USS Wyoming (BB-32)

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Wyoming, c 1912-13
Wyoming, c. 1912-13
Career (United States)
Ordered:3 March 1909
Builder:William Cramp and Sons
Laid down:9 February 1910
Launched:25 May 1911
Commissioned:25 September 1912
Decommissioned:1 August 1947
Fate:sold for scrap
General characteristics [1]
Class & type:Wyoming-class battleship
Displacement:27,243 tons (24,714 tonnes)
Length:562 ft (171 m)
Beam:93.2 ft (28.4 m)
Draft:28.5 ft (8.7 m)
Speed:21.22 kn (24.42 mph; 39.30 km/h)
Complement:58 officers and 1,005 men
Armament:12 × 12 in (300 mm) guns, 21 × 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns,[2] 2 × 3 in (76 mm) guns, 2 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor:
  • Belt: 9–11 in (229–279 mm)
  • Lower casemate: 9–11 in (229–279 mm)
  • Upper casemate: 6.5 in (165 mm)
  • Barbettes: 11 in (279 mm)
  • Turret faces: 12 in (305 mm)
  • Conning tower: 11.5 in (292 mm)
 
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Wyoming, c 1912-13
Wyoming, c. 1912-13
Career (United States)
Ordered:3 March 1909
Builder:William Cramp and Sons
Laid down:9 February 1910
Launched:25 May 1911
Commissioned:25 September 1912
Decommissioned:1 August 1947
Fate:sold for scrap
General characteristics [1]
Class & type:Wyoming-class battleship
Displacement:27,243 tons (24,714 tonnes)
Length:562 ft (171 m)
Beam:93.2 ft (28.4 m)
Draft:28.5 ft (8.7 m)
Speed:21.22 kn (24.42 mph; 39.30 km/h)
Complement:58 officers and 1,005 men
Armament:12 × 12 in (300 mm) guns, 21 × 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns,[2] 2 × 3 in (76 mm) guns, 2 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor:
  • Belt: 9–11 in (229–279 mm)
  • Lower casemate: 9–11 in (229–279 mm)
  • Upper casemate: 6.5 in (165 mm)
  • Barbettes: 11 in (279 mm)
  • Turret faces: 12 in (305 mm)
  • Conning tower: 11.5 in (292 mm)

USS Wyoming (BB-32), the lead ship of her class of battleship, was the third ship of the United States Navy named Wyoming, although it was only the second named in honor of the 44th state.

Wyoming was part of the battleship squadron attached to the British Grand Fleet during World War I, Battleship Division Nine. In the 1930s, she was converted to a gunnery training ship. During World War II, she trained some 35,000 men on seven different types of guns. She was scrapped in 1947; the role of fleet training ship was passed to Mississippi.

Contents

Construction and commissioning

Wyoming was laid down on 9 February 1910 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by William Cramp and Sons. She was launched on 25 May 1911 sponsored by Miss Dorothy Eunice Knight, the daughter of Chief Justice Jesse Knight of the Wyoming Supreme Court,and god-daughter of Wyoming Governor Joseph M. Carey; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 25 September 1912, Captain Frederick L. Chapin in command.

Wyoming about to sail under the Brooklyn Bridge, 1912
Topside view of Wyoming as she leaves New York c. 1915

Pre-World War I

Wyoming departed from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 6 October and completed the fitting-out process at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, before she joined the fleet in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Reaching the Tidewater area on 30 December 1912, she became the flagship of Rear Admiral Charles J. Badger, Commander, Atlantic Fleet, soon thereafter. Sailing on 6 January 1913, the new battleship visited the soon-to-be-completed Panama Canal and then conducted winter fleet maneuvers off Cuba before she returned to Chesapeake Bay on 4 March.

After gunnery practice off the Virginia Capes, on the southern drill grounds, Wyoming underwent repairs and alterations at the New York Navy Yard from 18 April to 7 May. She then participated in war games off Block Island from 7–24 May, a period of activity broken by repairs to her machinery, carried out at Newport, Rhode Island from 9–19 May. She underwent more repairs at Newport, then visited New York City from 28–31 May for the festivities surrounding the dedication of the monument honoring the armored cruiser Maine, destroyed in Havana harbor on 15 February 1898.

Shifting to Annapolis, Maryland on 4 June, Wyoming embarked a contingent of United States Naval Academy midshipmen and took the young officers-to-be on a summer cruise off the coast of New England that lasted into late August. Disembarking the "middies" at Annapolis on 24–25 August, Wyoming then conducted torpedo and target practices in the southern drill grounds, out of Hampton Roads, into the late autumn. She was docked at New York for repairs from 16 September to 2 October and then ran a full-power trial as she headed south to Norfolk, Virginia, to resume exercises off the Virginia Capes before sailing for Europe on 26 October.

Reaching Valletta, Malta on 8 November, the battleship visited Naples, Italy, and Villefranche, France, during the course of her Mediterranean cruise. The battleship then left French waters astern on the last day of November and reached New York on 15 December.

Wyoming then underwent voyage repairs at the New York Navy Yard remaining there through the end of 1913. Getting underway on 6 January 1914, the battleship reached Hampton Roads on the morrow and spent the next three days coaling to prepare for the annual fleet exercises in the warmer Caribbean climes.

Wyoming exercised with the fleet out of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base from 26 January to 15 March before setting her course northward for Cape Henry, Virginia. She then ranged with the fleet from the southern drill grounds, off the Virginia Capes, to Tangier Sound, for gunnery drills and practices. She remained engaged in that routine until 3 April, when she headed for the New York Navy Yard and an overhaul.

After that period of repairs, which lasted from 4 April to 9 May, Wyoming subsequently embarked a draft of men for transport to the fleet, departed from Hampton Roads on 13 May, and headed for Mexican waters. She reached Veracruz on 18 May, less than a month after American sailors and Marines had occupied that Mexican port.

Wyoming remained at Veracruz over the months that ensued, into the late autumn of 1914, before she returned northward. After conducting exercises off the Virginia Capes en route, she put into the New York Navy Yard on 6 October and then underwent repairs and alterations which lasted until 17 January 1915.

Shifting down the coast upon completion of that yard period, Wyoming left Hampton Roads in her wake on 21 January for the annual exercises in Cuban waters and in the Caribbean Sea. Returning to the Tidewater area on 7 April, the battleship carried out tactical exercises and maneuvers along the eastern seaboard, primarily off Block Island and the southern drill grounds, into the late autumn, when she again entered the New York Navy Yard for an overhaul.

After repairs lasting from 20 December 1915 to 6 January 1916, Wyoming got underway on the latter day, bound for war games in the southern drill grounds. She subsequently headed farther south, reaching Culebra, Puerto Rico on 16 January. After visiting Port-au-Prince, Haiti on 27 January, Wyoming put into Guantanamo Bay on 28 January and then operated in Cuban waters off Guantanamo and Guacanayabo Bays and the port of Manzanillo, Cuba until 10 April, when she sailed for New York.

Wyoming remained in the New York Navy Yard from 16 April to 26 June, undergoing repairs; she then operated off the New England coast, out of Newport, and off the Virginia Capes through the remainder of 1916. Departing New York on 9 January 1917, Wyoming then conducted routine maneuvers in the Guantanamo Bay region through mid-March. She departed the Caribbean on 27 March and was off Yorktown, Virginia, when the United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917.

World War I

Over the months that ensued, Wyoming served in the Chesapeake Bay region as an engineering ship until 13 November 1917. On that day, Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman broke his flag in New York as Commander, Battleship Division 9 (BatDiv 9). After preparations for "distant service," Wyoming, New York, Delaware, and Florida sailed for the British Isles on 25 November and reached Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands on 7 December 1917. Although retaining their American designation as BatDiv 9, those four dreadnoughts became the 6th Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet upon arrival in British waters.

Wyoming carried out maneuvers and tactical exercises with the units of the British Grand Fleet until 6 February 1918. On that day, she got underway with the other ships of the 6th Battle Squadron and eight British destroyers to guard a convoy routed to Stavanger, Norway. En route, Wyoming dodged torpedo wakes off Stavanger on 8 February but reached Scapa Flow safely two days later. In the following months, Wyoming continued to patrol off the British Isles, guarding the coastwise sea lanes against the danger posed by the still-powerful German High Seas Fleet.

From 30 June to 2 July 1918, Wyoming operated with the 6th Battle Squadron and a division of British destroyers, guarding Allied minelayers as they planted the North Sea Mine Barrage. Later, Wyoming returned to the Firth of Forth, where she was inspected by His Majesty George V of the United Kingdom, along with other units of the Grand Fleet.

Although American and German capital ships never met in combat on the high seas, they nevertheless made rendezvous. On 21 November 1918, 10 days after the armistice ended the war, Wyoming, New York, Texas, and Arkansas joined the Grand Fleet as it escorted the German High Seas Fleet into the Firth of Forth to be interned following the cessation of hostilities.

Inter-war period

Later, Wyoming, hoisting the flag of Rear Admiral William Sims, Commander, BatDiv 9 (ComBatDiv 9), sailed on 12 December 1918 from the Isle of Portland, England, bound for France. The following morning, she and other battleships rendezvoused with George Washington off Brest, France. Embarked in the transport was the President Woodrow Wilson, en route to the Paris Peace Conference.

After serving in the honor escort for the President and his party, Wyoming returned Admiral Sims to Plymouth, along with the newly appointed ambassador to Britain. Debarking her distinguished passengers on 14 December, the battleship loaded 381 bags of mail and, within a few hours, sailed for the United States. Reaching New York City on Christmas Day 1918, she remained there through New Year's Day 1919. On 18 January 1919, she became the flagship of BatDiv 7, 3rd Squadron, and broke the flag of Rear Admiral Robert Coontz.

Wyoming departed New York on 1 February and, following winter maneuvers in Cuban waters, returned north, reaching New York on 14 April. However, she stood out to sea soon thereafter, getting underway on 12 May to serve as a link in the chain of ships stretching across the Atlantic to guide the Curtiss NC flying boats on their flight across that ocean. After completing her duty as plane guard and meteorological station, Wyoming returned to Hampton Roads on the last day of May.

Later embarking midshipmen and taking them on their southern cruise in the Chesapeake Bay-Virginia Capes area, Wyoming entered the Norfolk Navy Yard on 1 July to prepare for service in the Pacific. The secondary battery was reduced to 16 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns.[2] On that day, she became a unit of the newly designated Pacific Fleet, assigned the duty as flagship for BatDiv 6, Squadron 4 (BatRon 4). On the morning of 19 July, the fleet—led by New Mexico—got underway for the Pacific. Transiting the Panama Canal soon thereafter, the fleet reached San Diego, California on 6 August.

Shifting to San Pedro, California three days later, Wyoming operated out of that port into the autumn. After an overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard from 15 September 1919 to 19 April 1920, Wyoming returned to her base at San Pedro on 4 May. Over the next few months, the battleship exercised off the southern California coast. During that time, she was reclassified from "Battleship No. 32" to BB-32 on 17 July 1920.

Departing San Diego on the last day of August 1920, Wyoming sailed for Hawaiian waters and conducted exercises and maneuvers there through September. Returning to San Diego on 8 October, Wyoming subsequently conducted tactical evolutions off the western seaboard, ranging north to Seattle, Washington. Departing San Francisco, California on 5 January 1921, Wyoming, over the ensuing weeks, conducted further drills, exercises, and maneuvers reaching from Panama Bay to Valparaíso, Chile, and was reviewed by President of Chile Arturo Alessandri Palma on 8 February. Returning north, Wyoming arrived at the Puget Sound Navy Yard on 18 March and remained there into the summer.

Upon completion of repairs, Wyoming headed south, and on 2 August reached Balboa, Canal Zone, where she embarked Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman and members of the commission to Peru for transportation to New York City. Reaching her destination on 19 August, she disembarked her passengers and, that afternoon, broke the flag of Admiral Hilary P. Jones, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet.

Over the next 41 months, Wyoming operated primarily in the Atlantic, off the eastern seaboard of the United States, participating in Atlantic Fleet exercises, ranging from the coast of New England to the Virginia Capes. She took part in the routine winter maneuvers of the fleet in Caribbean and Cuban waters, serving at various times as flagship for Vice Admiral John McDonald, Commander, Battleship Force; and, later, Commander, Scouting Fleet, and his successors, Vice Admirals Newton McCully and Josiah McKean. During that time, the ship received routine repairs and alterations at the New York Navy Yard and conducted a midshipman training cruise in the summer of 1924, cruising to Torbay, England; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Gibraltar; and the Azores.

Departing New York on 26 January 1926, the battleship conducted battle practice in Cuban waters, out of Guantanamo Bay, and then transited the Panama Canal on 14 February to join the Battle Fleet for exercises along the coast of California. Wyoming next sailed for Hawaiian waters and operated in those climes from late April-early June. After a visit to San Diego from 18–22 June, the battleship returned to the East Coast, via the Panama Canal, and arrived back at New York City on 17 July to resume operations off the coast of New England. Following those training evolutions with a cruise to Cuba and Haiti, Wyoming underwent an overhaul at the New York Navy Yard from 23 November 1925 to 26 January 1926. During her yard period, Commander William F. Halsey, Jr., reported on board as the battleship's executive officer. The future fleet admiral served in Wyoming until 4 January 1927.

Wyoming subsequently took part in the Fleet's annual winter maneuvers in the Caribbean and then returned northward, reaching Annapolis on 29 May to embark midshipmen for their summer training cruise. After touching at Newport, Rhode Island; Marblehead, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; Charleston, South Carolina; and Guantanamo Bay, Wyoming returned to Annapolis on 27 August, disembarking the officers-to-be upon arrival. The ship then put into the Philadelphia Navy Yard for modernization.

Converted from a coal burner to an oil burner, Wyoming also received new turbines, blisters for added underwater protection against torpedoes, and other alterations. Completing the overhaul on 2 November and heading south for Norfolk, Wyoming then underwent a post-modernization shakedown cruise to Cuba and the Virgin Islands before returning to Philadelphia on 7 December. Two days later, she hoisted the flag of Commander, Scouting Fleet, Vice Admiral Ashley Robertson.

Over the next few years, Wyoming operated out of Norfolk, New York, and Boston, Massachusetts, making training cruises for the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) units hailing from Yale, Harvard, Georgia Tech, and Northwestern. That duty took her from the Gulf of Mexico to Nova Scotia and into the Caribbean Sea, as well as to the Azores. During the course of that duty, she departed Hampton Roads on 12 November 1928, and on the night of 13–14 November, picked up eight survivors of Vestris, landing them at Norfolk on 16 November.

Relieved as flagship of the Scouting Force on 19 September 1930, Wyoming then became the flagship of Rear Admiral Wat T. Cluverius, ComBatDiv 2, and performed that duty until 4 November. After then hoisting the flag of Rear Admiral Harley H. Christy, Commander, Training Squadron, Scouting Fleet, the battleship conducted a training cruise into the Gulf of Mexico, during which she visited New Orleans, Louisiana.

Returning north after that cruise, Wyoming was placed in reduced commission at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 1 January 1931 to prepare for demilitarization and conversion to a training ship in accordance with the 1930 London Naval Treaty for the limitation and reduction of naval armaments. During that process, Wyoming lost her blisters, side armor, and the removal of guns and turret machinery from three of her six main battery turrets. On 21 May 1931, Wyoming was relieved of her duties as flagship for the Scouting Force by Augusta and by Arkansas as flagship of the Training Squadron.

Wyoming subsequently visited Annapolis upon the completion of her demilitarization and, between 29 May and 5 June 1931, embarked United States Naval Academy midshipmen for a cruise to European waters. Sailing on 5 June, the ship was in the mid-Atlantic 10 days later, when she went to the aid of O-12, commanded by the famed British Arctic explorer, Sir Hubert Wilkins. Wyoming took the disabled submersible in tow and took her to Queenstown, Northern Ireland. Later in the course of the cruise, the former battleship visited Copenhagen, Denmark; Greenock, Scotland; Cadiz, Spain; and Gibraltar, before she returned to Hampton Roads on 13 August. During her cruise, her designation changed from BB-32 to AG-17 on 1 July 1931.

Over the next four years, Wyoming continued summer practice cruises for Naval Academy midshipmen and training cruises for NROTC midshipmen with units from various universities. Her service took her throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as to northern European ports and into the Mediterranean.

However, there were new jobs for the old campaigner. On 18 January 1935, she embarked men of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, at Norfolk, for the winter-spring landing assault practices at Puerto Rico and the Panama Canal Zone. In almost every succeeding year, Wyoming took part in amphibious assault exercises, as the elements of the Fleet Marine Force and Navy developed tactics for use in possible conflicts of the future.

Departing Norfolk on 5 January 1937, Wyoming transited the Panama Canal; headed for San Diego soon thereafter; and spent the following weeks engaged in assault landing exercises and gunnery drills at San Clemente Island, off the coast of California. On 18 February, during the culminating phase of a multi-faceted (land, sea, and air) exercise, a shrapnel shell exploded prematurely as it was being rammed into one of the ship's 5 in (130 mm) broadside guns. Six Marines were killed, and 11 were wounded. Immediately after the explosion, Wyoming sped to San Pedro, where she transferred the wounded Marines to Relief.

Completing her slate of exercises and war games off the California coast on 3 March, Wyoming stood out of Los Angeles harbor on that day and headed back to the East Coast. Returning to Norfolk on 23 March, the ship served as temporary flagship for Rear Admiral Wilson Brown, Commander, Training Squadron from 15 April to 3 June, during the preparations for the upcoming Naval Academy practice cruise. Putting to sea on 4 June from Hampton Roads, Wyoming reached Kiel, Germany on 21 June 1937, where she was visited by officers from Admiral Graf Spee. Her embarked midshipmen subsequently toured Berlin before Wyoming sailed for home on 29 June, touching at Torbay, England, and Funchal, Madeira before returning to Norfolk on 3 August.

After local exercises, Wyoming disembarked her midshipmen at Annapolis on 26 August. For the next few months, Wyoming continued in her role as training ship first for Naval Reserve units and then for Merchant Marine Reserve units, ranging from Boston to the Virgin Islands and from New York to Cuba, respectively, before she underwent an overhaul at the Norfolk Navy Yard from 16 October 1937 to 14 January 1938.

For the next three years, Wyoming continued her operations out of Norfolk, Boston, and New York, visiting Cuban waters, as well as Puerto Rico and New Orleans. In addition, she conducted a Naval Academy midshipman's practice cruise to European waters in 1938, visiting Le Havre, France; Copenhagen; and Portsmouth, England. On 2 January 1941, Wyoming became the flagship for Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs, Commander, Training, Patrol Force, and continued in her training ship duties into the autumn months.

In November 1941, Wyoming embarked on yet another phase of her career-that of a gunnery training ship. She departed Norfolk on 25 November 1941 for gunnery training runs out of Newport, Rhode Island, and was off Platt's Bank when the Japanese launched the Attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

World War II

Wyoming, 30 April 1945

Putting into Norfolk on 28 January 1942, Wyoming sailed out into the lower reaches of Chesapeake Bay on 5 February to begin a countless chain of gunnery training drills in that area that would carry her through World War II. So familiar was her appearance in that area that Wyoming earned the nickname of the "Chesapeake Raider." Assigned to the Operational Training Command, United States Atlantic Fleet, the former dreadnought battleship provided the platform on which thousands of gunners trained in guns, ranging from 5 in (130 mm) to .50 in (12.7 mm).

Refitted at Norfolk from 12 January to 3 April 1944, Wyoming took on a different silhouette upon emerging from that yard period; the rest of her 12 in (300 mm) turrets were removed, and replaced with two single and four twin-mount 5 in (130 mm)/38 cal guns;[2] in addition, newer models of fire control radars were installed. She resumed her gunnery training activities on 10 April, operating in the Chesapeake Bay region. The extent of her operations can be seen from a random sampling of figures; in November, Wyoming trained 133 officers and 1,329 men in antiaircraft gunnery. During that month, she fired 3,033 5 in (130 mm) shells, 849 3 in (76 mm); 10,076 40 mm; 32,231 20 mm; 66,270 .30 in (7.62 mm); and 360 1.1 in (27 mm) ammunition. She claimed the distinction of firing off more ammunition that any other ship in the fleet, training an estimated 35,000 gunners on some seven different types of guns.

On 30 June 1945, Wyoming completed her career as "Chesapeake Raider" when she departed from Norfolk for the New York Navy Yard and alterations. Leaving the yard on 13 July, she entered Casco Bay soon thereafter, reporting for duty to Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee, Commander, Composite Task Force 69 (CTF 69). She fired her first experimental gunnery practice at towed sleeves, drone aircraft, and radio-controlled targets, as the largest operating unit of the force established to study methods and tactics for dealing with the Japanese kamikaze aircraft. Subsequently, CTF 69 became the Operational Development Force, United States Fleet on 31 August. Upon the death of Admiral Lee, the reins of command passed to Rear Admiral R.P. Briscoe.

Post-war

Even after the broadening of the scope of the work of the force to cover all the operational testing of new devices of fire control, Wyoming remained the backbone of the unit through 1946. On 11 July 1947, Wyoming entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and was decommissioned on 1 August. Her final crew included future United States President, Ensign Jimmy Carter on his first Naval posting; his billets included Deck Division Officer, Radar Officer, CIC Officer.[3] Her men and material were then transferred to Mississippi.

Wyoming's name was struck from the Naval Vessel Registry on 16 September, and her hulk was sold for scrapping on 30 October. She was then delivered to her purchaser, Lipsett, Incorporated, of New York City, on 5 December 1947.

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