Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

NH-61211: USS Iowa (BB 4)
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USS Iowa (Battleship # 4), 1897-1923. Later renamed Coast Battleship # 4

USS Iowa, a 11,410-ton battleship built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was commissioned in June 1897. She operated along the Atlantic seaboard for the rest of that year and into 1898. During the Spanish-American War Iowa served off Cuba and on 3 July 1898 played an important role in the Battle of Santiago, an action that destroyed Spain's naval power in the Western Hemisphere. In October of that year, a few months after the conflict's end, the battleship was sent around South America to join the Pacific Squadron. She served along the West Coast until February 1902, when she began a year with the South Atlantic Squadron.


Iowa's return to the U.S. Atlantic Coast in early 1903 was followed by an overhaul and, from late 1903 until mid-1907, active service with the North Atlantic Fleet. She was then placed in reserve, recommissioning in May 1910 after a modernization that gave her a new "cage" mainmast. The next four years were spent on training service, including taking Naval Academy Midshipmen to European waters . Again out of commission from May 1914 until April 1917, Iowa was employed during the First World War as Receiving Ship at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and as a training and guard ship in the Chesapeake Bay region.


Decommissioned at the end of March 1919, the now thoroughly-obsolete Iowa was renamed Coast Battleship No. 4 a month later in order to free her name for use on the new South Dakota class battleship BB-53. In 1920 the old warrior was converted to the Navy's pioneer radio-controlled target ship. While serving in this role, she was sunk by the guns of USS Mississippi in March 1923.