USS Illinois (BB-7)
The USS Illinois moored and steaming
|Ordered:||26 September 1896|
|Builder:||Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia|
|Laid down:||10 February 1897|
|Launched:||4 October 1898|
|Commissioned:||16 September 1901|
|Recommissioned:||2 November 1912|
|Decommissioned:||15 May 1920|
|Renamed:||Prairie State, 8 January 1941|
|Struck:||26 March 1956|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap on 18 May 1956|
|General characteristics |
|Class & type:||Illinois-class battleship|
|Displacement:||11,565 short tons (10,326 long tons; 10,492 t)|
|Length:||368 ft (112 m)|
|Beam:||72.3 ft (22.0 m)|
|Draft:||23.5 ft (7.2 m)|
|Installed power:||11,207 hp (8,357 kW)|
|Speed:||16 kn (18 mph; 30 km/h)|
|Complement:||660 officers and men|
Illinois was laid down on 10 February 1897 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company of Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on 4 October 1898, sponsored by Miss Nancy Leiter, daughter of Chicago multi-millionaire Levi Leiter and commissioned on 16 September 1901, Captain George A. Converse in command.
Pre-World War I
After shakedown and training in Chesapeake Bay, the new battleship sailed on 20 November 1901 for Algiers, Louisiana, where she was used to test a new floating dry dock. She returned to Newport News in January 1902, and from 15–28 February served as flagship for Rear Admiral R.D. Evans during the reception for Prince Albert Wilhelm Heinrich of Prussia. Bearing the flag of Rear Admiral A.S. Crowninshield, the battleship departed New York City on 30 April and arrived at Naples on 18 May, where the Admiral took command of the European Squadron. Illinois carried out training and ceremonial duties until 14 July, when she grounded in the harbor of Kristiania, Norway and had to return to England for repairs. She remained at Chatham Dockyard until 1 September, then proceeded to the Mediterranean and South Atlantic for fleet maneuvers.
Illinois was detached from the European Squadron on 10 January 1903 and assigned to the North Atlantic. In 1906, under the Command of Captain Blocklinger the Illinois was the first ship to win the famous Prince Louis Battenberg Cup. She engaged in fleet maneuvers, gunnery and seamanship training, and ceremonial operations until December 1907, when she joined the "Great White Fleet" for the cruise around the world. Following a Presidential review, the mighty battleships sailed from Hampton Roads on their important voyage. The Atlantic Fleet joined the Pacific Fleet on 8 May 1908 in San Francisco Bay, and after a review by the Secretary of the Navy, the combined fleets continued their cruise. The ships visited Australia, Japan, Ceylon, and other countries, arriving at Suez on 3 January 1909. At Suez, word of the 1908 Messina earthquake sent Illinois, Connecticut, and Culgoa to Messina. After rendering valuable aid to victims of the disaster, the ships rejoined the fleet, returning to Hampton Roads on 22 February. President Theodore Roosevelt reviewed the fleet as it arrived, having given the world a graphic demonstration of America's naval might. Illinois decommissioned at Boston, Massachusetts on 4 August. Illinois underwent a major modernization, receiving new "cage" masts and more modern equipment.
World War I
The battleship was placed in reserve commission on 15 April 1912 and recommissioned on 2 November, in time to take part in winter fleet exercises and battle maneuvers with the Atlantic Fleet. In the summers of 1913–1914, Illinois made training cruises to Europe with midshipmen. In 1919, the ship was again laid up at Philadelphia Navy Yard until she was loaned to the State of New York on 23 October 1921 for use by the Naval Militia. Illinois was given the hull number BB-7 in July 1920.
Inter-war period and beyond
Excluded from further use as a warship by the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, Illinois was fitted out as a floating armory at New York Navy Yard in 1924 and was assigned to the New York Naval Militia. She remained there for more than 30 years, though reclassified IX-15 on 8 January 1941 and renamed Prairie State to allow her name to be assigned to a projected new battleship, USS Illinois (BB-65). During World War II, she served as a Naval Reserve Midshipmen Training School at New York. Following the war, she was retained on loan to the State as quarters for a Naval Reserve unit until 31 December 1956.
On 17 November 1901, Illinois was presented with a silver service dining set provided by the state of Illinois and presented by Senator William E. Mason. It consisted of a large and small punch bowl, two candelabra, an ornamented fruit dish, a small fruit dish, two epicurean dishes, a large centerpiece and a ladle. Each item featured engravings of the crest of Illinois and an ear of corn. It was a tradition for states to provide a silver service to ships named after them. The silver was purchased by the state of Illinois after Illinois was decommissioned. It is stored in the breakfront in the state dining room of the Illinois Executive Mansion.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- "Battleship Illinois's Gift — Handsome Silver Service Presented by Senator Mason in Behalf of the People of Illinois". The New York Times. 17 November 1901. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2011-10-01.
- Chesneau, Roger; Koleśnik, Eugène M.; Campbell, N.J.M. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5.
- "Illinois". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved 2011-10-01.
- Alden, John D. (1989). 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. ISBN 0-87021-248-6.
- Friedman, Norman (1985). U.S. Battleships, An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-715-1.
- Reilly, John C.; Scheina, Robert L. (1980). American Battleships 1886–1923: Predreadnought Design and Construction. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-524-8.
- Taylor, Michael J.H. (1990). Jane's Fighting Ships of World War I. Studio. ISBN 1-85170-378-0.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to USS Illinois (BB-7).|
- Dictionary of American Fighting Ships about the USS Illinois BB-7.
- Naval History & Heritage Command photos of the USS Illinois (Battleship # 7, later BB-7), 1901–1956. Later renamed Prairie State and designated IX-15.
- MaritimeQuest USS Illinois BB-7 Photo Gallery
- Photo gallery of USS Illinois at NavSource Naval History