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USS Pennsylvania: 1916 - 1948

 

USS Pennsylvania was the first in it's class of two (USS Arizona was the other Pennsylvania Class Battleship).  She was a 31,400 ton battleship built in Newport News, Virginia and was commissioned in June of 1916.  Pennsylvania served at the Atlantic Fleet's flagship until she became the flagship of the Battle Fleet in 1921.  During the 1920's, she led the Navy's battleships in maneuvers in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Pacific.  From 1929 - 1931, Pennsylvania received significant upgrades to better support her mission as fleet flagship, including improved combat systems, and an enlarged armored conning tower. 

The Attack on Pearl Harbor

 

On December 7, 1941, Pennsylvania was in dry dock at Pearl Harbor Navy Yard and received relatively light damage although the destroyers, Cassin & Downes that were docked with her received heavy damage.  The Pennsylvania was hit with a Japanese bomb though that destroyed the gun on the starboard deck and killing the crew operating the gun.  Even though she was in dry-dock, Pennsylvania was one of the first ships to open fire at the on coming Japanese planes. When the destroyer, Downes was hit, a part of her torpedo tube hit the forecastle of the Pennsylvania.  During the attack, 15 of her crew were killed, including her executive officer, 14 were missing in action and another 38 were wounded.

USS Pennsylvania after the Pearl Harbor attack

 

Thanks to her relatively light damage from the attack, Pennsylvania was quickly repaired and returned to duty.  She sailed to Alaskan waters where she was instrumental in the recapture of Attu and Kiska in 1943.  In November of 1943, she supported amphibious landings on the Gilbert Islands. In September 1944, while supporting landings in Palaus, the Japanese Navy responded vigorously and Pennsylvania helped destroy part of the enemy fleet in the Battle of Surigao Strait.  In August of 1945, off the coast of Okinawa, she was seriously damaged by a Japanese torpedo and became the last major ship to be hit during World War II.  Because of her age, she was only repaired enough to be suitable for target duty.  She served in this capacity in the Bikini atomic bomb tests in 1946, then moored at Kwajalein for radioactivity study until she was scuttled at sea on February 19, 1948.

USS Pennsylvania (BB-38)