USS New Jersey (BB-16)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS New Jersey.
New Jersey in 1918
New Jersey in a camouflage paint scheme, 1918
Career (United States)
Name: USS New Jersey
Namesake: State of New Jersey
Ordered: 7 June 1900
Builder: Fore River Shipyard
Laid down: 2 April 1902
Launched: 10 November 1904
Sponsored by: William B. Kennedy
Commissioned: 11 May 1906
Decommissioned: 6 August 1920
Struck: 12 July 1922
Fate: Sunk as target 5 September 1923
General characteristics [1][2]
Class and type: Virginia-class battleship
Displacement: 14,948 tons (13,561 tonnes)
Length: 441 ft 3 in (134.49 m)
Beam: 76 ft 3 in (23.24 m)
Draft: 23 ft 9 in (7.24 m)
Speed: 19 kn (22 mph; 35 km/h)
Complement: 812 officers and men
  • 4 × 12 in (300 mm)/40 cal guns
  • 8 × 8 in (200 mm)/45 cal guns
  • 12 × 6 in (150 mm)/50 cal guns
  • 4 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes

USS New Jersey (BB-16) was a Virginia-class battleship of the United States Navy. She was the first ship to carry her name. New Jersey was launched on 10 November 1904 by Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, Massachusetts; sponsored by Mrs. William B. Kenney, daughter of Governor Franklin Murphy of New Jersey; and commissioned on 12 May 1906, Captain William W. Kimball in command.

Pre-World War I[edit]

New Jersey‍ '​s initial training in Atlantic and Caribbean waters was highlighted by her review by President Theodore Roosevelt in Oyster Bay in September 1906, and by her presence at Havana, Cuba from 21 September – 13 October to protect American lives and property threatened by the Cuban Insurrection. From 15 April – 14 May 1907, she lay in Hampton Roads representing the Navy at the Jamestown Exposition.

In company with fifteen other battleships and six attendant destroyers, New Jersey cleared Hampton Roads on 16 December, her rails manned and her guns crashing a 21-gun salute to President Roosevelt, who watched from Mayflower this beginning of the dramatic cruise of the "Great White Fleet". The international situation required a compelling exhibition of the strength of the United States; this round-the-world cruise was to provide one of the most remarkable illustrations of the ability of sea power to keep peace without warlike action. Not only was a threatened conflict with Japan averted but notice was served on the world that the United States had come of age, and was an international power which could make its influence felt in any part of the world. Commanded first by Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, and later by Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry, the fleet laid its course for Trinidad and Tobago and Rio de Janeiro, then rounded Cape Horn. After calling in Punta Arenas, Valparaíso and Callao, the battleships made a triumphant return to the United States at San Francisco. On 7 July, the fleet sailed west, bound for Hawaii, Auckland, and three Australian ports; Sydney, Melbourne, and Albany, Western Australia.

Each city offered an enthusiastic reception for the American sailors and their ships, but tension and rumor of possible incident made the arrival in Tokyo Bay on 18 October unique among the cruise's calls. Immediately it was clear that no special precautions had been necessary; nowhere during the cruise did the men of New Jersey and her sisters meet with more expression of friendship, both through elaborately planned entertainment and spontaneous demonstration. The President observed with satisfaction this accomplishment of his greatest hope for the cruise: "The most noteworthy incident of the cruise was the reception given to our fleet in Japan."

The Great White Fleet sailed on to Amoy, returned briefly to Yokohama, then held target practice in the Philippines before beginning the long homeward passage on 1 December. The battleships passed through the Suez Canal 4 January 1909, called at Port Said, Naples and Villefranche, and left Gibraltar astern on 6 February. In one of the last ceremonial acts of his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt reviewed the Great White Fleet as it went up to anchor in Hampton Roads on 22 February.

Except for a period out of commission in reserve at Boston from 2 May 1910 – 15 July 1911, New Jersey carried out a normal pattern of drills and training in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean, carrying midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy in the summers of 1912–13. With Mexican political turmoil threatening US interests, New Jersey was ordered to the Western Caribbean in the fall of 1913 to provide protection. On 21 April 1914, as part of the force commanded by Rear Admiral Frank F. Fletcher, following Mexican refusal to apologize for an insult to American naval forces at Tampico, sailors and marines landed at Veracruz and took possession of the city and its customs house until changes in the Mexican government made evacuation possible. New Jersey sailed from Veracruz on 13 August, observed and reported on troubled conditions in Santo Domingo and Haiti, and reached Hampton Roads on 9 October. Until the outbreak of World War I, she returned to her regular operations along the east coast and in the Caribbean.

World War I[edit]

During World War I, New Jersey made a major contribution to the expansion of the wartime Navy, training gunners and seamen recruits in Chesapeake Bay. After the Armistice she began the first of four voyages to France, from where she had brought home 5,000 members of the American Expeditionary Force by 9 June 1919. New Jersey was decommissioned at the Boston Naval Shipyard on 6 August 1920, and was sunk along with Virginia off Cape Hatteras on 5 September 1923 in Army bomb tests conducted by Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. The film of this bombing was used as stock footage for many years, notably in the 1936 Three Stooges short Half Shot Shooters.


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


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