USS New Mexico (BB 40)

USS New Mexico (BB 40)

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USS New Mexico (BB 40)

The USS New Mexico (BB 40) was the name ship of the New Mexico class of battleships, and saw service in the Second World War, missing Pearl Harbor but spending the rest of the conflict operating in the Pacific.

The New Mexico was used to test a new turbo-electric drive. In the other ships in the New Mexico class the turbines were connected to the propeller shafts via a gear box, but in the New Mexico they were connected to electricity generators, which in term powered massive electric motors that were connected to the propeller shafts. This was a much more flexible system, as electrical power from each generator could be distributed easily between the engines, allowing all for propellers to be used even if some of the turbines were off line. It also eliminated the need for reversing turbines, reduced the amount of steam pipes in the system and allowed for more efficient watertight divisions of the machinery spaces. The main disadvantage was the extra weight and space required for the electricity generators and electric motors. Turbo-electric motors were installed in the next two classes of battleships, but they were removed during inter-war refits. The New Mexico received a conventional geared turbine drive during her early 1930s refit.

The New Mexico class ships were modernized in the early 1930s. Their machinery was replaced with new boilers and geared turbines. The cage masts were removed and two tower bridges built - a large one forward and smaller one aft. Anti-torpedo bulges were added and the gun elevation increased to 30 degrees.

The New Mexico was the only member of her class to end with war still carrying six 5in/51 guns. She also carried eight 5in/25 guns, ten quad mountings for 40mm guns and 46 Oerlikons.

The New Mexico was normally part of the Pacific Fleet, but in May 1941 she became part of the Neutrality Patrol, and moved to the Atlantic. This meant that she was one of seven US battleships left intact after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On 8 December she was at Casco Bay, Maine. The other two members of the New Mexico class were part of the same Task Force 1, but were at Iceland.

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor Task Force 1 was ordered to return to the Pacific, reaching San Francisco on 31 January 1942. The Task Force spent the first half of the year patrolling off the US West Coast and escorting convoys to Hawaii. The feared Japanese raid on the West Coast never happened, but the presence of the battleships of Task Force 1 did help reassure a nervous public.

On 1 August 1942 Task Force 1 set sail for Pearl Harbor, where it was based for the rest of the year. The New Mexico was also used to patrol the southwest Pacific, before moving north to take part in the campaign in the Aleutians. In May she took part in the blockade of Attu, while on 21 July she took part in the bombardment of Kiska Island. One week later the Japanese abandoned the island, but the Americans didn't realise this, and launched a full scale invasion in August.

In November 1943 the New Mexico formed part of the Northern Attack Group (TG 52.2 under Rear Admiral Griffin), with Pennsylvania, Idaho and Mississippi. This task group took part in Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, in November 1943. The New Mexico was used to bombard Butaritari and provide support for the invading forces.

In January-February 1944 the same four battleships, still under Rear Admiral Griffin, formed the Southern Attack Force (FSG 52.8) for Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the Marshall Islands. The New Mexico took part in the bombardments of Kwajalein and Ebeye on 31 January-1 February, before attacking Wotje on 20 February.

On 20 March the New Mexico, along with Tennessee, Idaho and Mississippi, all under the command of Rear Admiral Griffen, bombarded Kavieng, New Ireland, to provide a distraction while General MacArthur's troops invaded Emirau Island.

Next came the invasion of the Mariana Islands (Operation Forager). New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Idaho formed part of Task Force 52.10 (Rear Admiral Ainsworth). The New Mexico took part in the pre and post invasion bombardment of Saipan (14 June-9 July 1944), and also attacked Tinian (14 June) and Guam (16 June). She wasn't directly involved in the Battle of the Philippine Sea (19-20 June) as she was protecting transport ships at the time. On 12 July she took part in the pre-invasion bombardment of Guam, and at the end of the month she bombarded Tinian.

From August to October the New Mexico underwent a refit at Bremerton, thus missing the battle of Leyte Gulf in October. She rejoined the fleet in Leyte Gulf on 22 November (joining Maryland, West Virginia and Colorado in TG 77.2 under Rear Admiral Weyler), and provided anti-aircraft fire. This became TG 77.12 after the Maryland was damaged, and was allocated to the forces covering the invasion of Mindoro and the Western Visayans. New Mexico supported the invasion of Mindoro on 15 December, and remained for two days before withdrawing to prepare for the invasion of Luzon.

On 3 January 1945 the 'old' battleship force was reorganised, and the New Mexico became part of Unit 1 of TG 77.2 under Vice Admiral Oldendorf (with Mississippi and West Virginia). Unit 2 contained the California, Pennsylvania and Colorado. The pre-invasion bombardment began on 6 January, and on the same day the New Mexico was hit in the bridge by a kamikaze attack. Her captain, R.W. Fleming, was one of 30 men killed in the attack, and another 87 were injured. The damage itself wasn't serious, and the ship remained with the bombardment force during the invasion on 9 January.

The New Mexico was repaired in time to take part in the invasion of Okinawa, where she formed part of Group 5 of Task Force 54 (Rear Admiral Deyo), alongside the New York. This task force contained all ten active 'old' battleships. The New Mexico opened fire on 26 March and remained in action until 17 April. She was called on again on 21 April and 29 April, while on 11 May she fended off an attack by eight suicide boats. On the following day she was less lucky, and suffered a second kamikaze hit and a conventional bomb hit. 54 men were killed and 119 wounded, and enough damage was done to force her to return to the Philippines for repairs.

The repairs didn't take long, and when the war ended in August 1945 the New Mexico was at Saipan, preparing for the planned invasion of Japan. She was part of the fleet that witnessed the Japanese surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945.

After the war the New Mexico was quickly decommissioned, and on 13 October 1947 she was sold for scrap.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



8,000nm at 10kts

Armour – belt


- deck


- turret faces

18in or 16in

- turret sides


- turret top


- turret rear


- barbettes


- coning tower


- coning tower top





97ft 5in


Twelve 14in guns in four triple turrets
Fourteen 4in guns
Four 3in guns
Two 21in submerged beam torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

14 October 1915



20 May 1918


Stricken 1947

USS New Mexico (BB 40) - History

(BB-40: dp. 32,000 1. 624' b. 97' dr. 30' s. 21 k. cpl. 1,084 a. 12 14", 14 5", 4 3", 2 21" tt. cl. New Mexico)

New Mexico (BB-40) was laid down 14 October 1915 by the New York Navy Yard: launched 13 April 1917, sponsored by Miss Margaret C. DeBaea, daughter of the Governor of New Mexico and commissioned 20 May 1918, Capt. Ashley H. Robertson in command.

After initial training, New Mexico departed New York 15 January 1919 for Brest, France, to escort home transport George Washington carrying President Woodrow Wilson from the Versailles Peace Conference, returning to Hampton Roads 27 February. There on 16 July she became flagship of the newly-organized Pacific Fleet, and three days later sailed for the Panama Canal and San Pedro, Calif., arriving 9 August. The next 12 years were marked by frequent combined maneuvers with the Atlantic Fleet both in the Pacific and Caribbean which included visits to South American ports and a 1925 cruise to Australia and New Zealand.

Modernized and overhauled at Philadelphia between March 1931 and January 1933, New Mexico returned to the Pacific in October 1934 to resume training exercises and tactical development operations. As war threatened, her base was Pearl Harbor from 6 December 1940 until 20 May 1941

when she sailed to join the Atlantic Fleet at Norfolk 16 June for duty on neutrality patrol. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, she returned to the west coast, and sailed 1 August 1942 from San Francisco to prepare in Hawaii for action. Between 6 December and 22 March 1943, she sailed to escort troop transports to the Fijis, then patrolled the southwest Pacific, returning to Pearl Harbor to prepare for the campaign against the Japanese in the Aleutians. On 17 May she arrived Adak, her base while serving on the blockade of Attu, and on 21 July she joined in the massive bombardment of Kiska that forced its evacuation a week later.

After refitting at Puget Sound Navy Yard, New Me:rico returned to Pearl Harbor 25 October to rehearse the assault on the Gilbert Islands. During the invasion, begun 20 November, she pounded Butaritari, guarded transports during their night withdrawals from the islands, and provided antiaircraft cover during unloading operations, as wolf as screening carriers. She returned to Pearl Harbor 5 December.

Underway with the Marshall Islands assault force 12 January 1944, New Mexico bombarded Kwajalein and Ebeye 31 January and 1 February, then replenished at Majuro. She

blasted Wotie 20 February and Kavieng, New Ireland 20 March, then visited Sydney before arriving in the Solomons in May to rehearse the Marianas operation.

New Mexico bombarded Tinian 14 June, Saipan 15 June and Guam 16 June, and twice helped drive off enemy air attacks 18 June. She protected transports off the Marianas while the carrier task force spelled the doom of Japanese naval aviation in its great victory, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, 19-20 June. New Mexico escorted transports to Eniwetok, then sailed 9 July guarding escort carriers until 12 July, when her guns opened on Guam in preparation for the landings 21 July. Until 30 July she blasted enemy positions and installations on the island.

Overhauled at Bremerton August to October, New Mexico arrived in Leyte Gulf 22 November to cover the movement of reinforcement and supply convoys, firing in the almost daily air attacks over the Gulf, as the Japanese posed desperate resistance to the reconquest of the Philippines. She left Leyte Gulf 2 December for the Palaus, where she joined a force covering the Mindoro-bound assault convoy. Again she sent up antiaircraft fire as invasion troops stormed ashore 15 December, providing cover for two days until sailing for the Palaus.

Her next operation was the invasion of Luzon, fought under a sky full of would be suicide planes, against whom she was almost continually at general quarters. She fired pre landing bombardment 6 January 1945, and that day took a suicide hit on her bridge which killed her commanding officer, Captain R. W. Fleming, and 29 others of her crew with 87 injured. Her guns remained in action as she repairer damage, and she was still in action 9 January as troops went ashore.

After repairs at Pearl Harbor, New Mexico arrived at Ulithi to stage for the invasion of Okinawa, sailing 21 March with a heavy fire support group. Her guns opened on Okinawa 26 March, and were not silent until 17 April as she gave every aid to troops engaged ashore. Again on 21 and 29 April she opened fire, and on 11 May she destroyed 8 suicide boats. While approaching her berth in Hagushi anchorage just after sunset 12 May, New Mexico was attacked by two suicides one plunged into her, the other managed to hit her with his bomb. She was set on fire, and 54 of her men were killed, with 119 wounded. Swift action extinguished the fires within half an hour, and on 28 May she departed for repairs at Leyte, followed by rehearsals for the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands. Word of the war's end reached her at Saipan 15 August, and next day she sailed for Okinawa to join the occupation force. She entered Sagami Wan 27 August to support the airborne occupation of Atsugi Airfield, then next day passed into Tokyo Bay to witness the surrender 2 September.

New Mexico was homeward bound 6 September, calling at Okinawa, Pearl Harbor, and the Panama Canal before arriving Boston 17 October. There she decommissioned 19 July 1946. She was sold for scrapping 13 October 1947 to Lipsett, Inc., New York City.


This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    New Mexico Class Battleship
    Keel Laid October 14 1915 as CALIFORNIA
    Renamed March 22 1916
    Launched April 13 1917

Naval Covers

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Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it doesn't take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.


This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

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USS New Mexico BB-40

Here is a hand drawn sailor, presumably on board the battleship USS New Mexico. His fingers are in his ears, waiting for the firing of the 14″ main guns. I’m not sure his fingers would have helped much at that distance but we get the point… Boom!

The cover postmarked with the ships Type 3 cancel in 1934, apparently on Labor Day although there is no date slug in the dial. And the ship was in Norfolk at the time.

USS New Mexico would have a long career after being launched in 1917. She was commissioned May 20, 1918 and after her shakedown cruise she joined the Atlantic Fleet. During the next 22 years she split time in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. She was part of the force that took a cruise to Australia and New Zealand in 1925. In 1937, she spent time in Alaskan waters evaluating service in those frigid waters.

1941 would find her in service back in the Atlantic Fleet but this changed in 1942 when she was transferred to the Pacific. She would spend the rest of the World War II years there, serving in the Alaskan Theater, participating in the taking of several islands in the Pacific and the liberation of Luzon.

She took part in the invasion of Okinawa and ended the war in Tokyo Bay during the surrender ceremony on September 2, 1945.

She was decommissioned July 19, 1946 and sold for scrap. Scrapping was completed 2 years later in July 1948.

The Naval Vessel Register (NVR) is the official inventory of ships and service craft in custody of or titled by the United States Navy.

The Navy Occupation Service Medal is a military award of the United States Navy which was "Awarded to commemorate the services of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel in the occupation of certain territories of the enemies of the U.S. during World War II" and recognized those personnel who participated in the European and Asian occupation forces during, and following World War II.

USS New Mexico (BB 40) - History

The Queen's Story in the Words of Her Men

USS New Mexico (BB 40 s) career touched upon the events of three centuries, (19th, 20th and 21st). Her design, prepared approximately ninety-eight years after Nelson s victory at Trafalgar, incorporated the lessons of the line of battle. She was designed as a battleship, a ship intended to serve in the van as did HMS Victory. USS New Mexico s armament, when she was commissioned during the final months of the First World War, included four three inch guns, weapons which could serve as anti-craft weapons, a defense against a threat which didn't exist when she was designed.

In 1919 USS New Mexico escorted Woodrow Wilson back from the Versailles Peace Conference where was set in motion a process which culminated in the Second World War. In 1941, USS New Mexico came into her own as a man-of-war. She was an older ship manned by a crew largely composed of young men, all volunteers, who hailed from every region of the country. She went into harms way providing gunfire support for the landings at most every major action in the Central Pacific and North Pacific. She sustained her most grievous injuries late during the war when struck by kamikazes, a suicide weapon which presaged the terrorist attacks and guided missiles of the current century.

USS New Mexico (BB 40) and her crew was the equal of every challenge they met. Many of these were unimagined when she was designed, launched then commissioned. Her history is a tribute to her builders and the men who crewed her. In this book, which includes 40 interviews and photographs, the history of USS New Mexico is told by her crewmen. They describe shipboard routine and their reasons for enlisting as well as recounting their combat experiences."

USS New Mexico BB-40

The USS New Mexico (BB-40) was ordered for the U.S. Navy before the start of World War I. Her keel was laid down at New York Navy Yard on October 14, 1915. She was launched on April 13, 1917 and commissioned on May 20, 1918 under the command of Captain Ashley H. Robertson.

After training, USS New Mexico headed to Brest, France to escort President Woodrow Wilson from the Paris Peace Conference on the USS George Washington. She became the flagship of the Pacific Fleet on July 16, 1919. Between the two World Wars, she participated in a number of maneuvers and training exercises. She was modernized at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard between March 1931 and January 1933.

The USS New Mexico was on neutrality patrol in the Atlantic when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. As she sailed for Hampton Roads, she rammed and sank the American freighter Oregon south of the Nantucket Lightship.

She escorted troop transports to Fiji from December 1942 to March 1943. After a stop in Pearl Harbor, she headed to the Aleutian Islands. She participated in the blockade of Attu before bombarding Kiska. The battleship then sailed to Puget Sound Navy Yard for refitting before joining in the assault on the Gilbert Islands.

USS New Mexico spent the first few months of 1944 bombarding targets at Kwajalein, Ebeye, Wotje, and Kavieng. Over the summer, she moved on to bombard Tinan, Saipan, and Guam before the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The battleship went for an overhaul at Bremerton before supporting operations in Leyte Gulf in November.

On January 6, 1945, the USS New Mexico was participating in the pre-invasion bombardment of Luzon. She was hit by a suicide attack that killed 31 men – including commanding officer Robert W. Fleming and British Lieutenant General Herbert Lumsden – and injured 87 others. She remained in action to support the troop landings before returning to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

The USS New Mexico supported the invasion of Okinawa in the spring, firing at shore targets and destroying suicide boats. She was struck by two suicide attacks on May 12, 1945, killing 54 men and injuring 119 others. When the war ended, the battleship was in Tokyo Bay to witness the surrender ceremony.

USS New Mexico earned six battle stars for her service in World War II. She was decommissioned on July 19, 1946 and sold for scrap on October 13, 1947.

Like the other ships built prior to the 1970s, the USS New Mexico used a number of asbestos-containing components in its construction. Asbestos was known for its resistance to fire, heat, water, and corrosion. Because it was cheap and readily available, it could be found in caulking, sealants, steam pipes, hot water pipes, pumps, boilers, electrical insulation, turbines, incinerators, engine rooms, fire doors, floor and ceiling tiles, and wall insulation. Men who served aboard the USS New Mexico were exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos, as were the men who participated in her repair and overhaul. Workers were not provided with protective clothing or respiratory gear, which put them at risk for inhaling asbestos fibers and developing life-threatening illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, and rectal cancer.

USS New Mexico workers should monitor their health carefully, and consult a doctor if they experience any symptoms associated with mesothelioma. Anyone who worked on or around the USS New Mexico, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.

USS New Mexico (BB 40)

USS New Mexico late 1942.

Decommissioned 19 July 1946.
Stricken 25 February 1947.
Sold 13 October 1947.
Scrapped at Newark starting in November 1947.

Commands listed for USS New Mexico (BB 40)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

1Capt. Cortlandt Chesterfield Baughman, USN1939Jan 1941
2Capt. Walter Elliott Brown, USNJan 194116 Sep 1942
3Capt. Oliver Lee Downes, USN16 Sep 19429 Sep 1943
4Capt. Ellis Mark Zacharias, USN9 Sep 194314 Sep 1944
5Capt. Robert Walton Fleming, USN14 Sep 19446 Jan 1945 (+)
6T/Capt. John Thompson Warren, USN6 Jan 19459 Feb 1945
7T/Capt. John Meade Haines, USN9 Feb 194515 Nov 1945
8T/Cdr. Arnold Houghton Newcomb, USN15 Nov 194519 Jul 1946

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Notable events involving New Mexico include:

6 Jan 1945
Hit by Kamikaze 30 killed amongst those who died was the Commanding officer Fleming and LT General Herbert Lumsden and the Times mag correspondent William Henry Chickering. Also 87 were wounded and the Executive officer Commander John Thompson Warren assumed command.

12 May 1945
On this date USS New Mexico was hit by two Japanese kamikaze aircraft and damaged, 55 were killed with 3 missing and 119 more were wounded.

USS New Mexico BB-40

First commissioned in 1918, the USS New Mexico BB-40 started her 30-year service history as the flagship of the Pacific Fleet. Throughout her involvement in WWII combat operations, she would engage in a variety of missions that included training military personnel, bombarding enemy forces and protecting aircraft carriers.


Types of Mesothelioma

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The USS New Mexico in WWII

Seven months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the USS New Mexico departed this base and headed for Norfolk, Virginia to join the Atlantic Fleet, which, at the time, was engaged in protecting the waters in the western hemisphere. Shortly after in May 1942, the USS New Mexico underwent a major modernization of her artillery equipment.

In her next phase of WWII operations, the USS New Mexico:

• transported soldiers to the Fiji Islands
• participated in combat missions in Adak, Attu and Kiska
• bombarded Makin and protected aircraft carriers during the Gilbert Island invasion
• supported the Marshall Island invasion
• performed strikes on Wotje, Tinian, Saipan and Guam
• supported troops in the Battle of the Philippine Sea

After engaging in further strikes on Guam, the USS New Mexico continued her combat operations by joining other battleships fighting in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. While attacks from kamikaze planes would force her to take a break from the war effort so she could undergo repairs at Pearl Harbor, once fixed, the USS New Mexico was ready to aid in the invasion of Okinawa.

The need for further repairs meant that the USS New Mexico was not actively serving the war effort in the final days of WWII. However, she did arrive in Tokyo Bay in time to witness the official surrender of the Japanese in September 1945.

Asbestos Exposure aboard the USS New Mexico

While her exemplary performance in the Pacific Fleet would ultimately earn her six battle stars, the USS New Mexico did have some bleak points in her history – namely, the endangerment of lives that worked aboard this battleship. In addition the obvious threats associated with war, those who worked on the USS New Mexico also experienced carcinogenic asbestos exposure, which, over time, can cause incurable diseases.

Because most people who are exposed to asbestos for long periods of time develop fatal conditions, anyone who spent time aboard the USS New Mexico can benefit from learning more about the effects and methods of battleship asbestos exposure.

Contact us today to learn more about asbestos exposure aboard the USS New Mexico.

USS New Mexico (BB-40)

PLEASE NOTE: Due to a prior commitment, the next ship will be posted on Thursday, September 1. Thank You.

Figure 1: USS New Mexico (BB-40) photographed from an airplane while steaming in line with other battleships, 13 April 1919. Note S.E.5A airplane on the flying-off platform atop the battleship's second turret. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 2: USS New Mexico (BB-40) photographed during the early or middle 1920s. Note anchors hanging from her bow. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 3: USS New Mexico (BB-40) photographed by Tai Tsing Loo in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in about 1935. Collection of Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 4: USS New Mexico (BB-40) off the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, following overhaul, 6 October 1943. A barge and motor launch are alongside her port quarter, with sailors coming on board from the latter. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 5: USS New Mexico’s 5-inch guns prepare to fire during the bombardment of Saipan, 15 June 1944. Note time-fuse setters on the left side of each gun mount, each holding three "fixed" rounds of ammunition, and triple 14-inch guns in the background. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 6: USS New Mexico’s 14-inch projectiles on deck, while the battleship was replenishing her ammunition supply prior to the invasion of Guam, July 1944.The photograph looks forward on the starboard side, with triple 14-inch gun turrets at left. Note floater nets stowed atop the turrets. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 7: USS New Mexico (BB-40) firing her after 14-inch guns during the pre-invasion bombardment of Guam, circa 14-20 July 1944. Taken by a Combat Photo Unit Two (CPU-2) photographer, looking aft along the port side from the forward sky lookout position. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 8: USS New Mexico (BB-40) at sea with two other battleships and an amphibious force command ship (AGC), probably at the time of the Iwo Jima or Okinawa operations, circa February-April 1945. Battleship in the center background is USS Idaho (BB-42). The one further to the left is either Tennessee (BB-43) or California (BB-44). Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 9: USS New Mexico (BB-40) is hit by a "kamikaze" at dusk on 12 May 1945, while off Okinawa. Photographed from USS Wichita (CA-45). Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 10: USS New Mexico (BB-40) anchored in the Tokyo Bay area, circa late August 1945, at the end of World War II. Mount Fuji is in the background. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

USS New Mexico (BB-40) was the lead ship of a class of three 32,000-ton battleships and was built by the New York Navy Yard at Brooklyn, New York, and commissioned on 20 May 1918. The ship was approximately 624 feet long and 97 feet wide, had a top speed of 21 knots, and had a crew of 1,084 officers and men. As built, New Mexico was armed with 12 14-inch guns, 14 5-inch guns, and four 3-inch guns, but this armament changed dramatically during the course of the ship’s career.

New Mexico was commissioned during World War I and spent the rest of the war patrolling off the east coast of the United States. She did, however, travel to Europe early in 1919 and escorted President Woodrow Wilson back to the United States from the Versailles peace conference in France. Later that year, New Mexico became the flagship of the US Pacific Fleet. She participated regularly in Battle Fleet exercises in both the Pacific and the Caribbean in the 1920s and the 1930s. The ship also visited Australia and New Zealand in 1925 and made numerous stops at South American ports during the 1920s.

New Mexico was overhauled and extensively modernized at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, beginning in March of 1931. The massive job was completed in January 1933 and it greatly altered her appearance. The ship’s original “cage” masts were replaced by a then-modern tower superstructure, and many other modifications were made to both her armament and thick armor protection. In 1940, New Mexico was based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as a deterrent to the Japanese Navy, but the ship was transferred to the Atlantic in May 1941 to reinforce the US Atlantic Fleet in case of war with Germany.

After America entered World War II on 7 December 1941, New Mexico returned to the Pacific in early 1942 to assist the Pacific Fleet that had been shattered at Pearl Harbor. During most of 1942, New Mexico patrolled off the west coast of the United States and around the Hawaiian Islands. From 6 December 1942 to 22 March 1943, New Mexico patrolled and escorted convoys in the southwest Pacific. She then steamed back to Pearl Harbor and went on to participate in the Aleutians campaign to recapture the islands of Attu and Kiska from the Japanese. On 17 May 1943, her massive guns were a major part of the bombardment of Kiska, which forced the Japanese to abandon the island a week later.

In late 1943 and early 1944, New Mexico provided heavy gunfire support for the invasions of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. She bombarded Japanese positions on New Ireland in March of 1944, and in June and July New Mexico assisted in the successful American amphibious assaults on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. After those campaigns, New Mexico was sent to Bremerton, Washington, for an overhaul that lasted from August to October 1944. The ship was sent right back into battle and participated in the invasion of the Philippines. On 22 November, New Mexico arrived off Leyte Gulf and provided anti-aircraft cover for the troops heading for the beaches, and also served as a floating artillery platform to bombard enemy positions on shore. During the invasion of Luzon in the Philippines, New Mexico was constantly attacked by Japanese kamikaze suicide planes. On 5 January 1945, while bombarding enemy positions on shore, a kamikaze scored a direct hit on the bridge of the ship. The explosion killed New Mexico’s commanding officer, Captain R.W. Fleming, as well as 29 other crew members. Eighty-seven men were injured in the explosion and resulting fire. But the ship’s guns remained in action as the rest of the crew temporarily repaired the damage. The tough battleship remained in action until 9 January and then was ordered to return to Pearl Harbor for more permanent repairs.

After being repaired at Pearl Harbor, New Mexico was sent back into the thick of things. She left Pearl Harbor on 21 March 1945 and joined the invasion force for Okinawa. On 26 March, New Mexico and other ships in her task force opened fire on Okinawa. New Mexico kept up the bombardment until 17 April, as troops struggled on shore against the Japanese. On 21 and 29 April she again provided gunfire support for the troops on shore, and on 11 May New Mexico destroyed eight Japanese suicide boats that tried to ram the ship. But on 12 May, two kamikaze aircraft speeded toward the battleship. The first dove at her and missed as the ship put up a hail of anti-aircraft fire. But the second plane, which was also carrying a bomb, hit New Mexico. There was a giant explosion followed by an intense fire. Fifty-four men were killed and 119 were wounded. But once again New Mexico’s crew rose to the occasion and managed to put out the roaring fire within 30 minutes. On 28 May, New Mexico steamed to Leyte for repairs.

During the last few days of World War II, New Mexico began rehearsals in the Philippines for the invasion of mainland Japan. But with the dropping of the atom bombs, the war suddenly ended. On 16 August, New Mexico steamed to Okinawa to join the American occupation forces that were gathering there. She was present in Tokyo Bay when Japan formally surrendered on 2 September 1945. After that, New Mexico returned to the United States. She transited the Panama Canal and reached Boston, Massachusetts, on 17 October 1945. USS New Mexico was decommissioned there on 19 July 1946 and was sold for scrapping on 13 October 1947. The ship served in two World Wars, participated in numerous amphibious assaults, was hit and seriously damaged twice by Japanese kamikaze aircraft, and received six battle stars for her service during World War II.

Watch the video: Bombardment Of Guam From USS New Mexico BB-40 1944 full