Standard-type battleship

The Standard-type battleship was a series of twelve battleships across five classes ordered for the United States Navy between 1911 and 1916 and commissioned between 1916 and 1923.[1] These were considered super-dreadnoughts, with the ships of the final two classes incorporating many lessons from the Battle of Jutland.

Each vessel was produced with a series of progressive innovations, which contributed to the pre-World War II arms race.[1] The twelve vessels constituted the US Navy's main battle line in the interwar period, while many of the ten earlier dreadnoughts were scrapped or relegated to secondary duties. Restrictions under the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty limited total numbers and size of battleships and had required some under construction to be cancelled, so it was not until the onset of World War II that new battleships were constructed. On December 7, 1941, eight were at Pearl Harbor, one at Bremerton, Washington, and three were assigned to the Atlantic Fleet.


The Standard type, by specifying common tactical operational characteristics between classes, allowed battleships of different classes to operate together as a tactical unit (BatDiv) against enemy battleships. By contrast, other navies had fast and slow battleship classes that could not operate together unless limited to the performance of the ship with slowest speed and widest turning circle. Otherwise the battle line would be split into separate "fast" and "slow" wings. The Standard type was optimised for the battleship-centric naval strategy of the era of their design.

The next US battleship classes, beginning with the North Carolina class designed in the late 1930s and commissioned in 1941, marked a departure from the Standard type, introducing the fast battleships needed to escort the aircraft carriers that came to dominate naval strategy.

Standard type battleship classes

Characteristics of the Standard type included:

  • all-or-nothing armor scheme
  • All main guns on the centerline
  • designed range of about 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km) at economical cruising speed
  • top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h)
  • tactical turn radius of 700 yards

The Colorado-class, the first US battleships to mount 16-inch (406 mm) guns, represented the endpoint of the gradual evolution of the "Standard Type" battleships. The next planned class of Standard battleships, the never-completed South Dakotas, represented a significant increase in size and armament over the Colorados. They would have been 684 feet (208 m) long, displaced 43,200 tons, had a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h), and carried 12 16-inch (406 mm) guns. The preceding Colorado-class battleships were 624 feet (190 m) long, displaced 32,600 tons, had a top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h), and carried a main battery of eight 16-inch (406 mm) guns.[1]

Service history

World War I

All the Standard Type were oil-burning. Since oil was scarce in the British Isles, only Nevada and Oklahoma actively participated in World War I by escorting convoys across the Atlantic Ocean between the United States and Britain.

Interwar Years

All the Standard Types were modernised during the 1920s and 1930s. The cage masts of all but the Tennessee and Colorado classes were replaced with tripod masts topped with fire-control directors, torpedo tubes were removed and anti-aircraft guns were upgraded. Main battery elevation in the older ships was increased to 30 degrees for greater range. Most of the Standards received anti-torpedo bulges. Each ship received one or two catapults and recovery cranes for operating floatplanes for scouting and gunnery spotting.

World War II

On December 7, 1941, Colorado was undergoing overhaul at Puget Sound Navy Yard, while the three ships of the New Mexico class were assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, and the remaining eight Standard Type battleships were at Pearl Harbor forming Battleship Row.

During the Pearl Harbor Attack, Arizona's forward magazine exploded from a bomb hit and Oklahoma capsized after multiple torpedo strikes, both with significant losses of life. West Virginia and California were also sunk, while Nevada managed to get underway and was beached shortly afterward. Tennessee and Maryland each received two bomb hits.

Arizona and Oklahoma were considered permanent losses, but the other damaged and sunk battleships were salvaged and sent to the West Coast for repairs, where they also received varying degrees of upgrades similar to the features on the new South Dakota fast battleships. Tennessee, California and West Virginia emerged as the most modernized, though their widened beam exceeded the Panama Canal restrictions which limited their operations to the Pacific. Maryland, Colorado, and Pennsylvania received twin turret mounts of 5"/38 DP guns, while Nevada also had her superstructure significantly rebuilt.

The ten surviving Standard Type battleships served throughout World War II primarily as fire support for amphibious landings. Their low speed relegated them to second line duties as they were too slow to accompany the fleet carriers that had become the dominant combatant. Six of them participated in the last battleship versus battleship engagement in naval history, the Battle of Surigao Strait, where none of them were hit.


Arizona and Oklahoma were destroyed at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Their sisterships Pennsylvania and Nevada were used as targets in the Operation Crossroads atomic tests in 1946. In 1946 Mississippi was converted to a test vessel for new gun and missile systems and served until 1956. Most other Standard-type battleships were decommissioned in 1946 or 1947 and placed in the reserve fleet; ultimately all were scrapped by 1959.


  1. ^ a b c Czarnecki, Joseph (February 1, 2001). "A Survey of the American "Standard Type" Battleship". Navy Retrieved 2009-07-16.


Amenities ship

An amenities ship is a ship outfitted with recreational facilities as part of a mobile naval base. Amenities ships included movie theaters and canteens staffed by mercantile crews of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary service. These ships were intended to provide a place where British Pacific Fleet personnel could relax between operations.

Ammunition ship

An ammunition ship is an auxiliary ship specially configured to carry ammunition, usually for naval ships and aircraft. An ammunition ship′s cargo handling systems, designed with extreme safety in mind, include ammunition hoists with airlocks between decks, and mechanisms for flooding entire compartments with sea water in case of emergencies. Ammunition ships most often deliver their cargo to other ships using underway replenishment, using both connected replenishment and vertical replenishment. To a lesser extent, they transport ammunition from one shore-based weapons station to another.

Balloon carrier

A balloon carrier or balloon tender was a ship equipped with a balloon, usually tied to the ship by a rope or cable, and usually used for observation. During the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century, these ships were built to have the furthest possible view of the surrounding waters. After several experiments, the type became formalized in the early 1900s, but was soon to be superseded by the development of seaplane carriers and regular aircraft carriers at the beginning of World War I.

Coastal minesweeper

Coastal minesweeper is a term used by the United States Navy to indicate a minesweeper intended for coastal use as opposed to participating in fleet operations at sea.

Because of its small size—usually less than 100 feet in length—and construction—wood as opposed to steel—and slow speed—usually about 9 or 10 knots—the coastal minesweeper was considered too fragile and slow to operate on the high seas with the fleet.

Minesweeping, in conjunction with fleet activities, was usually relegated to the diesel-driven steel-hulled AM-type minesweepers, later to be replaced by the wood-hulled MSO-type minesweeper with aluminum engines.

Coastal submarine

A coastal submarine or littoral submarine is a small, maneuverable submarine with shallow draft well suited to navigation of coastal channels and harbors. Although size is not precisely defined, coastal submarines are larger than midget submarines, but smaller than sea-going submarines designed for longer patrols on the open ocean. Space limitations aboard coastal submarines restrict fuel availability for distant travel, food availability for extended patrol duration, and number of weapons carried. Within those limitations, however, coastal submarines may be able to reach areas inaccessible to larger submarines, and be more difficult to detect.

Combat stores ship

Combat stores ships, or Storeships were originally a designation given to ships in the Age of Sail and immediately afterward that navies used to stow supplies and other goods for naval purposes. Today, the United States Navy and the Royal Navy operate modern combat store ships. The Sirius and Mars classes (for the US) and the Fort Rosalie and Fort Victoria classes (for the UK) provide supplies, including frozen, chilled and dry provisions, and propulsion and aviation fuel to combatant ships that are at sea for extended periods of time. Storeships should not be confused with fast combat support ships or tenders.

Destroyer tender

A destroyer tender, or destroyer depot ship in British English, is an auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships. The use of this class has faded from its peak in the first half of the 20th century as the roles of small combatants have evolved (in conjunction with technological advances in propulsion reliability and efficiency).

General stores issue ship

General stores issue ship is a type of ship used by the United States Navy during World War II and for some time afterwards.

The task of the general stores issue ship was to sail into non-combat, or rear, areas and disburse general stores, such as canned goods, toilet paper, office supplies, etc., to ships and stations.

Guard ship

A guard ship is a warship assigned as a stationary guard in a port or harbour, as opposed to a coastal patrol boat which serves its protective role at sea.

Light aircraft carrier

A light aircraft carrier, or light fleet carrier, is an aircraft carrier that is smaller than the standard carriers of a navy. The precise definition of the type varies by country; light carriers typically have a complement of aircraft only one-half to two-thirds the size of a full-sized fleet carrier. A light carrier was similar in concept to an escort carrier in most respects, however light carriers were intended for higher speeds to be deployed alongside fleet carriers, while escort carriers usually defended convoys and provided air support during amphibious operations.

Mine countermeasures vessel

A mine countermeasures vessel or MCMV is a type of naval ship designed for the location of and destruction of naval mines which combines the role of a minesweeper and minehunter in one hull. The term MCMV is also applied collectively to minehunters and minesweepers.


A minehunter is a naval vessel that seeks, detects, and destroys individual naval mines. Minesweepers, on the other hand, clear mined areas as a whole, without prior detection of mines. A vessel that combines both of these roles is known as a mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV).

Net laying ship

A net laying ship, also known as a net layer, net tender, gate ship or boom defence vessel was a type of small auxiliary ship.

A net layer's primary function was to lay and maintain steel anti-torpedo or anti-submarine nets. Nets could be laid around an individual ship at anchor, or around harbors or other anchorages. Net laying was potentially dangerous work, and net laying seamen were experts at dealing with blocks, tackles, knots and splicing. As World War II progressed, net layers were pressed into a variety of additional roles including salvage, troop and cargo transport, buoy maintenance, and service as tugboats.

New Mexico-class battleship

The New Mexico-class battleships of the United States Navy, all three of whose construction began in 1915, were improvements on the design introduced three years earlier with the Nevada class.

The twelve-gun main battery of the preceding Pennsylvania class was retained, but with longer 14-inch (356 mm)/50 caliber guns in improved triple turrets. Hull design was also upgraded with a 'clipper' bow for better seakeeping and a sleeker look. One ship, New Mexico, was fitted with turbo-electric propulsion.

Though eight secondary battery guns were located in extremely wet bow and stern positions and were soon removed, the rest of the ships' 5-inch (127 mm)/51 caliber guns were mounted in the superstructure, a great improvement over earlier U.S. Navy battleships' arrangements.

Ocean boarding vessel

Ocean boarding vessels (OBVs) were merchant ships taken over by the Royal Navy for the purpose of enforcing wartime blockades by intercepting and boarding foreign vessels.

Pennsylvania-class battleship

The Pennsylvania-class consisted of two super-dreadnought battleships built for the United States Navy just before the First World War. The ships were named Pennsylvania and Arizona, after the American states of the same names. They constituted the United States' second battleship design to adhere to the "all or nothing" armor scheme, and were the newest American capital ships when the United States entered the First World War.

The Nevada-class battleships represented a marked increase in the United States' dreadnought technology, and the Pennsylvania-class was intended to continue this with slight increases in the ships' capabilities, including two additional 14-inch (356 mm)/45 caliber guns and improved underwater protection. The class was the second standard type battleship class to join the US Navy, along with the preceding Nevada and the succeeding New Mexico, Tennessee and Colorado classes.

In service, the Pennsylvania-class saw limited use in the First World War, as a shortage of oil fuel in the United Kingdom meant that only the coal-burning ships of Battleship Division Nine were sent. Both were sent across the Atlantic to France after the war for the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, and were then transferred to the Pacific Fleet before being significantly modernized from 1929 to 1931. For the remainder of the inter-war period, the ships were used in exercises and fleet problems. Both Pennsylvania and Arizona were present during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into the Second World War. Arizona was sunk by a massive magazine explosion and was turned into a memorial after the war, while Pennsylvania, in dry dock at the time, received only minor damage. After a refit from October 1942 to February 1943, Pennsylvania went on to serve as a shore bombardment ship for most of the remainder of the war. Pennsylvania was present at the Battle of Surigao Strait, the last battle ever between battleships, but did not engage. Pennsylvania was severely damaged by a torpedo on 12 August 1945, two days before the cessation of hostilities. With minimal repairs, it was used in Operation Crossroads, part of the nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll, before being expended as a target ship in 1948.

Repair ship

A repair ship is a naval auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to warships. Repair ships provide similar services to destroyer, submarine and seaplane tenders or depot ships, but may offer a broader range of repair capability including equipment and personnel for repair of more significant machinery failures or battle damage.

Submarine tender

A submarine tender is a type of depot ship that supplies and supports submarines.

Tennessee-class battleship

The Tennessee class was a class of battleships of the United States Navy. The class comprised two ships: Tennessee and California. They were modified versions of the New Mexico class featuring improved underwater armor for better torpedo protection and 30-degree elevation on their main batteries, as opposed to 15 degrees for the New Mexicos. Both ships were extensively rebuilt after being damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and survived World War II to be scrapped shortly after.

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