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Parts of a Battleship

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The United States Naval battleship fleet came into existence with the commissioning of the USS Maine. During the six decades that the battleship made up a large part of the naval combat fleet, the United States had 59 battleships with 23 classes or designs. The most famous battleship, the USS Arizona, lies in the waters of Pearl Harbor. In this description of a battleship, the USS Arizona will be used as an example where the non-standard parts are different from other classes of battleships. Non-standard parts are armament, complement, and hull length.


A ship’s complement turns a floating pile of steel into a fighting machine. Each ship’s class carried a different required complement of men. The USS Arizona had a complement of 1081 men.


A ship’s armament describes its guns and firing capabilities. Each ship’s class has a different complement of weapons and ammunition. The USS Arizona carried twelve14-inch, twenty-two 5-inch, and four 3-inch guns, with matching caliber of ammunition. In addition, the ship had two torpedo tubes to launch underwater munitions.


Shell plating forms the sides and bottom, creating the hull of the ship. The USS Arizona’s hull length was 608 feet.


The weather deck or the main deck forms the top deck layer.


The keel runs the length of the ship’s bottom.


As the control center of a ship underway, the bridge houses instruments and equipment used to control the movements of the ship. Instruments such as radar, navigation switches, wind indicators, radios, speed indicators, and compasses are located on the bridge.

Chart House

The chart house houses instruments such as sextants, stadimeters, and bearing circles. It also houses protractors, plotters, and other electronic navigational devices. With these instruments, navigations, books, and charts, a team of men can plot the ship’s position.

Signal Bridge

The signal bridge platform, located near the navigational bridge, houses devices used to communicate with other ships. The signal bridge holds visual signals, such as flags and signal lights.

Combat Information Center

The combat information center, located at the center of the ship, houses the radar and sonar depth gauges and computers.

  • “Bluejacket’s Manual"; Thomas Cutler; 1998

Kimberley Riccio has been writing professionally since 1978. She writes travel articles for various e-magazines and other online publications. Riccio holds a Bachelor of Science in business management from Wilmington University, culinary certification from Le Cordon Blu and a Master of Science in cultural sociology from the Defense Graduate Institute.

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