USS New York (BB 34)

The USS New York (BB 34) was the name ship of the New York class of battleships, and saw service in both world wars, operating with the British Grand Fleet in 1917-18 and taking part in Operation Torch and the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the Second World War.

Despite being the name ship of her class, and being allocated a lower BB number, the USS New York was actually the second 14in gun battleship to be constructed for the US Navy. She was laid down on 11 September 1911, five months after her sister ship the Texas, launched on 30 October 1912 and commissioned on 15 April 1914, one month after the Texas.

USS New York (BB-34) at Scapa Flow, 1918
USS New York (BB-34) at Scapa Flow, 1918

The New York was almost immediately sent south to act as the flagship of the naval force at Veracruz, occupied by the United States to prevent an arms shipment reaching the Mexican dictator. She then served off the East Coast, before in November 1917 being chosen to serve as the flagship for Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, commander of the battleship squadron sent to serve with the British Grand Fleet (as the 6th Battle Squadron). This squadron took part in a number of operations in the North Sea, although the only German ships encountered were U-boats. The New York was present when the German fleet sailed into interment on 21 November 1918.

The New York spent most of the inter-war years serving in the Pacific Fleet, from her home port of San Diego. After taking Admiral Rodman to the coronation of George VI she served on the east coast, working with the US Naval Academy.

USS New York (BB-34) leaves Reykjavik, July 1941
USS New York (BB-34) leaves Reykjavik, July 1941

In the mid 1920s her coal fired boilers were replaced with oil fired boilers. The cage masts were replaced with a tripod foremast and short tower rear mast. The original two funnels were replaced with a single funnel. Six of the 5in guns were moved up from their protected casemates to unprotected positions on the deck, to make space for anti-submarine blisters on her sides. During the Second World War her anti-aircraft armament was increased, and she ended the war with ten quad mountings for 40mm guns and thirty six 20mm guns.

In the summer of 1941 the New York became part of the American Neutrality Patrol, established to help the British escort convoys across the Atlantic. In July she was part of the naval force that escorted US troops to Iceland, where they replaced the British garrison. Her presence in the Atlantic meant that she was one of only seven US battleships left intact after the attack on Pearl Harbor (a figure that included at least one partially disarmed training ship, the Wyoming). The New York was used on convoy escort duty during most of 1942, although in November she and the Texas provided fire support for the Allied invasion of North Africa. The New York was used to bombard enemy positions at Safi on 8 November 1942.

After this spell of active service the New York was used as a gunnery training ship in Chesapeake Bay for the first half of 1944, while in the second half she conducted three training cruises to Trinidad.

Towards the end of 1944 the US Navy was short of 'old' battleships to use as shore bombardment ships in the Pacific. Most of the ships already in the Pacific were committed to the invasion of the Philippines, and so a new force had to be created from ships no longer needed in Europe or in training roles. The New York reached San Pedro on 6 December 1944, where she underwent a short training programme. She then sailed into the war zone, joining the fleet in time to take part in the invasion of Iwo Jima.

Officer's Mess, USS New York (BB-34), 1931
Officer's Mess, USS New York (BB-34), 1931

The New York formed part of Task Force 54, under Rear Admiral Rodgers (alongside the Tennessee, Idaho, Nevada, Texas and Arkansas). The bombardment of Iwo Jima began on 16 February, and lasted for three days. During this period the New York fired more rounds than any other ship in the bombardment force.

The ten available 'old' battleships came together as Task Force 54 (Rear Admiral Deyo) for the invasion of Okinawa. New Yorkformed part of Group 5, with the New Mexico (Group 1 contained Texas and Maryland, Group 2 Arkansas and Colorado, Group 3 Tennessee and Nevada and Group 4 Idaho and West Virginia).

The New York took part in the pre-invasion bombardment, starting on 27 March. This was the first of 76 consecutive days of action for the old battleship, in which she produced fire support to the troops on the island. During this period she was hit once by a kamikaze aircraft, but the Japanese aircraft bounced off after destroying the New York's spotting aircraft.

On 11 June the New York set sail for Pearl Harbor, where the barrels of some of her worn guns were replaced. She was allocated to the force being gathered for the proposed invasion of Japan, but the war ended before this operation was needed.

Watching USS New York (BB-34) return to New York, October 1945
Watching USS New York (BB-34) return to New York, October 1945

After the war the New York made one trip from Pearl Harbor to the US West Coast and one from Pearl to New York, on each occasion bringing troops home. She was then allocated to the fleet to be used as targets during the Bikini atomic tests. She survived both the air blast and the underwater blast, and was studied for two years, before being sunk deliberately during a battle exercise on 8 July 1948.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



7,060nm at 10kts

Armour – belt


 - lower casemate


 - upper casemate


 - armour deck


 - turret faces


 - turret tops


 - turret sides


 - turret rears


 - barbettes

10in and 12in

 - coning tower


 - coning tower top





95ft 6in


Ten 14in guns in twin turrets
Twenty one 5in guns
Four submerged beam 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

 11 September 1911


 30 October 1912


15 April 1914


Sunk 8 July 1948

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 September 2011), USS New York (BB 34) ,

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