Battleship USS Washington and the Royal Navy


Washington (BB56) 29 May 1941 shortly after commissioning 15 May

(photo courtesy of US National Archives)


British naval losses had become so heavy by the spring of 1942, that they requested assistance from the US Navy to help escort the infamous convoy PQ 17 to the Soviet Union. The Royal Navy was waiting for newly commissioned ships or about to be commissioned ships to “work up.”

In April 1942, the battleship USS Washington along with the cruisers USS Tuscaloosa and USS Wichita were sent to the Home Fleet anchorage at Scapa Flow and came under the command of Admiral Tovey, C-in-C Home Fleet.



USS Washington (BB-56) off New York City, New York, 21 August 1942. Note barge alongside amidships and OS2U floatplane afloat off her stern.

(photo and caption courtesy of US Navy History and Heritage Command)

In July 1942, after the disaster of PQ 17, the American ships were no longer needed and were withdrawn by the US Navy. This was one of the few times when American naval forces served in the European theater.