Jump to content
You need to play a total of 5 battles to post in this section.
Spooooooooooooooooooooon

For a ship, how old is old?

19 comments in this topic

Recommended Posts

Beta Testers
1,166 posts
8,111 battles

I'm curious as to how long ships can reasonably be kept active.  Obviously I've seen where the US Navy activated several WW2 Iowa class battleships during the 1980's.  How maintenance intensive were they to operate?  How long can a ship be kept in mothballs?  I hear stories about how the USS North Carolina hull has significantly deteriorated.  Why wouldn't that happen to the mothball ships?

Ex Army guy, just curious.

jw

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
656
[WOLF1]
Members
2,632 posts
8,384 battles
7 minutes ago, Spooooooooooooooooooooon said:

I'm curious as to how long ships can reasonably be kept active. 

I feel like the title and this line are asking two different questions. As a certified never-served landlubber, I can't give detailed answers beyond the general "it'll keep working as long as you keep putting money into it", same as cars. The last active Gearing-class was only retired three years ago after 69 years of service, the USS Constellation is significantly older, and I just want to point out that the Iowas weren't decommissioned because they couldn't be kept active, but because it wasn't worth the expense anymore. If money was no object, any ship could stay active for a very long time with proper maintenance.

Which is also why you hear about these museum ships in terrible shape; once they're turned into museums, money to properly maintain them often dries up significantly. Contrast to the mothball fleet that sees some steady expenditure to make sure they're fine enough to un-mothball in the future.

  • Cool 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,270
[NERO]
Members
3,542 posts

I don't know exact numbers but I know Iowa was very expensive to keep running, but more due to size and complexity than age. Battleships are money bits. Big, sexy money pits. 

Another example of an old ship would be Yukikaze. Built in 1939, given to China after the war, and was in active service till 1970 when she was capsized by a storm and had to be scrapped. To my knowledge, China had no plans to decommission her any time soon, so I'd guess she would have served long after that had she not had her accident.

I guess what makes a ship "old" is the technological standard of the country sailing her. While China was still sailing Yukikaze, Japan had already had more modern destroyers such as the Murasame class from 1958. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
555
[CVA16]
Members
2,751 posts
6,400 battles
11 minutes ago, PelicanHazard said:

I feel like the title and this line are asking two different questions. As a certified never-served landlubber, I can't give detailed answers beyond the general "it'll keep working as long as you keep putting money into it", same as cars. The last active Gearing-class was only retired three years ago after 69 years of service, the USS Constellation is significantly older, and I just want to point out that the Iowas weren't decommissioned because they couldn't be kept active, but because it wasn't worth the expense anymore. If money was no object, any ship could stay active for a very long time with proper maintenance.

Which is also why you hear about these museum ships in terrible shape; once they're turned into museums, money to properly maintain them often dries up significantly. Contrast to the mothball fleet that sees some steady expenditure to make sure they're fine enough to un-mothball in the future.

Good response. Went and worked on the Texas on the last restoration years ago and the damage that was repaired was overwhelming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beta Testers
1,166 posts
8,111 battles

I know we have some players that actually served in the 1980's on some of the Iowa class BB's.  I'd love to hear a bit more about their experiences regarding maintenance, crew facilities in comparison to more modern ships, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22,892
[HINON]
Supertester
19,225 posts
12,756 battles

A ship is obsolete when:

1) at the same expense, you can replace it with another ship that does the same or a similar enough job for cheaper or better

2) The ship does a job that is no longer needed

3) The ship got eclipsed into obsolescence by the march of technology / tactics

  • Cool 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1
[CLEAN]
Members
5 posts
10,735 battles

HMCS Oriole - RCN training ship is 97 years old and still on active service

HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver- Were 46 years old when decommissioned.

And some RCN destroyers almost reached 40 years of active service.

  • Cool 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,307
[PVE]
[PVE]
Members
4,113 posts
8,680 battles
1 hour ago, Spooooooooooooooooooooon said:

I'm curious as to how long ships can reasonably be kept active.

Well my 1st ship the USS El Paso LKA-117 was Launched: 17 May 1969, Laid up at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility (NISMF) Philadelphia PA., in maintenance category B. And ships in this category are prioritized over the other categories when it comes to maintenance and funding. They are retained for possible future mobilization and will receive updates and upgrades as funding permits.

So at 48 yrs old the USN or the Military Sealift Command, thinks they may need her again --- Wonder if they would take me back?

"You Call, We Haul – N-o-o-o Problem!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4,815
[WOLF3]
[WOLF3]
Members
16,125 posts
14,528 battles

Some ships can be kept in service for a long time and still viable for a mission.  A navy can milk the hell out of a ship's service if they can find a use for it and can tolerate the upkeep.

 

The last Fletcher-class DD was decommissioned in 2001.  For the USN, Fletcher was done for with what it needed in a DD in the 1970s but for others, the class still had use.

 

The Kitty Hawk-class conventional CVs were in service a long time, initially from the mid 1950s and finally decommissioned in the early 2000s.  These were well maintained ships, been aboard a few of them, and their commanding officers, crew kept these ships IMMACULATE, in great shape considering their age compared to the state of some Nimitz-class CVNs I've been on.  But the USN deemed they were past their time and they were done in the 2000s.  IMO, these were still better Carriers than what many others are fielding today, but at some point the USN didn't feel that way anymore and we're now with Nimitz-class or their derivatives.

 

Some of those boats had a lot of history.  On USS Constellation, when I was on a det aboard her, my Master Gunnery Sergeant described a spot on the ship where crew had some graffiti about how they were there and told us his signature from when he was a very young Lance Corporal back in the day.  Sure enough, his signature was still there and the Navy never painted over that spot.  Signatures were there from decades past, and here we were in the 2000's seeing stuff from a different era, prior crews.

 

CVN-65 USS Enterprise served in 1961-2012.  Put down the same way.

 

Those CVs that were decommissioned were actually very active and deployed forward just before decommissioning.  They weren't sitting in port for years and years doing nothing when decommissioned.  They were clearly capable of carrying out the duties of a carrier but the USN ended them and now it's Nimitz-class.

 

Even in WWII, the USN operated the more obsolete ships in backwater areas like the Gulf of Mexico instead of the more dangerous Pacific and Atlantic zones.  If you need ships that much, you'll find a place for them.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beta Testers
1,166 posts
8,111 battles
2 minutes ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

CVN-65 USS Enterprise served in 1961-2012.  Put down the same way.

 

Really staggering to think about the technical advancement in the 16 years between 1945 and fielding the Enterprise class CVN.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5
[DLG06]
Members
39 posts
4,101 battles

About thirty years.  The BB's were having problem's finding boiler parts.  They were getting them from ships in the mothball fleet in Texas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
159
[RTXN]
Beta Testers
621 posts

The answer to the question of how old is old is really how much it was to build the vessel and how it has aged.

For a nuclear powered carrier, the navy expects about 50 years (give or take a few) depending on the construction schedule of the replacement and how many carriers CJCS and the President is willing to accept.  Right now I think the carrier group numbers is expected to be 12-13.  This factors in phased maintenance and training cycles to have 4-6 on station at any one time.  How much it was to build factors into the importance of the vessel and how many yard periods of upkeep they get funded.  Obviously, the carriers are going to get precedence in the maintenance periods over DDG's, CGs and FFGs if decisions have to be made of funding.

Destroyers, Cruisers and most Frigates are expected to have about 30 years (with regular yard periods which rarely happen on schedule or at all).  30 years was actually really pushing it for the Perrys.  I heard stories of personnel falling through multiple decks in the engineering spaces.

Mothballed ships are not totally inactive - they still have degaussing and zincs are replaced that prevent most of the hull deterioration and they are sealed from moisture getting in.  This is not so with the museum ships.  The question of how long they can be kept in mothballs is not a cut and dry answer.  It has to do with the construction of the ship, condition of the water were they are located and how the ship aged when active.  This is why assessments are done periodically.

The Iowa's are a special case.  They only had 2-3 years on them when they were first decommissioned.  They were kept in pretty good condition when mothballed and could be (and were) reactivated many times.  There was periodic assessments done while mothballed on the HM&E (Hull, Mechanical and Electrical) and were found to be in good shape.  The real question (and what spelled death to the Battleships) is the annual operating costs.  

Annual Operating costs - not so much fuel and replacement parts, but more of the crew.  The crew in modern ships are supplemented by built in technology and therefore crew is reduced.  Not so in the Iowas.  If I remember correctly it takes the crew of 2-3 Ticonderoga Cruisers and 4-5 of the Perrys to man one Iowa.  Remember that todays fleet is more of multi mission platforms.  Iowa only had (really) ASUW and Strike capabilities.  This left her vulnerable unless a battlegroup was based around them.  When given the option, Carriers are more capable than Battleships in the current age and escorts are needed for the carriers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
92
[FOXEH]
Members
272 posts
4,421 battles

I feel Lert did the best job explaining, but it's also worth considering the environment.

I know we're talking about warships, but on the Great Lakes, there were ships that served past the 100-year mark (but have since been scrapped). As Lert said, it's all about the maintenance cost on them. That's why Brazil decommissioned their aircraft carrier (the formerly French Foch).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
64
[WOLFX]
Beta Testers
226 posts
7,581 battles

Here at the ferry system, if you see a gold stripe around the stack, the ferry is over 50 years old. We only have two of them atm, but the supers are fast approaching the 50 year mark. The steel electric class that we laid up about 10 years ago were built in the '20s, so they made it what, 80 years?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,459
[REVY]
Members
6,104 posts
5,104 battles

I can understand the desire to retire old ships.  I was surprised to learn that the Space Shuttles were using antique computers because  it was too expensive and time consuming to strip them out and put new ones in.  And having built things in minecraft or spaceplanes in Kerbal Space Program, it is always less then ideal when you have to incorporate new technology into an older design as it can throw off the weight, the balance, introduce drag and decrease the max speed and range.  Heck, just replacing older engines with new ones can have other detrimental effects, which can cause the extra thrust to be wasted, throw the fuel consumption ratios out whack requiring adjustment of the fuel tanks or add unnecessary weight as the craft is now using too many engines.  Designing from scratch a new vehicle using all the new technology incorporated in the design results in a far more efficient craft, optimized to use it's own parts.

 

You can still theoretically drive a 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback today, but the question is, why would you?  Apart from nostalgia and style, the parts are worn out and hard to come by that it'd be an effort to be able to drive to work in the morning.

Edited by Sventex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,576
[PSP]
Members
6,286 posts
8,912 battles

Well maintained vehicles and other machinery can last a very long time. The Army had very few new .45s made after 1945 but used them into the 90s. A few are still in service with special ops forces to this day. Bofors guns made in WWII also are still on service on many ships, as are M2 .50 caliber machine guns. Before they are finally retired, some Boeing B-52s may have flown a hundred years.

 

Edited by Snargfargle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4,815
[WOLF3]
[WOLF3]
Members
16,125 posts
14,528 battles
On 12/18/2017 at 11:44 AM, Spooooooooooooooooooooon said:

Really staggering to think about the technical advancement in the 16 years between 1945 and fielding the Enterprise class CVN.

The scary thought was the advancements in naval, aviation, including the space race, was due to the prospect of war, or competition with enemies.  It makes one wonder, would we have gotten all these advancements without the forced improvements due to war or the prospect of it?

 

Hell, for naval aviation, from the end of WWII to the early 50s, it was drastically changed.  We went from the pinnacle of WWII Carriers, the Midway-class of 1945:

1200px-USS_Midway_(CVB-41)_steaming_off_

To this in the mid-1950s, Forrestal-class

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Forrestal_(CV-59)#/media/File:USS_Forrestal_(CVA-59)_underway_at_sea_in_1957.jpg

Jets.  Angled flight decks.  The standard of the modern Aircraft Carrier began in the 1950s.  The transition to jets for the flight deck was a big problem as it needed a lot of space.  The earlier US solution was to build a simply BIGGER carrier but the British got smart and made the innovation of Angled Flight Decks that broke open naval aviation for jets.

===

Making that transition would occupy the US Navy and the Royal Navy most of the decade following Japan's surrender, but many key ideas came from the British side of the Atlantic. "If you want to balance it out it's not a fair trade," says Bob Dunn, a retired US Navy vice admiral and aviator. "We took more from them than they got from us."

===

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×