USS Georgia (BB-15)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Georgia.
Georgia (BB15). Port side, underway, 06-19-1909 - NARA - 513014.tif
Georgia underway, 1909
Career (US)
Name: USS Georgia
Namesake: State of Georgia
Ordered: 3 March 1899
Builder: Bath Iron Works
Laid down: 31 August 1901
Launched: 11 October 1904
Sponsored by: Stella Tate
Commissioned: 24 September 1906
Decommissioned: 15 July 1920
Struck: 12 July 1922
Fate: Sold for scrap
General characteristics [1][2]
Class & type: Virginia-class battleship
Displacement: 14,948 tons (13,561 tonnes)
Length: 441.3 ft (134.5 m)
Beam: 76.3 ft (23.3 m)
Draft: 23.8 ft (7.3 m)
Propulsion: Twin screw, vertical triple expansion engines
Speed: 19 kn (22 mph; 35 km/h)
Range: 9117km (4290nm) at 10 knots
Complement: 40 officers and 772 enlisted
Armament:
  • 4 × 12 in (300 mm)/40 cal guns
  • 8 × 8 in (200 mm)/45 cal guns
  • 12 × 6 in (150 mm)/50 cal guns
  • 24 × 1-pounders (37 mm (1.5 in))
  • 4 × .30 in (7.6 mm) machine guns
  • 4 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor:

USS Georgia (BB-15) was a United States Navy Virginia-class battleship. Georgia was launched by the Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine on 11 October 1904, sponsored by Miss Stella Tate, sister of Georgia Congressman Farish Carter Tate and commissioned at Boston Navy Yard on 24 September 1906, Captain R. G. Davenport in command.

Pre-World War I[edit]

USS Georgia just after launch

After Georgia was fitted out and completed a short shakedown cruise, she joined the Atlantic Fleet as flagship of 2nd Division, Squadron 1. Georgia departed Hampton Roads on 26 March 1907 for Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where she participated in gunnery practice with the fleet. After returning briefly to Boston Navy Yard for repairs, Georgia joined with other ships of the Atlantic Fleet in ceremonies opening the Jamestown Exposition. President Theodore Roosevelt and dignitaries present reviewed the fleet on 10 June 1907, and 11 June was proclaimed "Georgia Day" at the exposition in special ceremonies aboard Georgia.

Georgia next sailed with the fleet for target practice in Cape Cod Bay, arriving on 15 June. On 15 July, a powder charge ignited prematurely in her aft 8 in (200 mm) turret, killing 10 officers and men and injuring 11. Seaman Benjamin Kreiger,(a.k.a. George E. Miller),[3] a 15 year old enlisted sailor stationed in the turret, is controversially credited with saving dozens of lives during the terrible accident. A flash-back explosion occurred after the starboard gun was fired when the breech was opened too quickly after ignition for safety. The gun crew may have been trying to demonstrate how fast the guns could fire for Admiral Thomas observing on board. The flash-back caused powder being prepared behind the starboard gun for reloading to smolder and catch fire. Kreiger, manning the port gun, recognized the extreme danger of the smoldering starboard gunpowder bags. On his own initiative, he rammed the still exposed powder bags of the port gun into the open breech of the port gun. He closed the port gun breech just before they too could have exploded. Kreiger was killed in the explosion of gunpowder from the starboard gun. He had saved many lives by sacrificing his own. Boatswain Edwin Murray, in charge of the powder room below the guns, closed the access doors and secured exposed powder as burning powder grains dropped down. The quick actions of Kreiger and Murray may have prevented an even greater tragedy with the entire ship being severely damaged if the powder magazine had exploded.[4][5][6][7][8] Condolences for the loss from this tragic accident were received from all over the world.

The powerful battleship then participated in the tercentenary of the landing of the first English Colonists from 16–21 August, after which she rejoined the fleet for battle maneuvers before mooring at League Island, Philadelphia on 24 September for overhaul.

Arriving in Hampton Roads on 7 December, Georgia gathered with 15 other battleships, a torpedo boat squadron, and transports for the great naval review preceding the cruise of the Atlantic Fleet to the West Coast. On 16 December, President Roosevelt reviewed the assembled "Great White Fleet" from the yacht Mayflower and sent it on the first leg of an around-the-world voyage of training, and building of American prestige and good will. Visiting many South American countries and their highly successful cruise, the fleet met with ships of the Pacific Fleet in another review in San Francisco Bay for the Secretary of the Navy on 8 May 1908. In 1908, Templin Potts took command. Then Georgia, in company with other battleships and supply vessels, departed San Francisco on 7 July for the second leg of the cruise, showing the flag and bringing the message of American sea power to many parts of the world, including the Philippines, Australia, Japan, and Mediterranean ports. The fleet then returned to Hampton Roads on 22 February 1909.

At this point, she was overhauled, and received cage masts that were the hallmark of so many US battleships of this era. Georgia continued to serve with the Atlantic Fleet in exercises and battle maneuvers—with periods of overhaul interspersed—until 2 November 1910, when President William Howard Taft reviewed the fleet prior to its departure for France. In an elaborate battle and scouting problem, Georgia and the other battleships continued their training, visiting Weymouth, England, and returning to Guantanamo Bay on 13 March 1911.

From 1911–1913, Georgia continued to train and serve as a ceremonial ship, and on 5 June 1913 participated in a two-month practice cruise for United States Naval Academy midshipmen. After a long overhaul period in Boston Navy Yard, Georgia arrived off the coast of Mexico on 14 January 1914 with other fleet units to protect American interests in the troubled Veracruz-Tampico area. The battleship returned briefly to Norfolk, Virginia in March, but was soon back cruising Mexican waters, and from August–October cruised off Haiti for the protection of American civilians in that country.

After another period of overhaul, Georgia joined the fleet off Cuba on 25 February 1915 for winter maneuvers, and spent the rest of the year in training and ceremonial duties with the Atlantic Fleet Battleship Force. She arrived at Boston Navy Yard for overhaul on 20 December and decommissioned on 27 January 1916.

World War I[edit]

Assigned as a receiving ship at Boston, Georgia was called to duty at the entry of the United States into World War I, and commissioned again on April 6, 1917. For the next 18 months, she operated with 3rd Division, Battleship Force, in fleet tactical exercises and merchant crew gunnery training, based in the York River, Virginia. She joined with Cruiser Force Atlantic briefly in September 1918 to escort convoys to meet their eastern escorts, and beginning on 10 December was fitted out as a transport and attached to the Cruiser and Transport Force for the purpose of returning troops of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to the United States. Georgia made five voyages to France from December 1918 – June 1919 and brought home nearly 6,000 soldiers.

Inter-war period[edit]

USS Georgia (BB-15).jpg

Georgia was next transferred to the Pacific Fleet as flagship of Division 2, Squadron 1. She left Boston for San Diego on 16 July 1919, and after participating in ceremonial operations for two months, entered Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs on 20 September. Here, Georgia staged until decommissioning on 15 July 1920. She was eventually sold for scrap on 1 November 1923 in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty for the limitation of naval armaments, and her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 10 November.

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