|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
With pomp and ceremony, the United States Navy launched the first of its world-class battleships, the USS Indiana, on February 28, 1893. The ship commenced a new class of Indiana-class battleships that would insert an emerging United States Navy on a world stage.
Though it was the first of its class for the US Navy, the ship was small. At only 350 feet long, the ship's design did not allow it to operate on the high seas. Designed as a coastal defensive ship, it did carry heavy armament and guns. Her four thirteen inch and eight eight-inch guns provided plenty of firepower. She also had four six-inch guns. Her armor ranged from eight to eighteen inches thick. She was slow, only able to muster fifteen knots. Improvements in ship design made her obsolete quickly.
The USS Indiana's first major service was during the Spanish American War in 1898. She took part in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, sinking two Spanish destroyers, the Pluton and Furor. Her slow speed hampered any more major action and she spent the rest of the war doing blockade duty.
The USS Indiana went into service mainly as a training ship. She was decommissioned on December 29, 1903. Re-commissioned again in 1906 as a training ship, she spent most of the time serving in the reserve fleet. She participated in several training exercises and in the relief expedition for the 1907 Kingston earthquake. The Navy removed the six-inch guns in 1908 and added twelve three-inch guns. By 1914, the Navy again decommissioned her. After the beginning of World War I, the Navy re-commissioned her again to serve as a training ship. After the war, the Navy decommissioned her permanently. They renamed her Coast Battleship Number 1. The Navy wanted to clear the name so they could use it for a new class of battleship they planned to build. This battleship was started, but never completed. Coast Battleship Number 1 ended its service in one of the first tests of airplanes attempting to sink a battleship. The test succeeded, as the airplanes did sink the ship in shallow waters. The navy salvaged her and sold it for scrap.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning