A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. As they were the largest, best-armed and most heavily armored ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a nation's naval power from the late nineteenth century until World War II. With the rise of air power, notably aircraft carriers, battleships were no longer able to establish naval superiority, and so all have been withdrawn from active service. The related battlecruiser, a successor to the armored cruiser, shared the very large main armament, general size, and cost of a battleship of the same generation, but they traded armor or firepower for higher speed.
Battleship design evolved to incorporate and adapt technological advances to maintain an edge. The word battleship was coined around 1794 as a contraction of the phrase line-of-battle ship, the dominant wooden warship during the Age of Sail. It came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, but these are now referred to as "pre-dreadnoughts". In 1906, the launch of HMS Dreadnought heralded a revolution in battleship design. Later designs that were influenced by this ship were referred to as "dreadnoughts". Battlecruisers were developed around this time by the British First Sea Lord Jackie Fisher. They were envisioned as being more effective armored cruisers, able to destroy any normal cruiser while being able to outrun any ships capable of sinking them.
By 1910, so-called "super-dreadnoughts" were entering service. In the four years between Dreadnought and the first super-dreadnoughts, the Orion class, displacement had increased by 25% and weight of broadside had doubled. Many battlecruisers and battleships of all varieties served in the First World War, most notably in the Battle of Jutland. None were built between the Nelsons of the early 1920s and the Dunkerques of the early 1930s due to various treaties, but quite a few battleships were constructed shortly before or during World War II. The last, HMS Vanguard, was commissioned just after the war, in 1946.
From this time on, most battleships and all battlecruisers were decommissioned and broken up. France's Jean Bart and Turkey's Yavuz were the last to be scrapped. However, members of the American Iowa class lasted until 1992 to aid troops with fire support; four were deployed in Korea, one in Vietnam, and two to Iraq. Nine battleships exist today as museum ships; eight from the United States, and Japan's Mikasa. (more...)
The North Carolina class was a series of two fast battleships, North Carolina and Washington, built for the United States Navy in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The navy was originally uncertain whether the ships should be fast enough to counter the Japanese Kongō class, which was believed by the United States to be capable of 26 knots (30 mph; 48 km/h), or should sacrifice speed for additional firepower and armor. The Second London Naval Treaty's requirement that all capital ships have a standard displacement of under 35,000 long tons (35,560 metric tons (t)) meant that the desired objectives could not be fully realized within the treaty limits, and the navy considered over fifty designs before one was chosen. Towards the end of this lengthy design period, the General Board of the United States Navy declared that it was in favor of design "XVI-C", which called for a speed of 30 knots (35 mph; 56 km/h) and a main battery of nine 14-inch (356 mm)/50 caliber Mark B guns. The board believed that such ships could fulfill a multitude of roles, as they would have enough protection to be put into a battle line while also having enough speed to escort aircraft carriers or engage in commerce raiding. However, the acting Secretary of the Navy authorized a modified version of a different design, "XVI", which in its original form had been rejected by the General Board. This called for a 27-knot (31 mph; 50 km/h) ship with twelve 14-inch rifles in quadruple turrets and protection against guns of the same caliber. In a major departure from traditional American design practices, "XVI" accepted lower speed and protection in exchange for maximum firepower. After construction had begun, the United States, concerned over Japan's refusal to commit to the caliber limit of the Second London Naval Treaty, invoked the "escalator clause" of that pact and increased the caliber of the class' main armament; nine 16-inch (406 mm)/45 Mark 6 caliber guns replaced the twelve 14-inch guns of the original design.
Fleet Admiral William Frederick "Bull" Halsey, Jr. (October 30, 1882 – August 16, 1959) was an officer of the United States Navy Known for his role in the naval battles against Japan during World War II. Descended from Rufus King, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1904 to serve on several battleships and torpedo boats. Skipping the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade), he would command the Atlantic Fleet's Torpedo Flotilla, and later earned the Navy Cross commanding USS Shaw during World War I. After commanding USS Dale and two destroyer units, he would become a naval aviator in order to command the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga. Earning his flag, he would command several carrier units.
At sea in his flagship USS Enterprise during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Halsey would embark on the Pacific War, but missed the Battle of Midway due to health issues. He would take command of the South Pacific Area at a critical time in the Guadalcanal Campaign, and lead it through the remainder of the Solomon Islands campaign. He would then move on to command the 3rd Fleet for the Philippines Campaign, including the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Baited into moving Task Force 34 northward, he left an American task force unprotected for the Battle off Samar, resulting in the infamous "the world wonders" message from Admiral Nimitz.
After enduring Typhoon Cobra and watching the Surrender of Japan aboard USS Missouri, Halsey retired from active duty in March 1947. USS Halsey (DLG-23) and USS Halsey (DDG-97) would be named for him, and the airfield at Naval Air Station North Island would be dedicated in his name.