The United States commissioned her first battleship the USS Texas, on 15 Apr 1895. This ship had power supplied by coal burning generators and had an overall length of 309 feet; she had a displaced of 6,315 tons, and had a crew of 30 officers and 362 sailors. She had an armament consisting of two 12-inch and six 6-inch guns and was equipped with four 14-inch torpedo tubes. For protection she carried 12-inches of steel armor, and while not the beasts of later years, for her era, she was one of the most powerful ships in the world.
Battleships began to grow by 1907, the USS Kansas displaced twice the tonnage as the Texas, she more heavily armed, and had 42 officers and 838 sailors. While the Kansas was under construction, an event took place that created the greatest naval arms race in history. In 1905, King Edward VII of England christened a new ship designed by Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Fisher. This ship was unquestionably the most powerful afloat, her name, the HMS Dreadnought. Her name became synonymous with "battleship."
In late 1912, the United States commissioned its most heavily armed battleship, USS Wyoming. The Wyoming was 562 feet in length. She displaced 26,000 tons and carried 58 officers and more than 1,000 sailors. Her armor plate was a foot thick. Her main battery was a dozen 12-inch guns, backed by twenty-one 5-inch guns and two 21-inch torpedo tubes.
By the end of World War I, the U.S. Navy had grown in strength to being second only to Great Britain’s Navy. During the Washington Disarmament Conference of 1921, the U.S. agreed to dismantle part of the Navy, and seven out of nine battleships hulls under construction were broken up. No new battleships were commissioned from 1923 to 1941.
The opening of hostilities in Europe in September 1939 started the rebuilding of the Navy’s battleship forces. Two years later, on Dec. 7, 1941, eight of the Navy’s battleships were sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor. Six of these were subsequently repaired and returned to service with only the USS Oklahoma and USS Arizona lost.
The nature of the war in the Pacific altered the battleships role forever. The Battle of Midway showed that it was no longer necessary for battleships to slug it out in the contest for supremacy at sea. But battleships performed a number of vital tasks during World War II: from escorting convoys to providing anti-air defense to providing necessary gunfire support to troops ashore.
On 15 Nov 1945, two months and a day after the Japanese announced they would accept the terms of surrender; the battleships were combined with the cruisers into the Battleship Cruiser Force. During this time many of the battleships were mothballed or sold as memorials to the various states whose names they carried. Few of these majestic ships remained in service until 1948 when the last active battleship was redesignated a training ship.
The battleships returned during the…