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The Big Guns of the Pacific Fleet
Picture and some text Source: U.S. Navy

In World War II the navy was forced to divide its ships between the war in the Atlantic and the war in the Pacific. Certain big ships were associated with either the Atlantic or Pacific war. Here are the big ships that were in the Pacific. Please note we are not talking about carriers here but battleships and cruisers.

Battleship USS Alabama

Name: USS Alabama (BB-60)
Location: Battleship Parkway, Mobile, Alabama
Owner: USS Alabama Battleship Commission
Condition: Excellent, unaltered

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Displacement: 35,000 tons standard / 42,500 tons full load
Length: 679 feet
Width: 108 feet
Machinery: 4 sets, Westinghouse Turbines, 8 Foster Wheeler 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

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Builder: Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia
Launched: February 16, 1942
Commissioned: August 16, 1942

USS Alabama (BB 60) is the fourth of four South Dakota class battleships laid down in the 1930s and 1940s. She was built by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. Her keel was laid on February 1, 1940 and she was launched on February 16, 1942. USS Alabama was commissioned on August 16, 1942.

Battleship USS Massachusetts

Name: USS Massachusetts (BB-59)
Location: Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts
Owner: USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, Inc.
Condition: Good, unaltered

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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

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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.

Battleship USS Missouri (Mighty Moe)

Name: USS Missouri (BB-63)
Location: Long Beach Naval Shipyard, Long Beach, California
Owner: United States Navy
Condition: Good, altered

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Displacement: 45,000 tons standard / 57,500 tons full load
Length: 888 feet
Width: 108 feet
Machinery: 4 sets, General Electric Turbines, 8-Babcock & Wilcox Boilers
Fuel Oil Capacity: 7,620 tons
Maximum Speed: 33 knots
Armament: 9 16-inch/50 caliber guns; 20 5-inch 38 caliber guns; Various combinations of 40 mm and 20 mm antiaircraft guns
Crew: 2,700 wartime

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Builder: New York Naval Shipyard
Launched: January 29, 1944
Commissioned: June 11, 1944

USS Missouri is one of four Iowa class battleships completed by the United States during World War II. The Iowa class battleships were built and designed without any of the treaty limitations that governed the previous North Carolina and South Dakota class of battleships. Iowa class battleships were the largest and fastest battleships completed by the United States during the war. Like previous fast battleships, Iowa class battleships were designed to provide air protection for the carriers and surface protection in the event of an attack by Japanese surface units.

Battleship USS North Carolina

Name: USS North Carolina (BB-55)
Location: west bank of Cape Fear River, Wilmington, North Carolina
Owner: State of North Carolina
Condition: Excellent, unaltered

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Displacement: 36,600 tons standard / 44,800 tons full load
Length: 728 feet
Width: 108 feet
Machinery: 4 sets, General Electric Turbines, 8 Babcock & Wilcox Boilers
Fuel Oil Capacity: 7,167 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

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Builder: Brooklyn Navy Yard
Launched: June 13, 1940
Commissioned: April 9, 1941

USS North Carolina (BB-55) was built, by the New York Naval Shipyard and was launched on June 13, 1940. When commissioned on April 9, 1941, she was considered the most powerful warship afloat in any navy. Since USS North Carolina was the first modern American battleship constructed in two decades she was built using the latest in shipbuilding technology. Constrained to 35,000 tons standard displacement by the Washington and London Naval Treaties, to a beam of less than 110 feet by the locks of the Panama Canal, and to 38-foot draft to enable the ship to use as many anchorages and navy yards as possible, she was a challenge to the designers of day.

Cruiser USS Des Moines

Name: USS Des Moines (CA-134)
Location: Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Owner: Department of the Navy
Condition: Good

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Displacement: 17,255 tons standard / 20,934 tons full load
Length: 717 feet
Width: 75 feet
Machinery: 4-General Electric Turbines, 4-Babcock & Wilcox Boilers
Fuel Oil Capacity: 3,006 tons
Maximum Speed: 33 knots
Armament: 9-8 inch/55 caliber guns (3 X 3), 12-5 inch/38 caliber guns (6 X 2), 24-3 inch/SO caliber guns (12 X 2), Various combinations of antiaircraft guns.
Crew: 1,799

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Builder: Bethlehem Steel Company, Quincy, Massachusetts
Launched: September 27, 1946
Commissioned: November 17, 1948

USS Des Moines (CA-134) is the first of four Des Moines class heavy cruisers laid down by the United States late in World War II. She was built by the Bethlehem Steel Company in Quincy, Massachusetts. Her keel was laid on May 28, 1945, and she was launched on September 27, 1946. USS Des Moines was commissioned on November 17, 1948.

The design of the Des Moines class was influenced by the need to build a heavy cruiser with rapid firing 8" guns that could engage and successfully sink Japanese cruisers. In repeated actions, during the early part of the war, American cruisers had found it almost impossible to hit fast Japanese ships in night actions. The navy designed USS Des Moines to solve this problem by providing her with rapid firing 8" guns that would easily outrange Japanese cruisers that mounted 6" rapid fire guns.

Notice that the top speed of the Missouri was the same as the Des Moines, quite an accomplishment for the big ship.

The ships listed here were the most associated with the war in the Pacific that had big guns. As you can see, some are still in great condition. It would make an interesting trip to be able to get on one and take pictures. If anyone does and would like to have me post those pictures, if they are decent I would be more than glad to post them with a short story of your adventure. Just click on my email address to make arrangements.



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