Could America’s Old Battleships Sink the Navy’s New ‘Stealth’ Destroyers?

Robert Farley


We found out. 

Could America’s Old Battleships Sink the Navy’s New ‘Stealth’ Destroyers?

No one has ever hit an Iowa class battleship with 150 6” shells over the course of 30 minutes. However, World War II offers some experience; the German battleship Bismarck underwent an even more vicious storm of fire and steel, and the Japanese battleship Hiei suffered something similar. Both ships survived the initial onslaught, but were disabled and later sank. Undoubtedly, Wisconsin’s armor would provide a great deal of protection from 6” shells armed with fragmentation (rather than armor piercing) warheads. The Wisconsin is armored against 16”/45 shells, which are much heavier and have much greater penetrating power than the land attack munitions fired by Zumwalt. Nevertheless, the sheer number of hits would leave Wisconsin’s lightly armored ends and unarmored upper works devastated and in flames.

What would happen if the US Navy’s latest destroyer, the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) fought against the Navy’s last battleship, the USS Wisconsin (BB-64)? Fireworks.

Let us not tarry on the question of how the 2020 edition of USS Zumwalt would encounter and engage the 1991 version of USS Wisconsin. We will assume that neither ship is receiving external support; although both were designed to operate as part of a system, each will fight this battle alone. We’ll also assume that each is operating in a configuration (including weapon load) optimized for ship-to-ship combat. Finally, we’ll assume that the technologies key to the DDG-1000 class are both functional and available.

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The Missile Volley:

The battle between the two ships will begin with missiles. Since we’re assuming that neither ship is receiving outside assistance, the beginning of the encounter depends on how each ship identifies and targets its opponent. Since Zumwalt and Wisconsin used roughly comparable helicopters (and drones), we’ll assume for the ease of calculation that they identify each other at roughly the same time, at a range of about 200 nautical miles.

Zumwalt has a lot of missiles to throw at Wisconsin. Zumwalt carries 80 VLS cells, and while Tomahawk missiles will not fill all of these cells (Zumwalt needs to defend itself with Evolved Sea…

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