For over 40 years, Warship has been the leading annual resource on the design, development, and deployment of the world's combat ships. Featuring a broad range of articles from a select panel of distinguished international contributors, this latest volume combines original research, new book reviews, warship notes, an image gallery, and much more. John Jordan has been the editor of the annual publication for over 15 years, including the latest volume, Warship 2020, which publishes 28 May. Today on the blog, he answers a few of our questions about some of the content in this year's edition and what he envisions for this iconic periodical's future. 


Warship 2020

Has anything in this edition been a long-term project to get into print?

Yes, both in a general and in a more specific sense. For some years now, we have been looking to publish more material on the Imperial German Navy (IGN), and following extensive discussions with a potential author about what form this might take, we agreed with Dirk Nottelmann that he would deliver a two-part article on the German Kleiner Kreuzer, or ‘small cruiser’, the first part of which appears in Warship 2020.

We are delighted with this development. There have been a number of significant books and articles (including a series by Dirk for Warship International) on the battleships and battlecruisers of the pre-WWI era published over the past twenty years. However, very little has been published on the smaller fleet units, and Dirk has access to an extensive quantity of material, including detailed plans and photographs, accumulated by the late Dr Axel Greißmer with a view to a follow-up to his classic German-language books on the capital ships.* The early German light cruisers, which were employed primarily for scouting and as leaders of the destroyer flotillas of the High Sea Fleet, are particularly interesting for their adoption (and retention) of a uniform armament of lightweight, quick-firing 10.5cm (4.1in) guns, and for their experimentation with turbine propulsion machinery, sometimes in combination with four shafts and no fewer than eight propellers.

It is anticipated that Dirk’s series on the light cruisers will be followed by a similar series on the German torpedo boats.

*     Grosse Kreuzer der Kaiserlichen Marine, 1906–1918 and Linienschiffe der Kaiserlichen Marine 1906–1918, published by Bernard & Graefe Verlag in 1996 and 1999 respectively.


You previously mentioned that you thought that there would be more coverage of the period 1945–1970. Do you think you will continue to receive more submissions on this period, or do you think this will change? 

In the past few years, we have run articles on the Royal Navy’s abortive CVA-01 carrier design of the mid-1960s (Ian Sturton, 2014), British export designs for South America and joint naval defence projects between the UK and the Netherlands (Jon Wise, 2013 and 2019), the Australian ‘light destroyer’ project of the early 1970s (Mark Briggs, 2017), the Italian multi-role carrier Cavour and Italy’s attempts to design and build a nuclear-powered attack submarine (Michele Cosentino, 2014 and 2019), and the reconstruction of HMS Victorious (David Hobbs, 2020); we are also currently running a series of articles by Peter Marland on RN postwar weapons and electronics.

This year’s annual will feature the first in a series of articles by the Editor on the postwar Marine Nationale. The first of these provides plans and data for France’s postwar fleet escorts of the T 47 type (Surcouf class). It will be followed first by a similar brief study of their successors of the T 53 type that entered service in the late 1950s, then by full-length features on the fast convoy escorts of the E 50 and E 52 types and the missile ships designed during the 1960s, for which the official plans have now been released. So, as you can see, coverage of the post-WWII ships is already being developed, and this trend will no doubt be continued as more technical information becomes available. 


A number of contributors to this year’s annual are based in mainland Europe and do not have English as their first language. How do you ensure that these contributions fit seamlessly into a book that, while intended for a broad international readership, is published in English in the UK?

Only a relatively small proportion of our output focuses on the British Royal Navy, and one of our primary aims is to ensure that our readers can access the depth of research and scholarship available on the warships of other major (and sometimes minor) navies by commissioning feature articles from recognised authorities on those navies, not all of whom are comfortable writing in English. As a linguist fluent in French, the Editor has been able to undertake translations of a series of articles on the late 19th century battleships of the so-called ‘fleet of samples’ (flotte d’échantillons) by Philippe Caresse. Our valued US contributor Stephen McLaughlin not only reads Russian but writes extremely well in (UK!) English, and is responsible for the translation (and compression) of Sergei Vinogradov’s previously unpublished manuscript on the revolutionary Italian 19th-century battleships Italia and Lepanto in this year’s annual. Dirk Nottelmann, Hans Lengerer (both Germany), Przemysław Budzbon (Poland) and Michele Cosentino (Italy) all write in English. Dirk’s article benefited from a first edit by regular contributor and German Navy specialist Aidan Dodson, and the text of all four of these authors was further polished by the Editor, who tries to ensure that the final version is in technically correct, idiomatic UK English.

‘Technical translation’ is a task for a specialist, and anyone who wishes to verify this has only to insert a chunk of technical text into Google Translate to see the misunderstandings and errors which result. There are particular problems with cognates; for example, the Italian torre generally translates as ‘tower’, but in the context of big guns it means a ‘turret’. There are other, more subtle differences in meaning for which a dictionary is of limited use, and for these you ideally need a translator for whom English is their native language.


Warship 2020 is available to pre-order now.