USS Utah (BB-31) History

USS Utah (BB-31) was a Dreadnought battleship belonging to the Florida-class revealed in the period prior to World War 1 (1914-1918). The class numbered just two warships - Utah and the lead ship, USS Florida (BB-30) (detailed elsewhere on this site) - but both managed careers serving through World War 1 and into the inter-war years. While USS Florida was given up in the early 1930s to conform with naval treaties of the day, USS Utah continued on in service into World War 2 (1939-1945) where she was ultimately damaged beyond repair during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 1941).

Dreadnoughts were a new class of fighting ship named after the Royal Navy's HMS Dreadnought. HMS Dreadnought rewrote the book on battleship design when she was introduced in 1906 as she held a uniform, big-gunned primary battery with an impressive secondary battery, was powered by steam propulsion, and proved the perfect blend of speed and armor protection. From her introduction on, any previously-designed warship was therefore recognized as "pre-Dreadnought" while HMS Dreadnought went on to signify a whole new class of warship - known simply as "Dreadnought".

With the work completed, she undertook another goodwill tour of South but, because of ongoing naval treaties, she was then forced into conversion as a target ship under the designation of USS Utah (AG-16). She survived this role and took part in various fleet exercises during the latter half of the 1930s while undergoing conversion into a n Anti-Aircraft (AA) training platform. From there she transited into Pacific waters and landed at Pearl for August of 1940. More AA training occurred and the vessel made her way to the California coast just before Christmas. Another period of serving as a target ship befell her until relocation to Pearl once more - she arrived there in early April 1941. Another phase of gunnery training followed as did another West Coast visit and she ultimately settled back in Hawaiian waters before the end.

Pearl Harbor Attack and Fate

USS Utah was present on the morning of the Japanese attack on the Harbor (December 7th, 1941). Her mooring at Ford Island made her a tempting target and she took two Japanese torpedoes as a result. Major flooding took her partially under and a portside list complicated rescues. When she eventually rolled onto her side, dozens were trapped. Subsequent attempts to cut into her hull yielded just four trapped crewmen, the rest perishing in the ship. In all, Utah lost 64 of her crew that day. An attempt to raise and right her was made but the initiative proved fruitless. She was instead decommissioned on September 5th, 1944 and removed from the Naval Register on November 13th of that year. Her hull was left where it laid in harbor waters to act as a tomb and memorial for those lives lost.

USS Utah earned one Battle Star for her service in World War 2.

USS Utah (BB-31) Specification




- Blue Water Operations

- Fleet Support

- Hunter

- Direct-Attack



521.7 ft (159.01 m)

Width / Beam:

88.2 ft (26.88 m)

Height / Draught:

28.2 ft (8.60 m)


Displacement (Surface):

25,400 tons


12 x Boilers with 4 x Parsons steam turbines developing 28,000 horsepower to 4 x Shafts.


Speed (Surface):

21 kts (24 mph)


5,779 nm (6,650 miles; 10,702 km)


10 x 12" (300mm) /45 caliber main guns in five two-gunned turrets.

16 x 5" (127mm) /51 caliber guns

2 x 21" (530mm) torpedoes



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