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Indiana I (Battleship No.1)


Indiana was admitted to the Union as the 19th state on 11 December 1816, and derives its name from its original habitation by American Indians.


(Battleship No. 1: displacement 10,288; length 350'11"; beam 69'3"; draft 24'; speed 15 knots; complement 473; armament 4 13-inch, 8 8-inch, 4 6-inch, 20 6-pounders, 6 1-pounders, 6 18-inch torpedo tubes (surface); class Indiana)

The first Indiana (Battleship No. 1) was laid down on 7 May 1891 by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, Pa.; launched on 28 February 1893; sponsored by Jessie Miller, daughter of the Attorney General of the United States; and commissioned on 20 November 1895, Capt. Robley D. Evans in command.

While Indiana fitted out at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and then trained off the coast of New England, events in Cuba were unfolding that would have an impact on her employment.

A Cuban insurrection broke out against the Spanish in 1895. American public opinion largely supported the Cuban insurrectos, and the fighting interfered with U.S. companies conducting business on the island. Battleship Maine, Capt. Charles D. Sigsbee commanding, stood in to Havana harbor to begin a good-will visit on 25 January 1898. At 2140 on 15 February, an explosion in the forward third of Maine destroyed the ship, killing 266 men. Capt. William T. Sampson directed a naval court of inquiry that concluded that the explosion “could have been produced only by…a mine situated under the bottom of the ship.” While subsequent research has subsequently theorized that a fire in a coal bunker adjacent to the reserve six-inch magazine may have ignited the magazine, the incident outraged Americans, who used the slogan “Remember the Maine!” to press for war against the Spaniards who had been suspected of planting the “mine.”

Amidst preparations for war, the Navy formed a Flying Squadron, under the command of Acting Commodore Winfield S. Schley, to defend the East Coast from a Spanish attack. Schley’s ships initially comprised battleships Massachusetts (Battleship No. 2) and Texas, Brooklyn (Armored Cruiser No. 3), and Columbia (Cruiser No. 12) and Minneapolis (Cruiser No. 13).

On 11 April 1898, President William McKinley, Jr., asked Congress for the authority to intervene in Cuba, and eight days later Congress authorized him to use force to expel the Spanish from the island. The President proclaimed a blockade of the coast of Cuba from Havana to Cienfuegos on 22 April. Capt. Sampson had relieved Rear Adm. Montgomery B. Sicard in command of the North Atlantic Squadron on 24 March. Sampson, promoted to acting rear admiral, concentrated his squadron at Key West, Fla., and upon receipt of the news of the blockade, headed for Cuban waters. The following day, those ships began blockading Cárdenas, Cienfuegos, Havana, Mariel, and Mátanzas. On 25 April, Congress declared that a state of war existed since 21 April.

Intelligence information reached the U.S. on 1 May 1898 that on the preceding day, a Spanish squadron of four cruisers and three destroyers under the command of Rear Adm. Pascual Cervera y Topete sailed from São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands. Sampson surmised that Cervera made for Cuban waters to break the U.S. blockade and would put into Puerto Rico. Unbeknownst to Sampson, Cervera coaled at Curaçao, Netherlands West Indies (14–15 May), and reached Santiago, Cuba, unhindered on 19 May.

Sampson, meanwhile, sailed with Indiana and Iowa (Battleship No. 4), New York (Armored Cruiser No. 2), Amphitrite (Monitor No. 2) and Terror (Monitor No. 4), Detroit (Cruiser No. 10) and Montgomery (Cruiser No. 9), Montgomery, Porter (Torpedo Boat No. 6), tug Wompatuck, and collier Niagara to intercept the Spanish on 12 May. Indiana experienced problems with her boilers, and in combination with the limited speed of the monitors, the ships proceeded slowly. Just before dawn, they arrived off San Juan, P.R., but discovered an empty harbor. The Americans ineffectually bombarded the harbor fortifications for two hours, losing one seaman killed and six wounded before retiring to Key West, returning on 18 May.

The Navy had dispatched Schley’s Flying Squadron to Key West. When Sampson returned to the station, he directed Schley to blockade Cienfuegos. Schley sailed initially with Massachusetts, Texas, Brooklyn, and armed yacht Scorpion, breaking his flag in Brooklyn. Sampson pledged to send Iowa (Battleship No. 4) to reinforce the Flying Squadron once she finished coaling. Marblehead (Cruiser No. 11) reached the Flying Squadron on 24 May. The squadron operated in Cuban waters over the succeeding days.

Marblehead discovered Spanish armored cruiser Cristóbal Colón anchored near the mouth of the channel into Santiago, followed by sightings of several of the other enemy ships anchored within, on 29 May. At 1000 Schley cabled the discovery of the enemy, and upon receipt of the news, Sampson sailed from Key West in New York. Oregon (Battleship No.3), following her epic 13,000 mile voyage from the West Coast via Cape Horn, Porter and converted yacht Mayflower rendezvoused with him en route, and he reached the waters off Santiago to assume command of the naval forces there on 1 June.

A stalemate ensued. The narrow channel into Santiago, flanked by Spanish shore batteries and possibly blocked by mines, prevented the Americans from entering the harbor, but the enemy could not elude the blockaders. In an attempt to block the channel, Lt. Richmond P. Hobson and eight bluejackets attempted to sink the collier Merrimac in the waterway on the night of 3 June. Spanish fire from shore, however, disabled Merrimac and she sank along the edge of the channel. All seven of the enlisted crewmen would receive the Medal of Honor the following year and Hobson by an Act of Congress in 1933.

The Army’s V Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter, sailed from Tampa, Fla., for Cuba on 14 June 1898. At one point, Indiana led the ships that escorted the convoy. Sampson and Shafter conferred about their divergent strategies on 20 June. Sampson hoped that the Army intended to capture the shore batteries around Santiago to enable the Navy to overwhelm the defenders, but Shafter preferred that the Navy support the advance on the city. Shafter landed his troops at Daiquirí (22–25 June), and then pushed toward Santiago. Disease savaged the men, and they sustained alarming casualties during the fighting at El Caney and San Juan and Kettle Hills on 1 July.

Indiana and Oregon bombarded the Spanish batteries at the entrance of the harbor, concentrating on the Punta Gorda battery, on 2 July 1898. Sampson dispatched a report of this bombardment to Shafter, observing that he could not force an entrance to the harbor until they could clear the channel of mines. The admiral added that enemy shore fire precluded the likelihood of successful minesweeping, and the urgent necessity of the seizure of the forts at the entrance to the harbor by the V Corps.

Shafter conferred with his staff and replied that he could not provide a definite answer concerning the seizure of the batteries at the harbor’s mouth, “to avoid future losses among my men” and urged that a naval assault force the entrance. Sampson countered by pointing out that the guns of the forts guarding the harbor fired to seaward and did not seriously threaten Shafter’s advance, but that the mines strewn across the harbor imperiled his ships. Sampson conceded that he would prepare such an operation if Shafter demanded it, but hoped that an attack by the Army on the shore batteries from the rear would leave the Navy at liberty to drag the channel for mines. Because of their impasse, Sampson agreed to meet Shafter at Siboney, east of Santiago, the following day on 3 July. Early that morning, the admiral sailed toward Siboney on board New York, escorted by torpedo boat Ericsson.


Photo of the commanding officers cabin
Caption: Indiana’s commanding officer’s cabin, 2 February 1906, showing the rich furnishings therein, including wooden furniture, curtains at the air ports, and rugs on the deck. The cabinet in the background appears to be holding a silver service. (U.S. Navy Photograph, RG 19E, Box 9, Still Pictures Branch, National Archives & Records Administration, College Park, Md.)

The American advance threatened to seize the heights overlooking the city, and artillery emplaced on those hills could sweep the harbor. Captain-General Ramón Blanco y Erenas therefore ordered Cervera to attempt to escape with the Flota de Ultramar (Caribbean Squadron), precipitating the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. Cervera ordered his ships to raise steam in their boilers overnight. The admiral entertained few illusions concerning the outcome, however, because his ships were largely in poor repair and under-armed in comparison to the U.S. ships. Fouled bottoms and poor quality coal reduced their speed. In addition, while some of the men from Cristóbal Colón served ashore with a naval brigade, they returned to their ship on 2 July, most of the crews lacked training. Gunboat Alvarado surreptitiously lifted some of the mines that blocked the channel entrance to enable the ships to pass into the open sea.

The sun dawned bright on 3 July 1898. Cervera broke his flag in armored cruiser Infanta Maria Theresa, and led his fleet out at 0845, followed by armored cruisers Vizcaya, Cristóbal Colón, and Almirante Oquendo, and torpedo boats Furor and Plutón. The Spaniards emerged from the harbor at 0935.

The Spanish chose a propitious moment, because New York steamed about seven miles to the eastward and four miles from her usual blockading station to facilitate the meeting between Sampson and Shafter, and Massachusetts lay at Guantánamo Bay, coaling. The remaining U.S. ships blockaded the harbor in a rough semi-circle from east-to-west: Indiana, Oregon, Iowa, Texas, and Brooklyn, with Schley wearing his flag in Brooklyn. Two armed yachts patrolled immediately outside the harbor mouth, Vixen to the westward and Gloucester to the eastward.

Brooklyn sighted a plume of smoke from one of the Spanish ships and hoisted a signal: “The Enemy is coming out!” The American ships sounded general quarters and got up steam to their boilers in rapid succession. The Spanish swept past Vixen, and moved west along the Cuban coast in a desperate attempt to escape. Cervera valiantly thrust Infanta Maria Theresa at Brooklyn to grant his squadron the time to build speed and escape. Schley misinterpreted the attack as an attempt by Infanta Maria Theresa to ram, and ordered Brooklyn hard to starboard. Capt. John W. Philip, the commanding officer of Texas, turned his ship to port to pursue the enemy, but in the confusion Brooklyn steamed into Texas’s path, forcing Philip to back his ship’s engines and the two men of war narrowly avoided colliding. Schley ordered Brooklyn to continue her turn to starboard until she came about to the westward.

Ten minutes after the Spanish emerged from the harbor, Brooklyn, Iowa, and Texas opened fire. The Americans resolutely pursued the enemy, Secretary of the Navy John D. Long later reporting that they “at once engaged [them] with the utmost spirit and vigor.” Indiana did not join in the initial chase because of her extreme eastern position on the blockade, but she operated near the harbor entrance. Capt. Henry C. Taylor, Indiana’s commanding officer, recalled that during the blockade, watchstanders verified Indiana’s position by sighting prominent points ashore, including Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca (El Morro Castle). The Spanish ships passed the castle as they made to seaward, inadvertently aiding Indiana’s gunners in finding the range.

Taylor afterward evaluated Indiana’s shooting, noting that “the effect of its fire was marked.” The captain believed that one of his ship’s “heavy shells” inflicted “great damage” on Infanta Maria Theresa, and that another round struck Vizcaya abaft her funnels, causing a fire that momentarily obscured the after end of the Spanish ship. Gloucester, Lt. Comdr. Richard Wainwright in command, tenaciously pursued the Spanish torpedo boats, but she narrowly avoided Indiana’s and Iowa’s shells splashing around her.

Cristóbal Colón and Almirante Oquendo returned fire but Taylor, observing them from Indiana’s bridge, believed that they shot high and vividly recalled the “screech and hum of many shells passing over our heads.” Cristóbal Colón fired a round into Iowa’s dispensary, followed by a second shell that struck the battleship’s hull before the waterline. Neither of these hits slowed Iowa and she doggedly continued the pursuit.

Repeated U.S. salvoes crashed into Infanta Maria Theresa and Almirante Oquendo. Fires blazed on board Infanta Maria Theresa and threatened to touch off her magazines, so Cervera ran her aground to the west of Santiago at 1025. Five minutes later, Almirante Oquendo also drove ashore to avoid a catastrophic explosion. Vizcaya came hard to starboard and ran aground during the forenoon watch. The Spanish torpedo boats suffered terribly. A 13-inch shell from Indiana or Iowa sliced through Plutón’s engine room, cutting down most of the men within and nearly tearing the destroyer in two. Capt. Robley D. Evans, the commanding officer of Iowa, afterward described how Indiana, Iowa, and Oregon also turned their rapid-fire guns on “the venturesome little craft.” Furor struck her flag to Gloucester and Plutón ran onto the rocks and exploded.

Capt. Emilio Díaz-Moreu y Quintana, the commanding officer of Cristóbal Colón, courageously inspired his crewmen, and the ship appeared at times to pull away from her pursuers. Brooklyn and Oregon doggedly clung to their prey during a nearly 75-mile chase, however, and the Spaniards burned their better coal and resorted to inferior grade fuel, which fatally dropped Cristóbal Colón’s speed. The American fire compelled the Spanish to run the cruiser aground at the mouth of the Tarquino River during the afternoon watch. Cuban insurrectos shot a number of the survivors as they struggled ashore from their stricken ships, but the Americans hove to and rescued many of them. The Americans lost one man killed and ten wounded, mostly ear drum damage from the concussion of the guns. The Spaniards lost an estimated 350 men killed in action or drowned, 160 wounded, and 1,670 captured, including Cervera. The Americans detained the officers at Annapolis, Md., and the enlisted men at Camp Long, on Seavey’s Island, Portsmouth, N.H., but released them following the war.

In retrospect, the Americans shot poorly and only 1.29 percent of their rounds hit their targets, but they destroyed the Spanish squadron. The opposing ships often fired at ranges in excess of 4,000 yards, which proved greater than the U.S. crews trained for and longer than their new rangefinders could handle. The U.S. ships maneuvered sharply at times, which threw off the gun-laying, and smoke from the weapons’ brown powder and frequent mechanical failures exacerbated those problems. The battleships and Brooklyn generally hit the Spanish ships when they steamed at parallel or near parallel courses for several minutes.

Reina Mercedes attempted to escape from Santiago on the night of 4 July 1898, but Massachusetts and Texas sank the Spanish cruiser just before she reached the narrow part of the entrance channel, which further obstructed the waterway. A number of U.S. ships bombarded the Spanish positions (10–12 July), and in combination with the Army’s artillery fire, the bombardment further demoralized the defenders. Brooklyn and Indiana fired eight-inch shells against the Spanish for an hour on the evening of 10 July. The following morning, Brooklyn, Indiana, and New York continued to fire at the enemy. At 1645 on 11 July, Brooklyn signaled to New York: “General Shafter states that fire from ships very accurate, shell falling in city; lines have been advanced….” Shafter signaled Sampson the following day: “My lines are now complete to the bay north of Santiago. Your shots can be observed from there perfectly, at least those that fall in the town. Flames followed several shots fired today.” The Spanish garrison surrendered on 16 July.

The Americans and Spanish concluded an armistice on 12 August 1898, and the subsequent peace treaty ensured the independence of the Cuba, with temporary U.S. occupation. The Americans also occupied Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

Indiana returned to her previous pattern of training exercises and fleet maneuvers. She served as a cadet practice ship at Gardiners Bay off Long island, N.Y., on 30 June 1902, and on 7 July at Newport, R.I. Indiana then carried out target practice in New England and Canadian waters throughout the summer, operating at times off Gardiners Bay, Newport, Jacobs Landing, Stratford Shoal light, N.Y., Orient Point, N.Y., New London, Conn., and Portland, Maine. From 8 to 14 August, she visited Halifax, Nova Scotia. The ship came about and put into Newport News, Va. (17–20 August). She then lay off Rappahannock Spit, Va. (20–21 August), and from 21 to 23 August visited the Naval Academy. Capt. William H. Emory relieved Capt. Charles E. Colahan as the ship’s commanding officer on 23 August.

Indiana participated in fleet maneuvers off Rappahannock Spit, Tompkinsville (Staten Island), N.Y., Menemsha Bight (Martha’s Vineyard), Mass., Fishers Island and Block Island, R.I., Plum Island and Cerberus Shoals, N.Y., and Newport (23 August–6 September). She completed repairs at the New York Navy Yard through 12 November. The battleship then sailed for Caribbean waters and took part with the North Atlantic Squadron in a search problem off Culebra, Crab Island, Humacao, and San Juan, P.R. (12 November 1902–2 February 1903). She interrupted those maneuvers with two port calls, spending Christmas with Illinois (Battleship No. 7) and Olympia (Cruiser No. 6) at St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies (19–29 December), then visiting Basseterre, St. Kitts (2–5 February 1903), after which she coaled at Ponce, P.R. (6–11 February).


Photo Indiana at anchor
Caption: Indiana at anchor in Hampton Roads, 20 May 1910, showing clearly the new mainmast, and guns mounted on the crowns of the main battery turrets. (U.S. Navy Photograph, 19-N-11118, Still Pictures Branch, National Archives & Records Administration, College Park, Md.)

On 14 February 1903, Indiana and Alabama (Battleship No. 8) were detached from the squadron. The battleships separated, and Indiana lay off Pensacola Bar, Fla. (18–19 February), and then shifted her anchorage to coal at the Pensacola Navy Yard. She carried out gunnery practice at the Firing Grounds off Santa Rosa Island, Fla. (28 March–3 April), and from 3 to 13 April returned to Pensacola. Indiana underwent work at the New York Navy Yard (20 April-27 May) before visiting the Naval Academy (29 May–8 June), then conducted a midshipman training cruise off Patuxent River, Md., Newport News, Boston, Mass., Orient Point, and New London (8–30 June). Indiana was decommissioned on 29 December 1903.

Indiana was recommissioned at New York Navy Yard on 9 January 1906, Capt. Edward D. Taussig in command. During that phase of the battleship’s career, she served with the Naval Academy Practice Squadron, sailing to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. She fitted out at the New York Navy Yard and at Tompkinsville, and sailed for Hampton Roads, Va., from 11 to 15 February. The ship completed trials by the Board of Inspection and Survey off the Virginia capes (15–18 February), then coaled and loaded stores.

The battleship made for Caribbean waters on 21 February 1906, standardizing her propellers en route. She maneuvered with the Second Division off Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (16–31 March), and on 1 April shot with ships of the Atlantic Fleet at the target range off Cape Cruz, Cuba. Indiana coaled at Guantánamo Bay (11–13 April), and from 17 to 27 April took part in the commemoration of the return of the body of John Paul Jones for eventual interment in the crypt of the Naval Academy Chapel (under construction). After lying off the North River, N.Y. (5–8 May), she underwent repairs at the New York Navy Yard (9 May–14 July).

Indiana standardized her screws while off Provincetown and Rockport, Mass. (16-18 July 1906), then joined fleet maneuvers off Rockport. After coaling at Newport (31 July-8 August), she participated in additional training evolutions off Rockport (12-17 August), visited Portland on 18 August, and rendezvoused with Iowa off Rockport on 26 August. From 26 to 28 August, Indiana coaled at East Lamoine, Maine, and visited Bar Harbor, Maine, the following day. The battleship took part in ceremonies in connection with the unveiling of a monument to Quartermaster William Conway at Camden, Maine (29-30 August), that honored Conway’s “sturdy loyalty” for refusing to haul down the Stars and Stripes when the Confederates seized the Pensacola Navy Yard on 12 January 1861. Indiana embarked Marines of the Second Division at Provincetown on 24 and 25 September.

Indiana hove to at Smithtown Bay, Long Island (1-2 September 1906), and the crew prepared for a Presidential Naval Review. President Theodore Roosevelt reviewed a number of ships including Florida (Monitor No. 9), Indiana, Truxtun (Torpedo Boat Destroyer No. 14), and transport Yankee at Oyster Bay from 2 to 4 September. Indiana coaled at Bar Harbor (6–23 September), embarked Marines at Provincetown, and protected American interests at Havana, Cuba (30 September–8 October).

The ship returned to New England waters and carried out gunnery training at the Target Grounds, Cape Cod Bay (13–22 October 1906), and from 22 to 24 October mining practice off Provincetown. She coaled at Boston and then accomplished repairs at the New York Navy Yard. Capt. Dennis H. Mahan relieved Capt. Taussig as the commanding officer on 10 December. On 12 December, Indiana completed her work at the yard and reached Hampton Roads the next day.

Indiana visited Guantánamo Bay from 7 to 16 January 1907. At about 1530 on 14 January, an earthquake devastated Kingston, Jamaica. Fires broke out in multiple locations and a tsunami with waves estimated at a height of six to eight feet impacted points along the island’s northern coast. The disaster killed from 800 to 1,000 people, rendered nearly 10,000 homeless, and caused approximately $25 million in damage. The Navy ordered Indiana to assist victims on 17 January, and she joined Missouri (Battleship No. 11) and Whipple (Destroyer No. 15) in the recovery efforts through 19 January. The ships landed bluejackets and Marines, including 50 from Indiana, who distributed supplies such as medicines and medical dressing materials to victims, and helped to restore order. In addition, steamer Port Kingston survived the earthquake and the British used her as a floating hospital to supplement the crowded medical facilities ashore.

Rear Adm. Charles H. Davis, Commander Third Division, broke his flag as the senior officer present afloat in Missouri. Davis received British Governor Sir J. Alexander Swettenham on board his flagship, but Swettenham rejected Davis’ offer to provide eight U.S. surgeons to reinforce the British on the grounds that he did not believe that the situation warranted such reinforcements. The governor’s refusal generated a heated debate between the U.S. and British governments. Newspaper accounts exacerbated the situation, and diplomats spent a flurry of activity defusing the tension. The debate included a U.S. demand for compensation for the supplies delivered: $186.48. President Roosevelt intervened on 23 April 1907, and approved the “issuance of the stores in question by the Atlantic Fleet,” adding that “that no charges therefore shall lie against the Jamaican government.”

Indiana returned to Cuban waters, landing men to conduct small arms practice at Guantánamo Bay and for liberty at Cienfuegos, and carrying out battleship gunnery training off Cape Cruz (20 January–5 April 1907). From 6 to 10 April, the ship accomplished mining practice and coaled. Indiana then participated in a portion of the Jamestown Exposition, commemorating the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown Colony, held at Sewell’s Point, Hampton Roads, Va. (15 April–15 May). Her participation included a Presidential Naval Review off Hampton Roads from 7 to 19 June, President Roosevelt reviewed the ships from his vantage point at Fort Monroe on 10 June. From 21 to 26 June, the ship returned to the other activities of the Jamestown Exposition. Indiana held tactical drills off the Southern Drill Grounds from 26 to 28 June.

She then received orders to sail to League Island Navy Yard, Pa. The ship anchored in the Delaware River off League Island on 2 July 1907, and on 15 July anchored off Arch Street, Philadelphia, in connection with the convention of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The ship moored to a dock in the Back Channel at League Island on 17 July, and the following day the crew transferred to Kansas (Battleship No. 21). Indiana was placed in reserve on 19 July. Lt. Comdr. John L. Sticht relieved Capt. Mahan as the commanding officer on 23 November 1907. Capt. John B. Collins relieved Lt. Comdr. Sticht as the commanding officer on 23 June 1908. Lt. Comdr. Albert L. Norton relieved Capt. Collins on 2 July 1909. Capt. Benjamin Tappan relieved Lt. Comdr. Norton on 4 September 1909. Lt. Walter E. Whitehead relieved Capt. Tappan on 6 December 1909. Capt. Francis H. Sherman relieved Lt. Whitehead on 8 January 1910.

The ship fitted out at Philadelphia during the spring of 1910, and from 16 to 20 April tested the Lacoste ship brake, designed to stop ships in the event of impending collisions, at Lewes, Del. Indiana was placed in full commission at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 10 May 1910. On that date, Comdr. Edward H. Durell relieved Capt. Sherman as the commanding officer. Indiana adjusted her compasses off Lewes from 21 to 24 May, from 25 May to 6 June joined the Naval Academy Practice Squadron at Annapolis, Md., and then cruised with the squadron off Hampton Roads from 6 to 9 June.

Indiana sailed across the Atlantic with the Practice Squadron for European waters. She visited Plymouth, England (23–30 June 1910), Marseille, France (8–15 July), Gibraltar (19–24 July), Funchal, Madeira (27 July–2 August), and Horta in the Azores (5–12 August). Lt. Comdr. Martin E. Trench relieved Comdr. Durell as commanding officer on 30 August. Indiana returned to the U.S., reached Solomons Island, Md., from 22 to 28 August, and from 28 August to 10 September disembarked her midshipmen at the Naval Academy. The ship returned to Philadelphia Navy Yard on 12 September, and the following day entered the first reserve. Comdr. Frank W. Kellogg relieved Lt. Comdr. Trench as the commanding officer on 5 October 1910. Comdr. Louis M. Nulton relieved Comdr. Kellogg on 2 May 1911.

Indiana was placed in full commission at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 3 May 1911. She cruised with the Naval Academy Practice Squadron off the east coast from 17 May to 5 June, and then joined the squadron for a voyage to European waters. Indiana visited Queenstown, Ireland (18–27 June 1911), where she fired a 21-gun salute in honor of the coronation of King George V on 22 June.

The ship visited Kiel, Germany (2–12 July 1911), Bergen, Norway (14–24 July), and Gibraltar (2–8 August), before she returned to the U.S. Indiana lay off Solomons Island from 22 to 28 August, and on 28 and 29 August disembarked her midshipmen at the Naval Academy. She returned to Philadelphia Navy Yard on 31 August, where on 1 September she was placed in reserve. On that date, Lt. Comdr. Wilbur G. Briggs relieved Comdr. Nulton as commanding officer. Lt. Comdr. Arthur St. C. Smith relieved Lt. Comdr. Briggs on 9 October 1911. From 28 October to 2 November, the ship moored at North River, N.Y., at the mobilization of the Atlantic Fleet, and then returned to the Back Channel at Philadelphia. Lt. Comdr. Charles H. Fischer relieved Lt. Comdr. Smith on 27 August 1912.

Indiana carried out standardization trials off the Delaware Breakwater from 6 to 9 October 1912, and participated in a Naval Review by President William H. Taft at New York from 10 to 15 October. The ship held a two hour full speed run during her return to Philadelphia, which she reached on 17 October. Indiana was placed in ordinary with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 30 April 1913.

Indiana was placed out of commission at Philadelphia on 23 May 1914, and remained in that status for a year. Indiana was placed in commission on 24 May 1917 soon after American entry into World War I, and served throughout hostilities as a training ship for gun crews off Tompkinsville and in the York River, Va.  She was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 31 January 1919, with Lt. j.g. Leo J. Murray making the final entry in the log. The Navy cancelled the name Indiana on 29 March 1919, and on that date reclassified her as Coast Battleship No. 1 to free her name for a newly authorized battleship.

Curtis F-5L and H-16 flying boats carried out a series of tests in Tangier Sound in Chesapeake Bay under carefully con­trolled conditions to determine the ac­curacy with which aircraft could drop bombs on stationary targets, and assess damage caused by near-misses and direct hits. Those planes bombed target ship Coast Battleship No. 1 twice from 13 to 16 October 1920, and completed a third evaluation on 4 November. Her hulk was sold for scrap on 19 March 1924.


Indiana (Battleship No. 50), the second ship of the projected South Dakota (Battleship No. 49) class, was laid down by the New York Navy Yard on 1 November 1920, but her construction was canceled on 8 February 1922 in accordance with the terms of the Washington Treaty for naval limitation.

Robert J. Cressman and Mark L. Evans

2 December 2015 

Published: Mon Sep 12 06:56:42 EDT 2016