Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Seventy-Five Years Ago: Ready or Not, Here Alabama Comes!

Exactly six months after she was launched on the Elizabeth River, the ship's company of USS Alabama (BB 60) and guests assembled on her stern during the battleship's commissioning ceremony at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. Note that  Turret Number Three has yet to be finished. (Naval History and Heritage Command image) 
Six months ago we briefly covered the launching of USS Alabama (BB 60) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia.  Of course the launching of a warship does not mean she is ready for the Navy to take possession by a long stretch.  A great deal of fitting out had yet to be done over the spring and summer of 1942 to complete the 35,000-ton battleship, which was approaching fruition on this date three-quarters of a century ago.  

In any event, her commissioning ceremony took place six months to the day after her launching, ready or not.  This photograph indicates that for certain parts of the ship, it was the latter.  For example, notice that the battleship's Turret Number Three has yet to be covered with armor plating.  It is perhaps for that reason that nothing about Alabama's commissioning appeared in either of Norfolk's major daily newspapers that week.  Of course, wartime censorship regulations might have been a significant factor as well, but it is a pity that the event's particulars were not recorded by the press for posterity, as Alabama was the last battleship built at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. 

She would finally complete her fitting-out and begin shakedown maneuvers in Chesapeake bay in November.
The battleship Alabama (BB 60) is fitted out by thousands of workers at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia during the summer of 1942.  The former battleship Kearsarge, then utilized as a crane ship, is off her starboard bow.  Her 16-inch 45-caliber guns have yet to be installed, and construction of numerous antiaircraft gun tubs is still underway. (Naval History and Heritage Command image

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