The capital of Florida.
(Monitor No. 9: dp. 3,255; 1. 255'1"; b. 50'; dr. 12'6" (mean); s. 12.4 k.; cpl. 393; a. 2 12", 4 4", 3 6-pdrs.; cl. Arkansas)
Florida (Monitor No. 9)—later to become Tallahassee (IX-16)—was laid down on 23 January 1899 at the Crescent Shipyard, Elizabethport, N.J., by Lewis Nixon; launched on 30 November 1901; sponsored by Miss Sally Wood; and commissioned on 18 June 1903, Comdr. John C. Fremont in command.
Assigned to the Coast Squadron, Florida departed the New York Navy Yard on 6 February 1904, bound via Newport News, Va., for Key West, Fla. She conducted target practice out of Pensacola from late February until late April before heading back up the coast and calling at Charleston, S.C., and Lambert's Point, Va., en route to Annapolis, Md. Arriving at the Naval Academy on 10 May, Florida embarked midshipmen early in June for the ship's first training cruise.
During the ensuing voyage, the ship called at Solomons Island, Md., Yorktown, Va., Newport News, and Fort Monroe before visiting the Naval Proving Grounds at Indian Head, Md., and the Washington Navy Yard. She returned to Annapolis on 30 August.
Florida again conducted midshipmen training cruises in the summers of 1905 and 1906. During the latter, the ship was among those reviewed by President Theodore Roosevelt during the Fleet Review at Oyster Bay, Long Island, from 2 to 4 September. Later placed in reserve at the Naval Academy on 11 September, she served as a practice ship for midshipmen until Christmas Day 1906, when she arrived at Norfolk. South Carolina and Michigan (Battleships Nos. 26 and 27), our first "all-big-gun" capital ships, had been laid down during this month. These ships were to be armed with superfiring turrets, and some apprehension existed as to the possible effect on turret crews when the guns of an upper turret were fired just above the lower one. In two tests carried out in Hampton Roads during March 1907, a 12-inch gun was fired over Florida's turret. Results of these tests demonstrated that gun crews could work inside the gunhouse without injury from muzzle blast.
Placed back in full commission on 4 June 1907 at the Naval Academy, Comdr. Washington I. Chambers in command, Florida conducted her fourth midshipmen's training cruise into the late summer of that year. Again placed in reserve at the Naval Academy on 30 August, she conducted practice cruises and training with midshipmen until placed out of commission on 6 January 1908.
Returned to commissioned status on 21 May 1908 at the Norfolk Navy Yard, with Comdr. John G. Quinby in command, the monitor underwent ordnance tests at the yard until again being decommissioned on 19 June 1908. At this time, the ship was renamed Tallahassee to clear the name Florida for Battleship Number 30.
Subsequently placed in ordinary at Norfolk, she remained there until recommissioned, in reserve, on 1 August 1910, Chief Boatswain Gustav Sabelstrom in command. She operated between the Norfolk and Washington Navy Yards, and in Hampton Roads, Va., into late 1910. She surveyed possible locations for target practices off St. Mary's River, Cobb Point Light, and Liver Pool Point, Md., into late January 1911 before conducting a gunnery practice using the hulk of the erstwhile ram-ship Katahdin as a target.
In March 1911, she escorted the former battleship San Marcos (ex-Texas), to Tangier Sound, Md., in company with survey ship Leonidas. San Marcos was anchored and grounded to be used for future gunnery practices, and Tallahassee served as guard ship into May, returning to Norfolk, Hampton Roads, or Sewall's Point for provisions and to Crisfield, Md., for liberty. From 5 to 9 June, Tallahassee pounded the target hulk San Marcos in tests of high-explosive shells. Shifting to the Norfolk Navy Yard for repairs, she soon steamed north to the Washington Navy Yard where she received a single 6-inch gun to temporarily augment her battery. She left Washington on 14 July and returned to Tangier Sound to resume firings on San Marcos.
Tallahassee returned to the Washington Navy Yard for removal of the 6-inch gun and underwent repairs at Norfolk into the month of November 1912. She subsequently planted range location buoys at Judith Sound, Md., and assisted Arkansas (Battleship No. 33) by spotting the latter's fall of shot on San Marcos.
She continued ordnance experimentation operations into the late summer of 1914, before entering the navy yard at Norfolk to undergo conversion to a submarine tender, from September to November 1914. She conducted post-repair trials in Hampton Roads before joining the Fleet for maneuvers and exercises into the spring of 1915. Tallahassee served Division 1, Submarine Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, and operated at Chiriqui Lagoon, Almirante Bay, Panama; as well as Cristobal, Canal Zone; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On 9 April 1917, the erstwhile monitor was assigned to the Canal Defense Force.
During World War I, Tallahassee operated in the Canal Zone, in the Virgin Islands, and off Bermuda, tending submarines. She continued this duty until she entered the Charleston (S.C.) Navy Yard, where she was decommissioned on 24 March 1919. With the Navy-wide designation of hull-numbers, Tallahassee became BM-9 on 17 July 1920, while serving as a training ship at Charleston for the Naval Reserve Force, 6th Naval District. Recommissioned on 3 August 1920, Tallahassee was redesignated as IX-16 on 20 July 1921 and decommissioned for the final time on 24 March 1922. She was sold on 25 July 1922 to Ammunition Products Corp., of Washington, D.C.
Tallahassee (CL-61)—laid down as a Cleveland-class light cruiser on 2 June 1941 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Corp.—was subsequently converted to a light aircraft carrier and redesignated CV-23 on 16 February 1942. Before the ship was commissioned, she was renamed Princeton (q.v.) on 31 March 1942.
Tallahassee (CL-116)—a Farjro-class light cruiser —was laid down on 31 January 1944 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. However, as the collapse of Japan became apparent, the contract for her construction was cancelled on 12 August 1945, and her hull was scrapped on the ways.