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The Battleships Portal


USS Texas in San Jacinto State Park, October 2006. The battleship is painted as it was in 1945 with Measure 21, Navy Blue System Camoflage.

A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. As they were largest, best-armed and most heavily armored ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a nation's naval power from the late nineteenth century until World War II. With the rise of air power, notably aircraft carriers, battleships were no longer able to establish naval superiority, and so all have been withdrawn from active service. The related battlecruiser, a successor to the armored cruiser, shared the very large main armament, general size, and cost of a battleship of the same generation, but they traded armor or firepower for higher speed.

Battleship design evolved to incorporate and adapt technological advances to maintain an edge. The word battleship was coined around 1794 as a contraction of the phrase line-of-battle ship, the dominant wooden warship during the Age of Sail. It came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, but these are now referred to as "pre-dreadnoughts". In 1906, the launch of HMS Dreadnought heralded a revolution in battleship design. Following designs that were influenced by this ship were referred to as "dreadnoughts". Battlecruisers were developed around this time by the British First Sea Lord Jackie Fisher. They were envisioned as being more effective armored cruisers, able to destroy any normal cruiser while being able to run away from any ships capable of sinking them.

By 1910, so-called "super-dreadnoughts" were entering service. In the four years between Dreadnought and the first super-dreadnoughts, the Orion class, displacement had increased by 25% and weight of broadside had doubled. No battleships or battlecruisers were built between the early 1920s and the late 1930s due to various treaties, but quite a few of the former were constructed shortly before or during World War II; the last, HMS Vanguard, was commissioned just after the war, in 1946. From this time on, most battleships and all battlecruisers were decommissioned and broken up. France's Jean Bart and Turkey's Yavuz were the last to be scrapped. However, members of the American Iowa class lasted until 2006 to aid troops with fire support; four were deployed in Korea, one in Vietnam, and two to Iraq. Nine battleships exist today as museum ships, eight from the United States and Japan's Mikasa. (more...)

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Radetzky sits at rest at an unknown point in her career

SMS Radetzky was the lead ship of the three Radetzky class of pre-dreadnought battleships (Schlachtschiff) of the Austro-Hungarian Navy (K.u.K. Kriegsmarine), named for the 19th century Austrian Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz. Radetzky and her sisters, Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand and Zrinyi, were the last pre-dreadnoughts built by the Austro-Hungarian Navy—they were followed by the larger and significantly more powerful Tegetthoff class dreadnoughts. Radetzky was built at the Stabilimento Tecnico in Trieste and commissioned into the fleet on 15 January 1911. The ship conducted training cruises in the Mediterranean Sea before the outbreak of World War I in mid-1914. During the war, Radetzky operated largely as a fleet in being alongside her two sisters and the four Tegetthoffs; in doing so, the ships tied down considerable naval forces from the Triple Entente. Radetzky did participate in some offensive operations, primarily shore bombardments in the Adriatic Sea against French, Montenegrin, and Italian targets. With the war going against the Austro-Hungarians by the end of 1918, Radetzky was prepared to be transferred to Yugoslavia. On November 10, 1918—just one day before the end of the war—Yugoslav navy officers sailed the old battleship out of Pola and eventually surrendered to a squadron of American submarine chasers. In the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the transfer was not recognized; instead, Radetzky was given to Italy and broken up for scrap.

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color photograph of Halsey in service uniform soon after his late 1945 promotion to Fleet Admiral

Fleet Admiral William Frederick "Bull" Halsey, Jr. (October 30, 1882 – August 16, 1959) was an officer of the United States Navy Known for his role in the naval battles against against Japan during World War II. Descended from Rufus King, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1904 to serve on several battleships and torpedo boats. Skipping the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade), he would command the Atlantic Fleet's Torpedo Flotilla, and later earned the Navy Cross commanding USS Shaw during World War I. After commanding USS Dale and two destroyer units, he would become a naval aviator in order to command the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga. Earning his flag, he would command several carrier units.

At sea in his flagship USS Enterprise during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Halsey would embark on the Pacific War, but missed the Battle of Midway due to health issues. He would take command of the South Pacific Area at a critical time in the Guadalcanal Campaign, and lead it through the remainder of the Solomon Islands campaign. He would then move on to command the 3rd Fleet for the Philippines Campaign, including the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Baited into moving Task Force 34 northward, he left an American task force unprotected for the Battle off Samar, resulting in the infamous "the world wonders" message from Admiral Nimitz.

After enduring Typhoon Cobra and watching the Surrender of Japan aboard USS Missouri, Halsey retired from active duty in March 1947. USS Halsey (DLG-23) and USS Halsey (DDG-97) would be named for him, and the airfield at Naval Air Station North Island would be dedicated in his name.

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A launch rescues a seaman from the burning USS West Virginia (BB-48) after the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December, 1941. Smoke rolling out amidships shows where the most extensive damage occurred, the ship having sustained several torpedo and bomb hits, as well as fire damage from nearby USS Arizona. Doris Miller would famously become the first African American Navy Cross recipient for his role in the battle. Though damaged enough to settle on the bottom of the harbor, the West Virginia was repaired, refloated, and sent to fight in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
Credit: United States Navy image at Library of Congress archive

A launch rescues a seaman from the burning USS West Virginia (BB-48) after the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December, 1941. Smoke rolling out amidships shows where the most extensive damage occurred, the ship having sustained several torpedo and bomb hits, as well as fire damage from nearby USS Arizona. Doris Miller would famously become the first African American Navy Cross recipient for his role in the battle. Though damaged enough to settle on the bottom of the harbor, the West Virginia was repaired, refloated, and sent to fight in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

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—Message from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to William Halsey, Jr. during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Communicators aboard the USS New Jersey failed to remove the ending security padding which was interpreted by Halsey as part of the message and a harsh and sarcastic rebuke regarding the Battle off Samar.

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Quality content

Featured topics
Featured topics

Derfflinger class battlecruisers • Iowa class battleships

Featured articles
Featured articles

Amagi class battlecruiserArmament of the Iowa class battleshipBattleshipBrazilian battleship Minas GeraesDerfflinger class battlecruiserDesign 1047 battlecruiserDreadnoughtHMS Royal Oak (08)Helgoland class battleshipIowa class battleshipKaiser class battleshipKönig class battleshipMoltke class battlecruiserMontana class battleshipNassau class battleshipNorth Carolina class battleshipPre-dreadnought battleshipSMS DerfflingerSMS HindenburgSMS LützowSMS Moltke (1910)SMS SeydlitzSMS Von der TannUSS Connecticut (BB-18)USS Illinois (BB-65)USS Iowa (BB-61)USS Iowa turret explosionUSS Kentucky (BB-66)USS Missouri (BB-63)USS Nevada (BB-36)USS New Jersey (BB-62)USS Wisconsin (BB-64)Yamato class battleship

Featured lists
Featured lists

List of battlecruisers of Germany

Good topics
Good topics

Invincible class battlecruisers • Yamato class battleships

Good articles
Good articles

ARA RivadaviaBrandenburg class battleshipBraunschweig class battleshipBrazilian battleship São PauloColorado class battleshipDelaware class battleshipErsatz Yorck class battlecruiserHabsburg class battleshipHMS Indefatigable (1909)HMS Indomitable (1907)HMS Inflexible (1907)HMS Invincible (1907)Imperator Aleksandr II class battleshipIndefatigable class battlecruiserInvincible class battlecruiserIron Duke class battleshipItalian battleship Roma (1940)Mackensen class battlecruiserO class battlecruiserRadetzky class battleshipRussian battleship Dvenadsat ApostolovRussian battleship SlavaScharnhorst class battleshipSMS Bayern (1915)SMS HelgolandSMS RadetzkySMS Szent IstvánSMS WeißenburgSouth Dakota class battleship (1939)Sovetsky Soyuz class battleshipStalingrad class battlecruiserUnited States Battleship Division Nine (World War I)USS Massachusetts (BB-59)USS Missouri grounding incident

A-Class articles
A-Class articles

Bayern class battleshipDesign A-150 battleshipDutch 1913 battleship proposalFlorida class battleshipHMS Lion (1910)Japanese battleship HarunaJapanese battleship MusashiJapanese battleship YamatoLexington class battlecruiserSMS GoebenSMS Kurfürst Friedrich WilhelmSMS NassauSMS KönigTosa class battleshipUSS Texas (BB-35)

How can I help?

Things you can do Operation Majestic Titan is the code name for a long-term Wikipedian project with two primary objectives, the first of which is to create the single largest featured topic on Wikipedia, centered around the battleships considered, planned, built, operated, canceled, or otherwise recorded. There are probably a few hundred articles of this nature which will be included, from the earliest pre-dreadnoughts to the last of the dreadnoughts. Once all articles are featured this project will reorient to ensuring that the articles remain up to standard. If you're interested, please view the project page to familiarize yourself with the guidelines, and simply pick an article to improve! There is also ongoing discussion you can participate in.

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