Operational and Building Data: Laid down by Newport News, Shipbuilding, Newport News, VA., October 27, 1913. Launched 16 March 1915. Commissioned June 12, 1916. Decommissioned August 29, 1946. Stricken February 19, 1948.
Fate: Target During Atomic Bomb Tests, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. Scuttled off Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, February 10, 1948.

Pennsylvania Class Battleship: Displacement 31,400 Tons, Dimensions, 608′ 6″ (oa) x 97′ 1″ x 29′ 10″ (Max).Armament 12 x 14″/45 14 x 5″/51, 4 x 3″/50 2 x 21″ tt. Armor, 13 1/2″ Belt, 18″ Turrets, 3″ +2″ Decks, 16″ Conning Tower. Machinery, 31,500 SHP; Geared Turbines, 4 screws. Speed, 21 Knots, Crew 915.


Preliminary design plan prepared for the General Board during consideration of designs for Battleships #s 38 & 39, which became thePennsylvania class (BB-38 / 39). This plan, dated 14 February 1912, provides twelve 14-inch guns, turbine machinery and a speed of 21 knots in a ship 630 feet long on the load water line (L.W.L.), 93 feet in beam, with a normal displacement of 31,300 tons. The original plan is in the 1911-1925 “Spring Styles Book”.


Stern of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) sometime before launching at Newport News Shipyard.


Platform ready for the occasion of Pennsylvania’s (BB-38) launching, 16 March 1915.


Miss Elizabeth Kolb of Germantown,  Pennsylvania (BB-38), 16 March 1915.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) launching at Newport News Shipyard on 16 March 1915.


Stern view of the Pennsylvania (BB-38).


Guns of the Pennsylvania (BB-38).


The Pennsylvania (BB-38) at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with the 50FT steamer NO 1, with Talbot Boiler, general view, 28 September 1916.


Sailors & motor launches are lowered from the Pennsylvania (BB-38) into NY Harbor.


Captain Henry Braid Wilson was Pennsylvania’s (BB-38) first commanding officer in 1916. He commanded the Atlantic Fleet’s patrol forces during the First World War, and was responsible for the safe convoying of troops and supplies to Europe. For his outstanding service Wilson was awarded both the Navy and War Department Distinguished Service Medals.
Rear Admiral Henry Braid Wilson was Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet and later the Battle Fleet commander following WW I.


Upon commissioning, Pennsylvania (BB-38) was attached to the Atlantic Fleet. On 12 October 1916. She became flagship of Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, when Admiral Henry T. Mayo shifted his flag from Wyoming (BB-32) to Pennsylvania.
In 1916 Mayo was handed full command of the Atlantic Fleet and promoted Vice-Admiral, a post he held throughout his country’s involvement in World War One. He traveled to London in August 1917 to discuss Allied naval co-operation, and was an advocate of a convoy anti-submarine policy as well as the construction of the Northern Barrage anti U-boat minefield. For his achievements, Admiral Mayo was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for the outstanding operation of the US Atlantic Fleet in a condition of war.
Admiral Henry T. Mayo was commander of the Atlantic Fleet in World War I and for a time in 1919 commanded the entire U.S. fleet.


1916 plus photo of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) in New York’s East River.


“A Sack race”.
Recreation on board a battleship, circa 1916-1917. This ship is either Pennsylvania (BB-38) or Arizona (BB-39).


As completed, possibly at Hampton Roads on 10 December 1916. She was the first BB to have range finders built into her turrets.


Port bow image of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) at anchor on 13 December 1916.


United States Marines and Sailors posing on unidentified ship {likely either the Pennsylvania (BB-38) or Arizona (BB-39)}, in 1918.


Chaplain distributing the ship’s newspaper to sailors and Marines of her crew, circa 1918. Almost all the Sailors present are wearing knitted “watch” caps.


Pennsylvania (BB-38), leading President Wilson’s convoy while 40 miles from Brest, France in 1918. Photo was taken from a dirigible at 300 feet.


George Washington (ID-3018), at right arrives at Brest, France, with President Woodrow Wilson on board, 13 December 1918. Photographed by Zimmer from on board another Navy ship. In the left background is Pennsylvania (BB-38), which had escorted George Washington across the Atlantic.


Looking out 5-Inch gun port of the Pennsylvania (BB-38), Ca. 1918.
Note the caption says 7″ inch gun”.


Will Head Greatest Naval Review in History of America

The greatest naval review in the history of America is now expected to take place Christmas Eve, next Tuesday, when the fleet of dreadnoughts, destroyers and other war craft which kept the seas clear of submarines will steam into the Hudson river.
Ten Dreadnoughts, headed by the giant battleship Pennsylvania the flagship of Admiral Mayo, will be the leader of the string.
They will be joined here by dreadnoughts and other battle craft now in Atlantic ports. A large number of smaller craft, some of them with the returning fleet, will participate in the review. Unprecedented crowds are expected here for America’s first big “welcome home” to her sea fighters.


Halftone reproduction of a photograph of the interior of the Pennsylvania’s (BB-38) wheelhouse, showing a binnacle, steering wheel and an engine order telegraph. Taken circa 1916-1918, it was published in about 1919 by A.M. Simon, 324 E. 23rd St., New York City, as one of ten images in a “Souvenir Folder” concerning Pennsylvania.


Halftone reproduction of a photograph taken on the ship’s quarter deck, looking forward at her after 14-inch gun turrets and “basket” mainmast, circa late 1918. It was published in about 1919 by A.M. Simon, 324 E. 23rd St., New York City, as one of ten images in a “Souvenir Folder” concerning Pennsylvania. Note the canvas covers on the turret faces.


Circa 1919 photo of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) at anchor. Note the training markings painted on her top fore and aft 14-inch gun turret side.


Broadside of Mississippi (BB-41) viewed from the Pennsylvania’s (BB-38) front turrets.


Stern view of the Pennsylvania (BB-38), circa 1920 photo.


Canal Zone on 17 February 1921: The nearer ship is New Mexico (BB-40). The ship pier side behind the tanker is Pennsylvania (BB-38).


In 1922 Vice Adml. Hilary P. Jones, was appointed Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet. He is seen here aboard the Pennsylvania(BB-38) on 23 June 1921.


Broadside view of Pennsylvania (BB-38) in warm weather during 1921.


Kite balloon, Pennsylvania (BB-38). USNIP., April, 1922.


Steaming with other battleships, during the early 1920s. Oklahoma (BB-37) is in the left background. The other ship is either Pennsylvania(BB-38) or Arizona (BB-39).


Port view of the Pennsylvania (BB-38), at anchor, 1920’s photo.


The Pennsylvania (BB-38) in Panama Canal, in Gaillard cut, near Cucaracha slide going north, 24 March 1924.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) in Pedro Miguel Locks, Panama Canal, circa 24 March 1924.


The Nevada (BB-36) leads the battle force in the early 1920’s.
The next ship in line is the Pennsylvania (BB-38).


The Pennsylvania (BB-38) follows other battleships during maneuvers. The first three ships in the background are Nevada (BB-36),Oklahoma (BB-37), and Arizona (BB-39) in that order. However, the photo pre-dates the 1925 Australia/ New Zealand tour since Oklahoma lacks the enlarged lookout stations on the cagemasts.


1920’s photo of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) firing a broadside.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) in Melbourne during 1924-25.


Humorist Will Rogers with crewmen of Pennsylvania (BB-38), on the battleship’s after deck, 28 March 1928.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) all decked out with flags. In the background is a 3 masted bark. Photo by George Winstead, possibly on or about 8 May 1931, when she departed for a refresher training cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba after her modernization.


Captain Frank Howard Sadler was the commanding officer of the battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38) from 1931 to 1932.


New York (BB-34) ahead of Pennsylvania (BB-38). The next ship ahead is a Tennessee class (BB-43 /44) based on the slope of the turret roofs. (Uniform slope back to front – no kink like the twin 16″ mounts on the Colorado’s (BB-45). Based on the relatively full appearance of the forward superstructure, I am leaning toward California (BB-44) which had an enlarged flag bridge as Battle Force Flagship. The other three are obviously Tennessee (BB-43) and/or Colorado class (BB-45 / 48) but are too indistinct to ID specifically. Because of the boom cranes on the sterns, the photo was taken between 1931 and 1934.


Captain Jonas H. Ingram commanded the battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38) from January 1932 to May 1933.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) and Raleigh (CL-7) at San Diego on 7 June 1932.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) with Raleigh (CL-7) partially in the rear at San Diego on 7 June 1932.


NY, 17 March: At sea with the Fleet–Fangs of the war dogs.
These six 14 inch guns, bristling from the forward turrets of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) flagship of the U.S. Fleet, were photographed by a Navy cameraman during the war games off Pureto Rico. The flagship carries two similar turrets of 14 inch guns aft. Smaller guns at sides are anti-aircraft and destroyer defense guns.


Assistant Secretary of the Navy Henry L. Roosevelt (Seated, right center), and Admiral David Foote Sellers, USN (seated, left center), Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. With other U.S. Fleet flag officers, on board Pennsylvania (BB-38) in the Spring of 1934.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) in 1935 with two Vought 03U-3’s.The center aircraft is 2-0-11, the 11th AC in Observation Squadron Two with the one on the right the Command AC for CinCUs.


Vought O3U-1 # 1-0-10 running up its engine on turret catapult of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) in 1936.


From August 1931 to 1941, Pennsylvania (BB-38) engaged in Fleet tactics and battle practice along the west coast and participated in Fleet problems and maneuvers which were held periodically in the Hawaiian area as well as the Caribbean Sea. She is seen here transiting the Panama Canal at the Pedro Miguel Locks in March, 1937.


1930’s circa photo of the Pennsylvania (BB-38)


Adm. Arthur J. Hepburn (R) in civilian clothing coming on board the battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38) at San Diego, CA., in 1937. Note the 4 star podium.


Sailors scrubbing the deck of battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38).


Recreation hour on the Pennsylvania (BB-38). The bluejackets acquire a tropical sun-tan while the ship’s band renders its daily concert, 1938.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) sails along with two columns of destroyers for company in this 1930’s photo.


Admiral James O. Richardson, USN, (foreground) assumes command of the Battle Force, U.S. Fleet, in ceremonies on board Pennsylvania(BB-38), 24 June 1939. Captain Roland M. Brainard, Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Battle Force, is in the background.


Admiral James O. Richardson, USN (left), Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet Relaxing in Flag Quarters on board his flagship, Pennsylvania(BB-38), circa January-May 1940. With him are (center) Admiral Charles P. Snyder, Commander, Battle Force, U.S. Fleet, and (right) Vice Admiral William S. Pye, Commander Battleships, Battle Force. Note pipe radiator on the bulkhead, to the right, open porthole covers and leather-covered furniture.


Photo of part of the Pacific Fleet in 1940 at Lahaina, Maui.
It is possible that the battleship on the left is the California (BB-44). If you look at the top of the armored conning tower there is a thin vertical structure at the rear on top of the conning tower, just in front of the superstructure.
The center battleship is definitely Oklahoma because of the higher platform.
I believe the rightmost battleship is a Pennsylvania class (BB-38/39) because the height of the forward superstructure beneath the foremast is higher than the middle battleship, as shown by the fact that it’s roughly the same height as the top of the stack, which was true of the Pennsylvania’s after their rebuild. I also believe that this can be narrowed down to be Pennsylvania rather than Arizona (BB-39) because of the height of the armored conning tower in front of the superstructure and behind turret


Probable front and rear photos here and above showing formations of aircraft flying over U.S. Navy battleships during exercises at sea, circa late 1930’s – 1940.
In both photos, one of the New Mexico (BB-40 / 42) is leading the BB column while the remaining battleships have dual masthead fire control structures.
The air group formation in the two photos appears to be similar. The composition of 18 TBDs, 18 BT-1s, 18 SBCs, and 27 fighters is easier to distinguish in the front/surface view. I’m assuming, based on total aircraft count alone, that the formation in the rear/aerial view is the same. (The perspective makes it difficult to sort the monoplanes and biplanes into their respective types.) The only difference is that in the front/surface view the formation is lead by a Curtiss SBC Helldiver (likely the Air Group Commander) but in the rear/aerial view that lead Helldiver is not present. I suppose it’s possible that the photographer was in that Helldiver’s rear seat. What stands out for me is the presence of nine extra fighters beyond the normal squadron composition of 18, as seen in the other three squadrons in this formation.


Between 9 & 13 September 1940 the Arizona (BB-39) was under way with other ships of the US Fleet for simulated fleet engagement. She is pictured here in company with other ships of the Pacific Fleet taken during Fleet Ops. and at least one carrier air group.


Captain Charles M. Cooke, Jr. took command of the battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38) in February 1941, saw her through the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that opened the Pacific War, and remained with her into 1942. Portrait photograph, taken circa 1938-1941.


Japanese post card of bombers over Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941.


Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – Hickam Field.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) in Drydock # 1 at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, with the sunken destroyer Downes (DD-375) and capsized Cassin(DD-372) in the foreground.


The wrecked destroyers Downes (DD-375) and Cassin (DD-372) in Drydock One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, soon after the end of the Japanese air attack. Cassin has capsized against Downes. Pennsylvania (BB-38) is astern, occupying the rest of the drydock. The torpedo-damaged cruiser Helena (CL-50) is in the right distance, beyond the crane. Visible in the center distance is the capsized Oklahoma (BB-37), with Maryland (BB-46) alongside. Smoke is from the sunken and burning Arizona (BB-39), out of view behind Pennsylvania. California(BB-44) is partially visible at the extreme left. This image has been attributed to Navy Photographer’s Mate Harold Fawcett.


The Pennsylvania (BB-38) was rebuilt at Mare Island between 4 October 1942 and 5 February 1943 with simplified bridgework. Note the removal of her conning tower and long-base rangefinder was mounted in its place.
A new deckhouse replaced her Mainmast, the after Main Battery Director cupola (Spot 2) being relocated to its top. Provision for dual-purpose fire control was limited to replacement of the two MK.33 by two Mk.37 with atop radar equipment Mk.4.
The bridgework was simplified mainly by the elimination of the previous outside platforms and the turret-top catapult and boat cranes were removed.
Ten quadruple Bofors and fifty-one Oerlikons were mounted.
Note the Twin 40mm superfiring over the Twin 20mm Mount MK.20 Mod.2 atop her #2 Main Battery Triple 14-Inch Turret.


Photo taken on 26 February 1942, one of the 1.10″ gun tubs while at Mare Island, eventually replaced by the more effective 40mm Bofors.


View of splintershields, 5-Inch AA gun shields and 20mm guns and platforms. Stb. side, amidship, looking Fwd. Mare Island, CA. 26 February 1942.


View of splinter shields and 20mm guns and platforms amidships, looking Fwd. Mare Island, CA. 26 February 1942.
Note: There also seems to be some sort of exchange regarding what looks like gas balloons in the left corner of the photo.


20mm gun and platform on Main Deck aft. Mare Island, CA. 26 February 1942.


20 MM guns and shields on emergency cabin platform, port side, 26 February 1942 at Mare Island.


Broadside view of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) starboard side. Bow to frame # 42. Mare Island, Ca. 2 March 1942 as what look to be a slow day at the office: sweeping, discussing orders of the day, looking overboard at the floating barrels chained up alongside.


Broadside view, starboard side at Mare Island, Ca. 2 March 1942. View from Frame # 40 to 74.
The Pennsylvania (BB-38) survived Pearl Harbor virtually without damage and continued to operate in essentially her Pre-Pearl Harbor configuration, except that now all her 5-in./25-caliber guns were shielded and she had considerable additional light anti-aircraft weapons: the now standard four quadruple 1.1-in. and sixteen, post-attack 20mm Oerlikons.
Some of the features installed on the Pacific Fleet battleships before their destruction were therefore preserved, as shown in this 2 March 1942 Mare Island view, including the installation of enclosed Mark 19 directors on the rangefinder level and extensive splinter protection.
The shields for the 5-inch /25-caliber guns were a Pacific Fleet initiative.
Note the air defense position at the base of the foremast and radar, scheduled for installation aboard all battleships.


Stern view of the Pennsylvania (BB-38), taken on 2 March 1942, at San Francisco for refit and repairs after Pearl Harbor.


Broadside view, Stb. side. Mare Island, CA. 3 March 1942. View from Frame # 71 to 104.


Broadside view, Stb. side. Mare Island, CA. 3 March 1942. View from Frame # 115 to stern.


Looking Fwd. from port director platform. Note the long-base rangefinder and the addition of quad.40mm mounts and their associated MK.51 directors. San Francisco, CA. 28 January 1943.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) Plan view, looking aft from Stb. Director. Note the CXAM-1. Navy Yard, Mare Island, CA. January 1943.


Pennsylvania (BB-38), 135 degrees off centerline (starboard quarter)1 February 1943, Mare Island.


Pennsylvania (BB-38), taken in February 1943, location unknown. Possibly taken from an airship from either ZP-31 or ZP-32 which were based at Moffet Field.


A VO-2 OS2U-3 is lifted off the recovery sled and about to be swung aboard Pennsylvania (BB-38) on 3 August 1943.


Hookup for an OS2U-3 #24 aboard Pennsylvania (BB-38) on 3 August 1943. Note that the radiomast is folded down to avoid damage from striking cables.


The Pennsylvania (BB-38) & Colorado (BB-45) are tied up in port at Pearl Harbor sometime around or after 7 December 1943.


Bombarding shore installations off Guam prior to the invasion, on 20 July 1944.


In one of the most famous photographs of the war, Pennsylvania (BB-38) in the van at Lingayen Gulf during the recapture of the Philippines, October 1944. Ships are from front to back: Pennsylvania, Colorado (BB-45), heavy cruisers Louisville (CA-28) and Portland (CA-33)followed by the light cruiser Columbia (CL-56). A wartime censor has censored the radar on Pennsylvania.


Drydocked in an Advanced Base Sectional Dock (ABSD) at the Pacific, circa October 1944. Note the extensive anti-torpedo “blister” built into her hull side and paravane streaming chains running from her forefoot to her foredeck. Pennsylvania (BB-38) is painted in Measure 21, Navy Blue and Deck Blue on all decks.


Broadside of the Pennsylvania (BB-38), late war photo.


Kearsarge (AB-1) is used to install a set of three 14″ guns aboard Pennsylvania (BB-38) at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in April 1945.


San Francisco Naval Shipyard at Hunters’ Point, San Francisco, California, taken by a plane from the USN photo ic squadron VJ-1 from an altitude of 2.300 m on 24 May 1945. The aircraft carrier Intrepid (CV-11) is visible in the center, with the Crane Ship No. 1 on her port side. The light aircraft carrier Cabot (CVL-28) is visible in the drydock in the lower half of the picture. The battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38)is visible at the pier in the upper part of the picture.


Bow on view of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) taken at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in June 1945 showing her new additions like DBM radar direction finders on both yardarms, “Sword”,MK.III IFF,SK,SG,”NANCY” IR beacons and TDY antennas flanking her Navigating Bridge.


Plan view of stern, looking Fwd. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. June 1945.


Seen after the last wartime refit, June, 1945.


Pumped water spills from hoses as crewmen work to keep the Pennsylvania (BB-38) afloat after she was hit by an aerial torpedo during action off Okinawa 12 August 1945. The ship was saved. Hoses from gun barrels lead from ship’s flooded compartments.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) on 12 August 1945 at Buckner Bay, Okinawa where she was assisted by two salvage tugs in pumping the water out and later towed her to Apra Harbor, Guam.
On 6 September 1945 she was in ABSD 3 where repairs were made to cover the hole before steaming to Puget Sound Naval Yard under her own power for more extensive repairs.


And what did you do in the war Daddy? Pennsylvania’s (BB-38) score card on Bridge.

Post War / Sinking


ABSD-3 at Guam, Marianas Islands & the Pennsylvania (BB-38) docked in ABSD-3 after the end of World War II. Note the white boxes on the barge, these are coffins that contain the remains of Pennsylvania crew members killed during the Kamikaze attack on her at Okinawa, 12 August 1945. The island at upper left was built between the two drydocks, ABSD-3 and ABSD-6. (ABSD-6 is to the left of the picture.) The island was built for supplies and Enlisted and Officers Clubs, movie theater, etc.


Busy port scene at Puget Sound NSY, circa early 1946. Identifiable ships from left to right include in drydock in the upper left the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga (CV-14); escort carrier Steamer Bay (CVE-87) at bottom right of first pier; Pennsylvania (BB-38) at bottom right of second pier getting pushed around by several tugboats, and the escort carrier Kitkun Bay (CVE-71) at the bottom right of third pier.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) Plan view from Foremast of Main Deck, looking Fwd., being stripped for the Bikini nuclear test. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, 1 March 1946.


Pennsylvania (BB-38) looking Fwd. from Spot 2. Note that two of her four portside 5-Inch 38-caliber mounts have been removed. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, 1 March, 1946.


15 March 1946 photo showing the Pennsylvania (BB-38) leaving Puget Sound, Washington heading for the Bikini Atoll. She has been partially stripped for the test as evidenced by the missing portside 5″ gun mounts. She is still leaking from the 12 August 1945 Japanese torpedo hit, only repaired enough to make her seaworthy to sail.


15 March 1946 photo showing the Pennsylvania (BB-38) off Jefferson Point, Washington heading for the Bikini Atoll.


Starboard broadside photo dated 18 March 1946 showing the ship leaving Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Washington heading for the Bikini Atoll.


At sea, just prior to the first Bikini Atom Bomb Test on 15 June 1946.


1946 Crew photo.


The underwater test at Bikini shows its terrific power amid the anchored vessels, made bare seconds after its release.


Final moments of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) as she is expended as a target and scuttled off Hawaii on 10 February 1948. A tough ship; she survived both Bikini nuclear tests.


The Bell of the Pennsylvania (BB-38) on display at Erie Maritime Museum in Erie, PA.



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