USS Indiana formed the lead ship of the three-strong Indiana-class, frontline "pre-Dreadnought" battleships developed mainly as coastal defenders for the United States Navy (USN).Her sisters were USS Massachusetts (BB-2) and USS Oregon (BB-3). The class began commissioned service in 1895-1896 and had no wartime losses among them. Dimensionally compact by then-modern standards, lacking strong deep water capabilities and having limited range, the class was nonetheless well armed and armored. USS Indiana's career went on to span late-1895 to early-1919 - seeing training service during the American commitment in World War 1 (1914-1918).
USS Indiana was ordered on June 30th, 1890 and awarded to William Cramp & Sons of Philadelphia (Yard No.270). Her keel was laid down on May 7th, 1891 and she was launched on February 28th, 1893. The warship was officially commissioned into service with the United States Navy on November 20th, 1895.
As built, her profile was consistent with warships of the pre-World War 1 period: Two smoke funnels, arranged in line, were seated at midships. A main mast towered over the design and this was positioned forward of midships and aft of the forecastle. The bridge section formed its supporting base. The hull utilized a stepped approach from bow to stern with main gun turrets positioned fore and aft of the hull superstructure.
Displacement reached 10,455 tons under standard load and dimensions included a running length of 350.10 feet, a beam of 69.2 feet, and a draught of 27 feet. Power was from 4 x Scotch double-ended boiler units feeding twin sets of triple expansion steam-driven engines driving 2 x Shafts under stern. Maximum speed in ideal conditions could reach 15 knots and range was out to 4,900 nautical miles.
In 1905, the propulsion scheme was updated with 8 x Babcock & Wilcox boiler units delivering 9,000 horsepower output.
Aboard was a crew of about 475 personnel made up of 32 or so officers and the rest being enlisted.
The hull utilized "Harveyized" steel in its construction, the process involving case-hardened surfaces of the steel plating. Protection at the belt reached 18" in thickness while the main turrets were covered over in 15 inches and the hull 5 inches. The conning tower was protected in up to 10 inches, the secondary turrets 6 inches, and the deck 3 inches.
Original armament was 4 x 13" (330mm) /35 caliber main guns in two twin-gunned primary turrets, one in the "A" position and the other in the "Y" (rearmost) position. Beyond this were 8 x 8" (203mm) /35 caliber guns in four twin-gunned turrets and 4 x 6" (152mm) guns in single-gunned turrets. Shorter-ranged weaponry consisted of 20 x 6-pounder (57mm) guns and a single 1-pounder gun. 4 x 18" (450mm) torpedo tubes were carried.
In 1908, the 4 x 6" guns were removed from the design. In 1910, 12 x 3" (76mm) guns were added.
Following the requisite at-sea naval trials, USS Indiana was assigned to training duties as part of the North Atlantic Squadron and stationed along the American East Coast. The warship quickly showed a propensity to roll in heavy waves and this forced bilge keels to be installed to prevent her going over. her first war-related assigned arrived with the Spanish-American War of 1898 (an American victory) and key involvements there included the blockading action at Santiago de Cuba and its subsequent battle (July 3rd, 1898) - a decisive American victory, effectively ending Spanish rule on the island. During her tour, her guns (along with those of several supporting ships) were successfully used in the neutralization of the Spanish ships Furor and Pluton.
In the post-war period, she was assigned to training duties once more. Her first formal decommissioning took place on December 29th, 1903 as she was more or less obsolete. She was given her new boilers, better balance and other modern features during this down time which led to a re-commissioning on January 9th, 1906. The following year, she served in a humanitarian role after the Kingston Earthquake in Jamaica. The aforementioned armament changes were then had in 1908. She then faced her second decommissioning on May 23rd, 1914.
With the arrival of World War 1 in Europe, the U.S. Navy resurrected USS Indiana once more as a precaution. During the war proper, she was effectively used as a crew and gunnery trainer and positioned off the coast of Tompkinsville (Staten Island). The war ultimately ended with the Armistice of November 1918 and Indiana was commissioned for the last time the following year on January 30th, 1919. The U.S. Navy then expended her stripped hulk by way of aerial bomb tests and she sunk on November 1st, 1920. What remained of her was sold off for scrap on March 19th, 1924.