USS Indiana (BB-1)

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File:USS Indiana BB-1.jpg
USS Indiana underway, ca. 1895–1900
Career (United States) 100x35px
Name: Indiana, renamed Coast Battleship Number 1 on 29 March 1919
Ordered: 30 June 1890
Builder: William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co.
Laid down: 7 May 1891
Launched: 28 February 1893
Commissioned: 20 November 1895;
9 January 1906;
24 May 1917
Decommissioned: 29 December 1903;
23 May 1914;
31 January 1919
Fate: Sunk as target on 1 November 1920; sold for scrap 19 March 1924
General characteristics
Class and type: Indiana-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 10,288 tons standard[1]
Length: 350 ft 11 in (106.96 m)[1]
Beam: 69 ft 3 in (21.11 m)[1]
Draft: 27 ft (8.2 m)[1]

9,000 ihp (6.7 MW) (design)[3]

9,738 ihp (7.262 MW) (trials)[1]

15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph) (design)[3]

15.6 kn (28.9 km/h; 18.0 mph) (trials)[1]
Range: 4,900 nmi (9,100 km; 5,600 mi)[note 1]
Complement: 473 officers and men[5]

Harveyized steel

  • Belt: 18–8.5 in (460–220 mm)[1]
  • 13" turrets: 15 in (380 mm)[1]
  • Hull: 5 in (130 mm)[1]

Conventional nickel-steel

  • Tower: 10 in (250 mm)[1]
  • 8" turrets: 6 in (150 mm)[1]
  • Deck: 3 in (76 mm)[1]

USS Indiana (Battleship No. 1) was the lead ship of her class and the first battleship in the United States Navy comparable to foreign battleships of the time.[6] 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 intended and used for coastal defense, since her decks were not safe from high waves on the open ocean.

Indiana served in the Spanish–American War (1898) as part of the North Atlantic Squadron. She took part in both the blockade of Santiago de Cuba and the battle of Santiago de Cuba, which occurred when the Spanish fleet attempted to break through the blockade. Although unable to join the chase of the escaping Spanish cruisers, she was partly responsible for the destruction of the Spanish destroyers Pluton and Furor. After the war she quickly became obsolete—despite several modernizations—and spent most of her time in commission as a training ship or in the reserve fleet, with her last commission during World War I as a training ship for gun crews. She was decommissioned for the third and final time in January 1919 and was shortly after reclassified Coast Battleship Number 1 so that the name Indiana could be reused. She was sunk in shallow water as a target in tests of underwater explosions and aerial bombing in 1920 and her hulk was sold for scrap in 1924.

Design and construction

Indiana was constructed based on a modified version of a design drawn up by a US navy 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 the United States House of Representatives approved funding for three coast defense battleships, which would become Indiana and her sister ships Massachusetts and Oregon.[7] The "coast defense" designation was reflected in Indiana's moderate endurance, relatively small displacement and low freeboard, or distance from the deck to the water, which limited sea-going capability.[8] She was however heavily armed and armored; Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships describes her design as "attempting too much on a very limited displacement."[9]

Construction of the ships was authorized on 30 June 1890 and the contract for Indiana—not including guns and armor—was awarded to William Cramp & Sons in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who offered to build it for $ 3,020,000.[10] The total cost of the ship almost twice as high, approximately $6,000,000.[11] The contract specified the ship had to be built in three years, but slow delivery of armor plates caused a two-year delay.[12][13] Indiana's keel was laid down on 7 May 1891[14] and she was launched on 28 February 1893, attended by around 10,000 people, including President Benjamin Harrison, several members of his cabinet and the two senators from Indiana.[15][16] During her fitting-out in early March 1894, the ship undertook a preliminary sea trial to test her speed and machinery.[17] At this point her side armor, guns, turrets and conning tower had not yet been fitted,[18] and her official trials would not take place until October 1895 due to the delays in armor deliveries.[19][20]

Service history

Early career

Indiana was commissioned on 20 November 1895 under the command of Captain Robley D. Evans.[21] After further trials, the ship joined the North Atlantic Squadron under the command of Rear Admiral Francis M. Bunce, which conducted training exercises along the East Coast of the United States.[22] In late 1896, both main turrets broke loose from their clamps in heavy seas. Because the turrets were not centrally balanced, they swung from side to side with the motion of the ship, until they were secured with heavy ropes. Heavier clamps were installed, but in February 1896, while conducting fleet maneuvers with the North Atlantic squadron, the Indiana encountered more bad weather and started rolling heavily. Her new captain, Henry Clay Taylor, promptly ordered her back to port for fear the clamps would break again.[23] This convinced the navy that bilge keels—omitted during construction because with them, the ship could not fit in most American dry docks—were necessary to reduce the rolling,[24] and they were subsequently installed on all three ships of the Indiana-class.[25]

Spanish–American War

At the outbreak of the Spanish–American War in April 1898, Indiana was at Key West with the rest of the North Atlantic Squadron, at the time commanded by Rear Admiral William T. Sampson.[26][14] His squadron was ordered to the Spanish port of San Juan in an attempt to intercept and destroy Admiral Cevera's Spanish squadron, which was en route to the Caribbean from Spain. The harbor was empty, but Indiana and the rest of the squadron bombarded it for two hours on 12 May 1898 before realizing their mistake.[14] The squadron returned to Key West, where news arrived three weeks later that Commodore Schley's Flying Squadron had found Cervera and was now blockading him in the port of Santiago de Cuba. Sampson reinforced Schley on 1 June[14] and assumed overall command.[27]

File:LOC 3b37478u 1898-Apr 14 The Indiana in battle.jpg
Painting of the Indiana during the battle of Santiago

In an attempt to break the stalemate, it was decided to attack Santiago from land. A transport convoy was assembled in Key West and Indiana was sent back to lead it.[28] The expeditionary force, under the command of Major General William Rufus Shafter, landed east of the city and attacked it on 1 July.[29] Cervera saw that his situation was desperate and attempted to break through the blockade on 3 July 1898, resulting in the battle of Santiago de Cuba.[14] The cruisers New Orleans and Newark and battleship Massachusetts had left the day before to load coal in Guantanamo Bay.[30] Admiral Sampson's flagship, the cruiser New York, had also sailed east earlier that morning for a meeting with General Shafter,[31] leaving Commodore Schley in command.[30] This left the blockade weakened and unbalanced on the day of the battle, as three modern battleships (Indiana, Oregon and Iowa) and the armed yacht Gloucester guarded the east, while the west was only defended by the second-class battleship Texas, cruiser Brooklyn and armed yacht Vixen.[32]

Occupying the extreme eastern position of the blockade,[14] Indiana fired at the cruisers Infanta Maria Teresa and Almirante Oquendo as they left the harbor,[33][34] but was unable to keep up with the Spanish cruisers as they fled to the west due to engine problems.[35] When the Spanish destroyers Pluton and Furor emerged, Indiana was near the harbor entrance and, together with Iowa, she supported the armed yacht Gloucester in the destruction of the lightly armored enemy ships.[36] She was then ordered to keep up the blockade of the harbor in case more Spanish ships came out and so played no role in the chase and sinking of the two remaining Spanish cruisers, Vizcaya and Cristobal Colon.[37]

Post Spanish–American War

After the war, Indiana returned to training exercises with the North Atlantic Squadron. In May 1900, she and Massachusetts were placed in the reserve fleet as the navy had an acute officer shortage and needed to put the new Kearsarge-class and Illinois-class battleships into commission.[38] The battleships were reactivated the following month as an experiment in how quickly this could be achieved,[39] but Indiana was placed in the reserve fleet again that winter.[40] In March 1901, it was decided to use her that summer for a midshipman practice cruise,[41] and this would be her regular summer job for the next few years,[14] while the rest of the time she would serve as a training ship.[42] She was decommissioned on 29 December 1903[14] to be overhauled and modernized.[43] The obsolete battleship received several upgrades: new Babcock & Wilcox boilers, counterweights to balance her main turrets and electric traversing mechanisms for her turrets.[44] She was recommissioned on 9 January 1906 and manned by the former crew of her sister ship Massachusetts, which had been decommissioned the day before to receive similar modernization.[45]

File:Indiana bombing 1920.jpg
The wreck of the Indiana in the shallow waters of Chesapeake Bay. In the background the remains of San Marcos are visible.

During her second commission, Indiana spent most of her time laid up in the reserve fleet,[46] occasionally participating in practice cruises.[14][47] In 1908, the 6-inch and most of the lighter guns were removed to compensate for the counterweights added to the main battery turrets and because the ammunition supply for the guns was considered problematic. A year later, twelve 3-inch (80 mm)/50 caliber single-purpose guns were added midships and in the fighting tops.[44] By 1913 it was speculated that the ship might soon be used for target practice,[48] but instead the ship was decommissioned on 23 May 1914.[14] After the United States entered World War I, Indiana was commissioned for the third time and served as a training ship for gun crews near Tompkinsville, Staten Island and in the York River, and placed under the command of George Landenberger.[49]

On 31 January 1919 she was decommissioned for the final time, and two months later she was renamed Coast Battleship Number 1 so that the name Indiana could be assigned to the newly authorized—but never completed—battleship Indiana (BB-50).[14] The old battleship was brought to shallow waters in Chesapeake Bay near the wreck of the battleship San Marcos (ex-Texas).[14] Here she was subjected to aerial bombing tests conducted by the navy. She was hit with dummy bombs from aircraft and explosive charges were set off at the positions where the bombs hit. The tests were a response to claims from Billy Mitchell—at the time assistant to the Chief of Air Service—who stated to Congress that the Air Service could sink any battleship. The conclusions drawn by the navy from the experiments conducted on Indiana were very different, as captain William D. Leahy stated in his report: "The entire experiment pointed to the improbability of a modern battleship being either destroyed or completely put out of action by aerial bombs." The subject remained a matter of dispute between Mitchell and the Navy and several more bombing tests were conducted other decommissioned battleships, culminating in the sinking of the SMS Ostfriesland.[50] Indiana sank during the test and settled in the shallow water, where she remained until her hulk was sold for scrap on 19 March 1924.[14]

See also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 Reilly & Scheina, American Battleships 1886–1923, p. 68.
  2. Reilly & Scheina, American Battleships 1886–1923, p. 58.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Friedman, U.S. Battleships, p. 425.
  4. Bryan, B.C. (1901). "The Steaming Radius of United States Naval Vessels" (Subscription required). Journal of the American Society for Naval Engineers 13 (1): 50–69. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  5. Reilly & Scheina, American Battleships 1886–1923, p. 63.
  6. Reilly & Scheina, American Battleships 1886–1923, p. 67.
  7. Friedman, U.S. Battleships, pp. 24–25.
  8. Gardiner, Steam, Steel & Shellfire: The Steam Warship 1815–1905, p. 121.
  9. Chesneau, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905, p. 140.
  10. "The new American navy; Secretary Tracy reports in favor of progress." (PDF). The New York Times. 1 December 1890. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  11. Reilly & Scheina, American Battleships 1886–1923, p. 69.
  12. "Cramps claim of $1,367,244; House spends entire day on bill to refer it to the Court of Claims." (PDF). The New York Times. 19 January 1901. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  13. "Cramps lose $135,000 claim; asserted delay in building the Indiana cost them that." (PDF). The New York Times. 14 May 1907. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 14.12 "Indiana". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  15. "The war steamer Indiana; to be launched from the Cramp yards today." (PDF). The New York Times. 28 February 1893. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  16. "Launch of the Indiana; The big war ship glides into the water safely." (PDF). The New York Times. 28 February 1893. Retrieved 6 June 2010. 
  17. "Battle ship Indiana on trial; Builders preliminary test of her speed and machinery." (PDF). The New York Times. 7 March 1894. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  18. "Indiana makes a fast run; six-tenths of a knot better than required speed. Her preliminary trial most successful" (PDF). The New York Times. 9 March 1894. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  19. "The Indiana a wonder; Highly successful speed test of the new battleship." (PDF). The New York Times. 19 October 1895. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  20. "Cramps wants money due on cruisers" (PDF). The New York Times. 20 September 1894. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  21. "The Indiana is Accepted; Capt. Evans Placed in Command – The Boston Goes to China." (PDF). The New York Times. 19 November 1895. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  22. "The North Atlantic Squadron; Programme of the Evolutions It Will Make This Summer." (PDF). The New York Times. 18 June 1896. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  23. Reilly & Scheina, American Battleships 1886–1923, p. 59.
  24. "Defects in the Indiana; Her Turrets Got Loose Again on the Trip with Admiral Bunce's Squadron." (PDF). The New York Times. 5 February 1897. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  25. Reilly & Scheina, American Battleships 1886–1923, p. 60.
  26. "Where Our Warships Are; The Positions of the Vessels of the Navy According to the Latest Reports." (PDF). The New York Times. 1 April 1898. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  27. Graham & Schley, Schley and Santiago, p. 203.
  28. "The Santiago Off; Gen. Shafter's Command Leaves Key West for Cuba, Convoyed by a PowerfulFleet." (PDF). The New York Times. 12 June 1898. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  29. Hale, Famous Sea fights, from Salamis to Tsu-shima, p. 286.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Graham & Schley, Schley and Santiago, pp. 299–300.
  31. Hale, Famous Sea fights, from Salamis to Tsu-shima, p. 288.
  32. Graham & Schley, Schley and Santiago, pp. 303–304.
  33. Graham & Schley, Schley and Santiago, p. 316.
  34. "The Indiana at Santiago; Admiral Sampson Assures Capt. Taylor that He Meant No Criticism in His Report." (PDF). The New York Times. 26 August 1898. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  35. Graham & Schley, Schley and Santiago, p. 317.
  36. Graham & Schley, Schley and Santiago, p. 333.
  37. "Sampson's Story of the Battle; Official Report of the Destruction of Cervera's Squadron." (PDF). The New York Times. 26 July 1898. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  38. "Navy Short of Officers; There Are Not Enough to Keep Warships in Commission." (PDF). The New York Times. 14 April 1900. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  39. "Hurry Oder to the Navy; Department Wants to Find Out What Can Be Done in an Emergency." (PDF). The New York Times. 6 June 1900. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  40. "Warships to Be Laid Up." (PDF). The New York Times. 20 August 1900. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  41. "Battleship Assigned to Cadets." (PDF). The New York Times. 26 March 1901. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  42. "More Men for the Navy; Plan to Increase the Force of Seamen to 50,000." (PDF). The New York Times. 8 April 1902. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  43. "Battleship Indiana's Overhauling." (PDF). The New York Times. 19 November 1903. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  44. 44.0 44.1 Reilly & Scheina, American Battleships 1886–1923, p. 62.
  45. "Reconstructed Indiana ready" (PDF). The New York Times. 8 January 1906. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  46. "Plans Completed for Naval Review; Maritime Pageant Will Surpass Anything of the Kind Seen in American Waters." (PDF). The New York Times. 10 November 1907. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  47. "Battleship for the Middies; Three Assigned to Them for Next Summer's Cruise." (PDF). The New York Times. 27 November 1909. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  48. "Old Battleships to Become Targets; Indiana Expected to be the Next to be Riddled by the Atlantic Fleet." (PDF). The New York Times. 31 March 1913. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  49. "G. B. Landenberger, Navy Captain, Dies: Retired Officer Served for 35—Held Many Important Posts During Career". The New York Times: p. 21. 16 January 1936. 
  50. Correll, John T (June 2008). "Billy Mitchell and the Battleships". Air Force Magazine (Arlington, Virginia: Air Force Association) 91 (6). 


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