USS Mississippi (BB-23): Wikis

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USS Mississippi
USS Mississippi "cleared for action" in 1908, soon after she was completed. Note the figurehead at the bow.
Career (US)
Name: USS Mississippi
Ordered: 3 March 1903
Laid down: 12 May 1904
Launched: 30 September 1905
Commissioned: 1 February 1908
Decommissioned: 21 July 1914
Struck: 21 July 1914
Fate: Sold to Greece
Career (Greece) Hellenic Ensign
Name: Kilkis
Commissioned: 1914
Fate: Sunk by German aircraft in April 1941
General characteristics
Displacement: 13,000 tons (13,200 metric tons)
Length: 382 ft (116 m)
Beam: 77 ft (23 m)
Draft: 24.7 ft (8 m)
Speed: 17 kn (20 mph; 31 km/h)
Complement: 34 officers, 710 men
Armament: 4 × 12 in (300 mm)/45 cal Mark 5 guns (2x2), 8 × 8 in (200 mm)/45 cal guns (4x2)
8 × 7 in (180 mm)/45 cal guns, 12 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 cal guns, 6 × 3 pounders, 2 × 1 pounders, 6 × .30 in (7.6 mm) machine guns, 2 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes

USS Mississippi (Battleship No. 23), the lead ship of her class of battleships, was the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the U.S. state of Mississippi. After her career in the USN, she was sold to Greece and renamed Kilkis in 1914. Kilkis was sunk by German bombers in April 1941.

Mississippi being launched in 1905
Under construction at the Cramp shipyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1907. Note the ship's name on the stern; hull primed for painting; after 12 in (300 mm)/45 cal Mark 5 gun turret with roof not yet installed.

Her keel was laid down on 12 May 1904 by William Cramp & Sons of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was launched on 30 September 1905 sponsored by Miss Mabel Clare Money, daughter of United States Senator Hernando D. Money of Mississippi, and commissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 1 February 1908, Captain J.C. Fremont in command.

Contents

United States Navy

Mississippi and her sister Idaho were designed in response to Congressional desire to cap the growth and expense of new battleships, whose size and cost had increased dramatically since the first US battlships, the Indianas of 1893, had been authorized. Displacement was limited to 13,000 tons (13,200 metric tons), a reduction of 3,000 tons (3,000 metric tons) from the prior Connecticut-class.[1]

In terms of design, the two ships were essentially a reduced version of the Connecticuts which had preceded them, and by comparison with which they sacrificed 1 kn (1.2 mph; 1.9 km/h) of speed, four 7 in (180 mm) guns, eight 3 in (76 mm) guns, two torpedo tubes and some freeboard.[2] They were indifferent sea boats and were obsolete upon commissioning in consequence of the advent of HMS Dreadnought.

Though intended to recapitulate in steel and steam the concept of the 74-gun third-rate, which had formed the backbone of the sailing battle fleets of the previous century, the tactical and technical calculus of early 20th Century naval warfare had made the third-rate concept obsolete; to be viable, a battle line needed to consist entirely of what could be considered first-rate units.[3]

This combination of Congressional displacement restrictions and a flawed tactical premise produced a class that was never satisfactory in US service. They were close to being second-class units at a time and in a navy which could neither afford to tie up tonnage and money in second-tier designs nor place such vessels in its battle line.

Following shakedown off the coast of Cuba from 15 February-15 March 1908, the new battleship returned to Philadelphia for final fitting out. Standing out on 1 July, she operated along the New England coast, until returning to Philadelphia on 10 September. The warship next put to sea on 16 January 1909 to represent the United States at the inauguration of the President of Cuba at Havana from 25–28 January. Mississippi remained in the Caribbean Sea until 10 February, sailing that day to join the "Great White Fleet" as it returned from its famous world cruise. With the fleet on Washington's Birthday, the battlewagon was reviewed by President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt. On 1 March, she returned to the Caribbean.

The ship departed Cuban waters on 1 May for a cruise up the river with which she shared her name, the mighty Mississippi River. Calling at the major ports of this great inland waterway, she arrived at Natchez, Mississippi on 20 May, and then proceeded five days later to Horn Island where she received a silver service from the state of Mississippi. Returning to Philadelphia on 7 June, the battleship operated off the New England coast until sailing on 6 January 1910 for winter exercises and war games out of Guantanamo Bay. Her figurehead was presented to the state of Mississippi by the United States Navy in December 1909[4]. She departed on 24 March for Norfolk, Virginia, and operated off the east coast until fall, calling at a number of large ports, serving as a training ship for Naval Militia, and engaging in maneuvers and exercises designed to keep the ship and crew in the best possible fighting trim.

She departed Philadelphia on 1 November for a fleet rendezvous at Gravesend Bay, England on 16 November, and then sailed on 7 December for Brest, France, arriving on 9 November. On 30 December, Mississippi set course for Guantanamo Bay for winter maneuvers until 13 March 1911.

Returning to the United States, the battleship operated off the Atlantic coast, basing alternately out of Philadelphia and Norfolk for the next year and two months, serving as a training ship and conducting operational exercises. She cleared Tompkinsville, New York, on 26 May 1912 with a detachment from the Second Marine Regiment on board to protect American interests in Cuba. Landing her Marine detachment at El Cuero on 19 June, she remained on station in Guantanamo Bay until 5 July, when she sailed for home.

Following exercises with Battleship Division 4 (BatDiv 4) off New England, she returned to Philadelphia Navy Yard where she was put in the First Reserve on 1 August.

Mississippi remained in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia until detached on 30 December 1913 for duty as aeronautic station ship at Pensacola, Florida. Departing on 6 January 1914, the battleship arrived on 21 January, transporting equipment for the establishment of a naval air station. At Pensacola, she stood by while her crew, along with the early naval aviators, rebuilt the old naval base, laying the foundation for the largest and most famous American naval air station.

With the outbreak of fighting in Mexico, Mississippi sailed on 21 April to Veracruz, arriving on 24 April with the first detachment of naval aviators to go into combat. Serving as a floating base for the fledgling seaplanes and their pilots, the warship launched nine reconnaissance flights over the area during a period of 18 days, making the last flight on 12 May. One month later, the battleship departed Veracruz for Pensacola. Serving as station ship there from 15–28 June, she then sailed north to Hampton Roads where she transferred her aviation gear to armored cruiser North Carolina on 3 July.

Royal Hellenic Navy

Mississippi decommissioned at Newport News on 21 July 1914, and was turned over to the Royal Hellenic Navy the same day.

Fleet designation

Although the Mississippi-class ships were decommissioned before the fleet designation reworkings in 1920, and thus never carried the "BB" hull classification symbol in service, many lists of American battleships (including the one in this encyclopedia) list them as "BB-23" and "BB-24" for completeness.

See also

References

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  1. ^ See, J. Reilly, et al. American Battleships 1886-1923, "Mississippi Class" at 186-187
  2. ^ Reilly, et al., op. cit. at 202-203
  3. ^ Ibid at 187
  4. ^ State of Mississippi State Capitol web site
  • Alden, John D. American Steel Navy: A Photographic History of the U.S. Navy from the Introduction of the Steel Hull in 1883 to the Cruise of the Great White Fleet. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1989. ISBN 0870212486
  • Friedman, Norman. U.S. Battleships: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985. ISBN 0870217151
  • Reilly, John C. and Robert L. Scheina. American Battleships 1996-1923: Predreadnought Design and Construction. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1980. ISBN 0870215248

External links

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