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USS Virginia (BB 13)

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USS Virginia (Battleship # 13, later BB-13), 1906-1923

USS Virginia, lead ship of a class of 14,948-ton battleships, was built at Newport News, Virginia. Commissioned in May 1906, she operated along the U.S. northeastern coast until mid-September of that year, when she went to Havana, Cuba, for a month during a period of unrest in that nation. Virginia returned to Cuban waters in March and April 1907, then took part in ceremonies marking the tricentennial of the English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. In December 1907, she was one of the fleet of U.S. battleships that departed Hampton Roads, Virginia, to begin a historic cruise around the World. After steaming around South America, the ship visited the U.S. west coast, Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, China, Ceylon, and ports in the eastern Mediterranean before returning to Hampton Roads in February 1909.

Following repairs and alterations that lasted from February into June 1909, Virginia's appearance was transformed by the addition of a new "cage" foremast and the replacement of her original "white and buff" color scheme with the grey of the modern battle fleet. In addition to routine operations along the U.S. Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean area, she visited France and England in late 1909 and tested techniques for coaling at sea in 1910. She also received a second "cage" mast during this time. In 1913 and 1914, Virginia provided naval presence off Mexico, before and during the U.S. intervention at Vera Cruz.

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Virginia was out of commission, receiving repairs at the Boston Navy Yard. Returning to active service in August 1917, she was kept busy training sailors for the rapidly-expanding Navy for the rest of that year and well into 1918, then operated as a convoy escort until the war ended in November. From December 1919 until July 1919, Virginia was employed as a troop transport, bringing home more than 6000 war veterans from France. Inactive after that, she received the hull number BB-13 in June 1920 and was decommissioned in the following August. USS Virginia was transferred to the War Department in August 1923 and sunk in aerial bombing tests off the North Carolina coast a month later.