USS Kearsarge (BB-5)

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Kearsarge underway
Career (United States) 100x35px
Laid down: 30 June 1896
Launched: 24 March 1898
Commissioned: 20 February 1900
Decommissioned: 10 May 1920
Fate: Sold for scrap on 9 August 1955
General characteristics
Displacement: 11,540 tons (10,470 tonnes)
Length: 375.3 ft (114.4 m)
Beam: 72.3 ft (22.0 m)
Draft: 23.5 ft (7.2 m)
Speed: 16 kn (18 mph; 30 km/h)
Complement: 553 officers and men
Armament: 4 × 13 in (330 mm)/35 cal guns, 4 × 8 in (200 mm)/35 cal guns, 14 × 6 in (150 mm)/50 cal guns, 20 × 6-pounders (57 mm (2.2 in)), 8 × 1-pounders (37 mm (1.5 in)), 4 × .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns

USS Kearsarge (BB-5), the lead ship of her class of battleships, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named, by act of Congress, in honor of the famous American Civil War sloop-of-war Kearsarge. Her keel was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company of Newport News, Virginia on 30 June 1896. She was launched on 24 March 1898, sponsored by Mrs. Herbert Winslow, daughter-in-law of Captain John A. Winslow, who had commanded the sloop Kearsarge during her famous battle with Alabama, and commissioned on 20 February 1900, Captain William M. Folger in command. Kearsarge is the only battleship in US Navy history not named for a state.

Pre-World War I

File:USS Kearsarge BB5.jpg
Kearsarge in 1898.

Kearsarge became flagship of the North Atlantic Station, cruising down the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean Sea. From 3 June-26 July 1903, she served briefly as flagship of the European Squadron while on a cruise that took her first to Kiel, Germany. She was visited by Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany on 26 June and by the Prince of Wales - who would later become King George V of the United Kingdom - on 13 July. She returned to Bar Harbor, Maine, on 26 July and resumed duties as flagship of the North Atlantic Fleet. She sailed from New York on 1 December for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where on 10 December the United States took formal possession of the Guantanamo Naval Reservation. Following maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea, she led the North Atlantic Battleship Squadron to Lisbon, Portugal, where she entertained the King Charles of Portugal on 11 June 1904. She next steamed to Phaleron Bay, Greece, where she celebrated the Fourth of July with King George I of Greece and his son and daughter-in-law, Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. The squadron paid goodwill calls at Corfu, Trieste, and Fiume before returning to Newport, Rhode Island on 29 August 1904.

Kearsarge remained flagship of the North Atlantic Fleet until relieved on 31 March by Maine, but continued operations with the fleet. During target practice off Cape Cruz, Cuba on 13 April 1906, an accidental ignition of a powder charge of a 13 in (330 mm) gun killed two officers and eight men. Four men were seriously injured. Attached to the Second Squadron, Fourth Division, she sailed on 16 December 1907 with the "Great White Fleet" of battleships, sent around the world by President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt. She sailed from Hampton Roads around the coasts of South America to the Western seaboard, then to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Japan. From there, Kearsarge proceeded to Ceylon, transited the Suez Canal, and visited ports of the Mediterranean Sea, before returning to the eastern seaboard of the United States. Roosevelt reviewed the Fleet as it passed into the Hampton Roads on 22 February 1909, after it completed the world cruise of overwhelming success, showing the flag and spreading good will. This dramatic gesture impressed the world with the power of the US Navy.

World War I

Kearsarge was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 4 September 1909 for modernization. She recommissioned on 23 June 1915 for operations along the Atlantic coast until 17 September, when she departed Philadelphia to land a detachment of Marines at Veracruz, Mexico. She remained off Vera Cruz from 28 September 1915-5 January 1916, then carried the Marines to New Orleans, Louisiana, before joining the Atlantic Reserve Fleet on 4 February at Philadelphia. She trained Massachusetts and Maine State Naval Militia until America entered World War I, then trained thousands of armed guard crews as well as naval engineers in waters along the East Coast ranging from Boston, Massachusetts, to Pensacola, Florida. On the evening of 18 August 1918, Kearsarge rescued 26 survivors of Norwegian barque Nordhav which had been sunk by Template:SM. The survivors were landed in Boston.

Inter-war period

File:USS Kearsarge as crane ship AB-1.jpg
Kearsarge as Crane Ship No. 1

Kearsarge continued as an engineering training ship until 29 May 1919, when she embarked United States Naval Academy midshipmen for training in the West Indies. The midshipmen were debarked at Annapolis, Maryland on 29 August and Kearsarge proceeded to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she decommissioned on 10 May 1920 for conversion to a crane ship and a new career. She was given hull classification symbol AB-1 on 5 August.

In place of military trappings, Kearsarge received an immense revolving crane with a rated lifting capacity of 250 tons (230 tonnes), as well as hull "blisters", which gave her more stability. The crane ship rendered invaluable service for the next 20 years. One of many accomplishments was the raising of Squalus off the New Hampshire coast.

World War II

On 6 November 1941, she was renamed Crane Ship No. 1, allowing her illustrious name to be given to CV-12, and later to CV-33. But she continued her yeoman service and made many contributions to the American victories of World War II. She handled guns, turrets, armor, and other heavy lifts for vessels such as Indiana and Alabama, Savannah and Chicago, and guns on Pennsylvania.

In 1945, the crane ship was towed to the San Francisco Naval Shipyard where she assisted in the construction of Hornet, Boxer, and re-construction of Saratoga. She departed the West Coast in 1948 to finish her career at the Boston Naval Shipyard. As Crane Ship No. 1, her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 22 June 1955. She was sold for scrap on 9 August.


  • 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 1896-1923: Predreadnought Design and Construction. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1980. ISBN 0870215248
  • This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

External links

ms:USS Kearsarge (BB-5) ja:キアサージ (戦艦) pl:USS Kearsarge (BB-5)