U.S. Navy Battleships - USS Rhode Island (BB 21)
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Displacement: 14,948 tons
Speed: 19 knots
Armament: Four 12" guns; eight 8" guns; twelve 6" guns; twelve 3" guns; twelve 3-pounders; four 21" torpedo tubes
Text from The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships published by the Naval Historical Center
The second Rhode Island was launched 17 May 1904 by Fore River
Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, Mass.; sponsored by Mrs. F. C.
Dumaine; and commissioned 19 February 1906, Capt. Perry Garst in
Rhode Island underwent extensive shakedown and acceptance trials
on the U.S. east coast between Hampton Roads and Boston before
being assigned to Division 2, Squadron 1, Atlantic Fleet 1
January 1907. The battleship departed Hampton Roads 9 March 1907
for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to participate in gunnery practice and
squadron operations evolutions. She then returned north to
cruise between Hampton Roads and Cape Cod Bay.
Arriving in Hampton Roads 8 December 1907, Rhode Island joined
15 other battleships, a torpedo boat squadron, and transports,
for the great fleet review which began the cruise of the
Atlantic Fleet to the west coast and around the world. President
Theodore Roosevelt reviewed the "Great White Fleet" 16 December
1907 and sent it on the first leg of the long voyage. Rhode
Island called at Trinidad, British West Indies, Rio de Janeiro,
Punta Arenas, Callao, and Magdalena Bay before arriving at San
Diego, Calif., 14 April 1908.
The fleet remained on the west coast into July, Rhode Island
steaming north to visit the Puget Sound area during June. The
entire fleet departed San Francisco 7 July 1908 for Honolulu,
Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, and Manila, arriving in the
Philippines 2 October. From Manila Rhode Island made for
Yokohama, Japan, returning to Olongapo, Philippine Islands, at
the end of October. Departing Cavite 1 December, Rhode Island
visited Colombo, Suez, Marseille, and Gibraltar before returning
to Hampton Roads 22 February 1909.
Subsequently entering New York Navy Yard for overhaul, Rhode
Island was reassigned 8 March 1909 to Division 3, Squadron 1.
She continued to serve with the Atlantic Fleet into 1910,
participating in exercises including deployment southward to the
Caribbean during February 1910. Assigned 20 October 1910 to
Division 4, Squadron 1, Rhode Island and other fleet units were
reviewed 2 November at Boston by President Taft prior to their
departure for European waters. In an elaborate battle and
scouting problem, the fleet continued its training, Rhode Island
subsequently visiting Gravesend, England, before returning to
Guantanamo Bay 13 January 1911.
Rhode Island continued her duties attached to the Atlantic Fleet
up to the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914. She cruised
southward to Key West, Havana, and Guantanamo Bay during June
and July 1912 but otherwise remained on the east coast operating
between Hampton Roads and Rockland, Maine. Reassigned to
Division 3, Squadron 1, Atlantic Fleet, Rhode Island became
division flagship 17 July 1912. She transferred the division
flag to New Jersey 1 August in the periodic rotation of
additional flag duties among units of her division.
The Commander, Division 3, Squadron 1, transferred his flag from
USS Virginia (Battleship No. 13) to Rhode Island 28 June 1913 and remained on board
until 18 January 1914. At the end of 1913, Rhode Island cruised
off the Mexican coast to protect citizens and property
threatened by deteriorating political developments ashore.
Arriving off Vera Cruz 4 November 1913, Rhode Island operated
off Tampico and Tuxpan into February 1914. After 2 weeks at
Guantanamo Bay the battleship returned northward to Virginia
Rhode Island kept up her continuous schedule of annual docking
and overhaul, gunnery practice, and squadron maneuvers well into
1916. She remained off the U.S. eastern seaboard but
occasionally steamed into more southerly waters; she called at
Caribbean ports during October 1914 to March 1915 and January to
February 1916. Rhode Island undertook additional duty as
flagship, Division 4, Squadron 1, from 19 December 1914 until 20
Placed in reduced commission in reserve 15 May 1916 at Boston
Navy Yard, Rhode Island was detached from the Atlantic Fleet the
following day. The battleship flew the flag of the Commander-in-
Chief, Reserve Force, Atlantic Fleet, from 24 June 1916 to 28
Returned to full commission 27 March 1917 at Hampton Roads,
Rhode Island broke the flag of the Commander, Battleship
Division 3, Atlantic Fleet, 3 May 1917 shortly after the United
States entered World War I. Undertaking vigorous gunnery
practice and emergency drills to reach combat readiness, Rhode
Island was assigned antisubmarine patrol duty off Tangier
Island, Md. Based at Hampton Roads into 1918, Rhode Island was
transferred to Battleship Division 2 during April. Remaining
ready for overseas deployment, Rhode Island undertook special
torpedo proving trials during June 1918.
Upon the war's end in November 1918, Rhode Island was ordered to
assist returning U.S. troops from France. Fitted with hundreds
of extra bunks, the battleship made five round-trip voyages
across the Atlantic between 18 December 1918 and 4 July 1919. In
all she transported over 5,000 men from Brest, France, to
Hampton Roads and Boston.
Designated flagship of Battleship Squadron 1, Pacific Fleet, 17
July 1919 at Boston, Rhode Island departed Boston Navy Yard 24
July for Balboa, C.Z., and Mare Island Navy Yard to undertake
her new assignment.
After remaining at Mare Island into 1920,
Rhode Island decommissioned 30 June and was placed in reserve.
Rendered incapable of any further warlike service 4 October 1923
in accordance with the Washington Treaty limiting naval
armaments, Rhode Island was sold 1 November 1923 for scrapping.
Updated: 29 July 2009