USS West Virginia (BB-48) was the fourth Colorado-class dreadnought, although she was the third and last member as Washington was from the course to be completed. The Colorado class proved to be the pinnacle of the standard series of battleships built for the U.S. Navy in the 1910s and 1920s.
These ships were essentially iterations of earlier Tennessee designs, but with a significantly more powerful main battery, consisting of eight 16-inch (406 mm) guns in twin turrets. The West Virginia was built between the laying of the keel in 1920 and its service with the Navy in 1923.
The ship underwent routine training exercises in the 1920s and 1930s, including the usual annual fleet breakdowns, which provided valuable lessons for the coming war in the Pacific.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, the USS West Virginia was anchored in the Battleship Zone as Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and drew the United States into World War II. The ship was badly damaged by torpedoes and sank in shallow water, but was later refloated and extensively rebuilt in 1943-1944. She returned to service in time for the Philippine campaign and led the American front in the naval battle of Surigao Strait on the night of October 24/25.
There, she was one of the few U.S. battleships to use radar to lock onto targets in the dark, allowing her to engage Japanese squadrons in the last battle between battleships in naval history.
After the Surigao Strait, the ship remained with the Philippine Support Force during the Battle of Leyte in 1944 and then supported the Lingayen Bay invasion in early 1945. The ship also later participated in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa that year, providing extensive fire support to the ground forces invading those islands. During the latter operation, she was hit by a kamikaze with minimal damage. After the Japanese surrender, West Virginia took part in the first occupation and then in Operation Magic Carpet, which transported soldiers and sailors from Hawaii to the continental United States before being deactivated in 1946.
She was decommissioned in 1947 and assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet until she was sold to a shipbreaker and broken up in 1959.
Years of Service
USS Colorado (BB-45); USS Maryland (BB-46); USS Washington (BB-47) (cancelled); USS West Virginia (BB-48)
Maritime bombardment/attack of surface targets/areas primarily through ship-based ballistic weapons.
Littoral attacks against surface targets primarily through ship-based missiles/missile weapons.
Active patrolling of critical waterways and sea areas; also serves as a local deterrent against air and maritime threats.
Neutralization or deterrence of flying elements by airborne missile weapon ballistics.
Provide support (fire or materiel) to major surface fleets in blue water environments.
Take on the role of fleet flagship or capital ship in old battleship design/terminology.
97. 3 feet
8 x Babcock & Wilcox boilers power the 4 x turbo electric propulsion motors driving the 4 x axles.
21. 0 nodes
(9,200 miles | 14,806 km)
kts = nodes | mph = miles per hour | nm = nautical miles | mi = miles | km = miles 1 kts = 1.15mph | 1 nautical mile = 1.15 kilometers | 1 nautical mile = 1.85 kilometers
Original: 8 x 16" main gun/45 caliber 12 x 5" secondary gun/51 caliber 4 x 3"/23 caliber gun 2 x 21" torpedo tube modification: 8 x 16"/45 main gun 16 x 5"/51 caliber secondary gun 40 x 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun (AA) 50 x 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun