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West Virginia file photo [1928]

West Virginia

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassColorado-class Battleship
Hull NumberBB-48
BuilderNewport News Shipbuilding
Ordered5 Dec 1916
Laid Down12 Apr 1920
Launched19 Nov 1921
Commissioned1 Dec 1923
Decommissioned9 Jan 1947
Displacement33,218 tons standard; 34,130 tons full
Length624 feet
Beam98 feet
Draft31 feet
Machinery8 Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 4 General Electric turbo-electric drive, 4 propellers
Power Output28,900 shaft horsepower
Speed21 knots
Range8,000nm at 10 knots
Armament8x16in/45 cal guns, 16x5in/38cal guns, 40x40mm Bofors guns, 43x20mm Oerlikon cannon
Armor8-13.5in belt, 13in barbettes, 18in turret face, 16in conning tower, 3.5in decks


ww2dbaseUSS West Virginia, a 32,600-ton Colorado class battleship built at Newport News, Virginia, was commissioned in December 1923, the last battleship completed for the United States Navy for nearly two decades. During the 1920s and 1930s, she served in the U.S. Fleet, taking part in "Fleet Problems" and other exercises as part of the continuing effort to develop tactics and maintain the Navy's combat readiness. With much of the rest of the Fleet, she deployed to New Zealand and Australia in 1925 in an important demonstration of the Navy's trans-Pacific strategic "reach".

ww2dbaseWest Virginia's base was moved to Pearl Harbor in 1940, and she was there on 7 December 1941, when the Japanese attacked with an overwhelming force of carrier aircraft. In that raid, the battleship was hit by two bombs and at least seven torpedoes, which blew huge holes in her port side. Skillful damage control saved her from capsizing, but she quickly sank to the harbor bottom. More than a hundred of her crew were lost. Salvaged and given temporary repairs at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, in April 1943 West Virginia steamed to the West Coast for final repair and modernization at the Puget Sound Navy Yard.

ww2dbaseThe battleship emerged from the shipyard in July 1944 completely changed in appearance, with a wider hull, and massively improved anti-aircraft gun battery. West Virginia arrived in the Pacific combat zone in October, and soon was participating in pre-invasion bombardment of Leyte, in the Philippines. On 25 October, as a force of Japanese battleships and smaller vessels attempted to make a night attack on the landing area, she was one of the ships that stopped them in the Battle of Surigao Strait, the last time in World history when battleships engaged battleships with their big guns.

ww2dbaseSubsequently, West Virginia took part in operations to capture Mindoro, Lingayen Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, using her sixteen-inch guns to support U.S. ground forces. On 1 April 1945, while off Okinawa, she was hit by a Japanese Kamikaze plane but was able to remain in action, continuing her bombardment duties there into June. After Japan's capitulation, West Virginia supported the occupation effort until mid-September. She participated in Operation "Magic Carpet" during the last part of 1945, bringing home veterans of the Pacific war. Inactive after early 1946, she was decommissioned in January 1947. Following twelve years in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, USS West Virginia was sold for scrapping in August 1959.

ww2dbaseSource: Naval Historical Center

Last Major Revision: Jan 2005

Battleship West Virginia (BB-48) Interactive Map


USS Cony laying smoke screen near USS West Virginia, off LeyteWest Virginia, March 1926
See all 48 photographs of Battleship West Virginia (BB-48)

West Virginia Operational Timeline

1 Dec 1923 West Virginia was commissioned into service.
16 Jul 1944 USS Mississippi and USS West Virginia departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the latter after extensive repairs and modernization following damage received in the Pearl Harbor Attack.
12 Oct 1944 Task Group 77.2 consisting of battleships USS Tennessee, USS California, USS Pennsylvania, USS Maryland, USS West Virginia, and USS Mississippi with cruisers USS Honolulu, USS Portland, USS Minneapolis, USS Denver, and USS Columbia departed Seeadler Harbor, Manus bound Leyte Gulf, Philippines.
27 Nov 1944 US Navy Task Group 77.2 consisting of battleships USS Maryland, USS West Virginia, USS Colorado, and USS New Mexico, cruisers USS Denver, USS St. Louis, USS Columbia, USS Minneapolis, and USS Montpelier, destroyers USS Nicholas, USS Waller, USS Eaton, USS Cony, USS Mustin, USS Conway, USS Pringle, USS Lang, USS Sigourney, USS Saufley, USS Aulick, USS Renshaw, USS Taylor, USS Edwards, and USS Mugford, tanker USS Caribou, and other patrol craft were patrolling in Leyte Gulf, Philippines when the group came under a concentrated Japanese special air attack from 20 to 30 aircraft. All but two of the Japanese planes dived on the formation in the sustained attack. Submarine chaser SC-744 was sunk and battleship Colorado and cruisers St. Louis and Montpelier were damaged.
29 Nov 1944 US Navy Task Group 77.2 consisting of battleships USS Maryland, USS West Virginia, and USS New Mexico, cruisers USS Denver, USS Columbia, USS Minneapolis, USS Montpelier, and USS Portland, destroyers USS Nicholas, USS Waller, USS Cony, USS Conway, USS Pringle, USS Lang, USS Saufley, USS Aulick, USS Renshaw, USS Edwards, USS Mugford, and USS Connor, and other patrol craft were patrolling in Leyte Gulf, Philippines when the group came under a Japanese air attack where special attack aircraft that damaged Maryland, Saufley, and Aulick.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Maya says:
21 Apr 2010 03:55:58 PM

This is some very good information. I'm doing a finals project on the battleships of pearl harbor and this information helped me to understand more about the USS WEST VIRGINIA.
2. Sherry Lyles says:
14 Oct 2010 11:48:14 AM

Can you tell me if you have a Earl Christensen on your list for the West Virgina at the time of the bombing and if so what was his rank. He was a survior if that helps. He has passed and is my sons name sake so we are looking for information about him.
3. Steve Sparks says:
1 Jan 2011 09:13:09 AM

I'm writing a story about my father's WWII Naval service, including stationed on the USS West Virgina on December 7, 1941. I want to find out where he was, either on liberty or on the ship during the attack, and any other records about his service at the time. Vernon H. Sparks 328-41-29 Cox. USS West Virginia
4. Courtney Tucker says:
9 Jan 2012 06:16:54 AM

Lt. Charles F. Shea (USNR)who died January 6, 2012, at age 95, lived in Fabius N.Y., 20 miles south of Syracuse all his life. He had been school district clerk, town councilman, supervisor, county legislator, county economic development director and a member and officer of many local and county organizations. The Shea family store on Main St. was the center of community activity for more than 80 years. He was born in Fabius on November 20, 1916, the son of Michael G. and Jessie Saunders Shea. After graduating from Fabius Central School in 1934, he attended Central City Business Institute and Cazenovia Seminary Junior College before graduating from Syracuse University in January 1942. Mr. Shea was immediately accepted into the U.S.N.R. and served in the U.S. Navy until the end of World War II aboard the USS West Virginia (BB48) with the U.S. South Pacific Fleet in action at Leyte, including the Battle of Suriago Straits, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. He left the Navy in 1946 as a senior grade lieutenant (USNR).
5. Anonymous says:
4 Feb 2015 10:59:31 AM

6. Robert Fox Col USA (Ret) says:
8 Apr 2015 07:20:13 AM

I am writing a little family history for my grandchildren and am researching my fathers Navy career. His name is Lloyd W Fox (USN Ret) Aviation Machinist's Mate Chief (ACMM, ADC) USNR F-6 and his Naval Service Record indicates he served on the USS West Virginia, was schooled @ Pensacola Fl and in Memphis Tenn re aviation skills and served most of his career in the Pacific Theater. Could you provide me any information re his military career and especially his service dates with & battles fought aboard the USS West VA in WW-II. He entered the service on 6 June 1928 at Pensacola, FL and retired with 20 yrs svc. Thanks
Much - R Fox
7. John Laird says:
6 Jan 2016 07:03:35 AM

I am trying to reach Sherry Lyles who posted about Earl Christensen. She can reach me at JohnLaird9@aol.com
8. Roger K. Smith says:
2 Feb 2016 12:26:32 PM

My father, Raymond E. Smith, FC1c, was on board the USS West Virginia when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He chose not to share with us all that happened to him that day. I would dearly love to hear from anyone who might have known him. He was mistakenly reported KIA, but my grandparents received a cable on Christmas Eve that he was alive. He died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1998.
9. Bernie Hutson says:
14 Sep 2016 02:09:49 PM

My step-dad that raised me was an Ariel gunner on the USS West Virginia from 1944 to wars end. I miss the stories he told me. He passed away in 1997 his name was R.B.Roberson. If anyone knew him personally I would love to hear from you.
10. Robert E. Bristol Jr. says:
6 Feb 2018 04:06:11 PM

Looking for information about my Step Father, Phillip Cecil York.
Any info would be appreciated
11. JRW says:
7 Nov 2018 05:07:01 PM

As written by Roger Smith above, My father too was aboard the USS W. Va. the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack. My grandparents also were informed he was KIA. He also did not talk about that day. He retired from the Navy in 1966 after 35 years of service.
12. Anonymous says:
16 Jan 2019 06:50:10 AM

you guys should probably think about siting your publish date and stuff so people can site your source.
13. Mike Weiss says:
25 Jul 2020 08:01:07 PM

My Grandfather was a Chief Petty Officer on the West Virginia and was there during the attack. I have several artifacts that were aboard and recovered after she was raised.
14. Gregory Hoek says:
16 Jul 2021 11:33:59 AM

At the top it says Sunk Jan 1 1947. Down below it says sold for scrap 1959? I believe it was decommissioned not sunk 1 Jan 1947.
15. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
19 Jul 2021 10:11:53 AM

Thank you for pointing that out Gregory, we have corrected that mistake.
16. Michael Marshall says:
7 Dec 2021 04:08:22 PM

After the West Virginia was repaired and the Japanese surrendered, did the signing of the surrender papers take place on the West Virginia?
17. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
7 Dec 2021 04:40:14 PM

Michael Marshall (above):
No Japanese surrender documents were signed aboard the USS West Virginia. West Virginia was present in Tokyo Bay when the surrender instruments were signed aboard the USS Missouri, but none of the ceremonies took place aboard West Virginia. West Virginia then sailed almost directly to the United States.
18. Anonymous says:
31 Dec 2021 12:22:00 PM

Looking for crew roster from Dec 1941. My grandfather’s friend EM Stanley Kalina jumped off the ship with the bugler when it was hit in the attack. He is trying to locate a roster with his friends name. Any help would be appreciated.

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More on West Virginia
» Leahy, William
» Miller, Doris

Event(s) Participated:
» Attack on Pearl Harbor
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
» Battle of Iwo Jima
» Okinawa Campaign

» US Navy Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, Enclosure E, USS West Virginia

Battleship West Virginia (BB-48) Photo Gallery
USS Cony laying smoke screen near USS West Virginia, off LeyteWest Virginia, March 1926
See all 48 photographs of Battleship West Virginia (BB-48)

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