Oliver North on the battleships

Save the Battlewagons


During the 1981-1988 Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollahs running Tehran decided that the best way to influence the outcome of the conflict was to attack western oil tankers transiting the Persian Gulf — through which passes 20 percent of the world’s oil. The U.S. responded by beefing up the 5th Fleet — and deploying the USS Iowa. The battleship’s captain, Larry Sequist described the effectiveness of the 45,000-ton armored behemoth: “When we would sail the Iowa down the Strait of Hormuz, all southern Iran would go quiet. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were steaming around in boats with rockets, shooting at ships. When we arrived, all of that stuff stopped.”

I’d be willing to ditch the dreadnoughts if we had a different shore bombardment platform available. How about a four-ship class of monitors with two or three 8″ guns? I’d almost be willing to go with a ship armed with the Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) of the DD(X)s as long as it was decently armored and carried enough ammunition.

As I’ve said many times, I’m not proposing that we go and reactivate the BBs, though I wouldn’t be all that opposed to getting at least one of them processing so that it would be available for any Iran situations that may arise. But to get rid of these permanently without any replacement ever coming and even the first DD-1000 ships six years off is really asking for trouble.


  1. So basically, we will put all our efforts into fighting a war in the Persian Gulf?’ It would also be useful for preventing a war between China and Taiwan. It might also be useful off the coast of Somalia, that place is surrounded by water. It might also be useful if North Korea has a fit. Much of their infrastructure is close to water too. What other global trouble spots do you think will flare up? Surely you should be building weapon systems to fight wars which are likely to break out? How else do you decide what’s necessary? Oh yeah I forgot, all through the cold war you were building weapons to fight off Botswana, just in case they got too big for their boots.

  2. Sorry for the unwieldy link, but if you open this pdf file and scroll down, you will see an interesting picture of the testing of a ‘navalized’ 155mm howitzer on a German frigate. The document is all in German. It is about a frigate project that would include the fitting of a howitzer or MLRS as an optional feature. That won-

  3. Skrip, it costs a lot to do something new, but it doesn’t cost that much. What they are doing is the same thing the USAF has done. They are using stealth to justify cost, and it doesn’t do that. They costs go up far out of proportion. In the Navy’s case, the stealth aspect of those ships is laughable. Look at the difference between the DDX designs and the Sea Shadow or any stealth airplane design. You don’t have to know a lot about stealth to see a very significant difference in the lines. For them to pedal that kind trash as a stealthy, reduced crew complement vehicle, when neither of those aspects has any relationship to reality is inexcusable. Then they charge us an arm an a leg for it. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll take the battleship option. It works as advertised and has a place in a current conflict.

  4. IMO – The biggest problem with the DD(X) is that it does not have a mission. So every ‘hot’ idea that comes down the pike is added to the spec sheet. Even if it contradicts other specs. Such as the X band radar and stealth. AGS and stealth. Reduced crew on a multi-mission ship using untested technology… IMO – Stealth on a ship is waste of time and money unless you have a specific mission for it. The Arsenal ship – is a ship that should have high stealth. In general size and stealth are contradictions in terms. The DD(X) in particular is ‘stealthy’ in the sense that it will have a smaller RCS then current ships, but is it stealthy enough to enable the ship function in a high threat environment? No. Nor is it armed and armored to be effective in aysemtric warefare. Nor is it equiped for performing raider functions. Nor does it contain sufficent firepower to act alone. If the DD(X) is ever built – its going to be parked in two places. 1) off North Korea on Anti-IBM patrol. 2) Off the port bow of the newest carrier.

  5. Yeah, F-22 is the same way. They couldn’t decide what they wanted it to do, so they made it do everything. They could have developed the whole airplane for the cost of the radar development. And what the hell good is a monster radar in a stealth anything? With the big ships it is much harder to hide them. Look at the tolerance issue. If you want to hold 1/8th wave tolerances on a ship that means everything lines up to within 0.1 inches. 1/4 wave is 0.2. Now try to hold that tolerance over 200 feet. Look at those masts and all the appendages on the DDX. How much do you think we pay to get all those surfaces to line up just so? For what? You’ve got a thousand yards of edges, not to mention other features that can make it stand out like a lighthouse. If they want a stealth ship, build a stealth ship. Don’t halfass it. Otherwise, build a regular ship and get the costs in line.