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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command


USS Rhode IslandĀ (BB 17)

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USS Rhode Island (Battleship # 17, later BB-17), 1906-1923

USS Rhode Island, a 14,948-ton Virginia class battleship, was built at Quincy, Massachusetts. She commissioned in February 1906 and spent most of that and the next year along the U.S. east coast and in the Caribbean area. Beginning in December 1907, Rhode Island took part in the World cruise of the "Great White Fleet", steaming from Hampton Roads, Virginia, around South America to the U.S. west coast, then across the Pacific to visit Australia, the Philippines and Japan. The route home included the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic, with arrival back at Hampton Roads taking place in February 1909.

Modernized after this historic voyage, Rhode Island received a "cage" foremast and numerous other alterations before again taking up her duties with the Atlantic Fleet. She was fitted with a second "cage" mast in 1910 and later in the year visited Europe with other U.S. battleships. From 1911 to 1917, Rhode Island took part in regular fleet operations in the western Atlantic and Caribbean. She also participated in U.S. actions along Mexico's Gulf coast during 1913 and 1914.

After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Rhode Island served in training, developmental and anti-submarine patrol roles. With the return of peace, she was assigned to transport duty, bringing over 5000 men home from France in five trans-Atlantic round-trips between December 1918 and July 1919. The battleship next transited the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet and spent the rest of her operational career in the vicinity of the U.S. west coast. Decommissioned in June 1920 and soon thereafter given the hull number BB-17, USS Rhode Island had no further active service. She was sold for scrapping in November 1923.