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Saving the Battlewagons of the U.S. Marines
HUMAN EVENTS ^ | Sep 15, 2006 | Oliver North

Posted on 09/18/2006 7:41:46 PM PDT by neverdem

On Dec. 4, 1983, 28 aircraft from the USS Independence Carrier Battle Group attacked Hezbollah and Syrian anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Two U.S. Navy A-7s were lost on the mission and a third aircraft was damaged. One of the downed pilots died of wounds in captivity and the other, Lt. Robert Goodman, was taken prisoner and paraded before the cameras. Though Lt. Goodman was eventually released, the U.S. Navy had learned a hard lesson.

Ten days later, U.S. reconnaissance flights were fired on again -- but this time the response was different. Instead of launching air strikes, the battleship USS New Jersey opened fire -- and with just 11 2,700-pound, 16-inch rounds, silenced the anti-aircraft sites. This feat was repeated on Feb. 8, 1984, when Syrian artillery opened fire on Christian West Beirut -- inflicting heavy civilian casualties. Less than two hours of fire from the New Jersey's 16-inch guns eliminated the Syrian artillery threat. It wouldn't be the last time the World War II-era "battlewagons" would serve our national interests.

During the 1981-1988 Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollahs running Tehran decided 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 United States 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."

When Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the battleship Wisconsin was among the first capital ships to arrive in the Persian Gulf. By the time Operation Desert Storm concluded on Feb. 28, 1991, the Wisconsin and her sister battleship, USS Missouri, had delivered more than 1 million pounds of ordnance on the enemy from their 16-inch guns, Tomahawk TLAM-C cruise missiles and 5-inch gun batteries. Fire from the battleships was so overwhelming that an Iraqi garrison actually surrendered to one of the USS Wisconsin's unmanned aerial vehicles.

Despite the effectiveness of the vessels in modern warfare -- and pleas from the U.S. Marine Corps to retain them for Naval Surface Gunfire Support -- two of the four battleships, the New Jersey and the Missouri, were decommissioned and turned into floating museums. Until now, however, Congress has insisted that the Wisconsin and Iowa be maintained in "a state of readiness" for "rapid reactivation" in the "event of a national emergency."

But all that may be about to change. A House-Senate Conference Committee is now considering lifting the requirement that the last two "heavy gun" ships in the allied arsenal be kept ready for action. Apparently the lessons of recent history have been lost on the administration -- and perhaps even in the corridors of Congress -- despite new threats from Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and interfere with shipping in the Persian Gulf.

Just three weeks ago, Iranian Revolutionary Guard naval craft attacked a Romanian oil rig, assaulted the offshore platform and briefly took the crew hostage before evicting them. And last week, as President Bush was preparing to remind the world of the threat posed by Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a cheering crowd of supporters that "Iran has the ability to control the flow of oil the world needs."

Given the Jihad being waged against the West in much of the Islamic littoral, Iranian "saber rattling" and the lack of any replacement for the well-protected firepower of the Wisconsin and Iowa, turning them into floating museums now seems foolhardy. Yet, according to the green-eyeshade procurement wizards at the Pentagon, the two remaining battleships are too old, too expensive to operate and too costly in crew size to be deployed.

Instead of keeping the heavily-armored battlewagons maintained and ready, the brass at the five-sided puzzle palace and big spenders on Capitol Hill want the Marines to bide their time until 2012, when the Navy says it will deploy seven new DDG-1000 class destroyers -- at $3.3 billion apiece. These slower, thin-skinned vessels are to be equipped with an unproven Advanced Gun System designed to fire rounds weighing only 63 pounds but costing nearly $100,000 each. Even if the new ships eventually perform as advertised by their promoters, that's scant solace to the soldier or Marine who needs naval gunfire support at any point during the next six years.

People in Washington who ought to know better -- like Sen. John Warner, R-Va., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- have turned a deaf ear to the plight of the Marines. Thankfully, a handful of stalwarts led by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., have taken up the cause of preserving the Wisconsin and Iowa as mobilization assets. He believes that keeping the battlewagons ready to fight will save American lives. He's right.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: artillery; banglist; battleships; ussiowa
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1 posted on 09/18/2006 7:41:48 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

When the Iowa was in the Med, friend and foe alike saluted the fearsome arsenal that was the storied Iowa.

Every American walked taller. Every foe walked and talked smaller.


2 posted on 09/18/2006 7:49:10 PM PDT by petertare (!)
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To: neverdem

Yeah, why not keep a couple?


3 posted on 09/18/2006 7:49:59 PM PDT by Aetius
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To: neverdem
Yeap... Showing up off someones coast with that kind of VISIBLE firepower, gets peoples undivided attention. Yes an Aegis cruiser is more powerful and has a much longer reach. But look at the two.... Which are you going to hall ass in the other direction from? The cruiser or the porcupine that can throw cars 16 miles?

The F-117 or the B-52?

The A-10, or the F-35?

Bared teeth win a lot of arguments without a shot fired. I rest my case...
4 posted on 09/18/2006 7:53:11 PM PDT by Freeport
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To: neverdem
When we arrived, all of that stuff stopped.

A picture of simlicity.

See?

To speak "Middle-Eastern", you have to BE STRONG.

5 posted on 09/18/2006 7:53:28 PM PDT by gaijin
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To: neverdem

I was excited about them when they were brought back from the grave almost a quarter century ago, but should we keep pouring money into them now?

There must be many more options on the table today, if a similar situation arises like it did 23 years ago.


6 posted on 09/18/2006 7:54:25 PM PDT by ansel12 (illicit sin holds a sway over their lives to the point where boldness begins to be craved.)
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To: Aetius

I'm no expert but I remember reading somewhere that they're incredibly expensive to maintain at sea.

That said, mothballing them might turn out to be penny wise and pound foolish.


7 posted on 09/18/2006 7:54:32 PM PDT by happyathome
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To: neverdem

i don't get it.. why are we CONTUNEING to down-grade our military.. STILL closing basses, scrapping military planes, ships and equipment.. i just don't understand, ESPECIALLY NOW.. after 9/11..


8 posted on 09/18/2006 7:55:24 PM PDT by raftguide
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To: happyathome
Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's, the cost of operating a single Iowa class BB was 1.0-1.2 million dollars per day.
9 posted on 09/18/2006 7:56:27 PM PDT by COEXERJ145 (Free Republic is Currently Suffering a Pandemic of “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”)
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To: neverdem

Battleships have been just a masturbatory fantasy ever since 300 planes sank the Yamato.


10 posted on 09/18/2006 7:56:37 PM PDT by omega4179
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To: neverdem; mylife; tomkow6; El Gran Salseron

Ping


11 posted on 09/18/2006 7:58:05 PM PDT by StarCMC ("So what was the price to betray us - Judas?" - SGT Mark Russak to Traitor Murtha)
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To: neverdem


12 posted on 09/18/2006 7:59:05 PM PDT by SlowBoat407 (I've had it with these &%#@* jihadis on these &%#@* planes!)
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To: ansel12
Pour money into them!!! You could gut them and rebuild them for what? $200 - $300 million vs. $3.5 BILLION for a can that looks like a mid '70's Toyota?

Who you trying to scare? Rabbits or rabid extremists? A BIG ugly stick with lots of spikes sticking out of it wins arguments against a dagger...
13 posted on 09/18/2006 8:00:18 PM PDT by Freeport
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To: neverdem

Duncan Hunter is taking up this cause as well and I'd be willing to bet John Kline and Sam Johnson are on board; my guess is that were the voting limited to those who'd seen combat...there would be no issue here.


14 posted on 09/18/2006 8:01:45 PM PDT by Jimnorwellwarren
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To: omega4179

Tey weren't a fantasy in Vietnam; they were an extremely effective platform.


15 posted on 09/18/2006 8:03:17 PM PDT by Jimnorwellwarren
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To: COEXERJ145

How does that compare to similar vessels and if the costs are significantly higher, why is that?


16 posted on 09/18/2006 8:04:34 PM PDT by Jimnorwellwarren
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To: omega4179
Obviously you haven't kept up on current anti-air suppression systems...

Put some evolved sea-sparrows and a phalanx system or TEN on board and you'd need a sub to get close... Even then, you'd find an LA, Seawolf, or Virginia fast attack boat has just waxed your backside...
17 posted on 09/18/2006 8:04:59 PM PDT by Freeport
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To: neverdem
Unmatchable gun platforms, yes. Engineering dinosaurs under the waterline, alas, yes as well. The reason these magnificent vessels were mothballed is that they'd have had to be sliced in half and their entire propulsion engineering plants replaced in order to prolong their lives. Nobody runs a 600-lb plant anymore (I served aboard one of the last) and with the work that would be necessary to upgrade it to, say, a nuclear plant, you'd be able to purchase a brand-new platform.

Hulls age as well, seawater literally wearing them away with use. My own heavy cruiser was "showing her bones" long before she finally hit the scrap heap.

We can't afford sentiment in matters like this (he says with a tear running down his cheek). If the Marines need a gunfire-support platform then we should design to suit. If the best cost-benefit analysis comes up in favor of rebuilding these incredible ships then we'd better be ready for the expense, and it won't be cheap.

That said, I'd stand in line to stand an underway watch on one.

18 posted on 09/18/2006 8:05:40 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: omega4179

Grow up.

Combined arms are needed more now than ever.

They are expensive to maintain.

But I would recommend gutting their engineering plants, installing gas turbines, and make them both fuel efficient and allow gs types (not boilermen) to have a chance to serve on the Battleships..

Maximum ordnance on target is what will be needed often and repeatedly.

Getting rid of these platforms would be a mistake.


19 posted on 09/18/2006 8:06:34 PM PDT by Experiment 6-2-6 (Admn Mods: tiny, malicious things that glare and gibber from dark corners.They have pins and dolls..)
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To: neverdem; SandRat

BTTT


20 posted on 09/18/2006 8:06:52 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (Warning! This Is A Subliminal Tagline! Read it at your own risk!(Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: happyathome
So upgrade the 1940's power systems. Bunker oil burners.... Replace'em with decile electrics or nuclear drives....
21 posted on 09/18/2006 8:06:57 PM PDT by Freeport
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To: Jimnorwellwarren
It's a cost vs. versatility issue. The problem is while the Iowas can blast the hell out of anything within range of their guns, they are far more limited than an aircraft carrier. Even if they were put back into service, they could no longer carry TLAM's because all TLAM's now are built for VLS.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the Iowa back in the fleet but is sadly isn't going to happen.

22 posted on 09/18/2006 8:08:08 PM PDT by COEXERJ145 (Free Republic is Currently Suffering a Pandemic of “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”)
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To: omega4179
Battleships have been just a masturbatory fantasy ever since 300 planes sank the Yamato.

If all we were talking about was ship-to-ship combat, you'd be right. But since the great percentage of the world's population, trade, and resources are located within 22 miles of the coast (16" gun range) the Iowa's would still be extremely effective.

As to their expense to operate, the best overhaul would be replacing the old steam boilers with gas turbines. A nuclear powered ship would be even better. The crew savings would pay for the upgrade.

23 posted on 09/18/2006 8:08:11 PM PDT by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: omega4179

In a blue water fight with an adversary like Japan, you'd be right. That's highly unlikely to ever happen again. For the kinds of adversaries we do figure ot have in the next two or three decades, the Iowa class ship is far and away the best thing in our arsenal. Nothing much short of a direct hit with a nuclear weapon can do much damage to one of them, they can hit eighty percent of the targets we'd ever want to hit, and they can hit them as hard or harder than a carrier could in any kind of weather, with no risk to pilots. That's unbeatable.


24 posted on 09/18/2006 8:08:17 PM PDT by tomzz
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To: petertare

25 posted on 09/18/2006 8:11:07 PM PDT by BIGLOOK (Keelhauling is a sensible solution to mutiny.)
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To: GOP_Party_Animal

One more thing: Modern satellite-guided rounds would be a great compliment to the Iowa's 16" guns. Imagine lobing shells 100 miles inland with the precision of a JDAM but with fantastic kinetic energy as well.


26 posted on 09/18/2006 8:14:27 PM PDT by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: tomzz

An antiship missile or 2 or three could disable any on these. These gun platforms have to sit well within range
of a mille launch to hit anything. And with a 2 thousand
or so man ships company, thats a real liabilility for the
dubious ability of launching unguided projectiles.

The BB's day is over.


27 posted on 09/18/2006 8:15:19 PM PDT by rahbert
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To: neverdem
I'd keep one of them and gut it. Then rebuild it with modern updates for all of it's systems. I would convert it to nuclear power and install an Aegis class missile system on it. You could probably cut it's operation costs by half.
28 posted on 09/18/2006 8:16:34 PM PDT by Desron13 (If you constantly vote between the lesser of two evils then evil is your ultimate destination.)
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To: BIGLOOK

Look! It put a dent in the ocean!


29 posted on 09/18/2006 8:16:59 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: Billthedrill

"We can't afford sentiment in matters like this (he says with a tear running down his cheek)."



You don't have to be navy for this to be a tough discussion, I have never met any man that didn't love the battleship.


30 posted on 09/18/2006 8:17:11 PM PDT by ansel12 (illicit sin holds a sway over their lives to the point where boldness begins to be craved.)
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To: BIGLOOK

That's a FANTASTIC picture. It really shows the changes that were made to modernize the ship...looks like they added lots of missile launchers, removed the old 5" turrets along the sides amidships, added the helipad on the stern, and generally cleaned things up.

Sadly, the old battlewagons probably are impractical to modernize and redeploy, but I'd sure love to be proven wrong. They'd be somewhat vulnerable to modern anti-ship missiles, but probably no more vulnerable than any other ship, and maybe less than most since they're built so strongly. Then combine the sheer power of those 16-inch guns with modern artillery technology, and the mind boggles to think of the hell one of those ships could rain down within thirty miles of a coast.

}:-)4


31 posted on 09/18/2006 8:21:01 PM PDT by Moose4 (Dirka dirka Mohammed jihad.)
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To: rahbert

Build more subs is the answer.


32 posted on 09/18/2006 8:26:24 PM PDT by John Lenin
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To: tomzz
I love these ships, and what they represent. But its not true that it would take a nuclear weapon to sink one. HMS Royal Oak and HMS Barham. The General Belgrano was not a battleship, but Argentina would have been better off without it.

We are better off with dispersed assets in these days. A lot of eggs in a lot of baskets, rather than a lot of eggs in one big basket.
33 posted on 09/18/2006 8:27:49 PM PDT by Arkinsaw
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To: omega4179

Hardly the first battleship to be sunk by airpower...


34 posted on 09/18/2006 8:29:02 PM PDT by Ready4Freddy (Sophomore dies in kiln explosion? Oh My God! I just talked to her last week...)
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To: rahbert

The Iowa class ships were built to do battle with the Bismarck, the Tirpitz, the Yamato, and the Musashi, and to survive hits from their guns. No antiship missile which I am aware of begins to compare with anything like that. In all likelihood, the damage could be repaired with a paintbrush and a bucket of paint. That's aside from the fact that the deck of an Iowa class ship offers 900 feet on which to mount phalanx guns and the latest generation of THEL, and it would be highly unlikely that a missile would ever get through.


35 posted on 09/18/2006 8:31:50 PM PDT by tomzz
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To: omega4179

BTAIM, an BB is the only ship that could survive a near miss by a nuclear missle. They don't (can't) make them like that anymore.


36 posted on 09/18/2006 8:32:58 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Experiment 6-2-6

We can't build as good a platform. The men who could are in resthomes or in their graves.


37 posted on 09/18/2006 8:34:38 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Moose4; IronJack
They'd be somewhat vulnerable to modern anti-ship missiles, but probably no more vulnerable than any other ship, and maybe less than most since they're built so strongly.

The BB would have a compliment of pickets like the modern Carrier Task Force or Battle Group.

Then combine the sheer power of those 16-inch guns with modern artillery technology, and the mind boggles to think of the hell one of those ships could rain down within thirty miles of a coast.

Look at any Mid East map and you'll see if we owned the coasts, ports and cities, the enemy would inherit the deserts. Let 'em pound sand.
38 posted on 09/18/2006 8:35:31 PM PDT by BIGLOOK (Keelhauling is a sensible solution to mutiny.)
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To: Aetius
Yeah, why not keep a couple?

For one there is likely no one In the service trained to operate them.

When Ronaldus Magnus brought them out of mouthballs they had to dig up WWII and Korean War Vets to train the Seaman to operate them.

The powder bags and shells they used were left over from WWII.

That stuff has to be past its use by date.

I think the old battle wagons are great. I wish we could use them to shell the Iranians Nuke Sites, but unless they make new munisions for those big guns I think they should be retired.

Remember the men that lost their lives when the turent blew up while firing those 16 inch shells.

39 posted on 09/18/2006 8:37:09 PM PDT by Pontiac (All are worthy of freedom, none are incapable.)
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To: Jimnorwellwarren
"Tey weren't a fantasy in Vietnam; they were an extremely effective platform."

I had a good friend that was with the marines in Quang Tre (SP?) province Vietnam. They were taking fire from hostiles dug in on a mountainside and called in support fire from the New Jersey. Tink said that when they usually called in support fire from their own artillery they started counting down from five but when they called in fire from the New Jersey they started counting from 21. At the end of the count the whole side of the mountain blew up. End of problem.
40 posted on 09/18/2006 8:39:18 PM PDT by dljordan
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To: gaijin
To speak "Middle-Eastern", you have to BE STRONG.

A couple of battleship groups in the strait of Hormuz would settle the argument about its being "closed" by the Iranians. An ounce of prevention by putting the fear of allah into the savages on shore and afloat in their little boats with rpg's at the ready. The onshore guys at the silkworm launchers would be busy throwing away what used to be clean underwear.

Some things are so obvious it takes an "expert" to miss them.

41 posted on 09/18/2006 8:47:50 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: rahbert

"An antiship missile or 2 or three could disable any on these. "

That isn't likely in my opinion. The battleships had real armor, they were designed to go broadside with other battleships. That doesn't mean they are cost efficient now, but don't underestimate the amount of steel in these monsters.


42 posted on 09/18/2006 8:48:59 PM PDT by FastCoyote
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To: Arkinsaw

"he General Belgrano was not a battleship,"

I believe the Belgrano was aluminum, or was that the British ship?


43 posted on 09/18/2006 8:52:41 PM PDT by FastCoyote
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To: neverdem

the Navy needs some new thinking.

navy ships are lavishly overmanned

why can the electronics be operated from shore?

perhaps some old timers could be found who would
work for cheap, as the gun crew

you don't have to sail the ship home
just to change the crew.

tow it with a carrier, to save fuel

lots of ways to save money


44 posted on 09/18/2006 8:53:43 PM PDT by greasepaint
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To: tomzz
Nothing much short of a direct hit with a nuclear weapon can do much damage to one of them

One Mark 48 torpedo would break her spine and send her to the bottom'






The torpedo explodes under the ship creating a void which causes the ship to break in two of its own weight.

45 posted on 09/18/2006 9:00:17 PM PDT by Pontiac (All are worthy of freedom, none are incapable.)
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To: greasepaint

The next generation of Navy ships will have tiny crews relative to the ones of today.


46 posted on 09/18/2006 9:00:38 PM PDT by Strategerist (Those who know what's best for us must rise and save us from ourselves)
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To: RobbyS
I think one of the big concerns was that when we reactivated our big battleships in the 1980's they would have been among the first targets for a Soviet nuclear strike at sea. And the Soviets had some nasty and big anti-ship missiles armed with a 300 kT nuclear warhead; they were designed specifically against carrier groups but they would have also targeted our battleships. Even a quarter-mile near miss with a 300 kT warhead would have killed everyone on the battleship.
47 posted on 09/18/2006 9:01:29 PM PDT by RayChuang88
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To: FastCoyote

Is there anyone who has hard data on survival of a battleship hit by conventional anti-ship missiles?

I would think all that steel might be an effective barrier, but that's just a guess.

Some hard data would be appreciated.


48 posted on 09/18/2006 9:02:42 PM PDT by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon Liberty, it is essential to examine principles, - -)
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To: FastCoyote

The british one


49 posted on 09/18/2006 9:03:03 PM PDT by ansel12 (illicit sin holds a sway over their lives to the point where boldness begins to be craved.)
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To: Strategerist

"The next generation of Navy ships will have tiny crews relative to the ones of today."



They prefer "little people"


50 posted on 09/18/2006 9:04:43 PM PDT by ansel12 (illicit sin holds a sway over their lives to the point where boldness begins to be craved.)
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