U.S. Navy Battleships - USS Vermont (BB 20)
Full-screen images are linked from the images in the text below.
Displacement: 16,000 tons
Speed: 18 knots
Armament: Four 12" guns; eight 8" guns; twelve 7" guns; twenty 3" guns; twelve 3-pounders; four 1-pounders; 6 .30-cal. machine guns
Text from The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships published by the Naval Historical Center
The second Vermont (Battleship No. 20) was laid down on 21 May
1904 at Quincy, Mass., by the Fore River Shipbuilding Co.;
launched on 31 August 1905; sponsored by Miss Jennie Bell, the
daughter of Governor Charles J. Bell of Vermont; and
commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 4 March 1907, Capt.
William P. Potter in command.
After her "shaking down" cruise off the eastern seaboard between
Boston and Hampton Roads, Va., Vermont participated in maneuvers
with the 1st Division of the Atlantic Fleet and, later, with the
1st and 2d Squadrons. Making a final trial trip between Hampton
Roads and Provincetown, Mass., between 30 August and 5
September, Vermont arrived at the Boston Navy Yard on 7
September and underwent repairs until late in November 1907.
Departing Boston on 30 November, she coaled at Bradford, R.I.;
received "mine outfits and stores" at Newport, R.I.; and picked
up ammunition at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, N.Y.; and arrived
at Hampton Roads on 8 December 1907.
There, she made final preparations for the globe-girdling cruise
of the United States Atlantic Fleet. Nicknamed the "Great White
Fleet" because of the white and spar color of their paint
schemes, the 16 pre-dreadnought battleships sailed from Hampton
Roads on 16 December 1907, standing out to sea under the gaze of
President Theodore Roosevelt who had dispatched the ships around
the globe as a dramatic gesture toward Japan, a growing power on
the world stage.
Vermont sailed as a unit of the 1st Division, under the overall
command of Rear Admiral Robley D. "Fighting Bob" Evans, who was
concurrently the Commander in Chief of the Fleet. Over the
ensuing months, the battleship visited ports in Chile, Peru,
Mexico, California, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, the
Philippines, Japan, China, and in the Mediterranean, before she
returned to Hampton Roads, again passing in review before
President Roosevelt, on Washington's Birthday, 22 February 1909.
During the voyage, Vermont's commanding officer, Capt. Potter,
was advanced to flag rank and took command of the division; his
place was taken by Capt. (later Admiral) Frank Friday Fletcher.
Following her return to the United States, Vermont underwent
repairs at the Boston Navy Yard from 9 March to 23 June 1909 and
then rejoined the fleet off Provincetown. She subsequently spent
the 4th of July at Boston as part of the 1st Division of the
Fleet before spending nearly a month, from 7 July to 4 August,
in exercises with the Atlantic Fleet. Subsequently coaling at
Hampton Roads, the battleship conducted target practice off the
Virginia capes in the operating area known as the Southern Drill
For the remainder of 1909, Vermont continued maneuvers and
exercises, broken by visits to Stamford, Conn., for Columbus Day
festivities and to New York City for the observances of the
Hudson-Fulton Celebration from 22 September to 9 October 1909.
She spent the Christmas holidays at New York City, anchored in
the North River.
The battleship then moved south for the winter, reaching
Guantanamo Bay on 12 January 1910. For the next two months, she
exercised in those Caribbean climes, returning to Hampton Roads
and the Virginia capes for elementary target practice that
spring. Ultimately reaching Boston on 29 April, the battleship
underwent repairs at that yard through mid-July, before
embarking members of the Naval Militia at Boston for operations
between that port and Provincetown from 22 to 31 July.
Vermont subsequently visited Newport and then sailed for Hampton
Roads on 22 August, where she then prepared for target practices
between 25 and 27 September, before visiting New York City with
other ships of the Atlantic Fleet.
After minor repairs at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the
battleship sailed for European waters on 1 November 1910.
Reaching the British Isles a little over two weeks later,
Vermont — with other units of the 3d Division, Atlantic Fleet — visited Gravesend, England, from 16 November to 7 December and
then called at Brest, France, where she remained until heading
for the West Indies on 30 December.
Vermont engaged in winter maneuvers and drills out of Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, from 13 January 1911 to 13 March, before sailing for
Hampton Roads. In the ensuing weeks, the battleship operated in
the Southern Drill Grounds and off Tangier Island in the
Chesapeake Bay, where she conducted target practice. After
dropping off target materials at Hampton Roads on 8 April,
Vermont sailed later that day for Philadelphia where she arrived
on 10 April and entered drydock.
Later in the spring, Vermont resumed her operations with the
other pre-dreadnought battleships of the 3d Division. She
operated off Pensacola, Fla., and ranged into the Gulf of
Mexico, calling at Galveston, Tex., from 7 to 12 June before
returning to Pensacola on 13 June for provisions.
Shifting northward to Bar Harbor, Maine, Vermont spent the 4th
of July 1911 there before she drilled and exercised with the
Fleet in Cape Cod Bay and off Provincetown. The battleship then
operated off the New England seaboard through mid-August,
breaking her periods at sea with a port visit to Salem and
alterations at the Boston Navy Yard. She then shifted south to
conduct experimental gunnery firings and autumn target practice
in the regions from Tangier Sound to the Southern Drill Grounds.
After repairs at the Norfolk Navy Yard from 12 September to 9
October, Vermont rejoined the Fleet at Hampton Roads before
participating in the naval review in the North River, at New
York City, between 4 October and 2 November. She then maneuvered
and exercised with the 1st Squadron of the Fleet before
returning to Hampton Roads.
Touching briefly at Tompkinsville on 7 and 8 December, Vermont
reached the New York Navy Yard on the latter day for year-end
leave and upkeep and remained there until 2 January 1912, when
she sailed for the Caribbean and the annual winter maneuvers.
She operated in Cuban waters, out of Guantanamo Bay and off Cape
Cruz, until 9 March, when she sailed for the Norfolk Navy Yard
and an overhaul that lasted into the autumn.
She departed Norfolk on 8 October and reached New York City on
the 10th. She participated in the naval review at that port from
10 to 15 October before embarking Commander, 2d Division,
Atlantic Fleet, at Hampton Roads between 16 and 18 October.
Vermont subsequently worked out of Hampton Roads, in the
Virginia capes-Southern Drill Grounds area, into December.
During that time, she conducted target practices and twice
participated in humanitarian deeds, searching for the stranded
steamship SS Noruega on 2 November and assisting the submarine
B-2 (Submarine No. 11) between 13 and 15 December 1912.
The battleship spent Christmas 1912 at the Norfolk Navy Yard
before steaming for Cuba and winter maneuvers. En route, she
visited Colon, Panama, a terminus of the nearly completed Panama
Canal, and reached Guantanamo Bay on 19 January 1913. She
subsequently operated out of Guantanamo and Guayancanabo Bay
until sailing for Mexican waters on 12 February.
Vermont arrived at Vera Cruz on the 17th and remained at that
port into the spring, protecting American interests until 29
April, when she sailed north to rejoin the fleet in Hampton
Roads. The battleship conducted one midshipman's training cruise
that summer, embarking the midshipmen at Annapolis on 6 June
1913. After rejoining the fleet, Vermont cruised in Block Island
Sound and visited Newport.
The battleship then received her regular overhaul at Norfolk
from July into October before she conducted target practice off
the Southern Drill Grounds. Vermont then made her second
European cruise, departing Hampton Roads for French waters on 25
October, reaching Marseilles on 8 November. Ultimately departing
that Mediterranean port, on 1 December, Vermont reached the
Norfolk Navy Yard five days before Christmas, making port on the
end of a towline because of storm damage to a propeller.
Soon after she had completed her post-repair trials and had
begun preparations for the spring target practice with the Fleet
in the Southern Drill Grounds, tension in Mexico beckoned the
battleship. Departing Hampton Roads on 15 April 1914, Vermont
reached Vera Cruz very early in the morning of 22 April in
company with USS Arkansas (Battleship No. 33), USS New Hampshire
(Battleship No. 25), USS South Carolina (Battleship No. 26), and USS New
Jersey (Battleship No. 16). Her landing force, a "battalion" of
12 officers and 308 men, went ashore after daybreak that same
day as United States forces occupied the port to block an arms
shipment to the dictator Victoriano Huerta. In the fighting that
ensued, two officers from the staff were awarded Medals of
Honor: Lt. Julius C. Townsend, the battalion commander, and
Surgeon Cary DeV. Langhornes, the regimental surgeon of the 2d
Seaman Regiment. During the fighting, Vermont's force suffered
one fatality, a private from her Marine detachment, killed on
the 23d. But for a visit to Tampico, Mex., from 21 September to
10 October, Vermont remained in that Mexican port into later
Over the next two and one-half years, Vermont maintained her
schedule of operations off the eastern seaboard of the United
States, ranging from Newport to Guantanamo Bay, before she lay
in reserve at Philadelphia from 1 October to 21 November 1916.
Vermont subsequently supported the Marine Corps Expeditionary
Force in Haiti from 29 November 1916 to 5 February 1917 and then
conducted battle practices out of Guantanamo Bay. She ultimately
returned to Norfolk on 29 March 1917.
On 4 April 1917, Vermont entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for
repairs. Two days later, the United States declared war on
Germany. The battleship emerged from the yard on 26 August 1917
and sailed for Hampton Roads for duty as an engineering training
ship in the Chesapeake Bay region. She performed that vital
function for almost the entire duration of hostilities,
completing the assignment on 4 November 1918, a week before the
armistice stilled the guns of World War I.
Her service as a training ship during the conflict had been
broken once in the spring of 1918 when she received the body of
the late Chilean ambassador to the United States on 28 May 1918;
embarked the American Ambassador to Chile, the Honorable J. H.
Shea, on 3 June; and got underway from Norfolk later that day.
The battleship transited the Panama Canal on the 10th; touched
at Port Tongoi, Chile, on the 24th; and arrived at Valparaiso on
the morning of 27 June. There, the late ambassador's remains
were accompanied ashore by Admiral William B. Caperton and
Ambassador Shea. Departing that port on 2 July, Vermont visited
Callao, Peru, on the 7th, before retransiting the Panama Canal
and returning to her base in the York River.
Vermont entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 5 November 1918
and was there converted to a troop transport. She subsequently
sailed from Norfolk on 9 January 1919 on the first of four
round-trip voyages, returning "Doughboys" from "over there."
During her time as a transport, the battleship carried some
5,000 troops back to the United States, completing her last
voyage on 20 June 1919.
Prepared at the Philadelphia Navy Yard for inactivation, Vermont
departed the east coast on 18 July, sailing from Hampton Roads
on that day, bound for the west coast. After transiting the
Panama Canal, the battleship visited San Diego, San Pedro,
Monterey, and Long Beach, Calif.; Astoria, Ore.; and San
Francisco, Calif., before reaching the Mare Island Navy Yard,
Vallejo, Calif., on 18 September. There, the battleship was
decommissioned on 30 June 1920. She was subsequently
reclassified as BB-20 on 17 July of that same year.
Vermont remained inactive at Mare Island until her name was
struck from the Navy list on 10 November 1923. She was then sold
for scrapping on 30 November of the same year in accordance with
the Washington Treaty limiting naval armaments.
Updated: 30 July 2009