PLEASE NOTE: Due to a conflict in my schedule, the ship that was supposed to be posted on Tuesday, April 12, will be posted on Saturday, April 9. The next ship will be posted on Tuesday, April 19. Thanks.
Figure 1: USS Mississippi (BB-41) anchored off New York City, 1919. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Mississippi (BB-41) operating off Panama, circa 1923. Collection of Vice Admiral Dixwell Ketcham. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Mississippi (BB-41) operating at sea during the later 1930s. She has three SOC aircraft on her catapults. The original photograph is dated 20 March 1951, about a dozen years after it was actually taken. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Mississippi (BB-41) steaming through heavy weather in the North Atlantic, September 1941. Collection of Vice Admiral Robert C. Giffen. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: New Mexico class battleships at Pearl Harbor, 17 December 1943. Photographed from USS Natoma Bay (CVE-62), shortly after the conclusion of the Gilberts Campaign. The three battleships, in an anchorage protected by anti-torpedo nets, are (from left to right): USS Idaho (BB-42); USS New Mexico (BB-40); and USS Mississippi (BB-41). Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Mississippi (BB-41) underway at three knots in Puget Sound, Washington, 13 July 1944. She is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 6D. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Mississippi (BB-41) covering the landings in Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 9 January 1945. This image is cropped from Photo #: 80-G-K-2516 to emphasize Mississippi's camouflage pattern, which is Camouflage Measure 32, Design 6D. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: Lingayen Invasion, January 1945. USS Mississippi (BB-41) bombarding Luzon, during the Lingayen operation, 8 January 1945. She is followed by USS West Virginia (BB-48) and HMAS Shropshire. Photographed from USS New Mexico (BB-40). Mississippi is painted in camouflage Measure 32, Design 6D. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: USS Mississippi (BB-41) in the Mississippi River, en route to take part in Navy Day celebrations at New Orleans, Louisiana, 16 October 1945. Note her anchors suspended below their normal stowed position at the bow. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: USS Mississippi (AG-128) photographed in 1947-48. She retains only her after 14" gun turret, but carries numerous smaller weapons and a special radar suite. Collection of Rear Admiral Frederic S. Withington, 1975. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: USS Mississippi (EAG-128) fires a "Terrier" surface-to-air missile during at-sea tests, circa 1953-55. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 12: May 1955 photograph showing USS Mississippi (AG-128) underway in New York harbor. Photographed & contributed by Bill Fuzak. Click on photograph for larger image.
The 32,000-ton USS Mississippi was a New Mexico class battleship that was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company at Newport News, Virginia, and was commissioned on 18 December 1917. The ship was approximately 624 feet long and 97 feet wide, had a top speed of 21 knots, and had a crew of 1,081 officers and men. Mississippi was armed with 12 14-inch guns, 22 5-inch guns, eight 3-inch guns, and two 21-inch torpedo tubes.
After her shakedown cruise off the coast of Virginia, Mississippi left on 22 March 1918 for additional training exercises near Cuba. One month later, the ship steamed north and patrolled the waters between Boston, Massachusetts, and New York until 31 January 1919, when she sailed to the Caribbean for winter naval maneuvers. On 19 July, Mississippi left the Atlantic seaboard and headed for the west coast. She eventually arrived at her new home at San Pedro, California, and remained based there for the next four years, heading only to the Caribbean during the winter months for training exercises.
On 12 June 1924, while Mississippi was on gunnery practice off San Pedro, a tragic explosion in the No. 2 main battery turret killed 48 members of the ship’s crew. On 15 April 1925, the ship sailed from San Francisco, California, to Hawaii to participate in naval exercises that were being held there. From there, Mississippi sailed to Australia for a “good will” tour. The ship returned to the west coast on 26 September and remained there for the next six years. As usual, Mississippi returned to the Caribbean during the winter months for various fleet maneuvers.
Mississippi entered the Norfolk Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia, on 30 March 1931 for a major modernization and overhaul. Once the overhaul was completed in September 1933, the ship steamed south and transited the Panama Canal on 24 October 1934. Once through the canal, Mississippi returned to San Pedro and remained based there for the next seven years.
Mississippi returned to Norfolk on 15 June 1941. The ship was overhauled and made ready for patrol duty in the North Atlantic. A few months later, Mississippi escorted a convoy to Hvalfjordur, Iceland, and basically remained there patrolling off the coast of Iceland until America entered the war on 7 December 1941. Two days after the start of the war, Mississippi left Iceland and was sent to the Pacific. She arrived at San Francisco on 22 January 1942 and spent most of the year participating in training exercises and escorting convoys along America’s west coast. In December 1942, Mississippi went to Hawaii and took part in more training exercises there. After that, the battleship escorted troop transports to the Fiji Islands and returned to Pearl Harbor on 2 March 1943. On 10 May, the ship sailed from Pearl Harbor and was part of the American amphibious invasion force that took back the Aleutian Islands from the Japanese. On 22 July, Mississippi bombarded the island of Kiska and several days later the Japanese withdrew. After that, the ship went back to San Francisco for an overhaul and returned to San Pedro on 19 October to join the invasion force that was going to attack the Gilbert Islands.
Mississippi reached the Gilbert Islands in November 1943. But on 20 November, another horrible turret explosion, almost identical to the first tragedy that occurred in 1924, killed 43 men on board the battleship. After being repaired, Mississippi participated in the amphibious assault on the Marshall Islands on 31 January 1944, shelling Kwajalein Island. The ship continued pounding Japanese-held islands in the area with her big guns and then went on to bombard Kavieng in New Ireland. Long overdue for an overhaul, Mississippi steamed to the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Washington and spent the summer of 1944 there being repaired.
Mississippi returned to the fighting in the Pacific and on 12 September 1944 supported the US landings on Peleliu in the Palau Islands. After a week of continuous shelling, Mississippi was sent to the island of Manus off New Guinea. She remained there until 12 October and then participated in the liberation of the Philippines. The ship began shelling the east coast of Leyte in the Philippines on 19 October and during the night of 24 October was part of Admiral Jesse Oldendorf’s task force that fought the famous Battle of Surigao Strait. This was the last time in history battleships from two opposing navies fired at each other, with the American task force fighting a Japanese task force under the command of Admiral Shoji Nishimura. The Japanese task force had two battleships (Yamashiro and Fusō), while the Americans had six battleships (West Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee, California, and Pennsylvania). Ironically, all of the American battleships except Mississippi had been sunk or damaged in the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and had since been repaired. The Japanese warships were overwhelmed by the larger American task force and suffered a major defeat, with both Yamashiro and Fusō being sunk with no losses to the Americans. Like ghosts, the American battleships that were given up for dead after the attack on Pearl Harbor had returned and exacted a terrible vengeance on the Japanese fleet. After this battle, the Japanese made no further naval attacks on the Philippines, paving the way for the eventual American victory there.
Mississippi continued supporting operations in Leyte Gulf until 16 November 1944 and then steamed to the Admiralty Islands. The ship then entered San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on 28 December for the amphibious landings on Luzon in the Philippines. On 6 January 1945, Mississippi participated in the bombardment of Lingayan Gulf. During this operation, she was hit by a Japanese “kamikaze” or suicide aircraft, but the damage she received at her waterline was not critical and Mississippi was able to continue providing gunfire support for the operation until 10 February. After that, Mississippi returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs. Once the repairs were completed, the battleship was sent to Okinawa, arriving there on 6 May to take part in the massive amphibious assault on that island. Mississippi provided critical and highly accurate gunfire support during the invasion, even though she was hit by yet another kamikaze on 5 June. Although damaged, Mississippi remained on station and continued providing gunfire support until 16 June.
Once Japan surrendered, Mississippi steamed to Sagami Wan, Honshu, arriving there on 27 August as part of the American occupation force. She then anchored in Tokyo Bay and was present when Japan formally surrendered to the United States on board the USS Missouri on 2 September 1945. Mississippi left Japan soon after that and returned to the United States, arriving at Norfolk on 27 November. Mississippi was then converted to a gunnery training and weapons development ship in 1946 and re-designated AG-128. While acting in this role, she was given a wide variety of old and new guns and radars and served with the Operational Development Force in the Atlantic. On 28 January 1953, Mississippi acted as the test ship for and successfully fired the Navy’s first surface-to-air guided missile, the “Terrier.” Mississippi also assisted in the final evaluation of the “Petrel,” another radar-guided missile. But the old battleship was decommissioned at Norfolk on 17 September 1956 and was sold for scrapping to the Bethlehem Steel Company on 28 November of that same year, after almost 40 years of service to this country. USS Mississippi received eight battle stars for her service during World War II.