The Buzz

Why the Dream of Bringing Back the Battleships Still Won't Sink

Wisconsin and Iowa were struck from the Navy List in March 2006, clearing their way for donation as museum ships. Although provisions were made to keep the ships theoretically capable of additional military service, few seem to believe that they can usefully be reactivated, and certainly not quickly or at reasonable cost. Wisconsin is on display at Norfolk, Virginia; several years later Iowa became a monument in Los Angeles, California.

The Zumwalt-class destroyers, even with their curtailed buy, seemingly resolved the naval-gunfire support debate, although many questioned whether they could have the same impact as the battleships. However, the high cost of ordnance for the 155-millimeter gun has meant that many of the promises of the Zumwalts will not be fulfilled. It remains to be seen whether rail guns or some other kind of delivery system will satisfy the shore-bombardment concerns of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to TNI, is author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a Senior Lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. His work includes military doctrine, national security, and maritime affairs. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns and Money and Information Dissemination and The Diplomat.

Image: A tug boat nudges the bow of the battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64) as the ship is pushed from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to the Nauticus Museum in Norfolk, Va., on Dec. 7, 2000. Wikimedia Commons

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