Warships that should never been built?

Concur with the Alaskas: they should have been canceled when it became clear that the ships they were meant to counter weren't being built. What to do with the hulls? Convert them to carriers; there were studies, and there was also a proposal if memory serves to convert the last two Iowa hulls (Illinois and Kentucky) to carriers. If the war had gone on longer, I can see that.

Also agree with the Yamatos: fuel hogs for starters, and the events of both Pearl Harbor and the Destruction of Force Z should have been a wake-up call to the IJN that the days of the battleship were numbered. Be that as it may, it was too late to cancel the first two, but after December '41, Shinano should have had a "Stop work" order issued, along with the unnamed fourth ship (Hull #111). It's been calculated that for each Yamato, two or three Shokaku-class CVs, with the air group, could've been built instead. What's a better use of the IJN's resources?
 

nbcman

Donor
Concur with the Alaskas: they should have been canceled when it became clear that the ships they were meant to counter weren't being built. What to do with the hulls? Convert them to carriers; there were studies, and there was also a proposal if memory serves to convert the last two Iowa hulls (Illinois and Kentucky) to carriers. If the war had gone on longer, I can see that.

Also agree with the Yamatos: fuel hogs for starters, and the events of both Pearl Harbor and the Destruction of Force Z should have been a wake-up call to the IJN that the days of the battleship were numbered. Be that as it may, it was too late to cancel the first two, but after December '41, Shinano should have had a "Stop work" order issued, along with the unnamed fourth ship (Hull #111). It's been calculated that for each Yamato, two or three Shokaku-class CVs, with the air group, could've been built instead. What's a better use of the IJN's resources?
ASW and tankers / freighters...
 

CalBear

Moderator
Donor
WASP gets a lot of grief on this forum for being a death trap but the fact is we don't know how she would have handled "normal" damage - say a couple of bombs and an air dropped torpedo while buttoned up and prepared to receive damage. Remember, she took three heavy weight submarine torpedoes at the worst possible time, while conducting flight operations with fuel lines full of AVGAS. IMWO no WWII carrier is going to survive that torpedo salvo at that moment.
The thing that folks tend to overlook is that the entire Yorktown class, including the Wasp as a sub group, were terribly vulnerable to torpedo damage. Hit them with a bomb or bombs and you did was piss them off, as both Yorktown And Enterprise demonstrated more than once. Unfortunately, probably due to the Treaty tonnage issues, their underwater protection was, b y comparison to protection from bombs, below the Mendoza Line.
 

CalBear

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Donor
Concur with the Alaskas: they should have been canceled when it became clear that the ships they were meant to counter weren't being built. What to do with the hulls? Convert them to carriers; there were studies, and there was also a proposal if memory serves to convert the last two Iowa hulls (Illinois and Kentucky) to carriers. If the war had gone on longer, I can see that.

Also agree with the Yamatos: fuel hogs for starters, and the events of both Pearl Harbor and the Destruction of Force Z should have been a wake-up call to the IJN that the days of the battleship were numbered. Be that as it may, it was too late to cancel the first two, but after December '41, Shinano should have had a "Stop work" order issued, along with the unnamed fourth ship (Hull #111). It's been calculated that for each Yamato, two or three Shokaku-class CVs, with the air group, could've been built instead. What's a better use of the IJN's resources?
That's the REAL tragedy and stupidity of the scenario. They didn't need to convert them. They were not even laid down until after Pearl Harbor. Their materials and dock space could easily have been converted over to Independence class CVL construction (the yard that built the CBs was also the sole contractor for the CVL classes, both the Independence and Saipan class were built there).

The entire class was pointless and a straight up waste of resources and yard space.
 
When Greenert was CNO he pretty much admitted that the LCS was not meant to engage in actual combat. You know, a ship with the word "combat" in the name is not meant to engage in combat - https://breakingdefense.com/2012/04/cno-lcs-couldnt-survive-war-with-china-but-it-can-prevent-one/
The LCS was never intended for high intensity warfare. The combat it was intended to fight was a swarm of boghammers backed by the occasional gunboat or low end diesel sub. It can more or less do that, but it's not the 90's anymore and real threats are proliferating

Of course the LCS is a ship that had too little time to develop. It had actually started out even crazier and more useless, something that could be sunk by a wind gust much less actual shooting and became what amounts to an overly fast and expensive OPV. OPVs can still do a lot of day to day tasks that the USN does, don't exactly need a DDG to chase pirates or show the flag in bumfuck nowhere. Anyways it had been clearly on a trajectory of getting better, each iteration tended to get bigger and slower than the last than the last. Give it more time and it would have likely evolved into some sort of light frigate

That said there were some major fuck ups, the biggest being "it's based on a commercial hull, so lets use commercial cost estimation rules" then be surprised when it has cost overruns, followed by the decision to build both designs and lose a bunch of economics of scale, not to mention the lack of commonality between designs
That and the idea that you can easily and quickly swap out whole modules on something like a ship is a ridiculous idea. It's a large moving actual ship, not a Lego set.
Actually that part worked out, they never did it in 24 hours as they predicted but they could do it in a couple days with facilities of a typical small port, it was tested a few times. The real issue with that was that the USN would not have the extra specialist crews lying around for extra modules, ergo you could not just pull a bunch out of storage and would have to take them off other ships, and at that point it wouldn't save that much time versus just redeploying the ships

Of course then there is Congress deciding to repeatedly cut the budget for developing modules without slowing LCS procurement
 
The LCS was like one of those 'brilliant' ideas that Churchill and FDR would come up with and task their staffs with carrying out. But in this case they developed a life of their own and couldn't be easily shelved until forgotten about. And by the time the details were worked out they were neither quick to build or cheap.
 
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CalBear

Moderator
Donor
The Galena has already been mentioned, so I'd like to nominate another Civil War era vessel - the Casco class monitor:



You may notice that this monitor is missing something rather important. Well, there's a reason for that.

The Casco class was to be a shallow draft river monitor, designed with the intent of being significantly simpler and faster to produce than the Passaic class. John Ericsson did the initial design work, but reorganizations by the Navy placed Alban C. Stimers, Ericsson's old assistant, above him. Stimers had ideas of his own on how the Casco should be built, and kept overriding Ericsson, who eventually quit. Now fully in control, Stimers made significant design modifications - even worse, his office kept making alterations to the plans while the ships were in the process of being built, leading to ever growing delays and cost overruns

It was only when the first of the Casco class finally came off the slips that it was discovered just how badly Stimer and his designers had screwed up. The vessels only had three inches of freeboard, and that was without guns, or stores. The rear of the ship was submerged even in harbor, and it made less than half of its design speed. An attempt was made to salvage some use of them by building the hulls up to increase freeboard, as well as stripping them of their turrets, but of the 20 ships built, most were immediately mothballed and subsequently scrapped.



Some cutters during the Cold War were fitted with Harpoons, or modified to accept them on short notice. And the National Security Cutters were designed but not fitted for a heavier war load. Not that it really matters, as only a handful of Surface Warfare Modules were fitted to LCSs.



The current plan seems to be a hope that the Mine Warfare Module eventually makes it into production, and to then use most of them as minesweepers, something the navy is extremely short on.



Their originally planned vertical launch missile system, the NLOS, was cancelled by the Army, leaving the Navy in a lurch. After that, the Surface Warfare Module substituted racks for 8 Hellfire missiles. Not exactly in the same category. There have been a few experiments with mounting Harpoon canisters though.
Yep. Nothing like a $350 million dollar 45 knot minesweeper, with a metal hull and the inability to manage shock damage from nearby explosions from things like, well, mines. Great choice to replace/support the Avenger class mine countermeasure ships ($350M will buy three, fully fitted out, including the unmanned undersea vehicles, Avengers). Fleet is getting max value for the taxpayers there.
 
That said there were some major fuck ups, the biggest being "it's based on a commercial hull, so lets use commercial cost estimation rules" then be surprised when it has cost overruns, followed by the decision to build both designs and lose a bunch of economics of scale, not to mention the lack of commonality between designs
How much of that idea is that big defense contracts are more about pork-barrel wealth transfer politics and secondarily about military need? Yes, that's very cynical
 
That said there were some major fuck ups, the biggest being "it's based on a commercial hull, so lets use commercial cost estimation rules" then be surprised when it has cost overruns, followed by the decision to build both designs and lose a bunch of economics of scale, not to mention the lack of commonality between designs
Seems at least they've figured out having 2 different CMS was idiotic and are finally doing something about that (maybe):

Are they still thinking about decommissioning the first 4 as part of the current budget talks?
 
I tried SO hard not to have to pore more venom out on the Alaska Class, but no...

The Alaska's were not fine ships. They had an exceptional 12 inch gun, possibly one of the best naval rifles every designed. Unfortunately those 12" guns were located on a battleship size hull (808 feet long, 91 feet wide, 35,000 tons full load) with heavy cruiser protection. Had the ship been a balanced design (i.e. proof against its own main battery) it would have had a displacement greater than the North Carolina class (728 feet L, 108 feet W, 45,000 tons full load) and South Dakota class (680' L, 108' W, 45,200 tons full load) battleships. The only ships the U.S. built during WW II that cost more than the Alaska class were the Iowa class battleship, the Kearsarge (which managed to cost $22M dollars more than the rest of the Essex Class for some bloody reason), and the Midway. Yep, the Alaska class cost MORE (fractionally, but still more) than a full on battleship with 9 sixteen inch guns and 20 5"/38s (the Alaskas carried 12 5"/38 and 1/3 fewer 40mm guns than the fast BB classes).

The ships handled like a pig in a poke (ONE rudder! 800 feet long, 35K tons, and ONE GODDAMNED RUDDER, which resulted in an 800 YARD turning radius), were extremely vulnerable to battle damage for a ship of their size due to the aforementioned single rudder and the complete lack of torpedo blisters or any other enhanced underwater protection (hey, it was only a $78 million, in 1940 USD, ship, who cares if a single torpedo can stop it dead if not sink it outright), and quite literally had no useful function that could not to fulfilled by either an actual battleship or by the two heavy cruisers or three CLAA that could be built for the same cost.

While BuShips can be forgiven for starting the design process while the Deutschland class "pocket battleships" were all the rage, the fact that the program officer spent one dollar on these insults to naval architecture after December 10, 1941 comes close to criminal.

BTW: NONE of the hulls had even been laid down before Pearl Harbor, they kept going with the building plans even AFTER it was obvious that the ship had no useful purpose. They were even built in the SAME YARD that built the Independence class CVL. SAME YARD. Five of the Independence class were laid down AFTER the Alaska. They wouldn't have even needed to change the destination for the building materials if they had changed over to carrier construction. Think about that for a second.

It was an abomination. Thank God the U.S. had so much excess capacity and an nearly unlimited supply of money.
Any PoDs you can think of to get them cancelled and allowed for the earlier building of Independence class ships?
 
Yep. Nothing like a $350 million dollar 45 knot minesweeper, with a metal hull and the inability to manage shock damage from nearby explosions from things like, well, mines. Great choice to replace/support the Avenger class mine countermeasure ships ($350M will buy three, fully fitted out, including the unmanned undersea vehicles, Avengers). Fleet is getting max value for the taxpayers there.
The Metal hull was a pretty rational choice, during the LCS design process the Norwegians lost a composite hulled minesweeper because of a fan overheating, the thing was unsalvageable within a couple minutes from the fire with the hull more or less disentegrating. Shortly thereafter the last composite hulled LCS design proposal got killed. 45 knots was to be able to evade a torpedo at long ranges, and well CAPTOR is a thing, not at all worth the cost in practice, but that was the theory. As for shock resistance, it was intended as a one and done ship in concept, that any damage would be "abandon ship" so survivability was crap, then they changed their minds without enough time to fix that issue

$350 million today will not buy 3 Avenger class minesweepers, given I've seen quoted costs of $212-$277 million to replace USS Guardian after her accident back in '13. It may have done that in the early 90's but not today. And the Avenger class as the Gulf War showed is a PITA to get anywhere, having been towed/lifted into position and still taking forever to reach the Gulf, given how easy it is to lay a minefield in hard to reach places such a slow ship is a problem
 
The last two Indefatigable class Battlecruiser's should have been built as far superior Lion's, which weren't that much more expensive. They were finished in 1913, Lion and Princess Royal were finished in 1912
You could argue that none of the I class Battlecruisers should have been built. Battleship guns should not be on ships with cruiser armour.
 
Im gonna go out on a limb here and say the Baden-Wurttemberg Class frigates. These ships, for their size and displacement seem inadequately armed, especially in the Anti air missile department, the BW only have 2 RAM launchers. These frigates seem to be designed in similar train of thought with the USN LCS, designed and built to deal with "asymmetric" threats and provide support. However, ironically, it seems that the previous frigates (Bremen Class) that the BW class are replacing seem more heavily armed to deal with any threats then the BW itself. If there is to be a traditional "shooting war" with missile attacks against NATO/ German naval forces, the BW class are in serious trouble, what good are water cannons (yes, these ships have water cannons) are gonna be against mach 1 capable sea skimming anti ship missiles?
The ship so bad it was actually Returned To Sender!
 
That's the REAL tragedy and stupidity of the scenario. They didn't need to convert them. They were not even laid down until after Pearl Harbor. Their materials and dock space could easily have been converted over to Independence class CVL construction (the yard that built the CBs was also the sole contractor for the CVL classes, both the Independence and Saipan class were built there).

The entire class was pointless and a straight up waste of resources and yard space.
I know your extreme dislike for the class but in pondering a no WW2 with Lexington-class either built or not, I tend to see Alaska-class as a potential guide to what the USN might see as the "Battle Cruiser" to compliment its new faster BB line, for me the replacements to a Lexington BC group now 20 years old. I predict stupidity and waste is never far from what we get, especially after years of peace take the sharp edge off experience or common sense. Besides, Congress loves to be pointless at times.
 
Speaking of how badly armored the Lexington class battle cruisers as designed were I wonder what the USN could have added in terms of armor had it been prepared to add a thousand tons to the ships design and cut their top speed to a more reasonable 31 knots and then laid down a pair of them in say early 1918(and done the same for the 3 ships of the Colorado class not laid down until 1919 otl)It sure would have made the Washington Naval Treaty negotiations interesting. Then again the USN having acouple Battlecruisers that have probably been fairly recently modernized(probably between 1937-1940)would have proved very useful indeed in 1942
 
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Speaking of how badly armored the Lexington class battle cruisers as designed were I wonder what the USN could have added in terms of armor had it been prepared to add a thousand tons to the ships design and cut their top speed to a more reasonable 31 knots and then laid down a pair of them in say early 1918(and done the same for the 3 ships of the Colorado class not laid down until 1919 otl)It sure would have made the Washington Naval Treaty negotiations interesting. Then again the USN having acouple Battlecruisers that have probably been fairly recently modernized(probably between 1937-1940)would have proved very useful indeed in 1942
Nick Sumner figured a Lexington hull bulged to 50,000 tons standard could handle QE levels of armor and still do 30 to 31 knots with the original powerplant. The bulges are wider than the Panama Canal locks, which has been an issue for any American warship over 40,000 tons.
 
Nick Sumner figured a Lexington hull bulged to 50,000 tons standard could handle QE levels of armor and still do 30 to 31 knots with the original powerplant. The bulges are wider than the Panama Canal locks, which has been an issue for any American warship over 40,000 tons.
Once again I enternally question why the USN didn't made the Panama Canal locks 10 feet wider. Although I will say that the Lexington definitely had a better armor distribution(but definitely not in thickness than the QEs due to it being all or nothing. Hmm as for how to cut down the weight of the engines in particular ditch the turbo electric drive and use the same turbines as Hood(which after all were designed by Curtis) and license decent reduction gears from the UK.
 
The thing that folks tend to overlook is that the entire Yorktown class, including the Wasp as a sub group, were terribly vulnerable to torpedo damage. Hit them with a bomb or bombs and you did was piss them off, as both Yorktown And Enterprise demonstrated more than once. Unfortunately, probably due to the Treaty tonnage issues, their underwater protection was, b y comparison to protection from bombs, below the Mendoza Line.
To be fair here they were never hit with anything larger than a 250kg bomb.
If they had been hit by a 500kilo, or larger, Luftwaffe present in the Atlantic, or one of the 800kg specials used at Pearl Harbor things might well have been very different.
Shokaku survived as many at least 3, and possibly 6, Dauntless delivered 1000lbers at Santa Cruz, none of the Yorktowns ever survived anything close.
 

CalBear

Moderator
Donor
I know your extreme dislike for the class but in pondering a no WW2 with Lexington-class either built or not, I tend to see Alaska-class as a potential guide to what the USN might see as the "Battle Cruiser" to compliment its new faster BB line, for me the replacements to a Lexington BC group now 20 years old. I predict stupidity and waste is never far from what we get, especially after years of peace take the sharp edge off experience or common sense. Besides, Congress loves to be pointless at times.
Actually the Iowa class was the future of the USN battle cruiser. 5 knots faster than the "Fast Battleship" classes (North Carolina, South Dakota and the never built Montana classes were all 27 knots) it was a a battle cruiser, but in the school of "G3" design. The Iowas were not a balanced design, unlike the Montanas, and they were clearly built to accompany the fast carrier force (i.e. the Scouting Force). The fact the BB-61 class was arguably the best overall battleship design of all time, with exceptional protection and God's Own 16" rifle, obscures this, but the data makes it pretty clear.

I have never really understood why the USN was, after the Lexingtons were cancelled, absolutely allergic to the term "battle cruiser", but it was (the example being the Alaska class being called CB ( Cruiser, Big), which was, frankly not even good grammar much less a proper descriptive instead of the closer to the truth BC).
 
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