Today's classic warship, USS Kansas (BB-21)
Connecticut class battleship
displacement. 16,000 t.
speed. 18 k.
a. 4 12", 8 8", 12 3-pdrs., 2 1-pdrs., 2 .30 cal., 4 21" tt.
The USS Kansas (BB-21) was launched by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J., 12 August 1905; sponsored by Miss Anna Hoch, daughter of the Governor of Kansas; and commissioned in Philadelphia Navy Yard 18 April 1907, Captain Charles B. Vreeland in command.
The new battleship departed Philadelphia 17 August 1907, for shakedown training out of Provincetown, Mass., and returned home for alterations 24 September. She joined the "Great White Fleet" at Hampton Roads 9 December and passed In review before President Theodore Roosevelt while getting underway on the first leg of the fleet's historic world cruise. The American ships arrived Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, 23 December and 6 days later got underway for Rio de Janeiro. From there they sailed south along the east coast of South America and transited the perilous Straits of Magellanin open order. Turning north, the fleet visited Valparaiso, Chile, and Callao Bay, Peru, en route to Madalena Bay, Mexico, for a month of target practice.
The "Great White Fleet" reached San Diego 14 April 1908, and moved on to San Francisco 7 May. Exactly 2 months later the spotless warships sortied through the Golden Gate and headed for Honolulu. From Hawaii they set course for Auckland, New Zealand, to be greeted as heroes upon arrival 9 August. The fleet made Sydney 20 August and, after enjoying a week of the most warm and cordial hospitality, sailed to Melbourne where they were welcomed with equal graciousness and enthusiasm.
Kansas had her last glimpse of Australia 19 September on leaving Albany for ports in the Philippine Islands, Japan, and Ceylon before transiting the Suez Canal. She departed Port Said, Egypt, 4 January 1909, for a visit to Villefranche, France, and then staged with the combined "Great White Fleet" at Gibraltar and departed for home 6 February. She again passed in review before President Roosevelt as she entered Hampton Roads 22 February, ending a widely acclaimed voyage of good will subtly but effectively demonstrating American strength to the world.
At the end of this epic voyage, Kansas began an overhaul that greatly changed her appearance. She emerged with two new "cage" masts and grey paint in place of the previous "white and buff". Overhaul completed 17 June, the battleship began a period of maneuvers, tactical training, and battle practice which lasted almost until the close of the following year. With the 2d Battleship Division, she sailed 15 November 1910, for Europe visiting Cherbourg, France, and Portland, England, before returning to Hampton Roads via Cuba and Santo Domingo. She again departed Hampton Roads 8 May 1911, for Scandinavia, visiting Copenhagen, Stockholm, Cronstadt, and Keil before returning to Provincetown, Mass., 13 July. She engaged in fleet tactics south to the Virginia capes before entering the Norfolk Navy Yard 3 November for overhaul.
Early In 1912, she began several months of maneuvers out of Guantanamo Bay and then returned to Hampton Roads to serve as one of the welcoming units for the German Squadron which visited there from 28 May to 8 June and New York from 8 to 13 June.
The battleship embarked Naval Academy Midshipmen at Annapolis 21 June for a summer practice cruise which took her, among other ports of call along the Atlantic seaboard, to Baltimore during the Democratic National Convention which nominated Woodrow Wilson. After debarking her midshipmen at Annapolis 30 August, she sailed from Norfolk 15 November for a training cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. She returned to Philadelphia 21 December to enter the Navy Yard for overhaul.
Back in top shape 5 May 1913, Kansas operated on the East Coast until she stood out of Hampton Roads 25 October, bound for Genoa, Italy. From there she proceeded to Guantanamo Bay en route to the coast of Mexico to operate off Vera Cruz and Tampico watching out for American interests in that land then troubled by revolutionary unrest as rival factions struggled to attain and hold power. She returned to Norfolk 14 March 1914, and entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for overhaul 11 April.
Kansas departed Norfolk 1 July with the body of the Venezuelan Minister to the United States, arriving La Guaira 14 July. Then she returned to the Mexican coast to patrol off Tampico and Vera Cruz supporting the A.E.F. which had landed there. She departed Vera Cruz 29 October to investigate reports of unstable conditions at Port au Prince, Haiti, where she arrived 3 November. The battleship stood out of Port au Prince 1 December and reached Philadelphia a week later. Maneuvers off the East Coast and out of Guantanamo Bay occupied her until she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for overhaul 30 September 1916.
Kansas was still in that yard 6 April 1917 when the United States entered World War I. She arrived in York River from Philadelphia 10 July and became a unit of the 4th Battleship Division, spending the remainder of the war as an engineering training ship in Chesapeake Bay occasionally making escort and training cruises to New York. After the Armistice, she made five voyages to Brest, France, to embark and return veterans home.
She was overhauled at the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 29 June 1919 to 17 May 1820. Three days later she arrived at Annapolis where she embarked midshipmen and sailed 5 June for a practice cruise to Pacific waters, transiting the Panama Canal to visit Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Pedro. She departed the latter port 11 August, transited the canal, and visited Guantanamo Bay before returning to Annapolis 2 September.
Proceeding to Philadelphia, Kansas became flagship of Rear Admiral Charles F. Hughes, Commander of Battleship Division 4, Squadron 2, and future Chief of Naval Operations. She sailed for Bermuda 27 September and was inspected by the Prince of Wales at Grassey Bay, Bermuda, 2 October. Two days later she was underway for the Panama Canal and Samoa. She was at Pago Pago, Samoa, 11 November when Captain Waldo Evans became Governor of American Samoa. After visiting Hawaiian ports and transiting the Panama Canal, she cruised in the Caribbean and the Panama Canal before returning to Philadelphia 7 March 1921.
Kansas embarked midshipmen at Annapolis and sailed 4 June 1921, with three other battleships bound for Christiana, Norway, Lisbon, Gibraltar, and Guantanamo Bay. She returned 28 August to debark her midshipmen before visiting New York from 3 to 19 September. She entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard 20 September and decommissioned 16 December. Her name was struck from the Navy List 24 August 1923, and she was sold for scrap in accordance with the Washington Treaty limiting naval armament.