Privateer? No, he was a pirate. A privateer carries a Letter of Marque from a government. Ragnar didn't, making him a pirate. Arrrr, me hearties! Lay us aside them bastardly People's States and shiver their timbers wi' a bucket o' grapeshot! --SamCoulter 22:54, 26 August 2011 (EDT)
Cruiser or destroyer?
Danneskjöld's ship is indeed fast and capable of heavy shore bombardment. So it isn't a destroyer or cruiser then; modern US destroyers are armed with a single 5" gun and they're not adequate for shore bombardment; the range is too short and the shells are too small. US cruisers have TWO 5" guns; they're not adequate either. This is not my opinion; it's the opinion of the United States Marine Corps and the US Naval Fire Support Association.
The only ships that exist, and the only ones that have existed for the last 50 YEARS - with that sort of bombardment capability are the four Iowa-class battleships.
Absolutely not. Merchant ships are not fast; they're at least 10, often 15 knots slower than a warship. They're also not strong enough to mount heavy guns and they have no protected magazine spaces, no damage control features, no spaces for combat information centers... just no. Forget this idea.
"Danneskjold could also acquire a Boeing 727 or MD-80, or a 737... Of all the heavy aircraft built, those three are most likely to be able to take off from, or land on, the deck of a modern American aircraft carrier."
A 727, 737 or MD80 have exactly the same chance as any other airliner of landing on, and taking off from, a US Navy carrier: nil. All of these aircraft need at least a 5,000 foot runway. The runway on a Nimitz-class carrier is less than 700 feet long. The catapults simply don't have the power to launch one, and they have no afterburners to attain critical speed before falling into the sea and being run down by the ship. There is no way at all it could be made to work.
"Perhaps John Galt could design a new quantum-assisted hydrogen-burning turbofan with which Ragnar could retrofit a squadron of F/A-18 jet fighter-attackers, thus giving them extra range or even a boost in speed"
No, he couldn't. Even if it was possible to get a military turbojet to run on hydrogen (it isn't) you'd end up with LESS range.
There is also no possibility whatsoever that Ragnar could use a carrier for shore bombardment; it carries no heavy guns, only a few 20mm Phalanx cannon for point defence. On the subject of defence, it barely has any: assuming that any other country has ANY navy left, all they have to do is send a destroyer close in to the carrier during a storm, when it can't launch aircraft, and pound it to bits with torpedos, missiles and finally short-range gunfire. No US carrier ever goes anywhere without an entire surface battle group and two submarine escorts, and there's a reason for that: carriers are defenceless unless they can fly off aircraft.
An Iowa-class battleship. It's fast; at 33 knots rated (and over 35 knots actually achieved) it can easily outrun or overtake any merchantman and 95% of modern warships. It's almost invulnerable to conventional weapons. It can intimidate merchant ships into surrendering just by existing, then sink them with two or three of the thousands of shells it carries for its secondary 5" armament. Its primary armament of nine 16" guns could easily flatten a steelworks 15 miles inshore with a dozen or so shells; it carries well over 500 shells for the main guns, enough to last for years of piracy. The ship carries two medium transport/ASW helicopters capable of air to air refuelling; that would let Ragnar fly himself and a decent amount of gold ashore.
All four ships have been donated as museum ships. However USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin are preserved, by Congressional order, in a condition that allows them to be reactivated. Their armament is intact. Their engines are preserved. Supplies of ammunition are kept in store. They just need to be fuelled - and they run on heavy oil, easily obtained from captured freighters - and reactivated. Ragnar's ship could only have been one of these battleships.
And yes, it's piracy. Letters of Marque could only be issued by a government. Ragnar is - and admits to being - a pirate. --SamRSC 11:56, 26 November 2011 (EST)
There's a broken/misformatted wikilink in the third paragraph of the "background" section. Ayzmo :) 18:17, 17 February 2012 (EST)
The first paragraph begins: Ragnar Danneskjöld was born in Norway, the last son of one of its first families. His father was the Catholic Archbishop of Norway. (How the Archbishop got away with having a son though Catholic clergy are supposed to be celibate, the novel never explains—but then, Pope Alexander VI famously had several children, who became Italy's first crime family, the Borgias.)
Whoever wrote this seems unaware that since the 16th Century Norway is a staunchly LUTHERAN country. The Catholic Church was outlawed in Norway for hundreds of years. It was legalized in 1847, but also then remained a very marginal part of Norwegian society. In the 1950's when Ayn Rand wrote the book there were only about 6000 Catholics in the whole of Norway. The First Families of Norway would not dream, in their worst nightmares, of being Catholics. Obviously, Ragnar Danneskjöld's father was a Lutheran Bishop, not a Catholic one. This also explains how he could have a legitimate son - Lutheran clergy do not have to be celibate, they can and do get married and have children.
I suggest to correct this quickly, because the text as it stands would make anyone who knows Norway laugh.