US Navy in World War II - Was there sufficient production capacity to complete more heavy combatants (Battleships, Carriers etc.)?

Ironmiked

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During WWII the US Navy received 22 of 32 Essex Class Carriers; 4 of 6 Iowa Class Battleships and two of six Alaska Class Large Cruisers plus dozens of other cruisers, hundreds of destroyers and submarines, and thousands of smaller and auxiliary ships. Nearing completion were the three Midway Class, the last two Iowa's, USS Hawaii, CB-3 and many, many, more destroyers and submarines. The US has already canceled three additional Midway Class carriers, the Montana Class battleships, most of the new Des Moines Class heavy cruisers and Worcester Class light cruisers. This was, by far, the largest modern fleet the world as ever seen. There was certainly enough naval power to win the war, But, the Two Ocean Navy was only about 65% complete. My ultimate question is could more of these larger combatants been completed with a rearrangement of production? It seems the US over produced DD's, DDE's, auxiliaries and landing craft. I understand the needs of amphibious operations and ASW during the Battle of the Atlantic impacted priorities too. I'm interested in everyone's opinion to see if more major combatants could have been completed by the end of 1946. I'm using that date because without the Atomic Bombs, Operations Olympic and Coronet (the Invasion of Japan) would have occurred and the shipyard production would have continued to replace the inevitably damaged and lost warships.
 

isayyo2

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I think something to consider is how many slips and dockyards stateside are being taken up by existing damaged ships?

Would have been a wiser choice to scrap Battleship Row and build new capital ships?
 

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Not really. A lot of the slips that built the DDs, DEs, LSTs, etc weren't big enough to build anything else. Or the company operating it lacked the technical ability to build more complex warships like BBs, CBs, CVs, etc. At most, you can get a minor reallocation of resources that let's you complete a different mix of ships. For example, if you cancel the Alaska class before they're ever laid down, you can use the freed up resources to complete the last two Iowa class instead and the now unused slipways can be used to lay down 3 additional Essex class (and you can probably complete Reprisal and Iwo Jima as well).
 

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Building slips is not the limit on further carrier construction. The US had at least 6 available in January 1945: one at Philadelphia Navy Yard fresh off of Antietam, two at Fore River that had been vacant since Hancock and Wasp had been launched; two at Newport News fresh off of launching Boxer and Randolph; and one at New York Shipbuilding in Camden that hadn't done much besides build Guam.
 

Tzoli

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You should check why the individual ships were cancelled or stopped. The Iowas and Alaskas could easily be finished. Their construction stopped because they would not be ready by the end of the war. And it is very clear the navy was interested in the half finished hulls by the numerous projects made for them. If the Soviets would construct their big ships post war, I could see at least Kentucky and Illinois finished to the King-Nimitz redesign and Hawaii as the 3rd Alaskaa
 

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Should this be in the alternative history section?
 

Dilandu

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For example, if you cancel the Alaska class before they're ever laid down, you can use the freed up resources to complete the last two Iowa class instead and the now unused slipways can be used to lay down 3 additional Essex class (and you can probably complete Reprisal and Iwo Jima as well).

Actually you couldn't. The limiting factors for battleship was heavy guns and thick armor plates production.
 

EwenS

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In Sept 1944 the war was still expected to go on until the end of 1946. But by that stage decisions had already been taken about the shape of the fleet in light of the changing nature of the war at sea and the threats to the fleet.

By 1943 the battleship was no longer king of the fleet. So the Montanas were cancelled in July, but the third pair of Iowas (Kentucky & Illinois) remained suspended. By late 1944 the Iowas were proving sufficiently useful that work on that third pair was begun again in Dec 1944 / Jan 1945. Final cancellation comes in Aug 1945 after the war ends.

The Midways were controversial from the start for various reasons including the size of the air group. FDR refused to authorise any initially but the Navy finally got 2 approved in Dec 1942 and another in June 1943, with the final ship of the initial group cancelled in Jan 1943. The other pair were part of the 1945 Programme and were cancelled in March 1945 when it became apparent that they would not be needed.

The Essex Programme went through almost as planned. Ships were still being laid down in 1945 (Reprisal). 6 ships from the planned 1945 Programme were cut in March 1945 for the same reason as the 2 Midways. 3 partially complete ships were suspended in Aug 1945 after the end of the war. Given wartime build rates they would probably have been completed by mid-1946 had the war gone on. An Essex took 17-24 months to build depending on yard. But design of the next generation carrier had already begun.

Construction of the 2 Saipans went ahead in case of losses amongst the other light carriers and to meet USN plans for task groups of 2 fleet and 1 light fleet.

The cruiser Programme saw most of its cuts in Aug 1945, after the end of the war (only 4 Clevelands got axed in late 1944 being replaced in the order books by 4 Roanoke class). Des Moines class continued to be laid down in Oct 1945 and not cancelled until 1946.

As for the Alaskas, they were designed to meet a threat that never emerged. The surprise is not the cancellation of 3 ships in July 1943, but that Hawaii was allowed to proceed as the USN was becoming aware of that lack of threat.

The destroyer Programme went through almost as planned. Again the casualties were Gearings cut in March and Aug 1945. But there were still obsolete destroyers in the fleet in 1945 that couldn't take the weight of additional AA weapons and it is the ship type suffering some of the highest losses in 1944/45.

The DE Programme the OP finds too large, was actually cut between Sept 1943 and Sept 1944 with a total of 441 planned ships axed. Around 50 were completed as APDs and another 50 planned for conversion to APD in 1944/45. Those completed as DEs were being well used protecting convoys in both the Atlantic & Pacific. Atlantic ships were being transferred to the Pacific in 1945, so the uSN must have seen a need for them.

And with two massive amphibious operations planned for Nov 1945 and March 1946, and the prospect of large losses, continuing the build of amphibiious vessels was essential, although the rate was slowing down in 1945.
 

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For example, if you cancel the Alaska class before they're ever laid down, you can use the freed up resources to complete the last two Iowa class instead and the now unused slipways can be used to lay down 3 additional Essex class (and you can probably complete Reprisal and Iwo Jima as well).

Actually you couldn't. The limiting factors for battleship was heavy guns and thick armor plates production.
I'm aware of that. That's why I said if the Alaska class was never laid down. Because now you're not dedicating a substantial chunk of your armor and gun production to those ships and the armor and gun production can instead be used for the Iowa class.
 

Dilandu

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I'm aware of that. That's why I said if the Alaska class was never laid down. Because now you're not dedicating a substantial chunk of your armor and gun production to those ships and the armor and gun production can instead be used for the Iowa class.

Er... no.

The whole idea about Alaska-class was, that they could use more easily produced components, than "proper" battleships. Less powerful guns, less thick plates - the ones, that could be produced without using the limited production capabilities for 16-inch rifles and 12-inch thick plates. So by cancelling Alaska-class you would not get anything useful for battleships; battleship's construction is limited by the ability of few, specialized factories to produce their components.
 

Archibald

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with a total of 441 planned ships axed

Sweet Jesus... ! So many ships one could cross an ocean walking on their decks !
 

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I guess they expected high losses in an invasion of Japan, so would have needed those later ships.
 

DWG

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Could more major combatants have been produced? Yes. Were they needed? Probably not.

By 1944 the Allies were sure they were going to win, probably by 1946 (so there's no point in laying down anything completing later), and started looking at what they would need for a post-War world. The ships that were cut were cut by people assuming that Olympic/Coronet would go ahead in late 1945-mid '46, and even on that basis they felt able to cut production. Not only because they didn't need the additional ships, but because they also needed free docks and building slips to dock battle-damaged vessels.
 

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Remember all of the large ships, cruisers and bigger, were built on the US east coast. Most of the repair work on damaged ships from the Pacific theatre occurred on the west coast. It was only the most heavily damaged ships that were sent to the east coast yards in 1944/45 e.g. Honolulu, Canberra, Houstoun, Reno, Franklin, Sangamon and the destroyers that suffered the worst kamikaze damage. The common factor in these ships is the length of time repairs took (7-10 months and many with machinery damage).

All the carriers that were kamikazied were repaired on the west coast, usually at Puget Sound including Bunker Hill and Enterprise which were probably the next worst damaged after Franklin but were still turned round in 4-5 months.

So I'm less convinced by the argument that docks were being kept free on the east coast to repair possible damaged ships than with war predicted to end by 1946 there was little need for the ships in the 1945 Programme which were cancelled in spring 1945 as they would not complete in time. Ships like the Roanokes and Des Moines were kept in the Programme because they carried the next generation of weapons.

Once the war is on the verge of ending there is then a massive round of cuts on 12 August 1945 as the post-war navy will be big enough.
 

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I have often thought the one place I wouldn't to be would be the US Navy's contract office during August 1945, they must have had a tremendous amount of overtime that month!

I've made a list of USN cancellations, I've ignored a few smaller auxiliaries in this list for brevity.

Submarines
Balao-class: 68 cancelled 29/07/1944, 2 uncompleted and cancelled 12/08/1945
Tench-class: 72 cancelled 29/07/1944, 3 cancelled 27/03/1945, 3 cancelled 28/03/1945, 2 cancelled 12/08/1945 1 uncompleted and cancelled 12/08/1945, 1 uncompleted and cancelled 07/01/1946, 2 completed but never commissioned
Design B future-class: 12 pennants allocated but design work cancelled in 1945

Battleships/Battlecruisers
Iowa-class: BB-65 suspended in 1943 cancelled 11/08/1945, BB-66 suspended 06/1942, resumed 12/1944, suspended 08/1946, resumed 17/08/1946, launched 1950 but never completed
Montana-class: orders suspended 06/1942, cancelled 07/1943
Alaska-class: CB-3 suspended 05/1942, resumed 25/05/1943, halted 17/02/1947, CB-4 to CB-6 cancelled 24/06/1943

Aircraft Carriers
Essex-class: CV-35 cancelled 12/08/1945, CV-46 cancelled 11/08/1945, CV-50 to CV-55 cancelled 03/1945
Midway-class: CVB-44 cancelled 11/01/1943, CVB-56 & 57 cancelled 28/03/1945
Commencement Bay-class: 16 cancelled 12/08/1945, 2 completed but never commissioned

Cruisers
Cleveland-class: 1 uncompleted and cancelled 12/08/1945
Fargo-class: 4 cancelled 05/10/1944, 8 cancelled 12/08/1945
Oregon City-class: 7 cancelled 12/08/1945, 1 resumed in 1948 as command ship
Des Moines-class: 4 cancelled 28/03/1945, 1 cancelled 12/08/1945, 3 cancelled 07/01/1946, 1 cancelled 06/06/1946
Worcester-class: 6 cancelled 26/03/1945, 1 cancelled 12/08/1945, 1 cancelled 8/12/1945

Destroyers
Fletcher-class: 11 cancelled in 1940, 2 experimental propulsion ships never laid down and cancelled in 1946
Gearing-class: 3 cancelled 08/03/1945, 16 cancelled 27/03/1945, 17 cancelled 28/03/1945, 11 cancelled 12/08/1945, 2 cancelled 07/01/1946, 2 cancelled 11/02/1946, 2 cancelled 12/09/1946, DD-791 only partially completed in 1946
Evarts-class: 3 cancelled 05/09/1944 and scrapped, 5 cancelled 03/1945
Cannon-class: 44 cancelled 01/09/1944 (6 being scrapped)
Rudderow-class: 180 cancelled during 1944-45
John C. Butler-class: 208 cancelled in 1944, 2 cancelled 07/01/1946 and scrapped

Submarine Chasers
PC-461-class: 57 cancelled during 1943, another 48 completed for other roles or transferred to Allied nations
SC-497-class: 37 cancelled during 1943, another 43 completed for other roles
PCE-842-class: 10 cancelled during 1944, another 4 completed for other roles
PCE-905-class: 56 cancelled during 1944, 15 re-ordered as Admirable-class minesweepers
PCS-class: 32 completed for other roles

PT Boats
Elco 80-foot Type: 29 cancelled14/08/1945, 2 cancelled 12/09/1945,
Higgins 78-foot Type: 21 cancelled 27/08/1945, 5 cancelled 07/09/1945

Mine Warfare
Terror-class: 2 completed as landing ships
Auk-class: 55 cancelled during 1942-43
Admirable-class: 56 cancelled during 1944-45
YMS-1-class: 18 cancelled 08/1945

Landing Ships
LST-1-class: 101 cancelled in 1942, 134 completed for other uses
Talbot County-class: 1 cancelled 07/01/1946
Casa Grande-class: 2 cancelled 17/08/1945
Clemson class APD conversions: 2 cancelled
Buckley-class APD Conversions: 2 cancelled 1944, 5 cancelled 1945
Rudderow-class APD Conversions: 2 cancelled 1945
Haskell-class: 6 cancelled cancelled 1944, 8 cancelled 27/08/1945
Tolland-class: 1 cancelled 27/08/1945
Andromeda-class: 2 cancelled 27/08/1945
LCI(L)-1-class: 48 cancelled in 1942
LCI(L)-351-class: 156 cancelled in 1944

Destroyer Tenders
Shennandoah-class: 2 cancelled 12/081945, 1 cancelled 01/1946, scrapped

Submarine Tenders
Aegir-class: 4 cancelled 14/04/1944, AS-27 and AS-28 re-ordered as Shennandoah class destroyer tenders

Seaplane Tenders
Kenneth Whiting-class: 2 cancelled 11/1944, 1 cancelled 08/1945
Barnegat-class: 6 cancelled 1943, 4 completed as PT-boat tenders

Repair Ships
Amphion-class: 2 cancelled 12/08/1945
 

EwenS

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It was the same in Britain.

Lion class - Lion & Temeraire (construction suspended 1940) cancelled 15/10/45; 2 others not started also canx in 1945
Audacious class carrier - Eagle cancelled 21/12/45; Ark Royal & Eagle
Malta class - 2 cancelled 15/10/45 & the other pair on 13/12/45
Hermes class - 4 cancelled 15/10/45 (having been suspended since ordered in July/Aug 1943). 3 suspended after launch; 1 stuck on slips until 1950s
Magnificent class light carriers - 6 suspended after launch
Fiji/Swiftsure/ Tiger class cruisers - 2 cancelled 1939, 5 cancelled 1942, 1 cancelled on slips 15/10/45 & 1 reordered as Neptune class
Neptune / Minotaur class cruisers - 6 cancelled in 1947
Battle class destroyers - 16 cancelled 15/10/45
Weapon class destroyers - 3 cancelled 12/44 because Scotts couldn't cope with the workload; 8 canx 15/10/45; 4 canx 23/12/44
D (Daring) class destroyers - 8 canx 13/12/45
G class destroyers - 8 canx 13/12/45 (entire class)
Black Swan class sloops - 5 canx 15/10/45
LST(3) - 10 canx some later completed as merchant
T class subs - 3 canx 28/4/44; 2 launched 4/44 and canx 15/10/45; 4 to A class contracts
S class subs - 7 canx 1/41; 4 canx 1943
V class subs - 2 canx 20/11/43; 10 canx 23/1/44
3 minelaying subs - canx 12/7/41
A class - 2 canx 30/9/44; 10 canx 15/10/45; 18 canx 19/10/45;
B class subs - 17 canx 22/11/44
Improved A class - 3 canx postwar
Loch class frigates - 55 + 100?
Bay 1 (plus 2 completed as depot ships, 4 as survey ships & 2 as Dispatch vessels 1945-50)
Flower - 6
Mod Flower - 2 + 6 RCN
River class - 97 RCN & 10 RAN
Castle class - 52
Algerine - 12
 

Tzoli

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Let me add:
Des Moines Class: 12 ordered, 4 laid down, 3 finished, rest cancelled
Worcester Class: 10 or 4? ordered, 3 laid down, 2 finished, rest cancelled
CL-154 Class (Super Atlanta), 6 ordered none were laid down, all cancelled
 

T. A. Gardner

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During WWII the US Navy received 22 of 32 Essex Class Carriers; 4 of 6 Iowa Class Battleships and two of six Alaska Class Large Cruisers plus dozens of other cruisers, hundreds of destroyers and submarines, and thousands of smaller and auxiliary ships. Nearing completion were the three Midway Class, the last two Iowa's, USS Hawaii, CB-3 and many, many, more destroyers and submarines. The US has already canceled three additional Midway Class carriers, the Montana Class battleships, most of the new Des Moines Class heavy cruisers and Worcester Class light cruisers. This was, by far, the largest modern fleet the world as ever seen. There was certainly enough naval power to win the war, But, the Two Ocean Navy was only about 65% complete. My ultimate question is could more of these larger combatants been completed with a rearrangement of production? It seems the US over produced DD's, DDE's, auxiliaries and landing craft. I understand the needs of amphibious operations and ASW during the Battle of the Atlantic impacted priorities too. I'm interested in everyone's opinion to see if more major combatants could have been completed by the end of 1946. I'm using that date because without the Atomic Bombs, Operations Olympic and Coronet (the Invasion of Japan) would have occurred and the shipyard production would have continued to replace the inevitably damaged and lost warships.
There's all sorts of other things involved here. For example, larger surface combatants required armor plate in various sizes and shapes. For the US, there were three major producers at the time: Carnegie, Bethlehem, and Midvale. They could only produce so much. That meant that the total available for construction would limit how many of each type of ship could be built. Because their plants were all on the East coast or in the Great Lakes region, building heavily armored ships was easier on the East coast.

Next, the number of large naval guns was also limited by production capacity that was all on the East coast as well. Since you needed X number of guns for Y number of ships in whatever size, that too predicted what production capacity would be.

Then came ship machinery. This was maxed out in US production. If you look at the US destroyer escort program you find these got a mix of turbine, turbine-electric, diesel, diesel electric propulsion systems due to shortages in capacity.

Production was also limited by geography. Shipping heavy armor plate and guns to the West coast along with machinery and other materials from the East Coast where most of it was produced would have taken up rail space, required more time, and raised costs over building on the East coast.

All but the most damaged ships in the Pacific could by 1944 be repaired in situ at forward bases as these had all of the necessary materials and facilities at them to do it. From the Advance Base Sectional Dock that could form a floating drydock that could be assembled to take any ship in existence to tenders and specialist barges that formed a floating, mobile shipyard, these bases would fix any ship without it having to return to the US. Heavily damaged ones were patched up and sent home only because they'd take up too much time and effort at an advanced base to fix when other ships needed yard time.

1625439427857.png

1625439482668.png

That's a good shot of an ABSD with shop barges alongside working on a battleship.

Some classes, like the Alaska large cruisers were unwanted by the USN but forced on them by political pressure. In this case, FDR, former secretary of the navy wanted these as a pet project even as the USN say little or no need for them.

Even then, many building programs were originally scheduled for larger amounts of production than actually completed. The destroyer escort program called for 1,000 ships of which a bit over 500 were completed. When it became obvious that the U-boat threat was declining and facing defeat by late 1942 - early 1943 the USN started mass cancellations of contracts on these just allowing the builders to finish ships already laid down. Even then, that was an astounding amount of ships that other nations would have counted as destroyers built.

The Montana class suffered the same fate. Cancellation due to success in prosecuting the war. The first couple were allowed to continue in production for some time simply to use up the already available materials, but then were cancelled too as the war wound down.
 

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The Montana class suffered the same fate. Cancellation due to success in prosecuting the war. The first couple were allowed to continue in production for some time simply to use up the already available materials, but then were cancelled too as the war wound down.
Just to clarify one point, none of the Montana class were ever actually laid down. All five were canceled before construction began on them. You may be confusing them with BB-65 and BB-66, which were originally ordered as the first two ships of the Montana class before being reordered as the Iowa class ships Illinois and Kentucky.
 

T. A. Gardner

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The Montana class suffered the same fate. Cancellation due to success in prosecuting the war. The first couple were allowed to continue in production for some time simply to use up the already available materials, but then were cancelled too as the war wound down.
Just to clarify one point, none of the Montana class were ever actually laid down. All five were canceled before construction began on them. You may be confusing them with BB-65 and BB-66, which were originally ordered as the first two ships of the Montana class before being reordered as the Iowa class ships Illinois and Kentucky.
That was as I said, to use up the available materials. Months before a ship is laid down, materials for it are stockpiled and readied at the yard for its construction.
 

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The Montana class suffered the same fate. Cancellation due to success in prosecuting the war. The first couple were allowed to continue in production for some time simply to use up the already available materials, but then were cancelled too as the war wound down.
Just to clarify one point, none of the Montana class were ever actually laid down. All five were canceled before construction began on them. You may be confusing them with BB-65 and BB-66, which were originally ordered as the first two ships of the Montana class before being reordered as the Iowa class ships Illinois and Kentucky.
That was as I said, to use up the available materials. Months before a ship is laid down, materials for it are stockpiled and readied at the yard for its construction.
No? You said the first two Montana class continued construction. None of the Montana class ever even began construction. BB-65&66 were reordered as Iowa class in 1940. They were continued after the war because they were still seen as useful due to their high speed and heavy armament.
 

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USS Illinois and USS Kentucky - without the production halt, I believe they could have been completed before the anticipated end of the war in 1946.

Main articles: USS Illinois (BB-65) and USS Kentucky (BB-66)
USS Illinois
Illinois under construction on the slipway at Philadelphia, just prior to her cancellation
Hull numbers BB-65 and BB-66 were originally intended as the first and second ships of the Montana class of battleships;[153] however the passage of an emergency war building program on 19 July 1940, resulted in both hulls being reordered as Iowa-class units to save time on construction.[154] The war ended before either could be completed, and work was eventually stopped. Initially, proposals were made to convert the hulls into aircraft carriers similar to the Essex class, but the effort was dropped.[155] Eventually both hulls were scrapped.

Illinois was ordered on 9 September 1940, and initially laid down on 6 December 1942. However, work was suspended pending a decision on whether to convert the hull to an aircraft carrier. Upon determination the result would cost more and be less capable than building from scratch construction resumed, but was canceled for good approximately one-quarter complete on 11 August 1945.[156] She was sold for scrap and broken up on the slipway in September 1958.[157][158]

USS Kentucky
The hull of Kentucky is floated out of drydock to allow it to be used for repairs to Missouri
Kentucky was ordered on 9 September 1940, and laid down on 7 March 1942. Work on the ship was suspended in June 1942, and the hull floated out to make room for the construction of LSTs.[159] The interruption lasted for two and a half years while a parallel aircraft carrier debate played out as with Illinois, reaching the same conclusion. Work resumed in December 1944, with completion projected for mid-1946. Further suggestions were made to convert Kentucky into a specialist anti-aircraft ship, and work was again suspended. With the hull approximately three-quarters completed she was floated on 20 January 1950, to clear a dry-dock for repairs to Missouri, which had run aground. During this period, plans were proposed to convert Kentucky into a guided missile battleship, which saw her reclassified from BB-66 to BBG-1.[160] When these failed construction of any sort, work never resumed and the ship was used as a parts hulk; in 1956, her bow was removed and shipped in one piece across Hampton Roads and grafted onto Wisconsin, which had collided with the destroyer Eaton.[152] In 1958, the engines installed on Kentucky were salvaged and installed on the Sacramento-class fast combat support ships Sacramento and Camden.[153] Ultimately, what remained of the hulk was sold for scrap on 31 October 1958.[141]
 

T. A. Gardner

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USS Illinois and USS Kentucky - without the production halt, I believe they could have been completed before the anticipated end of the war in 1946.

Kentucky - maybe, Illinois - clearly no.
I'd say if both were in construction without stoppages, both would have been completed before the end of the war. It took the US about 24 months to build a battleship and Illinois would have been finished in early 1945, Kentucky around mid 1944. Work ups and training take about six months so Kentucky would have deployed some time in early 1945 and would have seen a little action while Illinois would have still been on the East coast working up for deployment.
 

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USS Illinois and USS Kentucky - without the production halt, I believe they could have been completed before the anticipated end of the war in 1946.

Kentucky - maybe, Illinois - clearly no.
No, without the suspension of construction for over 2 years, both ships would have been completed just in time for the war to end (actual end point for Kentucky, projected end point for Illinois). Kentucky would likely have commissioned in July, 1945 and Illinois in March, 1946.
 

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USS Illinois and USS Kentucky - without the production halt, I believe they could have been completed before the anticipated end of the war in 1946.

Kentucky - maybe, Illinois - clearly no.
I'd say if both were in construction without stoppages, both would have been completed before the end of the war. It took the US about 24 months to build a battleship and Illinois would have been finished in early 1945, Kentucky around mid 1944. Work ups and training take about six months so Kentucky would have deployed some time in early 1945 and would have seen a little action while Illinois would have still been on the East coast working up for deployment.
2.5-3.5 depending. Iowa and New Jersey took under 3 years from laying down to commissioning while Missouri and Wisconsin took between 39 and 42 months. Illinois and Kentucky would probably be closer to the last two than the first two as priority was given to destroyers and landing craft.
 

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USS Illinois and USS Kentucky - without the production halt, I believe they could have been completed before the anticipated end of the war in 1946.

Kentucky - maybe, Illinois - clearly no.
No, without the suspension of construction for over 2 years, both ships would have been completed just in time for the war to end (actual end point for Kentucky, projected end point for Illinois). Kentucky would likely have commissioned in July, 1945 and Illinois in March, 1946.
I clearly stated, if production weren't suspended... With suspensions in production, both would not have been finished in time. And, construction would be about 24 months, maybe a bit more, followed by about six months workup so in wartime about 32 to 36 months total, assuming both are given priority to finish construction.
 

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I'd say if both were in construction without stoppages, both would have been completed before the end of the war. It took the US about 24 months to build a battleship and Illinois would have been finished in early 1945, Kentucky around mid 1944. Work ups and training take about six months so Kentucky would have deployed some time in early 1945 and would have seen a little action while Illinois would have still been on the East coast working up for deployment.
The Missouri was laid up in January 1941, launched in January 1944, commissioned in June 1944. I.e. 36 months from start to launch, and plus six months to completion. I.e. 42.

Wisconsin was laid up in late January 1941, launched in December 1943, commissioned in April 1944. I.e. 34 months from start to launch, and plus five months to completion. I.e. 39.

So on average, it took 40-41 months to build Iowa-class battleship during the war.

Illinois was laid up in December 1942. Plus three years (36 months), we came to January 1946. Adding five-six more months we came to mid-summer 1946 as the possible commission data.

Kentucky was laid up in March 1942. Plus three years - March-April 1945. Adding five-six more months we came to autumn 1945 as the possible commission data.
 

T. A. Gardner

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I'd say if both were in construction without stoppages, both would have been completed before the end of the war. It took the US about 24 months to build a battleship and Illinois would have been finished in early 1945, Kentucky around mid 1944. Work ups and training take about six months so Kentucky would have deployed some time in early 1945 and would have seen a little action while Illinois would have still been on the East coast working up for deployment.
The Missouri was laid up in January 1941, launched in January 1944, commissioned in June 1944. I.e. 36 months from start to launch, and plus six months to completion. I.e. 42.

Wisconsin was laid up in late January 1941, launched in December 1943, commissioned in April 1944. I.e. 34 months from start to launch, and plus five months to completion. I.e. 39.

So on average, it took 40-41 months to build Iowa-class battleship during the war.

Illinois was laid up in December 1942. Plus three years (36 months), we came to January 1946. Adding five-six more months we came to mid-summer 1946 as the possible commission data.

Kentucky was laid up in March 1942. Plus three years - March-April 1945. Adding five-six more months we came to autumn 1945 as the possible commission data.
The first year for those was in peacetime so the rate of construction would be slower (the year 1941). Once the war commenced, it would have shifted to round the clock construction instead shortening the time.
 

Hood

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The first year for those was in peacetime so the rate of construction would be slower (the year 1941). Once the war commenced, it would have shifted to round the clock construction instead shortening the time.
I'm not so sure its that's simple.
Wartime shipyard conditions and increased manpower and working hours didn't have a massive positive impact on build times given constraints of materiel supplies, and indeed there is evidence that ships took longer to build.

Look at cruisers:
USS Cleveland took 17 months from laying down to launch and 7 months from launch to commissioning = 24 months (1 June 1940-15 June 1942)
The last ship in class, USS Dayton built completely under wartime conditions took 12 months from laying down to launch and 10 months from launch to commissioning = 22 months (8 March 1943 - 7 Jan 1945)
The redesigned USS Fargo took 18 months from laying down to launch and 10 months from launch to commissioning = 28 months (23 Aug 1943 to 9 Dec 1945)

USS Baltimore took 14 months from laying down to launch and 9 months from launch to commissioning = 23 months (26 May 1941-15 April 1943)
USS Chicago built completely under wartime conditions took 13 months from laying down to launch and 5 months from launch to commissioning = 18 months (28 July 1943-10 Jan1945)
Yet her sistership USS Los Angeles laid down at the same yard on the same day took 13 months from laying down to launch and 11 months from launch to commissioning = 24 months (28 July 1943-22 July 1945)

Even if we look at the Atlanta class, USS Atlanta took 18 months to complete (22 April 1940-24 Dec 1941), yet if we take the last ship of the class to complete within the wartime period (i.e. not those 3 ships completed in 1946), the USS Tucson took 26 months to complete (23 Dec 1942-3 Feb 1945).

Carriers are large ships, lets look at USS Essex took 15 months from laying down to launch and 5 months from launch to commissioning = 20 months (28 April 1941-31 Dec 1942).
The last to complete during the war, USS Lake Champlain took 20 months from laying down to launch and 7 months from launch to commissioning = 27 months (28 April 1941-31 Dec 1943).

Destroyers present much the same picture.
Of the Fletcher class, USS Fletcher took 9 months to build (2 Oct 1941-30 June 1942), the last USS Rooks took 11 months (27 Oct 1943-2 Sept 1944) - in fact the entire batch of 6 of the last Fletchers from Seattle-Tacoma took 11-12 months to complete.

So build rates could go up as well as go down, and in fact there is some evidence that building times actually increased during the war. Even two ships in the same yard at the same time would not complete in the same time.

[EDIT: USS Essex commissioning date typo fixed]
 
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EwenS

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The first year for those was in peacetime so the rate of construction would be slower (the year 1941). Once the war commenced, it would have shifted to round the clock construction instead shortening the time.
I'm not so sure its that's simple.
Wartime shipyard conditions and increased manpower and working hours didn't have a massive positive impact on build times given constraints of materiel supplies, and indeed there is evidence that ships took longer to build.

Look at cruisers:
USS Cleveland took 17 months from laying down to launch and 7 months from launch to commissioning = 24 months (1 June 1940-15 June 1942)
The last ship in class, USS Dayton built completely under wartime conditions took 12 months from laying down to launch and 10 months from launch to commissioning = 22 months (8 March 1943 - 7 Jan 1945)
The redesigned USS Fargo took 18 months from laying down to launch and 10 months from launch to commissioning = 28 months (23 Aug 1943 to 9 Dec 1945)

USS Baltimore took 14 months from laying down to launch and 9 months from launch to commissioning = 23 months (26 May 1941-15 April 1943)
USS Chicago built completely under wartime conditions took 13 months from laying down to launch and 5 months from launch to commissioning = 18 months (28 July 1943-10 Jan1945)
Yet her sistership USS Los Angeles laid down at the same yard on the same day took 13 months from laying down to launch and 11 months from launch to commissioning = 24 months (28 July 1943-22 July 1945)

Even if we look at the Atlanta class, USS Atlanta took 18 months to complete (22 April 1940-24 Dec 1941), yet if we take the last ship of the class to complete within the wartime period (i.e. not those 3 ships completed in 1946), the USS Tucson took 26 months to complete (23 Dec 1942-3 Feb 1945).

Carriers are large ships, lets look at USS Essex took 15 months from laying down to launch and 5 months from launch to commissioning = 20 months (28 April 1941-31 Dec 1943).
The last to complete during the war, USS Lake Champlain took 20 months from laying down to launch and 7 months from launch to commissioning = 27 months (28 April 1941-31 Dec 1943).

Destroyers present much the same picture.
Of the Fletcher class, USS Fletcher took 9 months to build (2 Oct 1941-30 June 1942), the last USS Rooks took 11 months (27 Oct 1943-2 Sept 1944) - in fact the entire batch of 6 of the last Fletchers from Seattle-Tacoma took 11-12 months to complete.

So build rates could go up as well as go down, and in fact there is some evidence that building times actually increased during the war. Even two ships in the same yard at the same time would not complete in the same time.
You are right it is not that simple.

I looked at the Essex class in some detail a while ago and the info you present is only part of the tale.

If we look at the Essex herself, she was ordered in Feb 1940 and the contractual completion date was 15/4/44. So 3 years from laying down to completion (when ordered the deign was not finalised). By 1 Nov 1941 the builders were predicting completion on 15/1/44, so 3 months saved over contract by the outbreak of war. She completed in Dec 1942 (not 1943 as you note) so the total build time had reduced by a further 13 months to a final 20 months.

It was the same for the next 10 ships ordered between May and Sept 1940, even though some had not been laid down by 7 Dec 1941. Contractual completion dates for them ran through from May 1944 to August 1946 with build times from lay down that would have ranged from 33-47 months. The predicted time savings in Nov 1941 being 2 to 8.5 months.

So the plan in Nov 1941 would have seen 11 ships by the end of 1945. Instead that 11th ship entered service in Oct 1944 and was actually pre-dated by 2 later orders from Dec 1941 and Aug 1942.

Build times also varied between yards. Newport News was knocking them out in wartime in an average of 17 months (the range was 14-21 months). Their only postwar completion, Leyte, took 26 months with her fit out time doubling from 4 to 8 months.

Bethlehem Quincy wartime average was 19 months (range 15-21 months) but their only postwar completion, Philippine Sea, also took 21 months.

New York NY averaged 21 months for its two wartime completions (19 and 22 repectively) with 24 for Kearsarge completed in 1946 where again, the delay was in the fit out.

Norfolk NY built 2 in wartime in 20 and 27 months and completed its final ship, Tarawa, in Dec 1945 in 21 months. Its slowest was actually its second ship, Lake Champlain, which took an extra 6-7 months on the slip / in the building dock for some reason I have yet to determine.

Finally Philadelphia NY built Antietam in 22 months but its postwar completions, Princeton & Valley Forge took 26 months each. But the delays were in different places. Princeton took longer on the slip / in the building dock which Valley Forge took a year to fit out.

So what conclusions can we draw? Firstly up until at least mid 1944 there is a massive push to build carriers. look at the shortening of the build times on the Essex class and add to that the 9 CVL that were built largely during 1943. Then there is the CVE programme. 50 Casablancas from scratch in 20 months. But the next class, the Commencement Bays are larger and more complex ships so take longer.

Secondly, there are anomalies, Chicago & Los Angeles are one. But a partial explanation must, I believe, relate to the fact that they were built together in the same dry dock. So hull construction had to be timed to "launch" / float out both hulls together. After that completion could take as long as necessary, perhaps with Chicago being prioritised over Los Angeles.

Then there is the question of complexity. By the end of the war there are more radars, bofors and oerlikons to be fitted.

And perhaps the biggest issue of all, PRIORITY. 8 Baltimores ordered in 1940 and 16 in 1942. Yet only 4 were laid down in 1941 with the next 4 delayed until 1943 and then the programme being stretched out so far that 5 were still on the slips in 1945 and another hadnt even been laid down. DEs trumped everything in 1942/43 then landing craft in 1943/44. Build times of Gearings stretched as they were completed as radar pickets and got AA upgrades (can't remember if all that work was done before or after completion on some or all ships).

There is probably a lot more to say when I gather my thoughts more.
 

EwenS

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This is the link to the Bureau of Ships report for Nov/Dec 1941 with much contract and est completion data.

I've been trying to find similar later reports but so far without success. If anyone comes across them I'd love to know.

Edit:- Note the ships names are those that they were being ordered under. Once war broke out names began to change. So St Paul on the report became Quincy and Pittsburgh became Canberra,
 
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Ironmiked

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Midway-class: CVB-44 cancelled 11/01/1943, CVB-56 & 57 cancelled 28/03/1945

I might have missed something. I know FDR personally disliked the Midway Class. However, with their armored flight decks and numerous other percieved design improvements over the Essex Class, why were the next three hulls cancelled?
 

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I might have missed something. I know FDR personally disliked the Midway Class. However, with their armored flight decks and numerous other percieved design improvements over the Essex Class, why were the next three hulls cancelled?
Mostly because the war was ending, the technology marched on (jet aircraft), and there was a serious need to re-evaluate wartime lessons before building more warships. Especially after Summer 1945, when questions about warships protection from nuclear attacks arise.
 

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Where after WW II was the possible adversary that had the capacity to outfit a navy with capital ships to challenge the USN? The real problem in the years immediately after WW II was retaining enough personnel to operate and maintain the ships the USN already had commissioned. I grew up in WWII and served in the USN during the 1950s. When I was assigned to a BB during that time it probably had about 50% of the WW II crew complement.10 years after the war there were almost no real updates, so the ship was pretty much as it was in 1945. If you had a ship named after your city or state, the Navy, would probably have donated to the local government as a museum piece, I was slightly involved in the concept of bringing a cruiser up the Mississippi to serve as a local museum. It never happened, but the wardroom sterling silver was displayed in a case at the local NROTC. Oh yes, the small ships-many were built in yards along the Mississippi, Ohio, etc.
Not only were the ways to small to handle capital ships, channel depths for the access to those yards were way to shallow. IIRC, the minimum channel depth to be maintained on the
OHIO was 8 or 9 feet. Try that with a light cruiser or even a destroyer.
Artie Bob [CIC Officer, Electronics Officer, OOD, CDO, Navigator, Air Defense Officer, Air Officer, Landing Party Officer- NOT all at the same time.
 

EwenS

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Midway-class: CVB-44 cancelled 11/01/1943, CVB-56 & 57 cancelled 28/03/1945

I might have missed something. I know FDR personally disliked the Midway Class. However, with their armored flight decks and numerous other percieved design improvements over the Essex Class, why were the next three hulls cancelled?
It is necessary to look at the cancellation of CVB-44 separately from the other two.

The 1942 Maximum War Effort shipbuilding programme included 4 Midways. You are correct that FDR did not like the Midway class and wanted more CVE instead. In August 1942 he approved the programme less the MIdways. He was finally persuaded to authorise two on 29 Dec 1942 and the third on 26th May 1943. In the meantime the final ship was cancelled, priority being given to other ship types.

CVB-55 & 56 were part of the 1945 shipbuilding programme which FDR disapproved on 22 March 1943 (with the exception of the CVE again!). These ships were not intended to be laid down until 1945 or 1946 and would not complete until 1947 or 1948. FDR was of the view that by then the war would be over so they would not be needed for WW2, and in that he was right. But on paper they remained in the build programme.

In early 1945 the USN reviewed their carrier build programmes, and those of other ship types, in light of the probable end of WW2 before the end of 1946, then current levels of predicted carrier losses, future build times (2 years or more) together with the predicted size of any post-war navy which was bound to be downsized from the then built/building 26 Essex, 10 CVL and 3 Midways. As a result of that review 6 Essex class (CV-50 to 55) from the 1944 programme and the two Midways from the 1945 programme were cancelled on 27th March 1945.

All this occurred before the details of the atom bomb were available to the ship designers. The Manhattan Project was kept from all but a select few until the first test in July 1945. Also while jets were in service with various air forces by then, the first pure jet to be intentionally landed on a carrier was a Fleet Air Arm De Havilland Vampire on 3 Dec 1945 (I don't count the dual piston/jet Ryan FR Fireballs that crashed on Ranger the month before!).

In May 1945 the USN began a review of carrier design and a design process ran until mid-1946 but produced no ships. Then the focus changed heavy attack carrier that led to the design of CV-58 United States and the Forrestals.

For anyone interested in more information about the MIdways, I've begun piecing some design information together on another site with the help of a few people. The link is here:-
 

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My personal belief as to why the extra Midways where cancelled:
The 1946 Carrier was a better alternative to the massive, expensive, and cumbersome Midways. It would be cheaper and easier to produce similar sized vessels without the armored flight deck.
 
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