USS Colorado (BB-45)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Colorado.
The USS Colorado at sea near Honolulu, Hawaii
The USS Colorado at sea near Honolulu
Career
Name: USS Colorado
Namesake: State of Colorado
Ordered: 29 August 1916
Builder: New York Shipbuilding Corporation
Laid down: 29 May 1919
Launched: 22 March 1921
Sponsored by: Mrs. Max Melville
Commissioned: 30 August 1923
Decommissioned: 7 January 1947
Struck: 1 March 1959
Nickname: Buckin Bronco
Honors and
awards:
10 Battle Stars
Fate: Sold for scrap, 23 July 1959
General characteristics [1][2]
Class & type: Colorado-class battleship
Displacement: 32,600 tons
Length: 624 ft 3 in (190.27 m)
Beam: 97.5 ft (29.7 m)
Draft: 38 ft (12 m)
Speed: 21 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h)
Armament:
  • 8 × 16 in (406 mm)/45 cal guns
  • 12 × 5 in (127 mm) guns
  • 8 × 3 in (76 mm) guns
  • 2 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor:
  • Belt: 8–13.5 in (203–343 mm)
  • Barbettes: 13 in (330 mm)
  • Turret face: 18 in (457 mm)
  • Turret sides: 9–10 in (229–254 mm)
  • Turret top: 5 in (127 mm)
  • Turret rear 9 in (229 mm)
  • Conning tower: 11.5 in (292 mm)
  • Decks: 3.5 in (89 mm)

USS Colorado (BB-45), was the lead ship of the Colorado class of battleships, the third ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 38th state. Her keel was laid down on 29 May 1919 by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey. She was launched on 22 March 1921 sponsored by Mrs. Max Melville, Denverite, daughter of United States Senator from Colorado Samuel D. Nicholson; and commissioned on 30 August 1923, Captain Reginald R. Belknap in command.[1]

Inter-war period[edit]

Colorado sailed from New York City on 29 December 1923 on a maiden voyage that took her to Portsmouth, England; Cherbourg, France, and Villefranche, France; Naples, Italy; and Gibraltar before returning to New York on 15 February 1924. After repairs and final tests she sailed for the west coast 11 July and arrived at San Francisco on 15 September.

From 1924 to 1941, Colorado operated with the Battle Fleet in the Pacific, participating in fleet exercises and various ceremonies, and returning to the east coast from time to time for fleet problems in the Caribbean Sea. She also cruised to Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand from 8 June to 26 September 1925 to show the flag in the far Pacific. The eight 3 in (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns were replaced by an equal number of 5 in (130 mm)/25 cal guns in 1928–1929.[3] Colorado aided in earthquake relief at Long Beach, California, on 10–11 March 1933 and during an NROTC cruise from 11 June to 22 July 1937, she assisted in the search for the missing Amelia Earhart.

World War II[edit]

Based in Pearl Harbor from 27 January 1941, Colorado operated in the Hawaiian training area in intensive exercises and war games until 25 June, when she departed for the west coast and overhaul at Puget Sound Navy Yard which lasted until 31 March 1942. Two of the original 12 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns were removed during overhaul, and the 5 in (130 mm)/25 cal guns were replaced by an equal number of 5 in (130 mm)/38 cal guns.[3] On 31 May, Colorado and Maryland set sail from the Golden Gate to form a line of defense against any Japanese attack mounted on San Francisco.

Pennsylvania leading Colorado, Louisville, Portland, and Columbia into Lingayen Gulf in October 1944

After west coast training, Colorado returned to Pearl Harbor on 14 August to complete her preparations for action. She operated in the vicinity of the Fiji Islands and New Hebrides from 8 November 1942 to 17 September 1943 to prevent further Japanese expansion. She sortied from Pearl Harbor on 21 October 1943 to provide preinvasion bombardment and fire support for the invasion of Tarawa, returning to port on 7 December 1943. After west coast overhaul, Colorado returned to Lahaina Roads, Hawaiian Islands, on 21 January 1944 and sortied the next day for the Marshall Islands operation, providing preinvasion bombardment and fire support for the invasions of Kwajalein and Eniwetok until 23 February 1944, when she headed for Puget Sound Navy Yard and overhaul.

USS Colorado off Tinian 24-July-1944 with hull damage, the result of 22 hits from shore batteries

Joining other units bound for the Mariana Islands operation at San Francisco, Colorado sailed on 5 May by way of Pearl Harbor and Kwajalein for preinvasion bombardment and fire support duties at Saipan, Guam, and Tinian from 14 June. On 24 July 1944, during the shelling of Tinian, Colorado received 22 shell hits from shore batteries, killing 43 men and wounding 198, but continued to support the invading troops until 3 August. After repairs on the west coast, Colorado arrived in Leyte Gulf on 20 November 1944 to support American troops fighting ashore. A week later she was hit by two kamikazes which killed 19 of her men, wounded 72, and caused moderate damage. Nevertheless as planned, she bombarded Mindoro from 12–17 December 1944 before proceeding to Manus Island for emergency repairs.

Returning to Luzon on 1 January 1945, she participated in the preinvasion bombardments in Lingayen Gulf. On 9 January, accidental gunfire hit her superstructure killing 18 and wounding 51. After replenishing at Ulithi, Colorado joined the preinvasion bombardment group at Kerama Retto on 25 March for the invasion of Okinawa. She remained there supplying fire support until 22 May, when she cleared for Leyte Gulf.

Returning to occupied Okinawa on 6 August, Colorado sailed from there for the occupation of Japan, covering the airborne landings at Atsugi Airfield, Tokyo on 27 August. Departing Tokyo Bay on 20 September, she arrived at San Francisco on 15 October, then steamed to Seattle, Washington, for the Navy-Day celebration on 27 October. Assigned to Operation Magic Carpet duty, she made three runs to Pearl Harbor to transport 6,357 veterans home before reporting to Bremerton Navy Yard for inactivation. She was placed out of commission in reserve there on 7 January 1947, and sold for scrapping on 23 July 1959.[citation needed]

It is rumored that the USS Colorado fired more 16 in shells in WWII than any other battleship.

Display[edit]

Her bell is currently on display in the University Memorial Center (UMC) at the University of Colorado.

A 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal deck gun from Colorado was donated to the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society in 1959, and is displayed at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. It was one of eight such guns on Colorado.[citation needed]

Six of Colorado's 5/51 cal guns were put aboard the protected cruiser USS Olympia, after she became a museum in Philadelphia in 1957.

Boards from her deck were re-purposed to form a wall in the main lounge of Haggett Hall at the University of Washington. A plaque commemorates the source.

On February 7th, 2014, the Boeing Company donated the teak decking of the USS Colorado to the USO Northwest SeaTac Center to serve as the new center’s entry flooring.

Her helm is in the collection of the Colorado Springs Museum. It was donated to the museum in 1961 by Rear Admiral G. R. Luker and other naval officers. Admiral Luker served on the USS Colorado. The donation also included a bronze plaque and other historical materials.

Awards[edit]

Colorado received seven battle stars for World War II service.

References[edit]

Bibliography

External links[edit]