A story by: Evelyn Marshak | Added: 2012
I can see a quizzical look on your face when I mention the battleship Connecticut. You have heard of the battleship, Maine. It was sunk in Havana harbor in 1898 and this event marked the beginning of the Spanish American War. Then there is the battleship Arizona. The sinking of the Arizona, on December 7, 1941 led to President Franklin Roosevelt’s declaration of war on the Japanese, on the next day. In the declaration he mentioned the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the Arizona as a day of infamy. Also sunk were the battleships Oklahoma and West Virginia. The latter would fight again but the former was doomed. But the battleship Connecticut, America’s greatest pre-dreadnought battleship and actually the fourth ship to bear that name, was not at Pearl Harbor. This battleship with our state’s name was built in New York and launched September 29,1904 with 30,000 people looking on. It was the flagship of the Great White Fleet that sailed from Hampton Roads, Virginia on December 16, 1907. The Connecticutwas the leader of a fleet of 16 pre-dreadnought type battleships that stretched for three miles as the Great White Fleet departed. The fleet would travel for 14 months and 6 days as President Theodore Roosevelt’s announcement to the world that America had arrived as a global power. The ship logged 46,729 miles in its mission to help strengthen the Anglo-American relationship in the face of a rising German challenge. The round–the–world cruise proved that the United States Navy was the nation’s first line of defense, and set the stage for the great two-ocean navy that was so valuable in winning World War II. The Great White Fleet visited New Zealand and Australia to forge a relationship between these countries and ours. In Mark Albertson’s lecture at the OLLI café, he said, because of the visit of the Great White Fleet to Japan in October of 1908, the Root-Takashira Agreement was signed to reduce the rising tensions between Tokyo and Washington. If you want to learn more about the Battleship Connecticut, you can read Mark Albertson’s two books, Battleship Connecticut and the Great White Feet and They’ll Have to Follow You!; The Triumph of the Great White Fleet. The ship cost $6,340,247.63 to build in 1904. It was struck from the Navy roster of ships in 1923 as part of the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of February 8, 1922, not many years after the end of World War I, and sold for scrap for $42,750. 2012 Some of the information for this article came from Albertson’s OLLI lecture on April 26, 2012.