October 20, 2011
Iowa-Class Battleship Gun Tubes Up For Auction?
By Chad Love
Attention naval history buffs: have you always wanted a genuine piece of WWII naval history, perhaps a relic from those bygone days of yore when our mighty Iowa-class battleships ruled the seas, their massive 16-inch main guns obliterating all resistance? Well, here's a deal for you. But you're gonna need to bring someone to help you load them in the back of your truck...
From this posting on govliquidation.com:
3,360,000 lbs approx Steel Gun Tubes, the shipping cradles and railroad rails that the gun tubes are sitting on are also included in weight and sale. Demilitarization is a condition of sale for Gun Tubes only. Property located at Hawthorne Army Depot, NV, 89415. Qty 14ea Tubes and weigh approx 236,900 lbs ea and are 816 inches long, Tube thickness being approx 15in. at the breach and 4in. at the muzzle
That's right, you can bid on what might very well be the last remaining main gun tubes for the now-long-gone Iowa-class battleships (click on the link for a slideshow of all the tubes). Are they new and unused tubes, or are they used? Can't tell from the description, but if they are indeed used, just think at the history they may have witnessed! Could they have been there overlooking the deck of the Missouri on August 15, 1945? Could these very tubes have fired some of their famous 2,700-pound shells at Viet Cong positions in the Vietnam War from the turrets of the USS New Jersey?
Who knows, but it's certainly fun to speculate, isn't it? The 16-inch guns aboard those WWII-era battleships weren't the largest ever placed on a ship. That honor goes to the truly mind-boggling 18-inch guns aboard the WWII Japanese battleships Yamato and Musashi. Both those ships, however, were sunk during the war, so for the past half-century the 16-inch guns aboard out battleships have been the top of the heap, ballistically-speaking.
The last of the Iowa-class ships, the New Jersey, was decommissioned in 1991, so obviously there's no use for these old relics any more and it appears they're headed for the scrap heap to be melted down and turned into refrigerators and compact cars. The technology of warfare marches on, and there is no room for sentimentality in such matters, but it certainly seems to be a sad and ignoble end for a gun that used to fire shells the size of a compact car, is it?
If you had the means to bid on them, what would you do with them?