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The USS Connecticut (BB-18) was a Connecticut Class battleship laid down at New York Naval Shipyard on March 10, 1903, launched on September 29, 1904 and commissioned September 29, 1906. There were five other ships of the class, Louisiana, Vermont, Kansas, Minnesota and New Hampshire, all built between 1903 and 1908. USS New Hampshire was the only one that did not participate in the cruise of the Great White Fleet. After commissioning she was the first ship in the U.S. Navy to ever go to sea without sea trials. After commissioning she immediately set off on training exercises of the Virginia Capes and battle practice off of Cuba and Puerto Rico. After an incident where she ran aground entering the harbor at Culebra Island, she returned north to Hampton Roads and took on Rear Admiral Evans becoming the flagship for the Atlantic Fleet. During the Jamestown Exposition in mid-1907 she served as flagship for the event hosting the ships from other nations. On June 10, 1907 she participated in a Presidential Fleet Review of the Fleet at the Jamestown Exposition and afterwards went to New York Naval Yard for an overhaul.
This iconic photograph by Enrique Muller is by far the most famous photograph of the USS Connecticut. It was taken while in a small boat while the ship passed dangerously close. This postcard image was also produced in large format images that were framed and sold for many years. For more of Enrique Muller's photographs visit photographers on this website at the following link: Enrique Muller
Below is a "Model USS Connecticut Propeller" probably a gift to a senior person at the shipyard or naval officer. Includes the launch date and "HP. Cyl 32-1/2, IP -53. 2 LP. Each 61. Stroke 48.16.500 HP" Size is approximately 6" wide and 5" high, solid brass and nickel plated, on swivel base. In the center is a ticket to see the Launching of the Connecticut on September 29, 1904 at the New York Navy Yard. This ticket was good at the Cumberland Street Gate.
From the moment she joined the fleet she was a star. On December 16, 1907, she sailed from Hampton Roads and the Flagship for the largest battlegroup ever assembled for such a voyage. On May 8th, 1908 she passed through the Golden Gate to a hero's welcome and a review by the Secretary of the Navy. The salt and pepper shakers at left we a product that would have been available as a souvenir for people who came to see the fleet in San Francisco. The photograph below, by C. A. .Waterman of Chicago, and is approximately 28" long. This photograph was also taken, in San Francisco, before the ship rigged the names. I have a second photograph of the fleet in San Francisco by Waterman that seem to indicate they were both taken at the same time.
At right is an aluminum plaque made showing the USS Connecticut on the front and the Itinerary of the fleet during the first portion of the cruise. The plaque is a little bit larger than a postcard with some small board etching on both sides.
The second aluminum plaque shows the USS Connecticut. These were available during the first part of the cruise and in San Francisco. There is a small collection of these items on this site at the following link: Aluminum Battleship Souvenirs
the annual navy ball
the navy ball is celebrated each year on the Navy's Birthday established as October 13th by an act of the Continental Congress on October 13th, 1775. For the USS Connecticut, launched in September 1904 and Commissioned 2-years later, this ribbon for the 2nd Annual Ball was probably for 1907 as she did have a crew after being launched and she was in commission. If it was 1907 it was probably held at the Chamberlin Hotel at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, a favorite venue to Atlantic fleet ships.
with the battleshi fleet from hampton roads to magdelena bay
This is an interesting publication written by Chief Yeoman William Donohue of the USS Connecticut and published by Tucker, Dick & McMullen, the USS Connecticut press. The publication is 24 pages long and includes information and photographs from each port of the first leg of the cruise. Unfortunately, from the way it was bound, I am not able to scan each page without causing damage.
"Crossing-the-Line, This particular event of our voyage to this port had to do with the advent on board of Neptune and his attendants. Crossing the line has attached to it certain customs that are always observed by the true sailorman. Here King Neptune reigns as lord and master, and before permission to pass through his domains can be obtained, certain ceremonies and initiations must be observed."
christmas greeting 1908
This is the Christmas dinner menu for the Connecticut, during the cruise The ship had just left Ceylon and was on the way to pass through the Suez Canal. On the back is the Ship's Itinerary as it was planned at the time, showing all of the port visits before Admiral Sperry would be tasked with responding to the Earthquake at Messina. "Roast Australian Turkey," "Cold Roast Beef," and "Strawberry Short Cake."
new years 1909
At sea between Colombo and Suez the crew of the Connecticut celebrated the New Years with entertainment and sports. This is the program of events including the "shoe race" and the "pie eating contest." This program also shows the state of race relations in America at the turn of the New Year in 1909. "Caught off the Wireless," with a black man's face and the back cover with black people dressed as French aristocrats.
Below is a Thanksgiving Day and Christmas menu from the Connecticut after she returned from the cruise in 1909. The back photo shows her with the new cage masts.