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BattleShips of World War Two

World War II battleships: Where to see them and stories of Kamikaze attacks.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: U-Boats, Navel Forces & Battles, Graf Spee, WWII Wrecks, Nazi memorabilia, Sailors.

Historic Coast Guard vessel USS Mohawk becomes artificial reef - Video and photos of the sinking
The World War II ship the USS Mohawk has been scuttled 28 miles off the coast of Sanibel Island. It is now an artificial reef for divers and anglers and is a veterans memorial. The county`s Marine Services Program and Reefmakers LLC, a company that specializes in sinking ships as artificial reefs, scuttled the 165-foot WWII Coast Guard cutter with a loud explosion. Six charges were placed on the USS Mohawk and detonated at different times, allowing thousands of gallons of water to rush into the ship at once so that it will sit right side up.
(abc-7.com)

Italy finds battleship Roma which was sunk in 1943 by German warplane
An Italian battleship which sank during World War II off the coast of Sardinia after it was bombed by a German warplane has been found. The battleship Roma - one of the Italian navy`s most modern vessels in the period - was sunk on September 9, 1943, by a German plane, in an attack which killed 1,352 sailors. Only 622 people survived. The wreck was found by an underwater robot named Pluto Palla. It was discovered 16 nautical miles (30 kilometres) off the northern coast of Sardinia at a depth of around 1,000 metres (3,300 feet).
(phys.org)

Historic battleship Iowa becoming naval museum permanently docked at San Pedro (Photos)
Launched in 1942, commissioned in 1943, the battleship Iowa (BB-61) was the lead ship of a class of four battleships – the largest and last big gun vessels built by the United States. 70 years later the ship will be permanently docked at San Pedro to turn it into a naval museum.
(latimes.com)

Enterprise: America`s Fightingest Ship and the Men Who Helped Win World War II by Barrett Tillman
In 1941, the world entered a new age of naval warfare. Beginning with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor , the aircraft carrier became the critical weapon of the Pacific War. Historian Barrett Tillman`s new book "Enterprise" explores one carrier`s service in the Pacific cauldron. He compares the Pacific Ocean to a chess board and explains that the aircraft carrier was the queen: a vessel so mobile and with such striking power that it changed the nature of naval warfare. The Enterprise, or "the Big E" as her crew called her, served in just about every major battle of the Pacific and used its striking power to great effect against the Japanese enemy.
(deseretnews.com)

How Germany`s feared Scharnhorst ship was sunk in World War II
On 26 December 1943 one of the great sea battles of World War II took place. Germany`s most famous battleship - the Scharnhorst - was sunk by Allied forces during the Battle of the North Cape. Norman Scarth was an 18-year-old on board the British naval destroyer HMS Matchless, which was protecting a convoy taking vital supplies to the Russian ports of the Arctic Circle. In a BBC World Service interview he described how he witnessed the sinking of the Scharnhorst.
(bbc.co.uk)

USS Iowa, last surviving World War II battleship without a home, nears final voyage
The final voyage of the USS Iowa is near. The last surviving WWII battleship without a home is docked at the Port of Richmond, where it is being prepared for its journey to the Port of Los Angeles for a new mission as a museum and memorial to Navy might. The Pacific Battleship Center raised $8 million to rescue the 68-year-old ship from the Ghost Fleet in Suisun Bay. The 800-foot Iowa, commissioned in 1943, served in the Second World War and the Korean War.
(huffingtonpost.com)

WWII battleship USS Iowa donated to the Los Angeles non-profit Pacific Battleship Center
Battleship USS Iowa (BB-61), which served in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II, has been donated to the Los Angeles non-profit Pacific Battleship Center (the Port of Los Angeles) where it serves as a museum and memorial to battleships.
(pacificbattleship.com)

British sailor: Bismarck tried to surrender with flag and Morse code but was nonetheless sank because of Churchill`s order
Tommy Byers, a sailor on the British battleship Rodney, maintained until he died that the German warship Bismarck raised a black flag – the naval sign calling for parley - before she was sank. He and a second seaman also saw a Morse code flash, which they interpreted as surrender, along with a man waving semaphore flags transmitting the same message. Royal Navy officers were made aware of the signs - one of them even replied "I don`t want to know about any signal now" - and they followed Winston Churchill`s order to "sink the Bismarck" to avenge the loss of British battlecruiser HMS Hood. The revelation has been unearthed by author Iain Ballantyne for his book "Killing The Bismarck."
(dailymail.co.uk)

USS Missouri moves to dry dock for preservation work
The Mighty Mo is on the move. The Battleship Missouri left its home at Pearl Harbor for the first time in more than a decade. The Missouri, an 887-foot-long vessel, is a United States Navy Iowa-class battleship and the last battleship built by the US - and now it`s facing extensive maintenance and conservation work. This is an $18 million project to save a historic vessel. The Battleship Missouri symbolizes American victory in the Second World War - Japan surrendered unconditionally aboard the vessel on September 2, 1945.
(khnl.com)

Swordfish pilot sank the Bismarck but only found it out 59 years later
Every WWII veteran has a story to tell, but few could rival John Moffat`s tale. He had a ringside seat to the sinking of the Bismarck, in one of the most dramatic World War II sea battles. He was piloting one of 3 Swordfish open-cockpit biplanes that set off from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal to stop the Bismarck, which had sank the British warship Hood. He only found out it was his torpedo that sealed the fate of the Bismarck when the Fleet Air Arm (the Navy`s air force) wrote to him in 2000. It was the torpedo he fired that damaged the steering mechanism of the German battleship, leaving it in the hands of Royal Navy ships which then sank it on May 27, 1941.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Without Wings: The Story of Hitler’s Aircraft Carrier by Stephen Burke
Aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin would be the biggest ship ever built in Nazi Germany. It would also be the Fatherland`s only aircraft carrier, a main weakness in a nation about to enter a war on land, air and sea. 9 years later she had seen no action at all, and was sunk while being used as target practice. Graf Zeppelin could carry 42 aircraft; BF109s, the Fiesler torpedo-bomber and a converted Stuka dive bomber - an aerial force with a greater potential than British Sea Gladiators, Fairey Swordfish and Blackburn Skua fighter/dive bombers. The Cold War prevented any exploration of the wreckage, so it was not until 2006 that divers were able to locate her.
(liverpooldailypost.co.uk)

Battleship Oklahoma BB-37 by Jeff Phister - History of the USS Oklahoma
"Battleship Oklahoma BB-37" covers the ship`s naming at the Camden, N.J., launching in 1914 and U.S. convoy protection service offshore from Ireland in WWI, to involvement in "The Great Cruise of 1915," when 16 of 18 U.S. battleships were assigned to the Pacific Fleet to display long-range capabilities of the Navy. In 1927, the ship joined the Atlantic Fleet and underwent a 2-year modernization. Through modifications and duty cruises, conditioning led to its readiness at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. On that day, the ship was hit by 8 torpedoes. It turned over, trapping its crew below decks.
(newsok.com)

Ted Briggs, last survivor of battle cruiser HMS Hood, has died at 85
Ted Briggs, the last survivor of the sinking of the battle cruiser HMS Hood, has died. The sinking of the Hood on May 24, 1941 by the Nazi battleship Bismarck during the Battle of the Denmark Strait dismayed Britain. The Bismarck`s fire hit the ship`s magazine, causing an explosion which tore the ship in half. It sank in less than 3 minutes and just 3 of HMS Hood`s 1418 crew survived. Briggs, a boy signalman aged 18, was sucked under by the sinking ship before being propelled back up to the surface. He was soon joined by the two other survivors: midshipman William Dundass, who died in 1965, and able seaman Bob Tilburn, who died in 1995.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Caught in legal crossfire, a famed U.S. Navy destroyer John Rodgers rusts away
The US Navy destroyer John Rodgers was one of the most decorated WW2 warships. Now, its hull rusting and its big guns whitened by bird droppings, the destroyer faces the last battle: one that could turn it into a museum or into a heap of scrap. The John Rodgers was one of 175 Fletcher-class destroyers that guarded aircraft carriers and provided cover fire during amphibious landings. It fought the Japanese in the Philippines, Kwajalein Atoll, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. It steamed into Tokyo Bay in Sept. 1945, having earned 12 battle stars without losing a single sailor. Fletcher destroyers were successful, but they suffered heavy losses from kamikaze attacks.
(iht.com)

Warship HMAS Sydney found - Australia`s maritime mystery solved
One wartime mystery has been solved with the discovery of the wreck of the battleship HMAS Sydney. The Sydney, a cruiser, was the biggest ship from any country to be sunk with all hands lost during World War Two. It was sunk by the German naval raider Kormoran, cloaked as a Dutch merchant ship, during a battle in Nov. 1941. The fate of HMAS Sydney, and why none of its crew survived, was "Australia`s major maritime mystery" said the chief of the Australian navy, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders. HMAS Sydney was last seen limping over the horizon, streaming black smoke, by the crew of the Kormoran.
(telegraph.co.uk)

The Inferno: Aircraft carrier USS Franklin after an attack by a Japanese dive bomber
Navy photographer Al Bullock`s photos have been in numerous books, but he says the latest work his photos appear in is different because it puts the reader in the thick of the action. Bullock`s photos of the aircraft carrier USS Franklin after a March 1945 attack by a Japanese dive bomber are featured in "The Inferno." The author, Joseph Springer, talked to over 100 people who pulled through the attack that resulted almost 800 dead and 2,400 wounded. The Franklin, testing the experimental Tiny Tim 500-pound rocket, was hit by two 500-pound bombs, which caused a firestorm of exploding aircraft fuel.
(mercurynews)

Appeal for the last surviving WWII warship of the Battle of the Atlantic
A £2m fund-raising appeal has been launched to bring the last surviving World War II warship from the Battle of the Atlantic back to Liverpool. HMS Whimbrel worked as an escort vessel protecting convoys, and is now lying in dock in Egypt. Liverpool was the UK`s main convoy port where on average 4 arrived each day. It is hoped she can be now be restored and become a visitor attraction on the Liverpool waterfront. Over 1,000 convoys arrived on Merseyside during the war, and The Whimbrel was the called the "Rolls Royce of wartime escort ships" by the navy. Whimbrel veteran Cecil Cox said: "When you located a sub you sat over the top of it..."
(bbc)

Expanded tour route in the most decorated battleship in U.S. history   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Today marks the opening of an expanded tour route that includes the brig, barbershop and laundry facility aboard the World War II-era vessel, the most decorated battleship in U.S. naval history, the Battleship New Jersey. "These 3 exhibits we are opening further demonstrate the battleship as a city at sea," said museum president Troy Collins. Restoration of the three areas cost $125,000. On July 28 haircuts will be offered to visitors and on July 14 visitors may enter a "Great Escapes" contest. The laundry handled the wash - uniforms, towels and bed linen - for up to 3,000 sailors during WWII.
(courierpostonline)

Nevada State Museum to add battleship USS Nevada`s log to its collection   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The captain`s log of the USS Nevada battleship that survived the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor will be added to the Nevada State Museum collection. The log details the ship`s service 1916-1946. The battleship got under way and was trying to steam out of the harbor when it was hit by Japanese bombs. The captain beached the ship to avoid blocking the harbor. The ship was repaired and supported troops in the June 1944 invasion at Normandy during World War II. "The log starts getting pretty interesting right around 1941. They`re dodging bullets with Japanese planes flying past them. It`s just a great story about a hell of a ship."
(rgj)

There`s much to learn from history of a Navy cruiser USS Houston
"Ship of Ghosts," James D. Hornfischer`s second book about the naval and military past of the U.S., provides plenty of information that`s certain to appeal to many types of readers - scholars, navy buffs, armchair sailors and military historians. The book narrates the history of the navy cruiser USS Houston, which was built in the 1920s, became the favourite of a president Franklin D. Roosevelt and was lost during the war, its crew becoming POWs in Japan.
(-)

Pictures of the sunk british WWII battleship in Scapa Flow
Underneath the massive hull of the HMS Royal Oak, the superstructure of the battleship lies crushed, with gun barrels buried in the sand. These are the clearest images yet of one of the most terrible naval tragedies in British history. The Dreadnought class warship, one of the largest in the British WWII fleet, was sunk by torpedoes during the Second World War in a U-boat attack in Scapa Flow on Oct 14, 1939. The ghostly images created by ADUS are published for the first time and show the wreck in great detail. The wreck, an official War Grave in which more than 833 sailors died when it sank in 10 minutes, is still leaking fuel.
(scotsman)

USS Hornet Museum - WWII Aircraft carrier in Pacific theater   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Lawson Sakai has been driving to the USS Hornet Museum for the grand opening of a special exhibit on the Hornet, telling the World War II stories of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe and the nearly unknown Military Intelligence Service (MIS) in the Pacific. For just one day, a group of Japanese-American vets who served in the 442nd is augmenting the new exhibit with historical items captured on battlefields. There are German handguns and a Japanese flag that soldiers captured. This is, perhaps, the summer of farewells: "The fact is, most of our veterans are just too old to travel anymore."
(mercurynews)

Nazi Germany`s only aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin found
Divers have discovered the rusting wreckage of Nazi Germany’s only aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin, near the Bay of Gdansk - solving one of the maritime riddles of the Second World War. When the Graf Zeppelin was launched in 1938, Adolf Hitler raised his right arm in salute to a warship that was supposed to help Third Reich to become master of the northern seas. But, when fleeing German troops scuttled her in April 1945, she had never seen service — a casualty of infighting within the Nazi elite and the changing tide of war. The Graf Zeppelin was scuttled in shallow water near Szczecin and it proved easy for the Red Army to recover her.
(timesonline)

Nazi sailor key to Australia`s battleship mystery
A former Nazi sailor living in South America may hold the key to solving one of Australia`s greatest wartime mysteries, the sinking and disappearance of the battleship HMAS Sydney. Shipwreck hunters have tracked him down and believe he holds clues about exactly where HMAS Sydney sank after being torpedoed by a German raider, the Kormoran 1941. The latest clues come from Reinhold Von Malapert, one of the last-known survivors of the Kormoran. He was the German raider`s chief communications officer.
(nzherald)

Aerial image of WW2 battleship Yamato discovered
A Japanese museum has obtained a rare photo of Japan`s World War Two battleship the Yamato shortly before it was sunk by US warplanes. The aerial photo was taken by a US reconnaissance plane on April 6, 1945, five hours before the Yamato made its final sortie. The Yamato, the world`s largest-ever battleship, sank on its way to Okinawa after being attacked by US naval aircraft on April 7, 1945. The Yamato was remodeled several times to counter US air attacks. A researcher says the picture is the first photo that clearly shows anti-aircraft guns installed near the Yamato`s stern. The photo is important since there is a lack of data on the battleship shortly before it sank.
(fp)

Veteran recalls attack on USS Frank   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Joseph Vaughn became part of the crew on the USS Franklin, a new Essex-class aircraft carrier. It was a late entry into the war, but the ship packed a lot of action into the next 14 months. Before dawn on an overcast March 19, 1945, the Franklin was within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland. Fighter planes had been launched to sweep Honshu. The captain sent half the watch to go below decks to eat breakfast. They all were lined up to the mess hall when a Japanese pilot broke through the clouds and dropped two 500-pound bombs. "All those people in a line," said Vaughn, shaking his head. "That`s where they all got killed."
(staugustine)

British WWII Swordfish Pilot John Moffat recalls Bismarck sinking   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Commander John Moffat hadn`t seen a Swordfish biplane since 1945, when he was a pilot for the Royal Navy on a mission to sink the largest ship in the German fleet. He visited the London Air Show to see what is now a vintage aircraft, reflecting on the attack that sank the Bismarck and killed all but 115 of the 2,200-strong crew. On May 26, 1941, 15 torpedo-armed Swordfish aircraft were sent from the aircraft carrier Victorious to attack the Bismarck. Moffat`s torpedo was one of two, possibly three, which hit the ship. He believes it was his torpedo that jammed the ship`s rudder.
(washingtontimes)

Bronze eagle retrieved from sunken battleship Admiral Graf Spee
Divers working in the muddy River Plate have unbolted and scooped up a heavy bronze eagle from the Admiral Graf Spee, a famed German WWII battleship. The eagle stands some 2 meters (6 feet) tall and weighs more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds). The Graf Spee, a pocket battleship, was considered one of the most sophisticated vessels of its time. It prowled the South Atlantic, sinking as many as 9 allied merchant ships before warships from Britain and New Zealand tracked it down and damaged it during the "Battle of the River Plate".
(bbc)

City offered option to bid for WWII battleship Iowa
Pressure increased on San Francisco officials Friday to decide whether they want the World War II battleship Iowa after two key federal lawmakers agreed to let any California community bid for the vessel. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Rep. Richard Pombo, who had been offering dueling proposals on the Iowa`s future, agreed that the ship should be transferred to California for permanent donation status and that any city in the state could bid for it.
(sfgate)


See also:
U-Boats
Navel Forces & Battles
Graf Spee
WWII Wrecks
Nazi memorabilia
Sailors.