USS Idaho (BB-24)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Idaho.
The USS Idaho
The USS Idaho on the Hudson River
Career (US)
Name: USS Idaho
Namesake: State of Idaho
Ordered: 3 March 1903
Builder: William Cramp & Sons
Laid down: 12 May 1904
Launched: 9 December 1905
Sponsored by: Louise Gooding
Commissioned: 1 April 1908
Decommissioned: 30 July 1914
Struck: 30 July 1914
Fate: Transferred to Greece, sunk by German aircraft, April 1941
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: Mississippi-class battleship
Displacement: 13,000 long tons (13,200 metric tons)
Length: 382 ft (116 m)
Beam: 77 ft (23 m)
Draft: 24.7 ft (7.5 m)
Speed: 17 kn (20 mph; 31 km/h)
Complement: 744 officers and men
Armament:
Armor:
  • Belt: 7–9 in (178–229 mm)
  • Barbettes: 6–10 in (152–254 mm)
  • Turret (mains) 8–12 in (203–305 mm)
  • Turret (secondary): 7 in (178 mm)
  • Conning tower: 9 in (229 mm)

USS Idaho (Battleship No. 24), the second ship of the Mississippi class of battleships, was the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the US state of Idaho. After her career in the USN, she was sold to Greece and renamed Lemnos in 1914. Lemnos was sunk by German bombers in April 1941. Idaho and her sister Mississippi were designed in response to Congressional desire to cap the growth and expense of new battleships, whose size and cost had increased dramatically since the first US battleships, the Indianas of 1893, had been authorized. Displacement was limited to 13,000 tons (13,200 metric tons), a reduction of 3,000 tons (3,000 metric tons) from the prior Connecticut class.[2]

Design[edit]

In the early twentieth century, the U.S. Navy was growing rapidly. The Navy commissioned its first battleships in 1895,[3] and by the middle of the next decade Jane's Fighting Ships ranked its battle line second only to the British Navy.[4] However, this rapid growth was not universally supported either within the government or within the Navy. Compromises between powerful groups were frequently necessary in order to get funding.[5]

The Mississippi-class ships were designed to meet Congressional and Navy Department objectives of reducing the escalating cost of new battleships, the quantity, size, and cost of which had increased dramatically over the first two decades of U.S. battleship production.

Preliminary plans for the first two U.S. battleships were completed in 1885. Construction was approved in 1886, and the first keel was laid down in 1888. However, technical difficulties, particularly with armor, delayed completion and neither was commissioned until 1895. By the time these were commissioned they were obsolete as newer, larger designs were being completed.[6] By the end of fiscal 1902 ten battleships and two second class battleships had been commissioned, with seven more battleships authorized but not completed.[7] The per-ship cost had doubled from the $4 million range for the Illinois class in the 1896 budget to nearly $8 million for Connecticut in the 1902 budget. The Mississippi-class ships would cost just under $6 million each.

There was a division among U.S. naval planners in the early years of the 20th century over whether to have technically superior ships or many less expensive ones, with President Theodore Roosevelt among those supporting the former and Admiral Thomas Dewey along with Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan supporting the latter approach.[5]

Photograph of the U.S. fleet of battleships sailing in line during the world tour known as the Great White Fleet
The Great White Fleet demonstrated America's new naval strength by sailing around the world. Most of these ships were under 10 years old, but were already obsolete.

The 1903 naval budget effected a compromise by calling for five ships: three more ships of the 16,000 ton Connecticut class and two ships of a new less expensive class of approximately 13,000 tons, with the design still to be determined.[5]

The ships that became the Mississippi class were intended to serve as the modern equivalent of 19th century third-rate ship of the line, offering what was thought to be an efficient compromise between sailing ability (speed, handling), firepower, and cost.[8] This concept had formed the backbone of the sailing battle fleets of the previous century, but trends in early twentieth century naval strategies were making the third-rate concept obsolete.[5] Prevailing strategies called for a consistent battle line of first-rate units.[8]

United States Navy[edit]

A stern view of an incomplete ship sitting in a drydock with the top of the main turret open, awaiting armor plates.
USS Idaho under construction at Cramp yard, Philadelphia

The second Idaho (Battleship No. 24) was laid down on 12 May 1904, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Co. and launched on 9 December 1905. She was sponsored by Louise May Gooding, 13-year-old daughter of Idaho Governor Frank R. Gooding, and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, League Island, on 1 April 1908, with Captain Samuel W. B. Diehl in command.[9] Idaho departed Philadelphia in April 1908 for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, via Hampton Roads. Following a shakedown off the coast of Cuba in 1908, she returned to Philadelphia for final fitting out and repairs. In the summer of 1908 she transported a detachment of marines to Colon in the Canal Zone to support a peaceful election process.[9]

Following a period of repairs at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Idaho steamed to Norfolk, where she received a new "cage" mainmast tower, conducted testing of her guns out of Hampton Roads, and then returned to Philadelphia for more repairs and work.[9]

Photograph of USS Idaho with the aft cage mast installed.
USS Idaho With first cage mast as installed in 1908

In early 1909 she joined the USS Mississippi and other ships to meet the Great White Fleet upon its return and was reviewed by the President. For the remainder of the year and into 1910 she alternated between the waters off New England and southern waters, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, along with a voyage in the Mississippi River and war games out of Guantanamo Bay.[9]

In late 1910 she sailed across the Atlantic with the Third Division of the Atlantic Fleet to Gravesend Bay, England, and then to Brest, France, returning to Guantanamo Bay in early 1911.[9]

After routine service with the Atlantic Fleet and in Cuban waters, Idaho departed Philadelphia on 4 May 1911, bound for the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River. She visited the Louisiana ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, steamed past the mouth of the Red River, and visited St. Joseph. She called at Vicksburg and Natchez in late May before visiting a succession of Louisiana ports.[9]

From mid-1911 to early 1913 she again performed routine service and maneuvers with the Atlantic Fleet and in Cuban waters, with periodic visits to Philadelphia for repairs.[9]

In February 1913, unrest in Mexico led to a coup d'état and the death of deposed President Francisco I. Madero. For the protection of American interests, Idaho deployed to Tampico in May and to Veracruz in June. She rejoined the fleet in Newport in late June. She then proceeded to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet on 27 October 1913.[9]

Idaho remained in reserve until recommissioned at Philadelphia in March 1914. At Annapolis, she embarked midshipmen bound for the Mediterranean in company with USS Missouri and USS Illinois.[9]

After visiting Tangier, Gibraltar, and Naples, USS Idaho arrived at the French port of Villefranche on 17 July 1914. The midshipmen were disembarked en masse to the USS Maine, and Idaho was formally transferred to the Greek Navy on 30 July 1914.[9] The US received $12 million for her and USS Mississippi (BB-23).[10]

Royal Hellenic Navy[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Greek battleship Lemnos.

Idaho decommissioned at the French port of Villefranche, and she was formally transferred to the Greek Navy on July 30, 1914. She remained in Greek service for 27 years, before being sunk during World War II.

Fleet designation[edit]

Although the Mississippi-class ships were decommissioned before the fleet designation reworkings in 1920, and thus never carried the "BB" hull classification symbol in service, many lists of American battleships (including the one in this encyclopedia) list them as "BB-23" and "BB-24" for completeness.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chesneau, Koleśnik & Campbell 1979, p. 144.
  2. ^ Reilly & Scheina 1980, pp. 186–187.
  3. ^ Friedman 1985, p. 424.
  4. ^ Rose 2007, pp. 12–14.
  5. ^ a b c d Friedman 1985, p. 44.
  6. ^ Friedman 1985, pp. 17–21.
  7. ^ Reilly & Scheina 1980, pp. 361–365.
  8. ^ a b Reilly & Scheina 1980, p. 187.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cressman 2007.
  10. ^ "To Two Battleships". The Independent. 20 July 1914. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]