America's toughest battleship discovered three miles under the Pacific

Jack Murphy
May 13, 2020 - 10:31 am
USS Nevada

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives.

One of America's toughest warships has been discovered at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii. Throughout her service to the Navy, the USS Nevada proved one thing above all else: she was hard to kill.

The "USS Nevada, first of a class of two 27,500-ton battleships, was built at Quincy, Massachusetts. She was commissioned in March 1916 and operated in the western Atlantic and the Caribbean until mid-1918, when she went to the British Isles for World War I service," the Naval History and Heritage Command's profile on the ship states.

In 1941, the USS Nevada was the only ship to get underway during the Pearl Harbor attack. Hit by five Japanese bombs, the crew intentionally beached the Nevada in a last ditch effort to save her.

After extensive repairs, the USS Nevada was put back into action during the Attu landings when American troops fought the Imperial Japanese for control of the Aleutian Islands campaign. She was then transferred to the Atlantic and was involved in the D-Day invasion in June of 1944. Sent back to the Pacific, the Nevada was then tasked with assisting in the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Despite taking bomb damage and being hit my a kamikaze attack, she stayed in the fight and was preparing for the planned invasion of the Japanese mainland. 

At the conclusion of World War II, she was deemed to be far too old to remain in the fleet and was assigned as target practice for nuclear testing near Bikini atoll in 1946 which, "left her damaged and radioactive, and she was formally decommissioned in August 1946."

She was then used for target practice and sunk by an aerial torpedo in 1948. While the general location of the ship was always known, a joint venture between Search Inc. and Ocean Infinity recently discovered the actual wreck at the bottom of the ocean.

Search Inc's ship the Pacific Constructor found the wreck working with the underwater robotics experts from Ocean Infinity. The USS Nevada rests 65 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii under 15,400 feet of water.

"Nevada is an iconic ship that speaks to American resilience and stubbornness. Rising from its watery grave after being sunk at Pearl Harbor, it survived torpedoes, bombs, shells and two atomic blasts. The physical reality of the ship, resting in the darkness of the great museum of the sea, reminds us not only of past events, but of those who took up the challenge of defending the United States in two global wars. This is why we do ocean exploration to seek out these powerful connections to the past," marine archeologist and Search Inc. vice president Dr. James Delgado said in a press release.

The director of the Naval History and Heritage Command retired Adm. Samuel Cox added, "we are greatly appreciative to Ocean Infinity and Search, Inc. in relocating and providing information on an extremely historic vestige of our nation’s past. Nevada is an unambiguous reminder of our Navy’s heritage of resilience."

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Reach Jack Murphy: or @JackMurphyRGR.