The second U.S. Navy ship to be named after the 36th state to enter the union, the USS Nevada was launched on July 11, 1914, under the sponsorship of Miss Eleanor Anne Seibert, niece of Nevada Governor Tasker Oddie and a descendant of the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert.
Like its sister ship, the USS Oklahoma, the battleship was a Nevada-class “super-dreadnought” that was considered a naval marvel during its time. Because of its heavy armament and cutting edge technological features, the USS Nevada had to undergo a series of strenuous tests over a period of two years, which tested its weight, speed and armor. After it successfully passed these tests, the ship was commissioned on March 11, 1916. At its completion, The New York Times hailed the USS Nevada as “the greatest [battleship] afloat.” Its tonnage was tremendously greater than the dreadnought ships, and unlike earlier ships, it used oil rather than coal for fuel. This second advantage ended up being crucial during preparations for World War II, when the U.S. was determined to show Japan that its Navy had the capacity to bring combat to Japanese waters.
Until mid-1917 the USS Nevada operated in the Caribbean and in the western Atlantic; after that, it was deployed to the British Isles during World War I to protect supply convoys that were sailing between Ireland and Great Britain. However, by the time the war ended on November 11, 1918, the battleship had never seen combat with an enemy ship. In December, the USS Nevada was one of the battleships that escorted President Wilson to France so he could attend the Paris Peace Conference.
Between the two world wars, the USS Nevada served in both the Atlantic and the Pacific fleets. From August 1927 to January 1930, the ship was modernized at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard before it went on to serve in the Pacific Fleet for the next eleven years.
As the sun rose over Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the USS Nevada was moored on Battleship Row and the ship band was playing “Morning Colors.” When the Japanese attack began, the USS Nevada was the only ship that was able to maneuver, as it was not moored alongside another battleship. Its gunners had opened fire and shot down four enemy planes, but at 9:50 a.m., the USS Nevada was struck by five bombs. The bomb damage, though considerable, luckily did not comprise of the type of explosions that afflicted the USS Arizona, as the crew aboard the USS Nevada had earlier emptied the main magazines in preparation to upload new artillery. Still, the ship had to rush to the west side of Ford Island in order to avoid being sunk in the channel. Before being grounded off Hospital Point around 10:30 a.m., it managed to shoot down three more planes. 60 men were killed on the USS Nevada that morning and 109 more were wounded.
In February 1942, the battleship was refloated and sent to the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Washington State for repairs. In May 1943, the USS Nevada sailed to Alaska to partake in the capture of Attu, after which it was again sent to the Norfolk Navy Yard for further modernization. In 1944, it was chosen as the flagship for the Normandy Invasion, becoming the only battleship that was present at both Pearl Harbor and D-Day. During D-Day and during Operation Dragoon, another crucial allied mission, the USS Nevada was hailed for its precise firing capabilities and the fortitude it displayed in its efforts. In March 1945, the battleship supported pre-invasion troops in Okinawa, where it lost 11 more men during a kamikaze attack.
In July 1946 when the USS Nevada returned to Pearl Harbor, it was 33 1/3 years old, too old to be retained in the post-war fleet. That same month it was assigned to be a target ship in the Bikini atomic experiments, which left her damaged and extremely radioactive. On August 29, 1946, the USS Nevada was decommissioned, and on July 31, 1948, was taken out 60 miles southwest of Pearl Harbor and sank in a coup de grace by gunfire and torpedo hits.