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Was Pearl Harbor the first time USN Battleships were challenged?

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I could be missing something but was the first time a US fleet of Battleships (from ships of the line to the dreadnought era) participated in a large decisive battle really at Pearl Harbor?  Reading through the history of the Battle of Tsushima, it crystalised the idea that that was the battle where Japan's navy proved itself to the world.  Given the long line of US ships of the line, pre-dreadnought Battleships and modern Battleships, did it really take until 1941 for US capital ships to be engaged with a fleet of equivalence?  Has the United States Navy been mostly an unchallenged Fleet In Being for hundreds of years that never proved itself to the world until the Battle of Midway?

Edited by Sventex

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I wouldn't consider Pearl Harbor an engagement of battleships at all.  It was basically a one-sided air raid targeting battleships moored at dock.  They were never able to really fully engage in the battle as per a "decisive battle" doctrine would imply.

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Big fleet action was largely a European preserve... untli the Rising Sun Empire appeared.

And Pearl Harbor no more counts as a big fleet action than the British surprise attack on the French fleet tied up at Mers-el-Kébir in 1940.

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Pearl Harbour was the 9/11 before 9/11. It was calculated, precise, diabolical, and committed with the purpose of dealing a heavy blow to the States. They both also awakened the single greatest war machine the world has ever seen, though one was used for a much better purpose than the other.

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47 minutes ago, Ace_04 said:

I wouldn't consider Pearl Harbor an engagement of battleships at all.  It was basically a one-sided air raid targeting battleships moored at dock.  They were never able to really fully engage in the battle as per a "decisive battle" doctrine would imply.

Apart from what I can recall, this was the first time a US Battleship Fleet were involved in a decisive battle apart from that one action that sank some outmatched Spanish cruisers in the Spanish-American War.  Is this correct?  I’m trying to gauge USN Battleship involvement in World History.  I’m counting ships of the line as well.

 

I’ve been reviewing the numbers and the USN had 37 Battleships during WWI, but they never seemed to get used.  It wouldn’t have mattered if the RN lost Jutland, the USN could have theoretically put the German fleet back in port.

Edited by Sventex

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56 minutes ago, Sventex said:

I could be missing something but was the first time a US fleet of Battleships (from ships of the line to the dreadnought era) participated in a large decisive battle really at Pearl Harbor?  Reading through the history of the Battle of Tsushima, it crystalised the idea that that was the battle where Japan's navy proved itself to the world.  Given the long line of US ships of the line, pre-dreadnought Battleships and modern Battleships, did it really take until 1941 for US capital ships to be engaged with a fleet of equivalence?  Has the United States Navy been mostly an unchallenged Fleet In Being for hundreds of years that never proved itself to the world until the Battle of Midway?

No. The battle of Surigao Strait was the US's Tsushima. It's the only time US battleships engage enemy battleships in combat.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Leyte_Gulf#Battle_of_Surigao_Strait_(25_October_1944)

It is also known as the revenge of Pearl Harbor since all of the surviving ships from Pearl Harbor participated in the stunning combat action (the only exception being USS Mississippi) There the US completely annihilated the Japanese Southern Force with only the Destroyer Shigure managing to escape. Saddly withe the fleet having moved South and Halsey having taken the bait of Ozawa's Northern Force Leyte was wide open and if Taffey 3 had not so valiantly fought the Kurita fleet off they probably would have been sunk at Leyte and it would have been a major disaster for the US Navy. Funnily enough the most recent Kancolle event reference this possibility. In the last main map before the final boss there was a combined enemy fleet you had to face that was nicknamed the "Ru-Wall" because it had 6 battleships in it. This was a reference to the fleet at the Surigao straits as the position was about where they would have been had Taffey 3 failed to fight off Kurita. Speaking of Taffey 3 care to guess who this little Kanmusu is?

300?cb=20180423134437

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2 minutes ago, Fog_Repair_Ship_Akashi said:

Speaking of Taffey 3 care to guess who this little Kanmusu is?

300?cb=20180423134437

It's either USS Johnston or the Samuel B Roberts.

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Just now, 1Sherman said:

It's either USS Johnston or the Samuel B Roberts.

It's Sammy B. Johnston is beleived to be comng soon though as a Fletcher class DD was announced to be coming.

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45 minutes ago, Sventex said:

I could be missing something but was the first time a US fleet of Battleships (from ships of the line to the dreadnought era) participated in a large decisive battle really at Pearl Harbor?  Reading through the history of the Battle of Tsushima, it crystalised the idea that that was the battle where Japan's navy proved itself to the world.  Given the long line of US ships of the line, pre-dreadnought Battleships and modern Battleships, did it really take until 1941 for US capital ships to be engaged with a fleet of equivalence?  Has the United States Navy been mostly an unchallenged Fleet In Being for hundreds of years that never proved itself to the world until the Battle of Midway?

The US Navy was involved in the Spanish-American war in 1898. The war started after the explosion and destruction of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor. The US then decided it was time to get involved in the Cuban Independence war And declared war on Spain shortly after. The war was fought in the Caribbean and the Philippines. The US ended the war with temporary control of Cuba and ongoing control of Puerto Rico, The Philippines and Guam.  Several naval engagements were fought during the war. All were soundly won by the US fleets. This war is only one of 5 times the US has ever declared war.

You can check out wikipedia for the full account.

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No, the BBs didn't really participate. The USN BBs' influence was mostly as a fleet in being, we were so scary that no one wanted to attack us. Until the Japs did. And they spent massive amounts of money to build a fleet that could beat ours. And then found out they really couldn't.

Midway was the proving ground of the modern USN. Surigao Strait was revenge. The same BBs that had been sunk were now blasting the IJN into oblivion.

Basically the IJN tested the fleet in being threat of the USN, and found out that yes, we could actually use it when required. No one has really challenged us on the ocean in any serious strategic way since.

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18 minutes ago, swampwater77 said:

The US Navy was involved in the Spanish-American war in 1898. The war started after the explosion and destruction of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor. The US then decided it was time to get involved in the Cuban Independence war And declared war on Spain shortly after. The war was fought in the Caribbean and the Philippines. The US ended the war with temporary control of Cuba and ongoing control of Puerto Rico, The Philippines and Guam.  Several naval engagements were fought during the war. All were soundly won by the US fleets. This war is only one of 5 times the US has ever declared war.

You can check out wikipedia for the full account.

The Battle of Santiago de Cuba does not strike me as a battle of equivalency,  5 USN Battleships and 1 Cruiser vs 4 Cruisers and 2 Destroyers.  I don't think the outcome was ever in doubt.  And as far as I can tell, this was the only engagement of that era to involve multiple Battleships.

Edited by Sventex

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There were some engagements during the Barbary campaign that raised the status of the US naval power in international eyes, but the closest analogue we have to Tsushima would be the Battle of Hampton Roads. It was an event that led to an international arms race, cemented the power and ability of US naval power and shipbuilding technology, and served as the inspiration for Mahanian dictrine which became to bible of every navy until CVs made it obsolete in WW2. It was in fact the reason the Battle of Tsushima happened the way it did and is remembered today.

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I wouldn't say either Pearl Harbor or Surigao Strait were 'Tsushima's'.

 

Tsushima was a shattering defeat that the Russians could not recover from, losing their fleet, massive prestige, the Russo-Japanese War and falling into revolution as a result of it, becoming unstable and possibly contributing to WWI and a further defeat.

While Pearl Harbor was immensely damaging to the US it did not provide a strategic defeat of the same magnitude. While Surigao Strait was one sided as Tsushima was it was generally strategically of little relevance - the IJN was finished in all but name by that time and a sortie by two WWI era Fuso class battleships into a vastly superior USN fleet wasn't going to change that.

Midway, with it's one sided outcome and significant strategic outcome (at least significantly shortening the war, even if you take the stance that it was always lost thanks to the US's industrial advantage) is more of a USN Tsushima, only one where they're the Japanese.

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1 minute ago, mofton said:

I wouldn't say either Pearl Harbor or Surigao Strait were 'Tsushima's'.

 

Tsushima was a shattering defeat that the Russians could not recover from, losing their fleet, massive prestige, the Russo-Japanese War and falling into revolution as a result of it, becoming unstable and possibly contributing to WWI and a further defeat.

While Pearl Harbor was immensely damaging to the US it did not provide a strategic defeat of the same magnitude. While Surigao Strait was one sided as Tsushima was it was generally strategically of little relevance - the IJN was finished in all but name by that time and a sortie by two WWI era Fuso class battleships into a vastly superior USN fleet wasn't going to change that.

Midway, with it's one sided outcome and significant strategic outcome (at least significantly shortening the war, even if you take the stance that it was always lost thanks to the US's industrial advantage) is more of a USN Tsushima, only one where they're the Japanese.

Tactically I agree with you Midway was the US Tsushima, But based on what the OP is saying Tsushima was; I.e. a decisive battle among surface ships crossing the T. Then Surigao Strait is the only candidate that works. In other words I agree with you on the historic level but by the constraints of the discussion I disagree with you.

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1 hour ago, Sventex said:

I could be missing something but was the first time a US fleet of Battleships (from ships of the line to the dreadnought era) participated in a large decisive battle really at Pearl Harbor? 

Pearl Harbor was much more like Taranto than it was Tsushima, not a battle per se but a very, very large air raid complete with no warning.

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54 minutes ago, Sventex said:

Apart from what I can recall, this was the first time a US Battleship Fleet were involved in a decisive battle apart from that one action that sank some outmatched Spanish cruisers in the Spanish-American War.

For this to be a "Battle" BOTH fleets would have had to have sighted each other; again, this is an air raid, not unlike the one that the USN dished out to the IJN at Truk.

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16 minutes ago, Fog_Repair_Ship_Akashi said:

Tactically I agree with you Midway was the US Tsushima, But based on what the OP is saying Tsushima was; I.e. a decisive battle among surface ships crossing the T. Then Surigao Strait is the only candidate that works. In other words I agree with you on the historic level but by the constraints of the discussion I disagree with you.

Actually, I'm more getting at, "when was the first time United States Battleships actually mattered in a physical battle?"  A Battle where both sides had their best ships involved in a desivice outcome.

Edited by Sventex

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29 minutes ago, Sventex said:

The Battle of Santiago de Cuba does not strike me as a battle of equivalency

And Pearl Harbor DOES? Your bias is showing Tiger.

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6 minutes ago, Sventex said:

The Battle of Santiago de Cuba does not strike me as a battle of equivalency,  5 USN Battleships and 1 Cruiser vs 4 Cruisers and 2 Destroyers.  I don't think the outcome was ever in doubt.  And as far as I can tell, this was the only engagement of that era to involve multiple Battleships.

Just wish to make this point. Even though it was a lopsided fight for the US fleet during the Spanish-American war, At least the Spanish naval ships got out of harbor and managed to fight back. Not so much for the US fleet at Pearl Harbor. So I would guess that the Spanish war would be one of the closest equivalent to Tsushima. 

My reasoning is that the Russian and Japanese fleets fought at sea. And the Russian fleet had to sail for several months and 18000 miles from the Atlantic bases to even fight. They were as worn out and in as bad a condition as the Spanish were In the war with Spain. Plus the Russian fleet was virtually destroyed forcing Russia to surrender. The US defeat of the Spanish fleet did cause a larger more modern Spanish force that was en route to Cuba to turn around and head back to defend Spain from possible US attack. Soon after Spain surrendered.

 

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5 minutes ago, Umikami said:

And Pearl Harbor DOES? Your bias is showing Tiger.

That's 8 Capital ships vs 8 Capital ships in the Pearl Harbor Battle.  Yes I say both fleets had equivalency in physical power.

USN:

8 battleships
8 cruisers
30 destroyers
4 submarines
3 USCG Cutters
47 other ships
≈390 aircraft

IJN:

6 aircraft carriers
2 battleships
2 heavy cruisers
1 light cruiser
9 destroyers
8 tankers
23 fleet submarines
5 midget submarines
414 aircraft

Edited by Sventex

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4 minutes ago, Sventex said:

Actually, I'm more getting at, "when was the first time United States Battleships actually mattered in a physical battle?"  A Battle where both sides had their best ships involved in a desivice outcome.

In my view, Washington's actions at the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal were far more strategically important than the USN's battleline at Surigao.

Had the Washington failed and the IJN force completed a bombardment, the entire character of the Guadalcanal campaign could have changed at a very important point in the war.

The USN battleline clubbing an already-damaged Yamashiro, when a daylight air strike would have finished her, and when she could have achieved very little otherwise was largely irrelevant.

 

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1 minute ago, Sventex said:

That's 8 Capital ships vs 8 Capital ships in the Pearl Harbor Battle.

It's not how many ships, it's which types are used.

1 minute ago, Sventex said:

Yes I say both fleets had equivalency in physical power.

And I'd say you were mistaken. First, the USN had ZERO carriers present, the IJN had 6; that is a huge disparity in air power. Second, few of the USN ships were even fully crewed at 7 AM on a Sunday morning, while the Japanese ships were well prepared for a battle they knew was coming. Third, this was an ambush that took place during peacetime, not a battle between two nations at war. You are trying desperately to make the square peg Pearl Harbor air raid fit into the round hole of a wartime battle, and it isn't fitting. You have been given numerous other examples of battles which fit much better into your stated category, but have chosen to ignore them because the IJN lost. Yes, your bias IS showing!

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10 minutes ago, Umikami said:

It's not how many ships, it's which types are used.

And I'd say you were mistaken. First, the USN had ZERO carriers present, the IJN had 6; that is a huge disparity in air power. Second, few of the USN ships were even fully crewed at 7 AM on a Sunday morning, while the Japanese ships were well prepared for a battle they knew was coming. Third, this was an ambush that took place during peacetime, not a battle between two nations at war. You are trying desperately to make the square peg Pearl Harbor air raid fit into the round hole of a wartime battle, and it isn't fitting. You have been given numerous other examples of battles which fit much better into your stated category, but have chosen to ignore them because the IJN lost. Yes, your bias IS showing!

That's a difference of 24 aircraft between the two forces, calm down butterfly.  I don't know why your accusing me of bias.  I'm trying to figure out the first time USN Battleships actually got involved in a serious way in world history and your telling me that Pearl Harbor shouldn't count for some reason?  The fact that CVs were involved, or that it was a dishonorable ambush are all irrelevant to the topic at hand. 

 

You are right that I should take The Battle of Santiago de Cuba more seriously.

Edited by Sventex

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5 minutes ago, Sventex said:

I'm trying to figure out the first time USN Battleships actually got involved in a serious way in world history

Edward Preble's Squadron, First Barbary War, battling against Barbary Pirates of Tripoli, 1802.

Quit begging for a Japanese victory.

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