John's Maritime History / Warships

The World of Warships Facts & Details

American Warships

Contents of this page are:

1, USS Phoenix/ General Belgrano 

2, USS Arizona 

3,USS Enterprise


USS Phoenix / General Belgrano


USS 'Phoenix' (CL-46)USS 'Phoenix' (CL-46) - 'Brooklyn' Class cruiser - later 'General Belgrano' of the Argentinian Navy.

The light cruiser USS Phoenix (CL46) - sixth ship of the Brooklyn Class - was launched on 12 March 1938.

On 7 December 1941 she was lying at anchor in Pearl Harbor, at a point north-east of Ford Island. When the Japanese surprise attack took place she got under way and sortied from the base, as did her sister ship St. Louis and the cruiser Detroit. After the attack these three ships were ordered to join the heavy cruiser Minneapolis, and proceed westwards to meet the USS Enterprise and Task Force 16 - which were on their way back to Pearl Harbor after ferrying aircraft to Wake Island.

USS Arizona

USS Arizona, Sunk in Pearl Harbour 7th Decenber 1941, thus bringing the United States into the Second World War.

United States battleship (bb39) sunk on the 7th Decenber 1941 during the carrier based air raid by the Japanese navy on US forces in Pearl Harbour, Arizona was sunk in the first moments of the attack with a loss of 1,177 sailors and marines.After initial attempts at salvage the decision was made by US authorities to let the ship remain in place as both a grave and shrine.The Superstructure was removed and in 1962 a memorial designed by architect Alfred Pries was built over the vessel.
This site is visited by over 5,000 people each day and is meant to be a commemoration of all those who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbour.
Arizona's keel was laid in 1914.The ship was launched in 1915 and commisioned on the 16th October 1916.It was the second Pennsylvania class battleship, and had an overall lenght of 608ft ( 185.3m),a beam of 97ft (29.6m) and she displaced 31,400 tons. Its main armament consisted of twelve 14 inch guns mounted three apiece in four turrets.two forward and two aft.
The operational history of the Arizona included patrol service during World War One off the coast of the United States, various voyages to convey emissaries on diplomatic missions, and service as flagship of various battleship divisions. At no time in her career did the ship use its immense firepower in battle. The main significance of the ship came at its demise when its remains became a symbolic rallying point for the American people to "Remember Pearl Harbour".

USS Enterprise

Nuclear Power in Ships featuring the USS Enterrprise

During the First World War, a new weapon was used for the first time, The aircraft. The Naval Authorities immediately realized it potential as an observation of attack instrument at sea, and even before the war was over, some cruisers had had their upper decks cleared of most superstructures and gun turrets to be converted into sea going taking off and landing strips.Thus the aircraft carrier was born. Just over twenty years later, when the Second World War broke out, the aircraft carrier had developed into a purpose built ship of great strategic value.

Almost every major action in the Pacific involved aircraft carriers, and of the many such fighting ships there is one that fascinates me. One in fact that became particularly famous, the USS Enterprise, familiarily known as " The Big E ". She earned twenty battle stars, more than any other ship of the United States Navy. When she was broken up for scrap in 1958, it was natural for her name to be given to a new ship. This one would be far advanced on the old one, for she would be nuclear powered. The keel which had been already laid down a few months earlier.

In modern strategy, carriers are essential to a surface fleet. They provide it with air cover, with long range anti submarine aircraft protection and with an air attack capability against enemy shore and sea targets. At the same time the carrier is dependant on a screen of small ships to protect it against various types of threats. Whereas the submarine, particularly the nucler strategic type, can cruise alone, the carrier is inherently a fleet ship.

Although Enterprise ( CVAN 65 ) has inherited her name from the "Big E" ( CV6 ) of 1938, there is an intermeadiate generation between the two ships. The 'Forrestal ' class, which came into commision in 1935 with the USS Forrestal, was the first post war American carrier class, incorperating the experience of the Second World War and the Korean Conflict, and some British inventions, such as the angled flight deck, steam catapults, mirror landing systems and armoured flight deck.

When she was commisioned in 1961, the Enterprise was the second nuclear surface ship, she had been preceded by only a few months by the nuclear cruiser ' Long Beach . For over ten years, until the carrier USS Nimitz ( CVAN 68 ) was commisioned in 1974, the Enterprise was the largest warship ever to be built.

The principle dimensions of the Enterprise are as follows:

Displacement 76915 tonnes, 90,428 tonnes at full load.

Length overall 341.3m (more than five times the length of HMS Victorious.

Length at waterline 317.0m

Beam 40.5 m

Flight deck width, 78.3 m ( HMS Victorious could sit across its deck with space to spare )

Area of flight deck 18,000 Sq M

Draught 10.8 m

Depth from flight deck to keel, 28.75 m ( equivilent to a ten storey block of flats, measured from the top of the mast, the height from the keel would be that of a twenty five storey building. )

The ships complement is 5,502 men, 162 ships officers, 2,940 enlisted men and 2,400 air wing personel. The size of the ship and her complement is best shown by a few figures, more than 16,000 meals are served each day, her distilling plants could provide fresh water for 1,400 households, she has more than 1,800 telephones, and her electricity generating capacity would be sufficient for a town of 2,000,000 inhabitants

The width of the flight deck is considerably larger than the beam of the hull proper.In fact the deck edge overhangs house the four elevators which carry aircraft from the hanger deck below to the flight deck, the island structure, the catapult controls and the missile sponsons.There are four steam catapults, which take their steam from the reactors. They are capable of accelerating a 36 tonne aircraft ( the heaviest type on board ) to 260 km/h in 60 s, and they can be adjusted for each weight of aircraft. Two of the 'cats ' launched over the bows and the other two over the fore end of the angled flight deck. With all the 'cats' in operation, it is possible to launch an aircraft every 15 seconds.

The angled flight deck is the landing deck,and has four arresting wires capable of halting heavy planes in a few metres.If a planes tail hook or landing gear has been damaged, a nylon net can be erected across the deck to catch the aircraft with only minor damage. The elevators measure about 370m' three are to starboard and one is to the port quarter, allowing aircraft to be lifted and lowered simultaneously.

The island structure rests outside the hull, supported by a sponson. The big white square looking billboards are 360 degreee fixed array radar atenna system which not only scans the horizon faster than a rotating atenna but also give a three dimensional picture and an incresed range. Above this radar array is the flag bridge where the Admiral and his flag officers supervise the fleet and air wing movements and those of its enemy, with the help of advanced electronic and computer monitoring systems, which include the Naval Tactical Data System ( NTDS ) and the Intergrated Operational Intelligence System ( IOIS ). The ntds can simultaneously analyse multiple enemy attacks, propose counter measures in microseconds and, through radio links with other ship and airborne systems, it allows the control of a task force as if it were a single ship. The IOIS provides a contiuous analysis and updating of intellegence gathered by reconnaissance aircraft, other ships and outside inteligence sources. There is also a direct link to the Pentagon.

The navigational bridge is situated above the flag bridge and it, too, has an impressive array of electronics. A continuous digital position display is provided by automatic satellite navigation and computer processing. The accuracy is such that if the satellite aerial were moved from one side of the Island to the other, the difference in position would be recorded.Above the navigation bridge is the control tower.

The thimble shaped dome and the mast support radar and radio aerials, such as the Electronic Countermeasure ( ECM ) aerials for such, navigation and low flying aircraft and missile detection. The main ship borne defence is provided by two Basic Point Defense Missile Systems ( BPDMS ) with Sea Sparrow missiles.

About ninety five aircraft of different types are carried, the ratios of which vary according to the mission, fighters, such as ' Phantom II's', attack aircraft such as ' Corsairs & Intruders ', reconaissance aircraft such as ' Vigilantes ', electronic countermeasure aircraft such as ' Skywarriors ' In flight refuellers, early warning radar, communications and search and rescue aircraft.

When not in use or on display, the aircraft are kept on the hanger deck, below the flight deck. This hanger deck, with 6.25m headroom is remarkably spacious as it runs the entire length of the ship.The crew accomodation, computer rooms, back up control rooms, magazines and machinery space are below this deck.

Nuclear power was first used at sea in 1955, with the submarine USS Nautilus. The advantages of nuclear power are multiple. The range of endurance of the ship is limited solely by the endurance of the crew.The first set of uranium cores on the Enterprise was replaced after three years and 207,000 miles while the third current set can power the ship, and provide electricity and fresh water for ten to thirteen years.Cores have been developed which could last an aircraft carrier her full operational life of thirty years. The endurance advantage of nuclear power in carriers is somewhat tempered by the fact they still depend on a mainly conventional fleet which needs either naval bases relatively near at hand or secure sea lanes for fule carrying tankers. Nuclear power also saves space, The absence of boiler room bunkers allows more space for aircraft fuel bunkers and magazines, and because there are no stacks, the ship can be sealed off against fallout , combat gases and biological agents. Finally, nuclear power allows quasi- instantaneous variations of the power output, giving the ship a high manouvrability.

The Enterprise has eight reactors providing more than 200,000 hp and capable of pushing the 90.000 tonne ship at 35 knote. the reactors are water cooled under pressure, and steam for the turbines and generators is made in heat exchangers as water in contact with the cores is radioactive and must remain in a closed circuit. The turbines actuate for five bladed propellers with a 6.4m diameter and weight of 33 tonnes. There are four rudders, one astern of each propeller.

The design of the Enterprise started in 1950, and congress appropriated funds for its building in 1957. The keel was laid down on the 4th February 1958 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Newport News in Virginia. The ship was launched on the 24th September 1960 and commisioned on 25th November 1961.

I trust you enjoyed reading this, Bit dated I know, But after all it is about the birth of nuclear power in warships. I hope soon to follow this up with in depth research into the USS Nimitz. So as the saying goes what this forum