USS Alabama (BB-8) was a turn-of-the-century "Pre-Dreadnought" battleship constructed for the United States Navy (USN) during the pre-World War 1 (1914-1918) period. The type served as the second entry into the three-strong Illinois-class of fighting ships led by USS Illinois (BB-7) and bookended by USS Wisconsin (BB-9). USS Alabama was laid down by William Cramp & Sons of Philadelphia on December 1st, 1896 and launched to sea on May 18th, 1898, being formally commissioned for service into the USN on October 16th, 1900.
As completed, USS Alabama was given a full displacement rating of 12,450 tons with an overall length reaching 374 feet, a beam of 72.2 feet, and a draught of 23.5 feet. Power was derived from 8 x Fire-tube boiler units feeding 2 x Vertical triple-expansion steam engines developing 10,000 horsepower to 2 x Shafts under stern. This gave the warship a straight-line speed of 16 knots.
Aboard was an operating crew numbering 536 personnel.
Armament consisted of 4 x 13" (330mm) /35 caliber main guns supported by 14 x 6" (152mm) /40 caliber secondary guns and 16 x 6-pounder (57mm) tertiary guns. Beyond this were 6 x 1-pounder (37mm) guns and 4 x 18" (450mm) torpedo tubes.
Armor protection reached up to 16.5" at the belt, 14" at the turrets, 15" at the barbettes, 6" at the casemate, and 10" at the conning tower.
All told, the warship was well-armored and armored with useable ocean-going speeds and a large crew.
The aforementioned "Pre-Dreadnought" classification stemmed from the Alabama being a "mixed-gun" warship design appearing before the British-originated HMS Dreadnought splashed onto the naval scene. HMS Dreadnought appeared in 1906 and completely redrew the accepted scheme for frontline / capital battleships, namely due to her uniformed main battery as well as full reliance on steam power - proving both powerful and fast by standards of the day while being relatively well-armored for survivability. The appearance of this particular warship spurred Europe into a naval arms race which preceded (and contributed greatly to) World War 1.
The Illinois-class was conceived of as an interim measure while work was underway on more advanced, modern designs. As a result, the three warships included a mix of then-modern, as well as earlier, qualities including fire-tubed boiler units and dated armor protection schemes. More modern features included new gun turret designs and vastly improved performance specs - making their investment worthwhile heading into the new century.
During her early going, USS Alabama took part in peacetime training in North Atlantic Waters for the period of seven years and made stops to allied ports across Europe and the Mediterranean. With the "Great White Fleet" arranged to showcase American naval power to the world, Alabama became part of this formidable flotilla as it traversed the globe from December of 1907 to February of 1909 - however, issues with her machinery forced her to remain stateside, unable to complete the journey.
From 1909 until 1912, the warship was given an extensive refit / modernization to keep her a viable floating deterrent for the foreseeable future. In the post-rebuild years, she was assigned as a training platform for the Atlantic Reserve Fleet and remained at this post at the outbreak of World War 1 in Europe during July 1914.
USS Alabama did not see combat action in The Great War and thus managed to survive the period unscathed. Her sea-going tenure ended on May 7th, 1920 when she was formally decommissioned from service. After being struck from the Naval Register, she was stripped of her war-making usefulness and subsequently used as a bomb target for U.S. Army Air Service aviators in September of 1921. What remained of her following this was sold for scrap in March of 1924 - an unceremonious finale to a critical USN warship of the pre-war period.