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fighting ships of the world

UNITED STATES NAVY (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

CAPITAL SHIPS & MONITORS

SOUTH CAROLINA battleships (1910)

South Carolina 1910

No Name Builder Laid down Launched Comm Fate
BB26 South Carolina Cramp, Philadelphia 18/12/1906 11/7/1908 1/3/1910 stricken 11/1923
BB27 Michigan New York SB, Camden 26/5/1906 17/12/1908 4/1/1910 stricken 11/1923
  

Displacement normal, t

16000

Displacement full, t

17617

Length, m

137.2 wl 138.0 oa

Breadth, m

24.5

Draught, m

7.50

No of shafts

2

Machinery

VTE, 12 Babcock & Wilcox boilers

Power, h. p.

16500

Max speed, kts

18.5

Fuel, t

coal 2200

Endurance, nm(kts) 6950(10)

Armour, mm

belt: 305 - 203, upper belt: 254 - 203, deck: 64 - 38, barbettes: 254 - 203, turrets: 305 - 64, CT: 305 - 51

Armament

4 x 2 - 305/45 Mk V, 22 x 1 - 76/50 Mk VI, 2 - 533 TT (beam)

Complement

869

Ship project history: The first US single-calibre battleships, they actually preceded HMS Dreadnought in design, but not in construction. They were the last American battleships restricted to 16000t by Congressional mandate, and they conformed to the speed standard of earlier American battleships, 18kts. As a result, they could not operate tactically with the later dreadnoughts, and were often listed with the pre-dreadnoughts. They did not, for example, serve with the later ships in European waters during World War One.

    Their concept resulted from gunnery advances, largely due to Captain William S. Sims. The Bureau of Construction and Repair (C & R) was asked to design a new type of battleship in 1904, and Sims and his colleagues found the bureau much too slow to act; that was probably the origin of the reform movement which, four years later, made the General Board responsible for ship characteristics. Very little of the design background of the class has survived, possibly in part because C&R itself found the episode so embarrassing.

    It appears that the bureau's initial approach was a relatively conventional design with twin 305mm turrets on the centreline fore and aft, and four single turrets replacing the twin 203mm mounts of earlier pre-dreadnoughts. These designs apparently encountered severe structural problems, presumably particularly because Congress limited new battleships to a maximum of 16000t. Chief Constructor Washington L. Capps then chose the radical superfiring arrangement for which the ships were subsequently known. In March 1907 it was tested aboard the monitor Florida one of the two 305mm guns in the ship's turret was removed and mounted to superfire above and behind, and a dummy wooden gun mounted in its place; animals and then men were placed in the turret to test the blast effects of superfiring. By this time South Carolina could not really have been altered; presumably the issue was whether the ship could fire four guns ahead or astern.

    This class also introduced the cage masts characteristics of US dreadnoughts. The original design incorporated a pair of pole masts with a fire control bridge slung between them, but the ships were completed with cages fore and aft on the centreline, and the poles were cut down to serve as kingposts for boat cranes.

    The cage mast was tested aboard the monitor Florida in May 1908, and adopted for the entire fleet that summer.

Ship protection: Main belt had 2.44m height (1.3m over and 1.14m under waterline). Amidships part of belt was 254mm thick at 1.6m upper part tapering to 203mm at lower edge. Main belt thickness increased up to 305 / 254mm abreast magazines and 280 / 229mm abreast machinery. Next fore (from citadel up to 17 span) part of belt was 254mm at upper edge tapering to 203mm at lower edge. Ship ends by wl were closed by 38mm armour. Belt was connected with end barbettes by 254 / 203mm bulkheads. There was upper belt, 254mm thick at lower and 203mm at upper edges with equal 254 / 203mm bulkheads. 76mm guns casemate was unarmoured. Flat armoured deck was connected with upper edge of main belt and was 38mm over machinery, 51mm over aft and 57mm over fore magazines. This deck had 38mm thickness fwd from citadel and 70mm aft. It was 76mm and had 76mm slopes over steering gear. Main gun turrets had 305mm faces, 203mm sides and rears and 64mm crowns. Barbettes were 254mm at upper and 203mm at lower edges. CT had 305mm sides and 51mm roof. Funnel uptakes were protected by 38mm armour.

Modernizations: about 1917 - 1918, both: - 10 x 1 - 76/50

1918, both: + 2 x 1 - 76/52 Mk X

Naval service: The two ships served in the 1914 Vera Cruz incident. Both ships were considered heavy rollers. This tendency probably contributed to the collapse of Michigan's foremast in a gale in January 1918, Like the pre-dreadnoughts, South Carolina was employed as a convoy escort during 1917-18.

South Carolina 1921

Ivan Gogin, 2014