U.S. Navy Battleships - USS New Jersey (BB 16)
Full-screen images are linked from the images in the text below.
Displacement: 14,948 tons
Speed: 19 knots
Armament: Four 12" guns; eight 8" guns; twelve 6" guns; four 21" torpedo tubes
Text from The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships published by the Naval Historical Center
The first New Jersey (BB-16) was launched 10 November 1904 by
Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, Mass.; sponsored by
Mrs. William B. Kenney, daughter of Governor Franklin B. Murphy
of New Jersey; and commissioned 12 May 1906, Captain William W.
Kimball in command.
New Jersey's initial training in Atlantic and Caribbean waters
was highlighted by her review by President Theodore Roosevelt in
Oyster Bay during September 1906, and by her presence at Havana,
Cuba, from 21 September through 13 October to protect American
lives and property threatened by the Cuban Insurrection. From 15
April to 14 May 1907, she lay in Hampton Roads representing the
Navy at the Jamestown Exposition.
In company with fifteen other battleships and six attendant
destroyers, New Jersey cleared Hampton Roads 16 December 1907,
her rails manned and her guns crashing a 21-gun salute to
President Roosevelt, who watched from USS Mayflower (PY 1) this beginning
of the dramatic cruise of the Great White Fleet. The
international situation required a compelling exhibition of the
strength of the United States; this round-the-world cruise was
to provide one of the most remarkable illustrations of the
ability of seapower to keep peace without warlike action. Not
only was a threatened conflict with Japan averted, but notice
was served on the world that the United States had come of age,
and was an international power which could make its influence
felt in any part of the world.
Commanded first by Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, and later by
Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry the fleet laid its course for
Trinidad and Rio de Janeiro, then rounded Cape Horn. After
calling in Punta Arenas, Valparaiso and Callao, the battleships
made a triumphant return to the United States at San Francisco.
On 7 July 1908 the fleet sailed west, bound for Hawaii,
Auckland, and three Australian ports: Sydney, Melbourne, and
Albany. Each city seemed to offer a more enthusiastic reception
for the American sailors and their powerful ships than had the
last, but tension and rumor of possible incident made the
arrival in Tokyo Bay 18 October unique among the cruise's calls.
Immediately it was clear that no special precautions had been
necessary; nowhere during the cruise did the men of New Jersey
and her sisters meet with more expression of friendship, both
through elaborately planned entertainment and spontaneous
demonstration. The President observed with satisfaction this
accomplishment of his greatest hope for the cruise: "The most
noteworthy incident of the cruise was the reception given to our
fleet in Japan."
The Great White Fleet sailed on to Amoy, returned briefly to
Yokohama, then held target practice in the Philippines before
beginning the long homeward passage 1 December 1908. The
battleships passed through the Suez Canal 4 January 1909, called
at Port Said, Naples and Villefranche, and left Gibraltar astern
6 February. In one of the last ceremonial acts of his
presidency, Theodore Roosevelt reviewed the Great White Fleet as
it went up to anchor in Hampton Roads 22 February 1909.
Aside from a period out of commission in reserve at Boston from
2 May 1910 until 15 July 1911, New Jersey carried out a normal
pattern of drills and training in the Western Atlantic and
Caribbean, carrying midshipmen of the United States Naval
Academy in the summers of 1912 and 1913. With Mexican political
turmoil threatening American interests, New Jersey was ordered
to the Western Caribbean in the fall of 1913 to provide
protection. On 21 April 1914, as part of the force commanded by
Rear Admiral Frank F. Fletcher, following Mexican refusal to
apologize for an insult to American naval forces at Tampico,
sailors and Marines landed at Vera Cruz and took possession of
the city and its customs house until changes in the Mexican
government made evacuation possible. New Jersey sailed from Vera
Cruz 13 August, observed and reported on troubled conditions in
Santo Domingo and Haiti, and reached Hampton Roads 9 October
1914. Until the outbreak of World War I, she returned to her
regular operations along the east coast and in the Caribbean.
During World War I, New Jersey made a major contribution to the
expansion of the wartime Navy, training gunners and seamen
recruits in Chesapeake Bay. After the Armistice, she began the
first of four voyages to France from which she had brought home
5,000 members of the AEF by 9 June 1919.
New Jersey was
decommissioned at the Boston Naval Shipyard 6 August 1920, and
was sunk off Cape Hatteras 5 September 1923 in Army bomb tests
conducted by Brig. Gen. William Mitchell.
See also USS New Jersey (BB 62)
Updated: 29 July 2009