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Idaho’s Naval History

By  Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division 

Idaho, known as the “Gem State,” is located in the northwest region of the United States. On July 3, 1890, Idaho became the 43rd state to be admitted to the Union.

There have been at least nine U.S. Navy ships named after the cities, people, and places of Idaho. While this may not seem like many compared to some other states, those ships with Idaho related namesakes have made some lasting impressions on our naval history. USS Idaho (BB 42), for example, saw much action during World War II and received seven battle stars for her World War II service alone. Serving largely throughout the Pacific Theater, the New Mexico-class battleship was there for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, and Iwo Jima; the bombardment of Saipan and Peleliu; battle maneuvers in Leyte Gulf; and the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. The fourth ship to be named for the great state of Idaho was decommissioned July 3, 1946.

Did you know that during World War II, many of America’s Sailors were trained in Idaho at Farragut Naval Training Station in Bayview, Idaho? This training station was one of the largest in the world, second only to Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. Established in 1942, the training station remained operational for 30 months when the facility was decommissioned in June 1946.

From the early 1950s to the mid-1990s, the Naval Reactors Facility (NRF) located within the Idaho National Laboratory, trained nearly 40,000 Navy personnel in surface and submarine nuclear power plant operations with three nuclear propulsion prototypes including the first nuclear-powered submarine prototype, S1W. The facility continues to support the Navy by examining Naval spent nuclear fuel and irradiated test specimens, which are used to develop new technology and to improve the cost-effectiveness of existing designs. And nearby, Lake Pend Oreille, the fifth deepest lake in the United States, continues to conduct tests of large-scale submarine and surface ship prototypes in a setting with acoustic properties similar to that of the ocean. Bet you didn’t know that a non-coastal state such as Idaho could be of such benefit to the U.S. Navy!

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