Why do modern warships look so top-heavy?


The caption reads

The guided missile cruiser Vella Gulf (CG 72) heels to port prior to conducting a refueling in the Mediterranean Sea with the carrier George Washington (CVN 73) on Tuesday. The cruiser, part of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group, departed its homeport of Norfolk, Va., with the George Washington, the destroyer Bulkeley (DDG 84), the fast combat support ship Supply (T-AOE 6) and the Canadian patrol frigate Toronto (FFH 333) on Jan. 20 for a routine deployment.

Maybe it’s just me, but I always get the feeling that a strong gust could capsize some of the modern ships, especially the cruisers. (via Frontline Photos on Army Times – Feb 5, 2004)


  1. I spent two years on one of these ships. They’re cruisers built on a destroyer hull, and they tried to pack WAAAY too much into the package. The original design was a little too top heavy, so they actually had to modify the main mast from the standard four-legged model to the current tripod. Every time they add something new, they have to carefully re-calibrate the center of gravity. There are lead weights added in strategic points in the engineering spaces to maintain proper balance. But it’s not as bad as it looks — most of the really heavy stuff is below the main deck. The high superstructure contains very little in the way of heavy machinery. The bridge swayed like a roller coaster in heavy seas…

  2. As an old sea dog I’d say the Vella Gulf is keeling like that because the ship came in full steam for the Skipper to spin the wheel and hit hard astern., the white foam at an angle to the track indicates that. This causes any boat to plunge over the keel. It’s probably taken during a sea-worthiness test. Salty greetings