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Rhode Island Class


Line drawing of Rhode Island

Displacement 17,000 tons
Armament 2 x 2 14"
6 x 2 5" DP
Speed 21 knots
VTS Rating   2   2   3

These ships were the pre-Dreadnoughts Mississippi and Idaho. They were sold to Greece to become the Royal Hellenic Navy's Kilkis and Lemnos. The Lemnos was taken out of service in 1932, and the Kilkis suffered the agony of sinking in the port of Piraeus from Stukas attacks during the Balkan Campaign.

In "Grand Fleet" the old ships are sold to Greece in the early 20's to free up Treaty battleship tonnage, but Greece "traded" them back to pay for assistance in the construction of Salamis. The US Navy de-militarized them and used them as depot ships until 1936 when the Treaty collapsed. In an effort to train shipfitters and sailors, and to send "proxy" forces to the Far East, several old defunct battleships were partly renovated. The USN had previously sent the Luzon (ex-Florida) to the Philippines (the British sent the Leyte/ex-Centurion) under the guise of helping to equip a friendly "independent" nation's military without seeming to bolster "US" forces against Japan.

The USN had reworked most aspects of the old ships, installing new machinery, two new turrets with twin 14" guns, and modern 5" DP guns. As America's smallest battleships, they were named after the smallest states. These ships could train the many gunners for both big and medium guns that would be demanded for the large Navy being built. The US Marines were looking for a few good battleships to use as bombardment ships during amphibious landings, but the "deterrent forces" plan to equip the Filipino Navy took precedence. In Fall of 1941 the ships were in Pearl Harbor about to be handed over to the Philippines as Mindanao and Mindoro when the Japanese attack intervened. Both light battleships took hits but only the Rhode Island was salvageable. The ship was retained by the US, but sent to the South Pacific to link up with the ANZAC forces. Though grateful for any warships, the Aussies and Kiwis thought the Rhode Island was too slow to be of much use to their fast fleet, so relegated the Rhode Island to protecting trade in the Indian Ocean. It was here that she successfully engaged the German corsair carrier Pommern and sank her with accurate gunfire from short range. Just before the Central Pacific drive of late 1943 she was equipped with radar, and was sent along with the invasion forces to bombard islands. She became the "flagship" for Rear Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner and became known as the "Best Battleship in the US Marine Corps". At Leyte the Rhode Island had finished its pre-invasion bombardment and went South to join Adm. Oldendorf's forces guarding Surigao Strait . She missed the "party" when the Japanese leviathans disrupted the invasion, but using her radar, she was instrumental in destroying the IJN Yamashiro at Surigao.

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