Fall River Battleship Spared From Scrap Heap By Vets and Students
The USS Massachusetts is not just another pretty face among battleships.
Known affectionately as "Big Mamie," Battleship Massachusetts, the centerpiece of Fall River's Battleship Cove, played a significant role in helping to win World War II.
Destined for the scrap heap in 1962, Big Mamie was rescued by some Massachusetts school kids who raised the money to bring the ship to Fall River, where she has been open for tours since August 1965.
"Battleship Massachusetts was built in Quincy, Massachusetts, at the Fore River Shipyard of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation," BattleshipCove.org states. "The ship was launched on September 23, 1941, and holds the record as the heaviest ship ever launched in Quincy."
Big Mamie was commissioned at the Boston Naval Yard in May 1942.
The Navy wasted little time pressing Battleship Massachusetts into action. On November 8, 1942, the ship participated in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa.
Battleship Massachusetts engaged in a "gun duel" with the French battleship Jean Bart, tied up at Casablanca in Morocco. Battleship Cove.org says, "Massachusetts fired the first 16" projectile in anger of World War II."
Big Mamie helped sink two destroyers, two merchant ships, a floating dry-dock, and heavily damaged buildings and docks in Casablanca," according to the site.
Battleship Massachusetts passed through the Panama Canal in 1943 to fight in the Pacific Theater for the duration of her active service.
In the Pacific, Big Mamie saw action in the New Guinea-Solomon Islands area, participated in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, the invasion of the Marshall Islands, strikes against Truk, and a "series of raids against Japanese bases in the Western Pacific and Asia."
Battleship Massachusetts bombarded Ponape Island and invaded Palau Islands. She "pounded" Iwo Jima and Okinawa and fired the last 16" projectile of the war.
In 1946, the Navy ordered Battleship Massachusetts deactivated. In 1962, she was ordered sold for scrap. With the help of Massachusetts schoolchildren, the wartime crew raised the necessary funds to save the ship as a memorial.
Big Mamie arrived in Fall River in June 1965.