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A fledgling sea-bound nation (with a good amount of money) has built a considerable size navy including several battleships with these specifications:

Dimensions:

  • Length: 1,500 feet
  • Beam: 120 feet
  • Draft: 35 feet

Armament:

Aircraft:

  • 2 Helicopters

Or

  • 4 UAVs and supporting equipment

Propulsion:

  • 4-core nuclear reactor
  • 8 pump-jets (6 stern, 2 bow) Meant ducted propellers
  • Speed: 40 to 45 knots

Armour:

  • Belt: 16 inches – Steel-ceramic composite
  • Conning tower: 8 to 16 inches – SCC
  • Deck: 1 inch – Steel
  • Main deck: 12 inches – SCC
  • Fore and aft armoured bulkheads: 10 inches – SCC
  • Main turrets: 16 inches face, 15 inches other sides – SCC
  • Secondary turrets and railguns: 1 inch – SSC
  • Reactor: 8 inches – SSC
  • VLS: 10 inches – SSC

Basically looks like: enter image description here

What roles could such a ship fill for a medium-sized navy in the modern world?

Note: I don't need a lecture on the obsoletion of battleships and that sort of stuff, I am pretty well-acquainted with such things already.

Also, these are the only major warships that this nation has for now.

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closed as off-topic by TrEs-2b, AndreiROM, Hohmannfan, Vincent, Mark Aug 4 '16 at 22:21

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center." – TrEs-2b, AndreiROM, Hohmannfan, Mark
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ My gut reaction is "no role whatsoever" if not "everyone else's first target." The United States built some of the world's last battleships in the Iowa-class in the early 1940s, took them in and out of mothballs for decades, and finally retired them all as museums by the mid 1990s. Why? First, aircraft carriers and second, better weapon systems available for smaller, lighter, faster, less expensive ships allow them to do the job better than the hulking monsters. $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Aug 4 '16 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ Hello, and welcome to WB SE. I'm afraid that your question does not fall within the scope of the site. To find out more, please read our site scope, and check out our Risk Factors $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Aug 4 '16 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ @cobaltduck - yes, battleships are hopelessly obsolete. I'm wondering if the OP used the term while actually referring to any sort of ship meant for battle. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Aug 4 '16 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ One thing you might consider is that the CONOPS are usually thought of in the oposite direction. We don't say "we want to build a bunch of ships like this... what could we use them for" its "what does our Navy need, and what can fill it." Thus, any answer to your question would have to include the preexisting navy structure and their tactics. As colbaltduck points out, the US would have no use at all for this, because their tactics simply don't have a place for a battleship. A different navy with a different philosophy might find a use. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 4 '16 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ I am with @cobaltduck on this: its main objective would be "great big target". You left out all kinds of missiles... you have only projectile and line-of-sight weapons. This means that in order to do any kind of damage with this thing, you have to put it in harms way. Cem Kalyoncu has the least humiliating answer for you: mobile and heavily defended command center. Only problem is that it is ridiculously easy to find. There is no such thing as hiding on surface of the ocean, and especially not when it is that big. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Aug 4 '16 at 19:53
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Their primary mission would be:

  1. To destroy a defense budget with technically complex maintenance and repairs for excessive weapons systems with little to no practical application. Remember, your navy is run by 19 year olds who didn't make it to college. How they doing on that railgun maintenence?
  2. To obliterate a country's veteran's department budget. It takes ~400 sailors to man a watch team for two A4W cores on a Nimitz carrier. So you'll need more for your 4 cores. Manning would probably be in the range of ~2000 to maintain all your systems. Given a sea/shore rotation of 50% sea time, you'll need 4,000 sailors in your navy just for this ship. That would man about 6 or 8 DDGs, for reference. Or, that is 1/10th of the size of the whole Turkish navy, one of the more effective medium sized navies of the world.
  3. To become an interesting dive site immediately upon first contact with a few squadrons of WWII torpedo bombers, as evidenced by the case of the Yamamato. Especially since you have no anti-air defense better than a CIWS.
  4. To become a new coral reef immediately upon contact with a submarine more advanced than a WWI U-boat. Especially since you have no weapon to combat a submarine. Fine you have a helicopter, but I sure hope its one with a dipping sonar or else you are still very reef-like.

Allow me to summarize the problems with your design:

  • No missiles. Edit Now there are missiles. Unfortunately, you are so busy armoring things that your ship is now too top-heavy to carry the phased array radar and associated cooling system that goes along with said missiles. Did you know that the CG-47 class cruisers had to use an aluminum superstructure because the phased array cooling system was so heavy?
  • No sonar or torpedo tubes or Nixie.
  • 16" guns are pretty superfluous if a real live railgun is operating on the same ship.
  • AGS is a ground attack specified system, while the 5" gun it replaces (as well as the old 5" guns on Iowa battleships) were much more multi-purpose. AGS would leave you relatively weaker than a 5" gun, since you are losing anti-aircraft and anti-small boat capability, while gaining land attack capability...which you have amply covered by 16" guns AND railguns.
  • A 4 cored reactor is a bad idea. The old 2-cored reactors of Enterprise had all sorts of problems with sharing the heat sink provided by the steam system between the two cores. Nimitz and Ford (A4W and A1B, respectively) reactor plants couple one core to one steam system. Given how big the system is on the carriers, I doubt you could fit three, much less four in a vessel of your size.
  • Modern warships carry their combat capability in a CIC enclosed within the heart of the ship. There is no more conning tower.
  • A pump-jet is a terrible idea for a warship. The makers of LCS are finding this out. The various LCS have been nearly inoperable for years due to problems with that propulsion system. Also, the fuel efficiency sucks.
  • Getting a ship that big to 40-45 knots is.....tough. The LCS does it by planing. Your battleship will not be able to plane.
  • Bow pump jets on various vessels are used for maneuverability, not for thrust. They are significantly smaller than the aft ones used for main propulsion.
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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Nothing quite like a nice, neat, and very gory verbal evisceration. +1 for that. bows and grins $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Aug 4 '16 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ A medium-sized navy can't afford this monster. It is considerably bigger than Gerald R Ford, the carrier that the USN is due to commission this year, which is costing about US \$17.5 billion including R&D. I don't see how this ship can cost less than \$20 billion a copy. That's about the entire annual budget of the Royal Navy, for everything, not just shipbuilding. $\endgroup$ – John Dallman Aug 4 '16 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ I was going to go with museum or parts and scrap, but I'll leave this one to you $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 4 '16 at 20:40
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It can hunt down Somali pirates in rubber boats.

If the Navy has any carriers, it will be a very big and expensive escort for a carrier. If not, it will be a very big target for enemy aircraft with long range anti-ship missiles.

The modern navies that are actually prepared for battle (not just peacekeeping/support operations) will probably never face off at visual range anymore. They are built around the air power a carrier provides plus support and defense against the extremely dangerous long range anti-ship missiles now in service. Smaller, faster ships perform those tasks better than a single big battleship could.

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  • $\begingroup$ Missiles all the way. And drones, of course. We love drones now. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Aug 4 '16 at 19:48
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Their prime aim should be command centers as they are heavily defended and can sustain longer battles without issues.

Here is how I ended with this conclusion: railguns can be used offensively, but they are good for defense as well: you could easily shoot down incoming planes or other ships. 166mm guns can also be used for anti-ship capabilities, however, I think they are useless compared to railguns. CIWS and LAWS are short range defense systems. LAWS can take down attacking drones or missiles. Nuclear reactors assures that both railguns and LAWS can be powered and the ship won't need resupply for longer periods.

Edit: After reading some posts, I started to think that your battleship would need protection against subs. Without that its reign will end quite fast.

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  • $\begingroup$ A large railgun is near-useless for air defense. Sure, if the projectile happens to pass through the airplane, the pilot will have a Very Bad Day. But actually hitting the airplane is very difficult -- there's a reason why everyone uses explosive warheads on guided delivery systems for long-range air defense. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 4 '16 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ It just needs a very fast rotating turret and radar control, 50km/s nozzle velocity will assure payload to hit the target. $\endgroup$ – Cem Kalyoncu Aug 4 '16 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ It needs a very fast, very accurate turret. To engage an F/A-18 at a range of 20 km, you need a horizontal precision better than 0.0006 degrees, a vertical precision better than 0.0002 degrees, and even then, you can expect that around 90% of your shots will miss. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 4 '16 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ 50km/s is too fast for the atmosphere. That is just not desirable. The friction will ablate your projectile too much to make it accurate at that speed. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Aug 4 '16 at 23:41

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