Washington Battleship BB-56

The USS Washington, a formidable North Carolina-class battleship with a displacement of 35,000 tons, was constructed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in Pennsylvania. Commissioned in May 1941, it played a vital role in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters during World War II.

Initially, the USS Washington operated in the Atlantic during the period of escalating tensions and eventual wartime operations for over a year. From April to July 1942, the battleship collaborated with the British Home Fleet in the North Atlantic. After an overhaul, it was deployed to the South Pacific in September and joined U.S. forces participating in the Guadalcanal Campaign. Notably, on the night of November 14-15, 1942, it served as the flagship of Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee during the latter part of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The ship’s sixteen-inch guns played a decisive role in the crippling of the Japanese battleship Kirishima.

The USS Washington continued its service in the South and Central Pacific through 1944. It took part in the invasions of the Gilbert Islands in November 1943 and the Marshalls in early 1944. Unfortunately, on February 1, 1944, during the latter operation, it suffered damage to its bow in a collision with the USS Indiana (BB-58). After undergoing repairs, the USS Washington rejoined the fleet and participated in the Marianas invasion in June 1944, including the pivotal Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Over the following year, the battleship was involved in various operations, such as the capture of the Palaus, Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. It also provided support for the fast carriers during their raids across the Western Pacific. The USS Washington was undergoing an overhaul during the final two months of the Pacific War and, in October 1945, transited through the Panama Canal to the Atlantic. Its last active duty involved transporting returning veterans from Europe.

In June 1947, the USS Washington was decommissioned and placed in “mothballs” until May 1961 when it was sold for scrapping.

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