Thanks to:
By Kennedy Hickman, Guide

USS Georgia (BB-15), 1906
Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command

USS Georgia (BB-15) - Overview:

  • Nation: United States
  • Type: Battleship
  • Shipyard: Bath Iron Works
  • Laid Down: August 31, 1901
  • Launched: October 11, 1904
  • Commissioned: September 24, 1906
  • Fate: Sold for Scrap, 1923
USS Georgia (BB-15) - Specifications
  • Displacement: 14,948 tons
  • Length: 441.3 ft.
  • Beam: 76.3 ft.
  • Draft: 25 ft., 10 in.
  • Propulsion: 12 Babcock boilers, 2 triple-expansion engines, 2 propellers
  • Speed: 19 knots
  • Complement: 812 men
4 12 in./40 cal guns
8 8 in./45 cal guns
12 6-inch guns
12 3-inch guns
24 1 pdr guns
4 0.30 in. machine guns
4 21 in. torpedo tubes

USS Georgia (BB-15) - Design & Construction:

Laid down in 1901 and 1902, the five battleships of the Virginia-class were meant as a follow-on to theMaine-class (USS Maine, USS Missouri, and USS Ohio) which was then entering service. Though intended as the US Navy's latest design, the new battleships saw a return to some features that had not been utilized since the earlierKearsarge-class (USS Kearsarge and USS Kentucky). These included the mounting of 8-in. guns as a secondary armament and the placing of two 8-in. turrets on top of the vessels' 12-in. turrets. Supporting the Virginia-class' main battery of four 12 in. guns were eight 8-in., twelve 6-in., twelve 3-in., and twenty-four 1-pdr guns. In a change from earlier classes of battleships, the new design employed Krupp armor instead of the Harvey armor that had been placed on earlier vessels. Propulsion for the Virginia-class came from twelve Babcock boilers which powered two vertical inverted triple expansion reciprocating steam engines.

The third ship of the class, USS Georgia (BB-15) was laid down at Bath Iron Works on August 31, 1901. Work on the battleship moved ahead over the next three years and on October 11, 1904, it slid down the ways with Stella Tate, sister of Georgia Congressman Farish C. Tate, serving as sponsor. Nearly another two years passed before construction on Georgia ended. Commissioned on September 24, 1906 at Boston Navy Yard, Captain R.G. Davenport took command. Fitting out, Georgia embarked on a brief shakedown cruise on the East Coast. Finishing this, it joined the Atlantic Fleet as flagship of Squadron 1's 2nd Division.

USS Georgia (BB-15) - Early Service:

Departing Hampton Roads on March 26, 1907,Georgia steamed south to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for gunnery practice. Returning to Boston for repairs, the battleship moved to Virginia to participate in the Jamestown Exposition later that spring. While there, it was reviewed by President Theodore Roosevelt in June. With the conclusion of the ceremonies, Georgiaproceeded to Cape Cod Bay for routine target practice. During these operations, the battleship suffered an accident on July 15 when a powder charge ignited in the aft 8-in. turret. The resulting explosion killed ten and injured eleven. Rejoining the fleet, Georgia participated in maneuvers before entering the Philadelphia Navy Yard in September for an overhaul.

USS Georgia (BB-15) - Great White Fleet:

In 1906, Roosevelt's concerns about Japan's growing power led him to increasingly worry about the US Navy's lack of strength in the Pacific. To display to the Japanese that the United States could easily move its main battle fleet to the Pacific, he devised a world cruise of the country's battleships. Dubbed the Great White Fleet, Georgia, now commanded by Captain Henry McRea, was assigned to the force's Second Division, First Squadron. This group also contained its sister ships USS Virginia (BB-13), USS New Jersey (BB-16), and USS Rhode Island(BB-17). Departing Hampton Roads on December 16, 1907, the Great White Fleet steamed south making visits in Brazil before passing through the Straits of Magellan. Moving north, the fleet, led by Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, reached San Diego on April 14, 1908.

Briefly pausing in California, Georgia and the remainder of the fleet then crossed the Pacific to Hawaii before arriving at New Zealand and Australia in August. After taking part in extensive and festive port calls, the fleet moved north to the Philippines, Japan, and China. Completing visits in these countries, the American battleships steamed across the Indian Ocean before passing through the Suez Canal and entering the Mediterranean. Here the fleet parted to show the flag in several ports. Later rendezvousing at Gibraltar, the fleet then crossed the Atlantic and arrived at Hampton Roads where it was met by Roosevelt on February 22. Entering the yard for an overhaul, Georgia underwent extensive repairs and had two cage masts installed.

USS Georgia (BB-15) - Later Service:

For the better part of the next two years, Georgia served with the Atlantic Fleet and conducted routine peacetime operations. In November 1910, it, and other elements of the fleet, sailed for France and England as part of a large-scale exercise. Remaining abroad into the new year,Georgia arrived back at Guantanamo Bay on March 13, 1911. Though increasingly obsolete, the battleship continued in active service and in the summer of 1913 conducted a summer training cruise for midshipmen at the US Naval Academy. Overhauled at Boston that fall, Georgia then received orders for the Gulf of Mexico where tensions were increasing with Mexican forces near Tampico and Veracruz. In the late spring of 1914, the battleship supported the US occupation of Veracruz before steaming east to protect American interests in Haiti from August to October.

USS Georgia (BB-15) - World War I & Retirement:

After operating off Cuba in the winter of 1915, Georgia resumed duties with the Atlantic Fleet. Increasingly surplus to needs, the battleship was decommissioned at Boston on January 27, 1916 and put to use as the yard's receiving ship. With the US entry into World War I in April 1917, Georgia was re-commissioned and assigned to the 3rd Division, Battleship Force. Operating in the York River and Chesapeake Bay, the battleship trained armed guard crews in gunnery for service aboard American merchant vessels. In September 1918, Georgia took a more active role in the conflict when it joined Cruiser Force Atlantic.

Operating from the East Coast, Georgia escorted convoys halfway across the Atlantic where they were met by escort vessels from Europe. Following the end of the war in November, the battleship underwent a conversion into a temporary troopship. In this configuration it commenced runs to and from Europe to return American servicemen to the United States. After completing its fifth voyage in June 1919, Georgia received orders to join the Pacific Fleet's Division 2, Squadron 1. Its service in the Pacific proved brief as the battleship entered Mare Island Navy Yard in September and never departed. On July 15, 1920, Georgia was decommissioned for the final time. In accordance with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, the old battleship was sold for scrap in late 1923.