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  USS Massachusetts BB-59
USN
South Dakota Class Battleship



Ship History
Built at the Fore River Shipyard owned by Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Quincy, Massachusetts. Laid down July 20, 1939. Launched on September 23, 1941, the heaviest ship ever built in Quincy. Nicknamed "Big Mamie" and delivered to the Boston Navy Yard during April 1942. Comissioned May 12, 1942.

Wartime History
After a shakedown cruise, Massachusetts set sail from the United States on 24 October 1942 and joined the task force to support the invasion of North Africa, "Operation Torch", where she served as the flagship for Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt.

The ship returned to Boston for refitting and resupply. During February 1943 passed through the Panama Canal then across the Pacific arrving at Nouméa on March 4, 1943.

For the next few months, she operated in the South Pacific, protecting convoy lanes and supporting operations in the Solomon Islands. From 19–21 November, she sailed with an carrier group striking Makin, Tarawa, and Abemama. On December 8, 1943, she shelled Nauru Island.

Participated in the invasion of the Marshall Islands during January 1944, the powerful carrier strikes against Truk in February 1944, and a series of raids against Japanese bases in the Western Pacific and Asia.

Following a bombardment of Ponape Island in May 1944, Battleship Massachusetts returned to Bremerton, Washington for modernization and a well-deserved rest for her crew. In September 1944 the ship returned to action in the invasion of Palau Islands and acted as an escort for the fast carrier task forces using her 5", 40mm, and 20mm guns to defend the carriers against enemy aircraft.

Big Mamie's 16" guns pounded Iwo Jima and Okinawa before those islands were invaded in 1945, and by July of that year she was off Japan with the Third Fleet. The Battleship bombarded the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Kamaishi, and then bombarded a factory at Hamamatsu. Returning to Kamaishi, USS Massachusetts fired the last American 16" projectiles of the Pacific War.

Postwar
Returned to the United States and operated with the Pacific Fleet until the middle of 1946. Decomissioned on March 27, 1947 and remained in the Reserve Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia.

Officially stricken from the Navy Register in 1962 and ordered sold for scrap and approximately 5,000 tons of equipment were removed for use on other naval vessels, including both of her catapults.

Display
Since 1945, her crew has held annual reunions aboard the ship and lobbied to save the battleship.

Instead of being scrapped, veterans and citizens of Massachusetts, with the assistance of Massachusetts schoolchildren who raised $50,000 for her preservation. On June 8, 1965 ownership was transferred to the non-profit Massachusetts Memorial Committee.

On August 14, 1965 the ship was permanantly moored in Fall River, Massachusetts, as a state memorial to those who gave their lives in World War II. Today, one of five National Historic Landmark ships displayed at Battleship Cove.

Parts of the ship's interior were converted to mini-museum spaces and displays, including the PT-Boat Museum in the bow of the ship.

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Last Updated
March 5, 2013

 

 

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