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Nevada Today

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Least We Forget: The USS Nevada

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Extremely Rare Footage of the battleship USS Nevada (BB-36) at Pearl Harbor.

USS¬†Nevada¬†(BB-36), the second¬†United States Navy¬†ship to be named after the¬†36th state, was the¬†lead ship¬†of the two¬†Nevada-class¬†battleships. Launched in 1914,¬†Nevada¬†was a leap forward in¬†dreadnought¬† technology; four of her new features would be included on almost every subsequent US battleship: triple gun turrets,[c]¬†oil in place of coal for fuel, geared¬†steam turbines¬†for greater range, and the “all or nothing” armor principle. These features made¬†Nevada, alongside its¬†sister ship¬†Oklahoma, the first US Navy¬†“standard-type”¬†battleships.

Nevada¬†served in both World Wars. During the last few months of¬†World War I,¬†Nevada¬†was based in¬†Bantry Bay, Ireland, to protect supply¬†convoys¬†that were sailing to and from Great Britain. In¬†World War II, it was one of the battleships trapped when the¬†Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.¬†Nevada¬†was the only battleship to get underway during the attack, making the ship “the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal and depressing morning” for the United States.[13]¬†Still, it was hit by one torpedo and at least six bombs while steaming away from¬†Battleship Row, forcing the crew to¬†beach¬†the stricken ship on a coral ledge. The ship continued to flood and eventually slid off the ledge and sunk to the harbor floor.[14]¬†Nevada¬†was subsequently salvaged and modernized at¬†Puget Sound Navy Yard, allowing it to serve as a convoy escort in the Atlantic and as a fire-support ship in five amphibious assaults (the invasions of¬†Attu,¬†Normandy,¬†Southern France,¬†Iwo Jima, and¬†Okinawa).

At the end of World War II, the Navy decided that Nevada was too old to be retained, so they assigned it to be a target ship in the atomic experiments at Bikini Atoll in July 1946 (Operation Crossroads). The ship was hit by the blast from the first atomic bomb, Able, and was left heavily damaged and radioactive. Unfit for further service, Nevada was decommissioned on 29 August 1946 and sunk for naval gunfire practice on 31 July 1948.

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About Author

Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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