Sea Weapons


South Dakota

The South Dakota-class were the second fast battleship class in service with the US Navy and the last to be built within the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty. The South Dakotas retained the same 16-in Mark 6 guns of their predecessors, the North Carolina-class, but were considerably shorter. A similar top speed of 27 knots was maintained by reducing the size of the power plant, which was essentially also the same as in the preceding class. Some space was also saved by reducing the number of secondary armament batteries (consisting of 5-in dual purpose guns). The most important improvement, however, was with regards to armament, which resolved some of the shortcomings of the North Carolina-class particularly with regards to underwater protection. The result was one of the best protected battleship designs of any nation, and comparable to the larger and heavier Iowa-class that followed. As a result, they have been widely considered to be the finest Treaty battleships ever built, due to their excellent combination of firepower (enhanced by fire control radar), speed, and protection; their main drawback was that they were somewhat cramped due to their shorter length. All four ships saw extensive service in the Pacific theater, and three of them also operated in the Atlantic either supporting the British Home Fleet or the North Africa landings. None were sunk in combat although the South Dakota was severely damaged in a battleship duel off Guadalcanal. They were decommissioned shortly after the end of the war, and either turned into museum ships or scrapped.

The USS South Dakota was sent to the Pacific a few months after commissioning where she was part of the fleet that engaged the Japanese off Guadalcanal in 12-15 November 1942. A power failure resulted in the ship receiving 42 shells but it managed to survive, serving later in the Atlantic with the British Home Fleet before returning to the Pacific. The USS Indiana served mostly in the Pacific as a carrier escort. The USS Massachusetts began service in the Atlantic as the flagship of the Western Naval Task Force during Operation Torch in North Africa where it engaged and disabled the French battleship Jean Bart. After service in the Pacific it became memorable for the site of the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. The USS Alabama also began service in the Atlantic as a convoy escort, later joining her sisters in the Pacific.

USS Alabama (BB-60)

Preceded by:

North Carolina (1941)

Succeeded by:

Iowa (1943)


ClassSouth Dakota
Length203.0 m (pp)
207.3 m
Beam33.0 m
Draught10.7 m
Empty37,970 t
Loaded44,519 t
Speed51 km/h
Range27,780 km @ 28 km/h
Turbines4 x Geared steam
130,000 hp
General Electric
Boilers8 x Babcock & Wilcox
FuelOil: 6,959 t
Main9 x 406-mm/45 (3 x 3)
16"/45 Mk. 6
-2° / +45°

Secondary20 x 127-mm/38 (10 x 2)
5"/38 Mk. 12
-10° / +35°

Anti-Aircraft12 x 28-mm (3 x 4)
1.1"/75 Mk. 1
12 x 13-mm (12 x 1)
M2 Browning
48-72 x 40-mm (12-18 x 4)
Bofors [1945]
37-72 x 20-mm (31-72 x 1, 1-4 x 2, 1 x 4)
Oerlikon [1945]
Broadside11,025 kg
Belt25 - 310 mm
Bulkhead279 mm
Deck146 - 152 mm
Barbettes287 - 439 mm
Gun turret184 - 457 mm
Conning tower184 - 406 mm


Ship Code Builder Laid Launch Comm Decomm Fate
South Dakota BB-57 New York SB05/07/3907/06/4120/03/4231/01/47Sold/Scrapped
Indiana BB-58 Newport News SB20/11/3921/11/4130/04/4211/09/47Sold/Scrapped
Massachusetts BB-59 Bethlehem20/07/3923/09/4112/05/4227/03/47Preserved
Alabama BB-60 Norfolk N Yd01/02/4016/02/4216/08/4209/01/47Preserved