USS New Mexico (BB-40)

New Mexico c.1921. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 2004.042.056 1921. This version has been edited (not by me) to remove handwritten captions.

Laid Down

Commissioned 20 May, 1918, USS New Mexico was one of America's 14" gun battleships. Initially assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, New Mexico escorted President Wilson to the Versailles conference in January, 1919, before she transferred to the Pacific Fleet as flagship in July. She conducted training exercises and international cruises until 1931, when she was taken in hand for modernization. New Mexico rejoined the fleet in 1933, with new engines, a new AA armament, and a rebuilt superstructure. She remained with the Pacific Fleet until June, 1941, when she was sent to the Atlantic for Neutrality Patrol duty. New Mexico was sent back to the Pacific less than six months later, after the mauling of the battleships at Pearl Harbor. En route, she accidentally rammed and sank a freighter. She was overhauled from May to August, 1942, then assigned to convoy duty until the following March. Her first taste of action came on 21 July, when she participated in the bombardment of Japanese positions on Kiska, in the Aleutians. New Mexico continued to perform bombardment and escort missions through 1945, but managed to miss both the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She was hit by Kamikazes twice, the first in January, 1945, and the second in May. Both inflicted moderate damage, but neither was able to force her to even break off action early. New Mexico covered the occupation of Atsugi Airfield in late August, before witnessing the surrender of the Japanese in Tokyo Bay on 2 September. New Mexico headed home, and was decommissioned in July, 1946. Sold for scrap in November, 1947, the last fight the battleship was involved in was over her scrapping location. A confrontation between harbor tugs and Coast Guard vessels in Newark, New Jersey was finally de-escalated and she was gone by July, 1948.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: The New Mexico class was a development of the Pennsylvania class, and was developed into the Tennessee class. All three had four triple 14" gun turrets, and similar lines.

Bonus Fact: New Mexico was one of two US battleship classes to have a turbo-electric drive. The system proved to be inefficient, and was replaced during her 1931-33 refit.