- Published: Friday, 12 November 1999 00:00
History of the USS Arizona
Vincent James "Jim" Vlach, Jr., USS Arizona Survivor
The second ARIZONA (Battleship No. 39) was laid down on 16 March 1914 at the New York Navy Yard; launched on 19 June 1915; sponsored by Miss Esther Ross of Prescott, Arizona; and commissioned at her builder's yard on 17 October 1916, Captain John D. McDonald in command.
ARIZONA departed New York on 16 November 1916 for shakedown training off the Virginia Capes and Newport, proceeding thence to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Returning north to Norfolk on 16 December 1916 to test fire her battery and to conduct torpedo defense exercises in Tangier Sound. The battleship returned to her builder's yard the day before Christmas of 1916 for post-shakedown overhaul. Completing these repairs and alterations on 3 April 1917, she cleared the yard on that date for Norfolk, arriving there on the following day to join Battleship Division 8.
Within days, the United States forsook its tenuous neutrality in the global conflict then raging and entered World War I. The new battleship operated out of Norfolk throughout the war, serving as a gunnery training ship and patrolling the waters of the eastern seaboard from the Virginia Capes to New York. An oil-burner, she had not been deployed to European waters owning to the scarcity of fuel oil in the British Isles - the base of other American battleships sent to aid the Grand Fleet.
A week after the armistice of 11 November 1918 stilled the guns on the western front, ARIZONA stood out of Hampton Roads for Portland, England, and reached her destination on 30 November 1918 then putting to sea with her division on 12 December 1918 to rendezvous with the transport GEORGE WASHINGTON, the ship carrying President Woodrow Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference. ARIZONA, one of the newest and most powerful American dreadnoughts, served as part of the honor escort convoying the American President to Brest, France, on 13 December 1918.
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