No More U.S. Battleships?

ShipBoom_122104.jpg"For the first time since the 1890s, the U.S. Navy soon could be without a battleship," Defense News says.

The Senate, in its version of the fiscal 2006 defense authorization bill, authorizes the Navy to dispose of the battleship Wisconsin and transfer it to the state of Virginia.And a provision in the House version of the defense bill would transfer the battleship Iowa to the Port of Stockton, Calif.Only two battleships remain in Navy custody: the Wisconsin, berthed at Nauticus maritime center in downtown Norfolk, Va., and the Iowa, moored in a mothball fleet at Suisun Bay, Calif. Per an agreement dating from the 1990s between the Navy and the Senate, the ships have been kept because their 16-inch guns can provide fire support for Marines on shore. The agreement mandates the Navy to keep the ships until an equal or greater fire support capability is operational.But the Extended-Range Guided Munition (ERGM) intended to provide that new capability remains mired in developmental problems, and its not clear when or even if that weapon ever will be fielded.Two other ships in the four-ship Iowa class, the Missouri and New Jersey are now museum ships in Hawaii and New Jersey, respectively.
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