In the rebuilds after WW2, quite a few of the worlds nations built, bought or completed a new series of gun cruisers. These ships, designed from the start around the weapons and sensors of the post-war era, were extremely potent. Think about the Russian Sverdlov class, the Dutch and British cruisers etc. The USN had at the time a large fleet of war-built cruisers which were still used post-war.
In the early 1950's, when all these foreign cruisers were completed, the development in weapons and especially in threats started to change from the WW2 era. The first missiles, both anti-air and anti-ship, started to appear.Neither of them were thought to be extremely effective though, and it was widely accepted that this first generation of missile systems would not be entirely operational and mission capable for some time. Nobody knew exactly which direction the development of missiles would go after the introduction of the 3T (Talos, Terrier, Tartar) missiles on USN ships.
In this difficult to predict development environment, another program was started. The nuclear submarine Nautilus was comissioned in 1954, and the USN needed nuclear reactors operational on warships of different sizes and types to reach fast worldwide deployment with the lower number of ships the postwar USN had available. However, nuclear reactors were not cheap, and a ship fitted with them would be operational for decades.
In this time era of unknowns in development, the fitting of the C1W cruiser reactors on a missile ship was rejected, as it was expected that the first generation of missile ships would not be effective decades later (This was correct, note the redesignation of the CAG's and the Gyatt back to gun ships after their missile installations were not considered effective anymore in the late 1960's). A nuclear powered ship fitted with this first generation missile armament would thus require major remodellings relatively early in its life. This was far less an issue for the wartime cruiser conversions, which would just be replaced as their hulls were no longer state of the art anyways. So, it was proposed to fit an new nuclear powered cruiser with the latest in gun armament, used for shore bombardment, anti-ship (anti-cruiser) warfare and a strong set of multi-purpose secondary guns. The long range, high speed operational effectiveness of such a ship would release the existing cruiser fleet for either sale or missile conversion. In addition, the new ship would be built with more growth space and more powerful systems then the existing CA's and CL's could ever hope to field due to restrictions on their hull and (space for), generators, stability or logistics. The ship was built around both the weight requirements of the previous generation of ships, with their heavy guns and armoured turrets, and the expected requirements for future updates, requiring at that point lots of deck space, internal volume and generator capacity.
CAN-160, comissioned in 1959, was thus a ship that was not just an incredebly powerful gun cruiser, but also a ship that had the ability to be upgraded with whatever the future might bring. The hull and her upperworks was basically laid out in 8 main sections:
- A central propulsion section with the 2 big steam turbines, generators and 2 C1W reactors.
- Abeam of this section were, on each side, the secondary armament sectors, where as comissioned 2 Mk 42 5''/54 singles and 2 Mk 37 3''/70 twins were fitted on each side.
- Forward and aft (and partially on top of) of the propulsion section were the fire control sectors, were the main directors were placed, as comissioned 2 AN/SPG-49 forwards and 2 aft. These were a slightly modified variant of the AN/SPG-49 built so they could be used for gun direction.
- Forward and aft of the fire control sections were the weapon sectors, as comissioned fitted with 2 twin 8''/55RF Mk 16 gun turrets, a lighter twin turret variant of the ones used on the Des Moines class.
- On top of the propulsion section was a tall aluminium superstructure placed, that kept an clear view over the large directors and offered space for both flagship facilities and a set of powerful radars. Aside this superstructure 2 Mk 56 fire control systems were placed, which could take over fire control from the fore and aft fire control sections in case of issues with the high tech SPG-49's.
This layout gave the ship the required growth space for future updates and also allowed future upgrades to be done without a complete remodel of the existing arrangement. Over the ships life, this capability has been used a few times.
The following layout for example, was used as an example how the ship would be ready for the future: she could take 2 installations of the same type as the CLG conversions received, either an Mk 7 or Mk 9 on-deck installation. (this was one of the main reason for her having 4 twin turrets as opposed to the 'normal' 3 tripples) Mk 7 Talos installation illustrated because she uses the same directors as the base ship and was considered the 'cruiser' system of the 3T series.
In the late 1960's, the ships 5'' guns were no longer considered effective mid range air defence systems, so they were replaced by 2 Mk 13 launchers firing Tartar missiles.
An Typhon conversion was planned (but not carried out due to the cancellation of Typhon) and the ship was kept as primary a gun cruiser until 1980, when the ship was remodelled into an strike cruiser fitted with the AEGIS system.
I might draw these last variants (and maybe some others I thought of during the design work for this ship) at some point, but right now I have to finish her up before this challenge closes, this is already one hell of a late entry! I hope this powerful bastard is well liked by you all!