""There is no weapon system in the world that comes even close to the visible symbol of enormous power represented by the battleship." -- Retired Gen. P.X. Kelly, USMC "It warms the cockles of this old sailor's heart to know how much the Marines appreicate the firepower of the Iowa Class battleships. Oliver North has a few things to say about re-activating these old warhorses. There are times when old is better.
"WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Those words of the former Marine commandant resonate with me. In 1969, gunfire from the battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62) saved my rifle platoon in Vietnam. During her six months in-theater, the USS New Jersey's 16-inch guns were credited with saving more than 1,000 Marines' lives. The North Vietnamese so feared the ship that they cited her as a roadblock to the Paris peace talks. Our leaders, as they did so often in that war, made the wrong choice and sent her home. Now, 36 years later, Washington is poised to make another battleship blunder."These ships never should have been de-activated. Especially in these trouble days when US military forces may be called upon to hit the beaches once again.
"After the USS Iowa (BB-61) and USS Wisconsin, (BB-64) were taken out of active service in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 104-106, a 1996 measure requiring that our last two battleships be kept ready for reactivation. But today's Navy brass wants Congress to repeal the law, strike the ships from Naval Vessel Register -- the official list of available ships -- and donate them to museums."This would be a huge mistake. I urge everyone to write, call or e-mail their Congressional representatives and tell them to get on the ball and re-activate the USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin.
"In 1983, the USS New Jersey was the best support available to the Marines after their barracks were bombed in Beirut. During the "tanker war," in the mid-1980s, every time the USS Iowa steamed into the Persian Gulf, the Iranians ceased hostile action.Very heavy fire power. As currently constituted, the 16 inch naval rifle can fire a 2000 pound projectile, (that is the weight of an old VW bug folks), over 20 miles, with deadly pinpoint accuracy. As for survivability in this missile age, here is a snippet from a 20/20 segemnt on the USS New Jersey:
During Desert Storm, cruise missiles launched from both the USS Missouri (BB-63) and the USS Wisconsin attacked scores of targets deep inside Iraq; and an entire Iraqi Naval Infantry unit surrendered to one of the USS Wisconsin's unmanned aerial vehicles. Unlike any other naval vessel, battleships combine survivability, speed and immediate, heavy firepower."
"Overall I think the thing that hits you most about this ship is her massive armor protection. This is no modern lightweight ship. This mighty battleship and her sisters are the most heavily armored US warships ever constructed. They were designed to engage in direct ship to ship combat against 16" guns, take hits, keep fighting and win. Or, as one sailor put it, "this ship can take a lickin' and keep on tickin."' First there is the main armor belt in the hull. It consists of class A armor that is 12 inches thick at the top, tapering to 1.6 inches thick below the waterline. There is a second armor belt that is 13.5 inches thick, protecting the propeller shafts. The turret faces are 17 inch armor, the second deck is 6 inch armor and on and on. When we asked the Navy what would happen if the New Jersey were hit with an Exocet type of missile, they said that it would take perhaps as many as ten well placed hits with such a weapon to penetrate the armor protection. The Captain pointed out that the Kamikaze attacks packed as much wallop as an Exocet and they literally just swept them off the decks of the Iowa class ships."These ships were designed and built for surface action against other battleships. Unlike today's thin skinned ships, the Iowa Class are heavily armored. They can also cruise at a speed of 35 knots, which is faster then some of the ships currently on the Navy's design boards.
Lt. Colonel North concludes with this:
"Our Navy currently has no capability for providing the lethal, high-volume firepower that would be required if -- God forbid -- we should have to land Marines on the coasts of Iran or North Korea, or in defense of Taiwan. When the Marines assaulted Um Qasr at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, they had to rely on naval gunfire from an Australian frigate. The Navy's answer is to wait six years for the costly, unproven ERGM system and a half-dozen or fewer, yet-to-be-built DD(X) ships. But America's enemies may not wait that long. And America's taxpayers may not want to pay the price -- in blood or treasure. The DD(X)-ERGM experiments are estimated to cost between $12 billion and $16 billion.I could not agree more. The Marines need this kind of firepower support. The Iowa Class is the perfect weapons platform in this age of low intensity conflict and should low intensity become high intensity, it is still a great weapons platform. - Sailor
It would take less than two years to reactivate the Iowa and Wisconsin. The battleships are 10 percent faster than the still-conceptual DD(X). They each bring to bear 12 5-inch and nine 16-inch guns -- capable, with new munitions, of firing accurately to nearly 100 miles. The two battleships can also carry nearly twice as many cruise missiles as all the DD(X) hulls combined. All that firepower is available for $2 billion -- the cost of one DD(X).
Sometimes, as I tell my grandchildren, older is better. In the case of the two battlewagons, older is not only superior, it's also a lot less expensive."
You can read more on the Iowa Class ship specifications here.