Great White Fleet: USS Minnesota (BB-22)

USS Minnesota (BB-22) as part of the Great White Fleet
USS Minnesota (BB-22), 1907-1908. Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command

USS Minnesota (BB-22) - Overview:

  • Nation: United States
  • Type: Battleship
  • Shipyard: Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company
  • Laid Down: October 27, 1903
  • Launched: April 8, 1905
  • Commissioned: March 9, 1907
  • Fate: Sold for scrap, 1924

USS Minnesota (BB-22) - Specifications

  • Displacement: 16,000 tons
  • Length: 456.3 ft.
  • Beam: 76.9 ft.
  • Draft: 24.5 ft.
  • Speed: 18 knots
  • Complement: 880 men

Armament

  • 4 × 12 in./45 cal guns
  • 8 × 8 in./45 cal guns
  • 12 × 7 in./45 cal guns
  • 20 × 3 in./50 cal guns
  • 12 × 3 pounders
  • 2 × 1 pounders
  • 4 × 21 in. torpedo tubes

USS Minnesota (BB-22) - Design & Construction:

With construction beginning on the Virginia-class (USS Virginia, USS Nebraska, USS Georgia, USS , and USS ) of battleship in 1901, Secretary of the Navy John D. Long consulted the US Navy's system of bureaus and boards for their input regarding the design of capital ships. While their thoughts centered on equipping the next class of battleships with four 12" guns, energetic debate continued over the type's secondary armament. Following extensive discussions, it was decided to arm the new type with eight 8" guns placed in four waist turrets. These were to be supported by twelve rapid-fire 7" guns. Achieving a compromise with this armament, the new class pushed forward and on July 1, 1902 approval was received for construction of two battleships, USS Connecticut (BB-18) and USS (BB-19).

Dubbed the Connecticut-class, this type would ultimately comprise six battleships.

Laid down on October 27, 1903, work commenced on USS Minnesota at the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company. Less than two years later, the battleship entered the water on April 8, 1905, with Rose Schaller, the daughter of a Minnesota state senator, acting as sponsor.

Building continued for nearly two years before the ship entered commission on March 9, 1907, with Captain John Hubbard in command. Though the US Navy's most modern type, the Connecticut-class was made obsolete that December when British Admiral Sir John Fisher introduced the "all-big gun" HMS Dreadnought. Departing Norfolk, Minnesota steamed north for a shakedown cruise off New England before returning the Chesapeake to take part in the Jamestown Exposition that April to September.

USS Minnesota (BB-22) - Great White Fleet:

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt became concerned about the US Navy's lack of strength in the Pacific due to the increasing danger posed by Japan. To demonstrate to the Japanese that the United States could easily switch its main battle fleet to the Pacific, he directed that a world cruise of the country's battleships be planned. Dubbed the Great White Fleet, Minnesota, still commanded by Hubbard, was directed to join the force's Third Division, Second Squadron. Both the flagship of the division and squadron, Minnesota embarked Rear Admiral Charles Thomas. Other elements of the division included the battleships USS Maine (BB-10), USS Missouri (BB-11), and USS Ohio (BB-12).

Leaving from Hampton Roads on December 16, the fleet sailed south through the Atlantic and made visits to Trinidad and Rio de Janeiro before reaching Punta Arenas, Chile on February 1, 1908. Passing through the Straits of Magellan, the fleet cruised in review off Valparaiso, Chile before making a port call at Callao, Peru. Departing on February 29, Minnesota and the other battleships spent three weeks conducting gunnery practice off Mexico the following month.

Making port at San Francisco on May 6, the fleet paused in California for a short time before turning west for Hawaii. Steering southwest, Minnesota and the fleet arrived at New Zealand and Australia in August. After enjoying festive and elaborate port calls, which included parties, sporting events, and parades, the fleet moved north to the Philippines, Japan, and China.

Concluding goodwill visits in these countries, Minnesota and the fleet transited the Indian Ocean and passed through the Suez Canal. Arriving in the Mediterranean, the fleet divided to show the flag in numerous ports before rendezvousing at Gibraltar. Reunited, it crossed the Atlantic and reached Hampton Roads on February 22 where it was greeted by Roosevelt. With the cruise over, Minnesota entered the yard for an overhaul that saw a cage foremast installed.

USS Minnesota (BB-22) - Later Service:

Resuming duty with the Atlantic Fleet, Minnesota spent much of the next three years employed off the East Coast though it did make one visit to the English Channel. During this period, it received a cage mainmast. In early 1912, the battleship shifted south to Cuban waters and in June aided in protecting American interests on the island during an insurrection known as the Negro Rebellion. The following year, Minnesota moved to the Gulf of Mexico as tensions between the United States and Mexico increased. Though the battleship returned home that fall, it spent much of 1914 off Mexico. Making two deployments to the area, it helped support the US occupation of Veracruz. With the conclusion of operations in Mexico, Minnesota resumed routine activities off the East Coast. It continued in this duty until being moved to the Reserve Fleet in November 1916.

USS Minnesota (BB-22) - World War I:

With the US entry into World War I in April 1917, Minnesota returned to active duty. Assigned to Battleship Division 4 in the Chesapeake Bay, it commenced operations as an engineering and gunnery training ship.

On September 29, 1918, while conducting training off Fenwick Island Light, Minnesota struck a mine which had been laid by a German submarine. Though no one on board was killed, the explosion caused substantial damage to the battleship's starboard side. Turning north, Minnesota limped to Philadelphia where it underwent five months of repairs. Emerging from the yard on March 11, 1919, it joined the Cruiser and Transport Force. In this role, it completed three trips to Brest, France to help return American servicemen from Europe.

Completing this duty, Minnesota spent the summers of 1920 and 1921 as a training ship for midshipmen from the US Naval Academy. With the end of the latter year's training cruise, it moved into reserve before being decommissioned on December 1. Idle for the next three years, it was sold for scrap on January 23, 1924 in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty.

Selected Sources

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Your Citation
Hickman, Kennedy. "Great White Fleet: USS Minnesota (BB-22)." ThoughtCo, Jan. 2, 2017, thoughtco.com/uss-minnesota-bb-22-2361267. Hickman, Kennedy. (2017, January 2). Great White Fleet: USS Minnesota (BB-22). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/uss-minnesota-bb-22-2361267 Hickman, Kennedy. "Great White Fleet: USS Minnesota (BB-22)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/uss-minnesota-bb-22-2361267 (accessed May 27, 2018).