USS Kearsarge (BB-5)

The USS Kearsarge (BB-5) was a Kearsarge-Class battleship built by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock.  The keel was laid down in June 1896, launched in March 1898, and commissioned in February 1900.  She was designed to be used for coastal defense and was the only battleship not named after at state, but rather the sloop-of-war Kearsarge, famous for sinking the CSS Alabama..  After commissioning she was assigned as the Flagship for the North Atlantic Squadron and sailed the Atlantic seaboard and the Caribbean Sea.  In June 1903 she sailed to Kiel, Germany and was visited by Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany and by the Prince of Wales of the United Kingdom.  She returned to the North Atlantic Squadron and reassumed her duties as flagship and sailed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba a took formal possession of the Guantanamo Naval Reservation in December 1903.  In 1904 she sailed for Portugal and met King Carlos I of Portugal, celebrated Independence Da y in Greece with King George I and Princess Alice of Battenberg.  After visited other ports she returned to Newport, RI in August 1904.  On April 13, 1906, gunpowder in a 13-inch gun ignited killing two officers and eight men.

In 1907, Under the Command of Captain Hamilton Hutchins, she jointed the Atlantic Fleet as part of the Fourth Division of the 2nd Squadron on the trip around the world.

The photo postcard at right was taken by Enrique Muller.  To see more of this collection follow this link:  Enrique Muller Photographers

During the trip Kearsarge was one of the few ships to visit China, Malta and Algiers, during the journey.  Captain Hutchins remained in command of Kearsarge throughout the cruise.

Upon return to the States she underwent a modernization  at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on September 4, 1909, completing in 1911.  She was recommissioned in June 1915 and operated along the Atlantic Coast until September when she participated in landing a detachment of U.S. Marines at Veracruz, Mexico where she remained until January 1916.  She then carried Marines to New Orleans before joining the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.  During World War I she was a training ship for the Naval militia from Massachusetts and Maine.  On August 18, 1918 she rescued 26 survivors of the Norwegian barque Nordhav which had been sunk by U-117.

Until 1919 she served as a training ship for the Naval Academy, afterwards being converted to a crane ship (AB-1) and utilized over the next 20-years.

She was used in the raising of the USS Squalus in 1939.  In 1945 she participated in the construction of USS Hornet and Boxer and the re-construction of USS Saratoga.  She returned to Boston Naval Shipyard and in 1955 was struck for the Naval Vessel Register and sold for scrap.  This card above is from a series that was made to give out for free with delivery of the newspaper.  Most of the cards I have collected were from the Lincoln Daily Star, this one showing Captain Hamilton Hutchins with the USS Kearsarge.  The photograph is copyrighted by Enrique Muller.


The Kearsarge had two vertical triple-expansion steam engines and five Scotch boiler connected to two propeller shafts.  She was manned by 40 officers and 514 enlisted men.  She was fitted with two double-turrets having two 13-inch guns and two 8 inch guns stacked on two levels.  In the postcard at left can be seen the figurehead of the forward 13-inch gun mount which is on display at Dahlgren Hall at the United States Naval Academy.

In addition to these guns, Kearsarge carried fourteen 5-inch guns, twenty 6-pounder guns, and eight 1-pounder guns as part of her arsenal.  Kearsarge had a very low freeboard which resulted in her waste guns becoming unusable during heavy weather.





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