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power, notably aircraft carriers, battleships were no longer able to establish naval superiority, and so all have been withdrawn from active service.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 Yamato-class battleships were a class of Imperial Japanese Navy battleships constructed and operated during World War II. Displacing 72,000 long tons (73,000 t) at full-load, the vessels of the class were the heaviest and most heavily-armed battleships ever constructed. The class carried the largest naval artillery ever fitted to a warship, nine 460-millimetre (18.1 in) naval guns, each capable of firing 2,998-pound (1,360 kg) shells over 26 miles (42 km). Two battleships of the class (Yamato and Musashi) were completed, while a third (Shinano) was converted to an aircraft carrier during construction. Due to the threat of American submarines and aircraft carriers, both Yamato and Musashi spent the majority of their careers in naval bases at Brunei, Truk, and Kure—deploying on several occasions in response to American raids on Japanese bases—before participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, as part of Admiral Kurita's Centre Force. Musashi was sunk during the course of the battle by American carrier airplanes. Shinano was sunk ten days after her commissioning in November 1944 by the submarine USS Archer-Fish, while Yamato was sunk in April 1945 during Operation Ten-Go.
Jesse Bartlett "Oley" Oldendorf (16 February 1887 - 27 April 1974) was an admiral in the United States Navy, famous for defeating an Imperial Japanese Navy force at the Battle of Leyte Gulf during World War II. Graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1909, he would serve aboard various ships and as a staff officer for the Special Service Squadron and Naval War College, as executive officer on USS West Virginia, and commanded Decatur and Houston. After being promoted to flag officer, he commanded Cruiser Division 4 and would command a group of six battleships (five of which were restored from the Attack on Pearl Harbor), eight cruisers, and several other ships at Leyete.
On 24 October, 1944, he deployed his ships in a classic battle line formation across the Surigao Strait southwest of Leyte, and defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Surigao Strait, the last naval battle fought by surface ships alone. Promoted to Vice Admiral in December, commanded battleships at the invasion of Lingayen Gulf, and was wounded during the Battle of Okinawa while aboard USS Pennsylvania. After the war, Oldendorf commanded the 11th Naval District and the Western Sea Frontier, retiring in September 1948.
The Spruance-class destroyer USS Oldendorf (DD-972) was named in his honor.