Saturday, August 24, 2019

The End of an Era (Battleships, Part Three)

Elements of the WWI British Grand Fleet at sea
(Source)
Only twenty-four engagements in history saw armored, steam-powered, heavy gunned battleships fighting other ships of their kind. In all of that time, the only major battle to occur was during World War I, the Battle of Jutland.

#
Date
Battles
Conflict
Combatants A
Combatants B
Result
1
8–9 Feb 1904
Battle of Port Arthur
Russo-Japanese War
Imperial Japanese Navy
6 BB (p)
Imperial Russian Navy
7 BB (p)
Indecisive
2
10 Aug 1904
Battle of the Yellow Sea
Russo-Japanese War
Imperial Japanese Navy
4 BB (p)
Imperial Russian Navy
6 BB (p)
Japanese victory
3
27–28 May 1905
Battle of Tsushima
Russo-Japanese War
Imperial Japanese Navy
5 BB (p)
Imperial Russian Navy
8 BB (p)
Japanese victory
4
16 Dec 1912
Battle of Elli
First Balkan War
Royal Hellenic Navy
3 CDB
Ottoman Navy
2 BB (p)
Greek victory
5
18 Jan 1913
Battle of Lemnos
First Balkan War
Royal Hellenic Navy
3 BB (p)
Ottoman Navy
3 BB (p)
Greek victory
6
29 Oct 1914
Black Sea Raid
World War I
Ottoman Navy
1 BC
Imperial Russian Navy
1 BB (p)
Ottoman Victory
7
18 Nov 1914
Battle of Cape Sarych
World War I
Ottoman Navy
1 BC
Imperial Russian Navy
5 BB (p)
Indecisive
8
24 Jan 1915
Battle of Dogger Bank (1915)
World War I
Kaiserliche Marine
3 BC
Royal Navy
5 BC
British victory
9
10 May 1915
Action of 10 May 1915
World War I
Ottoman Navy
1 BC
Imperial Russian Navy
5 BB (p)
Indecisive
10
8–19 Aug 1915
Battle of the Gulf of Riga
World War I
Kaiserliche Marine
2 BB
2 BB (p)
3 BC
Imperial Russian Navy
1 BB (p)
Russian victory
11
08 Jan 1916
Action of 8 January 1916
World War I
Ottoman Navy
1 BC
Imperial Russian Navy
1 BB
Indecisive
12
31 May – 1 Jun 1916
Battle of Jutland
World War I
Kaiserliche Marine
16 BB
5 BC
6 BB (p)
Royal Navy
28 BB
9 BC
Indecisive
13
16 Oct – 3 Nov 1917
Battle of Moon Sound
World War I
Kaiserliche Marine
1 BB
10 BC
Imperial Russian Navy
2 BB (p)
German victory
14
09 Apr 1940
Action off Lofoten
World War II
Royal Navy
1 BC
Kriegsmarine
2 BB
Indecisive
15
03 Jul 1940
Battle of Mers-el-Kébir
World War II
Royal Navy
1 CV
2 BB
1 BC
Vichy French Navy
4 BB
British victory
16
09 Jul 1940
Battle of Calabria
World War II
Royal Navy
1 CV
3 BB
Regia Marina
2 BB
Indecisive
17
23–25 Sep 1940
Battle of Dakar
World War II
Royal Navy
2 BB
Vichy French Navy
1 BB
Vichy French victory
18
27 Nov 1940
Battle of Cape Spartivento
World War II
Royal Navy
1 CV
1 BB
1 BC
Regia Marina
2 BB
Indecisive
19
24 May 1941
Battle of the Denmark Strait
World War II
Royal Navy
1 BB
1 BC
Kriegsmarine
1 BB
German victory
20
26–27 May 1941
Hunt for the Bismarck
World War II
Royal Navy
1 CV
2 BB
Kriegsmarine
1 BB
British victory
21
8–16 Nov 1942
Battle of Casablanca
World War II
United States Navy
1 CV
1 CE
1 BB
Vichy French Navy
1 BB
American victory
22
14–15 Nov 1942
Second Battle of Guadalcanal
World War II
United States Navy
1 CV
2 BB
Imperial Japanese Navy
2 BB
American victory
23
26 Dec 1943
Battle of North Cape
World War II
Royal Navy
1 BB
Kriegsmarine
1 BB
British victory
24
25 Oct 1944
Battle of Surigao Strait
World War II
United States Navy
6 BB
Imperial Japanese Navy
2 BB
American victory
KEY
BB (p) pre-Dreadnought Battleship
BB Dreadnought-type battleship
BC Battlecruiser
CV Aircraft Carrier
CE Escort Carrier
CDB Coastal Defense Battleship (Sort of a poor man's battleship)
(Table Source)

Prior to the Battle of Jutland, there was one ship launched which, nearly overnight, rendered all other battleships obsolete, HMS Dreadnought.

HMS Dreadnought
The dreadnought was the predominant type of battleship in the early 20th century. The first of its kind, the Royal Navy's HMS Dreadnought, made such a strong impression on people's minds when launched in 1906 that similar battleships built subsequently were referred to generically as "dreadnoughts", and earlier battleships became known as "pre-dreadnoughts". Dreadnought's design had two revolutionary features: an "all-big-gun" armament scheme, with more heavy-caliber guns than previous ships; and steam turbine propulsion. As dreadnoughts became a symbol of national power, the arrival of these new warships was a crucial catalyst in the intensifying naval arms race between the United Kingdom and Germany. With the launch of a single ship, Dreadnought, the scales of naval power were tipped overnight. As a result, dreadnought races sprang up around the world, including in South America, during the lead up to World War I. Successive designs increased rapidly in size and made use of improvements in armament, armor, and propulsion throughout the dreadnought era. Within five years, new battleships had outclassed Dreadnought. These more powerful vessels were known as "super-dreadnoughts". Most of the original dreadnoughts were scrapped after the end of World War I under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, but many of the newer super-dreadnoughts continued to be used throughout World War II. The only surviving dreadnought is USS Texas, which is located near the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.

Dreadnought-building consumed vast resources in the early 20th century, but there was only one battle between large dreadnought fleets. In the 1916 Battle of Jutland, the British and German navies clashed with no decisive result. The term "dreadnought" gradually dropped from use after World War I, especially after the Washington Naval Treaty, as virtually all remaining battleships shared dreadnought characteristics; the term can also be used to describe battlecruisers, the other type of ship resulting from the dreadnought revolution.
(Source)
USS Texas (BB-35)
At this point I should make mention of the battlecruiser:
The battlecruiser, or battle cruiser, was a type of capital ship of the first half of the 20th century. They were similar in displacement, armament and cost to battleships, but differed slightly in form and balance of attributes. Battlecruisers typically had slightly thinner armor and a lighter main gun battery than contemporary battleships, installed on a longer hull with much higher engine power in order to attain greater speeds. The first battlecruisers were designed in the United Kingdom in the first decade of the century, as a development of the armoured cruiser, at the same time as the dreadnought succeeded the pre-dreadnought battleship. The goal of the design was to outrun any ship with similar armament, and chase down any ship with lesser armament; they were intended to hunt down slower, older armoured cruisers and destroy them with heavy gunfire while avoiding combat with the more powerful but slower battleships. However, as more and more battlecruisers were built, they were increasingly used alongside the better-protected battleships. (Source)
HMS Hood, the largest battlecruiser ever built.
The battlecruiser had a mixed run of success, at Jutland the Royal Navy lost three of the nine battlecruisers involved...
At 15:48, with the opposing forces roughly parallel at 15,000 yd (14,000 m), with the British to the south-west of the Germans (i.e., on the right side), Hipper opened fire, followed by the British ships as their guns came to bear upon targets. Thus began the opening phase of the battlecruiser action, known as the Run to the South, in which the British chased the Germans, and Hipper intentionally led Beatty toward Scheer. During the first minutes of the ensuing battle, all the British ships except Princess Royal fired far over their German opponents, due to adverse visibility conditions, before finally getting the range. Only HMS Lion and HMS Princess Royal had settled into formation, so the other four ships were hampered in aiming by their own turning. Beatty was to windward of Hipper, and therefore funnel and gun smoke from his own ships tended to obscure his targets, while Hipper's smoke blew clear. Also, the eastern sky was overcast and the grey German ships were indistinct and difficult to range.
HMS Queen Mary
Beatty had ordered his ships to engage in a line, one British ship engaging with one German and his flagship HMS Lion doubling on the German flagship SMS Lützow. However, due to another mistake with signalling by flag, and possibly because HMS Queen Mary and HMS Tiger were unable to see the German lead ship because of smoke, the second German ship, SMS Derfflinger, was left un-engaged and free to fire without disruption. SMS Moltke drew fire from two of Beatty's battlecruisers, but still fired with great accuracy during this time, hitting HMS Tiger 9 times in the first 12 minutes. The Germans drew first blood. Aided by superior visibility, Hipper's five battlecruisers quickly registered hits on three of the six British battlecruisers. Seven minutes passed before the British managed to score their first hit.
The first near-kill of the Run to the South occurred at 16:00, when a 30.5 cm (12.0 in) shell from SMS Lützow wrecked the "Q" turret amidships on Beatty's flagship HMS Lion. Dozens of crewmen were instantly killed, but far larger destruction was averted when the mortally wounded turret commander – Major Francis Harvey of the Royal Marines – promptly ordered the magazine doors shut and the magazine flooded. This prevented a magazine explosion at 16:28, when a flash fire ignited ready cordite charges beneath the turret and killed everyone in the chambers outside "Q" magazine. Lion was saved. HMS Indefatigable was not so lucky; at 16:02, just 14 minutes into the gunnery exchange, she was hit aft by three 28 cm (11 in) shells from SMS Von der Tann, causing damage sufficient to knock her out of line and detonating "X" magazine aft. Soon after, despite the near-maximum range, SMS Von der Tann put another 28 cm (11 in) shell on HMS Indefatigable's "A" turret forward. The plunging shells probably pierced the thin upper armor, and seconds later HMS Indefatigable was ripped apart by another magazine explosion, sinking immediately with her crew of 1,019 officers and men, leaving only two survivors.
Hipper's position deteriorated somewhat by 16:15 as the 5th Battle Squadron finally came into range, so that he had to contend with gunfire from the four battleships astern as well as Beatty's five remaining battlecruisers to starboard. But he knew his baiting mission was close to completion, as his force was rapidly closing with Scheer's main body. At 16:08, the lead battleship of the 5th Battle Squadron, HMS Barham, caught up with Hipper and opened fire at extreme range, scoring a 15 in (380 mm) hit on SMS Von der Tann within 60 seconds. Still, it was 16:15 before all the battleships of the 5th were able to fully engage at long range.
At 16:25, the battlecruiser action intensified again when HMS Queen Mary was hit by what may have been a combined salvo from SMS Derfflinger and SMS Seydlitz; she disintegrated when both forward magazines exploded, sinking with all but nine of her 1,275 man crew lost. Commander von Hase, the first gunnery officer aboard SMS Derfflingler, noted:
The enemy was shooting superbly. Twice the Derfflinger came under their infernal hail and each time she was hit. But the Queen Mary was having a bad time; engaged by the Seydlitz as well as the Derfflinger, she met her doom at 1626. A vivid red flame shot up from her forepart; then came an explosion forward, followed by a much heavier explosion amidships. Immediately afterwards, she blew up with a terrific explosion, the masts collapsing inwards and the smoke hiding everything.
During the Run to the South, from 15:48 to 16:54, the German battlecruisers made an estimated total of forty-two 28 and 30.5 cm (11.0 and 12.0 in) hits on the British battlecruisers (nine on Lion, six on Princess Royal, seven on Queen Mary, 14 on Tiger, one on New Zealand, five on Indefatigable), and two more on the battleship Barham, compared with only eleven 13.5 in (340 mm) hits by the British battlecruisers (four on Lützow, four on Seydlitz, two on Moltke, one on Von der Tann), and six 15 in (380 mm) hits by the battleships (one on Seydlitz, four on Moltke, one on Von der Tann).
Shortly after 16:26, a salvo struck on or around HMS Princess Royal, which was obscured by spray and smoke from shell bursts. A signalman promptly leapt on to the bridge of Lion and announced "Princess Royal's blown up, Sir." Beatty famously turned to his flag captain, saying "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today." (In popular legend, Beatty also immediately ordered his ships to "turn two points to port", i.e., two points nearer the enemy, but there is no official record of any such command or course change.) Princess Royal, as it turned out, was still afloat after the spray cleared.
At 16:30, Scheer's leading battleships sighted the distant battlecruiser action; soon after, HMS Southampton of Beatty's 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron led by Commodore William Goodenough sighted the main body of Scheer's High Seas Fleet, dodging numerous heavy-caliber salvos to report in detail the German strength: 16 dreadnoughts with six older battleships. This was the first news that Beatty and Jellicoe had that Scheer and his battle fleet were even at sea. Simultaneously, an all-out destroyer action raged in the space between the opposing battlecruiser forces, as British and German destroyers fought with each other and attempted to torpedo the larger enemy ships. Each side fired many torpedoes, but both battlecruiser forces turned away from the attacks and all escaped harm except Seydlitz, which was hit forward at 16:57 by a torpedo fired by the British destroyer HMS Petard. Though taking on water, Seydlitz maintained speed. The destroyer HMS Nestor, under the command of Captain Barry Bingham, led the British attacks. The British disabled the German torpedo boat V27, which the Germans soon abandoned and sank, and Petard then torpedoed and sank V29, her second score of the day. S35 and V26 rescued the crews of their sunken sister ships. But Nestor and another British destroyer – HMS Nomad – were immobilized by shell hits, and were later sunk by Scheer's passing dreadnoughts. Bingham was rescued, and awarded the Victoria Cross for his leadership in the destroyer action. (Source)
HMS Queen Mary blowing up
Invincible blowing up after being struck by shells from Lützow and Derfflinger
Beatty's flagship HMS Lion burning after being hit by a salvo from SMS Lützow
HMS Indefatigable sinking after being struck by shells from SMS Von der Tann
The outcome of Jutland was a German tactical victory of sorts, Royal Navy losses were heavy compared to German losses -

Royal Navy Casualties
6,094 killed
674 wounded
177 captured
3 battlecruisers sunk
3 armoured cruisers sunk
8 destroyers sunk

Kaiserliche Marine Casualties
2,551 killed
507 wounded
1 battlecruiser sunk
1 pre-dreadnought sunk
4 light cruisers sunk
5 torpedo-boats sunk

The British Admiralty initially thought to suppress reports on the battle as their losses were seen as so severe, they did relent though, knowing that the word would spread from the sailors who fought the battle.

In reality the result of Jutland was a German strategic defeat, their High Seas Fleet never again challenged the Royal Navy on the open seas and their ships sat in port until the end of the war. The sailors revolted, refusing to go to sea in 1918 as their admirals thought to set forth once more and go out in a blaze of glory.

SMS Seydlitz was heavily damaged in the battle, hit by twenty-one main caliber shells, several secondary caliber and one torpedo. 98 men were killed and 55 injured.
Fat chance.

The High Seas Fleet surrendered and sailed off to internment at Scapa Flow, where on the morning of 21 June 1919, most of the German ships were scuttled by their crews...
The fleet remained in captivity during the negotiations that ultimately produced the Treaty of Versailles. Von Reuter believed that the British intended to seize the German ships on 21 June 1919, which was the deadline for Germany to have signed the peace treaty. Unaware that the deadline had been extended to the 23rd, Reuter ordered the ships to be sunk at the next opportunity. On the morning of 21 June, the British fleet left Scapa Flow to conduct training maneuvers, and at 11:20 Reuter transmitted the order to his ships. Out of the interned fleet, only one battleship, Baden, three light cruisers, and eighteen destroyers were saved from sinking by the British harbor personnel. The Royal Navy, initially opposed to salvage operations, decided to allow private firms to attempt to raise the vessels for scrapping. Cox and Danks, a company founded by Ernest Cox handled most of the salvage operations, including those of the heaviest vessels raised. After Cox's withdrawal due to financial losses in the early 1930s, Metal Industries Group, Inc. took over the salvage operation for the remaining ships. Five more capital ships were raised, though three—SMS König, SMS Kronprinz, and SMS Markgraf—were too deep to permit raising. They remain on the bottom of Scapa Flow, along with four light cruisers. (Source)
Scuttling of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow: SMS Bayern down by the stern and sinking at Scapa Flow.
World War I was not the end of the battleship, though some visionaries like the US's William Mitchell foresaw that airpower would render the battleship obsolete. Early events in World War II seemed to confirm Mitchell's ideas.

While Bismarck managed to break out to sea, sinking HMS Hood along the way, she was eventually hunted down and crippled by carrier aircraft and sent to the bottom by gunfire from other battleships. Her sister ship, Tirpitz, spent much of the war in a Norwegian fjord until sunk, you guessed it, by aircraft (though this time land-based).

The Japanese worried enough about the US battleship component of the Pacific fleet that they attacked Pearl Harbor. Though they crippled the fleet, they missed the carriers.

HMS Prince of Wales, a battleship, and her consort the battlecruiser HMS Repulse were both sent to the bottom by Japanese land-based aircraft shortly after Pearl Harbor.

HMS Prince of Wales (left, front) and HMS Repulse (left, behind) under Japanese air attack on 10 December 1941. The destroyer in the foreground is HMS Express.
The Japanese super-battleships, Yamato and her sister Musashi never opened up with their 18-inch batteries upon others of their kind, they too were sent to the bottom by aircraft.

The explosion of Yamato's magazines.
While battleships proved useful for naval gunfire support in many amphibious landings, their gunfire often proved unable to suppress enemy resistance. The Japanese proved especially resilient at digging in and resisting. As in days of old, the infantry still had to go in and root out the defenders bunker by bunker, trench by trench.

The battleship was designed for one thing and for one thing only, to fight other battleships. Though the Iowa-class battleships served from World War II to the first Persian Gulf War, they were the last of their kind.

While having a battleship cruising off your coast is certainly an attention-getter and is very intimidating, in reality there isn't much they can do that can't be done by other, less expensive, assets.

If the battleships were to be resurrected, could they prove useful in a modern major war?



I think not.

Battleships once ruled the seas, but their time has passed. Magnificent ships, but of no use in the modern world.

USS Iowa (BB-61)
(Source)
I'd be interested in reading your thoughts.




38 comments:

  1. Another great series of posts.

    I will always treasure my experiences of helping to reactivate the USS Wisconsin, and especially the brief time I sailed aboard her. That doesn't mean I'm blind to the facts.
    I cannot argue with your logic, or your conclusions, and wishing the world was different doesn't make it so.

    Thank you for the tremendous time and effort you put into "Operation Battleship."

    I wonder if the modern aircraft carrier is headed for the same fate as the battleship?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I often wonder about the carriers myself. I feel the same away about them as you do about the battleships.

      The future of naval warfare may well lie beneath the waves. Perhaps a post on submarines would be in order?

      Delete
    2. Yes...no account of submarines would be complete without the reconnaissance of Welwak Harbor by USS Wahoo and Capt. Mush Morton in WW2. Inside the harbor (after five torpedo misses at it)…with a Japanese destroyer boiling toward them with the angle on the bow zero (coming head on).."Fire when she fills four (range) divisions in low power (on the periscope)".."Captain, she already fills eight"..."Fire six, take her deep (90 feet)"...

      Delete
  2. As long as there are anti-ship missiles available, launched by whatever platform, the time of the battleship is past. Now can the carrier with it's screen survive in this environment? I hope we don't have to find out. Otherwise there'll be more videos like the Barham sinking which was chilling, over 800 men died there. Seconding John, all the time you spent on this series....muy bueno (not much left of my high school Spanish). Today's chart was an eye-opener........you knocked it out of the park Sarge, well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nylon12, the series took on a life of its own!

      Delete
  3. Hey AFSarge;

    I have done battleships post on my blog several times, but your series killed it, it was awesome!! I had posted the question before, could the battleships be used again, I think so especially the South Dakota class, the time on their hulls is really low, especially compared to the beatings our frigates and destroyers have taken in the past 20 years due to the operational tempo. Will they survive the modern battlefield? Unknown, if they are equipped with enough anti missile missiles(Yeah redundant, LOL) to survive a swarm. With the real heavy armor the ships have, they would shrug off a hit that would cripple another ship. I thought it was ironic that the British knew the faults of their battlecruisers and didn't fix the problems with the HMS Hood, she fell to the same thing that got the British cruisers at Jutland. I know that the Hood was due for extensive modernization but it had been deferred due to wartime needs. I guess the penny pinching parsimonious of the British parliament came back to bite them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Battleships can take a lot of punishment, but HMS Barham and her crew succumbed to a spread of 1940s era torpedoes, which were far less powerful than the ones we have today.

      I think it's the cost, more than anything, which sidelined these magnificent warships.

      Delete
    2. Aside from the construction and outfitting costs, crewing these ships and keeping them supplied and in good fighting order is horrendously expensive.

      Lots of times it's the continuing costs of operation that dooms systems like these.

      The b-58 Hustler is a magnificent airplane, but a B-52 can pretty much do the same job at a fraction of the cost.

      Delete
    3. Operational cost has doomed many a good weapon system.

      Delete
  4. Yes, that chart was good information in an easy to digest form. Very well done.

    Off the shelf technology has probably doomed a lot of our older ways of warfare. Even ammo dumps and airfields aren't safe from drone swarms, as shown in Ukraine. It looks to me like battle space has become closer and more personal again in spite of the advent of technology. IR vs. a cheap space blanket. UV vs a cheap battery and a ton of cheap LED's. Visible spectrum camera tied to facial recognition vs. dazzle makeup, or a metal mask. It's always been like that, hasn't it? As technology advances, excellent implements become obsolete. I think the Iowa is lovely, on par with the gorgeous B17, but you'd be foolish to send our men to war in them. Time marched past the wooden warship, the BB's, and will pass the CV at some point if technology continues to advance. BB domination of the seas was temporary, just like every other battle field tool is or will be. I know that now. Very eye opening series, boss.

    As far as technology goes, my old physics professor, Dr. Sanders, had one fear: (his was in regard to nuclear energy) That the neo-druidism and earth worship would likely lead to fewer technical people and result in a workforce that was too small to manage all the reactors. I wonder if the same can't be said for all technology. Our current crop of workers are more interested in their leisure activities than actually digging in to work. There will be a tipping point...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your last paragraph is sobering.

      And thanks, some good points.

      Delete
  5. As a symbol of power, the battleships and cruisers are unbeatable.
    But, operationally, they concentrate way too much and make a fine target.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was curious, for a bit, about all the strange angled piping along the flanks of HMS Dreadnought and HMS Queen Mary, so I tried to puzzle it out without looking it up (successfully!). Then I found some good pictures:

    http://battleshiplist.com/battleships/great-britain/dreadnought/img-6/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, good photo. Torpedo netting, no effect on a modern torpedo which doesn't actually hit the target but blows up under the keel. Uses the incompressibility of water to break the ship's back. Very effective, very deadly.

      I think I will spend some time at the site, great pics!

      Delete
    2. Yep, mentioned torpedo netting on juvat's world tour of museums, which started this whole mess. I still wonder if the US had torpedo netting at Pearl, how effective it would have been.

      Delete
    3. You have to wonder, while torpedo blisters help some, I would think that keeping the warhead at arm's length (so to speak) is a good thing. I think I need to read more on that topic.

      Delete
  7. A most excellent series, I learned a lot as usual. I think the turret explosion on the Iowa helped seal their fate.
    I still love the battleships, the Iowa, New Jersey and Missouri are such an impressive sight but then so is the
    USS Constitution. And as STxAR says "you'd be foolish to send our men to war in them."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They should remain as monuments to the men who sailed in them and to the fallen of our many wars to keep freedom's flame alight.

      Delete
  8. Superbly well done!

    Learn from the lessons of the past. Carriers are today's equivalent of battleships.
    The HMS Barham video is most sobering. As sarge noted those were WW2 torpedoes from WW2 subs, both far less capable than today's versions. Add in the reality that our CVs no longer have much of a screen to protect them or sponge up some of the stuff thrown their way, and the life expectancy of a CV in wartime is too depressing to think about. Add in the hysterics which will occur when a NUKE CV disintegrates a la Barham, and the entire species will be recalled and the surrender deal inked.

    That leaves the unterseeboot and superfast, superstealthy missiles to rule the world.

    Unless, of course some non-state actor shows up with some nuke, chem or bio weapon and deploys it in an asymmetrical fashion. Or, maybe the cyber warriors on one side or another will render moot all the cool hardware options.

    The most scary threat is probably an EMP attack (within the capabilities of a nation or terrorist proxy) which will send most of a continent into circa 1880 lifestyle in a flash. The subsequent inability of today's citizenry to achieve even minimal self sufficiency will result in fratricide and cannibalism in urban areas and medieval subsistence level survival for the fortunate few in the rural areas.
    John Blackshoe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sir!

      Another sobering last paragraph to a comment. That is the scariest thing, the chaos would be unbelievable.

      Delete
    2. To add my 2 cents: CVNs are much, much more costly than any BB ever.
      Deathstar syndrome and all that.
      Especially with SS(K) proliferating around the world.
      If Swedes could get in for a kill in exercises, and Chinese at least once managed to surface surprise in midst of USN CVBG, all bets are off. Already in WW2 subs scored most of the CV kills: Ark Royal, Courageous, Wasp, Yorktown, Taiho, Shinano...
      And then there are modern SSNs, while slightly noisier than SS(K), much more maneuvrable and with larger ammo stores, often including VLS for missiles.
      In a missile-rich environment we will probably see dominance of Aegis-style AA CG/DDG/FFG of various levels of capability, coupled with wide usage of SS/N/K that evade the missile threat almost entirely by virtue of being submerged. (ASROC and SUBROC style torpedo-missile hybrids aside...)

      Delete
    3. A valuable two cents indeed.

      I agree with your assessment Paweł!

      Delete
  9. The content and comments are most welcome. This series is fantastic, I have learned so much. Thank you OAFS.
    I can remember standing on the deck of the Missouri at Bremerton WA with Jeanie. We were overwhelmed with the sheer size. It is hard for me to grasp the invention, preparation and manufacture of such a piece of machinery, to do such a remarkable job.

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  10. As we say the battleships were amazing feats of engineering but almost as soon as they were built they were rendered obsolete by emerging technologies. I believe the next wars that are fought will be a horrible mixture of small scale police type actions and cyber war. A 1940's BB would be of as much use as HMS Victory. The next zone of conflict will probably be in a littoral mega city in Asia/Africa. I may well be wrong but I don't think the 3rd Guards Shock Army will roll into the Fulda Gap and neither will the Red Banner Northern Fleet control the Atlantic.
    As I have mentioned I was a police officer and what worries me is how fragile modern life is. John Blackshoe at 9.13am mentioned the effect of an EMP attack. Consider what would happen if the water/sewage/traffic lights were turned off in a modern city like New York or London. Modern cities are fragile and anarchy is never far away. Just interfering with modern JIT supply chains to shops would cause chaos.
    Retired

    ReplyDelete
  11. Another wonderous post, Sarge!

    And thanks for your help on BB-62, John in Philly. I spent 6 years volunteering on the Iowa, so I understand all the hard work that goes into preserving these ships as museums. As Sarge mentions, it's important to keep these ships preserved as monuments to the men who crewed them, and fought with them. I sure hope they get the Texas all repaired so she's around another 100 years.

    And many sobering thoughts expressed about future warfare and what The Next Big Thing will be. I still think there's a place for Naval Gunfire Support, but reactivating one or two of the Iowa-class ships for this simply isn't feasible. The Missouri is too important, and the Iowa too broken, which leaves the New Jersey or the Wisconsin, and since parts to bring them back in service are NLA, it's just not going to happen regardless of the number of Facebook and forum posts that claim it's imminent.

    Let them rest. They've earned it.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks drjim.

      Aye, let them rest.

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    2. Reactivation of any of the Iowa class is impossible for NGFS. USN, in its infinite wisdom, scrapped the entire remaining inventory of 16" projectiles, powder charges and spare barrels in 2016.

      So, even if you could round up or train crews to operate the steam plants, and turret systems which no one has trained on in nearly 25 years, and find or build the occasional spare parts needed from manufacturers out of business for even longer, you would have a beautiful ship but toothless. I think they have even allowed stocks of 5"/38 ammo to dwindle without replacement, if not scrapped.

      We are lucky to have witnessed an era with the most beautiful warships ever built.
      https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a23202/do-you-know-what-to-do-with-15000-battleship-shells/
      John Blackshoe

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    3. I suppose it was inevitable.

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  12. ...I am remembering the old USS Phoenix (CL46) when she came to the end of her trail. She had survived Pearl Harbor, but ended her days as the Argentine General Belgano, stalked and sunk by a British nuclear hunter-killer submarine in 1982 in the Falklands War. Times have changed...

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  13. Times do change. IIRC, the USS Constitution is the only commissioned US Navy ship that has sunk and enemy vessel in combat.

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    1. The only currently in commission ship to have sunk an enemy, yes indeed.!

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  14. The battleship is the more recent version of the armored knight -- in the battle of weapons versus armor the weapons always win at a lower cost both in terms of money and manpower -- it's easier to defeat what exists than research and build the next generation of protection. That said, an Iowa-class sitting off the coast of, say, Libya brings a lot of diplomatic persuasiveness but alone she is certain to perish should enough actors agree to attack. There may be a place for a heavily-armored ship in the close-in littoral arena, but again that armor means weight which means draft which means you're stuck off-shore and the enemy has the rivers to himself. Huzzah to the men who sailed them, but as with most things time and technology have passed them by as an effective force in a modern world. While it would be great to see Libya launch an Exocet and the battleship respond with a bucket of paint, such a hypothetical scenario is ever unlikely.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)