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This is the first installment of an essay dedicated to the ships of The Great White Fleet. 

President Theodore Roosevelt dispatched 16 battleships and various support vessels of the Atlantic Fleet on a worldwide voyage of circumnavigation on 16 December 1907 and ending on 22 February 1909. The hulls were painted white, the Navy’s peacetime colors scheme at that time, and decorated with gold scrollwork and red, white and blue banners. These ships would later come to be known as the Great White Fleet.

The deployment was ostensibly a showpiece of American goodwill, with its numerous port calls, and a demonstration of American naval power following the triumphs of the Spanish-American War. In port after port, citizens in the thousands turned out to see and greet the fleet, and in Australia, the arrival of the Great White Fleet on 20 August 1908 was used to encourage support for the forming of Australia's own navy. As a measure of goodwill, American sailors helped in recovery operations following the 1908 Messina earthquake.

The itinerary was divided into three legs totaling some 43,000 nautical miles (80,000 kilometers) and lasting 14 months, with port calls on six continents. Beginning at Hampton Roads, Virginia, the fleet sailed south and visited Trinidad, Brazil, Chile, passed through the Straits of Magellan, then north to Mexico and arrived in San Francisco, California on May 6th 1908. The second leg visited Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, Japan and Ceylon before arriving at Suez on January 3rd 1909. The final leg visited Italy and Gibraltar before crossing the Atlantic and returning to Hampton Roads.

The fleet was comprised of the following battleships, commanded by Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry, all completed after the Spanish-American War:

First Division: USS Connecticut BB-18, USS Kansas BB-21, USS Minnesota BB-22, USS Vermont BB-20

Second Division: USS Georgia BB-15, USS Maine BB-10 (replaced May 1908), USS Nebraska BB-14 (after May 1908), USS New Jersey BB-16, USS Rhode Island BB-17

Third Division: USS Louisiana BB-19, USS Virginia BB-13, USS Missouri BB-11, USS Ohio BB-12

Fourth Division: USS Alabama BB-8 (replaced May 1908) , USS Wisconsin BB-9 (after May 1908), USS Illinois BB-7, USS Kearsage BB-5, USS Kentucky BB-6

Fleet Auxiliaries: USS Culgoa (a store ship) AF-3, USS Yankton (a tender), USS Glacier (a store ship detached May 1908) AF-4. USS Relief (a hospital ship), USS Panther (a repair ship) AD-6

Torpedo Boat Flotilla: USS Hopkins DD-6, USS Stewart DD-13, USS Hull DD-7, USS Truxton DD-14, USS Lawrence DD-8, USS Whipple DD-15, USS Arethusa (a destroyer tender)

Let’s begin the discussion with USS Kearsage and her sister ship USS Kentucky, the oldest vessels of the fleet. Both ships were laid down in June 1896 and launched in March 1898 by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company. She was named after the sloop-of-war Kearsage, best known for defeating the Confederate commerce raider CSS Alabama during the American Civil War in 1864, while Kentucky followed the conventional practice of naming battleships after states. Both vessels were in service from 1900 to 1920.

The Kearsage class was designed for coastal defense, with a displacement of 12,850 tons fully loaded. Her two 3-cylinder vertical triple-expansion steam engines and five Scotch boilers, connected to two propeller shafts, produced a total of 11,674 indicated horsepower (8,705 kW), and gave a maximum speed of 16.816 knots (19.352 mph; 31.143 km/h). 

The class mounted two double turrets, with two 13 in (330-mm)/35 caliber guns and two 8 in (203-mm)/35 caliber guns each, stacked in two levels. The class carried fourteen 5 in (127-mm)/40 caliber guns in casemates and twenty 6-pounder (57-mm or 2.2 in) guns. Also carried were eight 1-pounder (37-mm or 1.5 in) guns, four .30 in (7.6-mm) machine guns and four 18 inch (450-mm) torpedo tubes mounted singly abreast the main turrets.

13 in (330-mm)/35         Range 10.9 kilometers        Reload 60 seconds
8 in (203-mm)/35        Range 14.6 kilometers        Reload 30 seconds
5 in (127-mm)/40        Range 7.8 kilometers        Reload 5 seconds
18 inch (450-mm) torpedo    Range .73 kilometers at 27.5 knots

Despite the range differences, the higher rate of fire of the 203-mm/35 guns and lighter combined turret weight, as opposed to separate turrets, was expected to compensate for any shortcomings in target acquisition. In addition, the casemates were so low to the water line that heavy seas made them useless in battle.

The ships were protected with face-hardened Harvey armor. The armor belt varied from 102-419-mm with bulkheads ranging from 254-305-mm. The main turrets were protected by from 381-432-mm but the casemate weapons were unprotected. A curved armor deck connected to the bottom edge of the belt and was level with the belt at the top. It varied from 70-mm behind the belt to 127-mm behind less armored sections. Finally, the conning tower was protected by 254-mm. 

A shortcoming in the armor layout was that the main belt extended only 1.07 meters above the water line.


Here are my interpretations of this class as it might appear in World of Warships:

USS Kearsage (pre-dreadnought battleship).  The tech-tree location would be adjacent to USS Chester at Tier II.

“A”
Research Price    2400 exp.
Purchase Price    220,000 credits
Hit Points    26,000
                                                                Damage             Range
Main Battery                          RoF        HE         AP        
4 x 2 330-mm/35 mk 3        1/min    2,100    4,100    10.9 km
4 x 2 203-mm/35                  2/min    1,400    2,300    14.6 km

Secondary Battery
14 x 1 127-mm/40               12/min    900    1,100    7.8 km

Auxiliary Armament             Reload
4 x 1 432-mm torpedoes    360 sec    3,000        1 km

Armor 127-419-mm

“B” Refit
Research Price    1000 exp.
Purchase Price    60,000 credits
Hit Points    + 2,000

                                  “A”    “B”
Survivability             30    32
Artillery                    55    56
Torpedoes                 2    0
Maneuverability      16    18
Concealment           51    51

                                                                               Damage    
Main Battery                          Range        RoF    HE    AP
4 x 2 330-mm/35 mk 3        10.9 km        1/min    2,100    4,100    
4 x 2 203-mm/35                  14.6 km        2/min    1,400    2,300    

Secondary Battery
18 x 1 127-mm/40        7.8 km        12/min    900    1,100    7.8 km

Note: Torpedoes removed and improved boilers added (speed +5%).  Cage masts replaced pole masts.

Surface Delectability 11 km, Turning Radius 400 m, Rudder Shift Time 15 sec. 

Compatible Upgrades: Slot 1
Auxiliary Armaments Modification 1    Magazine Modification 1    

Consumables:
Damage Control Party

Camouflage:
Type 1 or 2 standard, Type 5 (22,500 credits), Great White Fleet (1,000 doubloons, tan over white, treated as Type 15 but only +30% experience)

I appreciate comments and suggestions since many of the values above are mere interpolations based on currently published information and some are outright guesses.  And to quote the final step of microwave popcorn instructions, Enjoy.

See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

 

 

 

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Some one a while back posted a great story from an article or book all about the great white fleet and its stops in Japan , Australia and all around the world .

One story I remember is of a sailor during a typhoon being swept off the deck of his ship and then being deposited on the deck of an adjoining ship . How lucky was he and what a great story story for the grandkids .

Edited by clammboy
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A really interesting piece. It's always been a favorite part of my naval history interests.

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22 hours ago, Ghostdog1355 said:

A really interesting piece. It's always been a favorite part of my naval history interests.

Thank you.  I intend to work my way down all the classes that participated in the tour.  Illinois, Maine, Virginia and Connecticut classes, then finish off with the destroyers and the armored cruiser Washington.

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