In most circles of discussion, these ships are treated as a sub-type of Battleship in the real world, and have the size, speed and armor of one, but there is a key difference between the two ship types, that being their armament. While a Battleship makes use of heavy guns to inflict damage to enemy vessels, an Arsenal Ship typically makes use of other types of weapons, missiles in particular, their primary purpose being to attack land targets at long range with a larger number of missiles than possible with an SSBN (Ballistic Missile Submarine) or SSGN (Guided Missile Submarine).
In Battleship Craft, there are two major variations on the concept of the Arsenal Ship. The first is the closest to the actual concept of one and makes use of the VLS available in Shin Wei Chiou's DLC Hack, while the other, using the vanilla app, uses Rocket Launchers, with the option of using the standard guided missile launcher as well.
Variation 1: VLS
- Long Range, the VLS can be safely launched out of the range of the 46cm gun.
- They come in fours. One VLS holds 4 tomohawk missiles, so 100 VLS', 400 missiles.
- They only take up 1x1 space so you can fit quite a bit in a small space
- They can be launched underwater, I dunno, if you have an arsenal submarine or whatever they call it, you can launch them at a farther distance.
- Limited ammo. You don't have an unlimited supply and will eventually run out.
- Weird locking system. If the Missile sees planes, well then the missiles will follow them in an attempt to destroy them. Although if they do hit a bunch of planes in a cluster they're bound to be taken out
- Weak power. You'll need to launch your missiles in clusters of 12-24 in order to be effective, mainly because they don't do heavy damage.
- Easy to out run. A fast ship can easily make hard turns for missiles to go off track.
- Phalanx CIWS can intercept multiple missiles, hindering the attacks useless
Variation 2: Rocket Launchers (Missiles optional)
Another version of the Arsenal Ship exists, but there is a key difference to note; while the first (true) variation is a stand-off platform for firing missiles at the enemy from long range without fear of attack, this weapon is far different. An excellent comparison to make would be between a Sniper Rifle and a Shotgun.
This take on the Arsenal Ship concept makes use of the Rocket Launcher, which works through firing a large number of rockets in a spread pattern within a range limited to 10 kilometers or less, effectively making it a giant shotgun. It's a powerful weapon that's commonly used on VIP-level ships as both a secondary/tertiary weapon and/or as an anti-aircraft weapon, as their spread makes them ideal for shooting down torpedo bombers and fighters (although dive bombers are still a threat due to their altitude). As stated already, this is usually not a primary weapon, primarily due to range concerns, but because guided missiles are limited to four launchers per ship currently, this forces the Rocket Launcher to become the primary weapon should the guided missiles not sink the enemy vessel.
For an Arsenal Ship using this configuration, several things are necessary, primarily among them being speed, protection and number of weapons.
This version of the arsenal ship's weapons are limited in range, and as a result, one needs to close distance with an enemy ship as soon as possible both to be able to inflict damage as well as to (hopefully) minimize damage taken. The sooner the ship get within range to hit the enemy, the better, and don't be afraid to get closer still, as the spread at a distance makes the shotgun aspect of the rocket launcher useful for hitting smaller, more nimble targets, it lacks the sheer damage output of a gun, so closing the distance further to minimize the spread of your rockets can be useful against larger, slower targets, particularly if they're already crippled. Speed Tweaking is highly recommended, especially on larger, heavier vessels.
That being said, it's not a question of if one's ship will take hits while closing the distance, but how many hits itcan take both while closing the distance and when firing on the enemy, and so, armor is a must for these ships. The general rule is to build the ship completely out of lightweight 400 mm armor blocks, using lightweight 600 mm armor blocks whenever possible, but don't use too many parts building the hull, or else your Arsenal Ship won't have much of an arsenal at all.
Then, of course, there's your weapons. The whole idea of the Arsenal Ship is to carry as many rocket/missile launchers as possible, which on a large ship shouldn't be too difficult to pull off since they take up the same amount of space as a 30.5 cm (old) gun (with exception of one additional vertical block of space required). A large Arsenal Ship the size of the Battleship Yamato might be able to carry 100 Rocket Launchers, maybe even more, the best way to mount them being in banks along the sides of the upper hull, prefereably in such a way that all of the ship's rocket launchers can fire at once when firing forwards (rocket launchers can shoot through each other, unlike most guns), maximizing your frontal firepower. The other reason for carrying so many weapons, however, is that in getting close to the enemy, some of the launchers will be destroyed, some by gunfire, others by planes. If one has enough launchers, one should still have enough to sink the enemy vessel once within range to fire.
Now for a breakdown of this variation's Pros and Cons.
- Powerful deterent to most aircraft carriers.
- Shot spread makes it easier to hit smaller targets.
- Capable of destroying multiple targets on the enemy's deck or outer hull; under the right circumstances, one could possibly eliminate all of an enemy's guns and boilers, an effect similar to mines though not as potent.
- Dive Bombers render the rocket launchers useless for attacking enemy aircraft.
- Limited firing range.
- Shot spread can result in reduced damage if not every rocket hits the target.
- Low rate of fire can make hitting a smaller target difficult if you somehow miss.
- High probability of losing some weapons while approaching firing range.
- Costly invesment in armor, perhaps even more-so than a Battleship.
- Huge investment required in rare metal (or you can just hack the .sqlite instead). It would be no exaggeration to say that building one of these ships can cost $100 USD or more.
Some ideas to try
- The use of guided missiles is STRONGLY recommended to at least soften up the enemy at long range. However, these cost as much as a Rocket Launcher in terms of rare metal, plus one is limited to four per ship, preventing these from being used as primary weapons.
- If one finds that they're unable to survive long enough to sink the enemy ships, a good idea is to try improving the ship's armor layout (meaning you should check to see where your armor is a bit thin and reinforce it).
- Sometimes it helps to have weapons other than Rocket Launchers. In the second image used as an example for this variation of the Arsenal Ship, one of two quadruple 38 cm guns is visible on the stern, as an additional weapon to soften up the enemy at range.
- Add Pharlanx or Mk 45 5" turrets to shoot down planes. It will help protect your ship from bombers too.
As of now, Arsenal Ships are exceedingly rare in multiplayer matches due to the prohibitively-high cost of rocket launchers and guided missiles (along with the limited number of the latter), and the fact that he majority of players do not hack to use the VLS launcher. If the VLS is ever added to the game officially , it will absolutely be yet another rare metal weapon, again limiting the number of these ships built. Even then, the limited ammunition and/or rate of fire of these ships puts them at a disadvantage when up against smaller, more agile targets, although this may be mitigated through the use of light gun armament for close-in defense.
The primary limiting factor, as stated, is cost, which ensures that the Arsenal Ship will almost certainly never replace the old Battleship. However, this rarity could be an advantage, as very few ships have any countermeasures to combat missiles, potentially turning these into a game-breaker under the right circumstances.
In short, the future of these ships is uncertain, as they will not be common, but they will certainly fill a niche that some skippers can take advantage of.
It should be stated that no Arsenal Ships have ever been built, with funding being canceled in favor of converting the US Navy's Ohio-Class Submarines to SSGN Configuration.
- The idea of the Arsenal Ship being a sub-type of the Battleship comes from concept art from when the Arsenal Ship was still a project that included the number "72" on the hull. This implies the designation to be "BB-72", classifying it as a Battleship (following BB-71, also known as USS Louisiana, a Montana-Class Battleship that was ordered but was canceled late in World War II).
- For further information on Arsenal Ships, check here.