The Last Battleship

Tom SucherBattleships, the puissant vessels that proved that they are the powerhouse of the navy. They’re really a floating punching bag, but at the same time can easily pack-a-punch. The sheer size was its own demise. The average battleship has these powerful guns that can easily rip-apart the opponent. The first “steel” battleship ever made according to “The Battleship” artical was the USS Michigan.

The USS Michigan was a side-steam wheeler built on Sept 29, 1844 and authorized as a coastal defence ironclad on Lake Erie. Although the USS Michigan wasn’t the first official battleship commissioned in the US Navy the USS Texas would ultimately own the title in the future. Commissioned into the Atlantic Naval Division in 1895, the USS Texas was assigned to do routine inspection of the Cuban coast and other transportation of military ordnances. The armament included by the listed information, two 12-inch and six 6-inch rifles, four 14-inch torpedo tubes and for protection she carried 12-inches of steel armor. The first time the steel battleship was ever put to the test was during the Russian-Japanese war from 1894 -1895 If there was the first Battleship, there would likely be a last one too.

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The biggest and last battleship to ever see active combat is the Yamato. The year is 1937 when the first construction began in the Japanese Kure Naval Yard in Japan and the Japanese decide to make the ship the biggest battleship in the world. At the time, battleships was the next best thing when it came to firepower, because aircraft carriers were nevertheless insufficient and military leaders still haven’t seen their potential in combat till the first few battles in World War 2. The Yamato and her sister ship ,the Musashi, were the “baddest cats on the sea”, they both displayed an armament of nine 18.1-Inch guns which was the biggest guns ever to be constructed on a battleship, and a couple of triple gunned 6-inch turrets as explained by C.

Peter Chen. Five total super-battleships were planned to be produced but two were canceled and scrapped, one was converted into an aircraft carrier, and finally the 2 crowning results of the design were the Yamato and the Musashi. Now the Yamato was strategically built to have all of the missions from artillery support for army beach landings to actual one-on-one engagements with other ships but after the very first battle of the pacific theater, the Coral Sea, aircraft carriers had demonstrated that they had the necessary willpower to take on the enemy. So Japan realized this and made a settled decision on mass-producing aircraft, and carriers to base them. Since the Yamato was a battleship with some decent anti-aircraft guns, the ship would still mostly likely be swarmed by Allied planes like honey-bees to a bear intruding their hive. At Least Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto had chosen the Yamato to be represented as the flagship of the combined Imperial Japanese navy and be present at many important battles, but sadly after the devastating defeat at the Battle of Midway, the Musashi took over the position of flagship and the Yamato spent the majority of the war in Tokyo Bay.

After the Yamato was wistfully removed from the flagship position and assigned as a coastal defence battleship until further notice, she had finally acquired a mission. The Japanese officials at the Imperial General Command received Intel from the Japanese base on Luzon, Philippines that Allied naval and Army invasion forces have begun operations to retake and flush-out the stationed japanese on the island. The remaining Japanese air and naval forces have drastically dwindled since the Battle of Midway two years earlier, so the once superior carrier forces were basically useless without any planes. All that remained were the aging battleships stationed at singapore or the Japanese homeland and the Yamato was among them.

The Yamato and her sister ship the Musashi sailed from Japan to join the rest of the fleet at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In the aftermath the Musashi was exceedingly overwhelmed by the Allied air force who had complete air superiority, because the Japanese lacked escort planes for the battleships, as explained by Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp. Thankfully the Yamato survived the onslaught of the Allied fleet and retreated back to Tokyo Bay. Much like her sister ship, the Musashi, the Yamato had a similar fate. After the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Yamato stayed back in Japan for a long while until many months later when the Allied fleet had targeted the Okinawan Islands. The japanese who were very skeptical about claiming victory on the island, devised a plan called Operation Ten-Go.

Operation Ten-Go was a small naval division made up of a series of destroyers and the Yamato whose objective was to fight through the enemy and beach themselves on Okinawa’s main island and act like an unsinkable anti-aircraft battery to defend the island. Although the Yamato was rightfully the flagship that lead the force with dignity, all ten ships were not expected to return from the battle. Soon after departure two American submarines spotted the task force leaving Japan and signaled the Allied carrier force of their presence. As catalogued, nine U.S carriers launched about 400 planes in 8 waves to intercept the Japanese task force.

Around 10:00 the persistent rein-of-terror from American planes had begun. Over a course of two-hours a grand total of eleven torpedoes and six (high-explosive) bombs had been dropped on the Yamato and she amazingly absorbed almost all the damaged. On April 7, 1945 the Yamato had taken on almost 2 hours of repetitive attacks before one lonely 500 lb bomb breached her main magazine causing her to blow-up, capsize and sink, losing 3,055 out of 3,332 crewmembers. That was the end of the battleship’s golden age. The era of the active battleships had ended on that fateful day, but the legacy of the giants continues on. From the first steel battleship to the biggest and last steel battleship, they had made an impact on naval warfare and ideology.

The battleship idea had lasted for a single century and then replaced by more innovative and numerous amount of modern day destroyers and Aircraft Carriers that possesses a large quantity of guided missiles and high-explosive weapons. Now the aircraft carriers was first introduced during the First World War but didn’t make a huge impression till the Second World War and replaced the battleships forever. The Yamato will always be remembered for her mammoth size and powerful armament. The Japanese TV Broadcast system even made an animated show called Star Blazers which included the Yamato as a Space Battleship defending Earth in the future. In conclusion the battleship idea had lasted for a long time and the legacy ended with Yamato’s big bang.