ship bearing the state's name helped to display U.S. naval might
in early 1900s.
By ARON PILHOFER
Gannett State Bureau
the battleship New Jersey to a naval historian, and the response
might be, "Which one?"
In fact, there have
been two. Prior to the 1942 launch of the Iowa-class battleship
known as the New Jersey, another ship bore the name of the Garden
State. Although it had a shorter career, just 16 years in service,
it was among the noteworthy American naval vessels built before
World War I.
The first New Jersey
was just under 15,000 tons
about one-third the displacement
of the World War II battleship. It was built in Massachusetts,
one of five Virginia-class battleships armed with 8-inch and
12-inch guns. Launched in November 1904, the ship was commissioned
two years later with Capt. William W. Kimball in command.
The ship is probably
best remembered as part of President Teddy Roosevelt's Great
The New Jersey was
one of 16 battleships and six destroyers sent by Roosevelt on
an around-the-world cruise starting in December 1907. The ostensible
mission was peace: to quell tensions with Japan, then a growing
industrial power. But it was also the largest display of sea
power to date for the United States, which was just becoming
a player in world affairs. And although not a shot was fired
in anger by the fleet, it made the impression Roosevelt intended.
Tensions with Japan subsided.
On Feb. 22, 1909, the
fleet returned to Hampton Roads, Va., after stops in Australia,
New Zealand and the Far East. As one of his last acts in office,
Roosevelt reviewed the fleet as it came to anchor.
During the years leading
up to World War I, the New Jersey spent time as a training ship
and was dispatched to protect American interests in the Caribbean
and in Mexico. During the war, the ship was again converted to
a training ship for gunners and seamen recruits.
After the war, it helped
ferry American forces home from Europe before being decommissioned
for a final time in 1920.
The New Jersey's last
action was perhaps as important as its first. The ship was sunk
off Cape Hatteras on September 1923 by Army bomber aircraft,
helping to convince a skeptical military hierarchy of the growing
importance of air power.
USS New Jersey Home Page