USS Kansas (BB-21)

USS Kansas (BB-21) was a US Connecticut-class pre-dreadnought battleship, the fourth of six ships in the class. She was the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of Kansas. The ship was launched in August 1905 and commissioned into the fleet in April 1907. Kansas was armed with a main battery of four 12-inch (300 mm) guns and was capable of a top speed of 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph).

Shortly after she entered service, Kansas joined the Great White Fleet for its circumnavigation of the globe in 1908–1909. She made trips to Europe in 1910 and 1911 and after 1912, became involved in suppressing unrest in several Central American countries, including the United States occupation of Veracruz during the Mexican Revolution. After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Kansas was employed as a training ship for new personnel. In September 1918, she began escorting convoys to Europe. After the war ended in November, she then began a series of trips to France to bring American soldiers home.

The ship's postwar career was short. She conducted training cruises for US Naval Academy cadets in 1920 and 1921, the first to the Pacific and the second to Europe. During this period she served briefly as the flagship of the 4th Battleship Division. After returning from the second cruise, Kansas was decommissioned and sold for scrap in August 1923 according to the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty.

USS Kansas (BB-21)
USS Kansas ((BB-21) c. 1910–1915
United States
Name: Kansas
Namesake: State of Kansas
Ordered: 3 March 1903
Builder: New York Shipbuilding Company
Laid down: 10 February 1904
Launched: 12 August 1905
Sponsored by: Anna Hoch
Commissioned: 18 April 1907
Decommissioned: 16 December 1921
Struck: 10 November 1923
Fate: Broken up for scrap at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard in 1924
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Connecticut-class battleship
Displacement: 16,000 long tons (16,000 t)
Length: 456 ft 4 in (139.09 m)
Beam: 76 ft 10 in (23.42 m)
Draft: 24 ft 6 in (7.47 m)
Speed: 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)
Complement: 827 officers and men
  • Belt: 6–11 in (152–279 mm)
  • Barbettes: 6–10 in (152–254 mm)
  • Turret Main: 8–12 in (203–305 mm)
  • Turret secondary: 7 in (178 mm)
  • Conning tower: 9 in (229 mm)


Connecticut-class battleship line-drawing
Line-drawing of the Connecticut class

Kansas was 456.3 ft (139.1 m) long overall and had a beam of 76.9 ft (23.4 m) and a draft of 24.5 ft (7.5 m). She displaced 16,000 long tons (16,000 t) as designed and up to 17,666 long tons (17,949 t) at full load. The ship was powered by two-shaft triple-expansion steam engines rated at 16,500 indicated horsepower (12,300 kW) and twelve coal-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers, generating a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). As built, she was fitted with heavy military masts, but these were quickly replaced by lattice masts in 1909. As completed, she had a crew of 827 officers and men, though this increased to 881 and later to 896.[1]

The ship was armed with a main battery of four 12 inch/45 Mark 5[a] guns in two twin gun turrets on the centerline, one forward and aft. The secondary battery consisted of eight 8-inch (203 mm)/45 guns and twelve 7-inch (178 mm)/45 guns. The 8-inch guns were mounted in four twin turrets amidships and the 7-inch guns were placed in casemates in the hull. For close-range defense against torpedo boats, she carried twenty 3-inch (76 mm)/50 guns mounted in casemates along the side of the hull and twelve 3-pounder guns. She also carried four 37 mm (1.5 in) 1-pounder guns. As was standard for capital ships of the period, Kansas carried four 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, submerged in her hull on the broadside.[1]

Kansas's main armored belt was 11 in (279 mm) thick over the magazines and the machinery spaces and 6 in (152 mm) elsewhere. The main battery gun turrets had 12-inch (300 mm) thick faces, and the supporting barbettes had the 10 in (250 mm) of armor plating. The secondary turrets had 7 in (180 mm) of frontal armor. The conning tower had 9 in (230 mm) thick sides.[1]

Service history

Construction and the Great White Fleet

USS Kansas (BB-21) on trials
Kansas on trials in 1906; note the 7-inch guns have not been installed

The keel for Kansas was laid down at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey. She was launched on 12 August 1905. After completing fitting-out work, the ship was commissioned into the fleet on 18 April 1907 in Philadelphia. Captain Charles E. Vreeland was the ship's first commanding officer. She began a shakedown cruise on 17 August off Provincetown, Massachusetts that revealed the need for modifications, which began at Philadelphia on 24 September. On 9 December, she joined the ships that would be assigned to the Great White Fleet in Hampton Roads.[2]

On 16 December, Kansas steamed out of Hampton Roads with the Great White Fleet for a circumnavigation of the globe. The cruise was intended as a show of force to Japan, the United States' rival in the Pacific, to assert the United States' status as a global naval power, and to convince Congress of the need to support increased naval expenditures.[3] The fleet cruised south to the Caribbean and then to South America, making stops in Port of Spain, Rio de Janeiro, Punta Arenas, and Valparaíso, among other cities. After arriving in Mexico in March 1908, the fleet spent three weeks conducting gunnery practice[4] The fleet then resumed its voyage up the Pacific coast of the Americas, stopping in San Francisco and Seattle before crossing the Pacific to Australia, stopping in Hawaii on the way. Stops in the South Pacific included Melbourne, Sydney, and Auckland. [5]

The fleet then turned north for the Philippines, stopping in Manila, before continuing on to Japan where a welcoming ceremony was held in Yokohama. Three weeks of exercises followed in Subic Bay in the Philippines in November. The ships passed Singapore on 6 December and entered the Indian Ocean; they coaled in Colombo before proceeding to the Suez Canal and coaling again at Port Said, Egypt. The fleet called in several Mediterranean ports before stopping in Gibraltar, where an international fleet of British, Russian, French, and Dutch warships greeted the Americans. The ships then crossed the Atlantic to return to Hampton Roads on 22 February 1909, having traveled 46,729 nautical miles (86,542 km; 53,775 mi). There, they conducted a naval review for President Theodore Roosevelt.[6]

Peacetime activities

USS Kansas (BB-21) 1907
Kansas c. 1907

A week after returning from the voyage, Kansas steamed to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for an overhaul after the lengthy period at sea. The work was completed on 17 June, and Kansas thereafter began a peacetime routine of maneuvers and various training exercises that continued throughout the following year. On 15 November 1910, she joined the 2nd Battleship Division for a cruise to Europe, stopping in Cherbourg, France, and Portland, England. The ships then recrossed the Atlantic, stopping in Santo Domingo and Cuba before continuing on to Hampton Roads. A second trip to Europe took place in mid-1911; this time, the division steamed into the Baltic Sea, visiting several ports in the region, including Copenhagen, Denmark, Stockholm, Sweden, Kronstadt, Russia, and Kiel, Germany. The ships arrived back in Provincetown on 13 July and thereafter joined fleet training exercises off the Virginia Capes. Kansas steamed to the Norfolk Navy Yard on 3 November for another overhaul.[2]

Kansas began a series of extensive maneuvers in early 1912, based out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She returned to Hampton Roads to greet a squadron of German warships—the battlecruiser SMS Moltke and the light cruisers Bremen and Stettin—that visited the port from 28 May to 8 June. Kansas then embarked on a training cruise along the east coast of the United States for midshipmen from the US Naval Academy on 21 June. She returned the midshipmen to Annapolis on 30 August. On 15 November, she began a training cruise to the Gulf of Mexico, arriving back in Philadelphia for an overhaul on 21 December. She returned to duty on 5 May 1913 and cruised the east coast for the next several months. On 25 October, she crossed the Atlantic and cruised the Mediterranean Sea, which included a stop in Genoa, Italy. After returning to Guantanamo Bay, she was sent to the coast of Mexico to protect US interests during the Mexican Revolution. The ship was back in Norfolk on 14 March 1914, and another overhaul at Philadelphia followed on 11 April. On 1 July, Kansas steamed out of Norfolk to carry the remains of the recently deceased Venezuelan ambassador to the United States back to his home country. She arrived in La Guaira on 14 July before returning to the Mexican coast to support the forces occupying Veracruz. She left the area on 29 October to respond to unrest in Port au Prince, Haiti, arriving on 3 November. She remained there for a month before departing on 1 December for Philadelphia. The ship then resumed the normal peacetime routine of training exercises off the east coast and off Cuba until 30 September 1916, when she underwent another overhaul in Philadelphia.[2]

World War I

USS Kansas in Brest, France
Kansas in Brest, France in 1919; New Hampshire (left) and Connecticut (right) are visible in the distance

She was still in dry dock when the United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. On 10 July, she was assigned to the 4th Battleship Division (4th BatDiv) and was tasked primarily with training naval personnel in the Chesapeake Bay.[2] In September 1918, she was assigned to convoy escort duty, with the first such mission on 6 September. The ship departed with her sister ship USS New Hampshire and the dreadnought USS South Carolina to protect a fast HX troopship convoy. On 16 September, the three battleships left the convoy in the Atlantic and steamed back to the United States, while other escorts brought the convoy into port. On the 17th, South Carolina slipped her starboard propeller, which forced her to reduce speed to 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) using only the port shaft. Kansas and New Hampshire remained with South Carolina to escort her back to port.[7] Convoy duty did not last long, as the Germans signed the Armistice that ended the war on 11 November.[2]

Following the end of the war in November 1918, she joined the effort to return American soldiers from France, making five trips to Brest, France.[2] The first of these took place in December; Kansas and the battleship Georgia departed on 10 December and arrived in Brest on the 22nd. The two ships embarked a total of 2,732 soldiers between them over the course of four days before departing for the return trip.[8] A major overhaul at Philadelphia followed from 29 June 1919 to 17 May 1920. She then proceeded to Annapolis, arriving on the 20th and embarking midshipmen for another training cruise, this time to the Pacific Ocean. She passed through the Panama Canal and visited a number of ports on the west coast, including Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Pedro. She left San Pedro on 11 August bound for the Panama Canal and crossed into the Caribbean for a stop at Guantanamo Bay. Kansas arrived back in Annapolis on 2 September, where she disembarked the midshipmen. Rear Admiral Charles Frederick Hughes raised his flag aboard Kansas in Philadelphia as the flagship of the 4th BatDiv.[2]

The ship departed on 27 September for a cruise to the Caribbean. While in Grassey Bay, Bermuda on 2 October, Edward, Prince of Wales, visited the ship. On the 4th, she passed through the Panama Canal and steamed to American Samoa, stopping in Pago Pago, Samoa on 11 November. Kansas then visited Hawaii before crossing back through the Panama Canal and eventually returning to Philadelphia on 7 March 1921. Another midshipmen training cruise followed on 4 June; three other battleships joined her for a visit to European waters. Stops included Oslo, Norway, Lisbon, Portugal, and Gibraltar. They passed through Guantanamo Bay before returning to Annapolis on 28 August. A visit to New York followed from 3 to 19 September. She arrived back at Philadelphia the following day, where she was decommissioned on 16 December. Kansas was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 24 August 1923 in accordance with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty and was subsequently broken up for scrap.[2]



  1. ^ /45 refers to the length of the gun in terms of calibers. A /45 gun is 45 times long as it is in bore diameter.


  1. ^ a b c d Gardiner, p. 144.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h DANFS Kansas.
  3. ^ DANFS Minnesota.
  4. ^ Albertson, pp. 41–46.
  5. ^ Albertson, pp. 47–56.
  6. ^ Albertson, pp. 57–66.
  7. ^ Jones, pp. 117–118.
  8. ^ Jones, p. 122.


  • Albertson, Mark (2007). U.S.S. Connecticut: Constitution State Battleship. Mustang: Tate Publishing. ISBN 1-59886-739-3.
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-85177-133-5.
  • Jones, Jerry W. (1998). U.S. Battleship Operations in World War I. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-411-3.
  • "Kansas (BB-21) ii". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History & Heritage Command. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  • "Minnesota ii (Battleship No. 22)". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History & Heritage Command. 5 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2015.

Further reading

  • Alden, John D. (1989). American Steel Navy: A Photographic History of the U.S. Navy from the Introduction of the Steel Hull in 1883 to the Cruise of the Great White Fleet. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-248-6.
  • Friedman, Norman (1985). U.S. Battleships, An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-715-1.
  • Reilly, John C.; Scheina, Robert L. (1980). American Battleships 1886–1923: Predreadnought Design and Construction. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-524-8.

External links

Media related to USS Kansas (BB-21) at Wikimedia Commons

1907 in the United States

Events from the year 1907 in the United States.

7"/44 caliber gun

The 7"/44 caliber gun Mark 1 (spoken "seven-inch-forty-four--caliber") and 7"/45 caliber gun Mark 2 (spoken "seven-inch-forty-five--caliber") were used for the secondary batteries of the United States Navy's last generation of pre-dreadnought battleships, the Connecticut-class and Mississippi-class. The 7-inch (178 mm) caliber was considered, at the time, to be the largest caliber weapon sutiable as a rapid-fire secondary gun because its shells were the heaviest that one man could handle alone.

8"/45 caliber gun

The 8"/45 caliber Mark 6 gun (spoken "eight-inch-forty-five--caliber") were used for the secondary batteries of the United States Navy's last pre-dreadnought battleships and refitted in older armored cruisers main batteries.

Allan Rockwell McCann

Vice Admiral Allan Rockwell McCann, (September 20, 1896 – February 22, 1978) was a United States Navy officer who served in World War I and World War II.

Benjamin Dutton Jr.

Benjamin Dutton Jr., (April 3, 1883 – November 30, 1937) was a United States Navy Captain, expert navigator and author.

Connecticut-class battleship

The Connecticut class of pre-dreadnought battleships were the penultimate class of the type built for the United States Navy. The class comprised six ships: Connecticut, Louisiana, Vermont, Kansas, Minnesota, and New Hampshire, which were built between 1903 and 1908. The ships were armed with a mixed offensive battery of 12-inch (305 mm), 8-inch (203 mm), and 7-inch (178 mm) guns. This arrangement was rendered obsolete by the advent of all-big-gun battleships like the British HMS Dreadnought, which was completed before most of the Connecticuts entered service.

Nevertheless, the ships had active careers. The first five ships took part in the cruise of the Great White Fleet in 1907–1909—New Hampshire had not entered service. From 1909 onward, they served as the workhorses of the US Atlantic Fleet, conducting training exercises and showing the flag in Europe and Central America. As unrest broke out in several Central American countries in the 1910s, the ships became involved in police actions in the region. The most significant was the American intervention in the Mexican Revolution during the occupation of Veracruz in April 1914.

During the American participation in World War I, the Connecticut-class ships were used to train sailors for an expanding wartime fleet. In late 1918, they began to escort convoys to Europe, and in September that year, Minnesota was badly damaged by a mine laid by the German U-boat SM U-117. After the war, they were used to bring American soldiers back from France and later as training ships. The 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, which mandated major reductions in naval weapons, cut the ships' careers short. Within two years, all six ships had been sold for scrap.

Frank H. Brumby

Frank Hardeman Brumby (September 11, 1874 – July 16, 1950) was a four-star admiral in the United States Navy who commanded the Battle Force of the United States Fleet from 1934 to 1935.

List of battleships of the United States Navy

The United States Navy began the construction of battleships with USS Texas in 1892, but the first battleship under that designation would be USS Indiana. Texas and USS Maine, commissioned three years later, were part of the New Navy program of the late 19th century, a proposal by then Secretary of the Navy William H. Hunt to match Europe's navies that ignited a years-long debate that was suddenly settled in Hunt's favor when the Brazilian Empire commissioned the battleship Riachuelo. In 1890, Alfred Thayer Mahan's book The Influence of Sea Power upon History was published and significantly influenced future naval policy—as an indirect of its influence on Secretary Benjamin F. Tracy, the Navy Act of June 30, 1890 authorized the construction of "three sea-going, coast-line battle ships" which became the Indiana-class. The Navy Act of July 19, 1892 authorized construction of a fourth "sea-going, coast-line battle ship", which became USS Iowa. Despite much later claims that these were to be purely defensive and were authorized as "coastal defense ships", they were almost immediately used for offensive operations in the Spanish–American War. By the start of the 20th century, the United States Navy had in service or under construction the three Illinois-class and two Kearsarge-class battleships, making the United States the world's 5th strongest power at sea from a nation that had been 12th in 1870.Except for Kearsarge, named by an act of Congress, all U.S. Navy battleships have been named for states, and each of the 48 contiguous states has had at least one battleship named for it except Montana; two battleships were authorized to be named Montana but both were cancelled before construction started. Alaska and Hawaii did not become states until 1959, after the end of battleship building, but the battlecruiser, or "Large Cruiser," USS Alaska was built during World War II and her sister, USS Hawaii, was begun but never completed. The pre-dreadnoughts USS Zrinyi (formerly the Austrian SMS Zrínyi), USS Radetzky (formerly the Austrian SMS Radetzky), and USS Ostfriesland (formerly the German SMS Ostfriesland), taken as prizes of war after World War I, were commissioned in the US Navy, but were not assigned hull classification symbols.

No American battleship has ever been lost at sea, though four were sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Of these, only USS Arizona (BB-39) and USS Oklahoma (BB-37) were permanently destroyed as a result of enemy action. Several other battleships have been sunk as targets, and USS Utah (BB-31), demilitarized and converted into a target and training ship, was permanently destroyed at Pearl Harbor. The hulk of Oklahoma was salvaged and was lost at sea while being towed to the mainland for scrapping. Two American-built pre-dreadnought battleships, USS Mississippi (BB-23) and her sister USS Idaho (BB-24), were sunk in 1941 by German bombers during their WWII invasion of Greece. The ships had been sold to Greece in 1914, becoming Kilkis and Lemnos respectively.

Theodore Stark Wilkinson

Theodore Stark "Ping" Wilkinson (December 22, 1888 – February 21, 1946) was a Vice-Admiral of the United States Navy during World War II. He also received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Veracruz, Mexico.

USS Kansas

USS Kansas may refer to:

USS Kansas (1863), a gunboat which saw action during the American Civil War

USS Kansas (BB-21), a Connecticut-class battleship which sailed with the Great White FleetSee also

USS Kansas City

United States Fleet Forces Command

The United States Fleet Forces Command (USFF) is a service component command of the United States Navy that provides naval forces to a wide variety of U.S. forces. The naval resources may be allocated to Combatant Commanders such as United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) under the authority of the Secretary of Defense. Originally formed as United States Atlantic Fleet (USLANTFLT) in 1906, it has been an integral part of the defense of the United States of America since the early 20th century. In 2002, the Fleet comprised over 118,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel serving on 186 ships and in 1,300 aircraft, with an area of responsibility ranging over most of the Atlantic Ocean from the North Pole to the South Pole, the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the waters of the Pacific Ocean along the coasts of Central and South America (as far west as the Galapagos Islands). The command is based at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads in Norfolk, Virginia and is the navy's service component to U.S. Northern Command and is a supporting command under the U.S. Strategic Command.The command's mission is to organize, man, train, and equip Naval Forces for assignment to Unified Command Combatant commanders; to deter, detect, and defend against homeland maritime threats; and to articulate Fleet warfighting and readiness requirements to the Chief of Naval Operations.

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