USS Alabama (BB-8)

The USS Alabama (BB-8) was a Illinois-Class battleship, the other two ships of the class Illinois and Wisconsin.  It was built by William Cramp & Sons Shipyard of Philadelphia.  The keel was laid down in December of 1896, she was launched in May of 1898, and commissioned in October 1900 with Captain Willard H. Brownson in command.  She was assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron and did one visit from Philadelphia to New York where she remained until January 1901.  She then steamed south to the Gulf of Mexico where she joined the Squadron for training exercises.

For the next six years she completed routine training in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean interrupted by repairs and exercised along the Atlantic Coast.  She did make one trip to southern Europe in 1904 stopping in Lisbon, Portugal and the Mediterranean, stopping in the Azores on the way to Newport, RI.  In July of 1906 she was involved in a collision with her sister-ship Illinois.  Then in 1907 she participated in the Naval Review by President Roosevelt with the opening of the Georgia House at the exposition.  Roosevelt visited the exposition twice, to open the exposition, and second time on June 10th, for the dedication of the Georgia House.  Unfortunately, the day was marred by an accident when six midshipmen and five enlisted sailors from the battleship Minnesota drowned when their launch overturned in heavy winds.

The photo postcard at right was of a series of cards issued by Edward H. Mitchell.  To see more of this collection follow this link:  Edward H. Mitchel Series


Alabama started the world cruise from Hampton Roads on December 17, 1907.  During the trip around South American she developed a cracked cylinder head which required repairs at Mare Island Navy Yard when they arrived in San Francisco.  She departed the main battleship fleet and on June 8th, in company with the USS Maine, proceeded ahead of the fleet visiting Honolulu, Guam, Manila, Singapore, Colombo, Aden, Naples and Gibraltar, arriving back in the States in October 1908, Alabama going to New York and Maine to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Alabama remained in a major overhaul until early 1912, after which she returned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet training naval militiamen and volunteers  to the end of 1913 when she was laid up.


During World War I she became a receiving ship for naval recruits, then transferred to the Chesapeake to train recruits in gunnery.  This included making training cruises to the Gulf of Mexico.  At the end of the war still was still used in a training capacity for midshipmen of the Naval Academy.  Alabama was decommissioned on 7 May 1920 and used as a target ship on 15 September 1921 under the supervision of General Billy Mitchell.  Other ships that were used in this manner were the New Jersey and the Virginia.





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