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MASSACHUSETTS / BB-59
Notes: The SOUTH DAKOTA class was designed to achieve effective protection against 16" gunfire on the 35,000 ton displacement set by the London Treaty, without dropping below the 27 knot speed set by the preceding NORTH CAROLINA class. Improvements in machinery allowed the SOUTH DAKOTA class to be nearly 50' shorter (with the same beam) than the NORTH CAROLINA class; this reduction in size allowed their armor to be thicker, and the increased output from engines allowed the design speed to remain at 27 knots. Although cramped in space, the design was considered to be successful; the class was extremely maneuverable, and with their stacks fared into the superstructure, they were difficult to visually target. An unusual feature was a "tunnel stern", in which the two outboard propellers were encased in massive skegs, with the two inboard propellers revolving in the "tunnel" thus formed. Among the functions of the skegs was torpedo protection for the propellers on the opposite side. Anti-aircraft armament was augmented during World War II; by 1945, MASSACHUSETTS had 72-40mm guns in 18 quadruple mounts and 37-20mm guns in one quadruple, one twin and 31 single mounts.
MASSACHUSETTS sailed for the Mediterranean in October, 1942. On 8 November, 1942 while sailing off Casablanca during the Operation Torch invasion, she was engaged by the French battleship JEAN BART. MASSACHUSETTS returned fire, silencing the JEAN BART's guns. MASSACHUSETTS also sank two French destroyers during the battle. On 12 November 1942, MASSACHUSETTS returned to the United States to prepare for duties in the Pacific. She arrived at New Caledonia on 4 March 1943, and took part in numerous missions for the next 14 months. MASSACHUSETTS returned to Puget Sound in May, 1944 for refit and repairs, including replacing the well-worn barrel linings of her 16" guns. She returned to active duty in August, 1944, and took part in many escort and bombardment missions throughout the Pacific Theatre. On 17 December 1944, the task force MASSACHUSETTS was sailing with was caught in a typhoon with winds of up to 120 miles per hour; three of the escorting destroyers were sunk in the storm, but MASSACHUSETTS suffered little damage. Near the end of World War II, MASSACHUSETTS took part in the bombardment at Kamaishi on 9 August 1945, firing what were most likely the last 16" shells of the war. At war's end, MASSACHUSETTS returned to the United States, first serving off the California coast, then returning to the Atlantic, arriving at Hampton Roads on 22 April 1946. She was decommissioned on 27 March 1947 and placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, and finally struck from the Naval Register on 1 June 1962. However, she was transferred to the MASSACHUSETTS Memorial Committee, and berthed at Fall River, Massachusetts on 14 August 1965, where she remains to this day.