Battleship Deathmatch: Navy's USS Iowa vs. Russia's Battlecruiser Kirov (Who Wins?)

Kyle Mizokami

Key Point: In 1988 the USS Iowa loses, limping away to fight another day. Still, that’s not all exactly bad news for the Americans: Kirov was forced to expend its missiles against a battleship that didn’t sink, and wasn’t able to fulfill its primary mission of sinking aircraft carriers or savaging NATO’s Atlantic convoys. Kirov returns to her home port to rearm, but thanks to the carriers that were saved, there may not be a port to go home to.

It’s 1988. World War Three has begun, with the armies of the Soviet Union and the rest of the Warsaw Pact pouring over the Inter-German Border. Their destination: the Rhine River and beyond, dealing NATO a knockout blow that will end the war.

Meanwhile, at sea, an equally titanic battle is about to take place. A Soviet Kirov-class battlecruiser, attempting to intercept a U.S. Navy carrier battle group, is intercepted by the battleship USS Iowa. The biggest ship-against-ship battle since the World War Two is about to begin. Who wins?

Built in the late 1980s, the Kirov-class battlecruisers were designed—like much of the Soviet navy at the time—to neutralize American carrier battle groups during warfare. American aircraft carriers were a threat to not only the Soviet mainland but also Moscow’s nuclear missile submarines, and were to be taken out as quickly as possible. A secondary mission of the Kirov class was as commerce raider, designed to cut the flow of American and Canadian ground reinforcements to the battleground in Europe.

The Kirov class were the largest surface warships built since the end of World War II. Each displaced twenty-four thousand tons and measured 826 feet long—nearly as long as an aircraft carrier. Nuclear powered, they could cruise indefinitely at speeds of up to thirty-two knots.

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