U.S.S. Pennsylvania (1915)

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U.S.S. Pennsylvania (1915)
Hull Number: BB-38
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company[1]
Laid down: 27 Oct, 1913[2]
Launched: 16 Apr, 1915[3]
Commissioned: 12 Jun, 1916[4]
Decommissioned: 29 Aug, 1946[5]
Scuttled: 10 Feb, 1948[6]
Fate: after nuclear testing
This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

U.S.S. Pennsylvania (BB-38) was the lead ship of her class of United States Navy "super-dreadnought" battleships. She was the third Navy ship named for the state of Pennsylvania.

She was laid down October 27, 1913, by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on March 16, 1915, sponsored by Elizabeth Kolb (daughter of Colonel Louis J. Kolb of Philadelphia, Pa.), and commissioned on June 12, 1916, with Captain Henry B. Wilson in command.


In the Atlantic Fleet

Upon commissioning, Pennsylvania was attached to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. On 12 October 1916. She became flagship of Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, when Admiral Henry T. Mayo shifted his flag from Wyoming to Pennsylvania. In January 1917, Pennsylvania steamed for Fleet maneuvers in the Caribbean. She returned to her base at Yorktown, Virginia, April 6, 1917, the day of the American declaration of war against Germany. She did not sail to join the British Grand Fleet since she burned fuel oil rather than coal, and tankers could not be spared to carry additional fuel to Britain. In the light of this circumstance, only coal-burning battleships were selected for this mission. Based at Yorktown, she kept in battle trim with Fleet maneuvers, tactics, and training in the areas of the Chesapeake Bay, intervened by overhaul at Norfolk and New York, with brief maneuvers in Long Island Sound.

While at Yorktown, on August 11, 1917, Pennsylvania manned the rail and rendered honors as Mayflower, with President of the United States Woodrow Wilson aboard, stood in and anchored. At 12:15 President Wilson returned the call of Commander, Battle Force, aboard Pennsylvania and was given full honors.

On 2 December 1918, Pennsylvania steamed to anchor off Tompkinsville, New York. On December 4, she got underway for Brest, France. At 11:00, the transport George Washington, flying the flag of the President of the United States, stood out with an escort of ten destroyers. Pennsylvania manned the rail and fired a 21 gun salute. She took position ahead of George Washington as guide for the President's escort. Arriving in Brest on December 13, the crew manned the rail and cheered as George Washington passed and proceeded to her anchorage. On December 14 Pennsylvania departed for New York, arriving December 25.

In February 1919, Pennsylvania steamed for Fleet maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea, returning to New York in the late spring. While at New York on June 30, 1919, Admiral Mayo was relieved as Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, by Vice Admiral Henry B. Wilson, the first captain of the ship.

At Tompkinsville, 8 July 1919, Pennsylvania embarked Vice President Thomas R. Marshall, Cabinet Secretaries Daniels, Carter Glass, William B. Wilson, Newton D. Baker, Franklin K. Lane, and Senator Champ Clark, and then put to sea. At 10:00 Oklahoma was sighted with George Washington flying the President's flag and accompanied by her ocean escort. Pennsylvania fired a presidential salute, then took position ahead of Oklahoma and steamed to New York, stopping en route to disembark her distinguished guests before proceeding to her berth.

On January 7, 1920, she departed New York for Fleet maneuvers, in the Caribbean Sea, returning to New York 26 April 1920. She resumed a schedule of local training operations until 17 January 1921 when she departed New York for the Panama Canal. She arrived at Balboa, Panama on January 20 to join units of the Pacific Fleet and become flagship of the combined fleets, the Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet assuming command of the U.S. Battle Fleet on orders of the Navy Department. On 21 January 1921, the Fleet sailed from Balboa, en route to Callao, Peru, arriving January 31, 1921. Departing February 2, Pennsylvania returned to Balboa, February 14, and then conducted brief exercises while based at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Upon her return to Hampton Roads, 28 April 1921, she rendered a 21-gun salute as she passed Mayflower. The Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy came aboard for a reception for the President of the United States. At 11:40 President Warren Harding came aboard and his flag was broken at the main mast.

In the Pacific Fleet

On 22 August 1922, Pennsylvania departed Lynhaven Roads to join the Pacific Fleet. Arriving at San Pedro, California, on 26 September 1922, her principal area of operations until 1929 was along the coast of California, Washington, and Oregon, with periodic maneuvers and tactics off the Panama Canal, in the Caribbean Sea, and Hawaiian operating areas. She departed with the Fleet from San Francisco, California, April 15, 1925, and after war games in the Hawaiian area, departed Honolulu, Hawaii, on July 1, en route to Melbourne, Australia. After a visit to Wellington, New Zealand, she returned to San Pedro on September 26, 1925.

In January 1929, Pennsylvania cruised to Panama, and after training maneuvers while based at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, steamed to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, arriving 1 June 1929, to undergo overhaul and modernization. She remained in the yard for nearly two years. On 8 May, 1931, she departed for a refresher training cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and then returned. On 6 August 1931, she again sailed for Guantanamo, and later continued on to San Pedro, where she again joined the Battle Fleet.

From August 1931 to 1941, Pennsylvania engaged in Fleet tactics and battle practice along the west coast and participated in Fleet problems and maneuvers which were held periodically in the Hawaiian area as well as the Caribbean Sea. After overhaul in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, 7 January, 1941, she again sailed for Hawaii where she carried out scheduled operations with units of Task Forces 1 and 5, throughout that year, making one brief voyage to the west coast with Task Force 18.


Dates of appointment are provided when known.

See Also


  1. Friedman. U.S. Battleships. p. 420.
  2. Friedman. U.S. Battleships. p. 420.
  3. Friedman. U.S. Battleships. p. 420.
  4. Friedman. U.S. Battleships. p. 420.
  5. Friedman. U.S. Battleships. p. 420.
  6. Friedman. U.S. Battleships. p. 420.
  7. Register of Officers, 1917. p. 10.
  8. Register of Officers, 1919. pp. 14-15.
  9. Register of Officers, 1920. pp. 12-13.
  10. Register of Officers, 1922. pp. 12-13.
  11. Washington Post 15 May, 1921 p. 33
  12. Los Angeles Times 10 December, 1921 p. 10.
  13. Register of Officers, 1925. pp. 12-13.
  14. Register of Officers, 1925. pp. 12-13.
  15. Register of Officers, 1928. pp. 12-13.
  16. Register of Officers, 1930. pp. 14, 15.


Pennsylvania Class Dreadnought
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