The U.S. Navy certainly needs the firepower provided by its awesome carrier strike groups and its flimsy, but nonetheless formidable, guided missile destroyers. But it also needs ships that can take a punch and keep on sailing. That kind of toughness is likely to become an even more important quality as China develops its precision strike capacities. Soon it may become too dangerous to sail an unarmored ship in the South China Sea.
Stealth is one way to keep from getting hit, and the United States leads the way in the development of stealthy destroyers. But stealth defeats the purpose of a FONOP, which is to be seen. An old-fashioned battleship is a ship to be seen—and in a big way. But there's no need for the Navy to build an old-fashioned battleship in the twenty-first century when it can build a new-fashioned battleship instead.
A contemporary battleship would combine advanced armor materials with automated damage control to produce a ship that is virtually unsinkable. Its offensive armaments might be mission-specific, but its key attribute would be survivability. It would be a ship that could be put in harm's way in the reasonable expectation of coming home in one piece.