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USS Massachusetts

USS Massachusetts approaches Boston.

Laurie Swope/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images


The sixth ship to bear the name of the state, USS Massachusetts was known for firing the first and last 16-inch shells of World War II. At 680 feet long, the warship was powered by four steam turbines, giving it a top speed of nearly 28 knots, and could carry three Kingfisher floatplanes.

First launched in September 1941, the South Dakota-class battleship, affectionately dubbed «Big Mamie» by its crew, was armed with nine 16-inch 45-caliber guns, 20 5-inch, 38-caliber dual-purpose guns, and an antiaircraft battery of Bofors guns and Oerlikon autocannon.

The Massachusetts made one of the longest-range gunfire hits against a moving enemy target at a range of 28,000 yards. During the Battle of Casablanca, Big Mamie fired at the French destroyer Milan serving with the naval forces of Vichy — the government that collaborated with Nazi Germany after France’s fall — which was fighting to defend French territory near north Africa.

The ship was decommissioned in 1947 and stripped of 5,000 tons of equipment to be used for other naval vessels. At the request of Massachusetts citizens, Big Mamie was donated to the state in 1965 instead of heading to a scrapyard.

Located in Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts, the warship is considered the most unaltered battleship in the world.

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