The firepower of a battleship demonstrated by USS Iowa
(c. 1984). The muzzle blasts distort the ocean surface.
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the battleship was the most powerful type of warship, and a fleet centered around the battleship was part of the command of the sea doctrine for several decades. By the time of World War II, however, the battleship was made obsolete as other ships, primarily the smaller and faster destroyers, the secretive submarines, and the more versatile aircraft carriers came to be far more useful in naval warfare. While a few battleships were repurposed as fire support ships and as platforms for guided missiles, few countries maintained battleships after World War II, with the last battleships being decommissioned at the end of the Cold War.
The term battleship came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, now referred to by historians as pre-dreadnought battleships. In 1906, the commissioning of HMS Dreadnought into the United Kingdom's Royal Navy heralded a revolution in battleship design. Subsequent battleship designs, influenced by HMS Dreadnought, were referred to as "dreadnoughts", though the term eventually became obsolete as they became the only type of battleship in common use.
Battleships were a symbol of naval dominance and national might, and for decades the battleship was a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy. A global arms race in battleship construction began in Europe in the 1890s and culminated at the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, the outcome of which significantly influenced the design of HMS Dreadnought. The launch of Dreadnought in 1906 commenced a new naval arms race. Three major fleet actions between steel battleships took place: the long range gunnery duel at the Battle of the Yellow Sea in 1904, the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905 (both during the Russo-Japanese War) and the inconclusive Battle of Jutland in 1916, during the First World War. Jutland was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of dreadnoughts of the war, and it was the last major battle in naval history fought primarily by battleships.
The Naval Treaties of the 1920s and 1930s limited the number of battleships, though technical innovation in battleship design continued. Both the Allied and Axis powers built battleships during World War II, though the increasing importance of the aircraft carrier meant that the battleship played a less important role than had been expected. (Full article...)
USS Nevada (BB-36) was the lead ship of her class and second vessel of the United States Navy to be named after the 36th state. The first American super-dreadnought, she was launched in 1914 and commissioned on March 11, 1916, and though not originally sent to Battleship Division 9 to fight in World War I due to a shortage of fuel oil, though she did join the Grand Fleet in August 1918 to escort convoys, having never fired a shot in anger during the war. She served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets during the interwar period, visiting nations in South America and a "goodwill cruise" to Oceania that validated War Plan Orange, then being overhauled from mid-1927 to January 1930. During the Attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, she was the only battleship whose mooring did not prevent maneuver, though significant bomb damage forced her to run aground. Refloated two months later, her repairs were complete in October 1942 and she sailed to support the Aleutian Islands Campaign. After a few Atlantic convoy escorts, she provided fire support for the Invasion of Normandy (including fire for troops at the D-Day landings) and Operation Dragoon, then returned to New York for maintenance in late 1944 that included adding two 14"/45 caliber guns salvaged from USS Arizona. She then returned to the Pacific to provide bombardment during the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After brief occupation in Tokyo Bay, she was sent to the Bikini atomic experiments as a target for Operation Crossroads; she survived both blasts and was sunk near Pearl Harbor during gunnery practice on July 31, 1948.
Robley Dunglison "Fighting Bob" Evans (18 August 1846 – 3 January 1912) was a Rear admiral of the United States Navy, noted for his conduct for the Union Navy and command of the Great White Fleet. Entering the United States Naval Academy in 1860, he was ordered to duty in 1863 due to the American Civil War. He earned acclaim leading a landing force of United States Marines at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher on 15 January, 1865, threatening to kill any man who amputated his wounded leg. Defusing a tense situation with Chile while commanding USS Yorktown in 1892, he earned his nickname and would command the first American battleship: USS Indiana three years later.
Evans would also command USS Iowa at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War and presided over the Board of Inspection and Survey. After hosting Prince Heinrich of Prussia aboard USS Illinois in 1902, he commanded the Asiatic Fleet from his flagship USS Kentucky and North Atlantic Fleet from Maine. USS Connecticut served as his flagship as he led the Great White Fleet from Hampton Roads on 16 April, 1907, through the Atlantic Ocean and Strait of Magellan, until he was relieved of command on 9 May, 1908 at San Francisco due to ill health. The destroyers USS Evans (DD-78) and USS Evans (DD-552) were named for him.