U.S. Navy Battleships - USS Wisconsin (BB 9)
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Displacement: 11,564 tons
Speed: 16 knots
Armament: Four 13" guns; fourteen 6" guns; six 6-pounders; six 1-pounders; four .30-cal. machine guns
Text from The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships published by the Naval Historical Center
The first Wisconsin (Battleship No. 9) was laid down on 9
February 1897 at San Francisco, Calif., by the Union Iron Works;
launched on 26 November 1898; sponsored by Miss Elizabeth
Stephenson, the daughter of Senator Isaac Stephenson of
Marinette, Wis., and commissioned on 4 February 1901, Capt.
George C. Reiter in command.
Departing San Francisco on 12 March 1901, Wisconsin conducted
general drills and exercises at Magdalena Bay, Mexico, from 17
March to 11 April before she returned to San Francisco on 15
April to be drydocked for repairs. Upon completion of that work,
Wisconsin headed north along the western seaboard, departing San
Francisco on 28 May and reaching Port Orchard, Wash., on 1 June.
She remained there for nine days before heading back toward San
She next made a voyage, in company with the battleships USS Oregon (Battleship No. 3)
and USS Iowa (Battleship No. 4), the cruiser USS Philadelphia, and the torpedo-boat
destroyer USS Farragut, to the Pacific Northwest, reaching Port
Angeles, Wash., on 29 June. She then shifted to Port Whatcom,
Wash., on 2 July, and participated in the 4th of July
observances there before she returned to Port Angeles the
following day to resume her scheduled drills and exercises.
Those evolutions kept the ship occupied through mid-July.
Following repairs and alterations at the Puget Sound
Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., from 23 July to 14 October,
Wisconsin sailed for the middle and southern reaches of the
Pacific, reaching Honolulu, Hawaii, on 23 October. After coaling
there, the battleship then got underway for Samoa on the 26th
and exercised her main and secondary batteries en route to her
Reaching the naval station at Tutuila on 5 November 1901,
Wisconsin remained in that vicinity, along with the collier
Abarenda and the hospital ship USS Solace, for a little over two
weeks. Shifting to Apia, the scene of the disastrous hurricane
of 1888, Wisconsin hosted the Governor of German Samoa before
the man-of-war departed that port on the 21st, bound, via
Hawaii, for the coastal waters of Central and South America.
Wisconsin reached Acapulco on Christmas Day, 1901, and remained
in port for three days. After coaling, the man-of-war twice
visited Callao, Peru, and also called at Valparaiso, Chile,
before she returned to Acapulco on 26 February 1902.
Wisconsin exercised in Mexican waters, at Pichilinque Bay and
Magdalena Bay, from 5 to 22 March, carrying out an intensive and
varied slate of exercises that included small-arms drills; day
and night main battery target practices; and landing force
maneuvers. She conducted further drills of various kinds as she
proceeded up the west coast, touching at Coronado, San
Francisco, and Port Angeles before she reached the Puget Sound
Navy Yard on 4 June.
The battleship underwent repairs and alterations until 11
August. She then conducted gunnery exercises off Tacoma and
Seattle, Wash., before she returned to the Puget Sound Navy Yard
on 29 August for further work. S he remained there until 12
September, when she sailed for San Francisco, en route to
Wisconsin, as flagship, Pacific Squadron, with Rear Admiral
Silas Casey embarked, arrived at Panama, Colombia, on 30
September 1902, to protect American interests and to preserve
the integrity of transit across the isthmus. Casey offered his
services as a mediator in the crisis that had lasted for three
years and invited leaders of both factions, conservatives and
liberals, to meet on board Wisconsin. Over succeeding weeks,
through October and into November, prolonged negotiations
ensued. Ultimately, however, the warring sides came to an agreement, and signed a treaty on 21 November 1902. The accord
came to be honored, in Colombian circles, as "The Peace of
Wisconsin." When Rear Admiral Henry Glass, Admiral Casey's
successor as Commander in Chief, Pacific Squadron, wrote his
report to the Secretary of the Navy for fiscal year 1903, he
lauded his predecessor's diplomatic services during the Panama
crisis. "The final settlement of the revolutionary disturbance,"
Glass wrote approvingly, "was largely due to his efforts."
Her task completed, the battleship departed Panama's waters on
22 November and arrived at San Francisco on 5 December to
prepare for gunnery exercises. Four days later, Rear Admiral
Casey shifted his flag to the armored cruiser USS New York, thus
releasing Wisconsin from flagship duties for the Pacific
Squadron. The battleship consequently carried out her firings
until 17 December, when she sailed for Bremerton. Reaching the
Puget Sound Navy Yard five days before Christmas of 1902,
Wisconsin then underwent repairs and alterations until 13 May
1903, when she sailed for the Asiatic Station.
Proceeding via Honolulu, Wisconsin arrived at Yokohama, Japan,
on 12 June, with Rear Admiral Yates Stirling embarked; three
days later, Rear Admiral Stirling exchanged flagships with Rear
Admiral P. H. Cooper, who broke his two-starred flag at
Wisconsin's main as Commander of the Asiatic Fleet's Northern
Squadron while Admiral Stirling hoisted his in the tender
Wisconsin operated in the Far East, with the Asiatic Fleet, over
the next three years before she returned to the United States in
the autumn of 1906. She followed a normal routine of operations
in the northern latitudes of the station — China and Japan —
in the summer months, because of the oppressive heat of the
Philippine Islands that time of year, but in the Philippine
Archipelago in the winter. She touched at ports in Japan and
China, including Kobe, Yokohama, Nagasaki, and Yokosuka; Amoy,
Shanghai, Chefoo, Nanking, and Taku. In addition, she cruised
the Yangtze River (as far as Nanking), the Inland Sea, and
Nimrod Sound. The battleship conducted assigned fleet maneuvers
and exercises off the Chinese and Philippine coasts, intervening
those evolutions with regular periods of in-port upkeep and
repairs. During that time, she served as Asiatic Fleet flagship,
wearing the flag of Rear Admiral Cooper.
The battleship departed Yokohama on 20 September and, after
calling at Honolulu en route between 3 and 8 October, arrived at
San Francisco on the 18th. After seven days' stay at that port,
she headed up the west coast and reached the Puget Sound Navy
Yard on 28 October. She was decommissioned there on 15 November
Recommissioned on 1 April 1908, Capt. Henry Morrell in command,
Wisconsin was fitted out at the Puget Sound Navy Yard until the
end of April. After shifting to Port Angeles from 30 April to 2
May, the battleship proceeded down the western seaboard and
reached San Francisco on 6 May to participate in a fleet review
at that port. She subsequently returned to Puget Sound to
complete the installation of her fire control equipment between
21 May and 22 June.
Soon thereafter, Wisconsin retraced her southward course,
returning to San Francisco in early July. There, she joined the
battleships of the Atlantic Fleet in setting out on the
transpacific leg of the momentous circumnavigation of the globe.
The cruise of the "Great White Fleet" served as a pointed
reminder to Japan of the power of the United States, a dramatic
gesture made by President Theodore Roosevelt as signal evidence
of his "big stick" policy. Wisconsin, during the course of her
part of the voyage, called at ports in New Zealand, Australia,
the Philippines, Japan, China, Ceylon, and E pt; transited the
Suez Canal; visited Malta, Algiers, and Gibraltar before
arriving in Hampton Roads on Washington's Birthday, 1909, and
passing in review there before President Roosevelt. The epic
voyage had confounded the doomsayers and critics, having been
accomplished without any serious incidents or mishaps.
Wisconsin departed from the Tidewater area on 6 March and
arrived at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard three days later. The
pre-dreadnought battleship there underwent repairs and
alterations until 23 June, doffing her bright "white and spar
color" and donning a more businesslike gray. The man-of-war
joined the Atlantic Fleet in Hampton Roads at the end of June,
but she remained in those waters only a short time, for she
sailed north to Portland, Maine, arriving there on 2 July in
time to take part in the 4th of July festivities in that port.
The battleship next headed down the eastern seaboard, cruising
off Rockport and Provincetown, Mass., before she returned, with
the fleet, to Hampton Roads on 6 August. Over the ensuing weeks,
Wisconsin fired target practices in the southern drill grounds,
off the Virginia capes, breaking those underway periods with
upkeep in Hampton Roads.
Wisconsin steamed with the fleet to New York City, where she
anchored in the North River to take part in the Hudson-Fulton
celebrations between 22 September and 5 October, before she
underwent repairs at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard from 7
October to 28 November. She then dropped down to Newport, R.I.,
upon the conclusion of that yard period, picking up drafts of
men for transportation to the Atlantic Fleet at Hampton Roads.
Wisconsin operated with the fleet off the Virginia capes through
mid-December, before she headed for New York for the Christmas
holidays in port. Subsequently cruising to Cuban waters in early
January 1910, the battleship operated out of Guantanamo Bay for
a little over two months, from 12 January to 19 March.
The pre-dreadnought battleship then visited Tompkinsville, N.Y.,
and New Orleans, La., before she discharged ammunition at New
York City on 22 April. Later that spring, 1910, she moved to the
Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard, where she was placed in reserve.
She was moved to Philadelphia in April 1912 and, that autumn,
took part in a naval review off Yonkers, New York, before
resuming her reserve status with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
Placed "in ordinary" on 31 October 1913, Wisconsin remained in
that status until she joined the Naval Academy Practice Squadron
in the spring of 1915, assuming training duties along with the
battleships Missouri and Ohio. With that group, she became the
third battleship to transit the Panama Canal, making that trip
in mid-July 1915 en route to the west coast of the United States
with her embarked officers-to-be.
Wisconsin discharged her duties as a midshipman's training ship
into 1917 and was moored at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 6
April of that year, when she received word that the United
States had declared war on Germany. Two days later, members of
the Naval Militia began reporting on board the battleship for
quarters and subsistence.
On 23 April 1917, Wisconsin, USS Missouri (Battleship No. 11), and USS Ohio (Battleship No. 12) were placed in
full commission and assigned to the Coast Battleship Patrol
Squadron. Within two weeks, on 2 May, Cmdr. (later Admiral)
David F. Sellers reported on board and took command. Four days
later, the battleship got underway for the Virginia capes; and
she arrived at Yorktown, Va., on the 7th.
From early May through early August, Wisconsin operated as an
engineering school ship on training cruises in the Chesapeake
Bay-York River area. She trained recruits as oilers,
watertenders, and firemen, who, when qualified, were assigned to
the formerly interned merchantmen of the enemy taken over by the
United States upon the declaration of war, as well as to
submarine chasers and the merchant vessels then building in
Wisconsin then maneuvered and exercised in company with the
battleships USS Kearsarge (Battleship No. 5), USS Alabama (Battleship No. 8), USS Illinois (Battleship No. 7), USS Kentucky (Battleship No. 6), USS Ohio (Battleship No. 12), USS Missouri, and USS Maine (Battleship No. 10) between 13 and 19 August, en route to Port
Jefferson, L.I. Over the ensuing weeks, Wisconsin continued
training and tactical maneuvers based on Port Jefferson, making
various training cruises into Long Island Sound.
She subsequently returned to the York River region early in
October and resumed her training activities in that locale,
operating primarily in the Chesapeake Bay area. Wisconsin
continued that duty into the spring of 1918, interrupting her
training evolutions between 30 October and 18 December 1917 for
repairs at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
After another stint of repairs at Philadelphia from 13 May to 3
June 1918, Wisconsin got underway for a cruise to Annapolis but,
after passing the Brandywine Shoal Light, received orders to
stick close to shore. Those orders were later modified to send
Wisconsin up the Delaware River as far as Bombay Hook, since an
enemy submarine was active off Cape Henlopen. Postwar
examination of German records would show that U-151, reportedly
the first of six enemy submarines to come to the eastern
seaboard in 1918, sank three schooners on 23 May and other ships
over ensuing days.
Getting underway again on 6 June 1918, Wisconsin arrived at
Annapolis on the following day. On the next day, the battleship
embarked 175 third class midshipmen and got underway for the York
River. The ship conducted training evolutions in the Chesapeake
Bay region until 29 August, when she returned to Annapolis and
disembarked midshipmen. Underway for Yorktown on the 30th,
Wisconsin there embarked 217 men for training as firemen, water
tenders, engineers, steersmen and signalmen, resumed her
training duties, and continued the task through the signing of
the armistice on 11 November.
She completed her training activities on 20 December, sailed
north, and reached New York City three days before Christmas.
Wisconsin was among the ships reviewed by Secretary of the Navy
Josephus Daniels from the deck of the yacht USS Mayflower and by
Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt from USS Aztec
(SP-590) on the day after Christmas, 26 December.
Wisconsin cruised with the fleet in Cuban waters that winter
and, in the summer of 1919, made a midshipman training cruise to
Placed out of commission on 15 May 1920, Wisconsin was
reclassified BB-9 on 17 July 1920, while awaiting disposition.
She was sold for scrap on 26 January 1922 as a result of the
See also USS Wisconsin (BB 64)
Updated: 29 July 2009