On February 20, 2009, a nine-article Featured topic nomination for the Iowa class battleships passed unanimously. The nomination encompassed the articles for the battleship class, all six individual battleships, their armament, and the 1989 turret explosion on Iowa. With this successful nomination, WikiProject Ships joined the growing number of WikiProjects with one or more Featured topics. There are also seven Good topics within the project's scope.
A Featured topic is a collection of inter-related articles and lists which represents Wikipedia’s best work by thoroughly covering the topic with high-quality articles that share a similar structure (see related story). The concept was first proposed in August 2005 by Violetriga to encourage editors to write collections of quality articles across a whole topic. The articles within a Featured topic are grouped around a central article which ties them together. The articles should all be Featured articles, Featured lists, or Good articles. Articles which cannot attain FA, FL or GA status due to instability or limited available content may also be included if any major issues raised at a Peer review have been addressed. The Featured topic criteria require that a certain percentage of articles within the topic are Featured articles. Initially 20%, this percentage rose to 25%, and will become 33% as of April 1, 2009. Saffron was the first successful Featured topic nomination. As of February 2009, there are over 80 featured topics that encompass more than 600 articles.
In August 2008, Cirt suggested the creation of a Good topic process to recognize collections of high-quality articles that do not meet the Featured topic criteria. A Good topic must contain at least three inter-related articles, including a lead article central to the topic. At least three of the articles in the topic must be of Good article or Featured article quality. The first successful Good topic nomination was Gliese 876 in September 2008. As of February 2009, there are nearly 40 good topics that encompass nearly 300 articles.
It took approximately three and a half years to get all of the articles up to Featured article status in preparation for the Featured topic nomination. The pathbreaking nomination was at times difficult, including one controversial Featured article candidacy, a long discussion concerning the use of "she" to informally refer to ships, multiple passes to check for spelling and grammar issues, breaking out information from the class page into subarticles to reduce the page size, and several Featured article reviews and WikiProject Peer reviews to ensure that the articles remained compliant with the Featured article criteria.
Although the nomination marks a milestone for WikiProject Ships, new additions to the Featured topic are already being considered. The nine-article nomination encompassed all core articles for the topic, but omitted at least one article pertaining to the battleships, which will be added at a later time. Possible future additions to the Featured topic include articles for the radar and electronic warfare systems, as well as an article about conversion proposals for the battleships.
Prior to the promotion of the Iowa class Featured topic, WikiProject Ships had several Good topics, the first three of which focused on Austro-Hungarian U-boats of the U-1, U-3, and U-5 classes and were promoted on December 18, 2008. These three topics encompassed a total of ten articles, all of which were brought to Good article status by Bellhalla. These three Good topics have since been joined by four more: Yamato class battleships, which was nominated by Cam, and U-20 class submarines, German Type U 66 submarines, and U-27 class submarines, which were the work of Bellhalla.