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USS Iowa (BB-4)

USS Iowa (BB-4) was the first ship commissioned in honor of the 29th state. She was of unique design, not a member of a class of ship. Her keel was laid down by William Cramp and Sons of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 5 August 1893. She was launched on 28 March 1896, sponsored by Miss M.L. Drake, daughter of the governor of Iowa, and commissioned on 16 June 1897, with Captain W.T. Sampson in command.

After shakedown off the Atlantic coast, Iowa was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and was ordered to blockade duty, 28 May 1898, off Santiago de Cuba. On 3 July 1898, she was the first to sight the Spanish ships approaching and fired the first shot in the Battle of Santiago[?]. In a 20-minute battle with Spanish cruisers Maria Teresa and Oquendo, her effective fire set both ships aflame and drove them on the beach. Iowa, continuing the battle in company with converted yacht Gloucester, sank the Spanish destroyer Pluton and so damaged destroyer Furor that she ran upon the rocks. Iowa then turned her attention to the Spanish cruiser Viscaya which she pursued until Viscaya ran aground. Upon the conclusion of the battle, Iowa received on board Spanish Admiral Pascual Cervera[?] and the officers and crews of the Viscaya, Furor, and Pluton.

After the Battle of Santiago[?], Iowa left Cuban waters for New York City, arriving 20 August 1898. On 12 October 1898, she departed for duty in the Pacific, sailed around Cape Horn, and arrived at San Francisco, California, on 7 February 1899. The battleship then steamed to Bremerton, Washington, where she entered drydock on 11 June 1899. After refit, Iowa served in the Pacific Squadron for 2½ years, conducting training cruises, drills, and target practice. Iowa left the Pacific early in February 1902 to become flagship of the South Atlantic Squadron. She sailed for New York 12 February 1903, where she decommissioned 30 June 1903.

Iowa recommissioned 23 December 1903 and joined the North Atlantic Squadron. She participated in the John Paul Jones Commemoration ceremonies, 30 June 1905. Iowa remained in the North Atlantic until she was placed in reserve 6 July 1907. She decommissioned at Philadelphia 23 July 1908.

Iowa recommissioned 2 May 1910, and served as an at-sea training ship and as a component of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. During the next four years she made a number of training cruises to Northern Europe and participated in the Naval Review at Philadelphia, 10 October to 15 October 1912. She decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 27 May 1914. At the outbreak of World War I, Iowa was placed in limited commission 28 April 1917. After serving as Receiving Ship at Philadelphia for six months, she was sent to Hampton Roads and remained there for the duration of the war, training men for other ships of the Fleet, and doing guard duty at the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. She decommissioned for the final time on 31 March 1919.

On 30 April 1919, Iowa was renamed "Coast Battleship No. 4", and was the first radio-controlled target ship to be used in a fleet exercise. She was sunk 23 March 1923, in Panama Bay[?] by a salvo of 14-inch shells.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 11,346 tons
  • Length: 360 feet
  • Beam: 72.1 feet
  • Draft: 24 feet
  • Speed: 17 knots
  • Complement: 727 officers and men
  • Armament: four 12-inch guns, eight eight-inch guns, six four-inch guns, 20 six-pounders, four one-pounders, four 14-inch torpedo tubes



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