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USS Kearsarge (BB-5)

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Title: USS Kearsarge (BB-5)  
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USS Kearsarge (BB-5)

USS Kearsarge
Kearsarge in 1899
United States
Name: USS Kearsarge
Namesake: USS Kearsarge (1861)
Awarded: 2 January 1896
Builder: Newport News SB&DD
Cost: US$5,043,591.68
Laid down: 30 June 1896
Launched: 24 March 1898
Sponsored by: Wife of Rear Admiral Herbert Winslow
Commissioned: 20 February 1900
Decommissioned: 4 September 1909
Identification: Hull symbol: BB-5
Recommissioned: 23 June 1915
Decommissioned: 10 May 1920
Renamed: Crane Ship No. 1, 6 November 1941[1]
Reclassified: IX-16, 17 July 1920; AB-1, 5 August 1920[1]
Struck: 22 June 1955
Fate: Sold for scrap, 9 August 1955
Notes: Only US Battleship not named after a State
General characteristics
Class & type: Kearsarge-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 11,540 short tons (10,470 t)
Length: 375 ft 4 in (114.40 m)
Beam: 72 ft 3 in (22.02 m)
Draft: 23 ft 6 in (7.16 m)
Installed power: 5 boilers, 11,674 ihp (8,705 kW)
Propulsion: 2 VTE engines, 2 propeller shafts
Speed: 17 kn (20 mph; 31 km/h)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
6 cutters, 2 launches, 1 barge, 2 whaleboats, 1 gig, 2 dinghies, 2 catamarans
Complement: 40 officers and 514 enlisted men
  • 4 × 13 in (330 mm)/35 cal guns
  • 4 × 8 in (203 mm)/35 cal guns
  • 14 × 5 in (127 mm)/40 cal guns
  • 20 × 6-pounders (57 mm or 2.2 in)
  • 8 × 1-pounders (37 mm or 1.5 in)
  • 4 × .30 in (7.6 mm) machine guns
  • 4 × 18 in (457 mm) torpedo tubes
  • Belt: 5–16.5 in (127–419 mm)
  • Barbettes: 12.5–15 in (318–381 mm)
  • Turrets (primary): 15–17 in (381–432 mm)
  • Turrets (secondary): 6–11 in (152–279 mm)
  • Conning tower: 10 in (254 mm)

USS Kearsarge (BB-5), the lead ship of her class of pre-dreadnought battleships, was a United States Navy ship, named after the sloop-of-war Kearsarge. Her keel was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company of Virginia, on 30 June 1896. She was launched on 24 March 1898, sponsored by the wife of Rear Admiral Herbert Winslow, and commissioned on 20 February 1900.

Between 1903 and 1907 Kearsarge served in the North Atlantic Fleet, and from 1907 to 1909 she sailed as part of the Great White Fleet. In 1909 she was decommissioned for modernization, which was finished in 1911. In 1915 she served in the Atlantic, and between 1916 and 1919 she served as a training ship. She was converted into a crane ship in 1920, renamed Crane Ship No. 1 in 1941, and sold for scrap in 1955.


  • Design 1
  • Construction 2
  • Service history 3
    • Early career 3.1
    • Great White Fleet 3.2
    • World War I 3.3
    • Inter-war period 3.4
    • World War II 3.5
  • Awards 4
  • Footnotes 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


The Kearsarge-class battleships were designed to be used for coastal defense.[1] They had a displacement of 11,540 short tons (10,470 t), an overall length of 375 feet 4 inches (114.40 m), a beam of 72 feet 3 inches (22.02 m) and a draft of 23 feet 6 inches (7.16 m).[2] The two 3-cylinder vertical triple-expansion steam engines and five Scotch boilers, connected to two propeller shafts, produced a total of 11,674 indicated horsepower (8,705 kW), and gave a maximum speed of 16.816 knots (19.352 mph; 31.143 km/h).[3] Kearsarge was manned by 40 officers and 514 enlisted men, a total of 554 crew.[4]

A smaller turret on top of a bigger turret.
Kearsarge's double turret on 8 April 1900

Kearsarge had two double turrets, with two 13-inch (330 mm) guns and two 8-inch (203 mm) guns each, stacked in two levels.[5] The guns and turret armor were designed by the Bureau of Ordnance, while the turret itself was designed by the Bureau of Construction and Repair. This caused the guns to be mounted far back in the turret, making the ports very large. Admiral William Sims claimed that as a result, a shell fired into the port could reach the magazines below, disabling the guns.[6] In addition to these guns, Kearsarge carried fourteen 5-inch (127 mm) guns, twenty 6-pounder (57 mm or 2.2 in) guns, eight 1-pounder (37 mm or 1.5 in) guns, four .30 in (7.6 mm) machine guns, and four 18-inch (460 mm) torpedo tubes.[2] Kearsarge had a very low freeboard, which resulted in her guns becoming unusable in bad weather.[7]

The ship's waterline armor belt was 5–16.5 inches (130–420 mm) thick and the main gun turrets were protected by 15–17 inches (380–430 mm) of armor, while the secondary turrets had 6–11 inches (150–280 mm) of armor. The barbettes were 12.5–15 inches (320–380 mm) thick, while the conning tower had 10 inches (250 mm) of armor.[2] The armor was made of harveyized steel.[3]

Kearsarge carried 16 smaller boats. A 40-foot (12 m) steam cutter, with a capacity of 60 men, together with a 33-foot (10 m) steam cutter, were used for general carrying from and to port, and could tow the other boats if needed. Two 33-foot launches, each capable of carrying 64 men, were the "working boats". There were ten 30-foot (9.1 m) boats: four cutters, each with a capacity of 45 men, the Admiral's barge, two whaleboats (which served as lifeboats), and the Captain's gig. Four smaller boats completed Kearsarge‍ '​s small fleet: two 20-foot (6.1 m) dinghies and two 18-foot (5.5 m) catamarans.[8]


Kearsarge on the day of her launching, 24 March 1898. The masts of Kentucky are visible in the background.

Kearsarge was authorized on 2 March 1895,[9] the contract for her construction was awarded on 2 January 1896,[10] and the keel of the vessel was laid down on 30 June 1896 by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company in Virginia.[2][8] The total cost was US$5,043,591.68.[3] She was named soon after the American Civil War sloop-of-war Kearsarge sank, and was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named, by act of Congress, in its honor. She was the only US battleship not named after a state.[11] She was christened on 24 March 1898 (the same day as her sister ship, Kentucky) by the wife of Captain Herbert Winslow,[8] daughter-in-law of Captain John Ancrum Winslow, the commander of the original Kearsarge.[8] She was commissioned on 20 February 1900, under the command of Captain William M. Folger.[8]

Service history

Early career


  • Naval Historical Center USS Kearsarge (Battleship # 5), 1900–1955. Later Crane Ship # 1 (AB-1).
  • MaritimeQuest USS Kearsarge BB-5 Photo Gallery
  • Photo gallery of Kearsarge at NavSource Naval History
  • Rough Log Book of the U.S.S. Kearsarge, 1901 MS 314 held by Special Collection & Archives, Nimitz Library at the United States Naval Academy

External links

  • Alden, John D. (1989). American Steel Navy: A Photographic History of the U.S. Navy from the Introduction of the Steel Hull in 1883 to the Cruise of the Great White Fleet. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.  

Further reading


  • Albertson, Mark (2007). They'll Have to Follow You!: The Triumph of the Great White Fleet.  
  • Chesneau, Roger; Koleśnik, Eugène M.; Campbell, N.J.M. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press.  
  • Crawford, Michael J. (12 May 2008). The World Cruise of the Great White Fleet: Honoring 100 Years of Global Partnerships and Security.  
  • Fitzsimons, Bernard (1978). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare 15.  
  • Garzke, William H., Jr.; Dulin, Robert O., Jr. (1995). Battleships: United States Battleships, 1935–1992 (2nd revised and illustrated ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. p. 72.  
  • Graff, Cory;  
  • Morris, James Matthew; Kearns, Patricia M. (30 March 2011). "Kearsarge, USS (BB5), battleship". Historical Dictionary of the United States Navy (2nd ed.).  
  • Newhart, Max R. (1995). American Battleships: A Pictorial History of BB-1 to BB-71.  
  • Polmar, Norman (15 January 2005). The Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet (18th ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. p. 242.  
  • Reilly, John C.; Scheina, Robert L. (1980). American Battleships 1886–1923: Predreadnought Design and Construction. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.  


  • "Kentucky is Launched" (PDF).  
  • "The New Kearsarge" (PDF). Times (Washington, D.C.). 20 February 1900. p. 5. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  • "A Battleship's Boats" (PDF).  
  • "M'Calla Ordered Home" (PDF). Times (Washington, D.C.). 17 March 1901. p. 13. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  • "A Dinner in Their Honor" (PDF). New-York Tribune. 29 May 1902. p. 3. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  • "The Kearsarge Off for Kiel" (PDF). New-York Tribune. 4 June 1903. p. 3. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  • "Kaiser Warmly Praises Visiting American Fleet" (PDF). St. Louis Republic. 26 June 1903. p. 1. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  • "Prince of Wales a Guest Aboard the Kearsarge" (PDF).  
  • "Kearsarge Ends Her Ocean Race" (PDF). San Francisco Call. 27 July 1903. p. 3. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  • Enemy's" Fleet Leaves Bar Harbor for the Mimic War""" (PDF).  
  • "Battleships Begin Winter Cruise" (PDF). San Francisco Call. 2 December 1903. p. 3. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  • "Formal Occupancy of Guantanamo" (PDF). San Francisco Call. 11 December 1903. p. 11. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  • "To Command the Kearsarge" (PDF). Evening Bulletin ( 
  • "Extraordinary Honors for American Squadron" (PDF). St. Louis Republic. 12 June 1904. p. 11. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  • "Warships in the Adriatic" (PDF).  
  • "Foreign Affairs" (PDF).  
  • "To Engage in Target Practice" (PDF). Evening Star (Washington, D.C.). 24 March 1905. p. 5. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  • "To Command the Kearsarge" (PDF). Evening Star (Washington, D.C.). 13 December 1905. p. 17. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  • "Admiral Evans on the Kearsarge Explosion" (PDF).  
  • "Naval Funeral for Lieut. Graeme" (PDF). New-York Tribune. 24 April 1905. p. 7. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  • "Admiral H. Winslow Dead" (PDF).  

Online resources

  • "Kearsarge".  
  • "Crane Ship No. 1 (AB 1)".  
  • Roberts, Stephen S. (December 2010). "Unclassified (IX), Special Types". Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy: Auxiliary Vessels 1884–1945. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 


  1. ^ Crawford 2008, p. 12.
  2. ^ a b c d Chesneau, Koleśnik & Campbell 1979, p. 141.
  3. ^ a b c Reilly & Scheina 1980, p. 94.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Newhart 1995, p. 21.
  5. ^ Friedman 1985, pp. 30–32.
  6. ^ Friedman 1985, p. 17.
  7. ^ a b Reilly & Scheina 1980, p. 92.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w 6 May 1900New-York Tribune.
  9. ^ a b c Reilly & Scheina 1980, p. 83.
  10. ^ a b NVR Crane Ship No. 1 (AB 1).
  11. ^ Friedman 1985, p. 30.
  12. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 178.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k DANFS Kearsarge (BB-5).
  14. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 46.
  15. ^ a b Albertson 2007, p. 177.
  16. ^ a b Albertson 2007, p. 181.
  17. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 54.
  18. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 66.
  19. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 64.
  20. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 67.
  21. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 69.
  22. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 73.
  23. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 184.
  24. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 185.
  25. ^ Albertson 2007, pp. 90–95.
  26. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 95.
  27. ^ Albertson 2007, p. 188.
  28. ^ Albertson 2007, pp. 188–190.
  29. ^ Albertson 2007, pp. 191–192.
  30. ^ Friedman 1985, p. 82.
  31. ^ Friedman 1985, pp. 82–83.
  32. ^ Daniels 1920, p. 95.
  33. ^ a b c Friedman 1985, p. 419.
  34. ^ a b c d Albertson 2007, p. 179.
  35. ^ a b Bauer & Roberts 1991, p. 103.
  36. ^ Graff 2010, p. 54.
  37. ^ Garzke & Dulin 1995, p. 72.
  38. ^ Morris & Kearns 2011, p. 206.
  39. ^ a b Roberts 2010.
  40. ^ a b Reilly & Scheina 1980, p. 93.
  41. ^ Fitzsimons 1978, p. 1581.
  42. ^ Polmar 2005, p. 242.
  1. ^ a b c From the time of its conversion to a crane ship, the classification and naming of Kearsarge is highly problematic. The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships mentions that Kearsarge was reclassified as AB-1 on 5 August 1920, and that it was renamed to Crane Ship No. 1 on 6 November 1941.[13] This is repeated by a number of other sources.[33][4][34] However, the symbol AB was not used in 1920: Roberts claims the symbol was created in 1931,[39] while Reilly and Scheina claim it was established even later, in 1939.[40] According to Reilly and Scheina, on 5 August 1920 Kearsarge (BB-5) became Kearsarge (Crane Ship No. 1), with the "Crane Ship" serving instead of a different designation, and in 15 April 1939,[9] when the AB designation was adopted, she became Kearsarge (AB-1). In 1941, when the name Kearsarge was wanted for other ships, she was renamed, and she became Crane Ship No. 1 (AB-1).[40] The IX-16 classification is also uncertain. Bauer and Roberts report that Kearsarge was reclassified as IX-16 on 17 July 1920, before being classified AB-1 on 15 April 1939,[35] although Roberts also claims that the designation IX-16 may have been used for USS Tallahassee (BM-9) between 1921 and 1922, and that this was before it was used for Kearsarge.[39] However, a number of other sources also mention Kearsarge being designated IX-16.[41][42]



She was transferred to the San Francisco Naval Shipyard in 1945, where she participated in the construction of Hornet and Boxer and the re-construction of Saratoga.[13] In 1948 she left the West Coast for the Boston Naval Shipyard.[38] On 22 June 1955 her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register, and she was sold for scrap on 9 August.[15]

On 6 November 1941, Kearsarge was renamed Crane Ship No. 1, allowing her name to be given to Hornet (CV-12), and later to Kearsarge (CV-33).[34] She continued her service, however, handling guns, turrets, armor, and other heavy lifts for vessels such as Indiana,[37] Alabama, Savannah, Chicago, and Pennsylvania.[4]

World War II

Kearsarge was converted into a crane ship, and was given hull classification symbol IX-16 on 17 July 1920,[35] but it was changed to AB-1 on 5 August.[33][1] Her turrets, superstructure, and armor were removed, and were replaced by a large revolving crane with a lifting capacity of 250 tons (230 tonnes), as well as 10-foot (3.0 m) blisters, which improved her stability.[36] The crane ship was utilized often over the next 20 years, including the raising of USS Squalus in 1939.[34]

Between 29 May and 29 August 1919, Kearsarge trained United States Naval Academy midshipmen in the Caribbean. Kearsarge sailed from Annapolis, Maryland to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she decommissioned on either 10 May[13][33][34] or 18 May 1920.[10][9]

Kearsarge with a large crane on her deck
Kearsarge as Crane Ship No. 1

Inter-war period

As with most of the Great White Fleet ships, Kearsarge was modernized on her return.[30] She was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 4 September 1909,[4] and the modernization was completed in 1911, at a cost of US$675,000.[31] The ship received cage masts, new water-tube boilers, and another four 5-inch guns. The 1-pounder guns were removed, as were sixteen of the 6-pounders.[7] She was recommissioned on 23 June 1915,[4] and operated along the Atlantic coast. On 17 September she left Philadelphia to land a detachment of US Marines at Veracruz, Mexico, remaining there from 28 September 1915 to 5 January 1916.[13] She then carried the Marines to New Orleans, Louisiana,[13] before joining the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia on 4 February.[4] Until the United States joined World War I, she trained naval militia from Massachusetts and Maine. During the war she was used to train Armed Guard crews and naval engineers during cruises along the Atlantic seaboard.[13] On 18 August 1918 Kearsarge rescued 26 survivors of the Norwegian barque Nordhav which had been sunk by U-117, bringing them to Boston.[32]

Photograph of Kearsarge
Kearsarge off Boston in October 1916, following her modernization

World War I

Kearsarge departed Albany, Western Australia, on 18 September for ports in the Philippine Islands, Japan, China, and Ceylon before transiting the Suez Canal.[28] The fleet split at Port Said, with Kearsarge leaving on 10 January 1909 for Malta, and arriving in Algiers on 24 January, before reforming with the fleet at Gibraltar on 1 February. She returned to Hampton Roads on 22 February, and was inspected by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.[29]

Attached to the Fourth Division of the Second Squadron,[14] and under command of Captain Hamilton Hutchins,[15] she sailed on 16 December 1907 with the Great White Fleet.[16] The fleet left from Hampton Roads,[16] passed by Trinidad and Rio de Janeiro,[17] and then passed through the Straits of Magellan.[18] From there she passed by the west coast of South America, visiting Punta Arenas[19] and Valparaíso, Chile,[20] Callao, Peru,[21] and Magdalena Bay, Mexico.[22] The fleet reached San Diego on 14 April 1908[23] and moved on to San Francisco on 6 May.[24] Two months later the warships sailed for Honolulu, Hawaii,[25] and from there to Auckland, New Zealand, arriving 9 August.[26] The fleet made Sydney, Australia, on 20 August, and after a week sailed for Melbourne.[27]

Photograph of Kearsarge
Kearsarge during the cruise of the Great White Fleet

Great White Fleet

On 31 March 1905, Maine replaced Kearsarge as flagship of the North Atlantic Fleet,[8] although she remained with the fleet.[13] Captain Herbert Winslow took command of the ship during December.[8] On 13 April 1906, while participating in an exercise off Cape Cruz, Cuba, the gunpowder in a 13-inch gun ignited accidentally, killing two officers and eight men.[8][8]

Kearsarge returned to Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg.[13] The squadron visited Corfu,[8] Trieste,[8] and Fiume[8] before returning to Newport, Rhode Island, on 29 August 1904.[13]


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