Iowa Class

Overview

Country: United States

Battleships were for a short time seen as the capital ship of any navy. During the Second World War they were quickly displaced by the aircraft carrier. Six Iowa Class battleships were planned for the United States Navy in the event only four were built. They turned out to be the biggest, the most powerful, and the last built for the United States Navy.
They were an improvement on the earlier South Dakota Class with more powerful engines and larger calibre guns. Built at a time where cost did not matter many considered them not only the most attractive battleships ever built but also the perhaps the ultimate in big gun capital ship design.

Iowa Class vessels were unique for several reasons. First they were designed as fast battleships, able to rely on an even mix of speed and firepower and capable of keeping up with the carrier force they were attached to. Secondly they were designed to fit through the Panama Canal so they could operate with both the Pacific and Atlantic fleets and change over if necessary. Finally all four were recommissioned and refitted during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan to meet the supposed threat from the Soviet Navy. This was extremely unusual as old vessels are normally scrapped.

All were decommissioned, then recommissioned in the 1980s and decommissioned again in the 1990s. They all still exist and periodically consideration is given to some coming out of retirement. However the longer they remain in reserve the less likely this is. Their equipment is rapidly aging and becoming less and less compatable with the modern United States Navy. It seems likely that they will finally be retired to the duty of floating museums.

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