USS Mississippi (BB-41)

USS Mississippi (BB-41)

USS "Mississippi" (BB-41/AG-128), a Sclass|New Mexico|battleship, was the third ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 20th state.

Her keel was laid down 5 April 1915 by Newport News Shipbuilding Company of Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on 25 January 1917 sponsored by Miss Camelle McBeath, and commissioned on 18 December 1917 with Captain J. L. Jayne in command.

World War I

Following exercises off Virginia, "Mississippi" steamed 22 March 1918 for training in the Gulf of Guacanayabo, Cuba. One month later she returned to Hampton Roads and cruised between Boston, Massachusetts, and New York City until departing for winter maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea on 31 January 1919.

Between the Wars

On 19 July 1919 she left the Atlantic seaboard and sailed for the west coast. Arriving at her new base, San Pedro, California, she operated along the west coast for the next four years, entering the Caribbean during the winter months for training exercises. Two of the original fourteen 5"/51 caliber guns were removed in 1922.

During gunnery practice on 12 June 1924 off San Pedro, 48 of her men were asphyxiated as a result of an explosion in her Number Two main battery turret. On 15 April 1925 she sailed from San Francisco, California, for war games off Hawaii, and then steamed to Australia on a good will tour. She returned to the west coast 26 September, and resumed operations there for the next four years. During this period she frequently sailed into Caribbean and Atlantic waters for exercises during the winter months.

"Mississippi" entered Norfolk Navy Yard on 30 March 1931 for a modernization overhaul, departing once again on training exercises in September 1933. This overhaul included replacement of earlier 3-inch anti-aircraft guns with eight 5"/25 caliber guns. Transiting the Panama Canal on 24 October 1934, she steamed back to her base at San Pedro. For the next seven years she operated off the west coast, except for winter Caribbean cruises.

World War II

Returning to Norfolk, Virginia, on 16 June 1941, she prepared for patrol service in the North Atlantic. Steaming from Newport, Rhode Island, she escorted a convoy to Hvalfjordur, Iceland. She made another trip to Iceland on 28 September 1941, and spent the next two months there protecting shipping.

Two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, "Mississippi" left Iceland for the Pacific. Arriving 22 January 1942 at San Francisco, she spent the next seven months training and escorting convoys along the coast. Beginning in May, 1942, the original 5"/51 caliber guns of the secondary battery were removed to make room for anti-aircraft machine guns. On 6 December, after participating in exercises off Hawaii, she steamed with troop transports to the Fiji Islands, returning to Pearl Harbor on 2 March 1943. On 10 May she sailed from Pearl Harbor to participate in a move to restore the Aleutian Islands to their rightful possessors. Kiska Island was shelled 22 July, and a few days later the Japanese withdrew. After overhaul at San Francisco, "Mississippi" sailed from San Pedro on 19 October to take part in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. While bombarding Makin 20 November, a turret explosion, almost identical to the earlier tragedy, killed 43 men.

On 31 January 1944 she took part in the Marshall Islands campaign, shelling Kwajalein. She bombarded Taroa on 20 February, and struck Wotje the next day. On 15 March she pounded Kavieng, New Ireland. Due for an overhaul, she spent the summer months at Puget Sound. This overhaul increased the number of 5"/25 caliber guns from eight to fourteen.

Returning to the war zone, "Mississippi" supported landings on Peleliu, in the Palau Islands, on 12 September. After a week of continuous operations she steamed to Manus, where she remained until 12 October. Departing Manus, she assisted in the liberation of the Philippines, shelling the east coast of Leyte on 19 October. On the night of 24 October, as part of Admiral Jesse Oldendorf's battleline, she helped to destroy a powerful Japanese task force at the Battle of Surigao Strait. As a result of the engagements at Leyte Gulf, the Japanese navy was no longer able to mount any serious offensive threat.

"Mississippi" continued to support the operations at Leyte Gulf until 16 November, when she steamed to the Admiralty Islands. She then entered San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on 28 December, to prepare for the landings on Luzon. On 6 January 1945 she began bombarding in Lingayen Gulf. Despite damages near her waterline received from the crash of a kamikaze, she supported the invasion forces until 10 February. Following repairs at Pearl Harbor, she sailed to Nakagusuku Wan, Okinawa, arriving 6 May to support the landing forces there. Her powerful guns leveled the defenses at Shuri Castle, which had stalled the entire offensive. On 5 June, another kamikaze crashed into her starboard side, but the fighting ship continued to support the troops at Okinawa until 16 June.

After the announced surrender of Japan, "Mississippi" steamed to Sagami Wan, Honshū, arriving 27 August as part of the support occupation force. She anchored in Tokyo Bay, witnessed the signing of the surrender documents, and steamed for home on 6 September.

Post-World War II

She arrived 27 November at Norfolk, where she underwent conversion to AG-128, effective 15 February 1946. As part of the development force, she spent the last ten years of her career carrying out investigations of gunnery problems and testing new weapons, while based at Norfolk. She helped launch the Navy into the age of the guided-missile warship when she successfully test fired the Terrier missile on 28 January 1953 off Cape Cod. She also assisted in the final evaluation of the Petrel missile, a radar-homing weapon, in February 1956.

"Mississippi" decommissioned at Norfolk 17 September 1956. She was offered to the State of Mississippi to be set up as a floating museum such as the USS|Alabama|BB-60|6 in Mobile, Alabama has served, but Mississippi declined, and the venerable ship was sold for scrap metal to the Bethlehem Steel Company on 28 November of the same year. [ "Winona Times" newspaper via] ] .

"Mississippi" received eight battle stars for World War II service.

Her bell is securely installed in the gardens at Rosalie Mansion, on the site of Fort Rosalie overlooking the Mississippi River




External links

* [ US Navy Historical Center gallery]
* [ Maritimequest USS Mississippi BB-41 Photo Gallery]
* [ NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive BB-41 USS MISSISSIPPI 1915 - 1930]

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