Where Are the Battleships?
Two of the four Iowa-class battleships, the Iowa (BB-61) and Wisconsin (BB-64), remain on the Naval Vessel Register in the Navy's highest readiness category for inactive ships, the General Accounting Office (GAO) has told Congress.
That readiness status will be maintained until the Navy certifies that the fleet has surface gunfire support that matches or exceeds that of the retired battleships. This should occur sometime between 2003 and 2008, according to Navy projections.
Last year, the Senate ordered the GAO to investigate whether the Navy was complying with readiness requirements Congress set for the battleships in 1996.
Indeed, the GAO said, the Navy does retain the logistical support necessary for active battleship operations, including technical manuals, spare parts, and ordnance. There are adequate stocks of 16-inch ammunition and propellant, and production could be resumed within months.