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USS Massachusetts (BB-2)

USS Massachusetts (BB-2), an Indiana-class battleship, was the fourth ship to be named in honor of the sixth state. Her keel was laid down on 25 June 1891, by William Cramp and Sons of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was launched on 10 June 1893, sponsored by Miss Leila Herbert, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Hilary Herbert, and commissioned on 10 June 1896, with Captain Frederick Rodgers in command.

Underway for shakedown 4 August 1896, Massachusetts conducted trials and maneuvers off the middle Atlantic coast until 30 November, when she entered New York Navy Yard for overhaul. Following a brief voyage to Charleston, South Carolina, 12 February to 20 February 1897, the battleship departed New York on 26 May for Boston, Massachusetts, arriving two days later for a celebration in her honor, including the presentation of the Massachusetts Coat of Arms on 16 June, and a gift of a statue of victory the next day. She departed Boston on the 19 June to cruise to St. Johns, Newfoundland, arriving 23 June. Sailing on 28 June the warship operated off the Atlantic coast for the next ten months, participating in training maneuvers with the North Atlantic Squadron off Florida, and making calls at major east coast ports. On 27 March 1898, she was ordered to Hampton Roads to join the "Flying Squadron" for the blockade of Cuba.

Massachusetts departed Norfolk, Virginia, on 13 May for Cienfuegos, Cuba, where she took up blockade duties on 22 May. On the afternoon of 31 May in company with battleship Iowa and cruiser New Orleans, she bombarded the forts at the entrance to Santiago de Cuba, and exchanged fire with Spanish cruiser Cristobal Colon, forcing the enemy ship to retire into the inner harbor of Santiago. The battleship remained on patrol off Santiago, intermittently bombarding Spanish fortifications, until 3 July, when she stood out to coal at Guantanamo Bay. Missing the Battle of Santiago, the battleship steamed back to her station on 4 July, arriving in time to help battleship Texas force cruiser Reina Mercedes to beach and surrender at midnight 6 July. Following duty in support of the American occupation of Puerto Rico, 21 July to 1 August, Massachusetts steamed for home, arriving New York 20 August.

During the next seven years, Massachusetts cruised the Atlantic coast and eastern Caribbean as a member of the North Atlantic Squadron. From 27 May to 30 August 1904, the warship served as a training ship for United States Naval Academy midshipmen off New England and then entered New York Yard for overhaul. Departing New York 13 January 1905, the battlewagon then steamed for the Caribbean on training maneuvers, operating there until she returned north to cruise off New England in May. Putting into New York 12 November 1905, she underwent inactivation overhaul and then decommissioned 8 January 1906.

Massachusetts was placed in reduced commission 2 May 1910 to serve as a summer practice ship for Naval Academy midshipmen. During the next four years she made three midshipman cruises -- twice to Western Europe before entering the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in September 1912. Following a brief voyage to New York 5 October to 16 October for the Presidential Fleet Review, the warship returned to Philadelphia where she remained until decommissioning 23 May 1914.

Massachusetts recommissioned 9 June 1917 at Philadelphia. Sailing 9 October, she arrived at the Naval Training Station, Newport, Rhode Island, on the 15th, where she embarked Naval Reserve gun crews for gunnery training in Block Island Sound. Continuing on this duty until 27 May 1918, the old battleship then underwent repairs at Philadelphia Navy Yard. Assigned to battle practice, "A" Division, Battleship Force 1, Atlantic Fleet, 9 June 1918, the veteran battlewagon steamed to Yorktown, Virginia, the same day, and for the remainder of World War I served as a heavy gun target practice ship in Chesapeake Bay and local Atlantic waters. Massachusetts returned to Philadelphia 16 February 1919. Redesignated "Coast Battleship No. 2", 28 March, the warship decommissioned for the final time on the 31st. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 22 November 1920, and loaned to the War Department as a target ship. Scuttled off Pensacola Bay, Florida, on 6 January 1921, the hulk was bombarded by batteries from Fort Pickens for four years and then returned to the Navy 20 February 1925. Though offered for sale for scrap, no acceptable bids were received and finally, on 15 November 1956, the ship was declared the property of the state of Florida.

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