WWII USS Battleship Nevada
The Only Sunny Moment in a mostly cloudy and Dreary Morning
The lead ship of the only two “Nevadaclass” battleships at the time, the USS Nevada proved how valuable her technological upgrades were on the morning of the Pearl Harbor air raids. Triple gun turrets had been installed for unmatched offensive power. When the U.S. was brought into WWII, the oil fueled geared steam turbines allowed for greater travelling distances.
The first U.S. Navy “super dreadnought”, the USS Nevada featured an “all or nothing” defense design. Instead of having moderately strong armor throughout the ship, super dreadnoughts utilized heavier armor on the only the most vulnerable parts.
One of the most exposed ships in battleship row during the raids, Nevada had no protection to the fore of the ship. When the attacks began at roughly 7:55 that morning, the crew prepared to defend their country with their lives. Eight minutes after the start of the raids, she was struck by a torpedo from a Japanese plane. Due to the highly trained sailors on board, the plane that fired the torpedo was shot down moments later.
With fires rapidly spreading on every ship and the destruction of the USS Arizona minutes before, the crew of the Nevada knew there was no time to lose. Ordinarily, the massive steam turbines needed to power the ship would have taken upwards of thirty minutes to build enough power. Fortunately for the crew of the Nevada, the turbines had already been powered up before the raids began.
Courageously, the crew of only junior officers managed to effectively direct the entire ship under heavy attack. Even being struck by a torpedo, the Nevada managed to get underway at around 8:30 in the morning.
Ordered to fire on any battleship attempting to leave the harbor, the Japanese Zeros turned their sights to the Nevada as it went underway. Although the ship nearly escaped from the danger of the harbor, the hull was badly damaged as water was rapidly flooding the the interior of the ship.
The current of the water began taking hold and controlled the direction of the ship, already operating under limited power from the damage. The Japanese seized the opportunity, relentlessly bombarding the vessel with three bombs striking near the bow.
Heat and smoke from the explosions flowed through the ventilation systems, choking and burning the already struggling sailors. With temperatures rising to 140 degrees, men started going blind from the heat.
Able to take no more, the Nevada beached at Hospital Point in Pearl Harbor at 10:30 a.m. Her efforts led to the destruction of three planes, but this came at the cost of 60 sailors, with 109 left critically wounded. The damage was extensive, but efforts were made after the attack to salvage and modernize the battleship.
Nevada continued to sail throughout WWII, with modern armaments proving useful with an effective range of 20 miles. After the war, she was deemed too old and unfit for future operation. The U.S. military re-purposed the ship to serve in a nuclear weapons test, Operation Crossroads.
Surprisingly, the first bomb missed the Nevada and left her unscathed. However, the second bomb, “Baker” was detonated beneath the water leaving the ship badly damaged and radioactive. Still, she did not sink. Given a “coup de grace” after being used for naval gunnery practice, she was struck by an aerial torpedo and was sunk.
Today, there is a memorial to the brave efforts made by the crew of the Nevada in Pearl Harbor. This year the 75th anniversary promises to bring new and exciting exhibits to several of the memorials.
If you haven’t yet had a chance to visit the USS Nevada Memorial in Honolulu, this year is an excellent opportunity to do so.
Be sure and take the time to research all of the museums and memorials the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center has to offer, with guided tours guaranteeing entry with no hassle, including transportation to and from the various attractions.
The Nevada Memorial is one you won’t want to miss.