List of battleships of the United States Navy

This list of battleships of the United States Navy consists of all ships with the hull classification symbol "BB". A number of these were started but never completed. All battleships have now been retired from service with the U.S. Navy.

American battleships can be roughly divided into five types: coastal defense, pre-dreadnought, dreadnought, standard, and fast.[1]

Late 1800s–1900s

Maine and Texas were part of the "New Navy" program of the 1880s. They, and BB-1 to BB-4 were authorized as "coast defense battleships".[2] The next group, BB-5 Kearsarge through BB-25 New Hampshire, followed general global pre-dreadnought design characteristics and entered service between 1900 and 1909. The definitive American predreadnought was the penultimate class of the type, the Connecticut class, sporting the usual four-gun array of 12" weapons, a very heavy intermediate and secondary battery, and a moderate tertiary battery. They were good sea boats and heavily armed and armored for their type. The final American pre-dreadnought class, the Mississippi-class second-class battleships, were a poorly thought out experiment in increasing numbers regardless of quality, and the USN quickly wished to replace them, doing so in 1914, selling them to Greece to pay for a new super-dreadnought USS Idaho (BB-42).

The dreadnoughts, BB-26 South Carolina through BB-35 Texas, commissioned between 1910 and 1914, uniformly possessed twin turrets, introduced the superimposed turret arrangement that would later become standard on all battleships, and had relatively heavy armor and moderate speed (19–21 knots). Five of the ten ships favored the more mature vertical triple expansion (VTE) propulsion over fuel-inefficient but faster direct-drive turbines. The ships possessed 8 (South Carolina class), 10 (Delaware and Florida) or 12 (Wyoming class) 12" guns, or 10 (New York class) 14" guns. The dreadnoughts gave good service, the last two classes surviving through World War II before being scrapped. However, they had some faults that were never worked out, and the midships turrets in the ten and twelve-gun ships were located near boilers and high-pressure steam lines, a factor that made refrigeration very difficult and problematic in hot climates. One of their number, Texas (BB-35), is the last remaining American battleship of the pre–World War II era and the only remaining dreadnought in the world.

Next came the twelve Standards, beginning with BB-36 Nevada. The last ship commissioned was BB-48 West Virginia (BB-49 through 54 were also Standards, but were never commissioned, and scrapped under the Washington Naval Treaty), commissioned over the period 1914 to 1920. Oklahoma (BB-37) was the last American battleship commissioned with triple expansion machinery; all the other Standards used either geared steam turbines (Nevada, the Pennsylvanias, Idaho and Mississippi) or turbo-electric propulsion (New Mexico, Tennessee through West Virginia). The Standards were a group of ships with four turrets, oil fuel, a 21-knot top speed, a 700-yard tactical diameter at top speed, and heavy armor distributed on the "All or Nothing" principle. Armament was fairly consistent, starting with ten 14" guns in the Nevadas, twelve in the Pennsylvanias, New Mexicos and Tennessees, and eight 16" guns in the Colorados.

Mid to late 1900s

After the 1930s "builders holiday," the USN commissioned ten more battleships of an entirely new style, the so-called fast battleship. These ships began with BB-55 North Carolina and the last ship laid down was BB-66 Kentucky (the last completed ship was BB-64 Wisconsin). These ships were a nearly clean break from previous American design practices. All ten ships were built to a Panamax design (technically post-Panamax, as they exceeded normal Panamax beam by two feet, but they were still able to transit the canal). They were fast battleships, and could travel with the aircraft carriers at cruising speed (their speed was not intended for that role, but rather so they could run down and destroy enemy battlecruisers). They possessed almost completely homogenous main armament (nine 16" guns in each ship, the sole difference being an increase in length from 45 to 50 calibers with the Iowa class vessels), very high speed relative to other American designs (28 knots in the North Carolina and South Dakota classes, 33 in the Iowa class), and moderate armor. The North Carolinas were of particular concern, as their protection was rated as only "adequate" against the 16" superheavy weapon. They had been designed with, and armored against, a battery of three quadruple 14" guns, then changed to triple 16" guns after the escalator clause in the Second London Naval Treaty had been triggered. Secondary in these ships was almost homogenous as well: Except for South Dakota, configured as a flagship, the other nine ships of this group sported a uniform 20-gun 5" secondary battery (South Dakota deleted two 5" mounts to make room for flag facilities). Visually, the World War II ships are distinguished by their triple-turret arrangement and the massive columnar mast that dominates their superstructure. The last ship, Wisconsin (BB-64), commissioned in 1944 (Wisconsin was approved last; however, Missouri commissioned 3 months later, due to delays from additional aircraft carrier construction). Missouri (BB-63), famous for being the ship on which the Japanese instrument of surrender was signed, was the last battleship in the world to decommission on 31 March 1992. Seven of these ten ships are still in existence. South Dakota, Washington and Indiana were scrapped, but the remainder are now museum ships. There was intended to be another class of five of these ships, the Montana class (BB-67 Montana through BB-71 Louisiana), but they were canceled before being laid down in favor of a greater number of aircraft carriers. The Montana class ships would have been built to a 60,000-ton post-Panamax design, and carried a greater number of guns (12x 16") and heavier armor than the other ships; otherwise they would have been homogenous with the rest of the World War II battleships.

In October 2006, the last battleships, (USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin), were stricken from the Naval Registry.

Ship list

(s) indicates ship was second class battleship (relative to other US battleships of the era).
(n) indicates ship never entered service.
(p) indicates ship is preserved.
By hull number Pictures By name
USS Maine
USS Wisconsin (BB-9)
USS New Jersey (BB-16)
USS South Carolina (BB-26)
USS Florida (BB-30)
USS New York (BB-34)
USS New Mexico (BB-40)
USS Maryland (BB-46)
USS North Carolina (BB-55)
USS Iowa (BB-61) in 1984

Except for Kearsarge, named by an act of Congress, all U.S. Navy battleships have been named for states, and each of the 48 contiguous states has had at least one battleship named for it except Montana; two battleships have been authorized to be named Montana but both were canceled before construction started. Alaska and Hawaii did not become states until 1959, after the end of battleship building, but the "battlecruiser" or Large Cruiser USS Alaska (CB-1) was built during World War II and her sister USS Hawaii (CB-3) was begun but never completed. The pre-dreadnoughts USS Zrinyi (formerly the Austrian SMS Zrínyi), USS Radetzky (formerly the Austrian SMS Radetzky), and USS Ostfriesland (formerly the German SMS Ostfriesland), taken as prizes of war after World War I, were commissioned in the US Navy, but were not assigned hull classification symbols.

No American battleship has ever been lost at sea, though USS Maine (ACR-1) exploded in port, and four battleships were sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Of these, only USS Arizona (BB-39) and USS Oklahoma (BB-37) were permanently destroyed as a result of enemy action. Several other battleships have been sunk as targets, and the USS Utah (BB-31), demilitarized and converted into a target and training ship, was permanently destroyed at Pearl Harbor. The hulk of the Oklahoma was salvaged and was lost at sea while being towed to the mainland for scrapping. Two American built pre-Dreadnought battleships, the USS Mississippi (BB-23) and her sister USS Idaho (BB-24) were sunk by German bombers in 1941 during their WWII invasion of Greece. The ships had been sold to Greece in 1914 and renamed Kilkis and Lemnos respectively.

Battleship classes

Coast defense types

USS Texas
USS Maine

USS Texas

USS Maine

USS Oregon

Indiana class

Pre-dreadnought types

USS Iowa

USS Iowa
USS Kentucky

Kearsarge class

USS Alabama

Illinois class

USS Maine

Maine class

USS New Jersey

Virginia class

USS Connecticut

Connecticut class

USS Mississippi

Mississippi class

Dreadnought era

USS Michigan

South Carolina class

USS Delaware

Delaware class

USS Utah

Florida class

USS Arkansas

Wyoming class

USS Texas

New York class

Standard type

USS Oklahoma

Nevada class

USS Arizona

Pennsylvania class

USS Idaho

New Mexico class

Tennessee class

USS California

Colorado class

USS Maryland

South Dakota class (1920)

Fast battleships

USS Washington

North Carolina class

USS Massachusetts

South Dakota class

USS Missouri (1980s refit)[3]

Iowa class

USS Montana (artist impression)

Montana class

Battleship museums

See: U.S. Navy Museum#Battleship museums

See also


  1. U.S. Battleships. an illustrated design history by Norman Friedman: ISBN 0-87021-715-1
  2. U.S. Warships of World War I by Paul Silverstone p.29

External links

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