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NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive

BB-59 USS MASSACHUSETTS
1939 - June 1942
Keel Laying - Commissioning

Radio Call Sign: November - Echo - Papa - Lima

To Additional Pages

July 1942 - February 1943 / War in the Atlantic
March 1943 - December 1945 / War in the Pacific
Post War - 1965
1966 - Present


South Dakota Class Battleship: Displacement 35,000 Tons, Dimensions, 680' 10" (oa) x 108' 2" x 36' 2" (Max). Armament 9 x 16"/45 16 x 5"/38AA, 12 x 1.1" 12 x 0.5", 3 AC. Armor, 12 1/4" Belt, 18" Turrets, 1 1/2" +6" +1/3" Decks, 15" Conning Tower. Machinery, 130,000 SHP; G.E. Geared Turbines, 4 screws. Speed, 27 Knots, Crew 1793.

Operational and Building Data: Laid down by Bethlehem Steel, Quincy, MA., July 20, 1939. Launched September 23, 1941. Commissioned May 12, 1942. Decommissioned March 2, 1947. Stricken June 1, 1962.
Fate: Preserved as Memorial, Fall River Massachusetts, June 8, 1965.
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BB-57 South Dakota 76k Hull test model for the South Dakota class (BB-57 - 60) battleships. Hull model number 3536, photographed at the Experimental Model Basin, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., in 1938. Note the widely spaced skegs, supporting the outboard propeller shafts, that were a unique feature of this battleship class. Copied from the Bureau of Ships monograph "United States Battleship Designs for World War II", dated 1 June 1946. USNHC # NH 93908, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
BB-59 Massachusetts226kAugust, 1939 view of the construction, less than a month after the July 20th keel laying. The Massachusetts (BB-59) is basically a few outer bottom plates and part of the keel. The support blocks divide aft to eventually support the twin skegs of the tunnel stern. Official U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Mike Green / Leeward Publications "SHIP'S DATA".
BB-59 Massachusetts264k 6 October 1939 view of construction looking aft from the bow. The rise over what would become the tunnel stern is evident in the far end of the photo. Official U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Mike Green / Leeward Publications "SHIP'S DATA".
BB-59 Massachusetts256k 4 January 1940 view of construction looking aft from the bow area. In the background work is beginning on the two skegs which are widely separated in this class. Official U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Mike Green / Leeward Publications "SHIP'S DATA".
BB-59 Massachusetts237k 3 October 1940 view of construction looking aft from the bow. The two forward turret barbettes are being erected and the covered areas just aft are protecting the machinery areas. Official U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Mike Green / Leeward Publications "SHIP'S DATA".
BB-59 Massachusetts248k 3 October 1940 view of the construction looking forward from the stern area. Work is being done on the forward turret barbette installations along with machinery areas which are protected with coverings, but work has not yet began on #3 turret barbette. Official U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Mike Green / Leeward Publications "SHIP'S DATA".
BB-59 Massachusetts188k 16 January 1941 view of construction looking aft from the bow. #2 turret barbette has been covered to protect the turret roller races that are being installed at this time. Official U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Mike Green / Leeward Publications "SHIP'S DATA".
BB-59 Massachusetts188k16 January 1941 view of construction as seen from the stern looking forward. Official U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Mike Green / Leeward Publications "SHIP'S DATA".
BB-59 Massachusetts265kPre launch preview of the stern section of the Massachusetts (BB-59) 23 September 1941.
The ship is provided with two rudders, each of which is actuated by its own steering gear housed in separate compartments. The steering gears are exactly in duplicate and are independent except that synchronization of the two rudders is dependent upon synchronization of the two selsyn receivers as there is no mechanical or electrical coupling between the two rudder units.
USN photograph courtesy of Pieter Bakels. Sources: General Information Books of South Dakota and Massachusetts. Office of the Supervisor of Shipbuilding For The United States Navy, Bethlehem Steel Co. Shipbuilding Div., Quincy, Massachusetts. 1942.
BB-59 Massachusetts208kPre launch preview of the stern section of the Massachusetts (BB-59) 23 September 1941.
The steering Gear is of the electric-hydraulic type with a double arm cross-head and two pairs of ram cylinders, and two pump units, either one of which can be connected to the rams. The disconnected, or stand-by unit, is normally not running, but under critical conditions of navigation it may be started to permit quick change over if required.
USN photograph courtesy of Pieter Bakels. Sources: General Information Books of South Dakota (BB-57) and Massachusetts (BB-59). Office of the Supervisor of Shipbuilding For The United States Navy, Bethlehem Steel Co. Shipbuilding Div., Quincy, Massachusetts. 1942.
BB-59 Massachusetts224kPre launch preview of the stern section of the Massachusetts (BB-59) 23 September 1941. The rudders are of the balanced stream type.
The area of one rudder is approximately 273 square feet.
There are two rudders, each built up of a rudder main piece of cast steel, class "D" with stiffeners of plates run vertically and longitudinally and with sides of 60# and 30# plates and with a 60# doubler aft of the main piece, all welded together watertight.
USN photograph courtesy of Pieter Bakels. Sources: General Information Books of South Dakota (BB-57) and Massachusetts (BB-59).Office of the Supervisor of Shipbuilding For The United States Navy, Bethlehem Steel Co. Shipbuilding Div., Quincy, Massachusetts. 1942.
BB-59 Massachusetts345kPre launch preview of the stern section of the Massachusetts (BB-59) 23 September 1941.
Massachusetts used 2 Left Hand and two Right Hand, Variable Pitch, Solid Manganese Bronze Propellers. The inboard propellers had 4 blades, diam. 17' 4-1/2 ". The outboard propellers had 4 blades, diam. 17' 8". Shaft diam: 22".
USN photograph courtesy of Pieter Bakels. Sources: General Information Books of South Dakota (BB-57) and Massachusetts (BB-59). Office of the Supervisor of Shipbuilding For The United States Navy, Bethlehem Steel Co. Shipbuilding Div., Quincy, Massachusetts. 1942.
BB-59 Massachusetts968kGIANT WARSHIP MASSACHUSETTS (BB-59) LAUNCHED
The new Massachusetts, 35,000 ton battleship costing $80,000,000 was launched today at the Fore River yards of the Bethlehem Company with much fanfare. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox headed a long list of dignitaries at attendance. The craft was sponsored by Mrs. Charles Francis Adams, wife of the former Sec. of the navy. A record breaking throng were on hand to witness the affair. Above photo shows part of the assemblage on the sponsors platform as Mrs. Adams in the foreground broke the bottle on the bow as the mighty ship slid down the ways.
AP WIRE photo courtesy of Tommy Trampp.
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BB-59 Massachusetts139kMassachusetts (BB-59) on 23 September 1941 just prior to launching. Note temporary bridge erected over the conning tower to assist in guiding tugs which will move her to the fitting out basin after being launched.Official U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Mike Green / Leeward Publications "SHIP'S DATA".
BB-59 Massachusetts525kThere she goes - down the ways, flag draped bow billowing in the breeze, 23 September 1941. USN photo courtesy of Pieter Bakels.
BB-59 Massachusetts521kInto the water. USN photo courtesy of James E. Hesson plank-owner of the Massachusetts (BB-59). Photo submitted in his memory by his son, Joe Hesson.
BB-59 Massachusetts391kSign of the times for the Massachusetts (BB-59). Photo courtesy of Authors Collection (i.e. forgot the source).
Photo added 10/11/13.
BB-59 Massachusetts620kBATTLESHIP LAUNCHED
The Massachusetts (BB-59) was pushed towards her new berth by tugs after the 35,000 ton battleship slid down the ways at the Bethlehem Steel Company Fore River Yard today 23 September 1941.
AP WIRE photo courtesy of Tommy Trampp.
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BB-59 Massachusetts492kJust after her launch, 23 September 1941. Among the tugboats attending is the Neptune, in the foreground.USN photo courtesy of Pieter Bakels.
BB-59 Massachusetts5.6mHull # 1478, otherwise known as Massachusetts (BB-59), and some new additions to Uncle Sam's arsenal rise from the outfitting dock waters of Bethlehem Steel, Quincy, MA. on 8 October 1941.
To the right of Massachusetts is Sinclar Superflame, Hull # 1490, San Diego (CL-53), Hull # 1479 & San Juan (CL-54), Hull # 1480.
Bureau of Ships photo # 29559, courtesy of Pieter Bakels.
BB-59 Massachusetts392kA many bladed propeller test was tried out in the following sources:
"Battleships", US BB's in WWII/Dulin & Garzke, Anna,MD.,various editions,
U.S. Battleships: An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. page 287: ...."The designers cut the necessary area out of the bottom of the hull, forming a tunnel". "In its case, the chief risk was vibration due to interaction between propellers and skegs".(...)
Page 294: "All ships but Indiana (BB-58) were completed with four-bladed propellers on each shaft". (...) "Model tests showed that five-bladed props inboard would be superior"(...)"Vibration trials (Indiana) in September of 1942 showed this arrangement superior to the 4 blade outboard/3 blade inboard combination installed aboard the South Dakota (BB-57) and the 5/4 combination was installed aboard the Massachusetts (BB-59) (1944)"(...) , etc.......
Massachusetts, (Ship's Data)-Leeward publications, Anna, MD. 1979, page 22: (...) "A variety of propeller configurations was tried, in an effort to reduce vibration at high speed"(...) (...) "Alabama (BB-60) trials showed severe fore and aft vibrations due to inboard strut-supported propellers, and rather less severe athwardship vibrations due to the outboard skeg-supported ones; as a result the inboard four bladed propellers were replaced by three-bladed ones". "Five bladed propellers were also tried"(...)
USN photo courtesy of Pieter Bakels.
BB-59 Massachusetts168k Massachusetts (BB-59) on 3 January 1942 being fitted out. No armament is in place at this time.Official U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Mike Green / Leeward Publications "SHIP'S DATA".
BB-59 Massachusetts206kStanding out for action. USN photo courtesy of James E. Hesson, plank-owner of the Massachusetts (BB-59). Photo submitted in his memory by his son, Joe Hesson.
BB-59 Massachusetts500kAll dressed up and ready to go, minus airplanes. USN photo courtesy of James E. Hesson, plank-owner of the Massachusetts (BB-59). Photo submitted in his memory by his son, Joe Hesson.
BB-59 Massachusetts417kEntering Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, after leaving the Fore River Shipyard at Quincy, 12 May 1942. Photographed from an altitude of approximately 400 feet. Note harbor defense net system at top, with a Net Tender (AN) in attendance.USNHC # NH 97254, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
BB-59 Massachusetts4.7mBoston Harbor tugboats and small craft escort the Massachusetts (BB-59) on 12 May 1942 after her commissioning. USN photo courtesy of Pieter Bakels.
BB-59 Massachusetts2.3mBoston Harbor is full of Massachusetts (BB-59) in this lengthy starboard bow quarter view on 12 May 1942 after being commissioned this day.Bureau of Ships photo # 29559, courtesy of Pieter Bakels.
BB-59 Massachusetts1.2mClean lines along with no radar, incomplete light weight A.A. armament and no planes mean that she's not quite ready for sea.
Port side view underway during her commissioning day.
USN photo courtesy of Pieter Bakels.

MASSACHUSETTS BB-59 History
View This Vessels DANFS History Entry
(Located On The Hazegray & Underway Web Site, This Is The Main Archive For The DANFS Online Project.)

Crew Contact And Reunion Information

Contact Name: Mr. Robert A Grimes
Address: PO Box 456 Waltham, MA, 02254-0455
Phone: 617-890-7289
E-mail: None


Note About Contacts.

The contact listed, Was the contact at the time for this ship when located. If another person now is the contact, E-mail me and I will update this entry. These contacts are compiled from various sources over a long period of time and may or may not be correct. Every effort has been made to list the newest contact if more than one contact was found.


Additional Resources
Hazegray & Underway Battleship Pages By Andrew Toppan.
U.S.S. Massachusetts

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