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Naval History of Tennessee

By Communication and Outreach Division, Naval History and Heritage Command

When our U.S. Navy was just 21 years old, Tennessee, named after a Cherokee Indian word for river, was admitted to the union in 1796. Tennessee is known for its great barbeque, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Elvis Presley. But what connection does Tennessee have to its U.S. Navy? There are at least 20 ships named after cities, places, and people of the “Volunteer State.” Three U.S. Navy ships were named after Tennessee’s capital, Nashville. USS Tennessee (BB 43) was one of eight battleships present when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. She was hit by two bombs, which damaged two of her four gun turrets.  In late December, after temporary repairs, Tennessee steamed to the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington, for an overhaul and was fit for duty once again.

Tennessee is proud of hometown heroes like Hospital Corpsman David R. Ray who, during the Vietnam War, was killed in action while providing medical aid to injured Marines during an enemy attack on his unit. Petty Officer Ray was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism in that action. Check out the infographic for more of Tennessee’s ties with the U.S. Navy.

Infographic on Tennessee and its correlation with the U.S. Navy
Infographic on Tennessee and its correlation with the U.S. Navy