In it’s nearly two hundred years of being a state, Arkansas has been the name of only five naval vessels, four named in the United States Navy and one in the Confederate States Navy. Each vessel was vastly different from the others, each made with a particular task within the navy. The first of the vessels was CSS Arkansas, an ironclad ship used by the Confederates. This Arkansas had the shortest life, serving less than a month before it was scuttled in Louisiana. The steamer ship USS Arkansas was built in Pennsylvania and bought by the Union during the Civil War in 1863, two months before the Union occupation of Arkansas. The steamer was used as a tender and supply ship for the Union blockade of the Confederate Gulf coast. It was decommissioned after the war and sold.
The Monitor USS Arkansas was one of the last monitors built for the United States Navy. Launched in 1900 and commissioned in 1902, it served many different roles while in the navy. It was in the Washington D.C. Naval Militia and then refitted as a submarine tender. It served in the Gulf of Mexico and with the Atlantic fleet up until it was decommissioned in 1919 and sold for scrap in 1922.
The fourth vessel, and the longest serving vessel, was USS Arkansas (BB-33). It was a dreadnought battleship and second member of the Wyoming class in the United States Navy. It was commissioned in 1912 and served in both World Wars in the twentieth century and was a part of Operation Magic Carpet, returning many service men back home. The battleship came to rest at Bikini Atoll during Operation Crossroads where it was used as a target in 1946.
The last of the vessels, USS Arkansas (CGN-41), was a Virginia-class nuclear-propelled guided-missile cruiser. Its primary mission was defending aircraft carrier task forces from both the air and from below. Cruiser was decommissioned in 1998 and entered the Navy’s recycling program.
Along with these these, fifty-nine other vessels have had names associated with the state. Two of the vessels are named after the capital Little Rock while the others are named after important Arkansas as well as places and natural wildlife.