I noticed this a while back, but the article was subscription-only and I was hoping that more info would come out from public sources. Hasn’t happened, so I’ll point out a DefenseTech post from May 25th that quotes part of the DefenseNews article.
The last two IOWAs, the WISCONSIN and the IOWA herself, will be disposed of in the Senate’s version of the 2006 appropriations bill. This will leave the US Navy with no battleships available.
They will be replaced (more or less) by the new DD(X) destroyers. Though these ships are called ‘destroyers’, they’re far more powerful (relatively speaking) than destroyers of old.
Maybe reclassification of ship types is in order?
In any event, the DD(X)s will cost $5 billion each for the first few copies. That’s a lot of green for a destroyer, and reclassifying it as cruiser won’t change the financial impact these new ships are going to have on the fleet. As the Strategy Page article I linked to indicates, the new Littoral Combat Ships will apparently come in at around $250 million each, and these LCSs will probably contribute more to the type war we’re likely to be fighting during the next decade than the blue water heavies (besides the carriers). Dropping one DD(X) would allow 5-8 additional LCSs.
However, we need to keep a larger perspective and realize that every mission the Navy is called on to perform won’t be like those they’re called on to perform today.
I’m loving the modular LCS and it’s smaller cousin. But we will continue to need bigger ships as well. And maybe even a big-gun battleship. Besides their 16-inch guns, the WW2 battleships have other advantages. As a reader notes
If the bombers that blew up the Cole had hit the Iowa, I would be all for spending the 25 bucks for the can of touch up paint.
I’m not really lobbying to keep the battlewagons in reserve, though I can see why doing so might be a good idea. The manpower-intensive requirements of a battleship work against it, of course, and the fact that they’re sixty years old (though much of that has been spent in mothballs)won’t help.
Also, why was the IOWA kept in reserve while two of her sisters were retired? I seem to recall that turret two was never fully repaired after one gun blew up in 1989. If the ship itself is in better condition than the two that were retired (the MISSOURI and the NEW JERSEY), I guess they could ‘just’ pull a turret from one of them to replace the one on the IOWA if needed. More likely, though, everyone knew that there was no way in Hades that the ship would ever be reactivated and therefore it didn’t matter if it was fully functional or not.
And as for reclassifying the fleet, what does everyone think of that? Has it ever really been discussed? Wouldn’t it make sense to have a full array of battleships, battlecruisers, cruisers, destroyers, and frigates based on capabilities and mission?