June 16, 1964
The USS Alabama battleship fought in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters during World War II. It is the only U.S. ship honored by the former Soviet Union for its role in protecting the Russian fleet. During the war, the Alabama voyaged 218,000 miles, shot down 22 enemy aircraft and earned nine Battle Stars for participating in significant action. Sailing for home on Sept. 20, 1945, the “Mighty A” stopped at Okinawa to load 350 sailors and then steamed for California. After voyages to other West Coast ports, the Alabama sailed to Bremerton, where it was decommissioned on Jan. 9, 1947. In spring 1962, the U.S. Navy announced plans to scrap the famed vessel. Citizens of Alabama responded by asking for and receiving permission to berth the ship in Mobile Bay as a permanent home to honor and remember all Alabamians who had died in defense of the U.S. A document of transfer between the state, represented by the USS Alabama Battleship Commission, and the U.S. Navy was signed June 16, 1964, with the state taking control July 7, 1964. It took almost three months to tow the 35,000-ton dreadnought from Bremerton down the West Coast toward Alabama. The 108-foot wide ship was eased through the Panama Canal with 11 inches of clearance on either side. Arriving in Mobile to a hero’s welcome on Sept. 14, the Alabama was moved into the newly created USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park and opened to public tours on Jan. 9, 1965.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.