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So I was thinking of a scenario where a fleet of 5 warships got sucked into a portal that dumps them in a glitch in time. They were dumped into an ocean world where pirates of the Caribbean-ish keep respawning themselves. The portal will reopen after twenty-four hours. Could the modern battleship survive that long?

The warships are all USS Zumwalt class ships.

It is low on fuel but full-on ammo and electricity

The ship's crew knows nothing about how it happened but knows they must survive a day.

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    $\begingroup$ The USS Zumwalt is a guided missile destroyer. "Battleship" generally refers to a style of warship that has not been widely used since World War II. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Feb 22 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ (1) There is no such thing as a "modern battleship". Battleships have been obsolete since the beginning of WW2; a "modern battleship" is just as meaningful as a "modern trireme". (2) The Zumwalt is not a battleship. It does not resemble a battleship in any way. It's a very expensive, unarmored, self-propelled missile battery. (3) Ships do not have electrical batteries; electric power is generated burning the same fuel which propels them. If they are low on fuel they are low on electricity. (4) On the other hand, it is made of steel; and even at quarter speed it is faster then the pirates. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 22 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ Would pirates act like real life pirates, or like video game mobs, who just keep coming even if the loss ratio is worse than 1:1000 ? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Feb 22 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ Are the pirates also going to attack this metal monster like mindless zealots? Even after the first few ships turn into sawdust? $\endgroup$ – Andrey Feb 22 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP main engines and electricity generation not the same, cape sized bulker was at pacific for a month repairing their main engine, but they had electricity no problem. With 14k ton displacement they can stem roll any ship of that time without paint be scratched, so no need to flee. 2OP there is 0 suspense in u Q to defend themselfs they need just one m-16 per opponent ship, effective range 550m $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Feb 22 at 20:23
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The Mobility of the USS Zumwalt would normally allow it to just avoid the pirates, but lack of fuel could force the ship to have to stand and fight... in which case, it would be a massacre.

Even a civil war era ironclad could take countless shots from the kinds of weapons used by Caribbean pirate ships; so, a 21st century warship could literally just sit there and take whatever shots the pirates make at them. The USS Zumwalt is armored to to survive modern high-velocity auto-cannons. While the exact thickness of the USS Zumwalt's hull is unknown, the outer skin of most modern warships is 25 to 50 mm of armor grade steel or an equivalent armor composite. While this is thinner than an ironclad, modern steel is about 5-10 times as strong as it was during the civil war; so, the armor is still comparable if not better. Also, modern warships tend to have inner hulls; so, even if a cannon ball somehow manages to crack the outer armor, the cannonball will still be stopped long before penetrating to hit the inner hull; so, the ship will not be flooded.

As for armament, the USS Zumwalt carries 80 Long range missiles. Each one designed for destroying modern targets with pinpoint accuracy. 80 missiles = 80 sunken pirate ships.

It is also designed to carry over 900 rounds of 155 mm anti-armor shells. Since the OP stipulates that the ship is fully loaded (unlike any real world Zumwalt), this will give it a lot of killing power. Each one of these could sink a pirate ship in 1 hit. With computer aided targeting, and how slow wooden ships are compared to modern ones, you could probably get close to 100% accuracy with these too.

It also has some 30mm guns with an undisclosed amount of ammo which can also go through a wooden ship like butter.

But, let's say you fire all of your ammo from all 5 destroyers sinking 5000ish pirate ships and they just keep coming, you'd still be fine. The doors on modern warships are metal bulkhead doors; so, while the pirates might board you, they can not get inside of your ship with the breaching tools they might have; so, ultimately, you could just choose not to shoot anyone, and just wait the pirates out.

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    $\begingroup$ What armour do you think the Zumwalt carries? $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 22 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ The Zumwalt is unlikely to have anything thicker than 25mm, and it is likely to be more like half that (though I'm having trouble getting exact figures). It will not be armour steel. Ironclads had armour plating five times thicker, and backed by thick and heavy timber, too. The two are not reasonably comparable. It would be extremely unlikely for a modern ship to be sunk by gunpowder cannon fire, but I doubt it would just shrug it off. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 22 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ Also, aren't the Zumwalt's main guns useless? They require some particularly weird ammo, which just isn't available and the whole plan was written off, if I recall correctly. The missiles may also have problems targeting wooden ships. The 30mm though... it would outrange anything the pirates carried, fire much faster and with greater accuracy, and should sink a wooden ship fast enough to avoid the issue of armour coming up. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 22 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime OP stipulates "It is low on fuel but full-on ammo " So I think we can assume that the ship is fully armed, even if that is not actually typical. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Feb 22 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP - that's true, but the OP did specify that its mags were full. So presumably in whatever universe this portal exists, they actually supplied the rounds for the AGS, cost be damned. $\endgroup$ – jdunlop Feb 22 at 20:42
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They Are Essentially Invulnerable

A Zumwalt class destroyer (not a battleship by any means) is faster, better armed, and wind-independent. Speed may come down eventually (not sure what 'low fuel' actually entails) but being independent of the wind and mobile to the tune of say, 10 knots (1/3 the Zumwalt's max listed speed, which is itself probably and undersell) makes it invulnerable-by-proxy. The ship could literally sail such that an enemy approaching it from a single direction would NEVER be able to get a broadside in range. If she's surrounded by foes, then the guns come into play...

You'd probably be engaging with it's main guns. 2 155mm cannon with a range of about 80 nautical miles. It can carry 920 rounds of 155mm ammo. For comparison, your enemies have a range of a couple hundred yards, less if they actually want to hit with a decent amount of shots. a 155 round into any of the brigs, sloops, or even non-pirate ships-of-the-line of "pirate times" would utterly annihilate the wooden sailing ship in question. If you want to save on 155 rounds you engage with your 57mm cannon, capable of over 200 rounds per minute and a range of about 10 miles. Again, this would quite literally reduce any given "pirate ship" to matches in a VERY short amount of time. They're also meant to target ships that are moving at speed, which your sailing ships are def NOT doing. Even assuming a paltry 10% hit ratio that's 92 "pirate ships" sent to the bottom. Except it's worse than that, because a 155 round is so nasty even a near-miss could wreack havoc on something a flimsy as a pirate ship. That's not even counting the guided missiles (ostensibly the ship's main armament) or any personal small arms the crew has. The missiles are gratuitous overkill, and the small-arms, while incapable of sinking a ship, are MORE than capable of rendering the Zumwalt immune to boarders until the ammo gives out.

Then we can talk about the armor. Your average "pirate ship" was maybe a 24-gun ship. Those "guns" would.... not make a dent in the Zumwalt's armor. Even at point-blank hull-to-hull type ranges they're unlikely to do damage. The cannonballs are simply not energetic enough. Maybe, maaaaybe after hours of hammering the same spot you might get something. But of course to do that the attacker would have to get through the 155, the 57mm, the crew's small arms, and somehow magically train every shot for hours on the same 6-inch spot. Even then, the most likely result is "that spot is slightly warm."

The only way a pirate FLEET could take a Zumwalt would be if it was unarmed, dead in the water, and somehow all the doors were unlocked. Because a Zumwalt, unlike a "pirate ship" or anything from the Age of Sail, is designed to fight with 0 crew on deck, and all hatches sealed. So even if pirates magically did make it aboard, the crew could just sit nice and safe inside the Zumwalt until the pirates starved to death. Because it's the Age of Sail and REAL hard to feed people shipboard.

TL/DR even given an infinite number of pirate ships, the zumwalt could kill until it's ammo ran out, not be fired on until its fuel ran out, and even when both are gone the ship/crew would be in 0 danger with even the most basic of security precautions like "seal all hatches."

As a fun aside, if the Zumwalt has no ammo and feels particularly aggressive, it could literally ram its way through pirate ships with essentially 0 consequence, and without there being a real chance of the smaller, frailer, sailing ships being able to dodge.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice detail, splendid first post. Welcome to wb.se - take our tour and when you have a moment, read-up in the help center about how we work, enjoy the site. (From review) $\endgroup$ – Draft 85 Feb 22 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ Since when does the Zumwalt actually have ammunition for its main guns? As far as I know, the American Navy decided that at one million dollars apiece, shells for the main guns were too expensive and simply decided to just not use those guns. The Zumwalt is a floating self-propelled missile battery and nothing more. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 22 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ I think you hit it best with 'invulnerable' and 'wind-independent'. Note where the portal will re-open, wait out the 24 hours upwind of the frustrated drunken caricatures, then power invulnerably right through them to return to the portal. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Feb 22 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ OP said it looked like a Zumwalt, not specifically IS a Zumwalt AlexP. So I used Zumwalt best base starting point, though as is readily apparent even worse-case it's not having a problem. $\endgroup$ – Dario Quint Feb 22 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ Closed hatches will be nicely opened by a barrel of gunpowder, if applied correctly, and generally they had some expirience with fortified constructions. Last part is the most suitable so as good point about wind independance it just needs to go slowly in wind opposite direction to leave everyone behind(pirates can follow but it will be slooow) $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Feb 22 at 20:55
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Could the modern battleship survive that long?

Without any difficulty whatsoever. They have radar and have unrestricted mobility and high speed.

If you meant an actual battleship of the WW1, WW2 type with thick armour and big guns, then it would be effectively invulnerable to cannon fire and has a wide selection of guns that would rapidly reduce a wooden sailing vessel to splinters (small caliber anti-aircraft cannon would be fine, for example) but could just as easily run its prey down.

I'm not actually sure what the effect of a old-school gunpowder cannon ball would be on a modern warship like the Zumwalt... not immediately catastrophic, at least. You haven't specified what "low fuel" means, but there's no reason that it couldn't evade the other ships, and it would be entirely capable of sinking any that came too close even with its slightly crippled armament.

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The Battleship will win.

While quantity does have a quality all its own, that doesn't matter when there's this much of a disparity.

The pirate cannons have a 0% chance of penetrating a Zumwalt-class's armor, while the Zumwalt wouldn't even need its main guns to knock out the pirates. Heck, even small-arms should be enough.

The only way the pirates have even a tiny chance of taking over the ship is if they manage to board it, and even then they're going to get massacred.

Furthermore, if the sea has the Carribean's depth (or lack thereof), the sunken pirate ships will eventually form their own reef, preventing later ships from getting close enough to board. This probably won't be a problem for the Zumwalt, as pirate-age ships were made primarily of wood.

For that matter, the modern battleship could even do a "pacifist run;" if it got upwind of the pirates it would be practically invincible.

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    $\begingroup$ How much armour do you believe the Zumwalt carries? $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 22 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime I don't know, but it doesn't really matter. As the last century and a half has proven, basically any metal ship is immune to cannons. See the first paragraph of Nosajimiki's answer. $\endgroup$ – The Daleks Feb 22 at 18:04
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    $\begingroup$ Don't confuse modern metal-skinned ships with old-school ironclads which had actual armour plate intended to deflect cannon fire. Modern navies aren't armoured, because armour isn't much use against modern antiship weaponry and so represents useless expensive dead weight. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 22 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime: American destroyers have been seriously damaged by low-speed collisions with civilian vessels. The Zumwalt is not armored in any meaningful modern sense of the word. But yes, it is made of steel (and thus basically invulnerable to feeble low powered black-powder guns) and even at quarter speed it is twice as fast as any sailing ship of the Renaissance or Early Modern times. And even with its secondary armament if can convert the pirate ships into driftwood from outside their effective range of fire. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 22 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ God point about wind. It needs go against wind just with any small speed to shake those guys off, basically few knots will do, while thye will be forced to maneuver a lot to try make a persuit. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Feb 22 at 20:36
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The absence of knowledge is the Zumwait's crews biggest disadvantage. During their first encounter with a pirate vessel, they would probably not consider it a threat until the pirates announced their intentions and/or fired their cannons.

The results of that first cannon volley would strongly influence the survivability of the next 24 hours. If all key personnel and ship systems survived that first volley, the Zumwait could annihilate that first ship with ease and could snipe all future pirate ships while keeping them outside of cannon range.

The Zumwait would probably want to stay relatively stationary to increase the likeliness of it re-encountering the portal, so it would therefore not try to outrun the pirates (which is the scenario where limited fuel might be a major issue).

So given all those factors, the 24 hour survivability of the Zumwait can be calculated as

rate of pirate ship arrival / (rounds onboard / rounds needed to sink a pirate ship).

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what if the pirates were able to takeover one of the 5 battleships?

fleet of 5 battleships got sucked into a portal that dumps them in a glitch in time. They were dumped into an ocean world where pirates of the Caribbean-ish keep respawning themselves.

If the contest is between a Zumwalt/battleship and a pirate ship, the pirate ship clearly looses.

But what if the pirates were able to takeover one of the battleship? There are 5 of them after all. If that happened, the fate of the other 4 would definitely not be secure. As pirate logic goes, even if all the other 4 ships are destroyed, the pirates will still be left with the 1 most powerful ship in their realm.

So, what motivates the pirates to think of capturing one of those battleships? 3 things:

  1. Their innate greed tells them that they will be invincible amongst all pirates with just that 1 ship
  2. They know they've the advantage of respawning on their side, which means unlimited life
  3. They are aware of how the glitch happens for 24 hours, and they've seen other interesting objects earlier as well, capturing some of which paid them rich rewards

So, how do the pirates go about capturing the ship? We can think in 3 directions:

  1. They have the advantage of numbers on their sides
  2. POTC was full of strange/super natural phenomenon
  3. They have access to an interesting object from an earlier glitch

Thus the pirates can do something along lines of:

  1. enlist mermaids and merpeople (radars see them as large fish), who help them use a destabilising devise from an earlier glitch.
  2. use a diffused pattern of attack which makes attacking individual ship meaningless.
  3. overwhelm the rotors of the battleship through heavy anchor chains - this stops the battleship from escaping after 24 hours elapses, giving the pirates more time to take over.
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    $\begingroup$ How do you expect, exactly, that illiterate vagabonds would control a piece of sophisticated weaponry such as modern stealth rocket-destroyer? The only leverage they could get is taking the crew hostage so that they do not get vaporised immediately. From the other answers, I take Zumwalt would probably fare pretty well against primitive gunpowder technology but its armor is non-existent against modern era weapons such as those it carries itself. $\endgroup$ – Eleshar Feb 22 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ Actually nice points, even if it dives too much in a story which is the OP territory, but if pirates are prepared for fishing, things can go not as well for those who arrived $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Feb 22 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Eleshar Never underestimate the monkey. Video for illustration purpose only :) $\endgroup$ – Anshul Goyal Feb 22 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ @mu無 I have a feeling that operating the targetting system of the ship is going to be somewhat more complicated than this. The pirates would not have an understanding of radar of any remote imaging methods in general. The same for remote operated devices/weapons. And operating a cannon, its loading and targeting via a computer terminal? For people who probably do not read or write? $\endgroup$ – Eleshar Feb 22 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Eleshar Well in one set of imagined scenario - terminals and complex raw radars being used for input and parameter visualization - you will definitely be right. But many ships are today moving towards digital interfaces (Imagine a video game on mobile touchscreen), including for missile weaponry, incoming threats, targetting vectors and even the steering of the ship itself. Thus, it would be comparatively much easier for the vagabonds to do hit and trial on what they see on their screens. $\endgroup$ – Anshul Goyal Feb 22 at 22:15

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