The Battleships Portal
The firepower of a battleship demonstrated by USS Iowa
(c. 1984). The muzzle blasts distort the ocean surface.
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the battleship was the most powerful type of warship, and a fleet of battleships was considered vital for any nation that desired to maintain command of the sea.
The term battleship came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, now referred to by historians as pre-dreadnought battleships. In 1906, the commissioning of HMS Dreadnought into the United Kingdom's Royal Navy heralded a revolution in battleship design. Subsequent battleship designs, influenced by HMS Dreadnought, were referred to as "dreadnoughts", though the term eventually became obsolete as they became the only type of battleship in common use.
Battleships were a symbol of naval dominance and national might, and for decades the battleship was a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy. A global arms race in battleship construction began in Europe in the 1890s and culminated at the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, the outcome of which significantly influenced the design of HMS Dreadnought. The launch of Dreadnought in 1906 commenced a new naval arms race. Three major fleet actions between steel battleships took place: the long range gunnery duel at the Battle of the Yellow Sea in 1904, the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, both, during the Russo-Japanese War, and the inconclusive Battle of Jutland (1916) during the First World War. Jutland was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of dreadnoughts of the war, it was the last major battle in naval history fought primarily by battleships.
The Naval Treaties of the 1920s and 1930s limited the number of battleships, though technical innovation in battleship design continued. Both the Allied and Axis powers built battleships during World War II, though the increasing importance of the aircraft carrier meant that the battleship played a less important role than had been expected. Read more...\
SMS Von der Tann was the first battlecruiser built for the German Kaiserliche Marine, as well as Germany's first major turbine-powered warship. At the time of her construction, Von der Tann was the fastest dreadnought-type warship afloat, capable of reaching speeds of more than 27 knots (50 km/h). Built by Blohm + Voss in Hamburg, Von der Tann was designed in response to the British Invincible class. While the German design had slightly lighter guns—28 cm (11 in), compared to the 30.5 cm (12 in) Mark X mounted on the British ships—Von der Tann was faster and significantly better-armoured. She set the precedent of German battlecruisers carrying much heavier armour than their British equivalents, albeit at the cost of smaller guns. The ship participated in a number of fleet actions during the First World War, including the Battle of Jutland, where she destroyed the British battlecruiser HMS Indefatigable. Von der Tann was hit several times by large-calibre shells, but the damage was quickly repaired and the ship returned to the fleet in two months. Following the end of the war in 1918, Von der Tann, along with most of the High Seas Fleet, was interned at Scapa Flow pending a decision by the Allies as to the fate of the fleet. The ship met her end when the fleet was scuttled in 1919 to prevent them falling into British hands. The wreck of Von der Tann was raised in 1930, and scrapped at Rosyth from 1931 to 1934.
Fred P. Moosally (pictured left) (born 4 October 1944) is a former Captain in the United States Navy most well known for commanding USS Iowa (BB-61) during the turret explosion incident on April 19, 1989, which killed 47 crewmen. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1966, he served on USS Kenneth D. Bailey off the coast of Vietnam, then a series of assignments on destroyers, frigates, and staff posting that afforded him numerous political connections. After commanding USS Kidd and serving in the Office of Legislative Affairs, his request to command one of the newly-reactivated Iowa-class battleships was granted, and he took command of Iowa on May 23, 1988.
Moosally's command was controversial. He was known to favor the missile and engineering systems over the gunnery of Iowa's 16-inch guns, and ran aground while avoiding a collision with Farragut, Moinester, and South Carolina. Despite maintenance issues with the guns and low morale in the turret crews, he authorized experimentation with the main batteries, erroneously belieiving them to be authorized by Naval Sea Systems Command. After breaking a distance record on January 20, 1989, Moosally ordered more fire drills on April 19, and turret two exploded on 09:53. An investigation found fault with his leadership, but stated that safety violations and training deficiencies were "unrelated" to the explosion. Though critical of his crew, Moosally refused to support the erroneous official finding that GM2 Clayton Hartwig had deliberately caused it, an act that effectively ended his career.
After retiring in May 1990, Moosally would begin working for Lockheed Martin seven years later, notably managing the contract for Littoral combat ships and vice-chairman of the Deepwater program consortium. He would also be criticised in the book A Glimpse of Hell and its film adaptation.
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||[T]he thunderous blast of the 16-inch guns struck the chest like the blow of a baseball bat. The sharp crack of the five-inch was skull splitting, even more painful to the ears. Like waiting for the other shoe to drop, the next 16-inch salvo could not be anticipated. No matter how one might try to brace his body in advance, there was no way to avoid bruises inflicted on elbows, knees and shins, as the entire ship lurched in angry recoil with every main battery salvo. Dust and debris would burst from every crack and corner, asbestos lagging would fly from piping, and insulation would tear loose from the overhead. Every object not bolted down would bounce or ricochet as though kicked by angry gremlins. Topside, solid sheets of flame with great clouds of searing gas and smoke erupted from the gun muzzles with every salvo. Often as not, much of this was carried by the wind back across the ship, to envelop men at exposed stations and be sucked inside through the ventilation system. At the end of such a day, all hands suffered from throbbing headaches, and most were virtually deaf. Red-rimmed eyes smarted from the pall of smoke. Every man's entire body was grimy with dust and the abrasive residue of burned gun powder. All of this could be, and was, endured. There was no pleasure whatever in it; only the grim satisfaction of helping our Marines survive to win the battle ashore.
|— Ben Blee, speaking of his time as a Lieutenant aboard USS North Carolina
How can I help?
Operation Majestic Titan is the code name for a long-term Wikipedian project with two primary objectives, the first of which is to create the single largest featured topic on Wikipedia, centered around the battleships considered, planned, built, operated, canceled, or otherwise recorded. There are probably a few hundred articles of this nature which will be included, from the earliest pre-dreadnoughts to the last of the dreadnoughts. Once all articles are featured this project will reorient to ensuring that the articles remain up to standard. If you're interested, please view the project page to familiarize yourself with the guidelines, and simply pick an article to improve! There is also ongoing discussion you can participate in.