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

A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. As they were the 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power, notably aircraft carriers, battleships were no longer able to establish naval superiority, and so all have been withdrawn from active service.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. Later 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 outrun 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. Many battlecruisers and battleships of all varieties served in the First World War, most notably in the Battle of Jutland. None were built between the Nelsons of the early 1920s and the Dunkerques of the early 1930s due to various treaties, but quite a few battleships 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 1992 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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the Nevada fires on targets on Iwo Jima

USS Nevada (BB-36) was the lead ship of her class and second vessel of the United States Navy to be named after the 36th state. The first American super-dreadnought, she was launched in 1914 and commissioned on March 11, 1916, and though not originally sent to Battleship Division 9 to fight in World War I due to a shortage of fuel oil, though she did join the Grand Fleet in August 1918 to escort convoys, having never fired a shot in anger during the war. She served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets during the interwar period, visiting nations in South America and a "goodwill cruise" to Oceania that validated War Plan Orange, then being overhauled from mid-1927 to January 1930. During the Attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, she was the only battleship whose mooring did not prevent maneuver, though significant bomb damage forced her to run aground. Refloated two months later, her repairs were complete in October 1942 and she sailed to support the Aleutian Islands Campaign. After a few Atlantic convoy escorts, she provided fire support for the Invasion of Normandy (including fire for troops at the D-Day landings) and Operation Dragoon, then returned to New York for maintenance in late 1944 that included adding two 14"/45 caliber guns salvaged from USS Arizona. She then returned to the Pacific to provide bombardment during the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After brief occupation in Tokyo Bay, she was sent to the Bikini atomic experiments as a target for Operation Crossroads; she survived both blasts and was sunk near Pearl Harbor during gunnery practice on July 31, 1948.

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photograph of Rodman in the service uniform of an admiral, leaning against a railing during a fleet review in 1919.

Admiral Hugh Rodman, KCB, (6 January 1859 – 7 June 1940) was an officer in the United States Navy who served during the Spanish–American War and World War I. Graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1880, he served on the USS Yantic, Wachusett, Hartford, and Essex. After a tour at the Navy's hydrographic office and the United States Naval Observatory, he began a four year survey of the Alaskan and British Columbian coats in 1891. During the Spanish-American War, he served on USS Raleigh and fought in the Battle of Manila Bay, then returned to survey duties in 1899. From 1901 to 1904, he commanded USS Iroquois in Hawaiian waters, the transferred to the Asiatic Squadron to serve on USS New Orleans, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, and commanded USS Elcano on the Yangtze Patrol.

After attending the Naval War College and acting as Lighthouse Inspector for the 6th Naval District from 1907 to 1909, he commanded the Sangley Point Navy Yard in Cavite, USS Cleveland, Mare Island Navy Yard, USS Connecticut (then flagship of the Atlantic Fleet), and USS Delaware in 1913. After duty as Marine Superintendent of the Panama Canal in 1914, he commanded USS New York (BB-34) and served on the General Board. Promoted to flag officer in 1917, he commanded Battleship Division 9 from New York and joined the British Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow to became the 6th Battle Squadron under Admiral Beatty and operated in the North Sea. After the war, he served with the Atlantic Fleet, until took command of the Pacific Fleet in July 1919, then the 5th Naval District from 1921 to 1922, with a mission to Peru as diplomatic envoy. After serving on an administrative policy board, he retired in 1923 at age 64. He continued to serve the Navy on various missions, such as accompanying President Harding on his ill-fated inspection of Alaska and attending King George VI's coronation.

The USS Rodman (DD-456) and USS Admiral Hugh Rodman (AP-126) were named for him.

Read more about Hugh Rodman • Archives

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HMS Royal Oak flies the Norwegian flag and the White Ensign at half-mast as she carries the body of Queen Maud back to Norway in November 1938. The ship had previously gained notoriety as the subject of the "Royal Oak Mutiny" in 1928. Royal Oak would be decommissioned the following month until the summer of 1939, only to be sunk by German submarine U-47 at Scapa Flow on 14 October 1939, the first British battleship loss of World War II.
Credit: Royal Navy photo, published in Liverpool Daily Post on October 16, 1939

HMS Royal Oak flies the Norwegian flag and the White Ensign at half-mast as she carries the body of Queen Maud back to Norway in November 1938. The ship had previously gained notoriety as the subject of the "Royal Oak Mutiny" in 1928. Royal Oak would be decommissioned the following month until the summer of 1939, only to be sunk by German submarine U-47 at Scapa Flow on 14 October 1939, the first British battleship loss of World War II.

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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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