History Snippets: Battleships

“History Snippets” serializes small bits of research from an unfinished test project. The theme is technology and natural events that shaped our modern world.

In the 20th century we developed giant warships (now obsolete) we called “Battle Ships”. Weighing about 45,000 tons, with a waterline length of about 860 feet and a speed of about 64 kilometers per hour, these were the most heavily armed ships ever put to sea. The “Iowa class” vessels carried nine 16-inch guns, firing projectiles weighing around a ton up to 20 miles.

In World War II, battleships were found to be indefensibly vulnerable to attack by air. They were replaced, in a historical blink of the eye, by the aircraft carrier.

USS Missouri, Iowa class battleship

USS Missouri. The Iowa class battleship was constructed to a length of 887 feet, with a draft of about 29 feet. Click the image to see a larger picture, with enough detail to show sailors standing on the deck, which gives a better idea of the scale of this vessel. The Missouri weighed about 45,000 tons and carried a massive complement of guns described more fully in Wikipedia. After retrofitting in 1984 she carried 1,851 men and officers. Click the image to see a larger picture.

The USS Missouri served in World War II, the Korean War, the Gulf War and other hot spots throughout most of the 20th century. The historic signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender took place on board, signed by General Douglas MacArthur and Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, with numerous Allied military officials in attendance, on September 2, 1945.

The “Mighty Mo” was reactivated in 2984, outfitted with missiles and modern guidance systems to complement her 16-inch guns, and saw service the Gulf War, where she  served essentially as a seagoing gunnery island to soften up Iraqi positions inland.  She had also served in anti-piracy duty in the Persian Gulf, and must have been a massively imposing deterrent to Iranian-manned cigarette boats operating in the area.

Compare the ship above to the ancient Greek war trireme,  which was usually 120 feet or less in length with a draft (displacement) of about three feet of water.

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