|On December 14, 1941 Arkansas steamed out of Portland, Maine on patrol to Iceland and then returned to the US via Newfoundland. On March 6, 1942 she arrived at Norfolk, Virginia for a short refit before beginning her role as escort for convoys to
the United Kingdom. During this refit her cage foremast was replaced with a tripod, the battery deck 5-inch guns were landed, two open 5-inch guns, two 3-inch HA guns and four 1.1-inch Chicago Pianos were fitted and twenty 20mm Oerlikons were
added. On July 26 she left Norfolk for New York City to escort her first convoy, which left on August 6. It reached Greenock, Scotland on August 17. The return trip to New York was from August 27 to September 4. At this time she added another
two Chicago Pianos. The next round trip from New York to Scotland and back was from September 26 to October 20. Her next convoy round trip was not to Scotland but to Casablanca, protecting cargo ships supplying Operation Torch. This trip ran
from November 3 to December 11, 1942. In the spring of 1943 the Arkansas had two more round tips between New York and Casablanca. In April and May the Chicago Pianos were replaced with quadruple 40mm Bofor mounts. In May through
September Arkansas trained midshipmen in Chesapeake Bay. At the end of 1943 it was back to convoy escort duties in late fall 1943 and early winter 1944 from New York to Bangor, Ireland. On April 18, 1944 the Arkansas started out with another trip
to Bangor, Ireland but instead of returning to New York, she was finally going to see some action. She joined Force O assigned to provide fire support for the Normandy invasion. She joined the USS Texas, USS Nevada, HMS Warspite, HMS Nelson
and HMS Rodney. On pre-dawn of June 6, 1944 the Arkansas was 4,000-yards off the beaches of Baie de la Seine, Normandy. At 0530 shell splashes landed near Arkansas as she was spotted and targeted by shore batteries. At 0552 Arkansas replied.
For almost two hours she fired at pre-arranged targets at Les Moulins, Saint Honorine des Pertes and Trevieres with a side trip to shell mobile Flak units near Formigny. At midnight four Ju-88 bombers made an attack with two coming after Arkansas.
On bomb landed 35 yards from the battleship but the AA gunners of Arkansas knocked down one of the bombers. More fire support missions followed over the next few days, including blowing up a train. In one German radio broadcast, the Arkansas
was called the Devil Ship and was promised that the Luftwaffe would sink her. The Luftwaffe tried with dusk attacks but no hits were made. Inside the ship electronic specialists jammed German guided bombs, which were being used in quantity. In
the navigator’s cabin powerful jammers undertook round-the-clock jamming of the guided bombs. On June 13 Arkansas shelled German tanks at Montmartin. The following night the Arkansas narrowly escaped a guided bomb. At the last second the
jammers picked up its signal, jammed it and the missile landed only 50 yards off the starboard quarter. On June 25 Arkansas moved in to support the capture of Cherbourg. She may have scored some hits on 11-inch coastal guns north of the city’s
airport. On the 27th Arkansas was sent back to Weymouth for replenishment.
Her next mission was in the Mediterranean supporting Operation Anvil, the invasion of southern France. On July 10, 1944 Arkansas, along with Nevada, Texas and five cruisers entered the port of Oran, Algeria. On August 14 Operation Anvil started.
The landings started on the 15th and Arkansas bombarded a shore battery at Drammont. On the 17th she was ordered to steam back to Oran, which she entered on August 21st. That was it for her service in European waters. She was ordered back to
Boston for a refit. Arkansas left Oran September 4 and arrived at Boston on September 14, 1944. The refit lasted until November 10, when Arkansas set course for the Panama Canal. During this refit the bridge was reworked, the main mast was
reduced, new radar was installed and two more 3-inch HA guns and another quadruple 40mm Bofor mount were added. Further additions were made later, so that by the end of 1944 Arkansas was carrying six 5-inch, twelve 3-inch HA, nine quadruple
40mm Bofor mounts, and 36 Oerlikons with two quadruple mounts and 28 single mounts. In European waters she had faced radio controlled bombs but in the Pacific, she would face human controlled bombs in the form of the kamikaze. After stops at
San Pedro, California and Pearl Harbor, she made her way to the forward base of Ulithi Atoll. On February 10, 1945 Arkansas, along with five other 5th Fleet battleships left to support the landings at Iwo Jima. She opened fire for the first time in the
Pacific on the 16th with the special target of the western face of Mount Surabachi, as her Kingfishers sent in spotting reports for the guns. On March 7 she left for Ulithi Atoll having fired 1,262 12-inch rounds. Next up was Okinawa. The rounds fired
at Iwo Jima would be peanuts compared to the 8,721 12-inch rounds she would fire at Okinawa. The first of those rounds left the barrel on March 25, 1945. Landings started on April 1. On April 6 a kamikaze made a dive on the forecastle of Arkansas
but was downed before striking. During the period volunteers went aboard a LST that had an unexploded bomb. That mission was accomplished without loss. After 46 days of fighting she was sent back to a floating drydock at Apra Harbor, Guam.
She arrived on May 14, 1945. After a month in the drydock Arkansas left for Leyte, The Philippines, where she was present when the war ended. Arkansas became part of Operation Magic Carpet, the transportation of troops back to the US. She
reached Seattle, Washington on October 15, 1945. The battleship made three trips in bring troops back home. After this concluded USS Arkansas had one more mission. At the start of May, Arkansas departed San Francisco, leaving the US for the last
time. After a stop at Pearl Harbor, her next destination, to a remote ocean feature known as Bikini Atoll. Arkansas was a test target for test Baker, an underwater atomic explosion. On July 25, 1946 the USS Arkansas was quietly at anchor when
Atomic Bomb Number 5 was detonated. Arkansas vanished beneath the sea in 20 minutes.
(History from Battleships of World War Two by M. J. Whitley, Arms and Armour Press 1998; Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships, 1906-1921; Dreadnought by Richard Hough; The Naval Annual 1907 edited by T.A. Brassey, J. Griffin &
Co. 1907; United States Battleships by Alan F. Pater, Monitor Book Company, 1968)