Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

NH-57757-KN: USS Alabama (BB 8)
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USS Alabama (BB 8)

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USS Alabama (Battleship # 8, later BB-8), 1900-1921

USS Alabama, a 11,565-ton Illinois class battleship, was built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was commissioned in October 1900. During the next seven years, she primarily operated along the U.S. East Coast and in the Caribbean area, taking part in the exercises and gunnery practice that were the main tasks of battleships in peacetime. In mid-1904 Alabama, accompanied by three other battleships and three cruisers, steamed across the Atlantic for a visit to Portugal, followed by a tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea. Her next major operation was the Atlantic Fleet's cruise around the World, which began at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in December 1907. Subsequently, Alabama steamed around South America to the West Coast, crossed the Pacific to the Philippines, voyaged through the Indian Ocean, transited the Suez Canal and returned to the East Coast by way of the Mediterranean and Atlantic.


After this long journey ended in October 1908 Alabama went into reserve. Before recommissioning in April 1912 she was modernized, receiving new "cage" masts and other modifications that greatly altered her appearance. The battleship was often in reserve over the next five years, but undertook occasional training cruises in the western Atlantic. When the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917 she began a wartime career of recruit training operations, operating in Chesapeake Bay, along the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1919, after the conflict's end, she took part in fleet maneuvers in the West Indies and served as a Naval Academy training ship.


Alabama's seagoing service ended in August 1919, though she was not placed out of commission until May 1920. A few months later, as the Navy implemented its hull number system, she was designated BB-8. In September 1921 the now-obsolete battleship was transferred to the War Department for use as an aerial bombing target. As a result of damage received at the hands of Army aviators she sank in Chesapeake Bay on 27 September 1921. Her wreck was sold in March 1924 and later raised and scrapped.