Now first of all, I invite everybody to notice that the word "Battleship" is in quotations. And that is for a very good reason which will be explained further along. One thing that often confuses people is how to classify ships. For example, what is an "Aircraft Carrier"? Well, most people hear those words and think a ship like the USS Midway or USS Nimitz. A ship who's primary role is to carry aircraft into combat where they take off and do battle with ships and fighters. But is that enough? Were not the WWII era "Escort Carriers" also aircraft carriers? While their true mission was to ferry aircraft from one location to another and provide some coverage to convoys they would also occasionally participate in more major battles. Then let's get murkier, like the case of the Liaoning. Now even when the Soviets launched this ship as the Varyag they did not call or consider it an "aircraft carrier". It was a "tyazholiy avianesushchiy kreyser", or "Heavy Aircraft Carrying Cruiser". It had a small number of aircraft, not intended to conduct actual attack or strike missions, but to defend the ship and it's fleet from attacks from the aircraft of other nations. So is it really an "aircraft carrier"? Or the USS Makin Island, LHD-8. This is part of a class of amphibious warfare ships, primarily designed to take Marines to the shore in either helicopters or on LCAC hovercraft, LAVs, or other amphibious vehicles. But they can also carry 6-8 Harrier or the future F-35B fighters. Are these "Aircraft carriers"? Well, the argument can be mode both ways. Technically any ship that can launch and recover aircraft is an "aircraft carrier", but a true aircraft carrier has that as her primary role and mission. So it is not the ship itself that determines it's name and nomenclature, but the mission to which it is assigned. Now in covering roughly 200 years of modern Naval Warfare, the "battle ship", no matter what it was called, had one primary and one secondary mission. First off it was attacking other "ships of the line". Broadsides and boarding parties, cross the "T", sink the other before they sink you. But at least as far back as the North American War of 1812 we saw a secondary mission start. And that was providing direct assault capabilities upon shore installations. And as the decades progressed, that became a greater and greater mission for the main ships. Ironically, this reached it's peak in WWII. With the advancement of aircraft, the role of surface ships in attacking other surface ships quickly vanished, and they then took up their previous secondary role as their primary role. Now instead of attacking other Battleships (like in the Battle of Savo Island), they now became primarily used in providing off-shore bombardments. In short, huge mobile artillery positions. None of the island hopping campaigns in the Pacific during WWII could have been done without battleships. Nor the invasions of Italy or France. And this did not stop there, in battles from Korea and Vietnam to Lebanon and Iraq battleships did excellent service destroying shore positions and supporting the troops on the ground. It was so effective that even the roar of the USS New Jersey would send attackers fleeing even if they were not the actual target of the rounds. They knew that a single shell could lay waste to over 1,000 square meters of land and wanted to be nowhere near one when it landed. So what is my primary definition of a "Battleship"? Well, it is not necessarily a BB USS Iowa class ship. However, it is a ship with many of those same capabilities. Primarily, the ability to send large amounts of firepower downrange in direct support to either troops on the ground, or removing any weapons or concentrations of personnel within range of their guns. So right here it has to be recognized that when I talk about the "need for battleships", I am not talking about bringing back the Iowa class ships, no matter how good they were during their time. But the mission that they fulfilled has not gone away. Cruise missiles may be great, but if you have to land a bunch of people either on a hostile shore or to take a location within 15 miles of the shore are they really a good use of assets to support the people on the ground? Not really. They have to be programmed in advance, they are expensive, they have limited capability to damage the enemy, and they are limited to things like weather and attack from defensive systems. Even a grunt with a MANPAD can shoot down a cruise missile. But I wish them a lot of luck trying to shoot down a 1 ton shell screaming in at MACH 6. - - - Updated - - - So just to be clear once again, I am talking about a combat ship with the capabilities of a battleship, not an actual rebirth of the USS Iowa class ship. And in reality, the actual needs can be met with a ship that has largely been considered obsolete, the Battlecruiser. In the interwar years between WWI and WWII, the Washington Naval Treaty limited the number and sizes of battleships. And this was to be known as either the "Battlecruiser" to the English, or "Pocket Battleships" to the Germans. In short, you place a smaller number of battleship guns (or near battleship guns) onto a cruiser that has the same armor as a battleship. This is kind of a hybrid, not as big and expensive as a battleship, but with many of the same capabilities. Thick heavy armor, and some large caliber guns. So for a "modern Battleship", what is really needed is simply a new class of Battlecruiser. And the US actually made a fine one in the Alaska class of WWII. 808 feet long, she was 80 feet shorter then the Iowa class. And with a displacement of only 30,000 tons instead of the 45,000 tons of the Iowa, she was also much lighter. With 9 12" guns as main armament instead of the 9 16" guns of the Iowa. Now when the BB class was brought back into service in the 1980's, one of the primary reasons was that they were to modern threats unsinkable. This is due to the thickness of armor since WWII. Ships sinking ships died in WWII, and so did the threat of hits from large caliber shells. Now the threats were aircraft with bombs and torpedoes and later missiles. So ships got lighter and faster. The Alaska class had from 9-11 inches of armor in her hull. The Iowa class has 11-19 inches of armor on her hull. A more modern ship like the Arleigh Burke class destroyer only has from 1-5 inches of armor. This is why a rubber raft with 400 pounds of explosives or an inexpensive missile like the Exocet with 350 pounds of explosives can cripple or sink our most advanced ships. And that is the hull that modern anti-ship missiles are designed to penetrate. Rather thin armor, the ship relies upon the defensive systems to destroy the threat, so there is little put into actually making the hull able to withstand such damage in the first place. The USS Stark was almost lost because of an Exocet missile, and spent almost 3 years undergoing repairs. If this missile had hit a ship like the USS Iowa or even USS Alaska, it would have done little to no damage because it could not have penetrated the hull. So in addition to providing shore bombardment capabilities, it is also useful to have in our fleet at least some ships that are impervious to missile attacks simply because missiles are not designed to penetrate that thickness of hull. - - - Updated - - - The 21st Century Battleship: Now what it is called I largely could not care. Battleship, Battlescruiser, Heavy Cruiser, it is the ship mission that needs filling. A heavy ship capable of providing direct fire onto shore installations. My idea had long been a modern melding of the Alaska Class ships, with the refit that almost happened to the USS New Jersey when she was brought back into service in 1981. Many do not know that the BB-62 almost lost her rear turret. The Navy almost replaced the turret with a VLS system with 48 Harpoon or Tomahawk missiles. If a new ship is to be built, that would be the best way to do it. 2 triple turrets with 12" guns, and in the rear a modern VLS missile system. And yes, for most missions the 12" is more then suficient, along with some secondary 5" guns. The Arleigh Burke class only has a single 5" gun, the Ticonderogas have 2 5" or 25mm guns, ranges are in the neighborhood of 10-13 miles. Not much help if you have people on shore screaming for fire support and they are 15 miles away. And with the advent of the Advanced Gun System, this can be "super sized" and put some real teeth into a modern ship. The AGS is an amazing concept, and the USS Zumwalt already has it. A 6" gun that can fire either a conventional shell (range 15 miles), or a rocket assisted shell with a range of 83 miles. Now double the size of the caliber and multiple by 6 and you can put a huge amount of hurt onto a target at least 80 miles inland. And with much less cost then doing the same amount of damage with conventional missiles, with a much shorter rounds on target time. Add to it a laser tracking system and you can have either troops on the ground or in an observation aircraft or drone actually walk this round onto the target like a PGM. In all weather, day or night. That is a devastating capability. And for deployment, simply build one ship to operate with each of our Amphibious Assault forces. This has a second benefit by giving more defensive capabilities to our amphibious transports.