Virginia (BB-13), Fourth Division
Commerative card showing the launching of Virginia and cancel almost a full year before she was commissioned.
A Glass from the Launching
The fourth Virginia (BB-13) was laid down on
21 May 1902 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding and
Dry Dock Co. launched on 5 April 1904; sponsored by Miss Gay
Montague, daughter of the Governor of Virginia; and commissioned on 7
May 1906, Capt. Seaton Schroeder in command.
|After fitting out, Virginia conducted her "shaking down" cruise in
Lynnhaven Bay, Va., off Newport, R.I., and off Long Island, N.Y.,
before she put into Bradford, R.I., for coal on 9 August. After running
trials for the standardization of her screws off Rockland, Maine, the
battleship maneuvered in Long Island Sound before anchoring off
President Theodore Roosevelt's home, Oyster Bay, Long Island, from 2 to
4 September, for a Presidential review.
Arrived at Havana Cuba!
This card is part of a collection created by Frank Lesher, Electrician, USS Virginia. At right a photo of the crew of the Virginia camped out in Havana.
|On the island of Cuba, in August of 1906, a revolution
had broken out against the government of President T. Estrada Palma.
The disaffection, which had started in Pinar del Rio province, grew in
the early autumn to the point where President Palma had no recourse but
to appeal to the United States for intervention.
mid-September, it had become apparent that the small Cuban constabulary
(3,000 rural guards) was unable to protect foreign interests, and
intervention would be necessary. Accordingly, Virginia departed Newport
on 15 September 1906, bound for Cuba, and reached Havana on the 21st,
ready t Havana until 13 October, when she sailed for Sewall's Point, Va.
GEORGE D. WITT SHOE CO.
The USS Virginia was the "Bell of the Ball" at the Jamestown Exposition. This undevided back card shows Dixie Girl on the deck of the Battleship Virginia modeling a pair of shoes for the George D. Witt Shoe Company of Lynchburg!
The Crew in Auckland, NZ!
The crew mustered on the forecastle. This is one of my favorite cards.
Returning southward early in the autumn of 1907, Virginia
underwent two months of repairs and alterations at the Norfolk Navy
Yard, from 24 September to 24 November, before undergoing further
repairs at the New York Navy Yard later in November. She subsequently
shifted southward again, reaching Hampton Roads on 6 December.
Virginia spent the next 10 days preparing for a feat never before
attempted-a round-the-world cruise by the battleships of the Atlantic
The cruise began eight days before Christmas of 1907, and ended on
Washington's Birthday, 22 February 1909. During the course of the
voyage, the ships called at ports along both coasts of South America;
on the west coast of the United States; at Hawaii in the Philippines;
Japan; China; and in Ceylon. Virginia's division also visited Smyrna,
Turkey, via Beirut, during the Mediterranean leg of the cruise. Both
upon departure and upon arrival, the fleet was reviewed at Hampton
Roads by President Roosevelt, whose "big stick" diplomacy and flair for
the dramatic gesture had been practically personified by the cruise of
the "Great White Fleet."
Following that momentous circumnavigation, Virginia
underwent four months of voyage repairs and alterations at the Norfolk
Navy Yard from 26 February to 26 June 1909. She spent the next year and
three months operating off the eastern seaboard of the United States,
ranging from the southern drill grounds, off the Virginia capes, to
Newport, R.I. During that time, she conducted one brief cruise with
members of the Naval Militia embarked and visited Rockport and
Provincetown, Mass. For the better part of that time, she conducted
battle practices with the fleet-evolutions only broke by brief periods
of yard work at Norfolk and Boston.
Brest, France, and Gravesend, England, from 16 November to 7 December
and from 8 to 29 December 1909, respectively, before she-as part of the
4th Division, Atlantic Fleet-joined the Atlantic Fleet in Guantanamo
Bay for drills and exercises. She subsequently operated in Cuban waters
for two months, from 13 January to 13 March 1910 before she returned
north for battle practices on the southern drill grounds.
Virginia maintained her routine of operations off the eastern
seaboard-occasionally ranging into Cuban waters for regularly scheduled
fleet evolutions in tactics and gunnery-into 1913, a routine largely
uninterrupted. In 1913, however, unrest in Mexico caused the frequent
dispatch of American men of-war to those waters. Virginia became one of
those ships in mid-February, when she reached Tampico on the 15th of
that month; she remained there until 2 March, when she shifted to Vera
Cruz for coal. She returned to Tampico on 5 March and remained there
for 10 days.
At right is a ceramic mug with an image of the USS Virginia, pre-1910. This is the only mug of it's type that I have found, possibly made for sale at the Jamestown Exposition.
After another stint of operations off the eastern seaboard, ranging
from the Virginia capes to Newport —a period of maneuvers and exercises
varied by a visit to New York at the end of May 1913 for the dedication
of the memorial to the battleship Maine ( sunk in Havana Harbor in
February 1898) and one to Boston in mid-June for Flag Day and Bunker
Hill exericses— Virginia returned to Mexican waters in November. She
reached Vera Cruz on 4 November and remained in port until the 30th,
when she shifted to Tampico. She observed conditions in those ports and
operated off the Mexican coast into January of 1914.
Returning to Cuban waters for exercises and maneuvers with the fleet,
Virginia sailed for the Virginia capes in mid-March 1914. She
maneuvered with the fleet off Cape Henry and in Lynnhaven Roads before
she conducted gunnery drills at the wreck of San Marcos (ex-Texas) in
Tangier Sound, Chesapeake Bay. Virgirnia subsequently held experimental
gunnery firings on the southern drill grounds before she spent much of
April drydocked at Boston.
The American occupation of Vera Cruz in April 1914 resulted in the
sizeable deployment of American men-of-war to that port that lasted
into the autumn. Virginia reached Vera Cruz on 1 May and operated with
the fleet out of that port into early October, a period of time broken
by target practice in Guantanamo Bay between 18 September and 3 October.
The Crew of the USS Virginia in 1917
|On the day America entered World War I, the United States government
took steps to take over all interned German merchant vessels then in
American ports. As part of that move, Virginia sent boarding parties to
seize the German passenger and cargo vessels America, Cincinnati,
Wittekind, Koln, and Ockenfels on 6 April 1917.
Overhauled at the Boston Navy Yard in the autumn of 1918, Virginia
spent the remainder of hostilities engaged in convoy escort duties,
taking convoys well over half-way across the Atlantic. She departed New
York on 14 October 1918 on her first such mission, covering a convoy
that had some 12,176 men embarked. After escorting those ships to
longitude 22 degrees west, she put about and headed for home.
That proved to be her only such wartime mission however because the
armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, the day before Virginia set
out with a France bound convoy, her second escort run into the
mid-Atlantic. After leaving that convoy at longitude 34 degrees west,
Virginia put about and headed for Hampton Roads.
The cessation of hostilities meant the return of the many troops that
had been engaged in fighting the enemy overseas. Similar in mission to
the "Magic Carpet" operation that followed the end of World War II, a
massive troop-lift, bringing the "doughboys" back from "over there,"
commenced soon after World War I ended.
With additional messing and berthing facilities installed to permit her
use as a troopship, Virginia departed Norfolk eight days before
Christmas of 1918. Over the ensuing months, she conducted five
round-trip voyages to Brest, France, and back. Reaching Boston on
Independence Day 1919, ending her last troop lift Virginia ended her
transport service, having brought some 6,037 men back from France.
Virginia remained at the Boston Navy Yard, inactive until
decommissioned there on 13 August 1920. Struck from the Navy list and
placed on the sale list on 12 July 1922, the battleship-reclassified
prior to her inactivation to BB-13 on 17 July 1920—was subsequently
taken off the sale list and transferred to the War Department on 6
August 1923 for use as a bombing target.
Virginia and her sistership New Jersey were taken to a point three
miles off the Diamond Shoals lightship, off Cape Hatteras, N.C., and
anchored there on 5 September 1923. The "attacks" made by Army Air
Service Martin bombers began shortly before 0900. On the third attack,
seven Martins, flying at 3,000 feet, each dropped two 1,100-pound bombs
on Virginia-only one of them hit. That single bomb, however,
"completely demolished the ship as such." An observer later wrote:
"Both masts, the bridge, all three smokestacks, and the upperworks
disappeared with the explosion and there remained, after the smoke
cleared away, nothing but the bare hull, decks blown off, and covered
with a mass of tangled debris from stem to stern consisting of stacks,
ventilators, cage masts, and bridges."
Within one-half hour of the cataclysmic blast that wrecked the ship,
her battered hulk sank beneath the waves. Her sistership ultimately
joined her shortly thereafter. Virginia's end, and New Jersey's
provided far-sighted naval officers with a dramatic distraction of air
power and impressed upon them the "urgent need of developing naval
aviation with the fleet." As such, the service performed by the old
pre-dreadnought may have been her most valuable.