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Arkansas, anchored in harbor during the early 1920s. NH 64508
Arkansas, anchored in harbor during the early 1920s. NH 64508
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Ship Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
BB33 Arkansas New York, Shipbuilding 25 Jan 10 14 Jan 11 17 Sept 12 Sunk as a target, 26 July 46

As designed
Displacement: 26,000 tons/26,416 tonnes (standard); 27,243 tons/27,678 tonnes (full load)
Length: 562ft/171.3m (oa); 554ft /168.9m (wl)
Beam: 93ft 2in/28.4m
Draught: 28ft 7in/8.7m (mean)
Machinery: twelve Babcock & Wilcox boilers; 4-shaft Parsons turbines
Bunkerage: 1,800 tons coal, 305 tons oil
Performance: 28,000shp = 20.5kts
Range: 6,860nm at 10kts
Protection: main belt 11 in; lower casemates 11 in; upper casemates 6.5in; deck 3in; barbettes 11 in; CT 11.5in; turrets 12in
Guns: twelve (6x2) 12in; twenty-one (21x1) 5in; eight (8x1) 3in AA
Torpedo tubes: two 21 in (submerged)
Aircraft: nil
Complement: 1,063

As rebuilt, 1927

Displacement: 27,900 tons/28,346 tonnes (standard); 29,000 tons/29,464 tonnes (full load)
Beam: 106ft/32.29m
Machinery: four White-Forster boilers; 4-shaft Parsons turbines
Bunkerage: 3,786 tons oil
Protection: 3.5in added over magazines; 3in added over fire rooms; 4.25in added over engine rooms; 1.75in added over steering; 1.75in added to turret and CT tops
Guns: twelve (6x2) 12in; sixteen (16x1) 5in
Torpedo tubes: nil
Aircraft: three, catapult one

On 2 July 1908 an important conference was held at the Naval War College in Newport, under pressure from a reform group within the Navy who sought radical modernisation of the navy's organisation. Many technical matters including gunnery, fire control and protection as well as defects in existing designs were discussed, and the conference was addressed by President Roosevelt. Its findings were to affect all future designs, and had a bearing on this class, whose design work had already begun. Until now the standard main armament calibre in the USN, as in other navies, had been the 12in. The Newport Conference favoured 14in, and as it was known that the British had a 13.5in gun under development there was considerable pressure for a calibre increase. But in the USA at this time no 14in gun was being manufactured or even designed, so the designing of a new battleship to carry guns of a calibre which might never materialise was obviously an enormously risky step. Nevertheless, three design studies were initiated, two with 14in and one with 12in guns, and in the end conservatism and practicality reigned, the 12in design being chosen for development on 30 December 1908. The choice of twelve 12in was made to match the Russian Gangut class, although it was accepted that the 14in gun would eventually reach fruition. Two ships, BB32 and BB33, were authorised by Congress on 3 March 1909.


The new ships displaced 26,000 tons as designed, and represented a considerable increase in hull dimensions as compared to the previous Florida class, mainly because of the incorporation of a sixth turret.

The protective scheme included an 11in main belt tapering to 9in at its lower edge, 8 feet in depth. Above it was another belt, of 11in at its lower edge, tapering to 9in at its upper edge, and inclined inboards. Both these belts were applied to the outer hull. The casemates were protected by 6.5in armour. Armoured bulkheads, 11in (fwd) and 9in (aft), closed off the side armour. Forward and aft of the main belt the hull was unprotected. Capping the top of the lower main belt and extending across the beam of the hull was the main armoured deck, 1.5in thick, increased to 2in above the magazines. The funnel uptakes and inboard longitudinal bulkhead had splinter protection. Aft, there was a lower armoured deck and a 5in side belt to protect the steering gear. Barbettes were 11in maximum and the conning tower 11.5in. Turrets had a 12in face. Armour and protection amounted to 31.3 per cent of the designed displacement.

The main machinery was a four-shaft Parsons direct-drive steam turbine arrangement, with twelve Babcock coal-fired boilers equipped with auxiliary oil-sprayers. The boilers were grouped in three compartments, the turbine rooms being between Nos. 4 and 5 turrets. Designed power was 28,000shp, Wyoming making 21.22 knots with 31,437shp on trials, her sister 21.05 knots with 28,533shp.

The layout of the main armament was the most economical that could be achieved for six turrets, which were all centre-line mounted, as had been the case in all US dreadnoughts. The 12in gun was the Mk 7, firing an 870 1b shell to a range of 23,500 yards at 15° elevation. Twenty one 5in 51 cal QF Mk 7 guns in single mountings formed the secondary armament, one on each beam in casemates below the forecastle, five on each beam amidships in casemates, two on each beam below the quarterdeck in casemates and one similarly mounted on the centreline right aft, and four on pedestal mountings on the forward superstructure. Two submerged 21in torpedo tubes completed the armament.

Two ships were authorised on 3 March 1909. Contracts were placed for Arkansas on 25 September 1909, and Wyoming on 14 October 1909.


During the Great War the useless pair of 5in forward and the single gun aft were removed and the casemates plated in, and one pair of 5in removed from the superstructure forward. Range-finders were fitted to Nos. 2, 3 and 5 turrets as well as eight 3in AA, two each on the roofs of Nos. 3 and 5 turrets plus two on the upper deck abreast No. 5 turret and two more on the derrick posts.

In 1926-7 both ships were modernised, the horizontal protection being improved to 4.75in over the boiler rooms, 4.5in over the magazine spaces, l.75in armour added to the turret roofs. Underwater protection was improved by the addition of bulges which increased the depth of torpedo protection from 23ft 4in to 29ft 6in. The main machinery was not replaced, but four White-Forster boilers replaced the original coal-fired units, the number of boiler rooms being reduced to two, and funnels to one. Substantial alterations were made to the superstructure, and the after cage mast was replaced by a tripod. The fire control systems were modernised and the three forward secondary battery 5in guns on each side were fitted in new casemates one deck higher to reduce wetness. A catapult was fitted on No. 3 turret, the ships operating up to three Vought UO-1 or Loening UL-6 floatplanes. The eight 3in/50 AA guns were now mounted on the deck over the new 5in casemates.

In 1931 Wyoming was demilitarised and converted to a training ship as a consequence of the Washington Treaty, her side armour being removed, Nos. 3, 4 and 5 turrets landed, and her machinery reduced to 20,000shp. Reclassified AG17, she was later refitted as an AA training ship and never re-militarised.

Wyoming March 1930. 80-G-466464
Wyoming March 1930. 80-G-466464
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In 1942 Arkansas was refitted at Norfolk Navy Yard 6 March-26 July, when the cage foremast was replaced by a tripod, all remaining battery deck 5in landed together with the two open mounts on the superstructure. Four quadruple 1.1in mountings were fitted, two on the 3in gun deck just forward of the funnel and two abreast the conning tower, one deck higher. Two more 3in singles were added, abreast the mainmast on the upper deck, and twenty single 20mm were fitted. In September 1942 two more quadruple 1.1in were added on the upper deck amidships and two more abreast No. 5 turret in December, by which time she is reported as having thirty 20mm, but seems in fact to have had about twenty-six. In April and May 1943 quadruple 40mm Bofors replaced the 1.1in guns. Two quadruple 20mm Mk 15 were added in lieu of four singles in May 1944. The ship was refitted for Pacific service at Boston 14 September - 7 November 1944, when the bridge was extensively altered, the after tripod cut down in height and radar added. The AA battery was improved by the addition of two more 3in and a quadruple 40mm was fitted on the quarterdeck. By the end of 1944 the ship had six 5in; twelve 3in; thirty-six (9x4) 40mm and thirty-six (2x4, 28x1) 20mm. In 1945 a director was added to the mainmast top in lieu of the radar. Further major enhancement of the AA outfit planned for the summer of 1945, including removal of all single 5in and 3in in exchange for eight twin 5in/38, was never carried out.

Arkansas operated several types of floatplane during her service, mainly Vought O2U or O3U Corsairs during the late 1920s and 1930s. By 1940 she had Curtiss SON1 Seagulls, replaced by three Vought OS2U Kingfishers from November 1940, retaining this aircraft type throughout her wartime career.


Shortly after her commissioning, Arkansas participated in the Presidential Naval Review on 14 October 1912, after which she took the President to the Canal Zone to inspect progress on the construction of the Panama Canal, returning home on 29 December. On 2 June 1913 she joined the Atlantic Fleet, cruising to the Mediterranean from the end of October to 15 December. During the crisis with Mexico she participated in the landing at and occupation of Vera Cruz on 22 April 1914, remaining in Mexican waters until the end of September. The next three years were spent in the Atlantic and Caribbean, the ship being under refit at New York Navy Yard 23 April to 25 June 1915. After the US declaration of war she joined Battleship Division 7 and carried out training and patrol duties off the eastern seaboard. In 1918 Arkansas was ordered to Europe to join the British Grand Fleet, where she was to relieve Delaware, and arrived at Rosyth on 28 July 1918. Her service with the 6th Battle Squadron was uneventful but she was present at the surrender of the High Seas Fleet on 20 November. After escorting President Wilson on the last leg of his trip to the Paris Peace Conference, she left for home and arrived in New York on 26 December 1918. After an overhaul at Norfolk Navy Yard, she was ordered to France to bring back the US representative at the Paris Peace Conference. On 19 July 1919 Arkansas was ordered to the west coast for service in the Pacific, undergoing major refit from 19 September 1919 to May 1920, but returned to the Atlantic in the summer of 1921 as Flagship, Battle Force. She cruised to Europe in 1923. From 1 September 1925 to 21 November 1926 she was reconstructed at Philadelphia Navy Yard, then served in Atlantic and Caribbean waters once more, making two more cruises to Europe in 1930 and 1931.

Arkansas, during the late 1920s or early 1930s, following modernization. NH 61322
Arkansas, during the late 1920s or early 1930s, following modernization. NH 61322
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After a refit at Philadelphia October 1931- January 1932, she transferred to the Pacific as Flagship, Training Force, US Fleet. In 1934 she came back east to assume the role of Flagship Training Squadron, Scouting Force, in which duty she continued, making annual training cruises to Europe, until October 1938 when she joined Battleship Division 5 with the Atlantic Squadron.

Before the entry of the USA into WW2, the old battleship carried on her training duties, joined the Neutrality Patrol and conveyed troops to Iceland until hostilities were joined.

Arkansas, underway off the U.S. east coast, 11 April 1944. 80-G-229753
Arkansas, underway off the U.S. east coast, 11 April 1944. 80-G-229753
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From the end of 1941 to June 1944 she served as escort to ocean convoys from the USA to Britain, North Africa and Ireland (refitted at Norfolk Navy Yard 6 March-26 July 1942) as well as a training ship off the eastern seaboard, but then was assigned to the support force off Omaha Beach for the Normandy landings. She sailed for Ireland on 18 April 1944 and during the landings, bombarded the beachhead from 6 June onwards, and Cherbourg on 25 June 1944. On completion of this duty, she was ordered to the Mediterranean to support the landings in the South of France (Operation 'Avalanche'), sailing from Bangor N.I., on 4 July, reaching Palermo, Sicily, on 7 August. On 15 August the old ship bombarded Axis positions on the beaches until 17 August. After this she was ordered home and reached Boston on 15 September for refit and overhaul. On 20 January 1945 she sailed for the Pacific theatre where she supported the landings on Iwo Jima 16 February - 7 March 1945, then off Okinawa 25 March - 10 May. After the Japanese capitulation Arkansas returned home, departing Okinawa on 23 September and arriving at Seattle on 15 October 1945. For the remainder of the year the elderly battleship made three 'magic carpet' trips to the Pacific to bring home servicemen, before being allocated to the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll (Operation 'Crossroads'). She sank on 25 July 1946 following Test Baker, the underwater explosion. The wreck was decommissioned on 27 July and stricken from the Navy Register on 15 August of that year.

Arkansas, possibly 1945
Arkansas, possibly 1945
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