Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

USS Tennessee (BB-43), 1920-1947

The lead ship of her battleship class, USS Tennessee (BB-43) was commissioned on June 3, 1920, at New York Navy Yard, New York.   Initially operating in the Atlantic, she transferred to the Pacific and was based out of Pearl Harbor during the Japanese Attack on December 7, 1941.  Moored inboard of USS West Virginia (BB-48), she was hit by two bombs, damaging two of her four gun turrets and was scorched by burning oil from USS Arizona (BB-39).    Following extensive repairs and modifications at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington, Tennessee departed in May 1943 to support the Aleutian invasion that August.   Relocating to the South Pacific, she provided gunfire support from late 1943 to fall of 1944 at Tarawa, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, New Ireland, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, Anguar, and Pelieu.  On October 20, Tennessee supported the Leyte Gulf invasion, which was followed with participation in the Battle of Surigao Strait on the night of October 24-25, where she helped sink the Japanese battleship Yamashiro during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  Following an overhaul, she supported the Iwo Jima invasion in February 1945 and the Okinawa invasion in April, where she was hit by a kamikaze on April 12.    Repaired at Ulithi, she returned to provide additional gunfire support off Okinawa and later operated off China.   Folllowing the war, she returned to the United States and was decommissioned on February 14, 1947.    Tennessee remained part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until sold for scrapping in July 1959. 

A model of Tennessee can be found In Harm's Way (Atlantic Section) at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.    

Image:  80-G-446336:  USS Tennesse (BB-42), at sea during the later 1930s with Vought O3U aircraft on her catapults.   Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.