U.S.S. Missouri (BB 11)


Displacement: 13,500 tons
Length: 393'11"
Beam: 72'2"
Draft: 25'8"
Speed: 18.15 knots
Complement: 592
Armament: Four 12" guns; sixteen 6" guns; six 3" guns; five 3-pounders
Class: Maine

The third Missouri was laid down by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.. Newport News, Va., 7 February 1900; launched 23 December 1901; sponsored by Mrs. Edson Galludet, daughter of Senator Francis Marion Cockrell of Missouri, and commissioned 1 December 1903, Capt. William S. Cowles in command.

Assigned to the North Atlantic Fleet, Missouri left Norfolk 4 February 1904 for trials off the Virginia Capes and fleet operations in the Caribbean. On 13 April, during target practice, a flareback from the port gun in her after-turret ignited a powder charge and set off two others. No explosion occurred but the rapid burning of the powder suffocated 36 of the crew. Prompt action prevented the loss of the warship and three of her crew were awarded Medals of Honor for extraordinary heroism. After repairs at Newport News, Missouri sailed 9 June for duty In the Mediterranean from which she returned to New York 17 December.

Fleet operations along the East Coast and in the Caribbean during the next years were highlighted by her relief to earthquake victims at Kingston, Jamaica, 17 to 19 January 1907. In April she took part in the Jamestown Exposition.

With the Great White Fleet, Missouri sailed from Hampton Roads 16 December 1907, passing in review before President Theodore Roosevelt at the beginning of a world cruise which was to show the world that American naval might could penetrate any waters. Calling at ports in the Caribbean and along the east coast of South America, the fleet rounded Cape Horn to call in Peru and Mexico before arriving San Francisco 6 May 1908 for a gala visit. In July the fleet turned west for Honolulu, New Zealand, and Australia, arriving in Manila 2 October. The most tumultuous welcome yet came in Yokohama, and with a call in Amoy, China, the fleet began the passage home by way of Ceylon, Suez, and ports in the eastern Mediterranean. Departing Gibraltar 6 February 1909, the fleet was again reviewed by President Roosevelt upon its triumphant return to Hampton Roads 22 February. An important diplomatic mission had been carried out with the greatest success.

Placed in reserve at Boston 1 May 1910, Missouri recommissioned 1 June 1911 and resumed east coast and Caribbean operations with the Atlantic Fleet. In June 1912 she carried Marines from New York to Cuba where they protected American interests during a rebellion. The next month the battleship carried midshipmen for training, then decommissioned at Philadelphia 9 September 1912.

Missouri recommissioned 16 March 1914 for that summer's Naval Academy Practice Squadron's cruise to Italian and English ports. She returned to ordinary at Philadelphia 2 December 1914, but recommissioned 15 April 1915 to train midshipmen in the Caribbean and on a cruise through the Panama Canal to California ports. She returned to the Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia 18 October 1915, recommissioned 2 May 1916, and again conducted training along the east coast and in the Caribbean until placed in ordinary for the winter at Philadelphia.

Upon the entry of the United States into World War I, Missouri recommissioned 23 April 1917, joined the Atlantic Fleet at Yorktown, Va., and operated as a training ship in the Chesapeake Bay arm. On 26 August 1917 Rear Adm. Hugh Rodman broke his flag In Missouri as Commander, Division 2, Atlantic Fleet, and the warship continued to train thousands of recruits in engineering and gunnery for foreign service on warships and as armed guards for merchant vessels.

Following the Armistice, the battleship was attached to the Cruiser and Transport Force, departing Norfolk 15 February 1919 on the first of four voyages to Brest to return 3,278 U.S. troops to east coast ports.

Missouri decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard 8 September 1919. She was sold to J. G. Hitner and W. F. Cutler of Philadelphia 26 January 1922 and scrapped in accordance with the treaty limiting naval armaments.

[Text from The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships published by the Naval Historical Center]

Radio station: It was in the Spring of the year 1906 and all of the navy vessels in the American Atlantic Fleet had returned to their home base at Hampton Roads in Virginia at the end of winter maneuvers in the Caribbean. The ingenious wireless operator on board the “Missouri” was using an 80 volt DC generator feeding a mercury turbine interrupter through a large spark coil. The operator had calibrated a sliding rheostat with the correct positions for the musical notations C D E F G A B C. All that was necessary to transmit the musical tones was to slide the rheostat to the desired notation and the spark transmitter changed its tone accordingly.

Back in the year 1906, there were no wireless traffic controls and virtually no interference so that it was possible to play around with wireless equipment, sometimes in quite novel ways. This broadcast seems to be the first broadcast of music from a ship. [By Dr. Adrian Peterson]

Location: Hampton Roads in Virginia (home base of all the navy vessels in the American Atlantic Fleet)

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