Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

NH-86646
Description

USS Mississippi (BB 41)

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USS Mississippi (BB-41, later AG-128), 1917-1956

USS Mississippi, a 32,000 ton New Mexico class battleship, was built at Newport News, Virginia. She was commissioned in December 1917, and operated in the western Atlantic area until July 1919, when she transited the Panama Canal to the Pacific. Over more than a decade, she operated with the fleet's other battleships, conducting exercises and training operations in the Pacific and in the Caribbean. During gunnery practice on 12 June 1924, she suffered a turret fire that took the lives of 48 of her crew. Mississippi steamed to Australia on a U.S. Fleet good will tour in mid-1925.


During 1931-33 , Mississippi underwent a major modernization that gave her an all-new superstructure, improved armament and enhanced protection. She returned to the Pacific in October 1934 to resume her earlier pattern of regular exercises, Fleet Problems and training. In June 1941, in response to the deteriorating war situation in Europe, she was brought back to the Atlantic, operating between the United States and Iceland during much of the rest of that year.


In early 1942, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Mississippi rejoined the Pacific Fleet. She spent most of 1942 along the U.S. west coast and went to the South Pacific late in that year. In 1943, she took part operations against Kiska Island, in the Aleutians, and in the capture of the Gilbert Islands. During the latter operation, on 29 November 1943, Mississippi experienced another turret explosion, which took 43 lives. Following repairs, she participated in the capture of Kwajalein in February 1944 and bombarded Japanese-held islands in February and March. Later in the year, she was part of the force that invaded Peleliu and Leyte and defeated a Japanese task force in the Battle of Surigao Strait. Mississippi provided gunfire support for the Lingayen landings in January 1945 and for the conquest of Okinawa in March-June. The battleship was damaged by suicide planes in both operations. She was present in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945, when Japan formally surrendered and returned to the United States soon thereafter.


Mississippi was converted to a gunnery training and weapons development ship in 1946, and given the new hull number AG-128. In this role, she carried a variety of old and new guns and radars, while serving with the Operational Development Force in the Atlantic. During the mid-1950s, she was test ship for the Navy's first surface-to-air guided missile, the "Terrier". Decommissioned in September 1956, USS Mississippi was sold for scrapping in November of that year, after almost forty years of service.