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USS Pennsylvania (ACR-4)
USS Pennsylvania (ACR-4)
Tinted postcard of USS Pennsylvania, from around 1905–1908.
Namesake: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Laid down: 7 August 1901
Launched: 22 August 1903
Sponsored by: Miss Coral Quay
Commissioned: 9 March 1905
Decommissioned: 10 July 1931
Renamed: Pittsburgh, 27 August 1912
Reclassified: Heavy cruiser CA-4, 27 August 1912
Fate: Sold for scrap, 21 December 1931
General characteristics
Class & type: Pennsylvania-class cruiser
Displacement: 13,680 long tons (13,900 t)
Length: 504 ft (153.6 m)
Beam: 69 ft 6 in (21.18 m)
Draft: 26 ft 1 in (7.95 m)
Installed power: 23,000 ihp (17,150 kW)
Propulsion: 2 × vertical, inverted, triple expansion steam engines
2 × screws
Speed: 22 kn (25.3 mph; 40.7 km/h)
Complement: 829 officers and men
Armament: 4 × 8 in (203 mm)/40 cal guns
14 × 6 in (152 mm)/50 cal guns
18 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 cal guns
2 × 18 in (460 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor: Belt: 6 in (15.2 cm)
Deck: 4 in (10.2 cm) on slopes
Bulkheads: 4 in (10.2 cm)

The second USS Pennsylvania (ACR-4), also referred to as Armored Cruiser No. 4, and later renamed Pittsburgh and numbered CA-4, was a United States Navy armored cruiser, the lead ship of her class.

She was laid down on 7 August 1901 by William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, launched on 22 August 1903, sponsored by Miss Coral Quay (daughter of Senator Matthew S. Quay of Pennsylvania), and commissioned on 9 March 1905, Captain Thomas C. McLean in command.

Service history

Pre-World War I

First fixed-wing aircraft landing on a warship: Ely landing his plane onboard Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay on 18 January 1911

Pennsylvania operated on the East Coast of the United States and in the Caribbean until 8 September 1906, when she cleared Newport for the Asiatic Station, returning to San Francisco on 27 September 1907 for west coast duty. She visited Chile and Peru in 1910.

On 18 January 1911, a plane flown by Eugene Ely from the Tanforan airfield in San Bruno, California landed on a platform constructed on her afterdeck. This was the first successful aircraft landing on a ship, and the first using a tailhook apparatus, thus opening the era of naval aviation and aircraft carriers.

While in reserve at Puget Sound from 1 July 1911 – 30 May 1913, the cruiser trained naval militia. She was renamed Pittsburgh on 27 August 1912 to free the Pennsylvania name for a new battleship.

World War I

Recommissioning, Pittsburgh patrolled the west coast of Mexico during the troubled times of insurrection that led to American involvement with the Veracruz landing in April 1914. Later, as a symbol of American might and concern, she served as flagship for Admiral William B. Caperton—Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet—during South American patrols and visits during World War I. Cooperating with the British, she scouted German raiders and acted as a powerful deterrent against their penetration of the eastern Pacific.

Future Rear Admiral Ellis M. Zacharias served as a line officer aboard Pittsburgh during World War I. Future Governor of American Samoa George Landenberger commanded the vessel.[1]

Inter-war period

Returning to the east coast, Pittsburgh prepared for duty as flagship for Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in the eastern Mediterranean, for which she sailed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire on 19 June 1919. Cruising the Adriatic, Aegean, and Black Seas, she joined in the massive relief operations and other humanitarian concerns with which the Navy carried out its quasi-diplomatic functions in this troubled area. In June 1920, she sailed north to visit French and British ports and cruise the Baltic Sea on further relief assignments before returning to decommission at Philadelphia on 15 October 1921.

On 9 September 1920, she ran aground on rocks off the coast of Libau. She was assisted by HMS Dauntless and USS Frederick; Frederick escorted her to Sheerness Royal Dockyard, Kent, England which she reached at 10:00 o'clock in the morning of 23 September. Before 12 October she had moved up river to Chatham Dockyard where she went into dry dock. On that date a team from the Pittsburgh routed a team of British officers 21-8 at baseball. The following month, with the Pittsburgh still in dry dock a court martial absolved Captain Todd of blame for the grounding but the navigator and watch officer were held accountable.[2]

Recommissioned on 2 October 1922, Pittsburgh returned to European and Mediterranean waters as flagship of Naval Forces Europe. By 10 July 1923 Pittsburgh was in the harbor at Cherbourg, France to disembark 3 officers and 60 enlisted men of her Marine Detachment.[2] They were detailed to travel to the dedication of the Belleau Woods National Monument to the American Expeditionary Force. Belleau Woods was where the US Marine Corps made a famous stand during the Allied Campaign of 1918. Pittsburgh became flagship for two of the Commander-in-Chiefs, US Naval Forces European Waters, Admiral Philip Andrews in 1924–1925 and Vice-Admiral Roger Welles in 1925–1926.

The ship arrived at New York on 17 July 1926 to prepare for flagship duty with the Asiatic Fleet, during which time she was partially refitted, including the removal of her forward stack (making her unique to her class) and removal and plating over several 3 in (76 mm) guns. She sailed on 16 October for Chefoo, arriving on 23 December. Early in January 1927, she landed sailors and Marines to protect Americans and other foreigners in Shanghai from the turmoil and fighting of the Chinese power struggle. When Chiang Kai-shek's Cantonese Army won control of Shanghai in March, Pittsburgh resumed operations on patrol and exercises with the Asiatic Fleet. Closing her long career of service, she carried the Governor General of the Philippines, Dwight F. Davis on a courtesy cruise to such ports as Saigon, Bangkok, Singapore, Belawan, Batavia (Jakarta), Surabaya, Bali, Makassar, and Sandakan, returning to Manila on 15 April 1931. Six days later, she steamed for Suez en route to Hampton Roads, arriving on 26 June. Decommissioning on 10 July, she was sold for scrapping under the terms of the London Naval Treaty to Union Shipbuilding, Baltimore, Maryland on 21 December.

Pittsburgh's bow ornament was presented to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where it was installed overlooking Junction Hollow at the western edge of the school's campus. Today, the ornament is on display at Soldiers and Sailors National Military Museum and Memorial; a replica of it is still in place at the modern Carnegie Mellon University.[3]

Memorial bell

The number 3 bell at Rochester Cathedral, England, bears the inscription "U.S.S. PITTSBURGH IN MEMORY OF 1920". According to Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent:

Note that there is a mystery regarding the inscription on the rear of the 3rd. The USS Pittsburgh had nothing to do with Rochester Cathedral, and perhaps the inscription appears by mistake.[4]

It should be noted however that during 1920 the Pittsburgh was in dry dock at Chatham, within sound and sight of the Cathedral. Furthermore on 23 October, whilst she was in dry dock, the Dean and chapter made public an appeal for donors for the recasting of the bells and by 17 December it was reported that the bells had been taken away for recasting.[4]


  • 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 0-87021-248-6
  • Friedman, Norman. U.S. Cruisers: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1984. ISBN 0-87021-718-6
  • Musicant, Ivan. U.S. Armored Cruisers: A Design and Operational History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985. ISBN 0-87021-714-3
  • Taylor, Michael J.H. (1990). Jane's Fighting Ships of World War I. Studio. ISBN 1-85170-378-0. 

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain.

External links

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