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April 15, 2005
Heavy Metal

An observant reader may have gathered from a couple of past entries here that I'm something of a battleship aficionado. The reader would be correct.

Nothing says "are you ready to surrender yet?" like an American battleship showing up on your coastline, ready to begin lobbing 2000-pound shells. Saddam's army learned that lesson in 1991, with whole units surrendering at the sight of the unmanned aerial vehicles used by the battleships for target spotting and fire correction/adjustment. They knew what kind of hell would otherwise have been unleashed on them.

Fandom aside, though, I had thought the day of the battleships' utility in war was over. I assumed that other weapon systems were adequate to the tasks for which the battleship was well-suited. As a stodgy old traditionalist, I hoped the battlewagons could still be useful, but I was not convinced that it could be so.

Oliver North says otherwise:

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.
I believe him.

Below the fold, another photo from my recent visit to the USS North Carolina.

The aft turret:

Click for larger

Posted by Russ at 01:00 PM, April 15, 2005 in Nat'l Security & North Carolina

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I'm curious why they withdrew them from service. Weren't the New Jersey and Iowa put back in service during Reagan's presidency?

Posted by: GunTrash at April 15, 2005 05:41 PM

They certainly were - full updates were made to many of their systems - radar, radios and such (but not, interestingly, to the analog/mechanical computers that were used for aiming the big guns; tests in the 80s showed that electronic computers would not provide much improvement, if any.) Phalanx air-defense was added.

After Gulf War 1, they were downsized along with the rest of the military. Apparently they were not flashy enough to be retained on active service.

- USS Missouri currently resides in Pearl Harbor as a museum, near the USS Arizona.

- USS Wisconsin has already been made into a museum. Reactivating her would likely be impossible.

- USS New Jersey is in mothballs, and is scheduled to be converted to a museum.

- USS Iowa is in mothballs, waiting for either reactivation or conversion to a museum.

Museums are good, but it's still sad. Very sad.

Posted by: Russ at April 15, 2005 05:54 PM

Sadly, the USS New Jersey (BB-62) is already a museum. It's anchored in the Delaware River off Camden, NJ, across from Philly. I visited it with my Boy Scout troop and spent the night on board. Damn. What a piece of work. I can understand why, if one of those pulled up to shore, you'd think quickly of surrendering.

Posted by: Crowe at April 18, 2005 10:19 AM