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Future of the Battleship

This is a discussion on Future of the Battleship within the Navy & Maritime forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; I just got finished watching the trailer for the movie Battleship and I got to wonderring, is there a place ...


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Old March 22nd, 2012   #1
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Future of the Battleship

I just got finished watching the trailer for the movie Battleship and I got to wonderring, is there a place for the Battleship in today's navy? With its big guns and imposing size it is a potent phsycological tool for amphibious landings and modern day targeting systems can put its missiles and shells anywhere within its range. But the Battleship is still a weapon of yesterday that can be attacked successfully with modern weapons. So tell me is the Battleship done or does it have a future?
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #2
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I just got finished watching the trailer for the movie Battleship and I got to wonderring, is there a place for the Battleship in today's navy? With its big guns and imposing size it is a potent phsycological tool for amphibious landings and modern day targeting systems can put its missiles and shells anywhere within its range. But the Battleship is still a weapon of yesterday that can be attacked successfully with modern weapons. So tell me is the Battleship done or does it have a future?
It's done, it's toast, it was over and ended in the 1930's.
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #3
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Railgun technology may change things a little. In theory, a railgun launcher can be more efficient than a standard missile launcher as seen on modern cruisers and destroyers, and we're talking ranges (for ordinary shells without additional boost motors) in the 200~400 mile envelope. Park a nuclear-powered railgun monitor over the horizon, have it lob stealthed shells for precision decapitation strikes on the enemy's HQ...or throw ABMs against the enemy's own strike warheads...
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #4
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Railgun technology may change things a little. In theory, a railgun launcher can be more efficient than a standard missile launcher as seen on modern cruisers and destroyers, and we're talking ranges (for ordinary shells without additional boost motors) in the 200~400 mile envelope. Park a nuclear-powered railgun monitor over the horizon, have it lob stealthed shells for precision decapitation strikes on the enemy's HQ...or throw ABMs against the enemy's own strike warheads...
But using railgun technology does not involve a large battleship of 30k tons displacement either. If large battleships were still modern, a nation would have built some since the Korean War. None have.
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #5
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It's done, it's toast, it was over and ended in the 1930's.
I'd have gone with early '40s


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Railgun technology may change things a little. In theory, a railgun launcher can be more efficient than a standard missile launcher as seen on modern cruisers and destroyers, and we're talking ranges (for ordinary shells without additional boost motors) in the 200~400 mile envelope. Park a nuclear-powered railgun monitor over the horizon, have it lob stealthed shells for precision decapitation strikes on the enemy's HQ...or throw ABMs against the enemy's own strike warheads...
I'm gunna go with Sea Toby on this one, the sign that no major battleships have been built for a while now is a pretty clear signal.

After all, wasn't the idea of the Zumwalt class destroyer brought about to bring back the massive NGFS capability the USN had with the Iowas (if i'm wrong, please correct)? If there was any place in a modern navy for battleships i'd have thought the US would have considered them rather than forking out for the Zumwalt.

Although i do recall reading about something to do with potentially putting railguns on them, whether it's legitimate or something i've made up i can't remember.
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #6
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the Arsenal ship is in my opinion the logical progression of the idea of the battleship, that is, a heavy ship with an emphasis on strike capability; however, I feel the SSGN Ohio's are the most practical and prudent applications of the Arsenal ship concept as it removes the vulnerability of a large surface combatant while retaining the incredible strike capability of many cruise missiles

so I feel that yes, battleships do exist in today's Navy and they're called SSGNs
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #7
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I'd have gone with early '40s




I'm gunna go with Sea Toby on this one, the sign that no major battleships have been built for a while now is a pretty clear signal.

After all, wasn't the idea of the Zumwalt class destroyer brought about to bring back the massive NGFS capability the USN had with the Iowas (if i'm wrong, please correct)? If there was any place in a modern navy for battleships i'd have thought the US would have considered them rather than forking out for the Zumwalt.

Although i do recall reading about something to do with potentially putting railguns on them, whether it's legitimate or something i've made up i can't remember.
Although most navies continued to build battleships into the late 30s/early 40s, if they had the benefit of hindsight, only the most foolish would have built any. I don't think anyone would swap a KGV class with a Ark Royal (actually more like 2).

However if we think of a large modern missle cruiser, then maybe £ for £ they could rival a carrier (including aircraft costs)?
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #8
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the Arsenal ship is in my opinion the logical progression of the idea of the battleship, that is, a heavy ship with an emphasis on strike capability; however, I feel the SSGN Ohio's are the most practical and prudent applications of the Arsenal ship concept as it removes the vulnerability of a large surface combatant while retaining the incredible strike capability of many cruise missiles

so I feel that yes, battleships do exist in today's Navy and they're called SSGNs
The following assumes that the OP is talking about the classic idea of a battleship.

If anything, that to me shows why battleships DON'T have a place in a modern navy.

Battleships were - by definition - extremely large, well armoured and well armed surface ships, you take away the surface ship component and you don't really have a battleship anymore (in my eyes), you just have a submarine (a design and concept which unlike that of the battleship has flourished in the modern navy of today)
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #9
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The following assumes that the OP is talking about the classic idea of a battleship.

If anything, that to me shows why battleships DON'T have a place in a modern navy.

Battleships were - by definition - extremely large, well armoured and well armed surface ships, you take away the surface ship component and you don't really have a battleship anymore (in my eyes), you just have a submarine (a design and concept which unlike that of the battleship has flourished in the modern navy of today)
Maybe the SSGN conversions are stretching it a bit, but the arsenal ship concept is nearer what the battleships ended up doing; land attack/shore bombardment. So maybe they would be replacement to monitors not battleships.
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #10
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While Battleships seem cool (and they were) they are ancient history. Their purpose has been replaced by mostly aircraft with more accurate weapons and capabilities.

There is a wiki article on it and how some get ideas to bring back guns on ships and then someone remembers that we have these cool things called aircraft and how much more effective they are.

The railgun was designed to cut costs on firing missiles.

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Old March 22nd, 2012   #11
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Oh, there's definitely room for a gun armed surface combatant - I'd like to have seen the DDG-1000 succeed by being more focussed. But that's not a battleship. If we're fudging the definition of battleship to mean something else entirely that can blow stuff up from a long way away, then go the logical mile and say that functionally the aircraft carrier is therefore the new battleship.

I chose my date of the mid thirties as by then, Mitchell had demonstrated finding and sinking a battleship in the open sea, and the technology of torpedo bombers had matured to provide the level of capability that brought us the Tarranto raid - the aircraft and weapons were present and proven by the mid thirties.

Sticking a better gun on a missile cruiser or destroyer does not make it a battleship.
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #12
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Battleships were - by definition - extremely large, well armoured and well armed surface ships, you take away the surface ship component and you don't really have a battleship anymore (in my eyes), you just have a submarine (a design and concept which unlike that of the battleship has flourished in the modern navy of today)
I feel that three criteria define any ship: its size, its defenses , and its role, which for battleships were large, armored, strike and antisurface respectively

by the definitions above I still feel the SSGNs are today's best examples of the good ol' battleships as they are large, have the stealth only a submarine can provide as its defense, and have an immense strike capability. Surely, they are submarines and not surface ships, but again I feel that is more a credit to stealth as a defense instead of being a giant armored target for missles, bombs, torpedoes or what have you that battleships would be in today's threat environment. Look at the Kirovs, arguably the best example of a modern battleship in service. They're big and expensive to operate and require escorts further adding to their cost

OTOH we have the Zumwalts which are certainly large surface combatants with an emphasis on land attack, but they strike me as too similar to the Kirov's in that they're large expensive surface combatants that are either too vulnerable on their own or too costly to operate if deployed with escorts.

In closing, battleships in and of themselves would be too expensive to operate, its roles are done better or more efficiently by other assets, and too vulnerable. Three strikes and they're out!

Last edited by PO2GRV; March 22nd, 2012 at 06:09 PM. Reason: clarification/content
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #13
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I feel that three criteria define any ship: its size, its defenses , and its role, which for battleships were large, armored, strike and antisurface respectively

by the definitions above I still feel the SSGNs are today's best examples of the good ol' battleships as they are large, have the stealth only a submarine can provide as its defense, and have an immense strike capability. Surely, they are submarines and not surface ships, but again I feel that is more a credit to stealth as a defense instead of being a giant armored target for missles, bombs, torpedoes or what have you that battleships would be in today's threat environment. Look at the Kirovs, arguably the best example of a modern battleship in service. They're big and expensive to operate and require escorts further adding to their cost

OTOH we have the Zumwalts which are certainly large surface combatants with an emphasis on land attack, but they strike me as too similar to the Kirov's in that they're large expensive surface combatants that are either too vulnerable on their own or too costly to operate if deployed with escorts.

In closing, battleships in and of themselves would be too expensive to operate, its roles are done better or more efficiently by other assets, and too vulnerable. Three strikes and they're out!
Well I'm not sure a modern Ohio SSGN build would be much cheaper than a modern Kirov type (particularly if not nuclear powered).

If you compare the cost of an aircraft carrier & aircraft. I don't know how they would stake up but if you say 10 of these modern battleships v 1 carrier?

Say 20,000t, an Aegis/PAAMS and say 200 silos (150 cruise missiles, rest defensive),. It could easily fit 2-4 big helicopter, a couple of 155mm guns, maybe even a dock for small craft.
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Old March 22nd, 2012   #14
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Well I'm not sure a modern Ohio SSGN build would be much cheaper than a modern Kirov type (particularly if not nuclear powered).
If you compare the cost of an aircraft carrier & aircraft. I don't know how they would stake up but if you say 10 of these modern battleships v 1 carrier?.
i think you're forgetting that a SSGN needs no escorts unlike a Kirov, and though the OHIO SSGNs in the USN still run Blue/Gold crews which contribute to high personnel costs, I feel it is more out of habit from OHIO SSBN operations and less from the operational needs of the boats. I'll concede the fact that there are so few of them being a factor to the blue/gold choice aswell

As for aircraft carriers, we allow that they give us so much more capability far beyond the massive strike potential of a SSGN; ASW, ASuW, AWACS, COD, CAP, CAS, etc etc etc which justify the higher costs of operation. Yet, again you're ignoring escorts, which even though we concede the extra costs as justifiable for aircraft carriers, a SSGN requires none

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Say 20,000t, an Aegis/PAAMS and say 200 silos (150 cruise missiles, rest defensive),. It could easily fit 2-4 big helicopter, a couple of 155mm guns, maybe even a dock for small craft.
I will preface my next statement with the disclaimer that I am by no means part of the "why do we need surface ships when subs can do everything better" camp (at all) but what you propose strikes me as one helluva target if you operated it on its own, or mighty expensive if deployed with a proper escort
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Old March 23rd, 2012   #15
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I think it has a future capabilty wise but not financially.i'm sure with modern technologies you could make a devestating ship but the nearest anyones going to get to it is the zumwalt class destroyers(unfortunately).I was looking on google maps and noticed that the USS missouri still has its tomahawk launchers on it even though they call it a museum.It would be nice for the RN to build 2 land attack cruisers to go with the CV's that their building making sure they have the firepower to properly back the cv's up
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