Nuclear powered Battleship?

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
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Re: Nuclear powered Battleship?

Post by Kyler » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:16 pm

lwd is right, a 16in rail gun is over kill. I don't the navy or army has even thought of scaling a railgun to that sight. It is already a problem to power the existing systems that are being tested. It is not very economical in the design of nuclear powered ship with a large number of nuclear reactors. The USS Enterprise is a prime example. After she was built the Navy went to the two reactor system for the Nimitz class.

The more machinery needed to generate power, the more space and tonnage it takes up on a ship. Less space for sensors and weapons systems. Unless some new and compact energy systems comes about in the next 20 years, I would not expect railguns probably to get any bigger than they currently are.
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Re: Nuclear powered Battleship?

Post by yellowtail3 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:23 am

Nuclear powered Battleship?
...stupendous waste of money, that's what they'd be.
Shift Colors... underway.


Re: Nuclear powered Battleship?

Post by USnavyCPO » Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:32 pm

I was a US Navy Chief Petty Officer (Radar man) for almost 26 years. I served on the USS New Jersey (BB-62) when she was the centerpiece for the Battleship Battle Group in 1986. We often talked about how she could be converted to nuclear propulsion and how she could better defend herself against air attack with the addition of state of the art anti-air missile systems such as the Standard ER missile. The battleships were formidable vessels with their 16"and 5" gun systems, as well as the 32 tomahawk and 16 harpoon guided missiles onboard. AAW was somewhat provided with the 4 CIWS guns onboard.

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Re: Nuclear powered Battleship?

Post by paul.mercer » Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:37 pm

Many years ago I read an article by a former captain of an 'Iowa' class ship in an old 'Guns and Ammo' magazine, he was obviously very proud of his ship and he said "Man, when an enemy sees us coming over the horizon he really ought to start considering his options" but in todays senarios with nuclear armed missiles and torpedoes I fear she would be just a heap of melted steel.

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Re: Nuclear powered Battleship?

Post by CB1Alaska » Wed May 28, 2014 12:45 pm

First I am a disabled former US Army Major who is a battleship fanatic and 1/350 model builder. I am a physician whose brother is a NASA physicist and he got me interested in battleships from as early as I can recall. I'm new to the forum and I will give the best answer/opinion I have read regarding your question about nuclear battleships in a minute. It is 0255hrs up here in Alaska and it is near the time of year and day when the High Seas Fleet escaped the Grand Fleet and it is close to the time of day the graceful, deadly, and powerful SMS Lutzow was abandoned and sunk by her escorts torpedo after Jutland. I don't have any true darkness outside but enough. In WWI I feel the best built ships were German period I m aware of the Queen Elizabeth class---I feel too many overlook the Derfflinger class. To me the Derfflinger class an perhaps all classes of WWi German large cruisers (Groben Kruizer? Regrettably,I don't speak German) were the worlds first fast battleships.

My books on battleships are more numerous and heavy than my medical books---most of my anesthesiology reading is done on line. However, for battleships, battlecruisers and USN large cruisers (my home state Alaska was a large cruiser and NOT a battlecruiser!) there is nothing like a book. Anyway, I have read thousands of pages some over and over and personally. However, for me and this is no excuse for not being able to provide you with an exact source of my answer to your question. However, I do recall reading the USN looking into the cost of modernizing the South Dakota class using nuclear power to bring them up to the necessary SHP to drive their relatively squat hulls at the new fleet speed of 30+ knots. If I recall correctly, the GAO studied the ships found their condition excellent due to minimal wartime use and damage. However, the cost they came back with to modernize a South Dakota using nuclear power to achieve the new fleet speed of 30+ knots was a cost the US Congress refused to fund and thus the USS South Dakota BB57 and the USS Indianna BB58 became cars and razor blades. If I recall the North Carolina's weren't even considered even though they served longer in the postwar fleet because their armor was not as strong as the South Dakota's and the Iowa's and nobody felt the need for more than 8 16" battleships, especially with the Rapid Fire 8"55cal Des Moines class available. Essentially, they wanted to know if the USN could have 8 16" (albeit 4 with the 16" 50cal MKVII and 4 with the 16" 45 cal MKVIII) battleships in reserve for future littoral naval surface gunfire support but the ships had to have a top speed of 30+ knots. Hence the scrapping of USS Washington BB56, USS South Dakota BB57 (the only US fast battleship to mount only 8 twin 5"38cal turrets) and the USS Indianna BB58. If I have made a few errors, please forgive me, I'm pulling all of this from my memory as I try not to wake my little ones. I look forward to participating on this forum. Although I hate the NAZI's, I love the Bismark and Scharnhorst classes of battleships. they have a beautiful profile and Germany never called the Scharnhorst anything but a battleship. It is we arrogant American who mislabeled her. I have often wondered how her battles would have gone had she had a 12" 50 cal with a heavy for caliber shell. Give her that and a proper North Atlantic bow---much longer with much greater sheer and flare and suddenly, they are not weak. they are what the CB1 USS Alaska class could have been and far more deadly. Enough for Scharnhorst to have sunk DoY. Sorry for the lat night ramble. Nuclear was looked into only for the So. Dak's because that was the only way to get the power needed to drive them at fleet speed. It cost too much and the Iowa's didn't need it so why give 4 ships nuclear power to sit in mothballs while active super carriers were conventionally powered? There was logic in looking at the So. Daks and it was too costly. End of story. I will stop rambling now but I have read with great respect your posts all over the internet for years. This is the first forum I've decided to join and I hope you aren't offended I picked you to ramble at.
CB1Alaska If you want to correspond about these great ships personally respond to my post and I will send you my email.


Re: Nuclear powered Battleship?

Post by Old_Frog » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:27 pm

If anyone had kept up with news, or history, they would have found the Sea Orbit where Enterprise (Carrier), Long Beach (Cruiser), and Bainbridge (Destroyer) circled the earth without being refueled because they were all nuclear powered vessels that were built in the 50's, and retired in the 70's. As such, refitting an Iowa class would not be a problem. The only reason more cruisers and destroyers were not built is because it was not cost effective, and the vehicles would not last 50 years like a super carrier would. The maintenance of the Iowa was also not cost effective, and that is why they have been retired (Even though they are retired and are museums, they are kept in working condition in case they are ever needed again). The Iowa Class Battleships were in service for more than 50 years, so it might be cost effective in the future if a new Battleship were built, but cruisers fill the gap having a smaller footprint, and firing missiles instead of the big guns. I like you, would like to see a BBN-81 Arizona in our future.

Nuclear power would be necessary for railgun turrets. You worry about cooling issues for the barrels, but those barrels will have cooling jackets filled with at minimum water, and more likely nitrogen. Even with water, the barrel would cool in a second or 2. You also have to think about what a Battleship would have. It would have 3-4 turrets with 2-3 barrels each. If cooling cycle is 6 seconds, then a Battleship could put in the air, 30 sabots per minute, and if my estimates are right, then it could put 360 sabots in the air. Actual will be somewhere in between.

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Re: Nuclear powered Battleship?

Post by Garyt » Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:46 pm

An Interesting trhead.

What would be interesting is to take a New-Jersey class vessel, and arm it in a way similar to the Kirov, but of course more/heavier weapons. I'm not as up on modern naval weapons as I am on WW2 era weapons, but the Kashtan CIWS sounds like an amazing weapon.

If you throw in nuclear power, arm it as an upscale Kirov, you now have a nuclear powered heavily armored vessel with state of the art weaponry.

And even something like the Soviet Granit Missile is not going to be that damaging to the New Jersey. It would be similar to being hit by a 2000 GP Bomb. Problem for a GP bomb OR a Granit is that they will not penetrate the armor of the New Jersey. which limits the damage.

Problem is really nothing out there today penetrates battleship armor. 12"+ Guns is what will penetrate battleship armor. Not to say there could not be some way of coming up with a weapon that would do this - you just don't see 10"+ armor any more, so weapons are not designed to defeat it.

Biggest vulnerability of a BBN would be torpedoes. I'm not sure with modern technology what a force of subs could do against a modern task force with an aircraft carrier.

But putting reactors on and uparmoring a New Jersey seems an intriguing way of building up firepower without starting from scratch with a new vessel.


Re: Nuclear powered Battleship?

Post by Jnelson32258 » Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:27 pm

Several BBs survied the operation crossroads nuke tests but still radioactive

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