US Navy Dreadnoughts 1914-45 (New Vanguard)
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When the United States went to war with Spain in April 1898, few European observers believed the small and relatively inexperienced American navy could achieve a decisive naval victory over an established European colonial power. In less than five months however, two Spanish naval squadrons lay at the bottom of the seas and the once great Spanish Empire ceded its last colonies in Asia and the New World to the upstart Americans. Admiral George Dewey, victor at the battle of Manila Bay, became a demigod in the eyes of the American media and public overnight and the excitement of new conquests overseas breathed new life into the traditional American expansionist doctrine of Manifest Destiny. The American naval hubris that developed in the wake of the Spanish-American War in reality rested on only a handful of modern battleships in a navy that was an obsolescent coastal defense force only ten years before. No one understood this better than Theodore Roosevelt. An expansionist who fought with distinction during the war with Spain and an advocate of the sea power theories of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, Roosevelt knew the present American navy was not strong enough to defend American shores against the larger navies of Europe let alone those of a new empire. European powers still skirted the Monroe Doctrine as evidenced by the British-German-Italian blockade of Venezuela from 1902-03 and the Dutch FI Venezuela War of 1908, and the United States was increasingly threatened in the Philippines, Samoa, and the Caroline and Marshall Islands by the imperial ambitions of Germany and Japan. To remedy the lack of naval preparedness for America's sudden emergence as a world power, Roosevelt and the United States embarked on rapid naval building program. To emphasize America's growing naval prowess and to demonstrate his "speak softly and carry a big stick" approach to foreign policy, Roosevelt sent the Great White Fleet, a squadron composed of sixteen battleships (all commissioned after 1898), to circumnavigate the globe, a great technical and logistical feat for the time. As impressive as the spectacle of the Great White Fleet was, all of the ships in it were quickly being rendered obsolescent by the dreadnought-type battleships coming into service in Great Britain and Germany. This did not catch the United States off-guard however for as the Great White Fleet was completing its world cruise, the USS South Carolina, America's first dreadnought whose design pre-dated that of HMS Dreadnought, was already fitting out. By the beginning of World War I, the United States possessed the third largest navy in the world and had ten dreadnoughts in service with four more under construction.
YORK CLASS 18 t New York Class Specifications US DREADNOUGHT BATTLESHIP OPERATIONS 1914–18 20 t The Veracruz Occupation t World War I INTERWAR SCRAPPING, DISARMAMENT AND MODERNIZATION 34 US DREADNOUGHT BATTLESHIP OPERATIONS 1939–45 35 t Neutrality Patrols t Actions in the European Theater t Actions in the Pacific Theater CONCLUSION 45 BIBLIOGRAPHY 46 INDEX 48 © Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com US NAVY DREADNOUGHTS 1914–45 INTRODUCTION The United
Veracruz land at Pier Four on April 21, 1914. (Author’s collection) 23 Members of a “Bluejacket Battalion” caught in a firefight in the streets of Veracruz. This detachment of sailors is manning two M1895 ColtBrowning machine guns. (Author’s collection) sailors and marines ashore began to eliminate the final pockets of resistance in the city. By noon, the entire city had been occupied and the activity of the enemy snipers was slowly curtailed over the next several days. More troops came
authorized in March 1905, final specifications were not released to bidders until over a year later. Finally on December 17, 1906, USS Michigan (BB-27) was laid down in the yards of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation. USS South Carolina (BB-26) was laid down the following day by William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company of Philadelphia. Work on these ships was slow as Michigan was not launched until May 26, 1908 and commissioned on January 4, 1910, while South Carolina followed on July 11,
faux pas (particularly Admiral George Dewey’s standoff with Admiral Otto von Diederichs in Manila Bay in 1898 and the Venezuelan Crisis of 1902) led the naval planners of both nations to prepare contingency war plans against each other. Ironically, both sides believed that this would be a conflict exclusively between each other. The Kaiser’s government believed Great Britain and the rest of Europe would remain neutral given Europe’s generally negative reaction to America’s war against Spain; the
other American dreadnought then in service or under construction) were coal-fired. Coal is less thermally efficient than oil, which ultimately meant less range per ton carried. Second, direct-drive turbines had much higher fuel consumption than geared turbines, as reduction gears allowed a geared turbine to run at a more fuel-efficient rpm, which was faster than the rpm of the propeller shafts. The first marine turbine to be equipped with a reduction gear was not developed until 1909, when