USS Tennessee (BB-1918-19)


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The Tennessee Class started as a two ship class but a third ship was added in a special addendum on the outbreak of World War One. Last of the 12x14" gunned ships, the Tennessee and its siblings introduced upgrades to the previous New Mexico class. First the main armament was improved by raising the elevation of the guns to improve range. Second the hull had many more compartments built into it to aid against flooding damage caused by mine, torpedo or natural disaster (reef). This protection was shown to be needed with the loss of HMS Audacious to a mine strike, early in World War One. Third was the introduction of the turbo-electric drive to this class.

Tennessee as completed late 1918

Where the previous classes still had the lower hull casemates showing, the Tennessee class showed a flat hull profile. The turbo electric drive meant a two funnel arrangement in place of the single funnels of the previous classes.

1927 and aircraft handling arrangements make their appearance. The single 3" AA guns of WW1 vintage are still aboard.

1935 and the more modern fittings are appearing. The 3"AA give way to the first 5"/25cal AA guns. A second catapult is fitted on 'X' turret.

1940 and the class has had minor changes to improve protection for the 5"/25cal AA gun crews. This was the arrangement of the ships as they made it into 'Battleship Row' at Pearl Harbour, December 1941.

California and Montana are torpedoed and sunk. Tennessee receives bomb damage which is classed as minimal. California and Montana are raised, patched and dispatched to Puget Sound for rebuilding. Tennessee joins the other battleships in patrolling the Pacific Coast and escorting convoys. Tennessee joins the other two at Puget Sound for rebuilding in mid 1942. The three ships emerge in late 1943 looking like modern capital ships of the South Dakota class. The ships join the bombardment group and go and shoot at bits of sand for the rest of the war.


  • Normal: 32,300 long tons (32,818 t)
  • Full load: 33,190 long tons (33,723 t)
  • 600 ft (182.9 m) lwl
  • 624 ft (190.2 m) loa
Beam 97 ft 5 in (29.7 m)
Draft 30 ft 2 in (9.2 m)
Installed power
  • 8  Babcock & Wilcox boilers
  • 28,600 shp (21,300 kW)
  • 2  Westinghouse electric generators
  • 4  electric motors
  • 4  screw propellers
Speed 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Range 8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
  • 57 officers
  • 1,026 enlisted
  • 12  14 in (356 mm) guns
  • 14  5 in (127 mm) guns
  • 4  3 in (76 mm) guns
  • 2  21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
  • Belt: 813.5 in (203343 mm)
  • Barbettes: 13 in (330 mm)
  • Turret face: 18 in (457 mm)
  • Conning tower: 16 in (406 mm)
  • Decks: 3.5 in (89 mm)

With the rebuilding during 1942-44, the ships reappeared looking a lot like the South Dakota class with a copy of the bridge superstructure and funnel arrangement.

Construction data
Ship name Hull no. Builder  Laid Down  Launched  Commissioned  Decommissioned  Fate 
Tennessee BB-43 New York Naval Shipyard 14 May 1917 30 April 1919 3 June 1920 14 February 1947 Struck 1 March 1959; Sold for scrap 10 July 1959
California BB-44 Mare Island Naval Shipyard 25 October 1916 20 November 1919 10 August 1921 14 February 1947 Struck 1 March 1959; Sold for scrap 10 July 1959
Montana BB-45 Mare Island Naval Shipyard 15 December 1916 20 July 1919 14 July 1921 14 February 1947 Torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine 1944

The Montana being sunk in 1944, its name was transferred to the lead ship of the latest and greatest US battleships to be envisaged.

Very clear overhead of the Tennessee, showing the triple 14"/50cal, twin 5"/38cal, quad 40mm, and single 20mm that made up the armament.


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