USS Colorado (BB 45)

USS Colorado (BB 45) was the name ship of the Colorado class of battleships, the last US battleships built before the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. She was undergoing a refit when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and thus escaped damage. She took part in the invasions of Tarawa, the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Guam and Tinian, the landings at Leyte Gulf and the invasion of Okinawa

The Colorado was launched in 1921 and completed in 1923. After a maiden voyage to Europe she joined the Battle Fleet (then the name for the US Pacific Fleet), and served with that fleet from 1924-41.

USS Colorado (BB-45) in front of Golden Gate Bridge
USS Colorado (BB-45) in front of Golden Gate Bridge

On 24 June 1941 the Colorado left Pearl Harbor to sail for Puget Sound Navy Yard where she underwent a significant refit. The main change made at this point was the addition of a torpedo bulge which both increased protection against torpedoes and increased her buoyancy, making up for the extra weight that had been added since her launch. Other planned changes were cancelled after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the refit was completed on 31 March 1942. It still took some time to prepare for action and she didn't return to Hawaii until 14 August. In November Colorado and Maryland moved to Fiji, and they spent most of the next year guarding the South Pacific against any Japanese raids that might cut the links with Australia. The two ships returned to Pearl Harbor on 17 September 1943. During 1942 a shorter tower mast was built for her but due to a lack of time it wasn't installed until 1944. Instead the crew of the Colorado cut down most of their cage mainmast, which was considered to block the view of the anti-aircraft guns.

Chief Petty Officers of USS Colorado (BB-45) studying
Chief Petty Officers of USS Colorado (BB-45) studying

The Colorado was one of the less modified battleships, and ended the war with her pre-war 5in/51 and 5in/25 guns as well as eight quadruple 40mm mountings and eight twin and one quad 20mm mounting.

In November 1943 Tennessee, Maryland and Colorado formed the Southern Attack Group (TG 53.4) under Admiral Kingman. This group took part in the invasion of Tarawa (Operation Galvanic). The bombardment lasted from 20-28 November.

The same three battleships form the Northern Attack Force (FSG 53.5, Rear Admiral Oldendorf) for Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the Marshall Islands. The Colorado provided a pre-invasion bombardment and direct fire support during the invasion of Kwajalein, bombarding Roi Island in particular (31 January-7 February 1944). They then formed the Fleet Support Group for Task Force 51 during the invasion of Eniwetok, Operation Catchpole (17-23 February 1944).

Next came Operation Forage, the invasion of the Mariana Islands. This time Colorado, Maryland, California and Tennessee formed TG 52.17 (Oldendorf). The pre-invasion bombardment of Saipan began on 14 June, and the Colorado was also used for the bombardments of Guam and Tinian. On 24 July she was hit by 22 shells fired from Tinian, but was able to remain in action until 3 August. She then returned to the west coast for repairs.

The Colorado returned to the fleet in November 1944 when she joined TG 77.2 (Rear Admiral Weyler), along with Maryland, West Virginia and New Mexico. This task group operated in Leyte Gulf in support of the ground troops. On 27 November she was hit by two kamikazes. Nineteen men were killed and seventy two wounded but the Colorado was still able to take part in the planned bombardment of Mindoro on 12-17 December before leaving for emergency repairs. She was back at the start of January 1945 and formed part of Unit 2, TG 77.2 (Oldendorf) during the landings at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon (Operation Mike I). The Colorado was struck by shellfire during this battle, but didn't have to retire.

Next was the invasion of Okinawa. The ten active old battleships formed Task Force 54 (Rear Admiral Deyo). This was split into five groups of two, with Colorado and Arkansas in Group 2. The bombardment began on 25/26 March and Colorado provided fire support for the troops on Okinawa until 22 May.

Signal Bridge, USS Colorado (BB-45)
Signal Bridge, USS Colorado (BB-45)

After the end of the fighting the Colorado took part in the occupation of Japan, covering the landings at Tokyo on 27 August. She witnessed the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay and then departed for San Francisco. After three Magic Carpet runs in which she carried 6,357 veterans home from Pearl Harbor she was placed into the mothball fleet before being sold for scrap in 1959.

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


Eight 16in guns in four twin turrets
Fourteen 5in guns
4 3in guns
Two 21in submerged beam torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

29 May 1919


22 March 1921


30 August 1923


Stricken 1959

US Standard Type Battleships 1941-45 (2): Tennessee, Colorado and Unbuilt Classes, Mark Stille. Looks at the 'Big Five', the last standard-type battleships built for the US Navy, and the most powerful ships in the US Navy for much of the interwar period. Covers their design, original purpose and actual Second World War service, where their limited speed meant they could no longer serve with the battle fleet. Despite that limit they played a major part in the Pacific War, and four fought in the last battleship action of the war. [read full review]
cover cover cover


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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 April 2012), USS Colorado (BB 45) ,

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