One of the most popular large size type notes in our hobby is the 1918 $2 Federal Reserve Bank Note, commonly referred to as the "Battleship" note. In this week’s edition of "Better Know Your Notes" we learn about the ship that inspired the popular note design, the USS New York.
The USS New York’s keel was laid on September 11, 1911 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She was the first of two New York-class battleships constructed and was designated with hull number BB-34. The 573 foot New York would be the first ship in the United States Navy to carry the 14 inch gun when it entered service on April 15, 1914.
During World War I the New York took part in blockade and escort activities. On October 14, 1918 she is believed to have inadvertently sunk a German submarine which had struck the New York’s hull and then been stuck by the ship’s large propeller.
Most of New York’s meaningful service came during World War II. During the early part of the war she engaged primarily in escort activities but saw action in the bombardment of Safi harbor in Morocco in 1942. New York was then used extensively as a training vessel through the middle years of the war before cruising to the Pacific to take part in the assault on Iwo Jima. In the three days of pre-invasion bombardment she fired over 1,000 rounds from her big 14-inch guns, with one striking the island’s main ammunition depot and causing an enormous blast. New York then took part in the bombardment of Okinawa where she wore out her guns firing over 10,000 total rounds. She then returned to port at Pearl Harbor where she remained through the end of the war.
The New York, like many suddenly obsolete ships, met her unceremonious end in 1946 as a test ship in Operation Crossroads. She, along with about 70 other ships, was subjected to two separate nuclear bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. New York did not sink in either blast but was towed out to sea and sunk for target practice by ships aircraft on July 6, 1946.