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Thread: Bring Back The Iowa Class Discussion And Debate

  1. #571
    Military Professional dundonrl's Avatar
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    What would it take? (and how long).....

    Just reading a question on Quora, what would it take to reactivate any (or all) of the Iowas? I know that a lot of the electronics are completely out of date and would need to be upgraded (such as TWCS, Tomahawk Weapons Control System) is now in the fleet as TTWCS (Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System) and the Navy hasn't used ABL's in 30 years, since VLS replaced them. I would think that most of the ships are in reasonably good shape, since the actual "wear and tear" is just a decade or two on them. Items such as the main engines would be an issue, since the last time engines like them were operated was in 2005, when the USS Sacramento AOE-1 was decommissioned (she, and the USS Camden AOE-2) used engines from the Kentucky BB-66, but the Navy still has experience with steam turbines, since most of the Wasp class use conventional powered steam plants.

  2. #572
    Patron Michigan_Guy's Avatar
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    http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/showthread.php?t=41886 has a lot of this info in it.

    It always comes down to money and support. In the case of the Iowa's, there is on. Theoretically speaking, yes all 4 ships are capable of being returned to service, you just have to rebuild the whole support infrastructure for them. Barrels, ammunition, and a whole slew of mechanical parts are no longer made for this ship and leftovers are quickly being turned into Chinese razor blades. The missile systems are no longer supported and would have to be replaced. I don't see how they could add VLS without removing a turret, but then what would the point be of returning these ships to service if they were no longer BB's? It would be cheaper to build new ships. Even if you returned the ships to service simply as gun platforms with no missiles, you still need ammunition for the 16" guns and some sort of a way to reline the barrels. I don't think the engines would be an issue. I guarantee they would need some work as far are steam piping and such goes but that should not be a problem.
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  3. #573
    Defense Professional RustyBattleship's Avatar
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    Michigan Guy said: "I don't see how they could add VLS without removing a turret ---"

    Buy my book and you will see how in chapter 34. By the way, all royalties go to the Pacific Battleship Center (USS IOWA).
    Able to leap tall tales in a single groan.

  4. #574
    Regular Tom24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dundonrl View Post
    Just reading a question on Quora, what would it take to reactivate any (or all) of the Iowas? I know that a lot of the electronics are completely out of date and would need to be upgraded (such as TWCS, Tomahawk Weapons Control System) is now in the fleet as TTWCS (Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System) and the Navy hasn't used ABL's in 30 years, since VLS replaced them. I would think that most of the ships are in reasonably good shape, since the actual "wear and tear" is just a decade or two on them. Items such as the main engines would be an issue, since the last time engines like them were operated was in 2005, when the USS Sacramento AOE-1 was decommissioned (she, and the USS Camden AOE-2) used engines from the Kentucky BB-66, but the Navy still has experience with steam turbines, since most of the Wasp class use conventional powered steam plants.
    This point gets brought up a lot and there's a misconception that they're all gone, But there are still about 14 ships total in the fleet that are boiler powered, most notably Mount Whitney(LCC-20) and Blue Ridge(LCC-19), the Wasp class LHD's, a few submarine tenders and a few other ships. So boiler powered ships still exist in the Navy and will for quite a while yet. The problem is the number of crew needed to operate their boilers and man all watches on an Iowa class BB. All the other problems mentioned in reactivating them are bigger and harder to overcome than operating their propulsion plants.

  5. #575
    Military Professional JCT's Avatar
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    One of the biggest cost drivers would be replacing the entire electronics suites and bringing them up to current standards. A lot has changed since they were decommissioned. New radios, crypto gear, antennas, probably have to rerun/route a lot of RF cables, etc. This alone, outside of manning and material issues, would be too expensive.

  6. #576
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    When people talk about bringing the BB's back every jumps on the guns and the engines. I suggest that is would be better to look at eh ships as hulls and stake a hard look at what it would take to make them modern. The single biggest asset of the ship is the size of he hull and the strength.

    The Iowas will never return to sea as steam ships. In fact, the Navy wanted to replace the steam plants in the 80's. In 2008, I was overhauling a 64 mW gas turbine at Merck, West Point PA facility, and a GE engineer was sent in to provide help. He showed me the brass name plate which had a marine rating. He was the project engineer for that turbine back in the 80's and told me the history. GE was awarded a contract to build marine rated gas turbines to replace the steam plant in the Wisconsin, but due to delays, the Wisconsin skipped it. Instead, it was decided to put them in the New Jersey which was due for a major overhaul after Wisconsin went to sea. The plant would have installed a turbo electric drive system in and would have maintained the 32 knot speed. Steam would have been generated by two boilers using the gas turbine exhaust and used for heating and secondary services. The new plant would have left the forward boiler room empty and the forward stack would have been removed. It is my understanding the work would have been done at the Philadelphia Naval Yard. The end of the cold war lead to the the Navy dropping the plan and the gas turbines and generators were sold. Merck bought one of the gas turbines and its generator set to install in the huge West Point pharma complex. The unit is still there. The GE engineer told me the engineering staff would have been reduced to a total 65 men in the main engineering plant. If I remember right, the steam plant had 280 men. This change would have had a number of positive impacts. The engines would have been controlled directly from the main bridge. The drop in head count was large. Using turbo electric would have allowed the conversion of secondary system to electric and would have allowed more electronics to be added.

    The navy certainly had ideas for the empty boiler rooms. One was ti install a third gas turbine for powering lasers and rail guns. Most likely, the space would have been used for missile systems. It would have allowed a large number of silos with reload capacity. It would have also allowed for a redesigned bridge structure and the addition of Aegis and other advanced systems.

    The navy also began a program for modernizing the secondary guns. The Zumi's gun is a descendant of that effort to develop and automated single barrel gun to replace the dual 5" mounts.

    There was also a program in Navy Ordnance to develop new ammunition for the 16" guns. The first efforts resulted in two different rocket booster systems that attached to the existing shells and resulted in a 60 mile range and a 80 mile range. There was also two sabot rounds proposed and work was pretty advanced on a 180 mile range 14" shell sabot with a rocket booster. Preliminary work was also done t create a 800 mile range 11 or 12" sabot shell with a rocket booster. I knew three engineers who worked on them and they said the 80 mile booster and the 180 mile shell were approved for preproduction just before the project was canceled. It was my understanding the shells were delayed over accuracy, but a basic satellite guidance system was developed and used control fins. my guess is it meant the barrels were converted to smoothbore. It is important to understand what that kind long range meant. One battle ship could bottle up the Russian fleet at chock points. Today, we could park one Iowa in the Persian Gulf and every major target would be in range. There is also no reason the big guns could not have been automated to a degree as well reducing staffing.

    Ordnance people also told me that the Navy found the old test hull sections for the armor and conducted a series of tests with various missiles and anti-ship weapons. The results were interesting. The Iowas were designed to survive plunging shells and bombs. What was different about the Iowas is eh main armor was internal, but the outer hull was actually made from what was essentially non-hardened Class B armor. The navy found that steel stripped shells and bombs of their caps which drastically reduced their ability to get through the main belt. Modern weapons are either big warheads that detonate on impact or they are shape charges. The big blast weapons would do superficial damage to the Iowas while the shape charges were easily defeated by adding a layer of ceramic armor on the main belts and by the space between the outer shell and the main belts. Torpedoes were an issue but they are for any ship.

  8. #578
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    I find just about all of that pretty hard to believe, especially since our recently-departed and highly-respected RustyBattleship was the lead man on the NJ's reactivation. He wrote a book about the Long Beach Naval Shipyard with extensive info about New Jersey....and I don't recall anything about replacing the engines or it even being considered or him mentioning it here.

    And in the 80's, rail guns and lasers weren't even thought of, so there's no way the Navy thought back then they could put any control apparatus for them in any ship.

    In fact, that's the first I've heard of any of that, after years of being here with the real experts. Other than the shell designs.....the sabot rounds were definitely designed and could have been put into production pretty quickly. The scramjet stuff was just designs, no testing I've ever heard of. Things those US Naval Fire Support folks used to talk about, as I recall.

  9. #579
    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pacfanweb View Post
    I find just about all of that pretty hard to believe, especially since our recently-departed and highly-respected RustyBattleship was the lead man on the NJ's reactivation. He wrote a book about the Long Beach Naval Shipyard with extensive info about New Jersey....and I don't recall anything about replacing the engines or it even being considered or him mentioning it here.

    And in the 80's, rail guns and lasers weren't even thought of, so there's no way the Navy thought back then they could put any control apparatus for them in any ship.

    In fact, that's the first I've heard of any of that, after years of being here with the real experts. Other than the shell designs.....the sabot rounds were definitely designed and could have been put into production pretty quickly. The scramjet stuff was just designs, no testing I've ever heard of. Things those US Naval Fire Support folks used to talk about, as I recall.
    I agree with you. Dick never said anything remotely like that in his book. Never said anything like that on this forum. Never said anything like that in personal conversation.

  10. #580
    Contributor bbvet's Avatar
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    This is all very interesting, to say the least. However, I have a tidbit from the past that, until reading the last few posts, I had sort of put in the back of my mind - now, seems like an appropriate time to recall:

    Back in the late '70s/early '80s I was single, living in coastal NC and dating someone who,as it turned out, decided to find something better than her present job and moved to Washington, DC in pursuit of that goal. Talk of recommissioning the IOWAs was faint, at best. Reagon was President, and the times, they were a-changin'! I hadn't heard from her in quite a while, but one day I got this rather thick packet in the mail (yea, the snail-mail trail - no internet in those days!). Turns out, she had landed a position at Ross Perot's company EDS in their graphics department and this packet contained some layouts of pre-commissioning what-ifs, etc. of NEW JERSEY with her 1982 configuration. And, within a month the media was buzzing about the Navy's decision to recommission the IOWAs, beginning with NEW JERSEY! She noted that she had remembered my service on NEW JERSEY in Vietnam and my interest, etc. Now, the irony is that about a year later, the then-present girlfriend (long gone - thank goodness!!) gives me a paid-for birthday gift of attending the recommisssioning in Long Beach in Dec. 82. So, you never know who may or may not have some tie-in to battleships!!! Isn't Life Grand???

    I think I may still have a couple of the pre-comm drawings somewhere in my stash, but as my interest in my old duty station is mainly from the '60s, the modernized version doesn't really hold much appeal for me. I'm still curious as to EDS's involvement - she never did clarify this...

    Hank
    Last edited by bbvet; 28 Oct 17, at 11:57. Reason: clarification

  11. #581
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbvet View Post
    I think I may still have a couple of the pre-comm drawings somewhere in my stash, but as my interest in my old duty station is mainly from the '60s, the modernized version doesn't really hold much appeal for me. I'm still curious as to EDS's involvement - she never did clarify this...

    Hank
    Do you think you could scan and post these pre-comm drawings that you have in your stash ? That would be just great !

    As for EDS, it may be that they simply acted as the outsourced IT department of the company that actually did the design work.

    Regards.

  12. #582
    Contributor bbvet's Avatar
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    SW4U,

    I will look thru stuff here at the shop and if I can't find it here, will look at home this weekend. It's either here or there. Not a whole lot left now, but I "think" there may be a couple of the early idea configs of what they were thinking going into the early '80s.

    Hank

  13. #583
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbvet View Post
    SW4U,

    I will look thru stuff here at the shop and if I can't find it here, will look at home this weekend. It's either here or there. Not a whole lot left now, but I "think" there may be a couple of the early idea configs of what they were thinking going into the early '80s.

    Hank
    Hank,

    Whatever you might find (here or there), I'm sure it'll be worth it !

    Regards.

    SW4U.

  14. #584
    Contributor bbvet's Avatar
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    SW4U,

    The problem seems to be that I have bits & pieces of things (in this case, photos/drawings/articles/etc.) in various places and nothing really organized. A pure Hell for a detail oriented CAD person, to be sure!!!! I drive myself crazy sometimes - hours wasted trying to find things that could have been spent CLEANING UP THINGS!!!!

    Still looking....

    Hank

  15. #585
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    Hank,

    "Hours wasted trying to find things that could have been spent CLEANING UP THINGS" : that sounds so familiar ! LOL.

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards.
    Last edited by SW4U; 11 Dec 17, at 02:09.

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