World War II saw the height of battleship action. Although a number of battleships were sunk or severely damaged at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. had sufficient battleship numbers to support the Atlantic and Pacific conflicts.
Many new battleships were planned and authorized for construction early in the war, but battleship building was put on hold in 1943 when aircraft carrier technology and tactics proved much more successful than the now-outdated battleship.
In total, thousands of Navy veterans served on 71 U.S. battleships. All bore the hull classification symbol “BB” although they were divided into certain classifications depending on the series these heavy-armored weapons were produced in.
All American battleships were named after states such as the famous ships BB-61USS Iowa, BB-62 USS New Jersey and BB-63 USS Missouri. And all of these ships were built with asbestos, a highly durable — and deadly — material.
The end of World II wasn’t the end of American battleships even though no more were constructed. Battleships remained a vital part of the U.S. Navy’s military sea presence in Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War and the first Gulf conflict.
Battleships were decommissioned in the early 1990s with the last two stricken from the Navy’s registry in 2014. The surviving battleships are now public museums like the Missouri, which was returned to Pearl Harbor.