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The USS Nebraska (BB-14) was a Virginia-Class Battleship, the other four being Virginia, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Georgia. She was the first and only battleship built in Seattle, Washington, in part do to the wide public support from the community. 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).
MORAN BROTHERS SHIPYARD
Robert Moran was born in New York City and at age 18 headed west, eventually arriving in Seattle in November 1875. By this type he had found work as a steamship engineer and invited his brothers Edward and Peter to come west and join him. In 1882, at 25 he quit his job and started a marine shop with his brothers. Business was good and by 1887 he was on City Council and the next year elected Mayor. In 1889 a fire destroyed much of the city and his business, but May Moran's efforts quickly rebuilt the city and designed a new city-owned water system. In 1895 the Moran Brothers received their first government contract build the torpedo boat Rowan, launched in 1896. Next, the Coast Guard boat, Golden Gate.
During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897, the Moran Brothers struck it rich refitting boats and supplying the with new machinery to head north to Alaska, and by 1900 they were know nationwide as a shipbuilder. In 1901 they won the contract to build the Nebraska. In the above postcard, Nebraska's three funnels can be seen behind the other commercial vessel. Below are early postcards of Nebraska before joining the Atlantic Fleet.
command of the nebraska
Captain Reginald Nicholson had a long naval history the day he took command of the Nebraska. Born December 15, 1852 in Washington D.C. to the son of a Commodore, he joined the Navy at age 12 as an orderly for his father who was Commanding Officer of the USS State of Georgia operating as a Union blockade of Wilmington, North Carolina. In September 1869 he was appointed to the Naval Academy, he graduated in 1873. His first assignment was on the sloop-of-war USS Portsmouth where he stayed to promotion as Master. His next assignment at sea was the USS Mohican in the Pacific Squadron from 1885-1888 when he was promoted to Lieutenant. Between 1893 to 1899 he served on the Monterey, Thetis, and at the Washington Navy Yard. In December 1897 he was assigned to the USS Oregon, then on October 1, 1898 the new torpedo boat Farragut 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. At right an invitation to the Launching of the Nebraska, below that, an early cabinet card of the Nebraska during sea trials. The photo is mounted in the original frame. At right is a autographed photo of Captain Reginald Nicholson, 6" x 8".
The photograph above shows the officers of the USS Nebraska with the forward superimposed turret in the background. This photograph was taken before the cruise while the ship was in the Navy Yard at Bremerton. Captain Nicholson can be seen in the center of the photograph sitting. "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."
the nebraska football team
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.
the governor visits nebraska
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. This photograph is part of a photo album that was presented to one of his State Militia officers. All of the photographs within the album were professional, large format images from the ships visit and the journey on the train. Below RPPC of Nebraska by Seattle Photographer O.T. Frasch.
the uss nebraska crosses the line in the pacific
While other ships of the fleet had crossed the line while going south from Hampton Roads, Nebraska joined the fleet in San Francisco, and therefore had not had the opportunity for King Neptune's visit. Departing Honolulu in passage to Auckland, the ship got her chance. At left sailors can be seen on top of the turret dressed for the occasion. On deck throngs of sailors as onlookers and participants get initiated. Below, in the first photo, officers and me hold the "jolly rogers" used for the celebration. In the center a card showing the elaborate costumes made for the celebration. In the last photo can be seen the barber's chair (the board hanging over the rail), that the sailor sat in just before being dumped in the tank below where he received a decent scrubbing from his shipmates with tar and other chosen ingredients. On all sides of the tank were the, "card-carrying initiated" who were able to enjoy their shipmates experience.
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.
bring the troups home
As with many of the ships of this era, Nebraska found service as an escort for merchant convoys and troop transport. She 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.
In 1919 she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet, for less than a year before being decommissioned under the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty mandating the reduction in fleet sizes. She was scrapped in 1923.