Touring The Battleship USS Alabama Part 2 of 4
Construction and commissioning: Alabama was laid down on 1 February 1940 by the Norfolk Navy Yard, launched on 16 February 1942, and sponsored by Henrietta McCormick Hill, wife of J. Lister Hill, the senior Senator from Alabama. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, spoke at the launching ceremony: " As Alabama slides down the ways today, she carries with her a great name and a great tradition. We cannot doubt that before many months have passed she will have had her first taste of battle. The Navy welcomes her as a new queen among her peers.
In the future, as in the past, may the name Alabama ever stand for fighting spirit and devotion to a cause." Alabama was commissioned on 16 August 1942, with Captain George B. Wilson in command. World War II: After fitting out, USS Alabama commenced her shakedown cruise in Chesapeake Bay on 11 November 1942. As the year 1943 began, the new battleship headed north to conduct operational training out of Casco Bay, Maine. She returned to Chesapeake Bay on 11 January to carry out the last week of shakedown training. Following a period of availability and logistics support at Norfolk, Alabama was assigned to Task Group 22.2 (TG 22.2), and returned to Casco Bay for tactical maneuvers on 13 February 1943.
With the movement of substantial British strength toward the Mediterranean theater to prepare for the invasion of Sicily, the Royal Navy lacked the heavy ships necessary to cover the northern convoy routes. The British appeal for help on those lines soon led to the temporary assignment of Alabama and South Dakota to the Home Fleet. On 2 April 1943, Alabama, as part of Task Force 22 (TF 22), sailed for the Orkney Islands with her sister ship and a screen of five destroyers. Proceeding via Little Placentia Sound and Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland, the battleship reached Scapa Flow on 19 May, reporting for duty with Task Force 61 and becoming a unit of the British Home Fleet. She soon embarked on a period of intensive operational training to coordinate joint operations. Early in June, Alabama and her sister ship, along with British Home Fleet units, covered the reinforcement of the garrison on the island of Spitzbergen, which lay on the northern flank of the convoy route to Russia, in an operation that took the ship across the Arctic Circle. Soon after her return to Scapa Flow, she was inspected by Admiral Harold R. Stark, Commander, United States Naval Forces, Europe.
Shortly thereafter, in July, Alabama participated in "Operation Governor", a diversion aimed toward southern Norway, which was an attempt to draw the German military's attention away from the real Allied target, the Italian island of Sicily. This operation had also been carried out in an attempt to lure the Tirpitz out of her northern Norwegian seaport and into battle, but Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine (navy) did not rise to this challenge. Tirpitz remained in her port in a northern Norwegian fjord. Alabama was detached from the British Home Fleet on 1 August 1943, and, in company with the USS South Dakota and their screening destroyers, steamed for Norfolk, Virginia, arriving there on 9 August.
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