I was watching some youtube videos about old ships like the Bismark and it got me thinking about how there is no great menace today. It's hard to think about an equal foe on the sea when our biggest competitor is a skiff owner with an AK-47. Yes, they are clearly getting their licks in, against defenseless civilians, but they have not directly taken on any Navy, much less mine.
It's not that there aren't some pretty powerful ships out there. The most powerful, purely from a weapons platform perspective, is probably the Kirov class battlecruiser in service with the Russian Northern Fleet. She's a 24,000 ton brute and honestly quite pretty to view from a Navy perspective. However, she is quite old as well, older than even my cruiser, the USS Antietam. There is also a carrier in service with the Russian fleet named the Kuznetzov. I can appreciate her lines and enormous payload, but she is not the Enterprise, or any other of our carriers for that matter.
Aside from the Kirov class, the only thing that even causes a modern Navy fellow to worry (besides submarines) is the Sovremenny class destroyers in service with the PLA Navy. And truth be told, they are destroyers. It's unfitting to be afraid of another man's destroyers. There's just something wrong with that. The Bismark sailors weren't afraid of destroyers, why should Antietam sailors be afraid of Chinese destroyers?
As a boy and even now, I've read countless accounts of the Bismark and the British response. I've also read about massive naval engagements from Leyte Gulf to Tsushima Straits. But there are no more Shinano's, Yamato's, or Bismark's. No one to cause concern. I'm glad, in some way, to know this. It's not that I want to perish in one of the major battles of Naval history. Still, what would it be like if we weren't the only ones out there?
Or maybe the question to ask is, "What was it like to know the Bismark was on the loose?" I wish I knew some old salts who could tell me.
In honor of those sailors who went before me, both German and British, as well as all men and women to have sailed in men of war, I leave you with Johnny Horton's, "Sink the Bismark."