The USS Alabama is the fifth ship named after the state and was used in World War II. Its first area was of operation was in the Atlantic, though it is known for taking Japanese-controlled islands in the Pacific between 1943 and 1945.
The Alabama's Beginnings
The massive ship's construction began at Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia on February 1, 1940. Construction took 3,000 men and women, who worked 24 hours a day for 30 months. It was an $80 million project that was finished nine months ahead of schedule.
It also was the biggest ship to be built at Portsmouth. Empty the ship weighs 35,000 tons, but 45,000 tons when ready for action. The USS Alabama is 680 feet long and 194 feet high.
While the ship may be large, it moves at 28 knots or 32 miles per hour. The ship was known as the "Mighty A" by her 2,500-man crew. The ship was a part of the South Dakota Class of battleships.
Its design was planned for shore bombardment and anti-aircraft defense for the aircraft carriers. The battleship had 129 guns, including three 16-inch 45-caliber guns that fired 2,700-pound projectiles over 20 miles.
Alabama was ready for active duty in 1943 and was under Capt. Fred D. Kirkland. It met up with the British Fleet in the North Atlantic. It shielded the British and Russian convoys from snow and ice as they delivered supplies to the Soviet Union.
They hoped it would get the chance to fight German dreadnought Tirpitz, but it did not happen. The USS Alabama was honored by the Soviet Union for protecting the Russian Fleet during the war, the only American ship to be honored.
In August 1943, Alabama had an overhaul and new paint before it sailed to the South Pacific to meet with the Pacific Third Fleet at Efate, New Hebrides.
While there, the battleship protected the Fast Carrier forces earning Battle Stars for the numerous missions. When Japan surrendered, Alabama carried Marines to the country to patrol the shores. While fighting in World War II, Alabama traveled 218,000 miles, shooting down 22 planes and earning nine Battle Stars.
The ship was set to be scrapped in 1962, but citizens of Alabama petitioned for it to live there. The great battleship sits on the Mobile River and is one of the state's most visited attractions.
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