USS Nebraska (BB-14)

Nebraska_Tint post 1909

Moran Brothers Company

The  Battleship Nebraska is the first and only battleship built in Seattle, Washington.  The keel was laid down on July 4th, 1902, she was launched on October 7th, 1904 and christened by Miss Mary N. Mickey, daughter of the Governor of Nebraska on July 1, 1907.  She was Seattle's ship.  The citizens of the City raised over 100,000.00 dollars in donations toward winning the contract to build the ship at Moran Brothers Company in Elliott Bay on the waterfront of Seattle.  Today a historic marker identifies the location on Alaska Way where Nebraska was built and she is remembered in the the City's Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).



Captain Nicholson was in command upon commissioning and remained in command throughout the cruise from San Francisco to Hampton Roads.  A career that spanned three wars and seven decades opened in 1864 when Reginald Nicholson was then 11, came under Confederate fire while serving as a captain's clerk on the USS State of Georgia.   A native of Washington State, he came back to live there in retirement in 1920.  After an illustrious career, Nebraska had been his ship of command.  They are forever linked. 




Seattle is my home.  I was a collector of naval history long before I settled here and when I arrived I thought certainly it had preserved its heritage and contributions to the Navy.

I have learned that we are the keepers of our legacy and it is important as a member of our community to contribute, research, learn, and share our past.  No one is going to do it for us.  My collection of Nebraska hopes to contribute a small portion to that process. 

Above, in it's original frame, a cabinet card photograph of Nebraska during sea trials.  At right, Nebraska during construction at the shipyard.



Appointed to the Naval Academy, he graduated in 1873 and was a Lieutenant Commander at the outbreak of the Spanish- American War.  He served as Chief Navigation Officer of the USS Oregon when the warship raced around Cape Horn to join the Atlantic Fleet in crushing Admiral Cervera's squadron at Santiago.  In 1907 he took command of the Battleship Nebraska, joined the fleet on May 5th to steam through the Golden Gate and into San Francisco as one of two ships to relieve of the USS Maine and Alabama.  After the cruise he became Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, and then sea command as Rear Admiral to the orient where he reached 62, and transferred to the retired list after six months duty.  He was recalled to duty at the entry to the World War and headed the American Naval Mission in Chile, Peru and Ecuador.  He died at age 87 from illness.

The photograph at left was taken in October 1907 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton and shows Captain Nicholson and a group of officers and senior men of his command.  The photo belonged to one of the young officers of his command.  On back are their names and the location, "In the rear is the after superimposed turret - 2-12" guns and 2- 8" guns.  I will get the 8" turret and will try to make a good record this year,  as the ship is out after the Navy record already.



This is a very great photograph of the football team from the Nebraska, Champions of the Pacific Coast 1907.  Thirteen in all, they wore no helmets, bare padding, and had one "big guy" for blocking.  Canceled in Bremerton while the ship was preparing to join the fleet for the cruise. 



Governor of Nebraska with Officers

The governor of nebraska in san francisco

After shakedown and alterations, the new battleship Nebraska joined the fleet in San Francisco to replace Alabama.  The ships was greeted by special guest from the State of Nebraska.  Governor Sheldon and a group of 20 guest traveled by private train to greet the ship and present the wardroom set of serving silver to the command.  The above photograph shows Governor Shelton and the State's officers of the State Militia.



The above collection of cards show the "pre-caged" Nebraska while in Seattle at various stages of construction, trials, and repair.



Davy jones and king neptune

Departing San Francisco on July 7th, 1908, the fleet visited Honolulu and then it was on to Auckland, New Zealand.  Almost all of the other ships of the fleet had been initiated while transiting around South American in the first leg of the cruise, but Nebraska had not been with them.  These photographs are from the crossing in the Pacific, initiation into the Domain of Neptunus Rex.


After the cruise, Nebraska was fitted with cage towers around the mast as shown in the photograph.

After the cruise, Nebraska was fitted with cage towers around the mast as shown in the photograph.



After the cruise Nebraska continued duty with the Atlantic Fleet.  She attended the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in 1909 and the Louisiana Centennial during 1912.  She earned the Mexican Service Medal for operations at Vera Cruz, Mexico from May 1st to June 21st, 1914 and June 1st to October 13th, 1916.  After a period of reduced commissioned service, she was again placed in full commission on April 1917 with the outbreak of the World War.

As with many of the ships of this era, Nebraska found service as an escort for merchant convoys and troop transport.  lShe departed New York on September 17th, 1917 as principal escort for a fast merchant convoy of 18 ships to an eastern Atlantic rendezvous, returning to Hampton Roads October 3rd.  She made two more convoy voyages in the Atlantic, returning from the latter December 2nd to prepare for service as a troop transport for returning American troops from France.  Nebraska made four voyages from the Unites States to Breast, France, transporting 4,540 troops safely home.  The final voyage to return veterans from France ended when she arrived in Newport News, Virginia June 21st, 1918 with 1,279 troops.  This is shown in the photograph above with troops lining the decks and "Welcome" on the crane in the background.