Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Stealth Ships

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Gizmodo an article from the BBC revealing – surprise – the Swedes are ahead in the race to build a stealth warship for their navy – a 73 meter corvette named ‘Visby.’ It has been some time since Sweden has been a first rate naval power, but with companies the likes of BoforsSaab, and Kockums, their defense industries have produced some fine systems. 

Stealth ships are a very cool idea, and the U.S. and Royal navies are also planning such ships, although in their case much larger destroyers.  The American version is planned as a replacement for the Arleigh Burke class destroyers, and will be built by Northrop Grumman.  Their spokesman claims:

The DD(X) will be as revolutionary as the Dreadnought was when the British introduced it at the turn of the last century.

That’s a big statement.  HMS Dreadnought was indeed that rare ship which made all others warships obsolete.  The Union ironclad Monitor and the Confederate Virginia (more commonly known by her former name – Merrimack) also enjoyed that distinction.  There aren’t many others.  The first galley to sport a ram – if we knew her name – might qualify, and perhaps the first cog sporting a cumbersome, primitive cannon would also be in the running. 

Some might claim the honor for the CSS Huntley – the first successful submarine.  While it took the Huntley three tries, and two crews, she did sink the Union blockader USS Housatonic.  However, in my view, the Huntley added a new kind of warship, destined to play a pivotal role in naval conflicts, but not one which rendered the ships of other navies obsolete.

In the same fashion, the development of the aircraft carrier by the British towards the end of World War I provided the kindling for a revolution lit by General Billy Mitchell when he successfully sank the former SMS Ostfriesland with an airborne bomb from a plane flown off the deck of a ship.  The aircraft carrier (of which, coincidentally, I’ve just seen two from the air as I type this, the Forrestal and the Saratoga) eventually supplanted the all big-gun battleship – the first of which was HMS Dreadnought – but it took twenty years and the experience of World War II before that happened.

So it would be quite the feat to even equal the HMS Dreadnought.  Sounds like fun.

Written by martinipundit

June 10, 2004 at 9:35 pm

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