When most think of states associated with the U.S. Navy, they think of coastal states like Florida and California. While it’s true that many states have a lot more importance for maritime use than The Centennial State, Colorado has some naval history all its own – at least when it comes to naming ships.
Recently the U.S. Navy unveiled the newest attack submarine in its arsenal: the Colorado. The SSN 788 Colorado is a feat on engineering and holds a unique name in the naval fleet, or does it? Though it’s a beautiful name, the latest Colorado is the fourth naval vessel to carry that name.
The first Colorado was a steam screw frigate launched by the Navy in 1856 and decommissioned in 1876. How can a ship be named after a state that didn’t exist yet? It didn’t; Colorado was named after the Colorado River. This first steamer served during the Civil War and helped capture Fort Fisher in North Carolina.
A Pennsylvania-class cruiser was the next naval vessel to be christened Colorado in 1905. The Colorado cruiser saw plenty of action and saw all corners of the globe from Mexico to China. The second Colorado vessel was recommissioned as the Pueblo to make room for the next Colorado vessel.
After the cruiser Colorado was decommissioned, the third USS Colorado was christened. Unlike its predecessors, the third Colorado saw more than a handful of battles. The third USS Colorado served from 1923 to 1947 and during active duty saw more action throughout the Pacific than previous Colorado combines.
The battleship Colorado was used in the Pacific theatre during World War II for several missions and crucial landings. During deployment and active combat the ship was attacked by two kamikaze suicide pilots and was hit 22 times by shells during the Battle of Tinian. Luckily for the battleship Colorado, that wasn’t enough to bring her down.
After 1947 the Navy retired the Colorado, with a gap of several decades before a vessel christened Colorado would serve again. Fortunately for the Centennial State, the new Colorado looks to have several years of service ahead of it. You may not associate our state with maritime vessels, but the U.S. fleet has proudly worn the name since 1856.