U.S. Navy Battleships - USS Massachusetts (BB 2)
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Displacement: 10,288 tons
Speed: 16.21 knots
Armament: Four 13" guns; eight 8" guns; four 6" guns; two 3" guns; twenty 6-pounders; six 1-pounders; six 18" torpedo tubes
Text from The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships published by the Naval Historical Center
The fourth Massachusetts (BB-2) was laid down by William Cramp &
Sons, Philadelphia, Pa., 25 June 1891; launched 10 June 1893;
sponsored by Miss Leila Herbert, daughter of Secretary of the
Navy Hilary Herbert; and commissioned 10 June 1896, Capt.
Frederick Rodgers in command.
Underway for shakedown 4 August 1896, Massachusetts conducted
trials and maneuvers off the middle Atlantic coast until 30
November when she entered New York Navy Yard for overhaul.
Following a brief voyage to Charleston. S.C., 12 to 20 February
1897, the battleship departed New York 26 May for Boston,
arriving 2 days later for a celebration in her honor, including
the presentation of the Massachusetts Coat of Arms 16 June, and
a gift of a statue of victory the next day. She departed Boston
on the 19th to cruise to St. Johns, Newfoundland, arriving 23
June. Sailing on the 28th the warship operated off the Atlantic
coast for the next 10 months, participating in training
maneuvers with the North Atlantic Squadron off Florida, and
making calls at major east coast ports. On 27 March 1898, she
was ordered to Hampton Roads, Va., to join the "Flying Squadron"
for the blockade of Cuba.
Massachusetts departed Norfolk 13 May for Cienfuegos, Cuba,
where she took up blockade duties on the 22d. On the afternoon
of 31 May in company with battleship USS Iowa (BB-4) and cruiser USS New Orleans, she bombarded the forts at the entrance to Santiago de
Cuba, and exchanged fire with Spanish cruiser Cristobal Colon,
forcing the enemy ship to retire into the inner harbor of
Santiago. The battleship remained on patrol off Santiago,
intermittently bombarding Spanish fortifications, until 3 July,
when she stood out to coal at Guantanamo Bay. Missing the Battle
of Santiago, the battleship steamed back to her station on the
4th, arriving in time to help battleship USS Texas force the cruiser
Reina Mercedes to beach and surrender at midnight 6 July.
Following duty in support of the American occupation of Puerto
Rico, 21 July to 1 August, Massachusetts steamed for home,
arriving New York 20 August.
During the next seven years, Massachusetts cruised the Atlantic
coast and eastern Caribbean as a member of the North Atlantic
Squadron. From 27 May to 30 August 1904, the warship served as a
training ship for Naval Academy midshipmen off New England and
then entered New York Yard for overhaul. Departing New York 13
January 1903, the battlewagon then steamed for the Caribbean on
training maneuvers, operating there until she returned north to
cruise off New England in May, putting into New York 12 November
1905, she underwent inactivation overhaul and then
decommissioned 8 January 1906.
Massachusetts was placed in reduced commission 2 May 1910 to
serve as a summer practice ship for Naval Academy midshipmen.
During the next four years she made three midshipman cruises —
twice to Western Europe — before entering the Atlantic Reserve
Fleet in September 1912. Following a brief voyage to New York 5
to 16 October for the Presidential Fleet Review, the warship
returned to Philadelphia where she remained until
decommissioning 23 May 1914.
Massachusetts recommissioned 9 June 1917 at Philadelphia.
Sailing 9 October, she arrived at the Naval Training Station,
Newport. R.I., on the 15th, where she embarked Naval Reserve
guncrews for gunnery training in Block Island Sound. Continuing
on this duty until 27 May 1918, the old battleship then
underwent repairs at Philadelphia Navy Yard. Assigned to battle
practice, "A' Division, Battleship Force 1, Atlantic Fleet, 9
June 1918, the veteran battlewagon steamed to Yorktown, Va., the
same day, and for the remainder of World War I served as a heavy
gun target practice ship in Chesapeake Bay and local Atlantic
waters. Massachusetts returned to Philadelphia 16 February 1919.
Redesignated Coast Battleship No. 2, 29 March, the warship
decommissioned for the final time on 31 March 1919. She was
struck from the Navy list 22 November 1920 and loaned to the War
Department as a target ship.
Scuttled off Pensacola Bar, Fla., 6
January 1921, the hulk was bombarded by batteries from Fort
Pickens for four years and then returned to the Navy 20
February 1925. Though offered for sale for scrap, no acceptable
bids were received and finally, on 15 November 1956, the ship
was declared the property of the state of Florida.
Also see USS Massachusetts (BB 59)
Updated: 29 July 2009