New Mexico class battleships

New Mexico class battleships

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New Mexico class battleships

The New Mexico class battleships were slightly improved versions of the previous Pennsylvania class, with a clipper bow and a more useful arrangement of secondary guns.

The US Navy had wanted to make a break with previous designs, and produce a new type of ship, armed with 16in guns, but the Secretary of the Navy had refused to fund such an ambitious plan, and so the navy had to make do with an improved Pennsylvania class. The main changes were introduced in an attempt to make the ship less 'wet' and to increase the usability of the secondary guns.

This was achieved in two ways, first by giving the ships a 'clipper' bow (making the ship longest at the top of the bow, which then sloped back sharply as at dropped towards the waterline). Second, twelve of the 5in guns were moved from their position in a casemate in the forecastle deck to a new deckhouse position build on top of the forecastle deck. Two more guns were mounted on top of the deckhouse and eight left in their casemates (four forward and four aft). As these ships were being completed the US Navy was finally gaining experience of using their dreadnoughts in combat conditions, operating in the North Sea with the Royal Navy. It soon became clear that the casemate mounted guns were useless in heavy seas, and they were removed from the New Mexico design, leaving them with fourteen 5in guns, all of which were useable.

The New Mexico class also saw the introduction of a new 14in/ 50cal gun, replacing the 14in/ 45cal guns used on earlier battleships. The new guns thus had 70in longer barrels, improving their power. The main guns could also be elevated separately, something that had not been possible on earlier battleships. This made it easier to find the range of a target, as each turret could effectively fire three different ranging shots in a single volley.

Two of the ships used standard geared turbine engines, but the New Mexico was given a turbo-electric drive. These engines were somewhat heavier than the turbines, but were more economical to run and allowed the astern turbines to be removed. The turbo-electric drives were adopted on the Tennessee and Colorado class battleships, and would have been used on the South Dakota class ships if they had ever been built, but they were abandoned after the First World War. The New Mexico was given a geared turbine during a 1920s refit.

The New Mexico class ships were modernized in the early 1930s. Their machinery was replaced with new boilers and geared turbines. The cage masts were removed and two tower bridges built - a large one forward and smaller one aft. Anti-torpedo bulges were added and the gun elevation increased to 30 degrees.

All three ships were part of the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and represented almost half of the available battleship strength of the US Navy. They were used to protect the US west coast early in 1942, and then took part in most of the island invasions in the Pacific, from the Aleutians to the Philippines.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



8,000nm at 10kts

Armour – belt


- deck


- turret faces

18in or 16in

- turret sides


- turret top


- turret rear


- barbettes


- coning tower


- coning tower top





97ft 5in


Twelve 14in guns in four triple turrets
Fourteen 4in guns
Four 3in guns
Two 21in submerged beam torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Ships in Class

USS New Mexico (BB 40)

Stricken 1947

USS Mississippi (BB 41)

Stricken 1956

USS Idaho (BB 42)

Stricken 1947

A New Approach

After designing and building five classes of dreadnought battleships (South Carolina-, Delaware-, Florida-, Wyoming-, and New York- classes), the US Navy decided that future designs should make use of a set of standardized tactical and operational characteristics. This would permit these ships to operate together in combat and would simplify logistics. Dubbed the Standard-type, the next five classes were powered by oil-fired boilers instead of coal, eliminated amidships turrets, and possessed an “all or nothing” armor scheme.

Among these changes, the shift to oil was made with the goal of increasing the vessel’s range as the US Navy felt that this would be critical in any future naval conflict with Japan. As a result, Standard-type ships were capable of cruising 8,000 nautical miles at an economical speed. The new "all or nothing" armor scheme called for key areas of the vessel, such as magazines and engineering, to be heavily armored while less important spaces were left unprotected. Also, Standard-type battleships were to be capable of a minimum top speed of 21 knots and have a tactical turn radius of 700 yards.

New Mexico class battleships - History

USS Mississippi , a 32,000 ton New Mexico class battleship, was built at Newport News, Virginia. She was commissioned in December 1917, and operated in the western Atlantic area until July 1919, when she transited the Panama Canal to the Pacific. Over more than a decade, she operated with the fleet's other battleships, conducting exercises and training operations in the Pacific and in the Caribbean. During gunnery practice on 12 June 1924, she suffered a turret fire that took the lives of 48 of her crew. Mississippi steamed to Australia on a U.S. Fleet good will tour in mid-1925.

During 1931-33 , Mississippi underwent a major modernization that gave her an all-new superstructure, improved armament and enhanced protection. She returned to the Pacific in October 1934 to resume her earlier pattern of regular exercises, Fleet Problems and training. In June 1941, in response to the deteriorating war situation in Europe, she was brought back to the Atlantic, operating between the United States and Iceland during much of the rest of that year.

In early 1942, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Mississippi rejoined the Pacific Fleet. She spent most of 1942 along the U.S. west coast and went to the South Pacific late in that year. In 1943, she took part operations against Kiska Island, in the Aleutians, and in the capture of the Gilbert Islands. During the latter operation, on 29 November 1943, Mississippi experienced another turret explosion, which took 43 lives. Following repairs, she participated in the capture of Kwajalein in February 1944 and bombarded Japanese-held islands in February and March. Later in the year, she was part of the force that invaded Peleliu and Leyte and defeated a Japanese task force in the Battle of Surigao Strait. Mississippi provided gunfire support for the Lingayen landings in January 1945 and for the conquest of Okinawa in March-June. The battleship was damaged by suicide planes in both operations. She was present in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945, when Japan formally surrendered and returned to the United States soon thereafter.

Mississippi was converted to a gunnery training and weapons development ship in 1946, and given the new hull number AG-128. In this role, she carried a variety of old and new guns and radars, while serving with the Operational Development Force in the Atlantic. During the mid-1950s, she was test ship for the Navy's first surface-to-air guided missile, the "Terrier". Decommissioned in September 1956, USS Mississippi was sold for scrapping in November of that year, after almost forty years of service.

This page features, and provides links to, selected views concerning USS Mississippi (BB-41 and AG-128).

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Anchored off New York City, 1919.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 74KB 740 x 605 pixels

USS Mississippi (Battleship # 41)

Halftone reproduction of a photograph of the ship anchored in New York Harbor, circa late 1918.
This view was published circa 1919 as one of ten images in a "Souvenir Folder" concerning USS Mississippi .

Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2009.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 86KB 900 x 605 pixels

Operating off Panama, circa 1923.

Collection of Vice Admiral Dixwell Ketcham.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 148KB 740 x 525 pixels

Operating at sea during the later 1930s. She has three SOC aircraft on her catapults.
The original photograph is dated 20 March 1951, about a dozen years after it was actually taken.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 85KB 740 x 610 pixels

Steaming through heavy weather in the North Atlantic, September 1941.

Collection of Vice Admiral Robert C. Giffen.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 91KB 740 x 605 pixels

New Mexico class battleships at Pearl Harbor, 17 December 1943

Photographed from USS Natoma Bay (CVE-62), shortly after the conclusion of the Gilberts Campaign.
The three battleships, in an anchorage protected by anti-torpedo nets, are (from left to right):
USS Idaho (BB-42)
USS New Mexico (BB-40) and
USS Mississippi (BB-41).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 98KB 740 x 605 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Underway at three knots in Puget Sound, Washington, 13 July 1944.
She is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 6D.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 82KB 740 x 625 pixels

Photo #: 80-G-K-2516 (cropped-left)

Covering the landings in Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 9 January 1945.
This image is cropped from Photo #: 80-G-K-2516 to emphasize Mississippi 's camouflage pattern, which is Camouflage Measure 32, Design 6D.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 49KB 740 x 585 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Note: Though this was originally a color image, the original "Aero Kodacolor" transparency has lost all colors but red, and can now only be reproduced in monochrome.
For an example of this situation, which is typical of this film type, see Aero-Kodacolor Transparency 80-G-K-1560.

In the Mississippi River, en route to take part in Navy Day celebrations at New Orleans, Louisiana, 16 October 1945.
Note her anchors suspended below their normal stowed position at the bow.

Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 81KB 740 x 600 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Photographed in 1947-48. She retains only her after 14" gun turret, but carries numerous smaller weapons and a special radar suite.

Why the Navy’s Kearsarge-Class Battleship Totally Bombed

Though the Kearsarge-class was well protected using the latest Harvey armor, the protection between guns was poor.

Here's What You Need to Remember: Despite some modern features, the ships were immature in design and had serious flaws—some of which were detrimentally carried over to the battleships that followed the Kearsarge-class.

The U.S. Navy’s Kearsarge-class was a small class, with just two hulls were completed. Despite the low number, the class was intended for greatness, but had some pretty serious design flaws.

Good Intentions

The Kearsarge-class had some improvements compared to the battleships that preceded it—they were better armored, were faster, and had larger, faster-firing guns arranged in a novel double-deck turret arrangement—but there were some serious design flaws that doomed the class.

Flawed Design

Because the gun turrets had vertical rather slanted walls, the 13-inch gun ports had to be particularly large to give the guns the necessary elevation for distance shots. While the large ports did give the guns the needed maneuverability, they left the turrets dangerously exposed.

From the deck, the turret floors could be seen. A well-placed shot that managed to pass through the turret port would explode inside the turret, likely disabling the gun, and could even cause the magazine to explode, seriously compromising the ship’s safety. Additionally, the 13-inch guns had to be returned to a slight 2 degrees of elevation in order to be reloaded, hampering their reload time.

The 8-inch guns above the 13-inch guns also suffered from design issues. Along with the 13-inch main guns, they had been designed prior to smokeless powder and were intended to use brown powder propellant. With the introduction of smokeless powder, the volume of needed propellant per shot decreased, and the rate of fire correspondingly increased. Although an increase in fire would normally be positive, in actuality this meant that the 13 and 8-inch guns ran the danger of interfering with each other’s shots.

Supporting the turreted main guns were fourteen 5-inch guns, seven to each side of the ship. During sea trials, the Navy realized that the center gun on both sides of the ship had been designed too close to the waterline—too close to the water. When seas were anything but calm, seawater washed over the gun, making it very ineffective.

Though the Kearsarge-class was well protected using the latest Harvey armor, the protection between guns was poor. Specifically, the 5-inch guns had no protection from each other—there were no screens between guns, so a direct hit on one gun had the potential to take out the adjacent guns as well.

Great White Fleet

A brainchild of Theodore Roosevelt, the Great White Fleet was named after a group of United States Navy ships that toured the world in 1907 as a demonstration of the United States’ naval might. Both the USS Kentucky and the USS Kearsarge participated in the journey, which lasted two years, despite their shortcomings as battleships.

In 1920, the Kearsarge was stripped of armor, guns, and superstructure and turned into a crane ship, and lifted supplies and components for other ships until 1948.

The Kentucky had a slightly more illustrious career. In 1906, the Kentucky was used in the 1906-09 American occupation of Cuba. 1915-16, she patrolled near Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico during the American occupation and was later worked up as a training ship once the United States entered World War I. She was scrapped in 1923.

Despite some modern features, the ships were immature in design and had serious flaws—some of which were detrimentally carried over to the battleships that followed the Kearsarge-class.

Donald Trump’s Crazy Idea To Bring Back Battleships Might Actually Be Possible

As usual, the cable news networks were waiting with baited breath last night for what was touted as a foreign policy speech, with details, by Donald Trump on the deck of the Battleship USS Iowa. Well, that didn’t happen. Instead we got the usual mix of talking points, although he did briefly mention that he wants to recommission the ship he was standing on. Would that even be feasible?

Trump’s latest whimsy comes around 9:30 into this video:

It’s a question I get asked all the time actually. Could any of the Iowa Class Battleships be returned to service once again like Reagan did in the early 1980s?

The fact of the matter is that there was, and still is to some degree, a meandering debate that has followed the Iowa Class’s last retirement, that being the need for naval gunfire support to support Marine beach landings and other amphibious operations. This is primarily why the Iowa Class Battleships were not made into museums or broken-up following their retirement in the early 1990s. Instead they were mothballed, a state the Iowa and the Wisconsin remained in until they were finally stricken from the Naval Register in the late mid 2000s.

There have been various concepts over the last four decades that would see the Iowas turned into everything from jump-jet aircraft carriers to missile slinging arsenal ships with huge vertical launch cell farms, to rail-gun toting super-battleships. The removal of the ships many five-inch guns could make room for new capabilities and reduce the crew complement by at least a couple hundred sailors, which is a good thing considering these ships sailed with a crew of over 1,500 during the 1980s and early 1990s. Some have even pushed to have them take the place of our current two Blue Ridge Class command ships .

5. The Peabody Sisters


While we’re all familiar with the Brontë brood, there’s another trio of sisters worth your attention: the Peabodys. Elizabeth, the eldest, matriculated in the same social circles as Henry Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and ultimately sparked the Transcendentalist movement of the 19th century. Mary, next in line, was a notable writer and the wife of Horace Mann, a major player in U.S. educational reform. Meanwhile the youngest, Sophia, found fame as a painter and a husband in author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Each Peabody woman comes alive in Megan Marshall’s Pulitzer Prize finalist, which is at once a three-part biography as well as an overall study of a remarkable sisterhood.

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Today’s commissioning of the submarine USS New Mexico (SSN-779) provides us with an outstanding opportunity to look back at the history of the first ship to be named after Land of Enchantment, the Battleship New Mexico (BB-40). The Battleship New Mexico made history when it was launched on March 23, 1917 because it introduced turboelectric drive to American capital ship design.

In a traditional steam turbine ship, the turbines drive the shafts and screws directly through a series of reduction gears. In a turboelectric ship, the turbines drive electrical generators, which provide electricity to motors that drive the shaft and screws. Turboelectric drives were heavier and more expensive than traditional designs, but they allowed greater subdivision and system isolation for damage control, and provided more efficient power both ahead and astern.

Turboelectric drive was used in the New Mexico class, Tennessee class, Colorado class, the never-built South Dakota class, and the aircraft carriers Lexington and Saratoga, which were originally designed as battle cruisers. After this burst of construction, the extra weight of turboelectric plants made their use prohibitive under 1920s naval treaties that limited warship displacement. But the concept has been revived for future warship design as a way to provide fuel-efficient, survivable, reconfigurable electrical power for warship combat and propulsion systems.

For a short history of the Battleship New Mexico, click here. For images, click here.

Watch the video: Tier 5 American Battleship! New Mexico My Highest Damage Yet! World of Warships Legends (August 2022).