The Arsenal Ship was a proposed class of heavily armed, yet lightly armored, naval vessels that were intended to provide the United States Navy with a powerful and cost-effective means of defending against enemy ships. The concept was first proposed in the late 1990s, but despite much enthusiasm from military planners and politicians, the Arsenal Ship never made it past the drawing board. So why were Arsenal Ships never built?
The primary reason why Arsenal Ships were never built is due to their high cost. The initial design called for a vessel that would be heavily armed with missiles and other weapons, yet lightly armored so as to reduce its overall weight and cost. This would have allowed the ship to be constructed more quickly and cheaply than traditional warships. However, when all of the necessary components were added up, it became clear that an Arsenal Ship would be far more expensive than initially anticipated. In addition, there were concerns about how effective such a vessel would be in combat given its lack of armor protection.
Another factor that contributed to the demise of the Arsenal Ship was its limited mission capabilities. While it was designed to provide long-range firepower against enemy ships, it lacked any sort of anti-aircraft or anti-submarine capabilities which are essential for modern naval warfare. This meant that an Arsenal Ship would have been unable to effectively defend itself against air or submarine attacks which further reduced its usefulness in combat situations.
Finally, there were also political considerations at play when it came to building an Arsenal Ship. The United States Navy had already invested heavily in developing new classes of warships such as aircraft carriers and destroyers which could perform multiple roles in combat situations. As such, there was little incentive for them to invest additional resources into developing a single-role vessel like an Arsenal Ship which could not match the capabilities of existing vessels.
While the concept of an Arsenal Ship was initially appealing due to its potential cost savings and firepower capabilities, ultimately it proved too expensive and limited in mission capability for it ever make it past the drawing board. As such, we will likely never see an actual Arsenal Ship take to sea despite its initial promise as a powerful new type of warship for the United States Navy.