USS Florida (BB-30)
USS Florida BB-30 headed the Florida-class of American Dreadnought Battleships - which numbered just two vessels.
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At one point in military naval history, the "Dreadnought" battleship represented the pinnacle of warship design - thanks in large part to the Royal Navy's HMS Dreadnought commissioned in 1906. The British warship introduced a uniformed heavy primary battery complemented with a heavy secondary battery, was powered by steam turbine engines (the first capital ship to do so) and utilized an excellent balance of armor and speed. Her design was such that she rewrote the book on battleship design for the new century, rendering all previous designs obsolete by comparison and earning these ships the title of "pre-Dreadnought" as a result.
The United States Navy (USN) heeded the changing of the tide and looked to modernize its fleet by way of introduction of Dreadnought-type designs all its own. The Florida-class was one of these initiatives appearing just before World War 1 (1914-1918) and the group consisted of just two warships, USS Florida (BB-30) herself and sister-ship USS Utah (BB-31). USS Florida was ordered on May 13th, 1908 with her keel being laid down by New York Naval Shipyard on March 8th, 1909. She was launched on May 12th, 1910 and formally commissioned for service on September 15th, 1911.
As built, USS Florida displaced at25,400 tons (short) with a length of 521.7 feet, a beam of 88.2 feet and a draught of 28.2 feet. Power was from 12 x Babcock & Wilcox boilers feeding 4 x Parsons steam turbines driving 4 x shafts through 28,000 horsepower. Maximum speed in ideal conditions reached 21 knots. Her crew complement numbered 1,001 officers and enlisted. A twin-mast / twin-smoke funnel design was used which identified her in profile. The bridge was contained with the superstructure mass located toward midships. Armor protection ranged from 11" at the belt and 12" at the turret faces to 11.5" at the conning tower and 1.5" along her decks.
In terms of armament, Florida held 10 x 12" (300mm) /45 caliber guns in her main battery, these being five turrets each containing two guns. Two of the turrets were mounted along the forecastle with the remaining three found aft of the superstructure mass. Her secondary battery was made up of 16 x 5" guns fitted to her hull sides. Consistent with other surface warships of the period, she carried torpedo tubes (2 x 21" launchers).
USS Florida began her career in training maneuvers along the American East Coast and in Caribbean waters before she was arranged as part of the Atlantic Fleet. Her first "call to arms" came during the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) where she took part - along with her sister USS Utah - in the occupation of Veracruz (resulting in an American victory).
With the American declaration of war against Germany in April 1917, the United States officially entered World War 1 and, with this declaration, USS Florida was assigned to Battleship Division 9 which took its place at Scapa Flow to help reinforce British elements there. Convoy escort cruises then followed which offered USS Florida no action regarding her guns and torpedoes. The war ended with the Armistice of November 1918 and, after escorting President Wilson to France for peace talks, she returned stateside to end her part in the war.
During the inter-war years, USS Florida was used in various roles including training exercises and goodwill cruises. In 1924 she was wholly modernized to include reinforced decks for added protection against plunging fire, removal of her less efficient 5" gun installations, removal of her torpedo tubes, and was revised with torpedo "blisters" at her hull to increase survivability. Her propulsion scheme was updated through 4 x White-Forster boilers now feeding Curtis steam turbines. The new arrangement meant that her twin funnel profile now became a single funnel. One of her original masts was replaced by a simpler pole mast which further rewrote her silhouette.
With these changes in place, USS Florida managed a relatively quiet career heading into her final chapter of service. Due to the global shift by world powers to head off another global naval arms race, Florida fell victim to politics and was decommissioned on February 16th, 1931, struck from the Naval Register in April and scrapped before the end of the year to officially end her tenure as a fighting ship.