Letter: Floating ideas about aircraft carriers (March 23, 2013)

Your article “New doubts about future of carriers” (utsandiego.com, March 20) by Gary Robbins left out one obvious solution: the battleship.

The United States Marine Corps has not had any credible surface-fire capability since Desert Storm when two battleships were on station to provide this needed and massive level of close-in support. This was all documented by the CNO on Dec. 3, 1996, and GAO on Aug. 6, 1997.

A single battleship can lay down more devastating firepower in one hour than can all the attack aircraft operating from two carrier battle groups. A single battleship can provide more lethality in that period of time than can 25 B-2 bombers. Every single shell from a battleship offers more devastation than that from five cruise missiles all impacting on the same spot.

What’s more important is quick response. Getting a sortie off the deck of a carrier usually requires several hours followed by an interminable wait for the aircraft to arrive. That bomb load also requires numerous support aircraft as escorts.

Presenting American power to the world is good only if it can be seen. An aircraft carrier operating 300 miles offshore (to remain safe from attack) offers negligible psychological impact. A battleship five or ten miles off shore presents an image never to be forgotten – especially when it fires a broadside.

Further, late World War II-class U.S. battleships are about as impervious to enemy attack as anything that has ever been afloat. Aircraft carriers on the other hand are at the far opposite extreme and essentially cannot be protected by anything and are now being targeted by a whole new family of carrier specific attack weapons.

As America’s national debt rockets beyond $16 trillion and nearly half of our yearly budget is funded by borrowed money from Red China, Japan, and South Korea, we no longer have the right or the ability to buy “glitter.”

The carrier and the carrier battle group are nothing but Navy romance on the taxpayer’s dime. Today we need brute force power projection that can arrive and dig a hole ten feet deep the size on a football field on 60 seconds’ notice. That’s the battleship.

Robert Beken, San Diego