USS West Virginia (ACR-5)

USS West Virginia (ACR-5)

The first USS "West Virginia" (ACR-5), also referred to as "Armored Cruiser No. 5", and later renamed "Huntington" (CA-5), was a United States Navy "Pennsylvania"-class armored cruiser.

The ship was launched 18 April 1903 by Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia, sponsored by Miss Katherine V. White, and commissioned 23 February 1905, Captain C. H. Arnold in command.

After shakedown training, "West Virginia" cruised with the New York Naval Militia as a unit of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet until 30 September 1906 when she sailed for duty with the Asiatic Squadron. The ship remained with the Asiatic Squadron on training operations for 2 years, and after overhaul at Mare Island in 1908 joined the Pacific Fleet for similar exercises along the West Coast of the United States. During 1911 and 1912, she made a cruise with the Fleet to Hawaiian waters and in 1914 steamed on special duty off the west coast of Mexico for the protection of American interests. She remained off Mexico during the Veracruz crisis, and returned to Bremerton, Washington, to become a part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

"West Virginia" remained at Bremerton until 20 September 1916 when she again sailed to Mexico for the protection of American lives and property and to back up U.S. diplomacy. While on this service, she was renamed "Huntington" 11 November to permit the assignment of her old name to a newly-authorized battleship, the "West Virginia" (BB-48). After, 5 months service off Mexico, she steamed to Mare Island for the installation of catapult devices on the quarterdeck and equipment to accommodate four seaplanes on the boat deck ways.

"Huntington" was detached from the Reserve Force and placed in full commission 5 April 1917. She departed Mare Island 11 May and steamed to Pensacola, Florida, via the Panama Canal. Detached from the Pacific Fleet after her arrival in Florida 28 May, she spent the next 2 months at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, engaging in a series of important early experiments with balloons and seaplanes launched from the deck. The cruiser then sailed for Hampton Roads 1 August and arrived New York 5 days later. There, "Huntington" formed with a convoy of six troopships bound for France departing 8 September. En route, several balloon observation flights were made, and on one of these, 17 September, the balloon was forced down by a squall and the balloonist became entangled in its rigging. Seeing the emergency, shipfitter Patrick McGunigal jumped overboard to release the pilot from the balloon basket, by then overturned and underwater. For his heroic action, McGunigal was awarded World War I’s first Medal of Honor. The day after the rescue the convoy was turned over to American destroyers in European waters; and "Huntington" steamed back to Hampton Roads, arriving 30 September.

After replenishing at Norfolk, "Huntington" sailed to New York 5 October to have her catapult and seaplanes removed. She got underway 27 October and arrived Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2 days later to embark on a high-level U.S. Commission to confer with the Allies. Presidential envoy, Colonel House; Admiral W. S. Benson; General T. H. Bliss; and other dignitaries took passage in "Huntington", arriving Davenport, England, November 7 1917, to be met by British officials. "Huntington" departed for New York, via Hampton Roads, arriving 27 November.

Subsequently, the cruiser returned to the important duty of escorting convoys of troops and supplies to Europe, making nine such voyages to Europe and back between 19 February and 13 November 1918. In addition, "Huntington" made three coastal convoy passages from New York to Hampton Roads. She entered Brooklyn Navy Yard 17 November 1918 for conversion to a troop transport.

Assigned to Transport Force, Atlantic Fleet, "Huntington" next sailed for France to bring home veterans of the European fighting. She departed New York 17 December, arrived Brest 29 December, and brought over 1,700 passengers to New York 14 January 1919. The ship made five more voyages to France and return, bringing home nearly 12,000 troops, and terminated her last voyage at Boston 5 July 1919. Detached from Transport Force, she was reassigned to Cruiser Force and became flagship of Flying Squadron 1, 8 July 1919. "Huntington" decommissioned at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, 1 September 1920. She was struck from the Navy List 12 March 1930 and sold in accordance with the London treaty for the reduction of naval armaments 30 August 1930.

References

* Alden, John D. "American Steel Navy: A Photographic History of the U.S. Navy from the Introduction of the Steel Hull in 1883 to the Cruise of the Great White Fleet." Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1989. ISBN 0870212486
* Friedman, Norman. "U.S. Cruisers: An Illustrated Design History." Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1984. ISBN 0870217186
* Musicant, Ivan. "U.S. Armored Cruisers: A Design and Operational History." Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985. ISBN 0870217143

External links

* [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/h9/huntington-i.htm history.navy.mil: USS "West Virginia" / "Huntington"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/04/acr5/acr5.htm navsource.org: USS "West Virginia" / "Huntington"]
* [http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/cruisers/acr5.txt hazegray.org: USS "West Virginia" / "Huntington"]


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