The Massachusetts, a highly decorated battleship, was launched from the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Mass., on Sept. 23, 1941. Commissioned on May 12, 1942, she had as a sponsor Mrs. Charles Francis Adams III, wife of the former Navy Secretary and great-grandson of President John Quincy Adams.
Known as ‘Big Mamie’ to her crew, the Massachusetts then joined Operation Torch, a task force to support the invasion of North Africa. On Nov. 8, 1942, she lay off the city of Casablanca when she came under fire from a shore battery. Massachusetts fired at a French battleship, Jean Bart, disabling its gun turret. She also sunk two French destroyers, two merchant ships and a light cruiser.
After the Battle of Casablanca, the Massachusetts sailed to the Pacific, where she saw quite a lot of action. Big Mamie supported Allied troops, for example, during the Battle of Okinawa. She was then decommissioned in 1947 and entered a reserve fleet. In 1962, the Navy marked her for scrap.
USS Massachusetts, Museum
But then the veteran crew of the Massachusetts and Massachusetts schoolchildren saved the Massachusetts from the scrappers.
The children raised money and the veterans persuaded the Navy to donate it as a museum ship in Fall River, Mass., in 1965. Big Mamie now rests in Battleship Cove, which features the largest collection of World War II naval vessels in the world. It includes the destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., the submarine Lionfish, the former East German corvette Hiddensee and a pair of PT boats.
This story updated in 2022.
Images: By Marcbela (Marc N. Belanger) – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4395576.