Massachusetts in 1901
|Namesake:||State of Massachusetts|
|Ordered:||30 June 1890|
|Builder:||William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia|
|Laid down:||25 June 1891|
|Launched:||10 June 1893|
|Sponsored by:||Leila Herbert|
|Commissioned:||10 June 1896|
|Decommissioned:||8 January 1906|
|Recommissioned:||2 May 1910|
|Decommissioned:||23 May 1914|
|Commissioned:||9 June 1917|
|Renamed:||Coast Battleship Number 2 29 March 1919|
|Decommissioned:||31 March 1919|
|Struck:||22 November 1920|
|Identification:||Hull symbol: BB-2|
|Fate:||Scuttled 6 January 1921|
|Status:||Artificial reef and diving site|
|Class and type:||Indiana-class pre-dreadnought battleship|
|Displacement:||10,288 long tons (10,453 t) standard|
|Length:||350 ft 11 in (107.0 m)|
|Beam:||69 ft 3 in (21.1 m)|
|Draft:||27 ft (8.2 m)|
|Speed:||15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) (design)|
|Range:||4,900 nmi (9,100 km; 5,600 mi)|
|Complement:||473 officers and men|
USS Massachusetts (BB-2)
|Location||Escambia County, Florida, USA|
|Nearest city||Pensacola, Florida|
|Area||less than one acre|
|NRHP reference #||01000528|
|Added to NRHP||31 May 2001|
USS Massachusetts (BB-2) is an Indiana-class battleship and the second United States Navy ship comparable to foreign battleships of its time.Today she is a diving site off Pensacola, Florida.
Authorized in 1890 and commissioned six years later, she was a small battleship, though with heavy armor and ordnance. The ship class also pioneered the use of an intermediate battery. She was designed for coastal defense and as a result, her decks were not safe from high waves on the open ocean.
Massachusetts served in the Spanish–American War (1898) as part of the Flying Squadron and took part in the blockades of Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. She missed the decisive Battle of Santiago de Cuba after steaming to Guantánamo Bay the night before to resupply coal. After the war she served with the North Atlantic Squadron, performing training maneuvers and gunnery practice. During this period she suffered an explosion in an 8-inch gun turret, killing nine, and ran aground twice, requiring several months of repair both times. She was decommissioned in 1906 for modernization.
Although considered obsolete in 1910, the battleship was recommissioned and used for annual cruises for midshipmen during the summers and otherwise laid up in the reserve fleet until her decommissioning in 1914. In 1917 she was recommissioned to serve as a training ship for gun crews during World War I. She was decommissioned for the final time in March 1919 under the name Coast Battleship Number 2 so that her name could be reused for USS Massachusetts (BB-54). In 1921 she was scuttled in shallow water in the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola and used as a target for experimental artillery. The wreck was never scrapped and in 1956 it was declared the property of the State of Florida. Since 1993 the wreck has been a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve and it is included in the National Register of Historic Places. It serves as an artificial reef and diving spot.
Massachusetts was constructed from a modified version of a design drawn up by a policy board in 1889 for a short-range battleship. The original design was part of an ambitious naval construction plan to build 33 battleships and 167 smaller ships. The United States Congress saw the plan as an attempt to end the U.S. policy of isolationism and did not approve it, but a year later approved funding for three coast defense battleships, which would become Massachusetts and her sister ships Indiana and Oregon.The ships were limited to coastal defense due to their moderate endurance, relatively small displacement and low freeboard which limited seagoing capability. They were however heavily armed and armored; Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships describes their design as "attempting too much on a very limited displacement."
Construction of the ships was authorized on 30 June 1890 and the contract for Massachusetts—not including guns and armor—was awarded to William Cramp & Sons of Philadelphia, who offered to build it for $3,020,000.The total cost of the ship was almost twice as high, approximately $6,000,000. The contract specified the ship had to be built in three years, but slow delivery of armor plates and guns caused a delay. Her keel was laid down on 25 June 1891 and she was launched two years later on 10 June 1893. The launching ceremony was attended by thousands of people, including Secretary of the Navy Hilary A. Herbert and commander George Dewey. Her preliminary sea trial did not take place until March 1896 because of the delays in armor and gun deliveries. At this point Massachusetts was almost complete, and her official trial was held a month later.
Massachusetts was commissioned on 10 June 1896 with Captain Frederick Rodgers in command. She had her shakedown cruise between August and November 1896, followed by an overhaul at the New York Navy Yard. In February 1897 she made a short voyage to Charleston, South Carolina. The battleship departed New York again in May for Boston, where a celebration in her honor was held. For the next ten months the warship participated in training maneuvers with the North Atlantic Squadron off the coast of Florida and visited several major ports on the American east coast. On 27 March 1898, she was ordered to Hampton Roads to join the Flying Squadron under Commodore Winfield Scott Schley for the blockade of Cuba.
After the outbreak of the Spanish–American War the Flying Squadron steamed to Key West. There Schley met with Rear Admiral Sampson, who had just returned from the bombardment of San Juan, Puerto Rico. They discussed the possible locations of the Spanish squadron under Admiral Cervera, and Schley was sent to the harbor of Cienfuegos, Cuba to look for Cervera. Cristóbal Colón was visible from outside the harbor entrance, confirming that the Spanish fleet was in the harbor. Schley blockaded the harbor and informed Sampson, who arrived with his own squadron on 1 June and assumed overall command.Schley arrived off Cienfuegos on 22 May and took several days to establish that Cervera's ships were not in the harbor. The squadron then proceeded to Santiago de Cuba, the only other port on the southern coast of Cuba large enough for the Spanish ships, arriving after several delays on 29 May. On arrival, the Spanish cruiser
During the next month Massachusetts took part in the blockade of Santiago, occasionally bombarding the harbor forts. Reina Mercedes, which was being scuttled by the Spanish in an attempt to block the harbor entrance channel. Massachusetts was then sent to Puerto Rico to support the American occupation until she steamed home to New York on 1 August, arriving on 20 August.On the night of 2–3 July she and the two cruisers New Orleans and Newark left the blockade to load coal in Guantanamo Bay. This caused her to miss the Battle of Santiago de Cuba on 3 July, in which the Spanish fleet attempted to break through the blockade and was completely destroyed. The next day the battleship came back to Santiago, where she and Texas fired at the disarmed Spanish cruiser
After a quick overhaul in drydock, Massachusetts was attempting to leave New York Harbor on 10 December 1898 when she struck Diamond Reef, flooding five of her forward compartments. She was forced to return to the navy yard, where she was placed in drydock again for repairs which took around three months.For a year Massachusetts served with the North Atlantic Squadron, visiting various cities on the Atlantic coast. In May 1900, she and Indiana were placed in reserve as the navy had an acute officer shortage and needed to put the new Kearsarge-class and Illinois-class battleships into commission. The battleships were reactivated the following month as an experiment in how quickly this could be achieved, and Massachusetts returned to service with the North Atlantic Squadron.
In March 1901 the battleship grounded again, this time in the harbor of Pensacola, Florida,but the ship was able to continue her trip. A more serious accident occurred during target practice in January 1903, when an explosion in an 8-inch turret killed nine crew members. They were the first fatalities aboard a United States battleship since the sinking of the Maine. Another accident happened in August of that year, when Massachusetts grounded on a rock in Frenchman Bay, Maine. The ship was seriously damaged and had to be repaired in drydock. In December 1904 yet another lethal accident took place aboard Massachusetts: three men were killed and several others badly burned when a broken gasket caused steam to fill the boiler room. On 8 January 1906 the battleship was decommissioned and her crew was transferred to her sister ship Indiana, which had completed a three-year modernization. Massachusetts now received the same upgrades, including twelve 3"/50 caliber gun single-purpose guns to replace the 6-inch and most of the lighter guns, new Babcock & Wilcox boilers, counterweights to balance her main turrets, a lattice mast and electric traversing mechanisms for her turrets.
On 2 May 1910 Massachusetts was placed in reduced commission so she could be used for the annual Naval Academy midshipmen summer cruise.Despite her modernizations the battleship was now regarded as "obsolete and worthless, even for the second line of defense" by Secretary of the Navy George von Lengerke Meyer. She saw little use other than summer cruises and was transferred to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet when it was formed in 1912. After a quick trip to New York for a Presidential Fleet Review in October 1912, the warship returned to Philadelphia and stayed there until she was decommissioned on 23 May 1914.
After the United States entered World War I Massachusetts was recommissioned for the final time on 9 June 1917. She was used by Naval Reserve gun crews for gunnery training in Block Island Sound until 27 May 1918. The battleship was then redeployed to serve as a heavy gun target practice ship near Chesapeake Bay until the end of World War I. Massachusetts returned to Philadelphia on 16 February 1919. She was decommissioned for the final time on 31 March 1919, after being re-designated "Coast Battleship Number 2" two days earlier so her name could be reused for the first South Dakota-class dreadnought battleship Massachusetts (BB-54). Like the rest of its class, Massachusetts (BB-54) was scrapped before completion as part of the U.S.' compliance with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.
Massachusetts (BB-2) was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 22 November 1920 and loaned to the United States Department of War, then used as a target ship for experimental artillery. She was scuttled in shallow water in the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola on 6 January 1921 and bombarded by the coastal batteries of Fort Pickens and by railway artillery. On 20 February 1925, the Department of War returned her wreck to the U.S. Navy, which offered her for scrap, but no acceptable bids were received.Another attempt to sell her for scrap was made in 1956, but the State of Florida prevented this.
Eventually Massachusetts was declared the property of the State of Florida by the Supreme Court of Florida. On 10 June 1993—the centennial anniversary of her launching—the site became the fourth Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve. In 2001 the wreck also was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and it still serves as an artificial reef and diving spot.Massachusetts′s figurehead is on display in Dahlgren Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
USS Oregon (BB-3) the third and final member of the Indiana class of pre-dreadnought battleships built for the United States Navy in the 1890s. The three ships were built as part of a modernization program aimed at strengthening the American fleet to prepare for a possible conflict with a European navy. Designed for short-range operations in defense of the United States, the three Indiana-class ships had a low freeboard and carried a main battery of four 13-inch (330 mm) guns in a pair of gun turrets. Oregon and her sister ships were the first modern battleships built for the United States, though they suffered from significant stability and seakeeping problems owing to their small size and insufficient freeboard.
USS Texas was a second-class battleship built by the United States in the early 1890s. The first American battleship commissioned, she was built in reaction to the acquisition of modern armored warships by several South American countries, and meant to incorporate the latest developments in naval tactics and design. This includes the mounting of her main armament en echelon to allow maximum end-on fire and a heavily-armored citadel amidships to ensure defensive strength. However, due to the state of U.S. industry at the time, Texas's building time was lengthy, and by the time she was commissioned, she was already out of date. Nevertheless, she and the armored cruiser USS Maine were considered advancements in American naval design.
USS Indiana (BB-1) was the lead ship of her class and the first battleship in the United States Navy comparable to foreign battleships of the time. Authorized in 1890 and commissioned five years later, she was a small battleship, though with heavy armor and ordnance. The ship also pioneered the use of an intermediate battery. She was designed for coastal defense and as a result, her decks were not safe from high waves on the open ocean.
USS Iowa (BB-4) was a pre-dreadnought battleship built for the United States Navy in the mid-1890s. The ship was a marked improvement over the previous Indiana-class battleships, correcting many of the defects in the design of those vessels. Among the most important improvements were significantly better seaworthiness owing to her greater freeboard and a more efficient arrangement of the armament. Iowa was designed to operate on the high seas, which had been the impetus to increase the freeboard. She was armed with a battery of four 12-inch (300 mm) guns in two twin-gun turrets, supported by a secondary battery of eight 8-inch (200 mm) guns.
USS Kearsarge (BB-5), the lead ship of her class of pre-dreadnought battleships, was a United States Navy ship, named after the sloop-of-war Kearsarge. Her keel was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company of Virginia, on 30 June 1896. She was launched on 24 March 1898, sponsored by Mrs. Elizabeth Winslow, the wife of Rear Admiral Herbert Winslow, and commissioned on 20 February 1900.
USS Kentucky (BB-6) was the second and final Kearsarge-class pre-dreadnought battleship built for the United States Navy in the 1890s. Designed for coastal defense, Kearsarge-class battleships had a low freeboard and heavy armor. The ships carried an armament of four 13-inch (330 mm) and four 8-inch (203 mm) guns in an unusual two-story turret arrangement. The Newport News Shipbuilding Company of Virginia laid down her keel on 30 June 1896. She was launched on 24 March 1898 and was commissioned on 15 May 1900.
The Indiana-class was a class of three pre-dreadnought battleships launched in 1893. They were the first battleships built by the United States Navy comparable to contemporary European ships, such as the British HMS Hood. Authorized in 1890 and commissioned between November 1895 and April 1896, they were relatively small battleships with heavy armor and ordnance that pioneered the use of an intermediate battery. Specifically intended for coastal defense, their freeboard was insufficient to deal well with the waves of the open ocean. Their turrets lacked counterweights, and the main belt armor was placed too low to be effective under most conditions.
The Battle of Santiago de Cuba was a naval battle that occurred on July 3, 1898, in which the United States Navy decisively defeated Spanish forces, sealing American victory in the Spanish–American War and achieving nominal independence for Cuba from Spanish rule. The battle was not much of a contest. The outgunned Spanish steaming directly into a waiting superior force were slaughtered. The waters were full of hulks and wounded men until the scene turned into a rescue operation parallel to that of a natural disaster. The Americans pulled men from the water and out of small boats with inches of blood in the bottoms, treating them, feeding them, and clothing them with their own garments, until the number of rescued exceeded the crews of the rescuers. The prisoners were treated with respect and humanity. The fleet commander, on parole at Annapolis, became a celebrity. Amidst the general feeling on both sides that the animosity had gone too far, the Spanish withdrew from the Caribbean. Pro-American sentiment among the natives ran high, higher than it was to be in the entire succeeding 20th century.
Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete was a prominent Spanish naval officer with the rank of Almirante (admiral) who served in a number of high positions within the Spanish Navy and had fought in several wars during the 19th century. Having served in Morocco, the Philippines, and Cuba, he went on to be Spain's naval minister, chief of naval staff, naval attaché in London, the captain of several warships, and most notably, commander of the Cuba Squadron during the Spanish–American War. Although he believed that the Spanish Navy was suffering from multiple problems and that there was no chance for victory over the United States Navy, Cervera took command of the squadron and fought in a last stand during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba.
Winfield Scott Schley was a rear admiral in the United States Navy and the hero of the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War.
William Thomas Sampson was a United States Navy rear admiral known for his victory in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War.
Reina Mercedes, was an Alfonso XII-class cruiser of the Spanish Navy.
Vizcaya was an Infanta Maria Teresa-class armored cruiser of the Spanish Navy that fought at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War.
Almirante Oquendo, was an Infanta Maria Teresa-class armored cruiser of the Spanish Navy that fought at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War.
Infanta María Teresa was the lead ship of her class of armoured cruiser constructed for the Spanish Navy. The ship fought at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War.
Cristóbal Colón was a Giuseppe Garibaldi-class armored cruiser of the Spanish Navy that fought at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War.
The Flying Squadron was a United States Navy force that operated in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Spanish West Indies during the first half of the Spanish–American War. The squadron included many of America's most modern warships which engaged the Spanish in a blockade of Cuba.
The Infanta Maria Teresa class of three armored cruisers were built for the Spanish Navy between 1889 and 1893. All three were sunk in action against the United States Navy during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba in 1898.
Francis John Higginson was an officer in the United States Navy during the American Civil War and Spanish–American War. He rose to the rank of rear admiral and was the last commander-in-chief of the North Atlantic Squadron and first commander-in-chief of the North Atlantic Fleet.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to USS Massachusetts (BB-2) .|