Tennessee file photo [3645]


CountryUnited States
Ship ClassTennessee-class Battleship
Hull NumberBB-43
BuilderNew Port News
Commissioned1 Jun 1920
Decommissioned1 Jul 1959
Displacement32,300 tons standard


ww2dbaseUSS Tennessee, a 32,300-ton battleship, was built at the New York Navy Yard. Commissioned in June 1920, she operated in the Atlantic area for a year and then transferred to the U.S. Pacific coast, where she was based for nearly two decades. As a unit of the Battleship Force, she participated in regular training and fleet exercises, winning the "E" for excellence in gunnery during the mid-1920s. In 1925, Tennessee transited the Pacific to visit New Zealand and Australia. With tensions with Japan rising, her base was moved forward to Pearl Harbor in 1940.

ww2dbaseOn 7 December 1941, Tennessee was one of eight battleships present when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Moored inboard of USS West Virginia (BB-48), she was hit by two bombs, which damaged two of her four gun turrets, and was scorched by burning oil from the sunken USS Arizona. In late December, after temporary repairs, Tennessee steamed to the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington, for an overhaul. From February through August 1942, she operated off the U.S. west coast, then briefly went to Pearl Harbor before returning to Puget Sound for extensive modernization.

ww2dbaseWith her appearance completely changed and her weapons, combat systems and protection considerably enhanced, Tennessee emerged from the shipyard in May 1943. She almost immediately moved up to the Aleutians area, where her 14-inch guns bombarded Kiska when that island was invaded in August. During the next year, from November 1943 into September 1944, she participated in bombardments of Tarawa, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, New Ireland, Saipan (where she was damaged by Japanese counter-fire), Guam, Tinian, Anguar and Pelieu. In October, Tennessee's guns pounded the Leyte invasion area as U.S. forces returned to the Philippines, and, on the night of 24-25 October, she helped sink the Japanese battleship Yamashiro in the Battle of Surigao Strait.

ww2dbaseAfter a Stateside overhaul, Tennessee supported the Iwo Jima operation in February and March 1945, firing nearly 1400 fourteen-inch and over 6000 five-inch shells at targets on the small, but fiercely defended island. Beginning in late March, she bombarded Okinawa. Hit by a suicide plane on 12 April, Tennessee remained in action until 1 May, when she went to Ulithi for repairs, then returned to Okinawa to continue her gunfire support during June. In July and August, she operated in the waters off China. Following Japan's surrender, the battleship took part in the occupation effort before returning to the United States via the Cape of Good Hope, arriving at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania, early December 1946. Through the next year, she underwent the "mothballing" process and was decommissioned in February 1947. USS Tennessee was part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet for twelve more years and was sold for scrapping in July 1959.

ww2dbaseSource: Naval Historical Center

Last Major Revision: Jan 2005

Battleship Tennessee (BB-43) Interactive Map

Tennessee Operational Timeline

1 Jun 1920 Tennessee was commissioned into service.
29 Dec 1941 Battleships USS Tennessee and USS Maryland, both damaged in the Pearl Harbor attack, arrived at Puget Sound Navy Yard for repairs.
25 Feb 1942 Battleships USS Tennessee and USS Maryland depart Puget Sound Naval Shipyard after repairs.
27 Aug 1942 Battleship USS Tennessee arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for modernization.
22 May 1943 Battleship USS Tennessee departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
26 Nov 1944 Battleship USS Tennessee arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
2 Feb 1945 Battleship USS Tennessee departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
1 Jul 1959 Tennessee was decommissioned from service.


Tennessee anchored in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, circa Feb 1921Battleship USS Tennessee in drydock at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, United States, late in 1921.US Navy Battle Fleet entering Panama Bay during fleet maneuvers, probably 1923USS fleet in Panama Bay, 1 Mar 1923
See all 45 photographs of Battleship Tennessee (BB-43)

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Event(s) Participated:
» Attack on Pearl Harbor
» Battle of Iwo Jima

» US Navy Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, Enclosure E, USS Tennessee

Battleship Tennessee (BB-43) Photo Gallery
Tennessee anchored in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, circa Feb 1921
See all 45 photographs of Battleship Tennessee (BB-43)

Famous WW2 Quote
"Goddam it, you'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!"

Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943