U.S.S. Pennsylvania's 14 Inch Gun Tubes 

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

HISTORIC OVERVIEW

Pennsylvania's 14 Inch Deck GunsThe USS Pennsylvania was commissioned June 12, 1916, after having receiving authorization by Congress August 22, 1912 for her construction. Her keel was laid on October 27, 1913, and she was launched at Newport News Shipbuilding Company, March 16, 1915. At that time, she was the world's biggest battleship. Although launched prior to World War I, the Pennsylvania did not see action until December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Pennsylvania was sitting in dry-dock in the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard; the ships screws had been removed from their shafts and were resting on the bottom of the dock. She had been scheduled to leave the dock on the sixth of December but delays had been encountered and those delays probably saved the ship. The Pennsylvania was one of the first to return fire and only sustained relatively minor damage throughout the engagement. Upon her repair, she participated in the Aleutian Islands campaign and supported the invasion in the Pacific. It wasn't until 1945, after sustaining a torpedo hit, that the Pennsylvania was forced to leave active military service. The battleship later participated in nuclear testing; surviving two atomic bomb tests prior to being scuttled in 1948 off the island of Kwajalein. At the time of her launch, the Pennsylvania's 14 inch deck guns were the largest in the world, shooting 1500 pound shells upwards of 15 miles. Three of those guns were removed during an earlier refit and were retained by the U.S. Navy in Dahlgren, VA. They have since been acquired by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to be transported and installed at Military Museum in Boalsburg, PA.

 

PRE-TREATMENT CONDITION

Active CorrosionThe Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission contracted B.R. Howard & Associates, Inc. to assess the gun tubes' current condition and to provide a series of treatment options. On-site examination at the U.S. Navy Weapons Testing Facility determined that two of the three gun tubes were structurally stable; however, the surface coatings were failing, exposing the iron substrate. Approximately 20% of the exterior coating was flaking or lost from both tubes and minor pitting of the metal was noted in the areas of lost paint. Microscopic cross-sectional analysis was performed, documenting the history re-painting during service and subsequent to their mothballing at Dahlgren. The same paint samples were also tested for lead content. Test results of the paint sample indicated that lead comprised 1.33% of the coating sample. Though the percentage was relatively low, it was well above the Reporting Detection Limit of .005%. In addition, the asphalt impregnated canvas used to seal the breech and bore openings had failed, allowing moisture and organic debris to accumulate inside both tubes. The tar-like coating on the canvas was examined for asbestos content and was determined to be asbestos free.

 

TREATMENT

The USS PENNSYLVANIATo date, B.R. Howard & Associates conservators have performed solvent cleaning tests and removed paint samples which have been tested for lead and asbestos. The Treatment Proposal and material testing reports have been sent to the museum personnel and construction of the permanent gun mounts is anticipated to begin in the near future. After completion of the permanent exhibit mounts; the guns would then be shrink wrapped utilizing the assistance of the Dahlgren personnel and materials, rigged and then transported to the museum site using a separate contracted agency. Upon their arrival at the PHMC site and properly offloaded onto their permanent mounts; treatment of the guns would begin.

 

After completion of the permanent exhibit mounts; the guns would then be shrink wrapped using Dahlgren personnel and materials, rigged and transported to the museum site using a separate contracted agency. Upon their arrival at the PHMC site and properly offloaded onto their permanent mounts; treatment of the guns would begin.