USS Arkansas (BB-33)

Class: Wyoming-class battleship

Keel:

January 25, 1910

Commissioned:

January 14, 1911

Displacement:

26,000 tons

Length:

562 feet

Beam:

93 feet

Speed:

20.5 knots

Complement:

1,063 Officers and Men

 

The fourth “Arkansas” named vessel, the USS Arkansas (BB-33) had the longest, most illustrious service history compared to the other vessels of the same name. A Wyoming-class dreadnought battleship, Arkansas served before the Great War, during both worlds wars, and two operations after World War II. Winning many awards during its service, including the American Campaign medal and the World War II Victory medal, Arkansas served with distinction. Arkansas’s end was one to be remembered, being a target for BAKER.

 

Pre-World War I:

Right after commissioning, Arkansas participated in a fleet review in October of 1912, for President William Howard Taft. After President Taft came aboard Arkansas, it transported him to the Panama Canal, which was under inspection. Then Arkansas went on its shakedown cruise. Completing the cruise Arkansas was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and participated in fleet maneuvers off the east coast of the United States.

In early 1914, there was an international incident with Mexico which ended up in the American occupation of Veracruz. Arkansas was used in the occupation and contributed four companies of naval infantry. Two of the crewmen were killed in the fighting while John Grady and Jonas H. Ingram, officers aboard Arkansas, received the Medal of Honor for their actions during the occupation.

After the Occupation of Veracruz, Arkansas returned to its normal duties with the Atlantic Fleet patrolling off the east coast and participating in maneuvers with the fleet. Arkansas next big assignment did not come until 1917.

World War I:

It was on April 6, 1917, that the United States declared war on Germany and entered into the First World War. At that point Arkansas was assigned to Battleship Division 7 stationed in Virginia. After training the crew for fourteen months, Arkansas was sent to Britain to relieve USS Delaware (BB-28) which was assigned to operate with the Grand Fleet in the 6th Battle Squadron. Taking Delaware’s place, Arkansas saw no action as both the British and German fleets had given up direct confrontations. When the Armistice with Germany was sign on November 11, 1918, The Grand Fleet, a combination of British, French, and American ships, including Arkansas, took part of escorting the High Seas Fleet, the German Fleet, to Scapa Flow, a bay north east of Scotland, where it was scuttled.

Inter-War Period:

Returning from the war on December 26, 1918, Arkansas and the rest of the fleet underwent a Naval Review for the Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. After which Arkansas was attached to the Atlantic Fleet, where it patrolled off the east coast, underwent trainings and cruises, and went on goodwill missions to other countries, having many high level delegates aboard, like President Arturo Alessandri Palma of Chile and King Christian X of Denmark. In August 1921, Arkansas became the flagship of the Commander, Battleship Force, in the Atlantic fleet. Arkansas also participated in Midshipmen cruises, taking Navy Cadets out for training. Arkansas continued to do these operations throughout the inter-war period in the Atlantic Ocean.

World War II:

With the entry into the Second World War, the United States and Arkansas prepared for battle. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Arkansas was station at Cisco, Main patrolling in the North Atlantic. Throughout most of the war, Arkansas stayed with the Atlantic Fleet and patrolled of the east coast as well as England. Arkansas first battle during the war was on D-Day, where it brought support fire to the army forces landing at Omaha Beach. In January of 1945, Arkansas was transferred to the Pacific Fleet, where it helped the Marine forces on both Iwo Jima in February, and Okinawa in April. After giving support to troops on Okinawa, Arkansas remained in the area, staying in the Philippines until August when it got word that Japan had surrendered.

Post World War II Operations:

After the war, Arkansas participated in Operation Magic Carpet bringing around 3,200 men back to the continental United States from the Pacific. In April of 1946, Arkansas got orders to go to Bikini Atoll to be used for Operation Crossroads. On July 25, 1946, during the operation Arkansas was sunk by the underwater nuclear test BAKER, completing its final mission.

 

For more information, as well as to see items from the USS Arkansas (BB-33) and a video of Operation Crossroads, please come visit the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.