Pennsylvania file photo [2703]


CountryUnited States
Ship ClassPennsylvania-class Battleship
Hull NumberBB-38
BuilderNewport News Shipbuilding
Laid Down27 Oct 1913
Launched16 Mar 1915
Commissioned12 Jun 1916
Decommissioned29 Aug 1946
Sunk10 Feb 1948
Displacement31,400 tons standard
Length608 feet
Beam97 feet
Draft29 feet
MachineryFive White-Forster and one Bureau Express boilers, four Curtiss geared turbines, four shafts
Bunkerage5,780 tons oil
Power Output35,000 shaft horsepower
Speed21 knots
Range8,500nm at 20 knots; 13,600nm at 15 knots
Armament4x3x14in guns, 8x2x5in guns, 10x4x40mm guns, 22x2x20mm guns, 27x1x20mm guns, 8x0.50cal machine guns, 2x21in torpedo tubes
Armor8-14in hull, 2-6in deck, 9-15in funnel, 2-18in turret, 4.5-13in barbettes, 4-16in conning tower


ww2dbaseCommissioned in 1916 to Captain H. B. Wilson, Pennsylvania soon became the flagship of Admiral Henry Mayo's US Navy Atlantic Fleet. On 6 Apr 1917 when the United States declared war on Germany and entered WW1, she was in Yorktown, Virginia, United States. She remained in the United States, however, because of the high demand for the oil tanker fleet and for fuel oil; only coal-burning battleships were sent to the United Kingdom early in WW1. She performed training and other various missions on the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean Sea. On 22 Aug 1922, she steamed for the west coast to join the Pacific Fleet, arriving at San Pedro, California, United States on 26 Sep 1922. She visited Australia and New Zealand in 1925. Beginning on 1 Jun 1930, she was modernized, returning to the Pacific Fleet in Aug 1931. Until 1941, she engaged in fleet tactics and battle practices along the west coast, off Hawaii, off Panama, and in the Caribbean Sea. She was overhauled at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, United States on 7 Jan 1941.

ww2dbaseOn 7 Dec 1941, Pennsylvania was in a drydock in the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard in Hawaii. When the Japanese aircraft began the raid, her guns were among the first to fire, preventing the Japanese torpedo bombers from hitting the caisson of the drydock, but she was still strafed and bombed. A bomb destroyed a 5-inch gun mount, wiping out the entire crew, while another bomb that hit the boat deck on the starboard side also caused considerable damage. Destroyer USS Downes, in the drydock just forward of Pennsylvania, was hit by a bomb, causing one of Downes' 1,000-pound torpedo tubes to fly into Pennsylvania's forecastle. At the end of the day, Pennsylvania's crew suffered 15 men killed (including the executive officer), 14 missing, and 38 wounded. She left Pearl Harbor on 20 Dec 1941, arriving at San Francisco, California, United States on 29 Dec. She remained in San Francisco for repairs until 30 Mar 1942.

ww2dbaseBetween 14 Apr and 1 Aug 1942, Pennsylvania was engaged in training and patrol duties off the coast of California, in fear that the Japanese might attempt the bombardment or even invasion on the continental United States. After the Japanese defeat at Midway in Jun 1942, however, that fear was much alleviated. Between 14 Aug and 4 Oct, she served at Pearl Harbor, conducting gunnery exercises. Between Oct 1942 and Feb 1943, she was back in San Francisco for overhaul. After training and patrols, she set sail for the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, United States on 23 Apr, arriving at Cold Bay, Alaska on 30 Apr.

ww2dbaseBetween 11 and 12 May, Pennsylvania bombarded Japanese positions at Holtz Bay and Chicago Harbor at Attu, Alaska. On 12 May, she was attacked by the Japanese submarine I-31, whose torpedo missed Pennsylvania; although attacked and severely damaged, I-31 escaped from this engagement, but was later destroyed before she completed her war patrol. In the morning of 14 May, another torpedo was sighted toward her, also missing her by a relatively safe distance; the attacker was not found. In the afternoon of 14 May, she bombarded Holtz Bay once again in support of the ground troops in the area. She remained in the Aleutian Islands until 21 May, returned to Puget Sound Navy Yard for refitting, then returned to the Aleutian Islands on 7 Aug. On 13 Aug, she became Admiral Francis W. Rockwell's flagship; Rockwell led the Kiska, Alaska invasion force. On 15 Aug, she covered the unopposed Kiska landings. By 16 Aug, the Americans realized that the Japanese had already abandoned the island. On 23 Aug, she steamed for Adak, Alaska, then on 25 Aug for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

ww2dbaseBetween 19 and 24 Sep, Pennsylvania transferred 790 passengers from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco, and then brought passengers back to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 6 Oct. Following bombardment exercises, she became the flagship of Fifth Amphibious Force's Rear Admiral Richmond Turner. On 10 Nov, she departed Pearl Harbor for the Gilbert Islands. She supported the Makin Atoll landing by bombarding Butaritari Island on 20 Nov. She also participated in the Marshall Islands campaign, bombarding Kwajalein Island from 31 Jan until 3 Feb 1944. She retired to Majuro Atoll, also of the Marshall Islands, after the Kwajalein action. On 17 Feb, she sailed close to shore and opened fire on Engebi Island, destroying Japanese defensive structures before the American forces landed on Eniwetok on the next day. Until 22 Feb, she bombarded Engebi and Parry Islands to provide naval gunfire support for the ground forces. She retired to Majuro once again on 1 Mar, then went on to Efate in the New Hebrides then Sydney in Australia for rest, replenishment, and training.

ww2dbaseOn 10 Jun 1944, Pennsylvania sailed with the force tasked with the invasion of the Mariana Islands. On the first night, the destroyer screen reported a sound contact; in the confusion of darkness, Pennsylvania and destroyer Talbot collided, requiring Talbot to return for repairs. On 14 Jun, she bombarded Saipan, Mariana Islands, followed by the bombardment of Tinian on the next day and Guam on 16 Jun. Between 17 and 25 Jun, she covered the ground actions on Saipan, and then between 12 and 14 Jul and then again between 17 and 3 Aug at Guam.

ww2dbaseBetween 12 and 15 Sep 1944, Pennsylvania bombarded Peleliu and Angaur of the Palau Islands. Between 1 and 12 Oct, she received emergency repairs at the floating drydocks at Manus, Admiralty Islands. Upon departure from Manus, she joined Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf's group, which sailed for the Philippine Islands.

ww2dbaseBetween 18 and 22 Oct 1944, Pennsylvania supported the landing and ground actions at Leyte, Philippine Islands. In the night of 25 Oct, she engaged in the Battle of Surigao Strait, in which the American battle line crossed the "T" of the Japanese fleet, sinking two battleships and three destroyers by the end of the engagement. She remained in the Leyte Gulf region until 25 Nov, fighting off regular Japanese air attacks in the mean time. She returned to the Philippine Islands in Jan 1945, supporting the Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands landing operation between 6 and 7 Jan, remaining in the area to provide naval gunfire support until 10 Jan. Between 10 and 17 Jan, she patrolled in the South China Sea, then returned to the Lingayen Gulf area until 10 Feb. She returned to the United States for overhaul and the installation of improved radar and fire control equipment.

ww2dbaseArriving at Pearl Harbor on 18 Jul following trial cruises and training, Pennsylvania departed for Okinawa, Japan on 24 Jul. En route, she bombarded Wake Island on 1 Aug. On 12 Aug, while at anchor in Buckner Bay in Okinawa, a Japanese torpedo bomber struck her, flooding many compartments and causing her to settle at the stern. On 18 Aug, she was towed out of Buckner Bay for Apra Harbor, Guam for repairs. Arriving on 6 Sep, she had a large steel sheet welded to cover the torpedo hole so that she could return to the United States on her own power. She departed Guam on 4 Oct, arriving at the Puget Sound Navy Yard under the escort of destroyer Walke and light cruiser Atlanta on 24 Oct. Shaft problems en route caused her to enter Puget Sound with only one screw turning, but she completed the journey nevertheless. Okinawa was to be her final campaign in the war.

ww2dbaseIn Jul 1946, Pennsylvania was used as a target ship during the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. After the blasts, she was tolled to Kwajalein, where she was decommissioned. She remained in Kwajalein for radiological and structural studies until 10 Feb 1948 when she was towed of Kwajalein and sunk.

ww2dbaseSource: US Navy Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Last Major Revision: Nov 2007

Battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38) Interactive Map


Battleship Pennsylvania at anchor in the evening, circa 1916PennsylvaniaPennsylvaniaPennsylvania
See all 43 photographs of Battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38)

Pennsylvania Operational Timeline

12 Jun 1916 Pennsylvania was commissioned into service.
6 Mar 1922 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
19 Apr 1922 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
18 Dec 1922 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
28 Jan 1923 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
22 Dec 1923 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
1 Mar 1924 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
25 Jan 1925 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
24 Mar 1925 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
12 Mar 1926 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
15 Mar 1926 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
14 May 1926 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
14 Jan 1927 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
1 Apr 1928 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
16 May 1928 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
14 Jul 1934 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
16 Oct 1934 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
20 Dec 1935 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
21 Mar 1936 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
6 Jun 1937 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
3 Sep 1937 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
28 Sep 1938 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
16 Dec 1938 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
16 Jun 1940 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
27 Dec 1940 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
20 Dec 1941 US Navy battleships Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Tennessee, damaged during the attack earlier in the month, departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for shipyards on the west coast of the United States.
29 Dec 1941 USS Pennsylvania arrived at San Francisco, California, United States for repairs.
28 May 1943 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
1 Aug 1943 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
5 Jun 1944 At sea, battleships USS New Mexico, USS Idaho, and USS Pennsylvania joined with aircraft carriers USS Corregidor and USS Coral Sea with cruisers USS Honolulu and USS St. Louis and continued on toward Kwajalein.
8 Jun 1944 Battleships USS New Mexico, USS Idaho, and USS Pennsylvania with aircraft carriers USS Corregidor and USS Coral Sea and cruisers USS Honolulu and USS St. Louis arrived at Roi at Kwajalein, Marshall Islands.
10 Jun 1944 Battleships USS New Mexico, USS Idaho, and USS Pennsylvania with aircraft carriers USS Corregidor and USS Coral Sea and cruisers USS Honolulu and USS St. Louis departed Kwajalein bound for the invasion of the Mariana Islands.
14 Jun 1944 Battleships USS Pennsylvania and USS Idaho with cruiser USS Honolulu conducted pre-invasion bombardments of Saipan, Mariana Islands.
12 Oct 1944 Task Group 77.2 consisting of battleships USS Tennessee, USS California, USS Pennsylvania, USS Maryland, USS West Virginia, and USS Mississippi with cruisers USS Honolulu, USS Portland, USS Minneapolis, USS Denver, and USS Columbia departed Seeadler Harbor, Manus bound Leyte Gulf, Philippines.
1 Nov 1944 A battleship force on station at the northern entrance to Surigao Strait consisting of battleships USS Mississippi, California, and Pennsylvania screened by cruisers USS Phoenix, Boise, Nashville, and HMAS Shropshire along with destroyers Ammen, Bush, Leutze, Newcomb, Bennion, Heywood L. Edwards, Robinson, Richard P. Leary, Bryant, and Claxton came under an intense Japanese air attacking force that included special attack aircraft. USS Ammen sustained a glancing blow from a Yokosuka P1Y 'Francis' that caused considerable topside damage and killed 5 men. An Aichi D3A 'Val' crashed across Abner Read's main deck as it dropped a bomb down one the destroyer's stacks that exploded in the engine room. Abner Read jettisoned her torpedoes which immediately began their runs toward other ships in the group. Abner Read began sinking by the stern and 20 minutes after the attack, she rolled over and sank. 24 were killed. Meanwhile, Mississippi and Nashville had to take emergency evasive actions to avoid the torpedoes.
24 Oct 1945 USS Pennsylvania arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
24 Feb 1946 USS Pennsylvania departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard bound for the atomic bomb tests at Bikini via Pearl Harbor.
29 Aug 1946 Pennsylvania was decommissioned from service.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
15 Mar 2016 04:32:50 PM

looking for any info regarding my Uncle William C. Heinzelman service aboard this ship during 1940 to around 1945.
2. Patrick Olcott says:
18 Nov 2016 07:15:21 AM

I do not have an email address at this time. My friend Wayne is allowing me to use his computer and email address to help locate my father, Raymond Wallace Olcott. My dad was on board the Penn during the attack on Pearl Harbor. I need this verification my father served in WWII to join the Sons of the American Legion. I would welcome any info you might have in search of my dad's WWII history.
3. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
18 Nov 2016 05:04:38 PM

Patrick Olcott (above): has Muster Rolls for the Pennsylvania starting in 1939 through to 1946. No Olcott listed over that period. A search of all WWII Muster Rolls revealed several Olcott’s with one Raymond Wallace. He appears on the Muster Rolls of the USS Olmstead (Attack Transport APA-188) in 1945, the USS Purdy (Destroyer DD-734) in 1948, the USS Yellowstone (Destroyer Tender AD-41) in 1948, and the USS Gyatt (Destroyer DD-412) in 1949. The earliest he is listed is on the rolls of the USS Olmstead where he was received aboard 11 Aug 1945 from “USN TADCEN, Shoemaker, Calif.” My guess is that TADCEN stands for Temporary Assigned Duty Center but I am not sure what that is. His rate at the time was Seaman 2nd class and his service number is listed as 207 54 56. Muster Rolls are supposed to list the date and place of enlistment but those spaces were blank.
With his name and service number you should be able to get a copy of his discharge papers which should have all the information you need. Better still, request a copy of his service records – here’s how:
4. R. Redding says:
16 Mar 2017 01:36:55 PM

Looking for information or perhaps someone who knew my grandfather, Charles Francis Redding. He was onboard at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and I have muster roles from the period that verify his service and dates on the ship.
I never met my grandfather. Any information or stories would be welcomed...good or bad.


Rick Redding
5. gatyamgal says:
2 Apr 2017 11:17:04 PM

I have a postcard picture of Robert Joseph Ortbals in his navy white. He was killed when the boat was torpedoed on August 12, 1945. He is buried in the Jefferson City Cemetery in Missouri but the address on the card is Ferndale, Michigan but it is not stamped.
6. Anonymous says:
24 Apr 2017 10:02:10 AM

I've been researching the Pearl Harbor deaths and would like to share what I've found on the six crew of BB-38. I need an e-mail to send it to. can anyone help?
7. Denise says:
29 May 2017 07:36:33 AM

Robert Joseph Ortbals is my grandfather's brother. He is from Ferndale, MI but burried in Jefferson City, MO. Please email me if you see this. I would love to learn more about the postcard. Thanks,
8. George Ferraez says:
9 Jun 2017 08:34:30 PM

Are there any surviving crew who were on ship when it took its torpedo hit on Aug. 12, 1945. My father was a crewmember during this time and I would like to make contact with his surviving shipmates.
9. Darvin Sparks says:
16 Jun 2017 11:34:38 PM

My dad, Darvin Sparks, was a radioman on the Pennsylvania for most, if not all, of WWII. Does anyone remember him or have any info about him? He retired as LTJG in 1949 I believe. He never spoke about his WWII experiences but was in the Navy from 1927 thru 1949.
10. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
17 Jun 2017 02:34:20 PM

Mr. Sparks (above):
I am sure you have heard all the jokes about a radioman named Sparks so we will skip that part this time. According to Navy Muster Rolls for the USS Pennsylvania, Radioman 1st class Darvin Sparks, service number 265 45 52, who enlisted (or re-enlisted) 21 Sep 1934 at Washington DC, was received aboard 17 Jan 1939 at Balboa, Canal Zone as part of the Flag Staff and was transferred off the ship 31 Aug 1940 at Pearl Harbor for duty with the Flag Staff aboard the USS Enterprise when the Admiral shifted his flag. He transferred to the USS New Mexico with the Flag Staff on 21 Sep 1940. In Feb 1941, he shows up on the Rolls of the USS Aldebaran as a passenger from Honolulu to temporary duty in Samoa. After a gap in the records, he briefly shows up on the Rolls of the USS Lackawanna in Dec 1942 as a Chief Radioman before being transferred to the Receiving Station in Washington DC. The Muster Rolls do not offer anything more after Dec 1942, suggesting a shore assignment.

To learn more about your father’s service and movements, request a copy of his service record. See
11. Anonymous says:
4 Aug 2017 12:42:25 PM

My father, Dean Solt was onboard the Pennsylvania when it was hit He was at his station in Plotting and was thrown across the room when the torpedo hit. Don Yonker was aboard her and was part of the dive repair crew. I have a great picture of my dad on the Pennsylvania when they were pumping water out of the gun barrels to keep her afloat. A supply ship was hit the next day by a Kamikazee plane and the fleet was ordered out of the bay. The Pennsylvania remained due to damage. My dad said that something appeared on the radar and the gunners began shooting at it. I asked if it was a plane He said "No, it was cloud, but we shot the hell out of that cloud!"
12. Alexander Rossi says:
10 Sep 2017 09:27:15 AM

Dad was on the Pennsylvania inwwll and wanted to know if there was any one out there that was on that ship In 1942
13. Rick Redding says:
7 Dec 2017 09:46:14 AM

The Grandfather whom I never met was aboard the USS Pennsylvania at Pearl Harbor on December 7. 1941. Anyone out there that might remember him?
14. RL Johnson says:
8 Dec 2017 12:58:20 PM

my late fil was on board the PA during the dec 7 attack. i am hoping to find any documentation that there might be of him - its something he would Not talk about..
15. Alfred DeStefano says:
17 Jan 2018 05:04:43 PM

I was on the USS Pennsylvania in 1942 and I'm still alive and kicking! God Bless America
16. Robert Manson says:
21 Feb 2018 11:12:58 PM

My uncle Wendel served aboard the Pennsylvania during most of WWII. I have copies of his Pennsylvania Memorial photo album. In the Book is a photo of Johnny Carson, and you don't have to look at the names under the pic. to recognize him... at all. He stated that this ship could NOT fire a FULL broadside, as it would capsized the ship. A broadside consisted of rapid sequential firing of each turret. He stood watch, during one battle, in the top lookout, which was pure Hell. He was "eyeball to eyeball" with low flying Japanese planes! He is still alive today (1918) but blind and not very active. When home on leave in 1945 (I think), I have a photo of him with my brother and myself, with us in old rubber boots four sizes too big... a very funny photo, showing how tough things made of rubber were to buy. I've always loved him for his love of Country and family. His coming home for his only leave during the War, was a BIG deal for the entire family, which was large with 7 brothers and sisters. Although the ship was standing radar duty, spotting for the battle fleet, she was among the ships to take part in the probable last Battleship to Battleship sea battle with the American commander performing the most sought after by large war ships "crossing the T" maneuver.
17. Sarah Williams says:
26 Mar 2018 04:49:41 PM

My grandfather was on the USS Pennsylvania in WWII in 1945. He was on it when it was torpedoed. He pass last Monday.
18. Trina Miller says:
8 Sep 2018 06:47:02 PM

My grandfather was on the Pennsylvania during the attack on pearl harbor.
19. Colleen says:
3 Jan 2019 09:28:02 AM

My great uncle was on the Pennsylvania. I would love to know anything about him. Information or photos. I found the muster roll with his name while doing genealogy research. My Mom remembers very little except he was in the Navy. Him and his family was from Illinois and he married June Carter. Charles passed away in 1991 Tampa Bay, FL. Collie7767@
20. Anonymous says:
5 Jan 2019 09:43:27 PM

My great grandfather was on the boat when it was torpedoed and was a part of the battle of Leyte gulf on this ship.
21. Richard says:
21 Jun 2019 02:02:14 PM

My great uncle (Frank Townsend) was aboard the Pennsylvania during the attack on Pearl Harbor....
22. Anonymous says:
30 May 2021 10:18:43 AM

My father FRED NEAL KRAUSE was a gunner on the uss Pennsylvanian during wwii
23. Terry Wilson says:
4 Oct 2021 09:50:26 PM

My brother-in-law Roy Butcher was on the USS Pennsylvania and survived the attack. His brother David A Butcher is entombed on the USS Arizonia. Roy served rest of war on submarines in the Atlantic

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More on Pennsylvania
» Holden, Carl
» Turner, Richmond

Event(s) Participated:
» Attack on Pearl Harbor
» Aleutian Islands Campaign
» Gilbert Islands Campaign
» Marshall Islands Campaign
» Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot
» Palau Islands and Ulithi Islands Campaigns
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 2
» Okinawa Campaign

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

Battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38) Photo Gallery
Battleship Pennsylvania at anchor in the evening, circa 1916
See all 43 photographs of Battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38)

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