Battleships of the 20th century

American Battleships

USS Kearsarge BB-05


USS Kearsarge BB05


USS Kearsarge

Hull #

BB-5, AB-1


Laid down: 30 June 1896

Launched: 24 March 1898


20 February 1900

Sister Ships

USS Kentucky BB-6

History Highlight

USS Kearsarge (BB-5), the lead ship of her class of battleships, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named, by act of Congress, in honor of the famous American Civil War sloop-of-war Kearsarge. Her keel was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company of Newport News, Virginia on 30 June 1896. She was launched on 24 March 1898, sponsored by Mrs. Herbert Winslow, daughter-in-law of Captain John A. Winslow, who had commanded the sloop Kearsarge during her famous battle with Alabama, and commissioned on 20 February 1900 with Captain William M. Folger in command. Of all the battleships designated BB—the 57 which were christened and actually sailed, the fourth Colorado-class, the six South Dakota-class battleships, canceled in the 1920's (both canceled by the Washington Naval Treaty), the two which were never completed Illinois, Kentucky) and all five ships of the canceled Montana-class—Kearsarge is the only battleship not named for a state.

Kearsarge became flagship of the North Atlantic Station, cruising down the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean Sea. From 3 June 1903 to 26 July 1903 she served briefly as flagship of the European Squadron while on a cruise that took her first to Kiel, Germany. She was visited by Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany on 26 June 1903 and by the Prince of Wales--who would later become King George V of the United Kingdom--on 13 July. She returned to Bar Harbor, Maine, on 26 July 1903 and resumed duties as flagship of the North Atlantic Fleet. She sailed from New York on 1 December 1903 for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where on 10 December the United States took formal possession of the Guantanamo Naval Reservation. Following maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea, she led the North Atlantic Battleship Squadron to Lisbon, Portugal, where she entertained the King Charles of Portugal on 11 June 1904. She next steamed to Phaleron Bay, Greece, where she celebrated the Fourth of July with King George I of Greece and his son and daughter-in-law, Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. The squadron paid goodwill calls at Corfu, Trieste, and Fiume before returning to Newport, Rhode Island, on 29 August 1904.

Kearsarge remained flagship of the North Atlantic Fleet until relieved 31 March by the battleship Maine, but continued operations with the fleet. During target practice off Cape Cruz, Cuba, on 13 April 1906, an accidental ignition of a powder charge of a 13-inch (330 mm) gun killed two officers and eight men. Four men were seriously injured. Attached to the Second Squadron, Fourth Division, she sailed on 16 December 1907 with the "Great White Fleet" of battleships, sent around the world by President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt. She sailed from Hampton Roads around the coasts of South America to the Western seaboard, thence to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Japan. From there, Kearsarge proceeded to Ceylon, transited the Suez Canal, and visited ports of the Mediterranean Sea, before returning to the eastern seaboard of the United States. Roosevelt reviewed the Fleet as it passed into the Hampton Roads on 22 February 1909, after it completed the world cruise of overwhelming success, showing the flag and spreading good will. This dramatic gesture impressed the world with the power of the U.S. Navy.

Kearsarge continued as an engineering training ship until 29 May 1919 when she embarked United States Naval Academy midshipmen for training in the West Indies. The midshipmen were debarked at Annapolis, Maryland, on 29 August and Kearsarge proceeded to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she decommissioned on 10 May 1920 for conversion to a crane ship and a new career. She was given hull classification symbol AB-1 on 5 August 1920.


10 May 1920

Final Disposition

Sold for scrap 9 August 1955

Related Info

General characteristics


11,540 tons


375.3 ft


72.3 ft


23.5 ft


16 knots (18 mph/30 km/h)


553 officers and men


4 13-inch (330 mm) guns

4 8-inch (203 mm) guns

14 6-inch (152 mm) guns

20 6 pounders

8 1 pounders

4 x .30-caliber machine guns

Source: Wikipedia

Related Links

USS Kearsarge (Battleship # 5), 1900-1955.


NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive

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USS Kearsage underway during the early 1900s


USS Kearsarge; She was converted to a crane ship AB-1 and served in that capacity until her decomissioning in 1955.


U.S. Crane Ship No.1 passing through the Gaillard Cut, while transiting the Panama Canal during the 1920s or 1930s