Battleships of the 20th century

American Battleships

USS Illinois BB-07


USS Illinois


USS Illinois

Rename: Prairie State, 8 January 1941

Hull #


IX-15 Prairie State


Ordered: 26 September 1896

Laid down: 10 February 1897

Launched: 4 October 1898


16 September 1901 to 14 August 1909

Recommissioned: 2 November 1912

Sister Ships

Illinois Class

BB-7 USS Illinois

BB-8 USS Alabama

BB-9 USS Wisconsin

History Highlight

After shakedown and training in Chesapeake Bay, the new battleship sailed 20 November 1901 for Algiers, Louisiana, where she was used to test a new floating dry dock. She returned to Newport News in January 1902 and from 15 February to 28 February served as flagship for Rear Admiral R.D. Evans during the reception for Prince Henry of Prussia. Bearing the flag of Rear Admiral A.S. Crowninshield, the battleship departed New York City on 30 April 1902 and arrived at Naples on 18 May, where the Admiral took command of the European Squadron. Illinois carried out training and ceremonial duties until 14 July 1902, when she grounded in the harbor of Kristiania, Norway, and had to return to England for repairs. She remained at Chatham until 1 September 1902, then proceeded to the Mediterranean Sea and South Atlantic for fleet maneuvers.

Illinois was detached from the European Squadron 10 January 1903 and assigned to the North Atlantic. She engaged in fleet maneuvers, gunnery and seamanship training, and ceremonial operations until December 1907, when she joined the Great White Fleet for the cruise around the world. Following a Presidential review, the mighty battleships sailed from Hampton Roads on their important voyage. The Atlantic Fleet joined the Pacific Fleet 8 May 1908 in San Francisco Bay and after a review by the Secretary of the Navy the combined fleets continued their cruise. The ships visited Australia, Japan, Ceylon, and other countries, arriving at Suez on 3 January 1909. At Suez word of the Sicilian earthquake sent Illinois, Connecticut, and Culgoa to Messina. After rendering valuable aid to victims of the disaster, the ships rejoined the fleet, returning to Hampton Roads 22 February 1909. President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt reviewed the fleet as it arrived, having given the world a graphic demonstration of America's naval might. Illinois decommissioned at Boston, Massachusetts, on 4 August 1909. Illinois underwent a major modernization, receiving new "cage" masts and more modern equipment.

The battleship was placed in reserve commission 15 April 1912 and recommissioned 2 November 1912, in time to take part in winter fleet exercises and battle maneuvers with the Atlantic Fleet. During the summers of 1913 and 1914 Illinois made training cruises to Europe with Midshipmen. In 1919 the ship was again laid up at Philadelphia Navy Yard until she was loaned to the State of New York on 23 October 1921 for use by the Naval Militia. Illinois was given the hull number BB-7 in July 1920.


15 May 1920

Final Disposition

Excluded from further use as a warship by the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, Illinois was fitted out as a floating armory at New York Navy Yard in 1924 and was assigned to the New York Naval Reserve. She remained there for more than 30 years, though reclassified IX-15 on 8 January 1941 and renamed Prairie State to allow her name to be assigned to a projected new battleship, USS Illinois (BB-65). During World War II she served as a Naval Reserve Midshipmen Training School at New York. Following the war, she was retained on loan to the State as quarters for a Naval Reserve unit until 31 December 1956.

Prairie State, after over 50 years of useful service to the Navy and the Nation, was towed to Baltimore, Maryland, and sold for scrap to Bethlehem Steel Company on 18 May 1956.

Related Info

Class and type:

Illinois-class battleship


11,565 tons


368 ft (112 m)


72.3 ft (22.0 m)


23.5 ft (7.2 m)


8 Mosher coal fired, cylindrical, boilers, 2 vertically inverted triple expansion engines, 2 screws, 10,000 shp


17 knots (31 km/h)


660 officers and men


4 13 inch (330 mm) 35 caliber guns

14 6 inch (152 mm) 40 caliber guns

16 6 pounders (2.7 kg)

6 1 pounders (454 g)

4 18 inch torpedo tubes (later removed)


Belt: 16.5 to 12 inch

Belt (bow): 4 inch

Bulkheads: 12 inch

Barbettes: 15 to 10 inch

Turrets: 14 inch

Deck (slope): 4 inch

Lower Deck: 5.25 inch

Conning tower:10 inch

Source: Wikipedia

Related Links

USS Illinois (Battleship # 7, later BB-7), 1901-1956


NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive

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USS Illinois (Battleship # 7) Fitting out at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company shipyard, Newport News, Virginia, circa 1901, soon after she ran her trials. The number "17.31" painted on her after turret proclaims the speed achieved on the trial run. Note the numbers on her hull side, and the broom lashed to her foremast peak. (Caption cropped)


USS Prairie State, IX-15, a floating armory, (ex-Illinois BB-7) during the 1940s or early 1950s