How many conventional cruise missiles to sink the USS Missouri?

So my roommate and I were watching “Under Siege” last night in which Tommy Lee Jones hijacks the USS Missouri and is thwarted by Steven Segal. Anyway, a discussion erupted about the sturdiness of the USS Missouri. My roomate’s view is that a modern cruise missile could easily sink the Missouri. My view is that the Missouri, just like many of the late WWII battleships were so heavily armored that they are virtually impervious to conventional weapons. I think that it would take a fairly large number of conventional cruise missiles to sink the Missouri. And I’m not talking about a lucky hit where a cruise missile flies down the smokestack and blows up the boiler. I’m talking just regular hits against the outer armor of the ship.

Any input?

One missile will easily destory it with the correct warhead, or so I’ve heard.

This may be a nitpick, but I feel it’s an important one. When you say “conventional”, do you simply mean non-nuclear? If so, the answer, as you’d probably expect, is “it depends”. Do you consider warheads with shaped charges on the front to be “conventional”? What about weapons that are designed to sink the ship by detonating a depth charge under the ship, causing it to capsize because it can’t support its own weight with no water under the middle? So, really nothing to add, because my answer is “I don’t know”.

Harpoon has a 260Kg HE armour penetrating warhead and impacts Mach 0.9.

The newer AGM-119B Penguin Anti-Ship Missile hits just above the waterline at about Mach 1.2 with a ~50Kg HE AP warhead.

The AS-30L used by France (amongst others) is able to penetrate up to 2m of concrete before detonation, and carries a 240Kg HE warhead.

OK, so please tell me what type of conventional warhead on a cruise missile would destroy the USS MIssouri in one hit?

Bear in mind that this ship was designed to resist and contain damage from shells that penetrate more than 9 meters of reenforced concrete, weighting in at 1200 kilograms, arriving at nearly 1700 feet per second, roughly 1150mph, or mach 1.5.

Now, stick that fact into your calcuations.


I don’t know enough about the topic, but I know the answer to your question.

Trust me on this.

Conventional means non-nuclear. Yes, I consider shaped charge warheads to be conventional. I’m not talking about depth charges - cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles only.

So all you can tell me is that ONE non-nuclear cruise misslie CAN destroy a WWII battleship but you can’t tell me how or where you heard the info? Sorry, I cannot trust that.

Anti-ship missiles are designed to destroy modern, aluminum-hulled vessels.

The Missouri is steel, and lots of it.

I don’t think any two ships in the Fleet carry that many cruise missiles.

Right, also bear in mind that steel armor is stronger than concrete. You can get through concrete with a hammer and a pick if neccessary. But you can’t get through steel armor in the same manner.

Them’s the breaks. I understand your position.

I’m fairly certain that the defenses of battleships are not adequate to defends against the main guns of another battleship.

If I were in that position, I’d sure have the blues, man!

True as well. But the main guns of other battleships were specifically designed to penetrate the thick armor of other battleships. What I’m talking about is cruise and anti ship missiles which are designed to destroy modern aluminum hulled ships, not the hulking steel behemoths of WWII.

Aluminum isn’t really a whole lot weaker than steel. It’s just more elastic. I’m not entirely sure how much that changes in impact as opposed to a dead load, but I don’t believe that old armor is better than new armor.

Would the battleship’s Phalanx antimissile defense system blow away a cruise missile before it hit, anyway?

I didn’t say stop, I said resist and contain. If you wish to note how successful they are at such resistance and containment, let’s look at a comparabely-armored battleship: The Bismark.

Combining after action reports with recent ROV visits to her grave; the following was determined. She was hit by approximately eighty 14.5 and 16 inch armor-piercing naval artillery shells (and a thundering butt-load of lesser shells). All but two of the 14.5 in shells bounced. Only four of the 16 inch shells were found to have penetrated the armor, and though the torpedo bulge was shredded by plunging near-misses, no shells pentrated the armor belt. What doomed her was progressive flooding from numerous torpedo hits, possibly aided by scuttling. The shells that did penetrate did massive damage internally, but they didn’t sink her.

I’d call that adequate resistance and containment, thankyouverymuch.

Modern vessels aren’t armored at all - not in the sense that the old battle wagons were.

But to answer the armor values of aluminum. I have here on my desk, a hunk of aluminum armor cut from the side of an M-113 APC. It has a .50 cal AP bullet lodged in it - 3/4 of the way through the armor. In fact, the ogive of the bullet is actually sticking through the far side.

Or, you could look at the HMS Sheffield - Aluminum, burned to the waterline by a single relatively small anti-shipping missile, or the USS Stark, who recived very near the same fate from the same class of missile. Modern vessels are thin-skinned and vulnerable, compared to the old battle wagons. They rely upon their active defenses, or on faster, longer-reaching offense, to protect them from damage. They simply aren’t designed to take a beating like the old all-gun ships were.

The Bismarck was doomed by having its rudder disabled by a torpedo. The rudder seized at an off-angle and the ship was basically forced to maneuver in circles while the British pounded it with everything they had.