Great White Fleet: USS Nebraska (BB-14)

USS Nebraska (BB-14)
USS Nebraska (BB-14), 1908. Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command

USS Nebraska (BB-14) - Overview:

  • Nation: United States
  • Type: Battleship
  • Shipyard: Moran Brothers, Seattle, WA
  • Laid Down: July 4, 1902
  • Launched: October 7, 1904
  • Commissioned: July 1, 1907
  • Fate: Sold for Scrap, 1923

USS Nebraska (BB-14) - Specifications:

  • Displacement: 16,094 tons
  • Length: 441 ft., 3 in.
  • Beam: 76 ft., 2 in.
  • Draft: 25 ft., 10 in.
  • Propulsion: 12 × Babcock boilers, 2 × triple-expansion engines, 2 × propellers
  • Speed: 19 knots
  • Complement: 1,108 men


  • 4 × 12 in./40 cal guns
  • 8 × 8 in./45 cal guns
  • 12 × 6-inch guns
  • 11 × 3-inch guns
  • 24 × 1 pdr guns
  • 4 × 0.30 in. machine guns
  • 4 × 21 in. torpedo tubes

USS Nebraska (BB-13) - Design & Construction:

Laid down in 1901 and 1902, the five battleships of the Virginia-class were meant as successors to the Maine-class (USS Maine, USS Missouri, and USS Ohio) which was then entering service. Though conceived as the US Navy's latest design, the new battleships saw a return to some features that had not been employed since the earlier Kearsarge-class (USS Kearsarge and USS ). These included the use of 8-in. guns as a secondary armament and the locating of two 8-in. turrets on top of the vessels' 12-in. turrets. Supplementing the Virginia-class' main battery of four 12 in. guns were eight 8-in., twelve 6-in., twelve 3-in., and twenty-four 1-pdr guns. In a shift from previous classes of battleships, the new design utilized Krupp armor instead of the Harvey armor that had been placed on earlier vessels. Propulsion for the Virginia-class came from twelve Babcock boilers which powered two vertical inverted triple expansion reciprocating steam engines.

The second ship of the class, USS Nebraska (BB-14) was laid down at Moran Brothers in Seattle, WA on July 4, 1902. Work on the hull moved forward over the next two years and on October 7, 1904, it slid down the ways with Mary N. Mickey, daughter of Nebraska Governor John H. Mickey, serving as sponsor. Another two and a half years passed before construction on Nebraska ended. Commissioned on July 1, 1907, Captain Reginald F. Nicholson took command. The next several months saw the new battleship conduct its shakedown cruise and trials on the West Coast. Completing these, it re-entered the yard for repairs and modifications before resuming operations in the Pacific.

USS Nebraska (BB-14) - Great White Fleet:

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt became increasingly concerned about the US Navy's lack of power in the Pacific due to the growing threat posed by Japan. To impress upon the Japanese that the United States could move its battle fleet to the Pacific with ease, he began planning a world cruise of the nation's battleships. Designated the Great White Fleet, the Atlantic Fleet's battleships steamed from Hampton Roads on December 16, 1907. The fleet then moved south making visits in Brazil before passing through the Straits of Magellan. Steering north, the fleet, led by Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, arrived at San Francisco on May 6. While there, a decision was made to detach USS (BB-8) and Maine due to their abnormally high coal consumption. In their place, USS (BB-9) and Nebraska were assigned to the fleet, now led by Rear Admiral Charles Sperry.

Assigned to the fleet's Second Division, First Squadron, this group also contained Nebraska's sister ships USS Georgia (BB-15), USS (BB-16), and USS (BB-17). Departing the West Coast, the battleship and it consorts transited the Pacific to Hawaii before reaching New Zealand and Australia in August. After taking part in festive port calls, the fleet steered north for the Philippines, Japan, and China. Finishing visits in these countries, the American battleships crossed the Indian Ocean before passing through the Suez Canal and entering the Mediterranean. Here the fleet split to make visits in several nations. Moving west, Nebraska called at Messina and Naples before rejoining the fleet at Gibraltar. Crossing the Atlantic, the battleship arrived at Hampton Roads on February 22, 1909, where it was greeted by Roosevelt. Having completed its world cruise, Nebraska underwent brief repairs and had a cage foremast installed before rejoining the Atlantic Fleet.

USS Nebraska (BB-14) - Later Service:

Attending Fulton-Hudson Celebration in New York later in 1909, Nebraska entered the yard the following spring and received a second cage mast aft. Resuming active duty, the battleship took part in the Louisiana Centennial in 1912. As tensions increased with Mexico, Nebraska moved to aid American operations in that area. In 1914, it supported the US occupation of Veracruz. Performing well in this mission during 1914 and 1916, Nebraska was awarded the Mexican Service Medal. Obsolete by modern standards, the battleship returned to the United States and was placed in reserve. With the country's entrance into World War I in April 1917, Nebraska returned to active duty.

At Boston when hostilities commenced, Nebraska joined the 3rd Division, Battleship Force, Atlantic Fleet. For the next year, the battleship operated along the East Coast training armed guard crews for merchant vessels and conducting maneuvers. On May 16, 1918, Nebraska embarked the body Carlos DePena, the late ambassador of Uruguay, for transport home. After arriving in Montevideo on June 10, the ambassador's body was transferred to the Uruguayan government. Returning home, Nebraska reached Hampton Roads on July and began preparing to serve as a convoy escort. On September 17, the battleship departed to escort its first convoy across the Atlantic. It completed two similar missions before the war's end in November.

Refitting in December, Nebraska was converted into a temporary troopship to assist in bringing American soldiers back from Europe. Conducting four voyages to and from Brest, France, the battleship transported 4,540 men home. Completing this duty in June 1919, Nebraska departed for service with the Pacific Fleet. It operated along the West Coast for the next year until being decommissioned on July 2, 1920. Placed in reserve, Nebraska was rendered incapable of war service following the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty. In late 1923, the aging battleship was sold for scrap.

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Hickman, Kennedy. "Great White Fleet: USS Nebraska (BB-14)." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, Hickman, Kennedy. (2021, July 31). Great White Fleet: USS Nebraska (BB-14). Retrieved from Hickman, Kennedy. "Great White Fleet: USS Nebraska (BB-14)." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).