Mississippi class battleship

Mississippi class battleship
Photograph of USS Mississippi underway in her early configuration without the cage masts.
USS Mississippi
Class overview
Name: Mississippi class battleship
Preceded by: Connecticut class
Succeeded by: South Carolina class
Completed: 2
Lost: 2
Preserved: 0
General characteristics [1]
Type: Pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 13,000 tons (standard)
Length: 382 ft (116.4 m) (overall)
Beam: 77 ft (23.5 m)
Draft: 24 ft 8 in (7.5 m)
Propulsion: triple-expansion reciprocating engines
2 propellers
10,000 horsepower
Speed: 17 knots (20 mph; 31 km/h)
Complement: 744 officers and men
  • 4 × 12"/45 guns (2×2)
  • 8 × 8"/45 guns (4×2)
  • 8 × 7"/45 guns (8×1)
  • 12 × 3"/50 guns (12×1)
  • 2 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
  • Belt: 7–9 in (178–229 mm)
  • Barbettes: 6–10 in (152–254 mm)
  • Turret (mains) 8–12 in (203–305 mm)
  • Turret (secondary): 7 in (178 mm)
  • Conning tower: 9 in (229 mm)

The Mississippi class of battleships comprised two ships which were authorized in the 1903 naval budget: Mississippi and Idaho. They were the last pre-dreadnought battleships to be designed for the United States Navy; however, they were not the last to be built as one more ship of a prior design was completed later under the 1904 naval budget. While the quality and technology of the weaponry and armor were first-rate, these ships included a variety of main, intermediate, secondary, and tertiary gun sizes in a pre-dreadnought configuration which became obsolete before the ships were completed.

The first several years of the twentieth century were a period of confusion and transition in U.S. naval strategy, tactics, and ship-design. The Mississippi class, along with the preceding Connecticut class, were designed based on lessons learned in the Spanish–American War, but while they were under construction, the Russo Japanese War, war games, and experimentation demonstrated new priorities and concepts which would influence future designs. This was also a period where rapid development of techniques and training in the use of large guns made the inclusion of rapid-fire intermediate and secondary weapons unnecessary. Future U.S. designs would reduce the confusing array of guns sizes in pre-dreadnought battleships and rely on one gun size for the main armament, the "all-big-gun" concept, along with many small guns of a uniform caliber to combat small vessels in close proximity.

The Mississippi class ships were smaller than the several preceding classes of U.S. battleships. In essence, the Mississippi class ships were smaller versions of the preceding Connecticut class with virtually the same armament and armor, but the reduction in length, engine size, and fuel capacity caused them to be slow and short-ranged. Other design compromises caused them to perform poorly in terms of steering, stability, and sea keeping.

These ships served in the U.S. Navy from 1908 to 1914, when they were sold to Greece. Most U.S. service was with the Atlantic Fleet, though these ships did not perform well in fleet-operations due to their lower speeds and shorter ranges. The ships were frequently detached for special tasks, including goodwill tours, and for a time the Mississippi was used as a seaplane support vessel. In 1914, both Mississippi class ships were sold to Greece. From 1914 to the early 1930s, the ships were active in the Greek Navy, serving mostly in coastal defense and attack roles. In these missions and in the calmer waters of the Mediterranean their limitations were less pronounced. They saw service in the Russian Civil War and the Greco-Turkish War. By the mid-1930s, they were relegated to reserve and auxiliary roles. Both were sunk by German aircraft in 1941, and raised in the 1950s to be sold for scrap.



Photograph of the U.S. fleet of battleships sailing in line during the world tour known as the Great White Fleet
The Great White Fleet demonstrated America's new naval strength by sailing around the world. Most of these ships were under 10 years old, but were already obsolete.

In the early twentieth century, the U.S. Navy was growing rapidly. The Navy commissioned its first battleships in 1895,[2] and by the middle of the next decade Jane's Fighting Ships ranked its battle line second only to the British Navy.[3] However, this rapid growth was not universally supported either within the government or within the Navy. Compromises between powerful groups were frequently necessary in order to get funding.[4]

The Mississippi class ships were designed to meet Congressional and Navy Department objectives of reducing the escalating cost of new battleships, the quantity, size, and cost of which had increased dramatically over the first two decades of U.S. battleship production. [a] There was a division among U.S. naval planners in the early years of the 20th century over whether to have technically superior ships or many less expensive ones, with President Theodore Roosevelt among those supporting the former and Admiral Thomas Dewey, along with Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, supporting the latter approach.[4] The 1903 naval budget effected a compromise by calling for five ships: three more ships of the 16,000 ton Connecticut class and two ships of a new less expensive class of approximately 13,000 tons, with the design still to be determined.[4]

The ships that became the Mississippi class were intended to serve as the modern equivalent of 19th century third-rate ship of the line, offering what was thought to be an efficient compromise between sailing ability (speed, handling), fire power, and cost.[8] This concept had formed the backbone of the sailing battle fleets of the previous century, but trends in early twentieth century naval strategies were making the third-rate concept obsolete.[4] Prevailing strategies called for a consistent battle line of first-rate units.[8] The next U.S. battleship design, the South Carolina class, was a completely different approach returning to the displacement of the Connecticut class and using the all-big-gun format similar in concept to the HMS Dreadnought.


The Mississippi class was the last pre-dreadnought U.S. battleship class to be designed; however, USS New Hampshire (BB-25), the last ship of the prior Connecticut class design, was authorized and completed after these ships; therefore, it was the last U.S. pre-dreadnought ship to be built.[4] While Congress had authorized three vessels in the 13,000-ton range, the design was not specified in the 1903 naval budget. Three approaches were initially considered: a scaled down version of the preceding 16,000-ton Connecticut class, five of which had been approved with the 1902 and 1903 budgets; a scaled-up version of the 12,500-ton Maine class, an 1898 design, three of which were commissioned from 1902 to 1904; and a completely new design which might incorporate new ideas and technology. Interesting adaptations were considered for new designs, [b] and weight-saving technology could allow increased efficiencies to be achieved from the older Maine class design, [c] which was closest to the weight goal.[4]

As with most U.S. naval designs, coal storage and engine efficiency were more important than in European designs. U.S. ships might have to fight far from their home shores, especially in the Pacific.[10] Even in the Caribbean, U.S. forces might be farther from their coaling stations than a European power with colonial bases.[4] Draft was a concern, since southern U.S. harbors tended to have shallow entrances, and some proponents felt that all ships should be able to egress all major harbors.[11] Beams were typically limited by the width of dry docks.[11]


two large rifled cannon pointing out of a turret, aimed over the side of the ship.
USS Mississippi — 12-inch (300 mm) main battery.

In 1903, there were differing concepts of the ultimate combination of guns, with many ideas based on various experiences and interpretations from recent naval battles, war games, and other experimentation. Recent U.S. battleship designs had included primary guns, intermediate guns, secondary guns, and tertiary guns, which were typical in the pre-dreadnought configuration. In 1890, the U.S. Navy had pioneered the use of 8-inch (200 mm) intermediate guns with the Indiana class, but had not used these consistently in their previous designs because opinions and experiences varied.[12]

The quality of guns, armor, ordnance, and design was changing rapidly, so experience could quickly become irrelevant. Combat experience in the Spanish–American War had shown the value of many smaller guns at close range, where the larger guns had been inaccurate. [d] In the Russo Japanese War of 1904–1905, just six years later, decisive effects were obtained at long ranges, well beyond the effective limits of 8-inch (200 mm) ordnance.[4] However, by this point, the designs were established for the Mississippi class and the keels had already been laid down.[14][15]

Main batteries

Recent U.S. designs had continued to include large primary batteries of either 12-inch (300 mm) or 13-inch (330 mm) guns, along with several intermediate 8-inch (200 mm) guns for faster fire in closer combat with armored vessels. The lighter intermediate guns were considered valuable for penetrating upper level armor, whereas the heavy guns were more effective on the main belt and heavy turrets. The former was likely to diminish the fighting ability of the opponent, while the latter was more likely to sink her.[16]

Earlier U.S. battleships had used 13-inch (330 mm) guns with black powder propellant; the 1898 design of the Maine class used more powerful but smaller 12-inch (300 mm) guns using smokeless powder, giving a greater velocity and flatter trajectory.[17] The 12-inch (300 mm) rifles available in 1904 had a range of 9,000 yards, which was approximately double the range of the black powder main armament used in the Spanish–American War.[18] These were considered an excellent compromise between weight and firepower, since limitations in gunnery control made longer range guns impractical.[19] The contemporary consideration was not whether to go larger, but whether to go with more.[20] In 1902, naval officers, with the backing of President Theodore Roosevelt, began to develop superior fire control techniques and equipment. The development of better spotting and range finders led to improvements in range capacity and accuracy.[19] At the same time, superior training and systems significantly reduced the time required to load and fire the large guns, from three minutes to one minute.[21]

Intermediate 8-inch (200 mm) guns had been discontinued in 1896 with the Illinois class, but based on experience in the Spanish–American War in 1898, 8-inch (200 mm) 45-caliber guns were reinstated in the Virginia class and continued in the Connecticut class.[22] These were typically carried in two-gun turrets, but the placement of the turrets had been inconsistent in prior designs; in two prior designs, the turrets for the 8-inch (200 mm) guns were superimposed over the turrets for the 12-inch (300 mm) guns (see Kearsarge and Virginia classes).[23] Some designers felt that 8-inch (200 mm) guns were redundant to the faster firing 7-inch (180 mm) 45-caliber guns carried in casemates.[24] Others argued that increases in the rate of fire and accuracy of the 12-inch (300 mm) guns eliminated the need for any smaller guns in the main battery.[4]

Secondary batteries

In 1903, secondary batteries were typically considered to be a combination of torpedo defense—defense against smaller boats armed with torpedoes, such as torpedo boats or destroyers—and weapons to attack the lightly armored upper structures of capital ships. [e]

Recent U.S. warships had mounted a combination of a few 7-inch (180 mm) or 6-inch (150 mm) guns and many smaller guns in the 2-inch (51 mm) to 3-inch (76 mm) range (six pounder to 12 pounder in the traditional terms). The larger of these guns were typically protected in casemates,[26] and the smaller ones open on the deck or in lightly protected casemates.[27]

A fast-firing 7-inch (180 mm) 45-caliber gun had been adopted with the previous battleship class to replace earlier 6-inch (150 mm) guns;[21] these brought a significant improvement in ballistics, expanding the potential beyond torpedo defense, but came with drawbacks. There were various opinions on the best combination of guns: all 8-inch (200 mm), all 7-inch (180 mm), or a mix of 7-inch (180 mm) and 8-inch (200 mm). [f] Though considered to be quick firing, the propellant for 7-inch (180 mm) guns was loaded in bags, making them slower than contemporary 6-inch (150 mm) guns.[21] The Navy considered these to be excellent for the intended role; however, in World War I, North Atlantic convoy duty the disadvantages in seakeeping outweighed the utility; they were removed from battleships remaining in U.S. service in 1918.[29]

Beginning with the Maine class vessels, commissioned in 1902, the 3-inch (76 mm) 50-caliber gun (12-pounder) was used on most U.S. battleships as an anti-torpedo-boat weapon. These and smaller weapons are frequently referred to as tertiary guns. This role was filled back to the earliest U.S. battleships, including the Texas and first Maine, by the 6-pounder 2.24-inch (57 mm).[30] Most 3-inch (76 mm) guns were removed from U.S. battleships before combat operations in World War I. [g]

Competing designs

The future of battleship weaponry was at a crossroads. There were varied opinions among top naval leaders; some U.S. naval leaders were discussing the all-big-gun concept in parallel with the British HMS Dreadnought, while other designers felt that the torpedo would completely replace the gun, and battleships should become heavily armored launch platforms.[32] Other proposals included even more but smaller primary guns, in the 11-inch (280 mm) size to save on weight. In 1903, analysis of war games had determined that one battleship with twelve 11-inch (280 mm) or 12-inch (300 mm) guns, in a hexagonal turret placement, could be superior to three conventional battleships in individual actions. [h] Other analysis suggested that in fleet actions, only broadsides were effective, thus maximizing the number of centerline guns was the most efficient approach.[34] While neither approach was incorporated in the Mississippi class, the centerline maximum broadside concept was followed in all subsequent U.S. battleship designs.[35]

photograph of a cannon mounted in an armored bulge in the side of a ship, just below a deck with a number of sailors.
A casemate mounting of a secondary gun on an early 20th century U.S. battleship

Final design

It was eventually decided that the Mississippi class ships would be built with main batteries identical to the Connecticut class, while reducing by four guns the secondary 7-inch (180 mm) battery, omitting eight of the tertiary 3-inch (76 mm) guns, and sacrificing two torpedo tubes.[36] Subsequent designs would eliminate the 7-inch (180 mm) batteries completely, and most of the 3-inch (76 mm) guns were removed from other battleships before combat in World War I, so the design did not suffer by comparing forward.[35]

The main battery consisted of four 12-inch (300 mm) 45-caliber guns; the gun was 45 times as long as it was in diameter. These were considered quick-firing guns and were arranged in two twin turrets, one forward and one to the rear of the main superstructure. There were eight 8-inch (200 mm) 45-caliber guns arranged in four twin turrets outboard of the main superstructure on each side of the ship.[37]

The remaining eight 7-inch (180 mm) 45-caliber guns were distributed four per side in casemates on the side of the ship below the main deck. [i] [22] Four 3-inch (76 mm) 50-caliber guns were mounted in the upper casemates (on the main deck), two per side, behind 2-inch (51 mm) of armor plate.[38] Another two, one per side, were mounted in blister casemates on the gun deck, near the bow.[39] The remaining eight guns were on open mounts on the upper deck, the bridge, and other deck spaces.[40] Two submerged torpedo tubes were fitted on the broadside, near the bow of the ships.[22]


cross section of a battleship hull showing armored sections with approximate thicknesses. The thickest armor is at the waterline, tapering up to the lease on the top deck.
Simplified drawing of armor scheme for early 20th century U.S. battleships

Prior to the mid 1870s, armor was made of wrought iron plate, sometime backed with wood. In the 1870s, compound armor was developed, where a hardened steel face was cemented to a softer iron backing, which prevented cracking. During the late 1880s, nickel-steel armor was devised, and in 1890, the Harvey process was developed,[41] where a nickel-steel plate was treated with carbon and hardened in cold water. This process allowed one homogeneous steel plate to have both a hard surface and a softer back which was less likely to crack. During the 1890s, Krupp armor further refined the Harvey process by including additional metals in the alloy and developing a system where the hardening process penetrated more deeply into the plates. Tests showed that 5.75-inch (146 mm) of Krupp armor was equal to 7.75-inch (197 mm) of Harvey armor, 12-inch (300 mm) of compound armor, and 12-inch (300 mm) of wrought iron plate, while in thinner plates Harvey armor was equal to Krupp.[42]

The Mississippi class ships used a combination of Harvey and Krupp style armor, with much of the side armor backed with teak wood,[43] which was consistent with other U.S. capital ships of the decade.[42] The amount of armor and its strength was consistent with the preceding Connecticut class and in some cases was more complete in coverage and was thicker, especially compared to the earliest ships in that series. The belt armor was thinner, 9-inch (230 mm), compared to 11-inch (280 mm), but longer, 244 feet (74 m), compared to 200 feet (61 m), despite the Mississippi class being shorter, 382 feet (116 m), compared to 456 feet (139 m). The primary turret armor was thicker by an inch—12-inch (300 mm) thick—as opposed to 11-inch (280 mm) on the USS Connecticut.[44]


Animated triple expansion engine showing pistons moving under the force of steam, which goes from cylinder to cylinder with each larger in the progression.
A triple-expansion engine uses steam three times.

When the Mississippi class ships were designed, the older technology of reciprocating steam engines was slowly being replaced by the newer technology of steam turbine propulsion. While turbines generally improved speed, they were less fuel-efficient and limited the range of the ships unless more fuel could be stored. Early Dreadnought designs, which were in simultaneous development with the Mississippi, used primitive direct drive turbines. The U.S. Navy was slow to fully adopt turbines, and only used them exclusively in battleship production when indirect transmissions became refined (gear reduction or turbo-electric).[45] Several subsequent battleship classes were built where otherwise identical vessels had different types of engines (for example, the Delaware class and Nevada class).[46]

Mississippi and Idaho were equipped with two-shaft vertical triple expansion steam engines, which drove two propellers. These were reciprocating engines where the steam was used multiple times (triple expansion) for greater efficiency. Steam was provided by eight Babcock and Wilcox boilers. Their engines were rated at 10,000 indicated horsepower (7,500 kW), which produced a top speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph).[47] On trials, Mississippi reached 13,607 ihp (10,147 kW) and a maximum speed of 17.11 kn (31.69 km/h; 19.69 mph).[48] In terms of speed, this class of ships was inferior to several preceding classes, and was only slightly superior to the Illinois class, which was laid down in 1896.[49]

The ships carried 600 long tons (610 t) of coal in purpose-designed coal bunkers and up to another 1,200 long tons (1,200 t) of coal could be stored in voids in the sides of the hull.[47] This provided the ships with a range of 5,800 nautical miles (10,700 km; 6,700 mi) at a cruising speed of 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph).[48] The range was less than the previous class.[50]

General characteristics

The final design of the Mississippi class ships was a scaled-down version of the preceding Connecticut class. By comparison, these ships were a knot slower and had a lower freeboard, so they did not perform as well in heavy seas.[51] The two Mississippi class ships were 382 feet (116 m) long overall, had a beam of 77 ft (23 m), and a draft of 24 ft 8 in (7.52 m). The ships were designed to displace 13,000 long tons (13,209 t) at normal displacement and up to 14,465 long tons (14,697 t) at full combat load.[47] Each ship had a crew of 34 officers and 710 enlisted men.[48]

The World Cruise of 1907–1909 tested the seakeeping of the U.S. designs. Even the earlier designs, including the Connecticut class with their higher freeboard, carried their secondary armament too close to the waterline.[52] The ships initially carried a pole mast above the conning tower, though shortly after commissioning, both ships had lattice masts added aft, and in 1910, the forward masts were also replaced with lattice masts.[53]

The reduced length, while retaining the same beam as the prior Connecticut class, resulted in a disadvantageous length-to-beam ratio, causing reduced performance relative to that class. Not only was their top speed a knot slower, but their economical speed was reduced by one and half knots. They also had 25% less coal storage, further reducing their operating range.[51]

The Mississippi ships had poor seakeeping qualities, making them poor gunnery platforms underway in Atlantic waters. Their motion was irregular, and their low length-to-beam ratio caused excessive rolling and pitching, which made it difficult to keep the guns on-target. The reduced length, significantly cut-away from the aft, made it difficult to keep the ships on a consistent course, even in smoother waters.[51]

Ships in class

Name Hull Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Fate
USS Mississippi BB-23 William Cramp and Sons 12 May 1904 30 September 1905 1 February 1908 Sold to Greece 1914; sunk by German aircraft in April 1941; sold for scrap in the 1950s
USS Idaho BB-24 William Cramp and Sons 12 May 1904 9 December 1905 1 April 1908 Sold to Greece 1914; sunk by German aircraft in April 1941; sold for scrap in the 1950s

USS Mississippi (BB-23)

Photograph of the USS Mississippi partially completed.
USS Mississippi under construction, in 1907

The second Mississippi, Battleship No. 23, was laid down in 1904, launched in 1905, and commissioned in early 1908.[14] She was given a shakedown cruise off the coast of Cuba in 1908, then returned to Philadelphia for final fitting out.

In early 1909, she attended the inauguration of the President of Cuba, met the Great White Fleet upon its return, and was reviewed by the President. For the remainder of the year and into 1910, she traveled the waters off New England, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico, took a voyage up the Mississippi River, and participated in war games out of Guantanamo Bay.[14]

In late 1910, she sailed to Europe as part of Atlantic Fleet maneuvers, after which she spent about 14 months off the Atlantic coast, based alternately out of Philadelphia and Norfolk, serving as a training ship and conducting operational exercises. In June 1912, she landed a Marine detachment at El Cuero, Cuba, to protect American interests. Following exercises with the fleet, she returned to Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was put in the First Reserve in August 1912.[14]

In late 1913, she was assigned duty as an aeronautic station ship at Pensacola, Florida.[54] With the outbreak of fighting in Mexico in April 1914, Mississippi sailed to Veracruz, arriving with the first detachment of naval aviators to go into combat.[54] In June 1914, she returned to Hampton Roads where in July she was decommissioned and transferred to the Greek Navy.[14]

USS Idaho (BB-24)

The second Idaho, Battleship No. 24, was laid down in 1904, launched in 1905, and commissioned in mid-1908.[15] She was given shakedown cruise off the coast of Cuba in 1908, then returned to Philadelphia for final fitting out and repairs.

In the summer of 1908, she transported a detachment of marines to Colon in the Canal Zone to support a peaceful election process.[15]

Photograph of USS Idaho with the aft cage mast installed.
USS Idaho With first cage mast as installed in 1908

In early 1909, she met the Great White Fleet upon its return to the U.S. and was reviewed by the President. For the remainder of the year and into 1910, she alternated between the waters off New England and southern waters, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, along with a voyage in the Mississippi River and war games out of Guantanamo Bay.[15]

In late 1910, she sailed across the Atlantic with the Third Division of the Atlantic Fleet to Gravesend Bay, England, and then to Brest, France, returning to Guantanamo Bay in early 1911.[15]

After routine service with the Atlantic Fleet and in Cuban waters, Idaho toured Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River in 1911, visiting many ports on the Mississippi River.[15]

In February 1913, unrest in Mexico led to a coup d'état and the death of deposed President Francisco I. Madero. For the protection of American interests," Idaho deployed to Tampico in May and to Veracruz in June. Upon returning, she was placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet on October 27, 1913.[15]

Idaho remained in reserve until recommissioned at Philadelphia in March 1914. In mid-year, she steamed to the Mediterranean with a group of midshipmen on board. After visiting several ports, she arrived at the French port of Villefranche on July 17, 1914. There, she was formally transferred to the Greek Navy on July 30, 1914.[15]

Greek service

The ship is decked with banners and flags strung from bow to stern and over the tall cage masts.
Limnos flying Greek flags

Diplomatic tensions between Greece and the Ottoman Empire following the 1912–13 Balkan Wars resulted in each seeking to buy powerful warships abroad that would enable them to control the Aegean Sea. Idaho and Mississippi were sold on July 8, 1914 to Fred J. Gauntlett, an intermediary, who in turn sold them to the Greek government. The proceeds of the sale were used to increase the budget for the 1915 fiscal year, funding the building of a third New Mexico-class super-dreadnought, Idaho (BB-42).[55]

Mississippi was renamed Kilkis for the crucial battle of the Second Balkan War, while Idaho became Limnos, in honor of a victorious naval battle over the Turkish Navy during the First Balkan War. Though their service was uneventful, these ships served to balance German capital ships which were acquired by rival Turkey. [j] The design limitations and poor sea keeping tendencies were not as critical in that strategic environment and the calmer seas of the Mediterranean. U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Henry Morgenthau, Sr. wrote, "Those battleships immediately took their places as the most powerful vessels of the Greek Navy, and the enthusiasm of the Greeks in obtaining them was unbounded."[14]

World War I

In 1916, there was a major division in the Greek government between King Constantine I and Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos over whether Greece should enter World War I. This became known as the "National Schism", where separate governments emerged. [k] Defections by units of the Greek Navy to the Venizelist factions provoked a Royalist purge of Venizelist officers and men from the Greek Navy. French Admiral Fournet, the Commander in Chief of the Allied Squadron, perceived the Greek fleet as a menace to the Entente powers in the Aegean. He delivered an ultimatum to the Greeks to sequester the small ships and disable the large ones. On October 19, 1916, the breech blocks, munitions, and torpedoes were removed from the Limnos and Kilkis. At the same time, the crews were reduced to one-third of their normal size.[58]

In June 1917, Greece was reunified under Venizelos and declared war against the Central Powers. Restoration of the Greek Navy was slow due to British and French disagreements and the difficulty in guaranteeing the officers and crews would support a war against the Central Powers.[59] When France returned the ships, the Limnos and Kilkis took part in Allied operations in the Aegean.[60] The greatest Allied need in the Mediterranean was for anti-submarine units, thus battleships were not a priority.[61] [l]

Photograph showing both ships partially underwater, the cage mast stick out of the water.
Kilkis sunk in the foreground with Limnos in the background

After World War I, both ships saw action in 1919 under the command of Rear Admiral G. Kakoulidis, RHN, when the Greek Navy took part in the Allied expedition in support of Denikin's White Armies in the Ukraine.[60]

Later careers

The ships were also active in the operations of the Greco-Turkish War in Asia Minor from 1919 to 1922.[60] As the Greeks had been on the winning side in World War I and the Ottoman Empire was one of the defeated powers, the Greeks were awarded large areas of mixed Turkish and Greek populations on the Asian coast of the Aegean sea.[62] On May 15, 1919, twenty thousand Greek soldiers landed in Smyrna and took control of the city and its surroundings under cover of the Greek, French, and British navies.[63] Limnos was the flagship to the Second Fleet, based in Smyrna, under Rear Admiral G. Kalamidas; her mission was surveillance of the Black Sea, Dardanelles, and Asia Minor coasts.[60] Over time, France and Italy became supportive of the emerging Turkish republic. Britain remained supportive of Greece, but opposed Greek moves against Istanbul in 1922. With waning support, the Greek army was defeated. Greece was driven out of Asia by the Turks in late 1922, resulting in years of political and economic turmoil.[62]

Both battleships were relegated to reserve and auxiliary roles in the mid-1930s. Kilkis, which had been upgraded in the mid-1920s, became a naval artillery training facility in 1932. Limnos' guns were removed and installed in a coastal defense battery on the island of Aegina.[60] When they were both anchored in the Salamis Naval Base on April 23, 1941, both ships were sunk during the German invasion of Greece by Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers. Kilkis was hit by bombs and went down in shallow water at her moorings; Limnos was also hit but was able to get underway enough to be beached.[64] The wrecks were refloated and sold for scrap in the 1950s.[14]


  1. ^ Preliminary plans for the first two U.S. battleships were completed in 1885. Construction was approved in 1886, and the first keel was laid down in 1888. However, technical difficulties, particularly with armor, delayed completion and neither was commissioned until 1895. By the time these were commissioned they were obsolete as newer, larger designs were being completed.[5] By the end of fiscal 1902, ten battleships and two second class battleships had been commissioned, with seven more battleships authorized but not completed.[6] The per-ship cost had doubled from the $4 million range for the Illinois class in the 1896 budget to nearly $8 million for Connecticut in the 1902 budget. The Mississippi class ships would cost just under $6 million each.[7]
  2. ^ The chief constructor considered two radical options: Combine battleship armor and secondary batteries but reduce the size of the four guns in the primary battery to 10 inch guns, similar to a large armored cruiser such as the USS Tennessee; or reduce the size of guns in the main battery to 10 inches, but increase the number to twelve guns, and eliminate the 8 inch and 7 inch secondary batteries (the all big gun concept). Either of these options would have saved weight and allowed for larger engines and an increase in speed.[9]
  3. ^ Scaling up from the Maine would have included replacing the 6 inch rapid fire guns in casemates with 7 inch rapid fire gins in the same mountings. Hull depth would have increased to accommodate the 7 inch guns and armor would have been increased to standards consistent with the Connecticut class, including the use of lighter Krupp armor and superior coverage.[9]
  4. ^ In July 1898, based on analysis of naval battles during the Spanish–American War, a U.S. Navy Board released the following conclusions: "loaded torpedoes above the water line are a serious menace to the vessels carrying them..." and "The value of rapid fire (Also known as: quick fire or QF) batteries cannot be too highly estimated." As a result, the 8-inch (200 mm) guns, which had been very efficient in the battle of Santiago, were reintroduced in the Virginia class. Above-water torpedo tubes were discontinued on U.S. battleships and those on existing ships were removed.[13]
  5. ^ This was a time of rapid change in the perceived purpose and tactics for capital ships; while the purpose of smaller weapons, sometimes called tertiary guns, was clearly to ward off and destroy torpedo boats and destroyers, there were mixed and unclear objectives for the larger secondary guns (see Note 6). As the effective range of the main armament increased, the effectiveness of the secondary batteries against capital ships diminished.[25]
  6. ^ In planning for the Connecticut class the Board on Construction favored a ship on which 6-inch (150 mm) and 8-inch (200 mm) guns would all be replaced by newly designed 7-inch (180 mm) guns, which were the most powerful guns with shells that could be handled by one person. The 7-inch (180 mm) guns fired a much heavier shell than 6-inch (150 mm) guns of earlier classes, but were faster firing than the 8-inch (200 mm) guns. The shell for the 7-inch (180 mm) guns weighed 165 lb (75 kg), whereas a shell for the 6-inch (150 mm) gun weighed approximately 100 lb (45 kg), and the shell for the 8-inch (200 mm) gun weighed approximately 250 lb (110 kg). These 250 lb (110 kg) shells could only be moved by machines or by several men, making the 7-inch (180 mm) "the largest [gun] capable of really rapid fire in the context of existing technology". Eventually, only the 6-inch (150 mm) guns were replaced, and the 8-inch (200 mm) batteries remained. The 6-inch (150 mm) guns could be fired six times per minute, but the 7-inch (180 mm) required separate powder bags and could only be fired four times per minute. The guns had improved ballistic performance over the 6-inch (150 mm), but the splashes of the 8-inch (200 mm) and 7-inch (180 mm) guns could not be distinguished at a distance. This confused the gunners, who would watch the splashes to gauge accuracy while trying to adjust their fire. The uniform intermediate battery proposed by the Board on Construction could have been more practical.[28]
  7. ^ During World War I there was a desperate need to arm merchant ships; the 3-inch 50-caliber guns were useful in that role. On March 3, 1917, the removal of 38 such guns from battleships and cruisers was authorized, and the removal of 304 more was authorized on April 26–28, 1917. It was determined that the removal of these guns allowed for the sealing of dangerous openings for a gain in military efficiency.[31]
  8. ^ The June 1902 issue of Proceedings of the US Naval Institute contained comments by the U.S. Navy's leading gunnery expert Prof. P.R. Alger proposing a main battery of eight 12-inch (305 mm) guns in twin turrets. In May 1902, the Bureau of Construction and Repair submitted a design for the battleship with twelve 10-inch (250 mm) guns in twin turrets, two at the ends and four in the wings. Lt. Cdr. H. C. Poundstone submitted a paper to President Roosevelt in December 1902 arguing the case for larger battleships. In an appendix to his paper, Poundstone suggested a greater number of 11-inch (279 mm) and 9-inch (229 mm) guns was preferable to a smaller number of 12-inch (300 mm) and 9-inch (230 mm) guns. The Naval War College and Bureau of Construction and Repair developed these ideas in studies between 1903 and 1905. War game studies begun in July 1903 "showed that a battleship armed with twelve 11-inch (280 mm) or 12-inch (300 mm) guns hexagonally arranged would be equal to three or more of the conventional type."[33]
  9. ^ Casemates are similar to turrets, but in the case of U.S. capital ships, there is only one gun per casemate. In naval gunnery, a casemate is a vertical armor plate with openings for guns. It is less protected than a gun turret and allows for a smaller field of fire. It is much cheaper to build and far lighter in weight for a given level of armor protection. In late 19th and early 20th century battleships, casemates were used to mount secondary guns for defending the ship against torpedo boats. In practice, these guns were generally quite useless; usually mounted close to the water, casemate guns were often awash in spray, and were sometimes swamped completely by the ship's rolling. More modern designs did away with casemate weapons entirely, favoring extra topside mounts for their secondary batteries.[22]
  10. ^ The Greek naval evolution was a result of turbulent times and mixed alliances, even in advance of World War I, including naval competition and a historic rivalry with Turkey, against whom Greece had fought the Greco-Turkish War (1897) and the First Balkan War. While the development of capital ships was in the best interest of the Greeks vis-a-vis their enmity with Turkey, this also posed a threat to Britain, France, and Russia (the Entente) should Greece develop closer ties to Germany. There was a strong British influence within the Greek Navy, but the King was married to the Kaiser's sister; thus, before the war, Germany was also supportive of the Greek Navy. The strategic position of Greek ports and repair facilities made these at least as important as the Greek fleet, if not more so.[56]
  11. ^ There was division in the Greek government which involved the disagreement between King Constantine I and Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos over whether Greece should enter World War I. This became known as the National Schism. The disagreement and the subsequent dismissal of Venizelos by the King resulted in Greece becoming divided in two radically opposed political camps when Venizelos set up a separate state in Northern Greece and eventually, with Allied support, forced the King to abdicate.[57]
  12. ^ After the failure of the Allied Dardanelles campaign, there was little need for capital ships in the Mediterranean beyond those needed to bottle up the Turkish and other fleets of the Central Powers, and those assets were adequate in 1917. The main threat was German submarine warfare: Conditions in the Mediterranean were ideal for submarine operations. It was the smaller Greek ships and capital ships which were the most vulnerable. During the war, there were frictions between Britain and France over Mediterranean priorities and the Greek naval assets. When Britain took over influence of Greek bases and ships toward the end of the war, they found that the French had depleted stores and exhausted the light fleet. Greece was not in a financial position to develop the navy and British funding was directed toward British priorities.[56]


  1. ^ Chesneau, Koleśnik & Campbell 1979, p. 144.
  2. ^ Friedman 1985 p. 424
  3. ^ Rose pp. 12–14
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Friedman 1985 p. 44
  5. ^ Friedman 1985 pp. 17–21
  6. ^ Reilly pp. 361-365
  7. ^ Reilly pp. 114, 183, & 203
  8. ^ a b Reilly p. 187
  9. ^ a b Friedman 1985 p. 45
  10. ^ Friedman 1985 p. 5
  11. ^ a b Friedman 1985 p. 20
  12. ^ Gardiner & Lambert p. 163
  13. ^ Hovgaard. p 106
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Cressman Mississippi
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Cressman Idaho
  16. ^ Friedman 1985 pp.44 & 53
  17. ^ Friedman 1985 p. 38
  18. ^ Alden p. 211
  19. ^ a b Friedman 2008 p. 176
  20. ^ Friedman 1985 pp. 42–60
  21. ^ a b c Friedman 1985 p. 43
  22. ^ a b c d Hovgaard pp. 104–109
  23. ^ Reilly pp. 140–141
  24. ^ Reilly p. 162–163
  25. ^ Friedman 1985 pp. 44, 56, 76–77, & 176
  26. ^ Reilly p. 164
  27. ^ Reilly pp.149, 166-167 & 169
  28. ^ Friedman. 1985 pp. 44–45 & 55
  29. ^ U.S. Navy Department. Bureau of Ordnance pp. 203–205
  30. ^ Friedman 1985 pp. 424–430
  31. ^ U.S. Navy Department. Bureau of Ordnance pp. 41–42
  32. ^ Friedman 1985 p. 143
  33. ^ Friedman 1985 pp. 52–53
  34. ^ Friedman 1985 p. 54
  35. ^ a b Friedman 1985 pp. 51–65
  36. ^ Reilly p. 191
  37. ^ Reilly pp. 106–203
  38. ^ Reilly pp. 165–167
  39. ^ Reilly pp. 164–165
  40. ^ Friedman 1985 pp. 42–47
  41. ^ Rose p. 11
  42. ^ a b Sondhaus pp. 165–166
  43. ^ Reilly p. 194
  44. ^ Friedman 1985 pp. 430–431
  45. ^ Friedman 1985 p. 62
  46. ^ Hore 2007 pp. 153 & 155
  47. ^ a b c Gardiner & Chesneau p. 144
  48. ^ a b c Friedman 1985 p. 431
  49. ^ Friedman 1985 pp. 427–431
  50. ^ Hore 2006 p. 95
  51. ^ a b c Reilly p. 197
  52. ^ Gardiner & Gray p. 111
  53. ^ Hore 2006 p. 63
  54. ^ a b Hore 2007 p. 95
  55. ^ Friedman 1985 p. 101
  56. ^ a b Fotakis pp. 135 151
  57. ^ Bellou & Couloumbis p. 140
  58. ^ Fotakis p.131
  59. ^ Fotakis pp.135–137
  60. ^ a b c d e Paizis-Paradellis p. 113
  61. ^ Fotakis pp.136
  62. ^ a b Koliopoulos & Veremis pp. 89–93
  63. ^ Kinross p.154
  64. ^ Reilly p. 202


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