USS Nevada (BB 36)

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The USS Nevada (BB 36) was the name ship of the Nevada class of battleships, and served in both World Wars. She was the only American battleship to get underway during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, but was forced to beach after being hit by Japanese bombs.

The Nevada was laid down in 1912, launched in 1914 and commissioned on 11 March 1916. While her sister ship Oklahoma used old fashioned reciprocating expansion engines, the Nevada was given geared turbines, the first American battleship to use that type of engine. The geared turbines were more efficient at cruising speeds than older un-geared models. These original turbines were replaced during the late 1920s refit by geared turbines briefly installed in the North Dakota.

During the American involvement in the First World War the Nevada and the Oklahoma were based at Bantry Bay and were used to protect American troop convoys against any possible intervention by German heavy ships.

The Nevada was modernised between August 1927 and January 1930. During this refit she received the engines from the North Dakota, anti-torpedo bulges, extra deck armour and had her secondary guns moved up from their casements onto a new position above the armoured deck. She then spent the next ten years serving with the Pacific Fleet.

On 7 December 1941 the Nevada was moored alone at position F-8, the northern end of battleship row, Pearl Harbor. She was hit by one torpedo in the port bow and two or three bombs early in the Japanese attack, but was the only American battleship able to obey pre-war doctrine and get underway. She was upstream from the burning Arizona and was thus unaffected by the oil fires flowing down stream. She was ready to move at 8.40 and set sail, heading for the entrance to the harbour. At 8.50, while abreast of 10-10 dock, she was hit by bombs from the second wave of Japanese Vals. At least five bombs hit her, two in the forecastle, one that penetrated the gasoline storage, one at the base of the funnel and the fifth over the crew's galley. The bombs started fires which threatened the forward magazine which had to be flooded, and that burnt out the bridge. The ventilation to the machine spaces was also cut off, forcing them to be abandoned. Nearby was Rear Admiral Furlong, commander of Battle Fleet minecraft, on his flagship USS Oglala (herself hit and sinking). Furlong ordered the Nevada to make for the Middle Loch of the harbour to prevent her from sinking in the narrow entrance channel, but by this point she was already critically damaged and instead she went aground near the USS Shaw at the Navy Yard. Furlong was worried that she might swing in the current and block the East Loch, so he had her towed to a new position near Waipio Point, where she slowly settled.  Fifty men were killed and 109 wounded during the battle. 

The Nevada was raised on 12 February 1942. Initial repairs were carried out at Pearl Harbor, and she was then moved to Puget Sound where the repairs were completed. The Nevada was able to return to service in the spring of 1943.

Her first combat came in the north Pacific, where she formed part of Task Group 51.1 (along with the Pennsylvania and the Idaho). This task group took part in the invasion of Attu in the Aleutian Islands, shelling the island on 11 May 1943 during the preparation for landings. This force remained together until 2 June, and the Nevada was then moved to the Atlantic.

Spent shell cases on USS Nevada, D-Day
Spent shell cases
on USS Nevada,
D-Day

The US Navy provided the battleships Nevada, Texas and Arkansas to support the D-Day landings. The Nevada was part of Force 'A' under Rear Admiral Deyo, and supported the landings on Utah Beach, firing in support of the troops from 6-17 June. She was also took part in the bombardment of Cherbourg on 25 June, helping to weaken German defences.

The Nevada's next move was to the Mediterranean, where she forced part of Task Force 85 (Delta Force) under Admiral Bryant (along with the Texas). This force took part in Operation Dragoon (15 August), the invasion of the south of France, and took part in the bombardment of Toulon. She remained off the south of France until 25 September, and then set sail for New York.

It was now clear that the war in Europe was moving beyond the range of battleship guns, but in the Pacific more bombardment forces were urgently needed. The existing 'old' battleships were all engaged in the Philippines, and so the ships no longer needed in Europe moved west. The Nevada visited New York to have her gun barrels relined, and then sailed for Iwo Jima, where she formed part of Task Force 54 (Rear Admiral Rodgers), with the Tennessee, Idaho, Texas, New York and Arkansas. The Nevadaarrived off Iwo Jima on 16 February 1945, and provided fire support for the marines until 7 March.

The ten active 'old' battleships forced Task Force 54 (Rear Admiral Deyo) during the invasion of Okinawa. The Nevada formed part of Group 3, alongside the Tennessee (Group 1 contained Texas and Maryland, Group 2 Arkansas and Colorado, Group 4 Idaho and West Virginia and Group 5 New Mexico and New York). The Nevada opened fire against targets on Okinawa on 26 March, and remained in action until 30 June. On 27 March she was hit by a kamikaze aircraft, which killed 11 men and damaged one of the main turrets. She was hit again on 5 April, this time by a shore battery which killed two.

On 16 July the Nevada was one of six battleships and two battlecruisers allocated to Task Force 95 (Vice Admiral Oldendorf), for operations in the East China Sea. This force saw very little action, but the Nevada, Tennessee, California and the battlecruisers Alaska and Guam did take part in a raid in the Yangtze estuary off Shanghai.

After the war the Nevada became a target ship for the Bikini atomic bomb trials. She survived the tests, and instead was deliberately sunk by naval gunfire and aerial torpedoes on 31 July 1948.

Displacement (standard)

27,500t

Displacement (loaded)

28,400t

Top Speed

20.5kts

Range

8,000nm at 10kts

Armour – belt

13.5in-8in

 - deck

3in

 - turret faces

18in or 16in

 - turret sides

10-9in

 - turret top

5in

 - turret rear

9in

 - barbettes

13in

 - coning tower

16in

 - coning tower top

8in

Length

583ft

Width

95ft 6in

Armaments

Ten 14in guns in two 3-gun and two 2-gun turrets
Twenty one 5in guns
Two 21in submerged beam torpedo tubes

Crew complement

864

Laid down

 4 November 1912

Launched

 11 July 1914

Completed

 11 March 1916

Fate

 Sunk 31 July 1948

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 September 2011), USS Nevada (BB 36) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Nevada.html

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