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USS Massachusetts BB-59 - History

USS Massachusetts BB-59 - History

USS Massachusetts BB-59

Massachusetts V
BB-59: dp. 33,000; 1. 080'10"; b. 108'2"; dr. 29'3"; s. 27 k.; cpl. 1793; a. 9 16", 20 5", 24 40mm., 35 20mm., cl. South Dakota)

Massachusetts (BR-59) was laid down 20 July 1939 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.; launched 23 September l941; sponsored by Mrs Charles Francis Adams and commissioned 12 .May 1942 at Boston, Capt. Francis E. M. Whiting in command.

After shakedown, Massachusetts departed Casco Bay, Maine, 24 October 1942 and 4 days later made rendezvous with the Western Naval Task Force for the invasion of north Africa, serving as flagship for Adm. H. Kent Hewitt. While steaming off Casablanca 8 November, she came under fire from French battleship Jean Bart's 15-inch guns. She returned fire at 0740. Firing the first l6-inch shells fired by the U.S. against the European Axis Powers. Within a few minutes she silenced Jean Bart's main battery; then she turned her guns as French destroyers which kind joined the attack, sinking two of them. She
also shelled shore batteries and blew up an ammunition dump. After a cease-fire had been arranged with the French, she headed for the United States 12 November, and prepared for Pacific duty.

Massachusetts arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia, 4 March 1943. For the next months she operated In the South Pacific, protecting convoy lanes and supporting operations in the Solomons. Between 19 November and 21 November, she sailed with a carrier group striking Makin Tarawa and Abe mama in the Gilberts, on 8 December she shelled Japanese positions on Nauru, and on 29 January 1944 she guarded carriers striking Tarawa in the Gilberts.

The navy now drove steadily across the Pacific. On 30 January Massachusetts, bombarded Kwajalein, and she covered the landings there 1 February. with a carrier group she struck against the Japanese stronghold at Trok 17 February. That raid not only inflicted heavy damage on Japanese aircraft and naval forces, but also proved to be a stunning blow to enemy morale, On 21 to 22 February, Massachusetts helped fight off a heavy air attack on her task group while it made raids,on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. She took part in the attack on the Carolines in late March and participated in the invasion at Hollandia 22 April which landed 60,000 troops on the island. Retiring from Hollandia' her task force staged another attack on Truk.

Massachusetts shelled Ponape Island 1 May, her last mission before sailing to Puget Sound to overhaul and reline her gun barrels, now well-worn. On 1 August she left Pearl Harbor to resume operations in the Pacific war zone. She departed the Marshall Islands 6 October, sailing to support the Landings in Leyte Gulf. In an effort to block Japanese air attacks in the l,Leyte conflict, she participated in a fleet strike against Okinawa 10 October. Between 12 and 14 October, she protected forces hitting Formosa. While part of TG 38.3 she took part in the Battle for Leyte Gulf 22 to 27 October, during which planes from her group sank four Japanese carriers off Cape Engano.

Stopping briefly at Ulithi, Massachusetts returned to the Philippines as part of a task force which struck Manila 14 December while supporting the invasion of Mindoro. Massachusetts sailed into a howling typhoon 17 December, with winds estimated at 120 knots. Three destroyers sank at the height of the typhoon's fury. Between 30 December and 23 January 1945, she sailed as part of TF 38, which struck Formosa and supported the landing at Lingayen. During that time she turned into the South China Sea, her task force destroying shipping from Saigon to Hong Kong, concluding operations with airstrikes on Formosa and Okinawa.

From 10 February to 3 March. with the 5th Fleet Massachusetts guarded carriers during raids on Honshu. Her group also struck Iwo Jima by air for the invasion of that island. On 17 March, the carriers launched strikes against Kyushu while Massachusetts fired in repelling enemy attacks, splashing several planes. Seven days later she bombarded Okinawa. She spent most of April fighting off air attacks, while engaged in the operations at Okinawa, returning to the area in June, when she passed through the eye of a typhoon with 100-knot winds 5 June. She bombarded Minami Daito Jima in the Ryukvus 10 .June.

Massachusetts sailed 1 July from Leyte Gulf to join the 3d Fleet's final offensive against Japan. After guarding carriers launching strikes against Tokyo, she shelled Kamaishi, Honshu, 14 July, thus hitting Japan's second largest iron and steel center. Two weeks later she bombarded the industrial complex at Hamamatsu, returning to blast Kamaishi 9 August. It was here that Massachusetts fired what was probably the last 16 inch shell fired in combat in World War II.

Victory won, the fighting battleship sailed for Puget Sound and overhaul I September. She left there 28 January 1948 for operations off the California coast, until leaving San. Francisco for Hampton Roads, arriving 22 April. She decommissioned 27 March 1947 to enter the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Norfolk, and was struck from the Naval Register 1 June 1962.

"Big Mamie," as she was affectionately known, was saved from the scrap pile when she was transferred to the Massachusetts Memorial Committee 8 June 1965. She was enshrined at Fall River, Mass., 14 August 1965, as the Bay State's memorial to those who gave their lives in World War II.

Massachusetts received 11 battle stars for World War II service.


USS Massachusetts (BB-59)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 12/09/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

Following the events of Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy was given major funding to construct all new classes of surface warships and submarines as well as pursue new aircraft designs for the march on Tokyo, Japan. This led to various classes of battleships emerging to counter the power of the Japanese surface fleet. One such class to join the USN inventory became the South Dakota-class, this following the dimensionally larger and similar North Dakota-class into USN service. The South Dakota-class utilized the same uniformed nine-gun 16" main battery but included better armoring and were of a more compact form. The class also featured a sole smoke funnel as opposed to the North Carolina-class's twin funnel approach.

The South Dakota-class was made up of USS South Dakota () USS Indiana (), USS Massachusetts (), and USS Alabama (). USS Massachusetts was ordered on December 15th, 1938 and her construction led by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation at the Fore River Shipyard or Quincy, Massachusetts. Her keel was laid down on July 20th, 1939 and she was launched on September 23rd, 1941. Official commissioning occurred on May 12th, 1942. USS Massachusetts was affectionately known as "Big Mamie" over the course of her short ocean-going career.

The vessel displaced at 35,000 tons and featured a length of681 feet, a beam of 108 feet and a draught of 29 feet. Her machinery was made up of Westinghouse geared steam turbines developing 130,000 horsepower and driving four shafts under stern. This allowed for speeds of 27 knots to be reached in ideal conditions with an operational range of 15,000 nautical miles possible (at 15 knots). Massachusetts carried about 1,800 men.

Armor protection, a key consideration of warships, measured over 12 inches at the belt, 11 inches at the bulkheads and over 17 inches at the barbettes. The conning tower was protected in up to 16 inches of armor and the deck in up to 6 inches of armor.

Her main gun battery constituted 9 x 16" /45 caliber Mark 6 series guns set across three three-gunned turrets. This was joined by 20 x 5" (127mm) /38 caliber Dual-Purpose (DP) guns. Her air defense network ultimately consisted of 52 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) cannons in, thirteen four-gunned turrets, and 35 x 20mm Oerlikon AA gun systems. She also carried a pair of Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplane aircraft - launched by onboard catapult and recovered by crane - which provided an over-the-horizon capability useful in spotting enemy ships, submarines or in assisting in ranging the primary battery.

Of all the battleships in U.S. Navy service during the beginning of World War 2, it was USS Massachusetts that fired the first 16" shells (as well as the last) of the conflict. Her first assignment was in the Atlantic as she took part in "Operation Torch", the Allied landings in North Africa. Her guns were able to limit the French battleship "Jean Bart" during actions there, Jean Bart falling under control of the Vichy French government at the time. Following this commitment, Massachusetts was reassigned for action in the Pacific Theater during 1943 and her guns were used during in the Solomon Islands Campaign which preceded the Battle of Leyte Gulf as part of the Philippines Campaign. Her guns were then used in anger during the shelling of Honshu, Japan which helped lead to the complete surrender of the Japanese Empire in August of 1945. In the immediate post-war period, Massachusetts served for a time longer along the American West Coast until transferred back to Atlantic waters to finished her career. With her usefulness all but over and the military drawdown that followed the war, the warship was decommissioned on March 27th, 1947. Her name was officially struck from the Naval Register on June 1st, 1962. Efforts to save her as a museum ship were successful and she opened her doors to tourists on August 14th, 1965 where she remains harbored at Battleship Cove, Massachusetts today.

During her time at sea, Massachusetts became the recipient of several awards and honors for service rendered - the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (1 Battle Star), the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (10 Battle Stars), the World War 2 Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Medal (Asia Clasp), the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, and the Philippine Liberation Medal. This stemmed from her actions which took her from North Africa to the Pacific theaters of war during World War 2. None of her crew lost to enemy action in the years of fighting - a rarity for a U.S. Navy warship during the conflict.

USS Massachusetts joined USS Alabama as the only two of the four-strong South Dakota-class to be saved from the scrapman's torch. The Alabama herself is harbored in Mobile Bay as a museum ship as of 2015.

The South Dakota-class was superseded during World War 2 by the storied Iowa-class which was made up of the famous warships USS Iowa, USS Missouri, USS New Jersey and USS Wisconsin.


USS Massachusetts (BB-59)

Following the events of Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy was given major funding to construct all new classes of surface warships and submarines as well as pursue new aircraft designs for the march on Tokyo, Japan. This led to various classes of battleships emerging to counter the power of the Japanese surface fleet. One such class to join the USN inventory became the South Dakota-class, this following the dimensionally larger and similar North Dakota-class into USN service. The South Dakota-class utilized the same uniformed nine-gun 16" main battery but included better armoring and were of a more compact form. The class also featured a sole smoke funnel as opposed to the North Carolina-class's twin funnel approach.

The South Dakota-class was made up of USS South Dakota () USS Indiana (), USS Massachusetts (), and USS Alabama (). USS Massachusetts was ordered on December 15th, 1938 and her construction led by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation at the Fore River Shipyard or Quincy, Massachusetts. Her keel was laid down on July 20th, 1939 and she was launched on September 23rd, 1941. Official commissioning occurred on May 12th, 1942. USS Massachusetts was affectionately known as "Big Mamie" over the course of her short ocean-going career.

The vessel displaced at 35,000 tons and featured a length of681 feet, a beam of 108 feet and a draught of 29 feet. Her machinery was made up of Westinghouse geared steam turbines developing 130,000 horsepower and driving four shafts under stern. This allowed for speeds of 27 knots to be reached in ideal conditions with an operational range of 15,000 nautical miles possible (at 15 knots). Massachusetts carried about 1,800 men.

Armor protection, a key consideration of warships, measured over 12 inches at the belt, 11 inches at the bulkheads and over 17 inches at the barbettes. The conning tower was protected in up to 16 inches of armor and the deck in up to 6 inches of armor.

Her main gun battery constituted 9 x 16" /45 caliber Mark 6 series guns set across three three-gunned turrets. This was joined by 20 x 5" (127mm) /38 caliber Dual-Purpose (DP) guns. Her air defense network ultimately consisted of 52 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) cannons in, thirteen four-gunned turrets, and 35 x 20mm Oerlikon AA gun systems. She also carried a pair of Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplane aircraft - launched by onboard catapult and recovered by crane - which provided an over-the-horizon capability useful in spotting enemy ships, submarines or in assisting in ranging the primary battery.

Of all the battleships in U.S. Navy service during the beginning of World War 2, it was USS Massachusetts that fired the first 16" shells (as well as the last) of the conflict. Her first assignment was in the Atlantic as she took part in "Operation Torch", the Allied landings in North Africa. Her guns were able to limit the French battleship "Jean Bart" during actions there, Jean Bart falling under control of the Vichy French government at the time. Following this commitment, Massachusetts was reassigned for action in the Pacific Theater during 1943 and her guns were used during in the Solomon Islands Campaign which preceded the Battle of Leyte Gulf as part of the Philippines Campaign. Her guns were then used in anger during the shelling of Honshu, Japan which helped lead to the complete surrender of the Japanese Empire in August of 1945. In the immediate post-war period, Massachusetts served for a time longer along the American West Coast until transferred back to Atlantic waters to finished her career. With her usefulness all but over and the military drawdown that followed the war, the warship was decommissioned on March 27th, 1947. Her name was officially struck from the Naval Register on June 1st, 1962. Efforts to save her as a museum ship were successful and she opened her doors to tourists on August 14th, 1965 where she remains harbored at Battleship Cove, Massachusetts today.

During her time at sea, Massachusetts became the recipient of several awards and honors for service rendered - the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (1 Battle Star), the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (10 Battle Stars), the World War 2 Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Medal (Asia Clasp), the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, and the Philippine Liberation Medal. This stemmed from her actions which took her from North Africa to the Pacific theaters of war during World War 2. None of her crew lost to enemy action in the years of fighting - a rarity for a U.S. Navy warship during the conflict.

USS Massachusetts joined USS Alabama as the only two of the four-strong South Dakota-class to be saved from the scrapman's torch. The Alabama herself is harbored in Mobile Bay as a museum ship as of 2015.

The South Dakota-class was superseded during World War 2 by the storied Iowa-class which was made up of the famous warships USS Iowa, USS Missouri, USS New Jersey and USS Wisconsin.


USS Massachusetts BB-59

The USS Massachusetts is one of four WWII South Dakota Class Battleships. BB-59's specifications are:

Length: 680 feet
Beam: 108 feet
Draught: 26 feet 9 inches
Crew: 2,500
Displacement: 35,000 tons (42,000 tons fully loaded)
Max Speed: 30kts (35mph)
Fuel Capacity: 7,000 tons of fuel oil
Armament:
9 16" 50 caliber rifled guns in 3 triple turrets
20 5" 38 caliber rifled guns in 10 twin enclosed gun mounts
68 40mm Bofors AA guns
40 20mm Oerlikon AA guns
Aircraft: 3 Vought Kingfisher Seaplanes with 2 Catapults
Armor: 16" at the sides
Power Plant: 8 oil fired boilers powering geared steam turbines driving 4 screws with 130,000 Shaft Horsepower
Launching Date: September 23, 1941 at the Bethlehem Steel Company Quincy, MA

You can visit the Battleship USS Massachusetts in Fall River, Massachusetts. Allow yourself a full day and get there early. There is a LOT to see and if you enjoy naval history and hardware you'll feel like a kid in a candy store.

The armor piercing tip of a 16 inch shell fired from the USS Massachusetts at fortifications that was recovered from the shore after the Battle of Casablanca in 1942.

The USS Massachusetts is a very impressive ship. There's a great deal to see inside and you really get a feel for what it might have been like for our fathers and grandfathers to have lived and fought in such a crowded environment. Many of the crew's areas have been restored to a very high standard. Some are accessible and others can be viewed through plexiglas screens. Staff and volunteers continue to paint and scrape and get more compartments ready for visitors. The interior is like a small city, complete with a barber shop, post office, laundry, sick bay, dentist's office, brig, and more. They even have a snack bar/grill on board and the food was quite passable (although it may have seemed that way as I was starved after spending a full morning climbing through and exploring the ships and submarine).

Don't miss a visit into BB-59's aft turret. You can pass by and miss the open hatch quite easily. The entrance hatch is on the bottom of the back of the turret and it is not well marked but you can climb inside and see the components and workings of the turret interior (You will need to be somewhat flexible as there is some climbing and bending involved in getting around the turret interior. It is not handicapped accessible). There is a short audio tape playing on the starboard gun which is lowered to give the visitor a better view of the breach and loading mechanisms. One of the 5" turrets (gun mount is the more correct term) is open also. It's even more of a climb but there is more headroom than in the 16" turret.

If you visited the ship a few years ago, you may want to make another visit. While I was there the USS Massachusetts staff and volunteers were busy painting and scraping two more compartments that had not been open before, so there will be more compartments open to see today. Hopefully one day the engine rooms will be accessible as that is one area of the ship I thought would be really interesting.

Before you leave the museum, take a stroll along the boardwalk along the shore of the river. From here you can best take in the whole scene of the Battleship USS Massachusetts towering over the other ships moored before you. It really is a spectacular scene (If your camera has a panorama mode, this is the best place to shoot pans). The ship is positioned roughly north/south, on the east side of the river, so the most interesting lighting is early in the morning.

Along with USS Massachusetts at Battleship Cove in Fall River there are two restored WWII PT Boats (the Elco PT Boat PT 617 and a Higgins PT 796), a WWII US Fleet Submarine USS Lionfish, the Destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, and the Soviet Missile Corvette Hiddensee.


U.S.S. MASSACHSETS

USS Massachusetts began life in a shipyard at Quincy, Massachusetts. The Navy brought her into service with her commission in May 1942. After initial operations, the ship participated in the invasion on North Africa in November 1942. In early 1943, the ship reported for duty in the Pacific. For the next few months, USS Massachusetts patrolled waters in the South Pacific. Later that year, she saw action during the invasions of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. She participated on various islands raids and in the Hollandia invasion in April 1944.

Summer 1944 saw USS Massachusetts in dry dock for an overhaul. When she returned to action, she saw action with raids at Okinawa and Formosa later that year. She spent the remainder of 1944 with the Battle of Leyte Gulf and in various raids of the Philippines. With the opening of 1945, USS Massachusetts participated in the invasions of Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. For the summer months, she bombarded various Japanese home islands before the surrender. After the war, she spent a few months patrolling along the West Coast. The Navy decommissioned her in March 1947 and she remained part of the Reserve Fleet until June 1962. A few years later, the State of Massachusetts brought her to Fall River where she sits today as a museum.


USS Massachusetts BB-59 - History

Massachusetts V
BB-59: dp. 33,000 1. 080'10" b. 108'2" dr. 29'3" s. 27 k. cpl. 1793 a. 9 16", 20 5", 24 40mm., 35 20mm., cl. South Dakota)

Massachusetts (BR-59) was laid down 20 July 1939 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass. launched 23 September l941 sponsored by Mrs Charles Francis Adams and commissioned 12 .May 1942 at Boston, Capt. Francis E. M. Whiting in command.

After shakedown, Massachusetts departed Casco Bay, Maine, 24 October 1942 and 4 days later made rendezvous with the Western Naval Task Force for the invasion of north Africa, serving as flagship for Adm. H. Kent Hewitt. While steaming off Casablanca 8 November, she came under fire from French battleship Jean Bart's 15-inch guns. She returned fire at 0740. Firing the first l6-inch shells fired by the U.S. against the European Axis Powers. Within a few minutes she silenced Jean Bart's main battery then she turned her guns as French destroyers which kind joined the attack, sinking two of them. She
also shelled shore batteries and blew up an ammunition dump. After a cease-fire had been arranged with the French, she headed for the United States 12 November, and prepared for Pacific duty.

Massachusetts arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia, 4 March 1943. For the next months she operated In the South Pacific, protecting convoy lanes and supporting operations in the Solomons. Between 19 November and 21 November, she sailed with a carrier group striking Makin Tarawa and Abe mama in the Gilberts, on 8 December she shelled Japanese positions on Nauru, and on 29 January 1944 she guarded carriers striking Tarawa in the Gilberts.

The navy now drove steadily across the Pacific. On 30 January Massachusetts, bombarded Kwajalein, and she covered the landings there 1 February. with a carrier group she struck against the Japanese stronghold at Trok 17 February. That raid not only inflicted heavy damage on Japanese aircraft and naval forces, but also proved to be a stunning blow to enemy morale, On 21 to 22 February, Massachusetts helped fight off a heavy air attack on her task group while it made raids,on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. She took part in the attack on the Carolines in late March and participated in the invasion at Hollandia 22 April which landed 60,000 troops on the island. Retiring from Hollandia' her task force staged another attack on Truk.

Massachusetts shelled Ponape Island 1 May, her last mission before sailing to Puget Sound to overhaul and reline her gun barrels, now well-worn. On 1 August she left Pearl Harbor to resume operations in the Pacific war zone. She departed the Marshall Islands 6 October, sailing to support the Landings in Leyte Gulf. In an effort to block Japanese air attacks in the l,Leyte conflict, she participated in a fleet strike against Okinawa 10 October. Between 12 and 14 October, she protected forces hitting Formosa. While part of TG 38.3 she took part in the Battle for Leyte Gulf 22 to 27 October, during which planes from her group sank four Japanese carriers off Cape Engano.

Stopping briefly at Ulithi, Massachusetts returned to the Philippines as part of a task force which struck Manila 14 December while supporting the invasion of Mindoro. Massachusetts sailed into a howling typhoon 17 December, with winds estimated at 120 knots. Three destroyers sank at the height of the typhoon's fury. Between 30 December and 23 January 1945, she sailed as part of TF 38, which struck Formosa and supported the landing at Lingayen. During that time she turned into the South China Sea, her task force destroying shipping from Saigon to Hong Kong, concluding operations with airstrikes on Formosa and Okinawa.

From 10 February to 3 March. with the 5th Fleet Massachusetts guarded carriers during raids on Honshu. Her group also struck Iwo Jima by air for the invasion of that island. On 17 March, the carriers launched strikes against Kyushu while Massachusetts fired in repelling enemy attacks, splashing several planes. Seven days later she bombarded Okinawa. She spent most of April fighting off air attacks, while engaged in the operations at Okinawa, returning to the area in June, when she passed through the eye of a typhoon with 100-knot winds 5 June. She bombarded Minami Daito Jima in the Ryukvus 10 .June.

Massachusetts sailed 1 July from Leyte Gulf to join the 3d Fleet's final offensive against Japan. After guarding carriers launching strikes against Tokyo, she shelled Kamaishi, Honshu, 14 July, thus hitting Japan's second largest iron and steel center. Two weeks later she bombarded the industrial complex at Hamamatsu, returning to blast Kamaishi 9 August. It was here that Massachusetts fired what was probably the last 16 inch shell fired in combat in World War II.

Victory won, the fighting battleship sailed for Puget Sound and overhaul I September. She left there 28 January 1948 for operations off the California coast, until leaving San. Francisco for Hampton Roads, arriving 22 April. She decommissioned 27 March 1947 to enter the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Norfolk, and was struck from the Naval Register 1 June 1962.

"Big Mamie," as she was affectionately known, was saved from the scrap pile when she was transferred to the Massachusetts Memorial Committee 8 June 1965. She was enshrined at Fall River, Mass., 14 August 1965, as the Bay State's memorial to those who gave their lives in World War II.


USS Massachusetts BB-59 - History


Overhead view of USS Massachusetts
(Photo by U.S. Navy, 1942)


Name: USS Massachusetts (BB-59)
Location: Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts
Owner: USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, Inc.
Condition: Good, unaltered
Displacement: 35,000 tons standard / 46,000 tons full load
Length: 681 feet
Width: 108 feet
Machinery: 4 sets, General Electric Turbines, 8-Babcock & Wilcox Boilers
Fuel Oil Capacity: 6,959 tons
Maximum Speed: 28 knots
Armament: 9 16-inch/45 caliber Mark 6 guns, 20 5-inch/38 caliber Mark 12 guns, Various combinations of 40 mm and 20 mm antiaircraft guns
Crew: 2,300 wartime
Builder: Bethlehem Steel Company, Quincy, Massachusetts
Launched: September 23, 1941
Commissioned: May 12, 1942

USS Massachusetts (BB-59) is the third of four South Dakota class battleships laid down in the 1930s. She was built by the Bethlehem Steel Company in their Fore River Shipyard at Quincy, Massachusetts. Her keel was laid on July 20, 1939, and she was launched on September 23, 1941. USS Massachusetts was commissioned on May 12, 1942.

The design of the South Dakota class was influenced by the same limitations as the previous North Carolina class, because it too, was intended to meet the Washington Treaty limits. The chief difference was that the South Dakota class, including USS Massachusetts , was designed from the start to carry a 16-inch main battery. To accommodate the heavier armour needed for a 16-inch battery and keep the required weight under 35,000 tons, the waterline length of the South Dakota class was shortened from that of the North Carolina class while the beam remained the same. This change meant that the South Dakota class had a much fuller hull form than the North Carolina class. More powerful engines were also installed to maintain the same fast speed obtained by the North Carolina class. [1]

USS Massachusetts is painted grey on metal surfaces exposed to the elements with the exception of a black stack cap and black "boot topping" at the water line. Three quarters of the ship's deck is covered with teak laid on a bituminous base and bolted to the deck. Forward of main battery turret one, and aft of main battery turret three, the decks are made of steel.

USS Massachusetts was built with two explosively-driven catapults on the stern, port and starboard, for launching observation planes. These were removed and discarded during the ship's inactive period. During the summer of 1985 an outline of one of the catapults will be painted on the deck. [2]

In 1962, after USS Massachusetts was stricken from the inactive reserve list by the Navy, some 5,000 tons of equipment was removed for use on other naval vessels. USS Massachusetts is in good condition and retains much of her World War II integrity.

Role of the Battleship in World War II

The first modern battleship had its inception with the launching of HMS Dreadnought by Great Britain in 1906. HMS Dreadnought was the world's first all-big-gun, fast, heavily armoured capital ship and her launching made all the major ships in all other navies obsolete. The design features of HMS Dreadnought were rapidly copied by other navies and by 1914 the modern big gun heavily armoured battleship dominated naval warfare.

Battleships fought Battle of Jutland forced the Germans and construction of Jutland, the Germans His Majesty's fleet their first and only decisive action of World War I in the in May 1916. Although the British fleet won the day and to retire to the safety of their ports, the German design battleships was shown to be superior. After the Battle of never again risked their battleships in open conflict with but turned instead to unrestricted submarine warfare.

After the end of World War I the battleship continued to dominate naval strategy. In an effort to reduce expenditures required to fund new battleships the United States, Britain, France, Japan and Italy agreed to a moratorium on new battleship construction in 1922 at the Washington Naval Conference. As a result of this agreement, new American battleships in construction were broken up and scrapped. No new battleships were built until 1936 when USS North Carolina was authorized by the Congress.

During these years the nature of naval power was changing as a result of the perfection of the airplane and the introduction of a new capital ship utilizing this new weapon--the aircraft carrier. Supporters of air power argued that the battleship as the principal capital ship of the navy was obsolete because of the long reach of naval aircraft. This view was strengthened early in World War II when the British carried out a carrier strike on the Italian battle fleet at Taranto on November 11, 1940. Subsequent Japanese carrier strikes on the American battlefleet at Pearl Harbor and airstrikes from land based aircraft on the British ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse confirmed the new order of naval strategy.

While the rise of the aircraft carrier forever altered naval strategy it did not totally eclipse the importance of the battleship. In both the Atlantic and the Pacific, old American battleships carried out extensive bombardments on enemy held shores while new generations of fast American battleships escorted the aircraft carriers and provided them with a dense thicket of antiaircraft fire when necessary. Both old and new American battleships saw heavy service during the war providing cover for other ships and eventually bombarding the Japanese home islands in 1945. When the war in the Pacific ended on September 2, 1945, the surrender of the Japanese was signed on board the battleship USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Harbor. Although replaced by the aircraft carrier as the principal capital ship of the navy the battleship saw important and useful service during World War II and contributed to the eventual American victory.

USS Massachusetts represents American battleships that fought against Japan in World War II for the following reasons:

USS Massachusetts is a representative of the South Dakota class of American battleships that fought against Japan in World War II. Built later than the North Carolina class, the South Dakota class represents the continued American preparation for World War II and development of a more advanced battleship design. USS Massachusetts is at Fall River, Massachusetts, not far from Quincy, Massachusetts, where she was built. She thus represents the role of Massachusetts in the support of the war effort.

Beginning in November 1942, USS Massachusetts saw continue action in both the European and Pacific Theaters of operations. USS Massachusetts earned 11 battle stars for her World War II service.

USS Massachusetts is in good condition and retains much of her World War II integrity.

1. Rob Stern, U.S. Battleships in Action Part 2 (Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1984). p. 21.

2. No Author, USS Massachusetts (BB59)-Physical Description (Fall River, Massachusetts: Battleship Cove, 1984), pp. 8-9.

Boulding, Christine. "National Register of Historic Places Inventory USS Massachusetts. " Boston, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Historical Commission, 1976.

McMahon, William E. Dreadnought Battleships and Battle Cruisers . Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1978.

Pater, Alan F. United States Battleships -- The History of America's Greatest Fighting Fleet . Beverly Hills, California: Monitor Book Company, 1968.


USS Massachusetts BB-59 - History

Ship History
Built at the Fore River Shipyard owned by Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Quincy, Massachusetts. Laid down July 20, 1939. Launched on September 23, 1941, the heaviest ship ever built in Quincy. Nicknamed "Big Mamie" and delivered to the Boston Navy Yard during April 1942. Comissioned May 12, 1942.

Wartime History
After a shakedown cruise, Massachusetts set sail from the United States on 24 October 1942 and joined the task force to support the invasion of North Africa, "Operation Torch", where she served as the flagship for Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt.

The ship returned to Boston for refitting and resupply. During February 1943 passed through the Panama Canal then across the Pacific arrving at Nouméa on March 4, 1943.

For the next few months, she operated in the South Pacific, protecting convoy lanes and supporting operations in the Solomon Islands. From 19–21 November, she sailed with an carrier group striking Makin, Tarawa, and Abemama. On December 8, 1943 bombarded Nauru Island.

Participated in the invasion of the Marshall Islands during January 1944, the powerful carrier strikes against Truk in February 1944, and a series of raids against Japanese bases in the Western Pacific and Asia.

Following a bombardment of Ponape Island in May 1944, Battleship Massachusetts returned to Bremerton for modernization and a well-deserved rest for her crew. In September 1944 the ship returned to action in the invasion of Palau Islands and acted as an escort for the fast carrier task forces using her 5", 40mm, and 20mm guns to defend the carriers against enemy aircraft.

Big Mamie's 16" guns pounded Iwo Jima and Okinawa before those islands were invaded in 1945, and by July of that year she was off Japan with the Third Fleet. The Battleship bombarded the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Kamaishi, and then bombarded a factory at Hamamatsu. Returning to Kamaishi, USS Massachusetts fired the last American 16" projectiles of the Pacific War.

Postwar
Returned to the United States and operated with the Pacific Fleet until the middle of 1946. Decomissioned on March 27, 1947 and remained in the Reserve Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia.

Officially stricken from the Navy Register in 1962 and ordered sold for scrap and approximately 5,000 tons of equipment were removed for use on other naval vessels, including both of her catapults.

Display
Since 1945, her crew has held annual reunions aboard the ship and lobbied to save the battleship.

Instead of being scrapped, veterans and citizens of Massachusetts, with the assistance of Massachusetts schoolchildren who raised $50,000 for her preservation. On June 8, 1965 ownership was transferred to the non-profit Massachusetts Memorial Committee.

On August 14, 1965 the ship was permanantly moored in Fall River, Massachusetts, as a state memorial to those who gave their lives in World War II. Today, one of five National Historic Landmark ships displayed at Battleship Cove.

Parts of the ship's interior were converted to mini-museum spaces and displays, including the PT-Boat Museum in the bow of the ship.

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Battleship Massachusetts, known by her crew as “Big Mamie,” was assigned as flagship for a covering force of warships supporting the invasion of North Africa, “Operation Torch.” On November 8, 1942, she engaged the French battleship Jean Bart in a gun duel and fired the first American 16″ projectile of World War II. By the end of the day she had fired more than 700 16″ projectiles, silencing the Jean Bart and contributing to the sinking of five enemy ships.

After a brief overhaul in December 1942, Massachusetts went on to the Pacific to participate in the invasions of the Gilbert Islands, the Marshall Islands, strikes in the Caroline Islands, and a bombardment of Ponape Island in May 1944. She returned home for modernization before participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and air strikes on the Japanese home islands. On August 9, 1945, during a bombardment of the ironworks in Kamaishi, Honshu, Big Mamie fired the war’s last 16″ shell. Over the course of the war, she sank or damaged 5 enemy ships and shot down 39 aircraft. She earned 11 battle stars for her World War II service and never lost a man in combat.

The Massachusetts arrived home on September 13, 1945. Through the efforts of former crew members and Massachusetts schoolchildren, Big Mamie was saved from the scrapheap and was towed to Fall River in June 1965. She was opened to the public shortly thereafter and now serves as the Commonwealth’s official memorial to Bay State citizens who gave their lives in World War II and the Persian Gulf War. USS Massachusetts is one of five National Historic Landmarks on exhibit at Battleship Cove, the world’s largest collection of historic naval ships.


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USS Massachusetts (BB 59)

USS MASSACHUSETTS was the third SOUTH DAKOTA - class Battleship and probably the last US Battleship to fire 16-inch shells in combat during World War II. It was also the MASSACHUSETTS which fired the first 16-inch shells fired by the US against the European Axis Powers during World War II. After decommissioning on March 2, 1947, the MASSACHUSETTS was saved from the scrap pile when she was transferred to the MASSACHUSETTS Memorial Committee June 8, 1965. She was enshrined at Fall River, Mass., August 14, 1965, as the Bay State's memorial to those who gave their lives in World War II. Click here for a photo tour of the preserved MASSACHUSETTS.

General Characteristics: Keel laid: July 20, 1939
Launched: September 23, 1941
Commissioned: May 12, 1942
Decommissioned: March 2, 1947
Builder: Bethlehem Steel, Quincy, Mass.
Propulsion system: boilers, four Westinghouse geared turbines
Propellers: four
Length: 680.8 feet (207.5 meters)
Beam: 108 feet (32.9 meters)
Draft: 36 feet (11 meters)
Displacement: Light: approx. 38,000 tons
Displacement: Full: approx. 44,374 tons
Speed: 28 knots
Aircraft: three planes
Catapults: two
Crew: 2354 (War), 1793 (Peace)
Last armament: Nine 16-inch / 45 caliber guns twenty 5-inch / 38 caliber guns twenty-four 40 mm guns and thirty-five 20 mm guns

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS MASSACHUSETTS. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

USS MASSACHUSETTS Cruise Books:

History of USS MASSACHUSETTS:

USS MASSACHUSETTS was laid down 20 July 1939 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass., launched 23 September 1941, sponsored by Mrs. Charles Francis Adams and commissioned 12 May 1942 at Boston. Capt. Francis E. M. Whiting in command.

After shakedown, MASSACHUSETTS departed Casco Bay, Maine, 24 October 1942 and 4 days later made rendezvous with the Western Naval Task Force for the invasion of north Africa, serving as flagship for Adm. H. Kent Hewitt.

While steaming off Casablanca 8 November, she came under fire from French battleship JEAN BART's 13-inch guns. She returned fire at 0740 firing the first 16-inch shells fired by the U.S. against the European Axis Powers. Within a few minutes she silenced JEAN BART's main battery then she turned her guns on French destroyers which had joined the attack, sinking two of them. She also shelled shore batteries and blew up an ammunition dump. After a cease-fire had been arranged with the French, she headed for the United States 12 November, and prepared for Pacific duty.

MASSACHUSETTS arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia, 4 March 1943. For the next months she operated in the South Pacific, protecting convoy lanes and supporting operations in the Solomons. Between 19 November and 21 November, she sailed with a carrier group striking Makin, Tarawa, and Abemama in the Gilberts on 8 December she shelled Japanese positions on Nauru and on 29 January 1944 she guarded carriers striking Tarawa in the Gilberts.

The Navy now drove steadily across the Pacific. On 30 January 1944, MASSACHUSETTS bombarded Kwajalein, and she covered the landings there 1 February. With a carrier group she struck against the Japanese stronghold at Truk 17 February. That raid not only inflicted heavy damage on Japanese aircraft and naval forces, but also proved to be a stunning blow to enemy morale. On 21 to 22 February, MASSACHUSETTS helped fight off a heavy air attack on her task group while it made raids on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. She took part in the attack on the Carolines in late March and participated in the invasion at Hollandia 22 April which landed 60,000 troops on the island. Retiring from Hollandia, her task force staged another attack on Truk.

MASSACHUSETTS shelled Ponape Island 1 May 1944, her last mission before sailing to Puget Sound to overhaul and reline her gun barrels, now well-worn. On 1 August she left Pearl Harbor to resume operations in the Pacific war zone. She departed the Marshall Islands 6 October, sailing to support the landings in Leyte Gulf. In an effort to block Japanese air attacks in the Leyte conflict, she participated in a fleet strike against Okinawa 10 October. Between 12 and 14 October, she protected forces hitting Formosa. While part of TG 38.3 she took part In the Battle for Leyte Gulf 22 to 27 October, during which planes from her group sank four Japanese carriers off Cape Engano.

Stopping briefly at Ulithi, MASSACHUSETTS returned to the Philippines as part of a task force which struck Manila 14 December 1944 while supporting the invasion of Mindoro. MASSACHUSETTS sailed into a howling typhoon 17 December, with winds estimated at 120 knots. Three destroyers sank at the height of the typhoon's fury. Between 30 December and 23 January 1945, she sailed as part of TF 38, which struck Formosa and supported the landing at Lingayen. During that time she turned into the South China Sea, her task force destroying shipping from Saigon to Hong Kong. concluding operations with air strikes on Formosa and Okinawa.

From 10 February to 3 March 1945, with the Fifth Fleet, MASSACHUSETTS guarded carriers during raids on Honshu. Her group also struck Iwo Jima by air for the invasion of that island. On 17 March, the carriers launched strikes against Kyushu while MASSACHUSETTS fired in repelling enemy attacks, splashing several planes. Seven days later she bombarded Okinawa. She spent most of April fighting off air attacks, while engaged in the operations at Okinawa, returning to the area in June, when she passed through the eye of a typhoon with 100-knot winds 5 June 1945. She bombarded Minami Daito Jima in the Ryukyus 10 June.

MASSACHUSETTS sailed 1 July from Leyte Gulf to join the 3rd Fleet's final offensive against Japan. After guarding carriers launching strikes against Tokyo, she shelled Kamaishi, Honshu, 14 July, thus hitting Japan's second largest iron and steel center. Two weeks later she bombarded the industrial complex at Hamamatsu and returning to blast Kamaishi 9 August 1945. It was here that MASSACHUSETTS fired what was probably the last 16-inch shell fired in combat in World War II.

Victory won, the fighting battleship sailed for Puget Sound and overhaul 1 September. She left there 28 January 1946 for operations off the California coast, until leaving San Francisco for Hampton Roads, arriving 22 April 1946. She decommissioned 27 March 1947 to enter the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Norfolk, and was struck from the Naval Register 1 June 1962.

"Big Mamie," as she was affectionately known, was saved from the scrap pile when she was transferred to the MASSACHUSETTS Memorial Committee 8 June 1965. She was enshrined at Fall River, Mass., 14 August 1965, as the Bay State's memorial to those who gave their lives in World War II.

MASSACHUSETTS received 11 battle stars for World War II service.

USS MASSACHUSETTS Image Gallery:

The photos below were taken by me on August 21, 2010, during a visit to the USS MASSACHUSETTS museum at Battleship Cove, Fall River, MA.

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