U.S. Navy's Lethal New Stealth Destroyer Is No 'Battleship'

Stealthy, ultra high-tech, a fit subject for sci-fi—but why call it a battleship?

Like the rest of the surface warships, then, the DDG-1000 will find itself sorely outranged by the missile-armed submarines, warplanes and surface combatants that comprise the core of naval fighting forces around the Eurasian perimeter. Chinese or Russian forces can blast away from beyond the reach of American guns or missiles. And if U.S. forces try to close the gap, they will do so under fire—fire that will enfeeble them on the way.

In that the DDG-1000’s plight does resemble the battleship’s plight after Pearl Harbor. It’s a heavy hitter whose reach is woefully short. Defense firms are developing new long-range anti-ship cruise missiles. The U.S. Navy has experimented with repurposing land-attack cruise missiles for surface warfare—resurrecting a capability the leadership shortsightedly allowed to lapse after the Cold War.

Let’s get some long-range weaponry out there—pronto. No, the DDG-1000 isn’t a stealth battleship. But it should be. And—suitably armed—it could be.

James Holmes is Professor of Strategy at the Naval War College, coauthor of Red Star over the Pacific, and the last gunnery officer to fire a battleship’s big guns in anger. The views voiced here are his alone.

Image: U.S. Navy