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Subject: USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust
Heorot    12/29/2005 3:43:24 PM
A sad day but apparently a boost to the DD(X). http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/20/AR2005122001445.html
 
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Galrahn    RE:USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust   12/29/2005 4:06:27 PM
I know it has been discussed again and again and again, but this is good for the US Navy in my opinion. The age of big, tall, bulky, slow, overly offensive with limited defensive surface combatants has been over for awhile. Battleships were the greatest class of surface combatants afloat for a century, but the technology growth that made them survivable for so long has now made them obsolete.
 
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Heorot    RE:USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust   12/29/2005 4:43:45 PM
?The age of big, tall, bulky, slow, overly offensive with limited defensive surface combatants has been over for awhile.? Actually you are wrong here on a couple of points. First, these ships are not slow. Their design speed is 33knots, around the same as an Arleigh Burke. And quite capable of keeping up with a CVN battle group. Secondly, they are more survivable in the face of missile attack than modern warships. Any anti-ship missile getting through to hit a modern warship is going to cause a bucket load of grief, as demonstrated by the Exocet that hit Sheffield. Its unlikely that any anti-ship missile will be able to do any serious damage to one of these ships given that they were supposed to be able to resist 16inch shells weighing 2,700 pounds. A good description of the armour can be found here: http://www.battleship.org/html/Articles/IowaClass/Armor.htm Here?s the spec for the final version of these ships: To help reach the target of a 600-ship navy in the 1980s,all four were re-commissioned 1982?88 as cruise missile carriers, with secondary battery reduced to 12-5 inch 38, but with 8 x 4 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 4 x 4 Harpoon SSM, as well as 4 Mark 15 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems. Further plans for greatly increased missile batteries and facilities for VSTOL aircraft (with removal of No 3 turret) were not realised. The main air search radar was an SPS-49 forwards, with LAMPS data link antennas above it, and satellite antenna and SLQ-32 countermeasures just below the forward main battery director (Mark 13). New Jersey was again reactivated 28 December 1982 to 08 February 1991, Iowa 28 April 1984 to 26 October 1990, while Missouri was recommissioned 10 May 1986 to 31 March 1992 and Wisconsin 22 October 1988 to 30 September 1991, all modernization was done at Avondale Shipyards in Louisiana, under a subcontract from Ingalls. The real reason for the final decommissioning is, I believe, down to the cost and difficulty of crewing them. The original crew size was 1921 men.
 
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Yimmy    RE:USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust   12/29/2005 5:02:14 PM
I don't think the grounds are cost, 1.4 million dollars is peanuts. The amount of crew required to operate them is likely to be a major factor however. As for their survivability, I think they are at greater risk to current day anti-ship missiles than modern day frigates and destroyers. The days of avoiding damage by enemy action by largely passive means are over, these days active protection is needed. You want to get rid of the missile threat before it hits you, with ECM, decoys, CIWS's and stealth. Stealth is where the Battleships hae the largets nail in their coffin. Whereas a SS-N-22 supersonic anti-ship missile would likely fail to score a hit on a modern frigate, it would be hard for it to miss an Iowa. A 16 inch shell is not in the same league at 4000kg's of missile hitting you at mach 2.5. I do agree that structural integrity is important, and here battleships excell. However, just as the armour design of WWI Dreadnaughts was of little use in WWII, I don't think the armour design of WWII Battleships is of much use in the 21st Century. Also, Battleships portray a bit of an invincible image which simply is not true. An Italian WWII Battleship was sunk by a lone German anti-ship missile, while HMS Royal Oak(?) was sunk by I believe a single torpedo.
 
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fitz    RE:USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust   12/29/2005 5:04:20 PM
"Secondly, they are more survivable in the face of missile attack than modern warships. Any anti-ship missile getting through to hit a modern warship is going to cause a bucket load of grief, as demonstrated by the Exocet that hit Sheffield. Its unlikely that any anti-ship missile will be able to do any serious damage to one of these ships given that they were supposed to be able to resist 16inch shells weighing 2,700 pounds." Not true at all. For one, with their high signatures and almost non-existant self-defence capabilities a battleship on its own becomes little more than a missile sponge. In the company of "soft-skinned" escorts the armour becomes irrelevant as the soft-skins are now exposed to a greater threat. Then there are the dual problems of the Iowa's armour being totally irrelevant to the needs of missile warfare. The deck (the part most likely to be hit by a missile) is too thin to stop most and the belt is irrelevant. No missile is ever going to hit it - that's not where they aim.
 
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Galrahn    RE:USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust   12/29/2005 5:37:57 PM
I am aware the design speed was 33 knots, but they are not the same ships they were 50 years ago. The USS Wisconson top speed in 1991 for the Gulf War was 29 knots. Cruise speed is 15 knots, 5 knots slower than the cruise speed of modern escorts. The Iowa was in worse shape though, they never determined or rather explained why the Iowa couldn't go more than 26 knots, but it cruised just fine at 15. I am not bashing the BBs, they are and were great ships for 5 decades, but time has passed them by. Naval survival today means being able to survive a fight, not survive a hit. The only defense for 1900 crew against the modern weapon of choice, the Anti-Surface Missile is 4 CIWS, that simply doesn't get it done by todays standards. The debate isn't whether they still have the potential to carry large quantities of weapons, carrying firepower has been the Battleships role since the Great White Fleet. THe Navy doesn't need ships for this role though, Sea Fighter with a crew of less than 50 can carry 7x more firepower than the Battleships, and if the AGS rail gun system ever hits the market, it can literally carry 5x more missiles and provide the same gun firepower at longer range and reduced cost. Launch platforms are easy to build, or in the BBs case, replace. If the Navy wants a launch platform, they know they can do it safer and cheaper, but a simple launch platform doesn't have a place in the US Navy today, whether it is the Sea Fighter or the USS Iowa.
 
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Arbalest    RE:USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust   12/29/2005 7:52:03 PM
I think that Heorot?s supposition that the cost of crewing the Iowa class ships is a large part of the reason for decomissioning them. I suspect that the cost of refurbishing them, at least their power plants, is prohibitive, and is another major factor. Then there?s the question of efficiency. The Iowas are a very inefficient way to utilize 1900 men, or launch Tomahawks, even though there are no ships afloat today that can take a 16? hit. To go slightly off-topic: as far as survivability is concerned, I think that the Iowa class ships are much more survivable than any other ships afloat today or planned. Recall, and as per Heorot?s previous post, that their armor is designed to survive (i.e., not allow to penetrate) hits from 16? AP shells (admittedly at 25,000yds+, certainly not point blank). The typical WW2 16? shell weighed ~2200lb (about 450lb explosive and fuze, 1750lb heat-treated chromium steel alloy), and had an impact velocity of between 1500 and 1700 ft/sec (1022mph to 1159mph). The only current conventional weapon that appears to meet these specs is a 2000lb JDAM, and this assumption is based on the published penetration values for concrete. I think that there are no anti-ship missiles that even come close to these specifications, unless perhaps the 4000kg Sunburn carries a 1700lb (>750kg) heat-treated solid steel penetrator. Assuming a 1000kg warhead, this is a lot of explosive, but unless it is a shaped charge, it will explode outside the armor, and do minimal damage. The Roma was sunk by a SD 1400X glide bomb (essentially a JDAM) but the SD-1400 X had a substantial steel AP nose and casing, the Roma?s deck armor was not uniformly 4? thick, and the (lucky?) hit was in a vulnerable deck area. The Iowa?s ?deck? consists of at least 2-3? thick decks, plus other armor layers. My recollection, from seeing footage of Exocets and Harpoons strike targets, is that they strike the side of the ship (the belt), not the deck, like a glide missile or JDAM. Modern ships evade incoming threats because they have insufficient armor to resist a hit from a significant threat (155mm projectiles, most AShMs). The General Belgrano was a threat to the British fleet in the Falklands because she carried weapons that, provided she closed to satisfactory range, could sink any and all British ships, and carried enough armor to resist the British guns. I can?t remember if the British had any AShMs available in the Falklands. To return to the posted topic, 20-50 modern ships of various types seems a much more efficient crew usage.
 
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Yimmy    RE:USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust   12/29/2005 8:07:16 PM
"The Roma was sunk by a SD 1400X glide bomb (essentially a JDAM) but the SD-1400 X had a substantial steel AP nose and casing, the Roma?s deck armor was not uniformly 4? thick, and the (lucky?) hit was in a vulnerable deck area. The Iowa?s ?deck? consists of at least 2-3? thick decks, plus other armor layers." I believe the missile hit her on her belt armour under the waterline. Concerning the Falklands, the anti-surface ship weaponry of the British excorts consisted of Sea Dart, Exocet, lightweight torpedos and 4.5 inch guns with a rate of fire of 20-25 rounds per minute.
 
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fitz    RE:USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust   12/29/2005 8:54:11 PM
Yes, the FX1400 hits on Roma defeated her side protection (the torpedo protection in the case of the first one), not her deck. Some sea-skimming anti-ship missiles strike the side of the hull but note the height above the waterline - usually sufficient to avoid the side belt (they hit above it) where there is no protection at all! Most anti-ship missiles however, dive on their targets, either in a pop-up manuever in the terminal phase of engagment or from high altitude (the massive Russian supersonic types). The latter are also equipped with armour-piercing SHAPED CHARGE warheads on the order of 500kg or more - more than sufficient to penetrate many times the thickness of the Iowa's armour. We are talking about 6 tons of missile traveling at Mach 3 in a steep dive from high altitude striking the deck (not the thick side armour) which they WILL PENETRATE before even setting off a 1/2 ton of anti-armour warhead. Yeah, that's gonna hurt.
 
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YelliChink    RE:USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust   12/29/2005 10:05:15 PM
A Zero with 250kg bomb hit one of these monsters on the armor belt and didn't do any meaningful damage. But I doubt a 3M80 or P500 hit would be the same, and that's why one need to put modern sensor suit and RAM to protect these ships. What really killed the need for these monster is the cost of personnel to man these ships. It takes more than 2000 people to man just one ship, but with the same number of personnel, USN can man 10 DD(X). Steam turbine may be fast in speed, but it takes hours to heat the boiler.
 
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YelliChink    RE:USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin bite the dust   12/29/2005 10:07:20 PM
One of Gearings in Taiwan topped 40kt sometime during 80s. Steam turbines can do what exceed design spec if one don't care about his safety.
 
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