Surface Forces: U.S. Mandates Nuclear Battleships


December 24, 2007: The U.S. Navy has been ordered, by Congress, to use nuclear power in its new class of cruisers (the CG-21s). That should not be a problem, as the CG-21 is currently planned to be about 14,000 tons. But depending on the size of the nuclear power plant for the cruiser (one based on those used for nuclear subs, or the larger ones found in nuclear aircraft carriers), the CGN-21 might be a more conventional, 25,000 ton, design. The new destroyer (DD-21) has a stealthy superstructure, and is as big as a battleship, at least a battleship of a century ago, The new 14,000 tons design, is 600 feet long and 79 feet wide. A crew of 150 sailors will operate a variety of weapons, including two 155mm guns, two 40mm automatic cannon for close in defense, 80 Vertical Launch Tubes (containing either anti-ship, cruise or anti-aircraft missiles), six torpedo tubes, a helicopter and three helicopter UAVs. The CGN-21 would drop one of the 155mm guns and the torpedo tubes, but carry more vertical cells for missiles (especially anti-ballistic missile missiles).

A century ago, a Mississippi class battleship displaced 14,400 tons, was 382 feet long and 77 feet wide. A crew of 800 operated a variety of weapons, including four 12 inch, eight 8 inch, eight 7 inch twelve 3 inch, twelve 47mm and four 37mm guns, plus four 7.62mm machine-guns. There were also four torpedo tubes. The Mississippi had a top speed of 31 kilometers an hour, versus 54 for DD-21. But the Mississippi had one thing DD-21 lacked, armor. Along the side there was a belt of 9 inch armor, and the main turrets had 12 inch thick armor. The Mississippi had radio, but the DD-21 has radio, GPS, sonar, radar and electronic warfare equipment.

Adjusted for inflation, the century old Mississippi class ships cost about half a billion dollars (adjusted for inflation). The new CGN-21 cruisers will cost about $3 billion each, thus possessing the price, and size, if not the name, of a battleship.


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