USS Massachusetts in World War II

There are no letters in April from Kenney. What we have are three telling telegrams. It seems that Kenney was on a train heading for Massachusetts. He telegraphed from Elko, Nevada, on 10 April 1942 (Friday) telling his father he would be passing through Omaha that Saturday on the Burlington Train at 10:20 P.M. and would have a 20-minute layover.

Kenney had not been home since before the attack on Pearl Harbor the previous December. He meant to get home in July 1941 but felt five days wasn’t enough time to visit Nebraska from Long Beach. Kenney had become stuck at Puget Sound. He was waiting for the U.S.S. Colorado to be overhauled when her yard time was put on hold while the Shipyard did rapid repairs on the five heavily damaged Battleships from Pearl Harbor. And the Navy canceled all personal leaves. Passing through Omaha on the 10:20 P.M. train was his chance to visit, maybe his last chance now that the United States was formally at war, and he was being suddenly reassigned to the East Coast.

In his telegram, he asked his father to work on getting him a five-day leave before going on to Massachusetts, which his father does the following morning. He even tries to pull the ole “illness in the family” justification, but to no avail. The response is short and sweet, “Extension of leave not granted.”

It is not entirely clear if something transpired after receiving the denied request from Commanding Officer in Boston. On 8 May, the Omaha World Herald publishes an article that says Kenney has been home on a 20-day furlough (since about 17 April as calculated from the article publication date). On his last night home, Kenney is being sworn in as a member of the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars, Benson Post No. 2503, by his father. This would mean, he did get to stay home after all and for more than his requested 5 days. Or perhaps he reported for duty and then was able to return to Omaha for his 20-day furlough. When we look at his next assignments timeline, we see it possible that the Navy changed it’s mind.

What was in Massachusetts for Kenney? A new assignment that would keep him too busy to write much after this.

The U.S.S. Colorado was the flagship of the post World War I Colorado Class battleships. Kenney’s next duty assignment would be the U.S.S. Massachusetts. She was launched from Massachusetts Bay before the United States entered World War II, on 23 September 1941. Kenney had been having grand shore adventures in Puget Sound since about June 1941. The U.S.S. Massachusetts probably wasn’t even a blip on Kenney’s radar. He had been actively seeking an assignment with the Submarine force to get the extra pay and send it home.

The U.S.S. Massachusetts was a member of the South Dakota Class battleships. Perhaps Kenney’s assignment to her was a foreshadowing of his eventual move to South Dakota after the war. She had been hastily finished as a result of the United States entry into World War II. She didn’t even have time for trials before she was formally commissioned on 12 May 1942. Kenney was being rushed out to participate in her shakedown cruise.

U.S.S. Colorado

Colorado was 624 feet 3 inches (190.27 m) long overall, had a beam of 97.5 ft (29.7 m) and a draft of 30.5 ft (9.3 m). She displaced 32,100 long tons (32,600 t) as designed and up to 33,060 long tons (33,590 t) at full load.

The ship was powered by a four-shaft turbo-electric drive, rated at 28,900 shaft horsepower (21,600 kW) and eight Babcock & Wilcox boilers, generating a top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). She had a range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).

She had a crew of 1,080 officers and enlisted men.

She carried up to three Loening OL-6 scout planes.

She was armed with a main battery of eight 16-inch (406 mm)/45 caliber Mark 1 guns in four twin gun turrets on the centerline, two forward and aft. The secondary battery consisted of fourteen 5-inch (127 mm)/51 caliber guns, two of which were removed in an overhaul. The anti-aircraft defense consisted of four 3-inch (76 mm)/23 caliber guns, which were soon replaced, first by 5-inch (127 mm)/25 caliber guns, and then by 5-inch (127 mm)/38 caliber guns. As was standard for capital ships of the period, Colorado carried two 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes in deck-mounted launchers.

Colorado‘s main armored belt was 13.5 in (343 mm) thick over the magazines and the machinery spaces and 8 in (203 mm) elsewhere. The main battery gun turrets had 18-inch-thick (460 mm) faces, and the supporting barbettes had 13 in (330 mm) of armor plating on their exposed sides. Armor that was 3.5 in (89 mm) thick protected the decks. The conning tower had 11-inch-thick (280 mm) sides.

U.S.S. Massachusetts

Massachusetts was 680 feet (210 m) long overall and had a beam of 108 ft 2 in (32.97 m) and a draft of 35 ft 1 in (10.69 m). She displaced 37,970 long tons (38,580 t) as designed and up to 44,519 long tons (45,233 t) at full combat load.

The ship was powered by four General Electric steam turbines, each driving one propeller shaft, using steam provided by eight oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers. Rated at 130,000 shaft horsepower (97,000 kW), the turbines were intended to give a top speed of 27.5 knots (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph). The ship had a cruising range of 15,000 nautical miles (28,000 km; 17,000 mi) at a speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).

Her peace time crew numbered 1,793 officers and enlisted men, but during the war the crew swelled to 2,500 officers and enlisted.

She carried three Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplanes for aerial reconnaissance, which were launched by a pair of aircraft catapults on her fantail.

The ship was armed with a main battery of nine 16″/45 caliber Mark 6 guns guns in three triple-gun turrets on the centerline, two of which were placed in a superfiring pair forward, with the third aft. The secondary battery consisted of twenty 5-inch /38 caliber dual purpose guns mounted in twin turrets clustered amidships, five turrets on either side. As designed, the ship was equipped with an anti-aircraft battery of twelve 1.1 in (28 mm) guns and twelve .50-caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, but she was completed with a battery of six quadruple 40 mm (1.6 in) Bofors guns in place of the 1.1 in guns and thirty-five 20 mm (0.79 in) Oerlikon autocannon instead of the .50-cal. guns.

The main armored belt was 12.2 in (310 mm) thick, while the main armored deck was up to 6 in (152 mm) thick. The main battery gun turrets had 18 in (457 mm) thick faces, and they were mounted atop barbettes that were 17.3 in (440 mm) thick. The conning tower had 16 in (406 mm) thick sides.