The Connecticut-class battleships were among the last United States Navypre-dreadnoughtbattleships to be built. These six ships were authorized over three budget years (1902–1904), with the latter three ships being built at the same time and after the two smaller Mississippi-class ships. The Mississippi-class ships were the last US pre-dreadnought class to be designed, but the New Hampshire, of the Connecticut class, was the last US pre-dreadnought to be built.
The Connecticut class was equipped with a heavy broadside (four 12", four 8", six 7", ten 3" and six 3-pounders), having superior seakeeping capabilities and a fast (for the time) top speed of 19 knots (35 km/h). However, the class was quickly outdated, as the first two ships came into service just months after HMS Dreadnought, the British battleship that revolutionized naval power by combining a uniform large caliber battery with high speed.
The Connecticut class had some deficiencies. In theory, the mixed intermediate battery seemed to hold promise, as the 7" guns fired a much heavier shell than 6" ones, but were faster-firing than the big 8"s. In service, the splashes of the 8" and 7" guns could not be distinguished at a distance, negating the higher firing speed of the 7" weapons. A uniform intermediate battery of all 8" or all 7" would have been more useful.
Still, the ships gave good service through their lifespans—five of the six ships (New Hampshire being the exception) participated in the cruise of the Great White Fleet, and two of them (Connecticut and Minnesota) served as squadron flagships during that cruise (Minnesota, however, only for the first leg of the voyage, as she was shuffled forward into the First Squadron afterward, a move which brought four of the newest and finest battleships in the US Navy to the forefront of the fleet).
After the cruise, the ships were stripped of their fancywork, their bridges were cut down to reduce their target profile and their hulls were repainted from the attractive (but militarily useless) white-and-buff paint scheme to a dull but functional haze gray. Despite being outdated against modern dreadnoughts, they were kept on in the fleet as force levels rose over the early 1910s in the build-up to World War I. In this form, they served the fleet until they were discarded following the Washington Naval Treaty in 1921.