Class: South Dakota
Launched: September 23, 1941
At: Bethlehem Steel Company, Quincy, Massachusetts
Commissioned: May 12, 1942
Length: 680 feet
Beam: 108 feet, 2 inches
Draft: 36 feet
Displacement: 35,000 tons
Armament: Nine 16-inch/45 caliber guns; twenty 5-inch/38 caliber guns; eighteen 40mm quad Bofors
5 Water Street, P.O. Box 111
Fall River, MA 02722-0111
Fax: (508) 674-5597
Latitude: 41.707074, Longitude: -71.162739
Battleship Massachusetts, known by her crew as “Big Mamie,” was assigned as flagship for a covering force of warships supporting the invasion of North Africa, “Operation Torch.” On November 8, 1942, she engaged the French battleship Jean Bart in a gun duel and fired the first American 16″ projectile of World War II. By the end of the day she had fired more than 700 16″ projectiles, silencing the Jean Bart and contributing to the sinking of five enemy ships.
After a brief overhaul in December 1942, Massachusetts went on to the Pacific to participate in the invasions of the Gilbert Islands, the Marshall Islands, strikes in the Caroline Islands, and a bombardment of Ponape Island in May 1944. She returned home for modernization before participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and air strikes on the Japanese home islands. On August 9, 1945, during a bombardment of the ironworks in Kamaishi, Honshu, Big Mamie fired the war’s last 16″ shell. Over the course of the war, she sank or damaged 5 enemy ships and shot down 39 aircraft. She earned 11 battle stars for her World War II service and never lost a man in combat.
The Massachusetts arrived home on September 13, 1945. Through the efforts of former crew members and Massachusetts schoolchildren, Big Mamie was saved from the scrapheap and was towed to Fall River in June 1965. She was opened to the public shortly thereafter and now serves as the Commonwealth’s official memorial to Bay State citizens who gave their lives in World War II and the Persian Gulf War. USS Massachusetts is one of five National Historic Landmarks on exhibit at Battleship Cove, the world’s largest collection of historic naval ships.