USS Pennsylvania (BB-38)
was the lead ship
of her class
of United States Navy
. She was the third Navy
ship named for the state of Pennsylvania.
laid down on 27 October 1913, by the Newport News
Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News,
Virginia. She was launched on 16 March 1915,
sponsored by Elizabeth Kolb of Philadelphia,
Pa., and commissioned
on 12 June 1916, with Captain
Henry B. Wilson
World War I
Upon commissioning, Pennsylvania
was attached to the
On 12 October 1916, she became flagship
Commander in Chief
Fleet, when Admiral Henry T. Mayo
shifted his flag from to Pennsylvania
. In January 1917,
Pennsylvania steamed for Fleet maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea. She returned to her base at Yorktown,
Virginia on 6 April, the day of the American declaration of
war against Germany.
not sail to join the British Grand Fleet since she burned fuel oil rather than coal, and
tanker could not be spared to carry
additional fuel to the British Isles.
In the light of this circumstance, only
coal-burning battleships were selected for this
. Based at Yorktown, she kept in battle trim
with Fleet maneuvers, tactics, and training in the areas of the
Chesapeake Bay, intervened by
overhaul at Norfolk and New York, with brief maneuvers in Long Island
While at Yorktown, on 11 August 1917, Pennsylvania
manned the rail
and rendered honors
as , with President
aboard, stood in and
anchored. At 12:15, President Wilson returned the call of Commander, Battle Force
and was given full
December 1918, Pennsylvania steamed to anchor off Tompkinsville,
New York. On 4 December, she got underway for Brest, France.
At 11:00, the transport , flying
the flag of
the President of the United States
, stood out with an escort of
manned the rail and fired a 21-gun
. She took position ahead of George Washington
as guide for the President's escort. Arriving in Brest on 13
December, the crew manned the rail and cheered as George
passed and proceeded to her anchorage. On 14
departed for New York, arriving on
In February 1919, Pennsylvania
steamed for Fleet maneuvers
in the Caribbean Sea, returning to New York in the late spring.
While at New York on 30 June, Admiral Mayo was relieved as
Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, by Vice
Henry B. Wilson, the first captain of the ship.
At Tompkinsville on 8 July, Pennsylvania
President Thomas R. Marshall
, Cabinet Secretaries Daniels
and Senator Champ Clark
, and then put to
sea. At 10:00, was sighted with George Washington
the President's flag and accompanied by her ocean escort.
fired a presidential salute, then took
position ahead of Oklahoma
and steamed to New York,
stopping en route
to disembark her distinguished guests
before proceeding to her berth.
On 7 January 1920, she departed New York for Fleet maneuvers, in
the Caribbean Sea, returning to New York on 26 April. She resumed a
schedule of local training operations until 17 January 1921, when
she departed New York for the Panama Canal. She arrived at Balboa, Panama on 20 January to join units of the Pacific Fleet and become
flagship of the combined fleets, the Commander in Chief, Atlantic
Fleet assuming command of the Battle
Fleet on orders of the Navy Department.
January, the Fleet sailed from Balboa, en route to
Callao, Peru, arriving on
31 January 1921. Departing on 2 February,
Pennsylvania returned to Balboa on 14 February, and then
conducted brief exercises while based at Guantanamo
return to Hampton
Roads on 28 April, she rendered a 21-gun salute as she
The Secretary of the Navy
, the Chief of Naval Operations
, and the
Assistant Secretary of the Navy came aboard for a reception for the
President of the United
. At 1140, President Warren
came aboard and his flag was broken at the main
On 22 August 1922, Pennsylvania
departed Lynnhaven Roads
to join the Pacific Fleet.
at San Pedro, California on 26
September 1922, her principal area of operations until 1929 was
along the coast of California, Washington, and Oregon, with
periodic maneuvers and tactics off the Panama Canal, in the
Caribbean Sea, and Hawaiian operating areas. She departed with the
Fleet from San Francisco, California on 15 April 1925, and after war games in the Hawaiian area, departed
Hawaii on 1 July, en route to Melbourne,
Australia. After a visit to Wellington,
New Zealand, she returned to San Pedro on 26
January 1929, Pennsylvania cruised to Panama, and after
training maneuvers while based at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, steamed to
Navy Yard, arriving on 1 June 1929, to undergo overhaul and
She remained in the yard for nearly two
years. The secondary battery was reduced to 12 51_caliber_gun"
href="/5"/51_caliber_gun"> /51 cal gun and the anti-aircraft
guns were replaced by
eight 25_caliber_gun" href="/5"/25_caliber_gun"> /25 cal gun. On
8 May 1931, she departed for a refresher training cruise to
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and then returned. On 6 August, she again
sailed for Guantanamo, and later continued on to San Pedro, where
she again joined the Battle
From August 1931-1941, Pennsylvania
engaged in Fleet
tactics and battle practice along the west coast and participated
in Fleet problems and maneuvers which were held periodically in the
Hawaiian area as well as the Caribbean Sea. Pennsylvania
was one of 14 ships to receive the early RCA
overhaul in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (increasing the number of /25 cal guns to 12), on 7
January 1941, she again sailed for Hawaii where she carried out
scheduled operations with units of Task Forces 1 and 5 (TF 1 and
5), throughout that year, making one brief voyage to the west coast
with TF 18.
World War II
time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Pennsylvania was in
drydock in the Pearl Harbor
She was one of the first ships in the
harbor to open fire as enemy dive
roared out of the
high overcast. They did not succeed in repeated attempts to
of the drydock, but
and the surrounding dock areas were severely
strafed. The crew of one 5 inch (127 mm) gun mount was
wiped out when a bomb struck the starboard side of her boat deck
and exploded inside Casemate
and , just forward of Pennsylvania
in the drydock, were
seriously damaged by bomb hits. Pennsylvania
pockmarked by flying fragments. A part of a torpedo tube from
, about in weight, was blown onto the forecastle of
. She had 15 men killed (including her
executive officer), 14 missing in action, and 38 wounded.
On 20 December, Pennsylvania
sailed for San Francisco,
arriving on 29 December. She underwent repairs until 30 March
From 14 April-1 August 1942, Pennsylvania
extensive training operations and patrol along the coast of
California, punctuated by overhauls at San Francisco. On 4 June,
Admiral Ernest J. King
, Commander in Chief of the United States
Navy, held brief ceremonies aboard Pennsylvania
to Admiral Chester
meritorious service as Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet
since 31 December 1941. She then sailed as one of seven battleships
under Vice Admiral William S.
to intercept Japanese forces
should they try to attack the West Coast of the United States.
Midway ended in an American victory, the force sailed to
On 1 August, Pennsylvania
departed San Francisco for Pearl
Harbor, arriving on 14 August. She conducted gunnery exercises and
took part in carrier task force guard tactics in the Hawaiian area.
On 4 October, Pennsylvania
returned to San Francisco,
remaining for an overhaul which was completed by 5 February 1943.
The 5 inch (127 mm)/51 cal guns and 5 inch
(127 mm)/25 cal guns were replaced by 16 38_caliber_gun"
href="/5"/38_caliber_gun">5 inch /38 cal dual purpose guns
in new twin mounts. She
then conducted refresher training and air defense patrol off the
coast of California.
April, Pennsylvania left for Alaska to take
part in the Aleutian
Campaign. On 30 April, Pennsylvania arrived
at Cold Bay,
Alaska. On 11-12 May, she engaged in a shore
bombardment of Holtz
Bay, Attu and
Chicago Harbor, in support of the
As she retired from Attu on 12 May, a patrol plane
warned that a torpedo wake was headed for Pennsylvania.
She maneuvered at full speed as the torpedo passed safely astern.
Destroyers and teamed to hunt down the attacker. After 10 hours of
relentless depth charge attack, the was forced to the surface and
was shelled by gunfire from Edwards
. Severely damaged, the
enemy survived until 13 June, then was sunk by the destroyer .
Torpedo wakes were again sighted on the morning of 14 May, and
destroyers conducted a fruitless search for the enemy. That same
morning, Pennsylvania's OS2U
were launched to
operate from seaplane tender
making strafing attacks on enemy positions on Attu.
On the afternoon of 14 May, Pennsylvania
third bombardment mission, this time in support of the infantry
attack on the west arm of Holtz Bay.
operated to the north and east of Attu until 19 May, when she
steamed for Adak.
departed Adak on 21 May and arrived at the Puget Sound Navy Yard,
Washington on 28 May.
She returned to Adak on 7 August,
and departed on 13 August as the flagship of Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell
, commanding the
Kiska Attack Force
. On 15 August, assault
troops landed without opposition on the western beaches of Kiska.
the evening of 16 August, it became apparent that the Japanese had
evacuated under cover of fog prior to the landing. She patrolled
off Kiska for a time then returned to Adak on 23 August.
On 16 August, Pennsylvania
steamed for Pearl Harbor,
arriving on 1 September. There she took aboard 790 passengers and
departed on 19 September for San Francisco where she arrived on 25
September. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 6 October, and, after
debarking passengers, took part in rehearsal and bombardment
exercises in the Hawaiian area. She became the flagship of Rear
Admiral Richmond K. Turner, Commander Fifth Amphibious Force,
and formed part of the Northern Attack Force, departing Pearl
Harbor on 10 November, for the assault on Makin Atoll in the Gilbert
The Task Force, comprising four battleships, four cruisers
, three escort
, transports, and destroyers, approached Makin Atoll
from the southeast on the morning of 20 November. Pennsylvania
opened fire on Butaritari Island with her main battery at the initial range of and
then opened with her secondary battery.
Just before general quarters on the morning of 24 November, a
tremendous explosion took place off the starboard bow as
was returning to a screening sector off
Makin. At almost the same instant, a screening destroyer reported
sound contact and disposition, and immediately executed a course
change. For several minutes after the explosion, a large fire
lighted up the entire area. Word soon came that escort carrier had
been torpedoed. She sank with tremendous loss of life, including
the commander of the squadron, Rear Admiral Henry M. Mullinnix
. Determined night air attacks
were made by enemy torpedo planes on the nights of 25-26 November
but were repelled without damage to ships of the Task Force.
Pennsylvania drydocked in the
Pacific, circa 1944
On 31 January 1944, Pennsylvania
commenced a bombardment
Island which was continued
throughout the day. Landings were made on 1 February, with
joining in bombardment support before and
after the landing operations. On the evening of 3 February, she
anchored in the lagoon near Kwajalein. The success of the
Kwajalein operation was ensured and Pennsylvania retired
Atoll to replenish her ammunition.
On 12 February, Pennsylvania
got underway for operations
. On 17 February,
steamed boldly through the deep entrance into
Eniwetok Lagoon with her batteries blazing away. She steamed up a
swept channel in the lagoon to a position off Engebi Island
and commenced a bombardment of
enemy installations. On the morning of 18 February,
bombarded Engebi before and during the
approach of the assault waves to the beach. When Engebi had been
steamed southward through the lagoon
to the vicinity of Parry Island
she took part in a bombardment on 20-21 February, preparatory to
the landing assaults. At the commencement of the bombardment, the
island had been covered with a dense growth of palm trees extending
to the waters edge. At conclusion of the bombardment, not a single
tree remained standing. On the morning of 22 February, she gave
bombardment support prior to the landing on Parry Island.
Pennsylvania retired to Majuro on 1
March, and then steamed south to Havannah Harbor, Efate, New Hebrides.
She remained at Efate until late April.
April, Pennsylvania arrived in Sydney,
Australia. She returned to Efate on 11 May, and then
sailed to Port Purvis, Florida
Islands, from which she operated to conduct bombardment and
amphibious assault exercises.
She returned to Efate on 27
May, and after replenishment of her ammunition, departed on 2 June,
arriving at Roi on 3 June.
June, Pennsylvania formed with a force of battleships,
cruisers, escort carriers, and destroyers en route for the
assault and occupation of the Marianas Islands.
That night, a destroyer in the screen
reported sound contact and an emergency turn left 90° was ordered.
As a result of this maneuver, Pennsylvania
the high-speed transport Talbot
and sustained minor
put into Eniwetok for emergency
June, Pennsylvania took part in the bombardment of
to the assault landings made the next day while she cruised off the
northeastern shore of Tinian,
conducting heavy bombardment of that island to neutralize any enemy
batteries which might have opened fire on the landing beaches of
On 16 June, she conducted a bombardment of targets
on Orote Point, Guam
, and then
retired to cover the Saipan area. Pennsylvania departed the
Islands on 25 June, and after a brief stay at Eniwetok,
departed on 9 July to resume support of the Marianas Campaign.
12-14 July, Pennsylvania conducted a bombardment of
Guam in preparation for the assault and landings on that
On completion of firing the evening of 14 July, she
returned to Saipan to replenish ammunition. She returned to Guam on
17 July, and delivered protective fire support for demolition
parties. At the same time she continued deliberate destructive fire
on designated targets through 20 July. During the Guam campaign,
she fired more ammunition than any other warship in history during
a single campaign. She in fact earned one of her nicknames, "Old
Falling Apart"; because she expelled so much metal, she appeared to
be falling apart.
On the early morning of 21 July, Pennsylvania
position between Agat Beach and Orote Peninsula, and commenced a
bombardment of beach areas in immediate preparation for the assault
while troops and equipment were loaded into landing craft and
landing waves were being formed. After the beachhead was
established, she stood by for fire support missions as might be
called for by shore fire control parties, continuing this duty
until 3 August. She steamed to Eniwetok, then to the New
Hebrides Islands, and after rehearsal of landing assaults on
Esperance, Guadalcanal, arrived at Port Purvis, Florida Island.
She departed on 6 September as part of the
Palau Bombardment and Fire Support Group. From 12-14 September,
took part in the intensive bombardment of
targets on the island of Peleliu. On 15 September, she also
furnished gunfire support for the landings on that island.
delivered a devastating fire on enemy gun emplacements among the
rocks and cliffs flanking Red Beach on Angaur Island.
September, Pennsylvania steamed for emergency repairs at
Islands, entering a floating drydock on 1 October.
She departed on 12 October, one of six battleships in Rear Admiral
Jesse B. Oldendorf
's Bombardment and Fire Support
Group which formed a part of the Central Philippine Attack Force
under command of Vice Admiral Thomas
C. Kinkaid, en
route to the Philippine Islands.
Pennsylvania reached fire support
station on the eastern coast of Leyte on 18
October, and commenced a covering bombardment for beach
reconnaissance, underwater demolition teams, and minesweeping units operating in Leyte Gulf and San Pedro
She conducted bombardment missions the next day
and supported the landings on Leyte on 20 October. Gunfire support
missions continued through 22 October, including harassing and
night illumination fire.
October, all available United States vessels prepared for action as
units of the Japanese Fleet closed the Philippines, preliminary to
the Battle of
Leyte Gulf. Pennsylvania and five other
battleships, with cruisers and destroyers of Rear Admiral
Oldendorf's force, steamed south and by nightfall were steaming
slowly back and forth across the northern entrance of Surigao
Strait, awaiting the approach of the enemy.
night, American motor torpedo boats stationed well down in Surigao
Strait made the first encounter with torpedo attacks. Destroyers of
the force, on either flank of the enemy's line of approach,
followed with torpedo and gun attacks. At 03:53 on 26 October,
opened fire, joined shortly thereafter by other battleships and
cruisers. The Japanese had run head on into a perfect trap. Rear
Admiral Oldendorf had executed the dream of every naval tactician
by "crossing the T
" of the enemy
formation. The Japanese lost two battleships, and , and three
destroyers in the Battle of
. The cruiser in company with a destroyer were
the only ships that managed to escape. Rear Admiral Oldendorf's
Force did not suffer the loss of a single vessel. Mogami
was sunk the next day by aircraft
On 26 October, 10 enemy planes made a simultaneous attack on a
destroyer close aboard Pennsylvania
which assisted in
shooting down four planes and driving off the others. On the night
of 28 October, she shot down a bomber as it attempted a torpedo
run. She remained on patrol in Leyte Gulf until 25 November, and
then steamed to Manus, Admiralty Islands, and thence to Kossol Passage
where she loaded
departed on 1 January 1945 with Vice Admiral Oldendorf's Lingayen
Bombardment and Fire Support Group, steaming for Lingayen Gulf.
The Group came under heavy air attacks on
4-5 January, and the escort carrier was hit by a kamikaze
and destroyed by the resulting fire.
Many other ships were damaged.
On the morning of 6 January, Pennsylvania
bombardment of target areas on Santiago Island
at the mouth
of Lingayen Gulf. That afternoon she entered the Gulf to conduct
counter-battery fire in support of minesweeping forces, retiring at
night. At daybreak on 7 January, the entire bombardment force
entered Lingayen Gulf to deliver supporting and destructive fire.
Preliminary assault bombardment was continued the next day. On 9
provided gunfire support for the
protection of the waves of landing troops. Enemy aircraft attacked
the force in Lingayen Gulf on 10 January. Four bombs landed close
by, but Pennsylvania
was not hit. That afternoon she
executed her last call fire mission in support of the operation by
firing twelve rounds to destroy a concentration of enemy tanks
which had been located inland by a shore fire control party.
10-17 January, Pennsylvania conducted a patrol in the
Sea, off Lingayen Gulf, with other ships of the task
On 17 January, she anchored in Lingayen Gulf, where
she remained until 10 February, when she sailed for temporary
repairs at Manus, Admiralty Islands. Departing on 22 February, she
steamed via the Marshall Islands and Pearl Harbor to San Francisco
arriving on 13 March. She entered the Hunter's
Point Shipyard and underwent a thorough overhaul.
battery turrets and secondary battery mounts were regunned; some of
the new guns that she received were salvaged off of
that was sunk at Pearl Harbor. Additional
anti-aircraft weapons as well as improved radar and fire control
equipment were installed.
completion of this overhaul, Pennsylvania conducted trial
runs out of San Francisco, followed by refresher training while
based at San
She departed San Francisco 12 July for
Pearl Harbor, arriving on 18 July. She sailed for Okinawa on 24 July. En route, she took part in the
bombardment of Wake
Island on 1 August; and, after loading ammunition at
Saipan the next day, resumed her voyage. She anchored in
Bay alongside .
On 12 August, a Japanese torpedo
plane slipped in over Buckner Bay without detection and launched a
torpedo at Pennsylvania
which lay at anchor. Hit well aft,
suffered extensive damage. The torpedo's
impact caused a hole of approximately in diameter in her stern.
Twenty men were killed and 10 injured, including Admiral Oldendorf.
Many compartments were flooded and Pennsylvania
heavily by the stern. The flooding was brought under control by
efforts of Pennsylvania's
repair parties and with the
prompt assistance of two salvage tugs. The following day, she was
towed to shallower water where salvage operations continued.
On 18 August, Pennsylvania
departed Buckner Bay, Okinawa,
under tow by two tugs. She arrived Apra Harbor, Guam on 6 September and entered drydock where a large
sheet steel patch was welded over the torpedo hole and repairs to
permit her to return to the United States under her own power were
On 4 October, she sailed for home in company with the
destroyer and the cruiser . On 17 October, her No. 3 shaft suddenly
carried away inside the stern tube and the shaft slipped aft. It
was necessary to send divers down to cut through the shaft, letting
the shaft and propeller drop into the sea. Shipping water and
with only one screw turning, Pennsylvania limped into
Navy Yard on 24 October.
were made to enable Pennsylvania to steam to the Marshall
Islands where she was used as a target ship in the Operation
Crossroads atomic bomb tests at Bikini atoll during July 1946.
She was then towed to
Lagoon where she decommissioned
on 29 August. She remained in Kwajalein Lagoon for radiological and
structural studies until 10 February 1948, when she was sunk stern
first off Kwajalein. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register
received eight battle
and a Navy Unit
for World War II service.