The massive USS Alabama South Dakota-Class BATTLESHIP New Queen Among Her Peers
USS Alabama (BB-60), a South Dakota-class battleship, was the sixth ship of the United States Navy named after the US state of Alabama. Alabama was commissioned in 1942 and served in World War II in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. She was retired in 1962. In 1964, Alabama was taken to Mobile Bay and opened as a museum ship the following year. The ship was added to the National Historic Landmark registry in 1986.
Alabama was laid down on 1 February 1940 by the Norfolk Navy Yard, launched on 16 February 1942, and sponsored by Henrietta McCormick Hill, wife of J. Lister Hill, the senior Senator from Alabama. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, spoke at the launching ceremony: “As Alabama slides down the ways today, she carries with her a great name and a great tradition. We cannot doubt that before many months have passed she will have had her first taste of battle. The Navy welcomes her as a new queen among her peers. In the future, as in the past, may the name Alabama ever stand for fighting spirit and devotion to a cause.” Alabama was commissioned on 16 August 1942, with Captain George B. Wilson in command.
Following a month and a half of exercises and training with fast carrier task groups, Alabama steamed to the Fiji Islands, arriving on 7 November. Alabama steamed out of port on 11 November to take part in Operation Galvanic, the assault on the Japanese-held Gilbert Islands.
The battleship screened the fast carriers, for defense against surface and air attacks, while they launched air attacks on Jaluit and Milli Atolls, in the Marshall Islands, attempting to neutralize Japanese airfields located there, within range of the Gilberts.
Alabama supported the U.S. Marine landings on the main island Betio of the Tarawa Atoll on 20 November, and soon afterwards, she supported the U.S. Army landing on Makin Atoll. During the night of 26 November, Alabama twice opened up antiaircraft fire to drive off Japanese aircraft that approached her task group.
The end of the war found Alabama still at sea, operating off the southern coast of Honshū. On 15 August 1945, she received word of the Japanese capitulation. During the initial occupation of the Yokosuka-Tokyo area, Alabama transferred detachments of U.S. Marines and sailors for temporary duty ashore. Her sailors were among the first men from the U.S. fleet to land. She also served in the screen of the aircraft carriers as they conducted reconnaissance flights to locate prisoner-of-war camps.