Nevada class battleships

The Nevada class battleships were the second class of 14in battleships built for the US Navy, and adopted a new 'all or nothing armour' scheme, designed to make better use of a similar weight of armour to earlier ships.

Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor:
USS Maryland and
USS Oklahoma

This 'all or nothing' system eliminated most of the thinner armour used to protect outlying areas of previous ships, and concentrated as much of the armour as possible in a thick band around the key working parts of the ship - the machinery, magazines and gun turrets. Armour piercing shells were designed to explode after they had penetrated armour, doing damage inside the protected area. Thin armour was enough to detonate the shells but not enough to protect against them. In the 'all or nothing' scheme the most important areas were protected by armour thick enough to prevent the shell from penetrating it (with the thickest belt armour rising from 12in on the New York class to 13.5in on the Nevada class, and a larger area protected by the thickest armour). The deck armour was also increased, from 2in to 3in, and the armoured deck moved to the top of the belt, with a thinner 'splinter deck' below to protect against splinters from shells exploding after hitting the deck. Outside the central 'raft' the ship was effectively un-armoured, in the hope that armour piercing shells would fail to detonate. This system made sense while most hits were expected to come from the sides, but as ranges increased more hits would come from above (plunging fire), potentially missing the 13.5in armour completely.

In order to reduce the amount of space that needed to be protected the number of turrets was reduced from five to four but the number of guns remained at ten, with two turrets carrying three guns each. Both ships in the class used oil fired boilers instead of coal fired ones, saving boiler and fuel space, but removing the underwater protection provided by coal bunkers. The Oklahomaretained the reciprocating expansion engines used in the New York class, but the Nevada was the first American battleship to use geared turbines, which offered better fuel efficiency at cruising speed than earlier turbines.

Spent shell cases on USS Nevada, D-Day
Spent shell cases
on USS Nevada,

Both ships underwent a major refit in the late 1920s, getting anti-torpedo bulges, new boilers, increased horizontal armour and tripod masts in place of the original cage masts.

Both ships were posted to Bantry Bay, Ireland, during 1918 to help escort US convoys across the Atlantic. They were also both present at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack. The Oklahoma capsized early in the attack, but the Nevada was the only battleship to get underway. She was eventually badly damaged by Japanese bombs and had to be beached to prevent her sinking. Oklahoma was righted but not repaired, but Nevada returned to service in 1943 and took part in the D-Day invasion, Operation Dragoon in the south of France and the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

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





95ft 6in


Ten 14in guns in two 3-gun and two 2-gun turrets
Twenty one 5in guns
Two 21in submerged beam torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Ships in Class


USS Nevada (BB 36)

Sunk 31 July 1948

USS Oklahoma (BB 37)

Sunk 7 December 1941

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 September 2011), Nevada class battleships ,

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