|USS Rhode Island (BB-17)|
Rhode Island underway
|Laid down:||1 May 1902|
|Launched:||17 May 1904|
|Commissioned:||19 February 1906|
|Decommissioned:||30 June 1920|
|Struck:||10 November 1923|
|Fate:||sold for scrap|
|General characteristics |
|Class & type:||Virginia-class battleship|
|Displacement:||14,948 tons (13,561 tonnes)|
|Length:||441.7 ft (134.6 m)|
|Beam:||76.3 ft (23.3 m)|
|Draft:||23.8 ft (7.3 m)|
|Speed:||19 kn (22 mph; 35 km/h)|
Rhode Island was launched on 17 May 1904 by Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, Massachusetts, sponsored by Mrs. F. O. Dumaine, wife of one of the Directors of Fore River Shipbuilding Company; and commissioned on 19 February 1906, Captain Perry Garst in command.
Pre-World War I
Rhode Island underwent extensive shakedown and acceptance trials on the US east coast between Hampton Roads, Virginia and Boston before being assigned to Division 2, Squadron 1, Atlantic Fleet on 1 January 1907. The battleship departed Hampton Roads on 9 March for Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to participate in gunnery practice and squadron operations evolutions. She then returned north to cruise between Hampton Roads and Cape Cod Bay.
Arriving in Hampton Roads on 8 December, Rhode Island joined 15 other battleships, a torpedo boat squadron, and transports, for the great fleet review which began the cruise of the Atlantic Fleet to the west coast and around the world. President Theodore Roosevelt reviewed the "Great White Fleet" on 16 December and sent it on the first leg of the long voyage. Rhode Island called at Trinidad, Rio de Janeiro, Punta Arenas, Callao, and Magdalena Bay before arriving at San Diego on 14 April 1908.
The fleet remained on the west coast into July, Rhode Island steaming north to visit the Puget Sound area during June. The entire fleet departed San Francisco on 7 July for Honolulu, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, and Manila, arriving in the Philippines on 2 October. From Manila Rhode Island made for Yokohama, Japan, returning to Olongapo, Philippine Islands, at the end of October. Departing Cavite on 1 December, Rhode Island visited Colombo, Suez, Marseille, and Gibraltar before returning to Hampton Roads on 22 February 1909.
Subsequently entering New York Navy Yard for overhaul, Rhode Island was assigned on 8 March to Division 3, Squadron 1. She continued to serve with the Atlantic Fleet into 1910, participating in exercises including deployment southward to the Caribbean during February 1910. Assigned to Division 4, Squadron 1 on 22 October, Rhode Island and other fleet units were reviewed on 2 November at Boston by President Howard Taft prior to their departure for European waters. In an elaborate battle and scouting problem, the fleet continued its training, Rhode Island subsequently visiting Gravesend, England before returning to Guantánamo Bay on 13 January 1911.
Rhode Island continued her duties attached to the Atlantic Fleet up to the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914. She cruised southward to Key West, Havana, and Guantánamo Bay during June and July 1912 but otherwise remained on the east coast operating between Hampton Roads and Rockland, Maine. Reassigned to Division 3, Squadron 1, Atlantic Fleet, Rhode Island became division flagship on 17 July 1912. She transferred the division flag to New Jersey on 1 August in the periodic rotation of additional flag duties among units of her division.
The Commander, Division 3, Squadron 1, transferred his flag from Virginia to Rhode Island on 28 June 1913, and remained on board until 18 January 1914. At the end of 1913, Rhode Island cruised off the Mexican coast to protect citizens and property threatened by deteriorating political developments ashore. Arriving off Veracruz on 4 November, Rhode Island operated off Tampico and Tuxpan into February 1914. After two weeks at Guantánamo Bay, the battleship returned northward to Virginia waters.
Rhode Island kept up her continuous schedule of annual docking and overhaul, gunnery practice, and squadron maneuvers well into 1916. She remained off the US eastern seaboard but occasionally steamed into more southerly waters; she called at Caribbean ports during October 1914 – March 1915 and January–February 1916. Rhode Island undertook additional duty as flagship, Division 4, Squadron 1 from 19 December 1914 – 20 January 1915.
Placed in reduced commission in reserve on 15 May 1916 at Boston Navy Yard, Rhode Island was detached from the Atlantic Fleet the following day. The battleship flew the flag of the Commander-in-Chief, Reserve Force, Atlantic Fleet from 24 June – 28 September.
World War I
Returned to full commission on 27 March 1917 at Hampton Roads, Rhode Island broke the flag of the Commander of Battleship Division 3, Atlantic Fleet on 3 May shortly after the United States entered World War I. Undertaking vigorous gunnery practice and emergency drills to reach combat readiness, Rhode Island was assigned to anti-submarine patrol duty off Tangier Island, Maryland. Based at Hampton Roads into 1918, Rhode Island was transferred to Battleship Division 2 (BatDiv 2) during April. Remaining ready for overseas deployment, Rhode Island undertook special torpedo proving trials in June 1918.
Upon the war's end in November 1918, Rhode Island was ordered to assist returning US troops from France. Fitted with hundreds of extra bunks, the battleship made five round-trip voyages across the Atlantic from 18 December 1918 – 4 July 1919. In all, she transported over 5,000 men from Brest, France to Hampton Roads and Boston.
Designated flagship of Battleship Squadron 1 (BatRon 1), Pacific Fleet on 17 July at Boston, Rhode Island departed Boston Navy Yard on 24 July for Balboa, Panama and Mare Island Navy Yard to undertake her new assignment. After remaining at Mare Island into 1920, Rhode Island decommissioned on 30 June and was placed in reserve.
Rendered incapable of any further warlike service on 4 October 1923 in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty limiting naval armaments, Rhode Island was sold for scrap on 1 November 1923.
Her bell is on display at the Rhode Island State House in Providence, Rhode Island.
Rhode Island was commemorated on a postage stamp issued by the Marshall Islands in 1997.
- Alden, John D. (1989). 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. ISBN 0-87021-248-6.
- Chesneau, Roger; Koleśnik, Eugène M.; Campbell, N.J.M. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5.
- Friedman, Norman (1985). U.S. Battleships, An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-715-1.
- Reilly, John C.; Scheina, Robert L. (1980). American Battleships 1886–1923: Predreadnought Design and Construction. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-524-8.
- "Rhode Island". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command. http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/r5/rhode_island-ii.htm. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
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