Still battling over the battlewagons

A reader tipped me off to this story by Robert Novak: Marines vs. Military-Industrial Complex:


The U.S. Navy’s last two battleships appeared in December 2005 to have seen their final combat, on their way to being museum pieces. That’s not necessarily so. A decision to be made on Capitol Hill this week will determine whether the USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin are ready for a possible naval confrontation in the Persian Gulf with Iran.

Advocates of maintaining the World War II-vintage warships as troop-support firing platforms fell short nine months ago in efforts to block a provision in the Defense Department authorization bill sending the vessels to museums. Overlooked then was the bill’s conference report requiring that the battle wagons be returned to active duty if the president declares a national emergency. But they will be useless relics unless this year’s Defense authorization prohibits changes in the battleships that “would impair their military utility.”

I thought this was a dead horse. But, hey! Still time to get a few kicks in!

At issue in the conference to resolve Senate and House differences on the authorization bill (continuing to meet this week) is language in the House Armed Services Committee report. It would require that the battleships “must not be altered in any way that would impair their military utility” and “must be preserved in their present condition.”

The potential to use the battleships in a “show of force” against Iran is called a main reason to keep them around. While I’m a bit skeptical that it’s a good idea to retire them old ladies, I sure don’t think that refitting and crewing them in time to avert a potential war with Iran is going to happen.

Speaking of old battleships: Murdoc is going to be taking the Hard Hat Tour of the USS Texas (BB 35) on October 14th. If you’re in the area, stop by and we’ll go crawling through areas of the ship normally closed to the public. Let me know if you’ll be there.


  1. Reactivation will never happen. The GAO already reported that the USN wont even initiate the studies into reactivation costs. Because those studies will cost valuable dollars.

  2. A friend of mine who works for the state department told me years ago that the Marines have a lot of clout on Capital Hill. His opinion was they were the only branch of the services with any credibility left. I don’t know if they’ve dissipated it all on the V-22, but if they haven’t, they’ll get what they want. They stood up to Boeing and got their VTOL version of the JSF.

  3. Maybe skrip, after all there is not much extra money around with the DD(X) so far over budget. On the other hand ‘never say never’.

  4. I just came across this Oliver North op-ed on saving the BB’s, dated 9/14. I though he made a lot of good point about their past usefullness, iran, and the DC politics.,15202,113659,00.html (also put same link in my name)

  5. The reason they wont reactivate them is that the Airdale Admirals wont let them. you put a Carrier and a Battleship on the same pier and open both up to the public, 80% will go to the BB its as simple as that. As for crewing, you have only 2 ratings on the Battleship that can’t be upgraded with non-manpower intensive technology. the 16′ turrets and the engines. The Sacramento class used the same power plants and they where only retired a couple years back so finding personnel with that knowledge wont be to hard. As for the guns, those you will have to hunt around some but, I know they would volunteer free of charge to help train a new generation.

  6. Maybe skrip, after all there is not much extra money around with the DD(X) so far over budget. On the other hand ‘never say never’. There is always money. Besides which, the USN has developed alot of systems and designs that will be used on CG(X), LCS, and even CVN(X). So its not just a ‘one-ship’ deal.

  7. A new blue-destroyer may be a good idea, but there is not ‘always money’. Furthermore the DD(X) and its related programs have had cost over-runs and tech failure galore. Remember that the DD(X) in current form a much scaled back version of the DD21. Why? Because the congress slashed the DD21 budget. They also cancelled the arsenal ship, which was supposed to be the ‘real’ replacement for the BB’s.