USS South Carolina (BB-26)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS South Carolina.
South Carolina
South Carolina
Career (United States)
Namesake: State of South Carolina
Builder: William Cramp and Sons
Laid down: 18 December 1906
Launched: 11 July 1908
Commissioned: 1 March 1910
Decommissioned: 15 December 1921
Struck: 10 November 1923
Fate: Sold April 24 1924 and broken up for scrap.
General characteristics
Class and type: South Carolina-class battleship
Displacement: 16,000 long tons (16,000 tonnes) (design)
Length: 452 feetinches (138.00 m) oa
Beam: 80 feet 5 inches (24.51 m)
Draft: 24 feet 6 inches (7.47 m)
Installed power: 12 coal-fired Babcock & Wilcox water-tube boilers
16,500 ihp (12,300 kW)
Propulsion: Vertical triple expansion steam engines, two screw propellers
Speed: 18.5 knots (21.3 mph; 34.3 km/h)
Range: 6,950 nmi (8,000 mi; 12,870 km) at 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h)
Complement: 869
Armor: Belt: 12 to 8 in (305 to 203 mm)
Casemates: 10 in (254 mm)
Barbettes: 10 in
Turrets: 12 in
Decks: 1 to 2.5 in (25 to 64 mm)
Conning tower: 12 in

USS South Carolina (BB-26), the lead ship of her class of dreadnought battleships, was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the eighth state, and was the first American dreadnought (i.e. a battleship armed with eight or more major caliber (12-inch or greater) guns).

Her keel was laid down on 18 December 1906 at Philadelphia by William Cramp and Sons. She was launched on 1 July 1908, sponsored by Miss Frederica Ansel, daughter of the Governor of South Carolina Martin F. Ansel; and commissioned on 1 March 1910, Captain Augustus F. Fechteler in command. She was armed with eight 12" guns with four turrets of 2 guns each.


Line-drawing of the South Carolina-class

South Carolina was 452 feet 9 inches (138.00 m) long overall and had a beam of 80 ft 5 in (24.51 m) and a draft of 24 ft 7 in (7.49 m). She displaced 16,000 long tons (16,000 t) as designed and up to 17,617 long tons (17,900 t) at full combat load. The ship was powered by two-shaft vertical triple-expansion engines rated at 16,500 indicated horsepower (12,300 kW) and twelve coal-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers, generating a top speed of 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph). The ship had a cruising range of 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) at a speed of 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph). She had a crew of 869 officers and men.[1]

The ship was armed with a main battery of eight 12 inch /45 Mark 5[a] guns in four twin gun turrets on the centerline, which were placed in two superfiring pairs forward and aft. The secondary battery consisted of twenty-two 3-inch /50 guns mounted in casemates along the side of the hull. As was standard for capital ships of the period, she carried a pair of 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes, submerged in her hull on the broadside. The main armored belt was 12 in (305 mm) thick over the magazines, 10 in (254 mm) over the machinery spaces, and 8 in (203 mm) elsewhere. The armored deck was 1.5 to 2.5 in (38 to 64 mm) thick. The gun turrets had 12-inch thick faces, while the supporting barbettes had 10-inch thick armor plating. Ten-inch thick armor also protected the casemate guns. The conning tower had 12-inch thick sides.[1]

Service history[edit]

South Carolina in port in 1910

The keel for South Carolina was laid down at the William Cramp & Sons shipyard in Philadelphia on 18 December 1906. The completed hull was launched on 1 July 1908. Fitting-out work was completed by the end of February 1910, and she was commissioned into the fleet on 1 March.[1] She was then assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. Five days after her commissioning, the ship steamed out of Philadelphia for her shakedown cruise, which took the ship to the Caribbean Sea and included stops in the Danish West Indies and Cuba, before returning to the United States for a visit to Charleston in her namesake state, which lasted from 10 to 15 April. Sea trials followed; they were conducted off the Virginia Capes and outside Provincetown, Massachusetts. South Carolina then visited New York City on 17–18 June to take part in a reception for former President Theodore Roosevelt. The ship spent most of the rest of the year conducting fleet maneuevers, training naval militia, and receiving repairs at Norfolk, Virginia.[2]

On 1 November 1910, South Carolina left the United States for a trip to Europe with the 2nd Battleship Division. During the tour, the Division stopped in Cherbourg and Portland. The ships arrived back in Norfolk on 12 January 1911, where South Carolina entered the shipyard for maintenance. She then returned to the fleet, which conducted battle training off the coast of New England. The ship made a short stop in New York City before joining the 2nd Battleship Division for another tour of Europe. This trip included stops in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Kronstadt. On the way back from Kronstadt, South Carolina stopped in Kiel, where the German Kaiser Wilhelm II was hosting the annual Kieler Woche (Kiel Week) sailing regatta. South Carolina arrived off Provincetown on 13 July and continued to the Chesapeake Bay, where she conducted battle practice.[2]

South Carolina in the New York Navy Yard on 3 October 1911

In late 1911, South Carolina was present for a naval review in New York City before conducting training exercises with the 1st Squadron off Newport, Rhode Island. The ship then steamed south on 3 January 1912 for training exercises off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before returning to Norfolk on 13 March. She cruised the east coast of the United States from March to late June. That month, she participated in a reception for a visit by the German battlecruiser SMS Moltke and the light cruisers Bremen and Stettin in New York. On 30 June, South Carolina returned to Norfolk for an overhaul.[2]

Just over three months later, she sailed to New York for a visit, which lasted from 11–15 October. Next came a month of exercises off the coast of New England and the Virginia Capes. From mid-November-mid-December, South Carolina steamed with the Special Service Division on visits to Pensacola, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana, Galveston, Texas, and the Mexican port, Veracruz. She returned to Norfolk on 20 December and remained there until 6 January 1913, when she sailed to Colón, Panama, where her crew saw the newly completed canal. After maneuvers in the area of Guantánamo Bay, she reentered Norfolk on 22 March, then cruised north as far as Newport, stopping at New York from 28 March – 31 May for the dedication of a memorial to Maine.

After a brief period training midshipmen in the Virginia Capes area, South Carolina embarked upon a 16-month period during which she carried the "Big Stick" to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. From late June until mid-September 1913, she cruised the eastern coast of Mexico protecting American interests at Tampico and Veracruz. She was overhauled at Norfolk from late September 1913-early January 1914, and then headed for maneuvers off Culebra Island off Puerto Rico.

On 28 January, the battleship landed marines at Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to guard the United States legation and to establish a field radio station during that period of political convulsions. She departed Port-au-Prince on 14 April after the restoration of some order under General Oreste Zamor, the new Haitian President. She coaled at Key West, Florida, then steamed to Veracruz where she sent a landing force ashore to join in the occupation of that city until her departure a month later. South Carolina spent the troubled summer of 1914 investigating conditions in Santo Domingo and Haiti.

World War I[edit]

By the time South Carolina returned to Norfolk on 24 September, World War I had already been raging for almost two months. On 14 October, the battleship entered the yard at Philadelphia. She emerged revitalized on 20 February 1915 and headed south for the usual battle practice in the vicinity of Cuba. The exercises took on new meaning since they were hard on the heels of the diplomatic crisis triggered by Germany's declaring the waters around England to be a war zone. The sinking of Lusitania did not cause the United States to enter the war. For almost two years, South Carolina continued her routine of winter and spring exercises out of Guantánamo Bay, summer operations off Newport, and periodic repairs at Philadelphia.

The entry of the United States into the war on the side of the Allies in April 1917 did not presage dramatic events for the Navy. South Carolina continued to operate along the East Coast through 1917 and for the first eight months of 1918.

On 9 September 1918, she joined the escort of a convoy bound for France. A week later, she turned the convoy over to other escorts in mid-ocean and steamed back to the United States. After a brief repair period at Philadelphia, she returned to gunnery training service and was so employed at the time of the Armistice on 11 November. During the war, William Gilmer commanded her, for which he received the Navy Cross.

Post-war career[edit]

From mid-February-late July 1919, South Carolina made four round-trip voyages between the United States and Brest, France. By 26 July, when she entered Hampton Roads at the end of the last of these voyages, she had returned over 4,000 World War I veterans to the United States. Following an overhaul at the Norfolk Navy Yard, she embarked midshipmen at Annapolis, Maryland for a cruise to the Pacific. She departed Annapolis on 5 June 1920, transited the Panama Canal, sailed to Hawaii, and then to the West Coast. She visited Seattle, Washington, San Francisco, California, and San Diego, California, as she sailed down the western seaboard. South Carolina cleared San Diego on 11 August, retransited the canal, and sailed for Annapolis on 2 September; then she headed on to Philadelphia, where she remained for seven months.

South Carolina being dismantled in Philadelphia Navy Yard in December 1923.

In early April 1921, she cruised to Culebra Island, Puerto Rico in the West Indies for training, and then operated in the Chesapeake Bay. On 29 May, the battleship embarked another complement of midshipmen at Annapolis. She called at Kristiania, Norway, and Lisbon, Portugal, before heading to the Guantánamo Bay area to round out the midshipmen's summer training cruise. She debarked the midshipmen at Annapolis on 30 August and steamed to Philadelphia where she arrived the following day. South Carolina was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 15 December and remained there until her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Registry on 10 November 1923. Her hulk was sold for scrap on 24 April 1924 in accordance with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty.

Her silver service is presently on display in the South Carolina Governor's Mansion.[citation needed]



  1. ^ /45 refers to the length of the gun in terms of calibers. A /45 gun is 45times long as it is in bore diameter.



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