: Stars, Rice Bowls and saving face.

    6. Cliff-notes: "Battleship armor is a lost art" matters because it is a (navy) political jingle, one that has worked very well, not because it's true.

    7. In every revolution there is one man with a vision. - Star Trek reference -

      In the current reality, you are absolutely correct and I will not and cannot argue. However, as I noted, I write also about the alternate reality where good ideas abide. This is one such. If no one presses for change, change will not occur.

      So, having stated your explanation of why a modern battleship can't happen, (Billy Mitchell must have gotten much the same kind of response!) now tell me how we can make it happen!

    8. "Battleship armor is a lost art" doesn't have to be steel armor. This will sound strange but civil engineers trying to make VBIED proof buildings have made new types of concrete that can stop almost any blast. VBIEDs have explosive payloads far exceeding any missle or shell. Try a Tidespring class double hull tanker hull with the space between the hulls filled with this new blast resistant engineered concrete and a Battle Cruiser superstructure. Also NAMO at Eurosatory introduced their ramjet assisted artillery shell with huge range( )an 8" version,combined with GMLRS and ATACMS could devastate a large area.

    9. " new types of concrete that can stop almost any blast."

      I'm not familiar with that but it just reinforces the point that naval armor research has stagnated.

    10. (Part 1)

      "now tell me how we can make it happen!"

      Alright, first: the simple way.

      1. Organize a navy league that would make Tirpitz weep with envy.
      2. Assemble a team with tactical, technological and organizational expertise to draw up a comprehensive reform plan for the navy, complete with desired force structure. BBs and CAs would figure prominently in the OOB.
      3. Sell the comprehensive plan to both parties.
      4. Clean house in the navy leadership, both for the obvious reasons and to make room for people who both contributed to the plan and are committed to it.
      5. Start the plan. (research, destructive testing, weapons proofing ect.)
      6. Lay down battleships and cruisers.
      7. Commission the first battleship.
      8. Throw a giant party! I'll bring the wings and fireworks!

      Ok, back to the current (partyless) reality. How do we get the navy to build a capital ship that's based on one they never wanted to keep, is founded on a design philosophy they have ridiculed as expensive, useless and ungood, and which would involve someone with stars on their shoulders standing before congress and having to answer the question: "if the USS Cole, USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain had been built to the standard you now say is necessary, would their crew have survived?"

      That is a very high bar, so what would get them that motivation? There is a VERY interesting parallel going on between the navy's relationship with the Iowas, and the Air Force's relationship with the A-10s, both are one services signature direct contribution to supporting ground forces, and both were the target of furious efforts to get rid of them.

      But the A-10 came into existence in part to keep CAS(particularly tankbusting) under air force control, because the army was fielding a highly effective helicopter for the job in the AH-56 Cheyenne. So is there a big-gun equivalent to the Cheyenne today?

      Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, let me present the Strategic Strike Artillery, (1) an official request by the army to develop a 1000 mile range supergun to provide supporting fire at long range.
      Yes, the Army has OFFICIALLY, AT LONG LAST endorsed Gerald Bull's lifelong dream.
      Now obviously, for an item added to the pentagon's wish-list just 3 months ago, details are sparce, so lets look at both it's predecessors and movement systems.

      The article mentions that the army was considering a fixed installation. Given how often the army has emphasized still=dead in it's recent press releases, I have no doubt that the ultimate system will be mobile -if for no other reason then that everyone involved will want to be able to redeploy a system this powerful. In short, we are talking about a really big Self Propelled Gun.

    11. So what are the biggest self propelled guns previously developed, and what is the biggest load we can consistently move by road? If we can answer that, then we can guesstimate the min/max dimensions the Strategic Strike Artillery (hear-after SSA).

      The largest SPGs that I am aware of are the Soviet 2A3 KONDENSATOR(406 MM howitzer, 64 tons) and the 2B1 OKA(420 mm gun, at 55.3 tons it was too fragile for the recoil), both of these are comparable calibers to the Iowas, though I have no doubt their propellant charges were much smaller.
      Meanwhile the largest road-mobile vehicles are the dump trucks used in mines to haul ore, this is a list of the top ten largest(2), the smallest of these has a payload capacity of 326 tons, the largest has a capacity of 496 tons!
      For comparison, according to Navweaps(3) the Iowa's gun(including breech) weighs 133.952 tons, any of those dump trucks could be turned into a SPG using the Iowa's gun, complete with plentiful ammunition, decent armor and an autoloader!
      Now, while you could go ahead and build something like that, it would only be useful as a prototype to be tested on maneuvers somewhere with very favorable terrain. The real SSA would no doubt be smaller, much narrower(to more easily use roads) and inherently amphibious(to cross rivers without breaking every bridge, a snorkel and flotation screen would be integral), it would probably look like a wheeled Iowa gun sized M107 SPG(4), with room for only a couple rounds in order to minimize size and maximize mobility.

      So, to finally answer your question, the army, the service you have recognized as most rapidly pulling its act together, has officially and in all serious proclaimed a 1000 mile range gun both possible and desirable, specifically because SAM networks make air operations more risky, and because it's needed to over-match the Russians.
      The Navy also is facing operations in zones heavily protected by SAMs, and has a head start in developing the exact capability the army is seeking. Remember Gerald Bull? his project HARP, the original proof of concept behind the Army's idea?
      It was two 16 inch naval guns welded together for extra range. The prototype is still in Barbados, rusting away.
      In short, if the army thinks very big, very long range guns are such a good idea that it merits building BOLOs, then surely the navy, which faces many of the same problems and enemy weapon systems, can develop the same capability, and put it on a platform historically used by it for that exact purpose?

      By the way, I actually like the Army's idea, perhaps they can simplify logistics and development costs by using a common munition?

    12. "interesting parallel going on between the navy's relationship with the Iowas, and the Air Force's relationship with the A-10s"

      That's a fascinating aspect that I've not considered. I'm aware of the Army's movement towards very long range fires that exceed their traditional area of responsibility and encroach on the Air Force's deep strike/interdiction role. Would that be enough for the Navy to see a budget opportunity? Hmmm ...

      Good comment!

  7. Contrary to most, I think the BB would be significantly CHEAPER than most of the garbage the USN is coming up with like LCS and ZUMWALT. Why would the BB be expensive?

    Firepower: just use 155mm caliber artillery, compatible with US Army, USMC rounds....use some sort of MLRS for longer range, keep it's round compatible too. I wouldn't go crazy with the VLS launcher, I would put 2 small ones, I wouldn't go arsenal ship so don't put 100s of missiles onboard. That should keep costs down since you have be buying the same rounds the US Army/USMC are buying.

    Manning: as CNO said, with a regular power system, nothing experimental or complex, just regular turbines plus modern electronics, regular weapons systems....manning should be no problem.....

    COST: buy as much as possible OFF THE SHELF tech, there should be no new designs or experimental crap on a BB.

    SURVIVABLITY: no expert so I will differ to those saying we can't do 16 inch armor, OK, so we can't do that BUT can we install 4 to 6 PHALANX? Can we use some kind of spaced armor instead of just plain steel? Double hull? Maybe look at some small usage of composites? To just say we can't do 16 inch steel armor seems a like an easy way out, we have made "some progress" since WW1 AND WW2 when it comes to tank armor, I'm sure we could re-imagine with today technology some new way to provide major protection.

    So, I don't think these ships would be so much more expensive than failures like LCS.

    Maybe the problem isn't the BB really, it has a bad image-PR problem, it's the notion that the BB is a dinosaur and competes against carriers and expensive garbage.

    What we should come up with is a NEW NAME for what is a modern BB?

    1. " it's the notion that the BB is a dinosaur and competes against carriers and expensive garbage. "

      You've pegged it!

    2. I wouldn't go with the 155. Yes it gives us (possible) ammo compatibility but the Army gun has a range of 13 miles. The Mk 16 8" guns could hit 17 miles out.

      I'd think you'd want at least 8 inches, with the possibility of subcaliber rounds to go farther if you can figure out targeting.

      The armor would be tough; but it can be done. The trick is that I don't believe we have any mills out there now that can do it; so you have to assume that you are going to have to pay for that as part of the project.

      A possible side benefit of that is maybe we can really play not only with the type of armor (spaced, etc.) but also with the metallurgy, so that we can come up with some benefits for other new ships. I.E. a type of framing or bulkhead steel for warships that is particularly light and tough (yes, I'm thinking of a modern STS equivalent. Maybe it looks like HY100 but is cheaper? ).

      One of the things that really appeals to me is a 'balanced design'. I put that in quotes because I'm kind of harkening back to the old days when a BB was considered balanced if the armor was able to stop the caliber of munition that the ship fired. I'd still go with that, but take it a step further.

      Your ship can dominate the space it can target.

      We often talk about weapons ranges, and being 'out sticked' by other countries. But so often that range is just vapor. Sure, the Naval Strike Missile is lethal to 120 odd miles. That's wonderful. The ship that carries it can only target to about 24. If I'm shooting at that range, I'd rather have a bunch of shells then a missile that's 2 million/pop.

      And beyond that range, well, if I can get someone to target it we can always through NSM canisters on the deck somewhere. But my assumption is that in a peer war you can't count on that external targeting.

      One last thing. I'm fine with automated turrets. So long as they are designed durably, ruggedly, and with backups so that a human can get in them without exposing themselves to fire, and be able to operate key things manually, or repair the weapon. No black box autoloader weapons systems that are just dead weight if they break until you get back to port.


    3. "Firepower: just use 155mm caliber artillery"

      You're not suggesting replacing 16" guns with 6" guns, are you? There's just no comparison in damage effects between the two. If you're suggesting making the secondary armament 6", I'm okay with that.

  8. What about making a little pocket-battleship/prototype/proof-of-concept based around the Burlington armor on the M1A1 and the armoring concept behind the design of that tank?

    All this talk about recreating the steel armor from WWII seems like a wrong headed approach. Steel was the best they could do in the 40s. Its not at all the best we can do today.

    Burlington seems like an absolute no-brainer for ships: its better than steel armor. its lighter than steel armor, its scaleable since its just angled, stacked ceramic panels mounted on springs in boxes, and it lends itself much easier to the blocky and flat faced designs of modern stealthy warships.

    They could even just build a 4th Zumwalt hull, leave out the VLS cells running down the sides that are supposed to act as "armor" and fill those voids with Burlington panels. Fire every ASM known to man at it and see how it holds up.

    1. A pocket battleship as a substitute for a real battleship would be pointless but as a test/demonstration prototype for battleship/naval armor I very much like the idea.

      I've stated many times that naval armor has languished. We've made so many advances in vehicle armor but none in naval armor. We can certainly adapt some of the vehicle armor concepts to ships.

      Very good comment.

  9. While a battleship can deliver more ordnance than a strike from a couple of squadrons of Super Hornets, the difference in range is an important consideration. Even with extended range munitions, there was a proposed 11-in sabot round with a range of about 100-nm for the 16-in guns in the early 1990's, aircraft still have 3-4 times that range and can attack targets from multiple directions. And, with weapons like LRASM, the range difference is even greater.

    1. Since no one is proposing that battleships completely replace carriers or air forces, what is your point. As with most endeavors, having a range of options is preferable to only having one.

      So, what point were you trying to make?

    2. If you're sitting off the coast of Somalia, a 16-in gun with a range of 20 nmi is just fine. Nobody is likely to shoot back you. Sitting 20 nmi off the coast of a near-peer in support of an amphibious assault is quite different. And, given what Houthi rebels tried to do last year, it doesn't even have to be a near-peer.

      I'm sure a modern battleship would have CWIS, SeaRam, and maybe even ESSM. But, I think a modern battleship needs guns with longer range. The AGS LRLAP was supposed to have a range of 100 nmi and that should be starting point. An amphibious group usually positions itself about 50 nmi at sea, which would allow a battleship to strike much further inland.

    3. " I think a modern battleship needs guns with longer range."

      The caution here is that the pursuit of range cannot come at the expense of destructive power. Most range extending efforts revolve around smaller sized shells in a sabot. If attaining 100+ mile range requires that we go down to a 5" sabot shell fired from the 16" gun, then what have we gained? Sure, the shell will reach 100+ miles but it won't do any damage. We could probably launch a 0.50 cal bullet a thousand miles but it wouldn't do any damage.

    4. You addressed 3 planned sub-caliber 16-in rounds in a post on November 7, 2016. The two with the longest range were the 13.65-in diameter HE-ER Mark 148 with a range of 40+ nmi and the 11-in diameter HE-ER ??? with a range of 100 nmi. For the sake of argument, let's call the last one the HE-ER 149.

      The payload on the HE-ER 149 was 248 M46 submunitions that weighed 175.2 lb. The 9-in diameter M31 GMLRS has a 200-lb unitary warhead could be repackaged into an 11-in sabot round with maybe a small loss in range. It would certainly fit the larger HE-ER 148 round.

      They wouldn't make the mark a full size 16-in round would make, but it's an option.

  10. "Burlington seems like an absolute no-brainer for ships: its better than steel armor." If I recall correctly Burlington/Chobham was designed to resist HEAT jets. Ships won't be facing this; they are facing more missiles designed to penetrate than make one big explosion. WWII Armor, designed to decap then absorbe a shell, would be better at this than Tank armor. Thinking about it from the other way, an Abrams Rheinmetall gun could likely punch pinprick holes in the 12" belt of the Iowa from 1/2 a mile away. But it doesn't matter, that's not what the Iowa was facing, or what it was designed to face.

    But I see your point, look at technology to make armor match the threat instead of just relying on the exact same thing.

    I suspect lots of high grade steel with stout mounts would still be required, but you may see more sloping and spacing.

    1. Naval architects of today also have a much tougher geometry problem to solve. Up to WWII the major surface threat was a shell hitting transverse to the longitudinal axis of the ship at somewhere between 0 and 50ish degrees (shots with striking angles in the 30+ degree at 15+ nm range being decidedly low probability shots). Moreover, the shot geometries were mostly a function of the engagement distance of which there was usually at least some control. Today the threat might come in from any point on the compass, with little or no warning, and at virtually any angle that the attacker wishes. Oh, by the way, just about any vessel over a few hundred tons, and many bombers, can launch a handful of munitions (e.g., a P-800 Oniks) from long range that approximates the lethality of a major-caliber shell when all factors are considered.

      It's not that armor isn't valuable, but what threats do you protect against and to what extent? I don't really have an answer for that, but I doubt the answer is to return to the armored belts of yore. My suspicion is that it's not feasible to prevent penetration of enough threats over enough of the ship to justify the weight of 12" thick armored belts. As a consequence, I think more attention would be paid to limiting the damage from the penetrations that do occur through a more balanced and distributed armor scheme. Heavy armor might need to be restricted to weapons and sensors for basic self defense and propulsion, C&C, and damage-control infrastructure.

    2. I completely disagree with the thrust of your comment which seems to be that armor is pointless (to grossly simplify what you said). However, rather than address that, I'd like to address an issue that your comment indirectly raises and that is the utter lack of naval armor research.

      We're (the generic we, not you and I specifically) sitting here debating the merits of armor while having absolutely no idea whether any given size/type/weight of anti-ship missile can or cannot penetrate any given type/weight of armor. Why? Because there has been absolutely no research. The Navy has not shot missiles at armor to see what happens. How much, if any, penetration can a missile that does not have a purpose designed armor piercing nose achieve? To what extent will a missile function, if at all, after penetrating a given thickness of armor? And so on.

      Until those questions are answered via actual tests, we're just speculating with no actual data. In other words, we're just spitting out opinions with absolutely no foundation.

      If tests revealed that 4" of armor could totally stop a large, supersonic, BrahMos missile, I think we'd all be in favor of armor, right? On the other hand, if we found that a simple Exocet could penetrate 24" of armor then we'd probably be inclined to forget about armor, right?

      The Navy desperately needs to conduct armor research.

      I assume you've read my "Armor For Dummies" post?

    3. By the way, I am decidedly not in favor of exactly duplicating the WWII Iowa class armor arrangement for exactly the reason you cited. Missiles strike differently than shells and, therefore, it is only logical that the armor arrangement be changed to reflect that.

      Well noted!

    4. Actually, there IS test data we could use, but I have no idea where to find it, and cannot translate it from Russian.

      Apparently, when to soviets decided to scrap their Stalingrad class battlecruisers while under construction, they used the hull as a target for Scrubber and Styx missiles, which (per wiki) damaged the upper ship-works without changing it's drought. the description sounds comparable to severe damage from secondaries fire during WW2.

      The book referenced was John Jordan's "Warship 2006", anybody with a copy care to comment?

      So, IF you could dig up that data, it would give you a starting point, albeit one based on fire by obsolescent missiles.

    5. While we should, of course, verify the penetration capabilities of modern warheads against real-world targets, we can extrapolate the destructive potential of anti-ship cruise missiles from historical data. For example, we can get a very rough estimate of the destructive potential by assuming that a missile is delivering a WWII-era shell (e.g., an APCBC shell if the striking velocity warrants it) or AP bomb at the respective striking velocities, wherein the theoretical projectile is of equivalent mass to that of the real-world missile warhead. If anything, this would probably be a conservative estimate due to advances in metallurgy, fuzing, and the fact that a missile warhead is not constrained by L/D ratio like a spin-stabilized projectile. Moreover, modern BROACH warheads seem extremely promising, working a bit like a ballistic cap in that they can shatter or hole armor and barriers ahead of the main penetrating body. Additionally, a missile impacting at over about mach 2.7 will have a striking velocity higher than just about any historical naval gun at pointblank range. High subsonic missiles should be roughly comparable to WWII AP bombs released in a high speed dive and striking at about mach 0.8 (a little over 600 mph).

      Nathan Okun's work is a pretty good starting point:

    6. "Actually, there IS test data we could use, ... Stalingrad class battlecruisers "

      That data would be interesting but barely applicable. The Stalingrad class was lightly armored in comparison to an Iowa class. The Iowas had around 6" main decks as opposed to the Stalingrad which appears to have had around 2". Presumably, the same type of scale would apply to all other structures.

    7. "penetration capabilities of modern warheads against real-world targets"

      Missile penetration is the key to modern armor discussions. If the missile can't penetrate, it doesn't matter how much explosive it carries (as a gross simplification). Anti-ship missiles are not generally designed with any significant penetration features such as armor piercing shells and bombs had. It is not at all clear to me that modern missiles would penetrate Iowa class armor - again, understanding that the armor varied widely in thickness and type even within the single ship. It's understandable that missiles would not have penetration features because no modern ship has any significant armor to penetrate!

      How much armor could a Chinese C-80x penetrate? 1"? 6"? 12"? No one knows. It is simply unbelievable that the US Navy has not conducted research in this area.

      Okun's work was all about naval shells (at least, the work that I'm aware of) which were designed to penetrate armor. Thus, the applicability to missile penetration is suspect, at best.

      The only test I'm aware of is the Navy's test shot of a Harpoon(?) against some battleship armor (?thickness and type?) and the result was that the missile didn't even dent it. Unfortunately, I have no details or reference on the test and it was decades ago.

    8. "Okun's work was all about naval shells (at least, the work that I'm aware of) which were designed to penetrate armor. Thus, the applicability to missile penetration is suspect, at best."

      I'm not saying that you can directly apply his formulas in all situations, but his work identifies the important criteria at the very least.

      "How much armor could a Chinese C-80x penetrate? 1"? 6"? 12"? No one knows. It is simply unbelievable that the US Navy has not conducted research in this area."

      Again we CAN get a rough estimate by looking at historical analogues. For example, a WWII US Mark 33 armor piercing bomb makes a decent analogue for a similarly constructed tomahawk warhead. The Mark 33 weighed about a 1,000 pounds and could penetrate about 5" of deck armor when dropped from 10,000 feet. Falling from 10,000 feet the bomb would accelerate to about 550 mph under gravity, neglecting air resistance and the initial horizontal velocity. The tomahawk flies at about 550 mph and has about a 1,000 pound warhead. It's reasonable to assume that a tomahawk with an armor-piercing warhead should be able to penetrate about 5" of deck armor under the same conditions.

      The Iowa-class had a 6" bomb deck under a 1.5" main deck (which is not equivalent to a 7.5" bomb deck). Give the tomahawk warhead a bit higher sectional density than the Mark 33, add a precursor charge, and/or increase the terminal speed a bit, and an AP tomahawk warhead probably has a good shot at penetrating an Iowa's bomb deck. Plenty of missiles go MUCH faster, but carry a smaller warhead. The weight of the warhead, however, doesn't effect penetration nearly as much as the speed and strength/hardness of the warhead.

      WWII AP bomb info:

      Design of modern penetrating warheads:

    9. " It's reasonable to assume that a tomahawk with an armor-piercing warhead "

      That would be reasonable except that the Tomahawk does not have armor piercing warheads nor do any foreign anti-ship missiles as far as I know. So, how much armor would a current Tomahawk penetrate (of course, there is not anti-ship Tomahawk, presently, but we'll ignore that)? Again, no idea and Okun's work is not applicable.

      Now, if you want to speculate on future anti-ship missile designs that DO have an armor piercing warhead then Okun's work probably does have some validity and applicability.

      Are you aware of any existing enemy anti-ship missile with an armor piercing warhead?

    10. The two that immediately come to mind are the P-270 and Hsiung Feng III, bust information is scarce. Both are described as being capable of hitting mach 3 and as having 660 and 500 pound warheads respectively. With similar constructions and striking at mach 3, the P-270 warhead would be roughly equivalent to a German 28cm (11"), 300kg (660 pound) AP shell fired at about 112% new-gun muzzle velocity.

    11. Wiki lists the P-270 warhead as "penetrator". That could mean anything or nothing. I very much doubt it's even remotely similar to a WWII AP nose cone for the simple reason that no modern ship has armor and, therefore, an AP nose would not be needed. Kinetic energy alone would ensure sufficient penetration against the very thin skin that passes for modern ship plating.

    12. The Soviets developed a triple stage warhead for the largest anti ship missiles for use against carriers. First stage craters and damages the armor to weaken it, third stage is meant to propel the second stage which rests behind a conical armor piercing cap inside, to maximize damage. Thirty years of weapon refinement with multi ton warheads. And they still believed they lacked the capability to sink one. Most likely would render a carrier combat ineffective. Only 2 2 or 3 degree list would be necessary before flight ops woukd be suspended to to aircraft sliding across the deck. Beyond 4 degrees you begin losing aircraft off the deck into the water.

    13. "The Soviets developed a triple stage warhead for the largest anti ship missiles"

      Which missile are you referring to?

    14. I wonder if anyone has ever seriously looked at a scaled up version of tank reactive armor for ships. Perhaps such a system would be too dangerous for thin-skinned destroyers, but the belt of an Iowa seems like a candidate for mounting a few tiles of extra-large ERA tiles for some additional survivability.

    15. Reactive armor is one of many possible adaptations of land armor for naval use. I'm baffled why the Navy refused to even conduct basic research on armor.

      Maybe you have experience with reactive armor? RA is intended to deal with very small projectiles (think about the relative "reactive" effect compared to the projectile size) relative to an anti-ship cruise missile. How big and "reactive" would the armor have to be to stop an anti-ship cruise missile? Pure speculation, I know, but, hey, have some fun with it and go ahead and speculate!

    16. I personally have no real-world experience with reactive, although I do have an in-law who has served on Merkavas.

      A typical Russian Kontakt-5 ERA brick weighs 6 kilograms and is designed to defend against a 25 kilogram West German HOT-3 ATGM, giving a 1:4 ratio in mass between brick and missile. If you directly scale up against a 600kg standard C-801/YJ-8 Chinese anti-ship missile, that means your brick is going to be 150 kilograms. Due to the square-cube law, the dimensions of the 4x7 Kontakt-5 brick only increase by 5 times to 20x35. To cover the roughly 600 foot long and 25 foot tall belt of an Iowa would take over 2800 tiles, and 5600 for both sides. Total weight comes out to slightly over 900 tons, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the existing armor weight of an Iowa Battleship. If you want to add more bricks for the turret sides and superstructure, and mounting rails to put the bricks on, such a refit would still stay under 2000 tons. I'm not even sure a hit from a modern medium ASM would even penetrate the WW2 steel armor belt, but it was interesting to do the math.

      However, the bigger challenge might be making them resist to saltwater corrosion and being simply washed away or otherwise damaged by tough North Atlantic/South Pacific sea conditions. If weather proves to be too big of a problem, there might still be a niche for ERA in the calmer Persian Gulf against the Iranian threat vector.

    17. I have absolutely no knowledge in this area but your speculation is fascinating! This is exactly the kind of thing that the Navy should be looking into.

  11. HMS Prince of Wales
    "Captain Phillips thought that his ships were relatively immune from fatal damage via air attack,"

    The first light torpedo hit a propeller, causing catastrophic flooding, three more light torpedo sank her.

    HMS Royal Oak
    Attacked at anchor by Uboat, 3 Torpedo hit and the ship sank within 13 minutes

    HMS Barham
    Hit by three torpedo, immediately capsized and sank within minutes

    HMS Audacious
    Hit a mine and sank 12 hours later, possibly could have been saved, however it was believed to have been a submarine attack and all big ships capable of towing were dispersed.

    HMS Vanguard
    Lost to unknown explosion at anchor.

    The UK lost 5 Dreadnought+ Battleships.
    1 to air launched torpedo, 2 to submarine launched torpedo, 1 to a mine, and 1 to misadventure.

    Effectively doomed by the first torpedo hit, but finally sank after 11 to 13 hits over two hours.

    Pelted by a huge number of light torpedo, but again, the first hit effectively doomed the ship.

    Hit by 4 Submarine Launched Torpedo and sank 8 hours later.

    Took an atrocious pounding, but was fundamentally killed by the first hit, which slowed the ship to the pint where it couldnt evade.

    Attacked over a long period by a mix of mines, torpedo, and earthquake bombs,

    Warships are fast.
    Capable of sustaining 30miles an hour, within 6 hours of last being seen, they can be anywhere within an area 100,000 square miles
    The reason I'm so dismissive of "Carrier Killer" Ballistic Missiles is they will simply never have the targeting information they need.

    But it only takes a scratch to cut that speed in half, and that 100,000 square miles down to 25,000
    Add in smoke and you are most certainly dead.

    Very few nations have the ability to find, fix and attack a Carrier operating in the deep water, very few nations dont have the ability to find, fix and attack a Battleship operating off the coast.
    Maybe 20 have the aircraft for deep water search at all, maybe 10, if that, actually train in maritime surveillance rather than air, maybe 5 could actually surveil a lot of ocean quickly. All of which make Carriers at sea very very safe from attack

    Thats not to say no battleships not ever.
    But you would need a better Concept of Naval Operations, what does a Battleship do, how does it do it, and is it the best way to do it?

    1. You do understand that battleships would not be operating alone, just off an enemy's coast, right? They would be supported by Aegis escorts and ASW escorts.

      You're also attempting to equate old, foreign model ships to a modern Iowa class derivative. They're not even remotely close. Also, your assessment that the first hit effectively kills the ship is highly suspect and only even remotely true in a very particular set of circumstances.

      Further, many/most of the examples you cite were ships operating alone, with no support. Any ship can be sunk if it is subjected to unending attacks with no support.

      It looks very much like you're attempting to manipulate history and data to support a pre-conceived conclusion. HMS Royal Oak, for example, was built in 1912 or thereabouts and hardly constitutes an example of a modern battleship. There is absolutely no equivalence between the torpedo defense structure of an Iowa class BB and the Royal Oak. Good grief!

      You need to consider battleship vulnerability (or invulnerability) in light of actual operational doctrine.

    2. As I said, Im not necessarily anti battleship, but I'd need convincing.

      The list was every British post dreadnought ever sank, and the German and Japanese ships I could name off the top of my head.

      The Uk lost 5 battleships, 4 to mines or torpedo, 1 to accident.

      It may be that dozens if other torpedo attacks didnt result in sinking, I didnt check, but I doubt it is so.

      Once a ship was hit, every enemy ship and aircraft would swarm it, its compatriots either died with it or abandoned it.

      No conscious attempt to manipulate data.

      How would you see modern battleships being used?

    3. Your argument seems to be that a battleship is instantly killed by the first thing that hits it. The examples you cite are either not battleships by any modern defition (old dreadnoughts barely past the age of sail!), were caught operating without any support or air cover, or were operating as lone ships. Of course they'd be sunk!

      You ask a very good question. I've addressed why the arguments against the BB are invalid but I haven't addressed the arguments FOR a BB. I will do that in a near future post.

    4. "How would you see modern battleships being used?"

      You've asked the most relevant question. I'll give you my very brief summary answer. I see two main uses:

      1. Anti-surface - As the centerpiece of a surface group, the group would conduct area sweeps to eliminate enemy surface naval forces. The combination of incredible firepower and Aegis protection from escorts makes for a very formidable anti-surface force.

      2. Base/port attack - Again, a BB based surface force for land attack against enemy bases/ports would be devastating. The combination of Tomahawk missiles to clear the way in, Aegis to provide the protective umbrella, and 16" guns to destroy the base/port would be hard to stop and the guns would ensure total destruction.

    5. HMS Vanguard (WW1) was probably lost due to cordite deterioration. When that stuff goes bad, its almost nitroglycerin. After the war, they changed the formula.

  12. Is it possible the concept of the battleship can scale somewhat? Can there be such a thing as a mini-battleship?! Or, do 16 inch guns require a 60k ton ship?

    1. The Uk put 8x 15inch guns on the revenge class, 28,000t

      The German "pocket battleships" put 6x 11inch guns on a 10,000 to 12,500 ton ship.

      So, big guns and small ships arent necessarily mutually exclusive.

    2. But big guns, lots of armor, high speed, a heavy secondary battery, lots of Tomahawks and LRASMs, and an extensive AAW defense probably preclude a mini-battleship.

    3. The last British monitors, HMS Terror & Erebus & Roberts & Abercrombie both mounted a dual 15 inch turret. They saw good service in WW1 & WW2 as naval gunfire support. Shallow draft and broad beam so they could operate inshore.

    4. Colorado class battleships had 8x 16 inch guns with 32k ton dry displacement but they were slow. The North Carolina and South Dakota class were a little bigger and faster with 9x 16 inch guns. The Iowas were the most capable.

    5. Forgive me if I missed it, CNO, but what is the purpose of the heavy secondary battery? Seems like between big guns, VLS, and CIWS, there isnt really a need for anything else. Maybe a single 155mm or some 40mm for closer in work? Would it be for shore bombardment?

    6. "what is the purpose of the heavy secondary battery?"

      Good question. Historically, the secondary battery was intended to deal with torpedo boats and destroyer since the main battey rate of fire was not fast enough to effectively handle small, fast targets.

      The secondary battery was also found to be quite useful in land bombardment of smaller targets that didn't warrant 16" shells.

      Today, the secondary battery would have much the same roles: anti-small boat and land bombardment. My personal feeling is that we could reduce the number of secondary guns by about half in a new design, modern BB.

      There would also be a tertiary(?)/AAW battery of SeaRAM and CIWS.

    7. I would expand the AA to include ESSM blockII that way you could a some what layered defense out to 40-50 miles or so inner layer 5-8 miles for SeaRam and 1-2 miles for Phalanx


    Penultimate battleship design of WW2. Keel had been lain before the end of the war, construction paused in favor of the Iowa's. First class incapable of transit through the Panama Canal.

  14. Hmmm we can make a series about debunking these myths.

    Oh wait somebody already did!!!

    But seriously when somebody says the age of Battleships are over. I actually look to the most infamous of Battleship deaths to prove the survivability. Musashi and Yamato anyone? Each taking hundreds of aircraft several hours of combat and around 20 torpedo hits on Musashi and a similar amount of bomb hits. And 13 for Yamato and that's aiming for the weak spots not covered by the torpedo belt. Also with a similar amount of bombs. All with crappy AA.

    1. " All with crappy AA."

      You make a very good point about the overall design of a battleship, or any warship, for that matter. It does not good to load up a battleship with heavy guns and armor if you don't also give it a good active defensive capability. I don't know enough about the Yamato class to assess its AA capability but it did seem ineffective.

      Similarly, a good ship design is pointless if you use it unwisely, as the Japanese did with the Leyte Gulf operation - not that they had much choice at that point.

    2. Yamato AA, OK heavy/5in AA, medium AA was like the US 1.1in but worse reliability, light AA were machine guns, not autocannon.
      Nothing even close to a Quad 40 on the Yamato,

      Mr Hotchkiss

  15. It's a pity the US is fixated on the latest high tech wizzbang, and, as CNO has mentioned many times, not taking what is less glamourous, but works, and evolving it.

    If we took a basic outline of a battleship, but then added modern armour, VLS, many guns of various calibre- 16 inch, 5 inch, 3 inch, 40mm, phalnx, searam, asroc; it would , in CNO's words, have "dominance" over an area the size of several cities.

    Talk here is of 16 inch shells travelling 20 miles. But that's got to be unrealistic. in ww2, a 5 inch shell flew about 6-9 miles. Vulcano ammo now can fly about 60 miles according to their pdf from the oto melara website. To make things simple, pro rata, the 16 inch shell should fly 20 x 10 = 200 miles.

    Then look at the improvements made to shells. They can glide and be guided. Different designs can make them armour piercing, be wider or more narrow damaging, damage can be focused on phyical objects, or on human crews. Tank shells have designs which look nothing like those of ww2.

    WW2 battleships may have no role to play in a proper 2018 war, but a 2018 battleship might.

    There's only two countries who can afford to build them, let's hope the CCP doesn't read this blog.


    1. Exactly right, a 2018 Battleship has only a degree of connection to the battleships of WW2, it would be more accurate to think of it as a 1200 2000 lb JDAM Sea-BUFF, or a 1200 tactical ballistic missile arsenal ship.

    2. " Vulcano ammo now can fly about 60 miles "

      I've cautioned about this before. Simply getting a projectile to fly further is a relatively minor challenge compared to getting it to fly further and HAVE THE SAME EXPLOSIVE EFFECT! Almost all extended range munitions accomplish their range extension by using sub-caliber rounds with smaller warheads/explosives. We could send a 0.50 cal round a thousand miles but it wouldn't have any useful damage effects.

      The Vulcano shell is described as a sub-caliber round. From a quick Internet search, I wasn't able to see what the warhead/explosive size/weight is. Do you happen to know it?

    3. "WW2 battleships may have no role to play in a proper 2018 war, but a 2018 battleship might."

      Exactly right and exactly what we're looking to do, here!

      Changes in weapons aside, do you see any fundamental change in missions for a 2018 battleship compared to a WWII BB?

    4. The role a 2018 battleship will play in a peer war?

      - Diverting significant enemy resources.

      A single battleship carrying hundreds/thousands of rounds, each with a warhead similar to a NSM, with a possible radius of influence of up to 200 miles, can cause a lot of destruction. It can also soak up a lot of damage. As written above, sinking battleships was possible, but required many many hours and lots of resources, even though the battleship was almost immobile.

      Imagine you had just 4 battleships. You send just one to a different part of China, and two carrier groups down the middle. Contrast this to just sending a single AB to 4 diff parts of China- AB have big missile magazines, but can't soak up nearly as much damage.

      - Securing territory.see above.

      - Intimidation. See above. Also lots of boom.

      - It's like a big bully with a .45 pistol. You may have many troops with longer range rifles, so you can't send the 6'2 quarterback everywhere, but he still has his uses.


  16. As mentioned modern shells can and do travel much further than in the past with that in mind CNBC reported the Chinese are putting to sea for tests right now you guessed it r(rail gun) and successful will enter service around 2025 range aprox.124 miles

  17. In terms of battleship armament and range, the Army's Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program might be applicable to this discussion. In short, the Army is extending the barrel length of the M777 cannons from 39 to 55 calibers with an increase in the chamber volume. This adds about 1,000 lbs to the cannon. The Army is trying to double their range to 70 km.

    Maybe the Navy could make similar changes to the 8/55 Mark 71 gun and use that as the primary armament of a modern battleship. The AGS 155-mm LRLAP round reached 109 km in tests. A scaled up round ought to have a similar range.

    1. " 8/55 Mark 71 gun and use that as the primary armament of a modern battleship. The AGS 155-mm LRLAP round reached 109 km in tests. A scaled up round ought to have a similar range."

      Two thoughts:

      1. To use an 8" gun, however modified, as the main battery on a battleship is to severely underutilize the battleship's capabilities and size. A cruiser would be more appropriate for such a weapon fit.

      2. Before we go scaling up the LRLAP, recall that the round had some fundamental problems and exhorbitant costs! Besides, it was a rocket rather than a shell. If we want a rocket, we should just build a rocket launcher.

    2. Those extended range rounds like LRLAP, ERGM, ANSR, and BTERM are also 60+ inches long. 16" AP shells were 72 inches long for comparison. Ammunition handling is not going to be trivial. On the other hand, an 8" gun should be able to fire a G-hardened, saboted small diameter bomb to significant ranges. Like CNO said, I think you're probably better off with missiles if you want to go much bigger than an SDB with an extended range, boost-glide flight profile.

      In my opinion the 8" gun is probably the most versatile caliber and we'd be foolish not to include a few on a modern BB. There are not many targets that 335 pound 8" shell or gun-launched SDB can't handle, especially when you're firing them at 10 rounds per minute out of each gun. I could see a 21st century BB return to more of pre-dreadnaught armament scheme, with say three 16" guns in a triple turret, nine 8" guns in three triple turrets, and 100 or so VLS cells. Or replace the the 16" guns with SRBMs in Mark 41 or Mark 57 cells.

    3. Part of the reason for the exhorbitant cost of the LRLAP rounds was the huge decrease in the number needed. The Navy only built three Zumwalts.

      Then what would be the cost, including development, of a 16-in round? That's the comparison that needs to be made. And, as you well know, the number needed will drive the cost of each round.

    4. "In my opinion the 8" gun is probably the most versatile caliber and we'd be foolish not to include a few on a modern BB."

      It's interesting to note that the Spruance class was designed for the 8" Mk71 although that never actually happened. I wonder if a slightly enlarged Burke would make a useful 8" platform?

    5. "Part of the reason for the exhorbitant cost of the LRLAP rounds was the huge decrease in the number needed."

      That was certainly a factor. However, the LRLAP had other, technical, issues. Designing a guided, rocket boosted, round that pack a lot of electronics and still withstand the launch forces proved harder than anticipated. The round was ballooning in cost over and above the mere decrease in numbers.

      The basic structure and complexity of an unguided, unpowered 16" shell (that we've built before!) has got to make it a lot less expensive than the LRLAP, even in equal numbers.

      All that said, your point is quite valid and one we would have to keep firmly in mind. A battleship class would likely only have 4-8 members - not a lot to drive down munition costs.

    6. Even though we've done it before, industry would have relearn how to make 16-in guns and their ammunition. And even though we have better materials and manufacturing processes today, it would still be quite an undertaking.

    7. Granted, it would probably take more than one day to relearn the process. The point is that relearning a skill is easier than developing a non-existent, never before seen technique.

      We routinely manufacture 5" naval shells. Scaling up to 16" shells has to be easier than the LRLAP development, for example, which had to start from scratch.

    8. LRLAP development didn't start from scratch. While its use is new to the Navy, the Army has been using guided artillery rounds for decades. And, according to Navweaps, guided rounds were test fired from the Mark 71 in the 1970's.

      Ammunition is relatively easy to make. However, the guns they are fired from are far more difficult to manufacture and not something that can be relearned in a day. The guns would be a major development program requiring a sizeable financial investment.

  18. One of the reasons the Iowas were retired was due to the Iowa turret explosion and the way the Navy handled the investigation. The explosion itself didn't reflect well on the Navy's willingness to spend money to ensure it's weapons worked safely and effectively, and that it's sailors were adequately trained.

    So a fully automated weapon would be desirable from that standpoint. But then again, if we can't keep Aegis working (to name just one example), I question the USN's leadership's commitment to keeping it's current ships in fighting shape versus new acquisition. Note that "fighting shape" to me includes sailors.

    1. I fully agree about the lack of commitment to keeping ships and crew trained and ready.

    2. Back during the Vietnam conflict, when the battleships were being introduced, I was speaking with a WWII Navy vet, and he mentioned that he had witnessed the Missouri shelling a castle on the coast of either Japan or Okinawa, don't remember which. The 16" projectiles were ricocheting off the walls and bursting a hundred yards away.
      It might be mentioned that the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor with aircraft rather than hitting our military facilities with naval gunfire. At the time, Oahu was defended by only 4 16" guns and a smattering of various smaller artillery pieces dating back to WWI, and those were enough to keep the battleships away.

    3. "Oahu was defended by only 4 16" guns and a smattering of various smaller artillery pieces dating back to WWI, and those were enough to keep the battleships away."

      Do you have any reference to support that claim? It seems more likely that the Japanese simply took advantage of the range of their aircraft to keep their entire force safely out of range of counterattack rather than any particular fear for their battleships.

      The Japanese were far more concerned with the whereabouts and threat posed by the US carriers.

      Feel free to provide a reference and correct me if I'm wrong about that.

  19. "Had we not wasted $24B on the Zumwalts we could have easily built four battleships."

    I agree. With development costs and what not, that is a reasonable assessment.

    But, 4 ships means we could deploy 1 ship at a time. Is that the best value from that kind of investment? Instead, if we were able to field 12 heavy cruisers (9 x 8-in guns plus missiles) for the same cost, we could deploy 3 ships at a time. That would be enough to assign a heavy cruiser to each deployed amphibious assault group. That strikes me as a better value for the money.

    1. I like your idea only I would exchange ever LCS with said cruiser don't think 9 guns as necessary though 6 in two 3 gun turrets plus 48 to 56 VLS would be a very powerful ship indeed in fact the most powerful afloat

    2. "But, 4 ships means we could deploy 1 ship at a time."

      You are completely missing the idea. To be fair, so is the Navy. We are not (or should not) designing a fleet for peacetime deployments - we are building a fleet for war. In war, there are no deployments. There is no 3:1 or 4:1 model. Every ship fights as often as it can. If we build four battleships, all four will fight at the same time.

      Consider WWII, we didn't deploy the Iowas on a rotating 4:1 basis - we threw them all into the fight for the duration of the war.

      I've also demonstrated the idiocy of deployments and stated that we need to end the deployment model and convert to a mission model.

      This peacetime mentality has got to stop!

    3. "very powerful ship indeed in fact the most powerful afloat"

      This is a completely wrong design basis. We shouldn't design to "better than the other pathetic examples out there". That just means we'll have a ship that is a little better than the worst of what exists. Is that what we want? I hope not!

      We should design to what we need. If that means 2 guns or 22 guns, so be it. Let's design and build to the need.

    4. Point taken on the deployment comment. But, is there more value from 12 heavy cruisers as opposed to 4 battleships?

    5. "But, is there more value from 12 heavy cruisers as opposed to 4 battleships?"

      Well, that's a good question and the only way to answer it is to compare the capabilities of the two types to our strategic, operational, and tactical needs. That, however, is a book length analysis!

      My short answer is that we have LOTS of assets and weapons that can supply destructive effects roughly equivalent to 8" cruiser guns. Weapons such as Tomahawks, laser guided bombs, ATACMS rockets, heavy artillery, air launched cruise missiles, etc. We have little or nothing that can match the destructive effects of a battleship's 16" guns. So, yes, 4 BBs over 12 CAs seems worthwhile. I think you're off a good bit on that cost ratio but I get the conceptual nature of the question.

      So, what do you think of that way of looking at it? Do you have a different perspective?

    6. It comes down to range and ordinance delivered to the target. A round from a 16-in gun is quite powerful, but with a 20-mile range the applications are limited. You certainly wouldn't use a battleship's guns against another ship, unless it was unarmed or a minor warship. And, in that situation, smaller caliber guns would be just as effective, though more rounds might be required.

      And, against land targets, a battleship would have to get close to shore to be effective. And, that would only work in a very permissible environment with little to no chance of an enemy firing back. Not many places like that today.

      Sub-caliber rounds give you better range but with reduced ordinance delivered to the target. And, other types of ordinance, like rocket artillery might be just as effective.

      As always, there is a trade-off between range, firepower, and cost. I get the concept of a modern battleship, but given today's environement and compared to other weapons, I think a 16-in gun has limited use today.

    7. "You certainly wouldn't use a battleship's guns against another ship"

      ?????? I can't think of anything more deadly to another ship than a battleship!

    8. "And, against land targets, a battleship would have to get close to shore to be effective. And, that would only work in a very permissible environment with little to no chance of an enemy firing back."

      This goes to my overarching theme that we've completely forgotten what war is. If we're unwilling to use assets in anything other than a permissive environment then we aren't at war! In war, you have no choice but to step into harm's way. You do what you can to nudge the odds in your favor but, ultimately, war is about attrition and both sides are going to inflict and suffer damage.

      There is nothing better designed and suited to stand in harm's way than a battleship! It's ideal for moving in close and delivering massive damage while being as resistant as can be to taking damage.

    9. Most antiship missiles have 5 to 10 times the range of battleship's guns. While a modern battleship would have armor, CWIS, SeaRam, and maybe ESSM, for self-defense, its still a threat to contend with. And, whoever scores a hit first usually wins.

      And, as you pointed out below, a battleship doesn't go it alone, there are cruisers and destroyers along for protection. I simply can't imagine the Navy sending $2B Burkes that close to shore to support an amphibious assault or attack some inland target.

    10. " I simply can't imagine the Navy sending $2B Burkes that close to shore to support an amphibious assault or attack some inland target."

      Then you, like the Navy, can't imagine victory. You win by putting your firepower in range of the target and accepting that means you'll get shot at.

      The difference between a battleship and a destroyer is that a battleship has a much better chance of surviving.

      A missile's range is irrelevant. Whether it comes from ten miles away or ten thousand doesn't affect the last moments when the missile is engaged. Either we stop it or we don't and how far away it came from is irrelevant.

      We have other assets whose job it would be to suppress anti-ship missiles. Again, nothing fights in isolation. While other assets are suppressing anti-ship missiles, a battleship can inflict damage like no other asset/weapon.

      You really need to think on a larger, integrated scale because that's how battles and wars are fought. We persist in discussing these things in isolation and that's just plain wrong.

    11. First off, I'm not trying to be argumentative or combative. It's just that about about every battleship sunk during WWII was first struck with air-launched bombs and torpedoes, usually from carrier aircraft. This would be akin to today's use of long-range anti-ship missiles. And, if I can score a hit first, I have a good chance of finishing you off. While a hit from a 16-in round is devastating, its range, in my opinion, limits its usefulness.

    12. Every BB sunk was first hit by a weapon? As opposed to spontaneously sinking, that's kind of how the process works!

      You are way, way off on your historical analysis and conclusions. As a general statement, many more warships were hit and damaged but not sunk than were sunk so that statement is incorrect.

      For BBs that were sunk, most/all were doing something they shouldn't have been - operating in isolated, or nearly so, fashion without air support. Any and every ship will be sunk under those circumstances!

      The BBs that were sunk were not sunk because of any first hit, they were sunk because they were attacked repeatedly, without letup, until they were battered below the waves.

      I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make. You seem terrified of a ship taking a hit and yet there's no ship better built to take a hit than a BB. So, again, I'm unsure what point you're making. If it's that a BB that is operating in isolation without air cover can, after many, many, repeated attacks, be sunk, then you're right and anyone stupid enough to put a ship in that circumstance deserves to lose it so, yet again, what's your point?

    13. As far as range limits, every platform and weapon has limits (speed, range, destructive power, stealth, etc.) and yet we still find them useful within their limits. The same is true of a battleship. Within its limits, there is nothing more devastating. If we eliminate every platform/weapon that has limits we'll have nothing left.

  20. Some design considerations: do we put a great big radar on it? If so it can be much more powerful with longer range than what we have on Burkes. On one hand the ship would have the size and power to equip it, on the other can't armor the radar. Would be odd to have a ship heavily armored every else save a mission critical system. So integrated air and ballistic missile defense both seems a logical and illogical mission set.

    1. " do we put a great big radar on it? "

      No. Why would we? You're thinking of a battleship in isolation and that's completely wrong. A battleship isn't going to wage a one-ship war. It's going to be part of a surface task force with lots of Burke escorts which have - you got it - great big radars!

      We wouldn't put a 16" gun on a destroyer so why would we want to put a great big radar (I assume you mean Aegis) on a battleship. Let each ship do the job its best at. We fight as an integrated force so we need to stop considering platforms in isolation.

    2. If you don't fit it with a "great big radar" (Aegis) isn't the risk that the BB survival ability is irrelevant?
      One BB and three DDGs and a few smaller escorts advance, the DDGs are targeted as they have the big emitting radars and then once they are damaged or sunk the rest of the SAG then withdraws back to the CBG as without the big radars it cant realistically survive the next strike?

    3. Wait! I've got a better one. A BB, 15 carriers, and 80 Aegis DDGs advance. All the carriers and Aegis DDGs are sunk. How will the BB survive without Aegis/AMDR? You're right. That proves that the BB needs a big radar.

      If an enemy can overwhelm and sink several Aegis escorts of a BB surface group then the group was somewhere it shouldn't have been. And, if the enemy can overwhelm and sink several Aegis escorts then it really won't matter whether the BB has Aegis or not, will it?

      This is the kind of non-operational thinking that leads to trying to make every ship a win-the-war-singlehanded ship that costs a trillion dollars.

      The only reason to give a battleship, which will always be surrounded by Aegis escorts, an Aegis radar is if it will operate all by itself and that's just plain lunacy.

      That's enough of this discussion.

    4. If its always going to need to operate with Aegis ships that aren't protected with armour, why protect the "battleship" with extensive armour?
      What does the heavy protection gain you, when you could just build a smaller cheaper fast monitor to do the same role?

    5. It gains you the ability to stand in close and go toe to toe with enemy artillery, rockets, and missiles without having to run away at the first hit.

      Do you really not get this or are you just looking to argue for no reason?

    6. I'm interested but simply not sure I follow some of your logic.

      If your BB,
      - "A battleship isn't going to wage a one-ship war. It's going to be part of a surface task force with lots of Burke escorts"
      - "If an enemy can overwhelm and sink several Aegis escorts of a BB surface group then the group was somewhere it shouldn't have been."
      -"It gains you the ability to stand in close and go toe to toe with enemy artillery, rockets, and missiles without having to run away at the first hit."

      If the escorts have to be close to the battleship to defend the battleship from missile and air threats do they then not get hit as well by the artillery, rockets and missiles?

      Since the escorts are not protected and DDGs are not disposable like WWII DDs due to numbers and cost, will the group (including the undamaged well protected BB) not be forced to withdraw as soon as a few (could be as low as one or two hits due to limited number of escorts in group? 3 or 4?) of the DDGs are damaged, negating the point of protecting it at great cost?

    7. "I'm interested "

      Okay, I'll take that at face value. It seems like one possible source of confusion may be a basic understanding of modern naval tactics. Let me explain a bit.

      An Aegis escort does not need to be physically near the ship it is protecting/escorting. The Stardard missile, depending on version, has a range of hundreds of miles and a speed of Mach 3.5, or so. Thus, there is no need for a battleship escort to be physically next to the battleship. An Aegis escort can stand 10-20 miles or more off and still provide effective AAW protection. Combine that with the battleship's own short/med range self-defense AAW (ESSM/SeaRAM/CIWS) and the battleship is well protected.

      In the land attack scenario, the battleship can move close in shore (close likely meaning several miles) and stand and duel land artillery, rockets, and whatnot while being protected from cruise missiles by both its own short/med range weapons and the Aegis escort's Standards while the escort stands 1-20 miles further out, safely out of reach of any artillery.

      Further, in a land attack scenario, it is highly unlikely (borderline impossible) for the enemy to muster a massive, saturation type missile attack. The attacks would be haphazard and sporadic due to both targeting difficulties and dispersal of the attacking weapons. If the enemy did mass overwhelming numbers of weapons, that massing would be noticed by some form of reconnaissance and preemptively attacked. Again, the battleship does not fight alone. Thus, for the sporadic attacks, a battleship could probably defend itself adequately with no help but the Aegis escort simply adds further insurance.

      You need to think through the operation of a land attack. We're not going to spontaneously sail a battleship up to the enemy's coast and start shelling. Instead, it would be a multi-step, coordinated operation. We would suppress enemy air power with Tomahawk attacks on their bases, strike known concentrations of missile launchers with air/Tomahawk strikes, attack enemy radars to deny them targeting, etc. In other words, we would prepare the battlefield for a battleship to approach and do its job. If, after all that, the enemy can still mount a massive counterattack that can sink all the escorts and the battleship then we've hugely failed to do jobs on many levels and the enemy wins.

      This is just basic naval operations but it does require an understanding of how various assets interact with each other. Hopefully, this makes it easier for you to understand the scenario.

      On a related note, you might want to do some simple research and look up how many destroyers and cruisers took part in a typical Pacific island invasion. I suspect you'll be astounded since you seem to think 3-4 escorts is a lot.

    8. I'm still interested if your still willing to keep teaching me.

      1- I was assuming that most modern missile (or aircraft ?) attacks would be low level, can Aegis ships still be effective if they are that far back (10-20Nm) simply due to the curvature of the earth blocking radars?

      2- If a enemy cant muster large scale attacks are they not ether already defeated or not really a peer anyway?

      3- I agree 3-4 isn't a lot but DDGs (and CGs) are more cruisers than WWII DD both in size and number available.
      The USN only has around 90+ so realistically how many would be with each group? I was simply thinking that with 10+ CVs, 4+ of your BBs and 10+ other jobs such as protecting Amphibs or BMD you would get 4 or less for each group?

      My main thought about your battleship is just how much is it going to cost at 57,000 tons and a short production run with unique systems like the main guns?

      What would you say would be a realistic cost, how many Burkes ($1.8B) or what part of a CV (Bush $6.2B-Ford $12.9B) could you buy instead and is it worth the trade off?

      I question if its not really a ship for fighting nations that are not peers or have been already significantly degraded by Tomahawk missiles and stelth bombers? Is that really what you should buy to fight a real peer assuming that the peacetime budget will be unlikely to really buy sufficient CMs/SBs to be sure in a full peer on peer war?

    9. "curvature of the earth blocking radars?"

      You really need to study up on naval combat basics. That said, the radar horizon distance is a function of the height of the sensing platform's radar and the target's height. A ship's radar is typically around 50-100 ft high on the superstructure and anti-ship missiles fly anywhere from 10 ft (terminal approach) to hundreds/thousands of feet high (cruise and approach phase). So, depending on those two heights, the radar horizon could be as low as around 12 miles or as high as a few hundred miles. A typical ship and typical anti-ship cruise missile would produce a radar horizon of around 20 miles or so for talking purposes.

      The other factor is that ships don't operate in isolation. There would be carrier Hawkeyes, UAVs, other ships (pickets), etc. that can all contribute radar data. Thus, the effective radar horizon may be dozens to hundreds of miles thanks to sensors other than the target ship's own sensors.

      Finally, radars can detect over the horizon under some conditions due to atmospheric ducting and other phenomenon.

      Again, you really need to study the basics on all this.

    10. "If a enemy cant muster large scale attacks are they not ether already defeated or not really a peer anyway?"

      Of course a peer enemy could muster a large scale attack. However, that process does not happen instantaneously. The assembly of ships or movement of aircraft is detectable via radar, passive signals analysis, satellite surveillance, etc. When a massive attack assembling is detected, we would either counterattack or leave the area.

      Consider an amphibious assault. As part of the overall operation, we'll attack nearby airbases and ports and hit known concentrations of land based missiles, all to prevent massive counterattacks against us. Given time, the enemy could certainly bring more assets to the area but, by then, we've hopefully achieved our objectives. We don't send a single battleship up against a fully prepared enemy, as you seem to think. Instead, we conduct an integrated operation using every Air Force, Navy, and Army asset we have to suppress the entire area. This is just basic operational practice.

    11. "so realistically how many would be with each group? "

      Again, you have a misunderstanding about how warships act. A carrier group, for example, would consist of 3-4 (preferably 4) carriers and have 20 or so escorts. There would, typically only be one or two groups operating at a time. There would only ever be a single amphibious group operating (one invasion at a time!). Thus, the need for escorts is not as great as dividing the number of escorts by the number of carriers/amphibs.

      Again, basic naval combat practice.

    12. As far as costs, I've discussed this many times. Go back through the comments and posts. We can easily afford battleships if we stop wasting money on idiotic things like the LCS, Zumwalt, Ford, amphibs, and F-35.

  21. What are the objectives (missions) that can best be fulfilled with a modern battleship?

    1. Fire support - 16 inch guns can provide a level of suppression of enemy movement and destruction that is difficult if not impossible to attain with airpower.

    2. Blockade - 16 inch guns can sink all current peer naval vessels and all commercial vessels. The range of the 16 inch guns requires fewer vessels to maintain the blockade.

    3. Enemy resource depletion - A heavily armored, highly survivable, highly maneuverable battleship will be need to be a priority for enemy military planners. The resources expended on the battleship cannot sink your other ships. You would like the enemy to target the most survivable ship in your fleet. Threats will make it through and a well designed battleship should be able to take a hit and still be able to complete its mission.

    4. Diplomacy / show of force - A modern battleship would present a significant threat that could be used to avoid war.

    5. Other Missions - What missions do others think would be best fulfilled with a modern battleship?

  22. I would add one mission: to be the designated electromagnetic and acoustic transmitter, so that the ship that gives away Her position is the most armoured.

  23. Design considerations for a modern battleship.

    Cost/ease of construction -
    90% flat plate for construction.
    Some other possible benefits, efficiency, integration of missile defense system.

    Armor/self protection -
    Perforated steel armor, reduced mass, made water tight with thin cover
    Active missile defense system, scaled up for anti-ship missiles.

    1. It remains to be seen whether the various land systems and armor can be converted to ship use but it's well worth investigating.

  24. Maybe those of us who advocate for a "battleship" should abandon the term "battleship". The last classic line-of-battle engagement was a century ago at Jutland. However, the battleships still remained very valuable in new roles; mainly surface fire support and protective escort. I'm thinking our new "battleship" might really end up better described as a "battle-cruiser" or "super-cruiser". Have we been loosing the argument due to semantics rather rather than substance?

    1. I'm okay with calling it a frigate if that would help!

      Arguably, the turning point of the Guadalcanal operation was the battleship engagement involving the USS Washington! Not a classic line-of-battle but a significant engagement nonetheless.

    2. Surigao Strait was also pretty damn helpful. Had the Southern IJN force linked up with the Center force and caught task force 77 in between them, it would have been a far bloodier day.

  25. I'm thinking of a ship similar to the Alaska class super cruisers: 35k ton, 12 inch guns, and armored but not to the full extent of a battleship. 12 inch shells are about 1000 pounds and able to defeat all current ship structures and nearly all land based fortifications. For a given tonnage of ordinance, twice the number of shots for the 12 inch compared to the 16 inch, giving better ground area coverage. Any thoughts on that? The Alaskas also had a similar hull and the same propulsion machinery as the Essex class carriers. Would that be a option today: a common machinery and hull for both a mid sized conventional aircraft carrier and a 12" gun cruiser?

    1. Common machinery? Sure, if it makes engineering sense. We kind of already have that to a significant extent in that the standard/common power for ships is the LM2500 gas turbine.

      Alaska versus a battleship? That's kind of like the small carrier versus the large carrier. The small carrier/cruiser comes up short in almost every category. If we're going to spend billions on a cruiser/battleship (does anyone think that either would be cheap?) why not go all the way and make it a true battleship? There are times and places to skimp a bit on money and make compromises but a battleship, expected to go in harm's way, is not it. The battleship is the time to spend fully.

    2. Battleships were primarily designed to fight other battleships. Today, no other country has battleships. Today's big gun ship will have a slightly different mission than a traditional battleship. What is the optimum size of ship and guns for our new ship? Is bigger always better? The Navy went all out with the Ford class and got into diminishing returns. As gun size goes up, some advantages are gained while others are lost, everything is a trade off and somewhere there is an optimum sweet spot.
      We also need to take political realities into account. Navy air has a lot of clout and will go all out against anything that could threaten the aircraft carrier as the main surface capital ship. We need to be able to sell the concept as providing vital support to carrier and amphib groups.

    3. "Today's big gun ship will have a slightly different mission than a traditional battleship."

      You'll note that I stated in the fleet structure page battleship description that the main mission would be land attack. Your point is that this may necessitate a somewhat different design than the traditional battleship and I have no problem with that. If a combat analysis suggested a different design then I'd be all for it. Based on what I know, I see the traditional battleship as being well suited for the land attack role, IN THE CONOPS I ENVISION. If studies show a need for a different design that supports a valid CONOPS, I'd be all for that.

    4. "We need to be able to sell the concept as providing vital support to carrier and amphib groups."

      I could not agree more and I could not disagree more.

      You are correct that we need to be able to sell the concept. That comes from having a coherent military strategy and strong operational plans.

      The risk is that we modify the needed design too much in order to be able to sell the concept. This path leads to the LCS - it was modified a thousand different ways to make it easy to sell and, as a result, wound up being useless.

      Selling a concept is easy IF THE CONCEPT IS VALID. Problems arise when we try to sell a concept that is flawed, like the LCS.

  26. I think we agree way more than we disagree. I would hate to see our big gun ship go the way of the LCS, Zumwalt, Ford, or F35. However, I'd prefer a good design that actually goes into service over a best design that never leaves the drawing board.

    One weapon where I would go larger is the secondary battery. Drop the 5 inch in favor of a 155mm firing NATO standard ammo: gives more range and power, still small enough for close in work, common ammo with Army and Marine Corps (and allied country's armies), and artillery forward observers are very familiar with the capabilities of the 155mm.

    1. "I'd prefer a good design that actually goes into service over a best design that never leaves the drawing board."

      Fortunately, in this case, a fictional fleet, I don't have to choose between good and best. I can go with best! In the real world, if Congress/Navy offered a heavy cruiser design but not a battleship, I'd jump on it!

      As far as armament, I'm sticking with the standard 5" because it already exists. Now, if someone wanted to make a naval 155 mm gun I'd be just fine with it. I know, that kind of contradicts my previous statement about fictional and good/best but, hey, I'm going with fictional reality. How's that for an odd mix?

      Regarding a 155 mm, the base ranges are nearly identical. The M777 howitzer firing the M107 shell has a range of 14.9 miles. The base 5"/62 gun with standard shell has a range of around 14.7 miles. The M777 with Excalibur round has a range of 25 miles and the 5" with aborted ERGM claimed 60+ miles. So, both have similar base ranges and extended ranges with specialized rounds. The base 6"/155 probably has a bit more explosive effect, all else being equal.

      The short of it is that I don't see any great advantage to the 155 that would justify developing a brand new naval version over the 5".

      What specific advantage, if any, do you see?

    2. You're comparing a short barrel 155mm to a long barrel 5 inch. The M777 has a barrel length of 5.08 meter, making it a 155mm/33. That is more comparable to the old 5"/38 which gives the M777 a nearly 50% range advantage. The Army is testing out a much longer barreled version with longer range that would be a more direct comparison to the 5"/62. Long barrels are difficult to maneuver on land but not such a big problem a ship. The Army has done very extensive testing and development of the 155mm which is one of their main sources of firepower (other than calling in Air Force A-10's and B-52's). I'd guess the Navy has not done a much with the 5 inch because missiles have become the Navy's preferred source of firepower. Secondary battery would come into primary use when our ground forces are ashore and closing on the enemy. Army and Marine Corps FO's are very familiar with what the 155mm can do: what it can do to the enemy and how close they can safely call in shots near their own people. Once ground forces get their own artillery ashore, we can share ammo with them if they start to run low.

    3. Commonality of rounds between naval and ground forces is a factor although I suspect it would be much more important in negotiating purchase prices than any actual sharing of munitions. In fact, I can't recall ever reading about the US sharing munitions between naval and ground forces. Of course, it's hard to share when the systems are not common!

      I have no doubt that the Army will develop a much longer ranged 155. My point is that the Navy already has that in the form of the 5"/ERGM, if they choose to put it into production. So, there's not a lot to be gained.

      Regarding the Army's familiarity with the 155 and how that relates to calling for fire support from the Navy, the Army/Navy has trained, dedicated "spotters" (to use the old term) that deploy with ground forces and whose job it is to be familiar with naval weapon effects and employment so I don't see that as an issue.

      Again, if someone wants to pursue the 155 for naval use, I'm fine with it. I just don't see any significant advantage but neither do I see an significant drawback.

  27. As to what size main battery, I'm not finding data to back up any conclusion. There's lots of old published data on different size battleship guns on battleship armor. That doesn't help when our focus is land targets. There's lots of data on what ships how many rounds of whatever size shells in support of ground operations, but not comparing the effectiveness of different sizes relative to each other. It would also be useful to compare dirt, sand, and concrete.

    1. Agree. We also need to recognize what type(s) of fire support we need. The US military has moved (unwisely) away from area bombardment to precision munitions. Precision munitions are fine for discreet, identifiable, and targetable targets. However, as seen in WWII, the vast majority of targets are not easily seen, identified, and targeted. That's where area bombardment and suppressive fires comes in. Currently, the Navy has no area/suppressive fire capability unless it wants to use $1M-$2M Tomahawks!

  28. Got to say, this was a rather naive thread. Ok, so your battleship is protected by aegis, so all the opposing carrier has to do is maintain the distance between it and the battleship, and wait till its cruisers run out of missiles. If the counter to that is that the crusiers or battleship can engage with long distance missiles, then that is an argument for missile destroyers or cruisers, not battleships, unless it's a battleship mainly devoted to carrying missiles. The only thing that will change this eauation is laser technology, which I believe you failed to mentio, but even that would only solve the survivability issue, not the range issue.

    1. You're presenting an incredibly sophomoric argument and scenario. Naval combat is not about isolated, one versus one situations. We can always concoct a scenario where the platform of interest is at a disadvantage. That doesn't invalidate the platform. It just means that the wise commander recognizes that he has many assets to work with and he will pick those that best accomplish the job.

      To use your scenario, all the battleship has to do is maintain contact with the carrier and wait for a friendly sub or cruise missile or AF bomber or whatever comes along and sinks the carrier, at leisure.

      Seriously, try to think about the larger picture. Try to assess the attributes of a battleship group as applied to many, many combat scenarios. Any such reasonable assessment can't help but conclude that battleships would be enormously useful. Secondary concerns like cost, manning, construction priorities, alternative platforms, etc. might suggest that despite their usefulness, battleships aren't warranted (although the post just went through most of those arguments and debunked them) and that is, theoretically valid but to concoct a single scenario where a battleship might not be the ideal solution is disingenuous, to say the least.

      Elevate your analytical skills!

  29. I've thought about this quite a few times. I've read that after WWII the US Navy had an advantage in keeping their ships current because the destroyers we had built were physically large. They were large hulls able to accommodate cold-war era electronics and weaponry.

    This is how we should view the Iowa class battleships. They are great big, tough, armored hulls and superstructures that can easily accommodate modern weapon systems.

    The arguments against them don't seem very strong to me.
    -They will use up too many sailors. As the article stated, if you remove the obsolete 5" guns and boiler propulsion systems you eliminate much of the needed manpower.

    -The 16" guns don't have enough range. I probably would only keep the A and B turrets, maybe only the A. And with the advances in artillery technology imagine what could be done with those 16" guns; sub-munitions, sabot rounds, rocket assisted projectiles, laser or GPS targeting. Think about how devastating a 16" guided round would be on the unfortunate target.

    -They are vulnerable to cavitating torpedoes. True, but isn't that the case with every surface warship? That argument implies that the entire surface fleet should be moth-balled.

    -A potential enemy can switch warheads to attack the thick steel armor. OK, then make them do it. Make them have two different warheads and decide which ships to shoot them at.

    So what to do with the Iowa's? I would remove all the 5" guns. They serve little purpose now. For close in defense (like in the Gulf) I would have a rapid firing 3" gun on each side mid-ship.

    I would remove the C turret (and possible the B also). The large fantail would be for sub-hunting helicopters. If torpedoes are a major threat, then use that area to of the ship to contribute to the battle groups submarine defenses.

    I would also rip out the steam boiler system and replace it with a dual nuclear reactor system like on the USS Ford. This would also provide the electrical power needed for the modernized weapon systems.

    Then I would install a sophisticated radar system. Maybe Aegis, maybe something more survivable that could integrate with an Aegis cruiser and compliment its capabilities.

    I would then use the large areas still available to put every possible combination of offensive and defensive missile system that would fit, along with close-in anti-missile guns.

    To complete the Iowa's battle-group I would deploy a small aircraft carrier. Its primary weapon system would be stealth attack drones.
    It would also have manned anti-submarine helicopters and a drone versions of AWACS (so I don't worry about losing crew when they get shot down).

    These small carriers would be armored, but with a modern laminate type. This would give the enemy a third warhead type to deploy against the battlegroup, unarmored destroyers, frigates, and guided missile cruiser, laminate armored small carrier, and steel armored battleship.

    That battlegroup would serve as a nice compliment to our current carrier battlegroups.


Comments will be moderated for posts older than 7 days in order to reduce spam.