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The Colorado-class battleships were a group of four United States Navy super-dreadnoughts, the last of its pre-Treaty battleships. Designed during World War I, their construction overlapped the end of that conflict and continued in its immediate aftermath. Though all four keels were laid, only three ships were launched: Colorado, Maryland, and West Virginia. Washington was over 75% completed when she was canceled under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922. As such, the 16" Colorado-class ships were the last and most powerful battleships built by the US Navy until the North Carolina class entered service on the eve of World War II.
The Colorados were the final group of the U.S.' Standard-type battleships, designed to have similar speed and handling to simplify maneuvers with the line of battle. (The South Dakota class which was to follow would in several ways have been a departure from this practice.) Apart from an upgrade in striking power to eight 16-inch guns, the ships were essentially repeats of the earlier Tennessee class. The Colorados were also the last American capital ships built with four turrets and twin-mounted guns. The change to larger guns was prompted by the Japanese Nagato-class battleships, which also mounted eight 16-inch guns.
All three ships had extensive careers during World War II. Maryland and West Virginia were both present during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Maryland escaped relatively unscathed; West Virginia was sunk in the shallow waters of the harbor but subsequently raised and repaired. All three ships served as artillery support ships during amphibious operations. Maryland and West Virginia were present at the last surface action between battleships, the Battle of Surigao Strait during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. The three ships, put into the reserve fleet after the end of the war, were scrapped by the late 1950s.
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