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Friday, March 23, 2007

Give me a fast ship

I was interested to read, in Friedman's U.S. Cruisers: An Illustrated Design History about how the U.S. Navy decided in the 1920's that they did not need large, fast ships above the size of destroyers. The reasoning was that aviation obviated the need for speed. The last fast ship designs that were actually built, in some form, in the period were the Omaha class light cruisers and the Lexington and Saratoga. The heavy cruisers were built with moderate speeds, despite the American toying, in the 1916 to 1921 period with 35-knot ships. The Japanese went ahead and built their 35 knot 8in-gunned cruisers, but the Americans didn't. This attitude about speed prevailed up through the early 1940's. The only reason that the Iowa class fast battleships were built is that they were championed by President Roosevelt. The navy opposed them. They were such a "bad idea" that they lasted in service much longer than any other battleship.

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