USS Kansas (BB-21)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Kansas.
Kansas
Kansas c. 1910–1915
Career (United States)
Name: USS Kansas
Namesake: State of Kansas
Ordered: 3 March 1903
Builder: New York Shipbuilding Company
Laid down: 10 February 1904
Launched: 12 August 1905
Sponsored by: Anna Hoch
Commissioned: 18 April 1907
Decommissioned: 16 December 1921
Struck: 10 November 1923
Fate: Broken up for scrap at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard in 1924
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: Connecticut-class battleship
Displacement: 16,000 tons (14,500 tonnes)
Length: 456.3 ft (139.1 m)
Beam: 76.8 ft (23.4 m)
Draft: 24.5 ft (7.5 m)
Speed: 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)
Complement: 880 officers and men
Armament:
Armor:
  • Belt: 6–11 in (152–279 mm)
  • Barbettes: 6–10 in (152–254 mm)
  • Turret Main: 8–12 in (203–305 mm)
  • Turret secondary: 7 in (178 mm)
  • Conning tower: 9 in (229 mm)

USS Kansas (BB-21) was a US Connecticut-class battleship commissioned in 1907 and decommissioned in 1921. She was the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of Kansas.

Pre-World War I[edit]

Kansas was laid down by New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey. She was launched on 12 August 1905 sponsored by Miss Anna Hoch, daughter of Kansas Governor Edward W. Hoch; and commissioned in Philadelphia Navy Yard on 18 April 1907, Captain Charles E. Vreeland in command.

The new battleship departed Philadelphia on 17 August 1907, for shakedown training out of Provincetown, Massachusetts, and returned home for alterations on 24 September. She joined the "Great White Fleet" at Hampton Roads on 9 December and passed in review before President Theodore Roosevelt while getting underway on the first leg of the fleet's historic world cruise. The American ships arrived Port of Spain, Trinidad on 23 December and six days later got underway for Rio de Janeiro. From there, they sailed south along the east coast of South America and transited the perilous Straits of Magellan in open order. Turning north, the fleet visited Valparaíso, Chile, and Callao Bay, Peru, en route to Magdalena Bay, Mexico, for a month of target practice.

The "Great White Fleet" reached San Diego, California on 14 April 1908, and moved on to San Francisco, California on 7 May. Exactly two months later, the spotless warships sortied through the Golden Gate and headed for Honolulu. From Hawaii, they set course for Auckland, New Zealand, to be greeted as heroes upon arrival on 9 August. The fleet made Sydney on 20 August, and after enjoying a week of the most warm and cordial hospitality, sailed to Melbourne where they were welcomed with equal graciousness and enthusiasm.

1908 postcard depicting the ship

Kansas had her last glimpse of Australia on 19 September on leaving Albany, Western Australia for ports in the Philippine Islands, Japan, and Ceylon before transiting the Suez Canal. She departed Port Said, Egypt on 4 January 1909, for a visit to Villefranche, France, and then staged with the Great White Fleet at Gibraltar and departed for home on 6 February. She again passed in review before President Roosevelt as she entered Hampton Roads on 22 February, ending a widely acclaimed voyage of good will subtly but effectively demonstrating American strength to the world.

A week later, Kansas entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for overhaul. Repairs completed 17 June, the battleship began a period of maneuvers, tactical training, and battle practice which lasted almost until the close of the following year. With Battleship Division 2 (BatDiv 2), she sailed on 15 November 1910 for Europe visiting Cherbourg, France, and Portland, England, before returning to Hampton Roads. She again departed Hampton Roads on 8 May 1911 for Scandinavia, visiting Copenhagen, Stockholm, Kronstadt, and Kiel before returning to Provincetown, Massachusetts on 13 July. She engaged in fleet tactics south to the Virginia Capes before entering the Norfolk Navy Yard on 3 November for overhaul.

Battleship Kansas in 1912

Early in 1912, she began several months of maneuvers out of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and then returned to Hampton Roads to serve as one of the welcoming units for the German Squadron which visited there from 28 May – 8 June and New York City from 8–13 June.

The battleship embarked United States Naval Academy midshipmen at Annapolis, Maryland on 21 June for a summer practice cruise which took her, among other ports of call along the Atlantic seaboard, to Baltimore, Maryland, during the United States Democratic Party National Convention which nominated Woodrow Wilson. After debarking her midshipmen at Annapolis on 30 August, she sailed from Norfolk, Virginia on 15 November for a training cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. She returned to Philadelphia on 21 December to enter the Navy Yard for overhaul.

Back in top shape by 5 May 1913, Kansas operated on the East Coast until she stood out of Hampton Roads on 25 October, bound for Genoa, Italy. From there, she proceeded to Guantanamo Bay en route to the coast of Mexico to operate off Veracruz and Tampico watching out for US interests in that land then troubled by revolutionary unrest as rival factions struggled to attain and hold power. She returned to Norfolk on 14 March 1914 and entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for overhaul on 11 April.

Kansas departed Norfolk on 1 July with the body of the Venezuelan Minister to the United States, arriving La Guaira on 14 July. Then she returned to the Mexican coast to patrol off Tampico and Veracruz supporting the American Expeditionary Force which had landed there. She departed Veracruz on 29 October to investigate reports of unstable conditions at Port au Prince, Haiti, where she arrived on 3 November. The battleship stood out of Port au Prince on 1 December and reached Philadelphia a week later. Maneuvers off the East Coast and out of Guantanamo Bay occupied her until she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for overhaul on 30 September 1916.

World War I[edit]

Kansas was still in the Philadelphia yard on 6 April 1917 when the United States entered World War I. She arrived in York River from Philadelphia on 10 July and became a unit of the 4th Battleship Division, spending the remainder of the war as an engineering training ship in Chesapeake Bay occasionally making escort and training cruises to New York.

Inter-war period[edit]

After the Armistice, she made five voyages to Brest, France to embark and return veterans home.

She was overhauled at the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 29 June 1919– 17 May 1920. Three days later she arrived at Annapolis where she embarked midshipmen and sailed on 5 June for a practice cruise to Pacific waters, transiting the Panama Canal to visit Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Pedro, California. She departed the latter port on 11 August, transited the canal, and visited Guantanamo Bay before returning to Annapolis on 2 September.

Proceeding to Philadelphia, Kansas became flagship of Rear Admiral Charles F. Hughes, Commander of BatDiv 4, Squadron 2 (BatRon 2), and future Chief of Naval Operations. She sailed for Bermuda on 27 September and was inspected by HRH Edward, Prince of Wales, at Grassey Bay, Bermuda on 2 October. Two days later, she was underway for the Panama Canal and Samoa. She was at Pago Pago, Samoa, on 11 November when Captain Waldo Evans became Governor of American Samoa. After visiting Hawaiian ports and transiting the Panama Canal, she cruised in the Caribbean Sea and the Panama Canal before returning to Philadelphia on 7 March 1921.

Kansas embarked midshipmen at Annapolis and sailed on 4 June, with three other battleships bound for Kristiania, Lisbon, Gibraltar, and Guantanamo Bay. She returned on 28 August to debark her midshipmen before visiting New York from 3–19 September. She entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 20 September and decommissioned on 16 December. Her name was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 24 August 1923, and she was sold for scrap in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty limiting naval armament.

References[edit]

  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

External links[edit]