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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 in the late 1920s or early 1930s
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:
7 Battle Stars
Fate: Sold for scrap, 23 July 1959
General characteristics
Class and type: Colorado-class battleship
Displacement: 32,100 long tons (32,600 t) (unloaded)
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
  • 14 × 5 in (127 mm) guns
  • 4 × 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. She was launched on 22 March 1921; and commissioned on 30 August 1923. She was armed with eight 16-inch (410 mm) guns and fourteen 5-inch (130 mm) deck guns, with two of them being removed in an overhaul.

Colorado took her maiden voyage in 1923 to Europe. She later operated with the Battle Fleet and sailed through the Pacific. Her four 3-inch (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns were replaced with an equal number of 5 in (130 mm)/25 cal guns.[a]

Colorado then served near the Golden Gate Bridge in May 1942 to stop a possible Japanese invasion. She then sailed to Fiji to stop any further Japanese advance into the Pacific. Next, she operated in the bombardments of Tarawa, the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Guam, and Tinian. On 24 July 1944, during the shelling of Tinian, Colorado received 22 shell hits from shore batteries, but continued to support the invading troops until 3 August. She later arrived in Leyte Gulf on 20 November 1944 to support American troops fighting ashore. On 27 November, she was hit by two Kamikazes which caused moderate damage.

After that, Colorado sailed to Luzon on 1 January 1945, where she participated in the preinvasion bombardments in Lingayen Gulf. She returned to Okinawa on 6 August and sailed from there to Japan for the occupation of the country, arriving in Tokyo on 27 August. Departing Tokyo Bay on 20 September, she arrived at San Francisco on 15 October. She was placed out of commission in reserve in Pearl Harbor on 7 January 1947, and sold for scrapping on 23 July 1959. She won seven battle stars during her service. Many of Colorado‍ '​s anti-aircraft guns are in museums across the state of Colorado (her bell and teak decking are also in museums) or mounted on the Olympia.

Description[edit]

Colorado was 624 feet 3 inches (190.27 m) long overall, had a beam of 97.5 ft (29.7 m) and a draft of 38 ft (12 m). She displaced 32,100 long tons (32,600 t) as designed and up to 33,060 long tons (33,590 t) at full load. The ship was powered by a four-shaft turbo-electric drive, rated at 28,900 shaft horsepower (21,600 kW) and eight Babcock & Wilcox Boilers, generating a top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). She had a range of 8,000 nautical miles (9,200 mi) if she was going at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). She had a crew of 1,080 officers and enlisted men.[1][2]

She was armed with a main battery of four 16-inch (410 mm) /45 guns in two twin gun turrets on the centerline, one forward and aft. The secondary battery consisted of fourteen 5 in (127 mm) /51 guns, with two of them being removed in an overhaul. The anti-aircraft defense consisted of four 3 in (76 mm) guns, which were soon replaced with an equal number of 5 in (127 mm) /25 guns and these were replaced with an equal number of 5 in /38 guns. As was standard for capital ships of the period, Colorado carried two 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes in deck mounted torpedo launchers.[1][2]

Colorado‍ '​s main armored belt was 13.5 in (343 mm) thick over the magazines and the machinery spaces and 8 in (203 mm) elsewhere. The main battery gun turrets had 18-inch (460 mm) thick faces, and the supporting barbettes had 13 in (330 mm) of armor plating on their exposed sides. Armor that was 3.5 in (89 mm) thick protected the decks. The conning tower had 11 in (280 mm) thick sides.[1][2]

Construction and commission[edit]

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. The ship's first commanding officer was Captain Reginald R. Belknap.[2][3]

Operational history[edit]

Inter-war period[edit]

Colorado departed New York Harbor on 29 December 1923 to start a maiden voyage to Europe. The voyage took her Britain, France, Italy and the island of Gibraltar, with port calls to Portsmouth, Cherbourg, Villefranche, Naples, and the British base at Gibraltar. She returned to New York Harbor on 15 February 1924 and upon her return completed some final tests and undertook some repairs before sailing to the U.S. west coast for force assignment. She steamed from New York Harbor on 11 July and arrived at San Francisco on 15 September.[2]

Over the next twelve years, Colorado was assigned to the Pacific Battle Fleet, during which time she participated in numerous exercises and ceremonies along with the rest of the fleet. She returned to the east coast on several occasions to help with fleet problems in the Carribean and also took a cruise to Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand from 8 June to 26 September 1925 to show the U.S. flag in the southwestern Pacific. She was overhauled in 1928–29, during which her four 3-inch (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns were replaced by eight 5-inch (130 mm)/25 caliber guns.[4][2]

World War II[edit]

Pennsylvania leading Colorado, Louisville, Portland, and Columbia into Lingayen Gulf in October 1944.
USS Colorado off Tinian, on 24 July 1944, with hull damage, the result of 22 hits from shore batteries.

Based in Pearl Harbor, from 27 January 1941 Colorado operated in the Hawaiian training area undertaking intensive exercises and war games until 25 June, when she departed for the west coast and overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, which lasted until 31 March 1942. Two of the 12 original 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns were removed during the overhaul, and the 5 in (130 mm)/25 cal guns were replaced by an equal number of 5 in (130 mm)/38 cal guns.[4] On 31 May, Colorado and Maryland set sail from the Golden Gate Bridge to form a defensive line to block any Japanese attack mounted on San Francisco.[5]

After carrying out training maneuvers along the west coast, 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 another overhaul on the west coast, Colorado returned to Lahaina Roads, in the Hawaiian Islands, on 21 January 1944 and sortied the next day for the Marshall Islands where she provided preparatory bombardment and fire support for the invasions of Kwajalein and Eniwetok until 23 February 1944, when she headed for the Puget Sound Navy Yard for a refit.[6]

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 crew and wounded another 72, and caused moderate damage. Nevertheless as planned, she bombarded Mindoro over the period 12–17 December 1944 before proceeding to Manus Island for emergency repairs.[6]

Returning to Luzon on 1 January 1945, she participated in the preinvasion bombardments in Lingayen Gulf. On 9 January, accidental gunfire hit the battleship's 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 departed for the Leyte Gulf.[7][8]

Returning to occupied Okinawa on 6 August, Colorado sailed from there to support 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 deactivation. She was placed out of commission in reserve there on 7 January 1947, and sold for scrapping on 23 July 1959.[9] Colorado received seven battle stars for World War II service.[2]

Display[edit]

The ship's 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.[10]

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.[10]

On February 7, 2014, Boeing donated the teak decking of the USS Colorado to the USO Northwest SeaTac Center to serve as the new center’s entry flooring.[11] 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.[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ /25 refers to the length of the gun in terms of calibers. A /25 gun is 25 times long as it is in bore diameter.

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

Book sources[edit]

  • Breyer, Siegfried (1973). Battleships and Battle Cruisers 1905–1970. New York City, New York: Doubleday and Company. ISBN 0-385-07247-3. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3. 
  • Kearns, Patricia M.; Morris, James M. (2011). Historical Dictionary of the United States Navy (Second ed.). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-7229-3. 
  • Martin, Robert J. (1997). USS West Virginia (BB-48). Nashville, Tennesee: Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-56311-341-3. 
  • Turner Publishing (2002). USS New York. Nashville, Tennessee: Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 1-56311-809-2. 

News sources[edit]

Web sources[edit]

External links[edit]