Early U.S. Protected Cruisers

USS BALTIMORE, NY Harbor, 1903
Baltimore, masts and midships battery newly reworked, in New York Harbor, 1903.   Enrique Muller

As the U.S. fomented war on Spain in early 1898, the U.S. Navy had two armored cruisers and eleven protected cruisers in its Register (aside from the Montgomery class gunboats, generously classed as 'protected cruisers' in the Navy's questionable nomenclature). A quick buying trip to Europe netted two more powerful cruisers, to serve as the New Orleans and Albany. These ships were of various design -- five of them being one-offs, and only the Newarks constituting a class of more than two ships -- making them an intriguing mélange of Victorian light armor. This is their story.

U.S.S. Charleston, 1889

USS CHARLESTON at Hong Kong, 1898

USS Charleston was the first protected cruiser in the U.S. Navy. She was built at the Union Iron Works in San Francisco, which subsequently (and benefiting from their experience with the Charleston) produced the USS Olympia. Steel warship construction was indeed a fledgling industry in the U.S. at the time; in order to foster the technology, Congress specified that domestic yards construct the ships, their engines, and their guns. Cautious about American design ability, however, the Navy bought the plans for many of its early ships from British sources. The plans for the Charleston, the Baltimore, and the 1895 battleship Texas all came from a subsidiary of the great armaments manufacturer, Armstrong Whitworth, whose sprawling works at Elswick on the River Tyne constructed a substantial portion of the world's warships over the next 50 years.

The marks of the shop which designed the Texas were all over the Charleston, a nondescript protected cruiser with a low-riding bow, a large midships hump, and one big, fat funnel dominating all, much in the model of the Japanese Naniwa of 1886, also designed by Sir William White, at that time lead designer for Armstrongs. Charleston mounted two 8" and six 6" guns, all in the oblique-fronted shielded single mounts so popular in the U.S. fleet at that time -- or at least in those ships designed by Armstrongs. Two guns were mounted in single, independently training mounts side by side on the foredeck (below), behind a waist-high armored parapet affixed to the deck. The remaining six guns ranged along the side, capping a series of sponsons protruding from the top of the hull. The ship was driven by horizontal compound engines shafted to twin screws, a common arrangement in warships from the late 1870s until around 1890, when the more efficient vertical triple-expansion engines captured the market. At 18 knots the Charleston was no speed queen among cruisers, but the record shows average reliability for the time.

Detail of forward 8-in mounts on USS CHARLESTON

As a new ship, she returned the body of the King of Hawaii from San Francisco to Honolulu in 1890 before cruising to the Far East. During this time, as (briefly) the most powerful U.S. warship afloat, she served as flagship of the U.S. Pacific and Asiatic fleets. In 1893 she made a special cruise in company with warships of all nations to the World's Columbian Exposition at New York City. There she was reviewed by President Grover Cleveland aboard the USS Dolphin. A second hitch as Asiatic Fleet flagship led to 2 years out of commission.

1899 cartoon about Philippine revolt against U.S.With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the ship was hurriedly refurbished and recommissioned on May 5, 1898, four days after Dewey's victory at Manila Bay. She journeyed around the Horn to Hawaii, where she rendezvoused with chartered troopships and escorted them to the Philippines. En route she stopped to capture Guam. Entering Apra Harbor, the American warships fired a challenge to Ft. Cruz. A delegation of Spanish soldiers put out to apologize for their inability to return the salute; they confessed they had no gunpowder! Nor any news of the war, it seemed. Thus Guam fell into America's lap, surely one of history's easiest conquests. At Manila Bay, Charleston joined Dewey's squadron and took part in the August 13 bombardment which preceded the Spanish surrender.

She remained in the theatre, participating in the capture of Subic Bay and the suppression of the Filipino nationalists through fall 1899. While returning from one such bombardment mission on November 2, 1899, the ship grounded on a coral reef off Luzon. Despite strenuous efforts, it proved impossible to float her off. The crew abandoned ship and camped out on a nearby island while a party set off in the ship's sailing launch to seek rescue. Ten days later, the gunboat Helena appeared to take the shipwrecked mariners to safety. Charleston thus bears the dubious distinction of being the only American warship lost in the Spanish-American War and related operations. As no lives were lost in the mishap, it was a small price to pay for a century-plus of dominating Guam and 40+ years of governing the Philippines.

Decorative Border
USS CHARLESTON - Schematic from Brassey's 1888 Annual

Specifications for the Charleston:
Dimensions: 320' x 46' x 21'9"    Displacement: 3,730 tons. Armament: (2) 8"/30, (6) 6"/30 guns, all in single mounts; (4) 6-pdr, (2) 3-pdr, and (2) 1-pdr guns. Armor: 3" shields, 3" deck, 2" conning tower. Propulsion: (2) horizontal compound steam engines developing 7,500 hp, shafted to twin screw. Speed: 18 knots. Crew: 300.

Metric Specs:
Dimensions: 97.5m x 14.02m x 6.7m    Displacement: 3,730 tons. Armament: (2) 203 mm/30, (6) 152 mm/30 guns, all in single mounts; (4) 57 mm 6-pdr, (2) 3-pdr, and (2) 1-pdr guns. Armor: 76 mm shields, 76 mm deck, 50 mm conning tower. Propulsion: (2) horizontal compound steam engines developing 5,593 kW, shafted to twin screw. Speed: 33.3 km/hr. Crew: 300.

U.S.S. Baltimore (C-3), 1892

USS BALTIMORE anchored at Manila Bay

USS Baltimore, a protected cruiser built 1887-92 by Cramps in Philadelphia, shown drying laundry after the victory at Manila Bay in 1898, and at top, in New York Harbor in 1903 following a refit in which her midships 6" sponson mountings were replaced by casemates. The 4,413-ton Baltimore was the third addition to the ABCD ships of the U.S. new steel navy, joining the fleet in 1892 under the command of Winfield Scott Schley, later famous for directing the fleet during the Battle of Santiago in 1898. Baltimore was one of the four-ship Newark class. Designated C-3 (Cruiser #3), Baltimore was the second protected cruiser in the new U.S. fleet, after the Charleston; and like the Charleston, she was built to plans purchased from Armstrong Whitworth in Britain, and shared some elements of the gun mounting layout. Baltimore was the last major U.S. warship to use the antiquated horizontal compound engines, intended to keep all moving parts protected below the waterline. Even so she was a 3-knot improvement on the Charleston, mounted two more 8" guns, and was a more satisfactory ship all round. Like the Charleston, the four-ship Newark class (of which Baltimore was a part) used oblique-fronted shielded single mounts for both the 8" and 6" guns. The slant-topped shields extended about halfway around the back of the training ring (see photo below): the gun crew worked with their backs unprotected from flying shrapnel. Fortunately the ship's principal episode of combat was fairly brief and against a completely outmatched foe. Later the ships' waist guns were reconfigured with conventional casemate mounts built into the bulwarks (see photo at top of page).

Detail of after 6-in mounts on CHARLESTON

Baltimore's design was an original composition. Like a windjammer of old, she had a raised forecastle and quarterdeck, with a long waist in between. She carried four 8" guns in single mounts on sponsons on either side of the forecastle and the quarterdeck. The 6" guns were mounted on similar sponsons along the ship's midsection, 3 per side -- later changed to casemate mounts as seen at top of page. The bridge was far forward, on the forecastle head just abaft the foremast; Baltimore had no conning tower, though others in the class did (these four ships differed in many important details, no two were exactly alike). The waist section was dominated by funnels and tall, spindly ventilator cowls, and spanned by boat booms overhead. This, the prominent ram bow, and the near-complete lack of superstructure gave the Baltimore a low-slung, primitive look in marked contrast to the lumpy fortress of the Charleston or the graceful symmetry of the Olympia. But Baltimore had a quality of her own. and her unusual design did not adversely affect her fighting abilities. Below right, a contemporary lithograph of the ship's launch. For a spectacular enlarged view, click here. for a look at her sister-ship San Francisco (C-5), click here.

Small view of launching, USS BALTIMORE, 1889Baltimore was involved in a brawl at Valparaíso, Chile early in her career, in which two Americans were killed; in 1890 she conveyed the body of turret inventor Jon Ericsson back to his native Sweden. But it is for her rôle in the Spanish-American War that she will always be remembered. Baltimore's baptism of fire came at the very outset of the Spanish-American War. The ship had been stationed at Honolulu awaiting developments as the nation spun towards war in spring 1898. From there, Asst. Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt ordered to join Comm. George Dewey's squadron, coaling and prepping for conflict at Hong Kong. Baltimore arrived on April 22. The Brits at the Hong Kong dockyard knew what was afoot and rushed her through a quick hull cleaning and completion of stores at the Royal Navy dockyard. The squadron departed for Manila five days later. At dawn on the first of May, they surprised the Spanish Asiatic fleet at Manila Bay. Baltimore was second in line behind the flagship Olympia that day, and retired covered in media-hyped glory. While the victory at Manila Bay did not guarantee successful conquest of the Philippines, it set the tone for what was to come, demoralizing the Spanish colonial garrison and command and preparing them for surrender. That surrender came in August when Gen. Wesley Merritt landed 12,500 troops and marched on Manila, while Dewey's beefed-up squadron conducted a thunderous bombardment of the defenses to satisfy Spanish honor. The Spanish duly surrendered the islands; but it subsequently took more than ten years and nearly 20 times that number of troops to subdue the Filipinos, who had expected liberation rather than the substitution of one distant colonial master for another.

After the battle, the Baltimore remained in the Far East for two years, helping to suppress the Philippine Insurrection, before returning to the East Coast. She had missed the great postwar victory parade but made up for it with glamorous service in European waters. In WWI she served as a training ship and then became a minelayer, like her sister the Newark. The two sisters voyaged to Scotland, eventually sailing back to the States from Scapa Flow. Once again Baltimore was posted to the Pacific. Decommissioned in 1922, she served as a receiving ship at Pearl Harbor for another 20 years, where she survived the Japanese attack of Dec. 7, 1941. Subsequently she was one of the first vessels sold for scrapping as the navy tackled the more ticklish task of clearing wreckage, raising and repairing its devastated dreadnoughts, and setting the base up for wartime operations. Below, a 1:700 model of the Baltimore in happier times, in the regulation peacetime paint scheme of "white and spar."

Plans and Specifications


Specifications for the Baltimore:
Dimensions: 336' x 48'6" x 20'6"    Displacement: 4,413 tons. Armament: (4) 8", (6) 6" guns, all in single mounts; (4) Hotchkiss machine guns; (3) 14" torpedo tubes. Armor: 3" shields, 3"/1" deck. Propulsion: (2) horizontal compound steam engines developing 10,000 ihp, shafted to twin screw. Speed: 21 knots. Crew: 383.

Ships in class:  Newark Baltimore Philadelphia San Francisco

Metric Specifications:
Dimensions: 102m x 14.8m x 6.3m    Displacement: 4,413 tons. Armament: (4) 203 mm, (6) 152 mm guns, all in single mounts; (4) Hotchkiss machine guns; (3) 356 mm torpedo tubes. Armor: 76 mm shields, 76/25 mm deck. Propulsion: (2) horizontal compound steam engines developing 7,457 kW, shafted to twin screw. Speed: 39 km/hr. Crew: 383.

Barefoot on Baltimore: Photos

General view of USS BALTIMORE at anchor c. 1898
The Baltimore in her original fit.   Enlarge

Deck scene aboard USS BALTIMORE
Scene in the ship's waist looking forward, with scandalized main yard, 1890s.   Enlarge

1:700 scale model of the Baltimore by Jim Ciccone.

U.S.S. Columbia (C-12), 1894

USS COLUMBIA, profile in icy harbor

The speedy cruiser Columbia was designed primarily as a commerce raider. She is seen above on trials in 1893, before her guns had been installed. Her triple-screw propulsion scheme, unique in the U.S. Navy, kicked her along at 23 knots, giving her the nickname "the White Whirlwind." A great deal of space below decks was devoted to coal storage, giving her an impressive range. Not expected to engage in armed combat against warships, the 400-foot Columbia class ships were thinly protected and lightly armed, although classed as protected cruisers.

The Columbia class consisted of two ships, both built at Cramp & Sons. The original plans called for three funnels. For some reason the yard shuffled the funnels and uptakes: Columbia was completed with four, for an impressive profile; her sister-ship the Minneapolis got only two fat oblong funnels. Four and two makes six! Whatever the precise reason, the Minneapolis proved slightly faster than her sister.

Bow ornament of the MINNEAPOLISColumbia spent much of her early service patrolling the Caribbean, with a voyage to Europe in 1895 in company with the New York. The cruisers represented the U.S. at the gala opening of the Kiel Canal. She was laid up from 1896 through early 1898, then recommissioned to patrol the eastern seaboard during the Spanish-American War. She convoyed troops to Puerto Rico and supported the U.S. takeover of the island in July-August 1898. Like many of the smaller colonies captured by the U.S. at that time, Puerto Rico remains a neglected colonial outpost 110 years later. Like the Capitol District, it sends a delegation to Congress, but that delegation lacks a vote, neatly blurring the question of taxation without representation. For many in America, the beautiful island and its people remain a tarnished souvenir of a long-ago, half-forgotten military adventure with little tangible connection to the present.

Returning to the 19th century, in their early years the Minneapolis and Columbia bore a dandy bit of Victorian "scrambled eggs" at the bow: a bald eagle on a bronze medallion surrounded by scrolls and stylized foliage. This ornamentation was discarded by the time of the Great War. The Columbia spent much of the 1900s decade out of commission. In WWI she was summoned once again and became flagship of Submarine Flotillas between 1915 and 1917. Following the U.S. declaration of war, she made five voyages to Europe as a convoy escort. After the War, she became flagship of destroyer flotillas for the Atlantic Fleet. She was retired in 1921 and sold out of the service the following year.

Plan and Specifications

Sheer plan of the USS COLUMBIA of 1896

Specifications for the Columbia and Minneapolis:
Dimensions: 413'1" x 58'2" x 24'6"    Std. displacement: 7,375 tons. Armament: (1) 8"/40, (2) 6"/45, (8) 4"/40, (12) 6-pdr, and (4) 1-pdr guns; four 14" torpedo tubes (removed 1910). 8" gun replaced by a third 6"/45 in 1910. (4) Gatling MG, (4) 3" AA added 1917. Armor: 2½"/1.6" deck. Propulsion: 10 Scotch boilers (2 single-ended, 8 double-ended); (3) vertical inverted triple-expansion engines developing 21,000 HP, shafted to triple screw. Speed: 23 kts (23.3 kts Mpls). Fuel capacity: 750 tons coal; 1,561 tons maximum, attained during WWI. Endurance: 16,000nm @ 12 kts. Crew: 477. Cost: $2,725,000 at 1895 valuation.

Metric Specifications:
Dimensions: 125.9m x 16.45m x 7.41m    Std. displacement: 7,375 tons. Armament: (1) 203 mm/40, (2) 152 mm/45, (8) 100 mm/40, (12) 57 mm 6-pdr, and (4) 1-pdr guns; four 356 mm torpedo tubes (removed 1910). 203 mm gun replaced by a third 152 mm/45 in 1910. (4) Gatling MG, (4) 75 mm AA added 1917. Armor: 63.5/40 mm deck. Propulsion: 10 Scotch boilers (2 single-ended, 8 double-ended); (3) vertical inverted triple-expansion engines developing 15,660 kW, shafted to triple screw. Speed: 42.6 km/hr (43.2 Mpls). Fuel capacity: 750 tons coal; 1,561 tons maximum, attained during WWI. Endurance: 29,632 km @ 22.2 km/hr. Crew: 477. Cost: $2,725,000 at 1895 valuation.

Some Images of the Columbia

USS COLUMBIA in icy river, profile view

Cuddle up and wind that woolen comforter tight! It's a frosty day in 1895 and the Columbia is moored at Norfolk, Virginia. Though not one of America's mightiest warships, she was certainly among its handsomest. A number of other craft are visible behind the cruiser. The masts of a three-mast schooner show between No. 4 funnel and the mainmast; a second three-mast schooner, evidently stern-on to the viewer, shows beyond the foredeck; and a couple of dark-sailed gaff-rigged sloops (Chesapeake Bay skipjacks?) lurk behind the ship's bow.

Stern view of USS COLUMBIA anchored, soft lighting
The aft 6" gun and diminutive captain's walk stand out in this evocative quarter view.

Sepia postcard of COLUMBIA, bow view
A fine postcard view of Columbia shot on a dim, overcast day in 1904.

Impressive bow view of COLUMBIA, low angle

Columbia at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba in 1922 during her time as flagship of Destroyer Squadrons for the Atlantic Fleet, months before her final recall for decommissioning and the scrap heap. This shot emphasizes the imposing size of the vessel. The massive, rather ugly cantilevered bridgeworks added in a prewar modernization make an instructive comparison with the original bridge in the 1904 photo.

U.S.S. Minneapolis (C-13), 1894

USS MINNEAPOLIS at builder's trials, 1894Minneapolis was Columbia's sister ship; both were built by William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co. at Philadelphia. The original plans called for three funnels. For some reason the yard shuffled the funnels and uptakes: Columbia was completed with four, for an impressive profile, while the Minneapolis got only two fat oblong funnels. Four and two make six; go figure! She is pictured here during trials in 1894, wearing her builder's flag at the main.

The Minneapolis' service record was somewhat similar to her sister's. She spent several years in European waters early in her career. Warships often carry out quasi-diplomatic duties, but Minneapolis drew a plum when she attended the coronation of Nicholas II as Tsar of All the Russians in 1895. Subsequently she was called home as part of the buildup to the war with Spain. She scouted for Cervera's fleet before its location was confirmed at Santiago de Cuba. After the war, she spent several years in and out of commission. In 1905 she was sent with a delegation of scientists to observe the solar eclipse of Aug. 30 from a point off Africa. She returned to the U.S. after touching at Gibraltar and Cádiz.

In WWI, the Minneapolis escorted troop transports from South America to Halifax, N.S. and then made four round trips to Europe as a convoy escort. It is customary to allow a ship on the brink of retirement one last duty as a flagship, and so it was with the Minneapolis: Flagship, Pacific Squadron, 1919-21 based out of San Diego. She was sold for scrap in 1921. Today, her mast and bell are local landmarks on the shore of Lake Calhoun, a posh residential district of Minneapolis.

A Minneapolis Scrapbook

MINNEAPOLIS crewmen lounging around the foredeck

The Minnie Apples (Minneapolis crewmen) in a charming semi-candid photo, lounging around the foredeck, perhaps awaiting shore leave. This 1898 shot shows the ship's original bridge works, with wooden pilothouse surmounting the armored conning station one deck below.

USS MINNEAPOLIS in dazzle paint, WWI

Minneapolis in dazzle paint as a convoy escort, 1918. This profile shows the angular, cantilevered bridgeworks cobbled onto vintage USN ships in 1909-12.

MINNEAPOLIS waiting to be scrapped

A sort of maritime death row: Old warships tied up at Mare Island in the early Twenties, awaiting the junk-man's bid that would send them to the torch and, eventually, back to the blast furnace in small pieces. The Minneapolis is the right ship in the pair closest the camera; the left vessel is the Virginia class battleship USS Nebraska. The battleship has double-decker gun turrets, three stovepipe stacks, and lattice masts, while the cruiser sticks out in this company with her pole masts and two short, fat funnels.

U.S.S. New Orleans (CL-22), 1898

Elswick Cruiser NEW ORLEANS

The Elswick cruiser New Orleans, built at Armstrongs' Elswick Works in Britain as the Brazilian Amazonas, was purchased from Brazil on the eve of the Spanish-American conflict and arrived in New York in April 1898. New Orleans, built at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England in 1895-8, lived up to the reputation of the Elswick cruiser for packing a powerful punch on a modest platform. A sister ship, renamed the Albany, was snapped up at the same time, allegedly to prevent her sale to Spain. The two vessels were among the best in the U.S. fleet over the next 20 years: economical, seaworthy, very strongly built, and highly intimidating with their bristling guns. These guns, of the latest British model, were considerably superior to those being made in the U.S. at the time. The American weapons were of .40 calibre, while the Armstrong guns were .50 calibre, lending a muzzle velocity nearly half again that of the U.S.-made weapons (2,780 ft/sec vs. 2,150). This gave the projectile a far greater penetrating power against armor. Her superiority in gun manufacturing was one of the reasons Britannia ruled the waves -- and that much of the world purchased their ships from her. America did not change its buying habits post-1898, but the Navy did exult in the two fine ships it had acquired.

The New Orleans was able to depart almost immediately and take part in the war, arriving at New York Navy Yard on April 3, 1898. Her sister did not complete for nearly 2 years but proved a tough warrior against the Filipino patriots in 1900-1902 and again as a convoy escort in the First World War. Having been ordered by Brazil and purchased 90% complete, the New Orleans was endowed with far more hull decoration than was customary in the American fleet (left). She was rushed into commission at Norfolk and put to work immediately in the Cuba campaign, joining the Flying Squadron in Cuban waters on May 30, 1898.

During the Spanish conflict she assisted in the blockade and bombardment of forts at Santiago de Cuba. She was absent for refueling on July 3 and so missed the decisive Battle of Santiago. She was at Philadelphia for the naval review and Peace Jubilee in October, then began her peacetime service with a two-week visit to her namesake city in May 1899. After exercises with the Atlantic Fleet, she was assigned to the Asiatic Station and sailed there via the Suez Canal. As the finest protected cruiser in the U.S. Navy, she became the flagship of the Asiatic Squadron and split her time between cruising the China coast and directing naval operations against the Filipino insurgents in the brutal suppression of their revolt against the American takeover. Although the major hostilities were officially ended in 1902, the popular revolt continued to flare up through the end of 1913. Altogether between 300,000 and one million Filipinos were killed (20,000 of them military personnel, the balance civilians), and more than 5,200 Americans and their allied Filipino Constabulary. American and allied forces suffered an additional 5,000 wounded. Filipino wounded may have numbered in the millions.

After some time out of commission and a second stint as Asiatic Fleet flagship, New Orleans took part in the U.S. intervention against Pancho Villa in Mexico from 1914-1916. Thereafter she transited the newly-opened Panama Canal and rejoined the Atlantic Fleet for the duration of WWI. With her reliable machinery and effective watertight subdivision, she was a prime convoy escort, typically bringing her charges from New York to a hand-off rendezvous off the British isles, meeting up with British escorts who would assist the merchant ships to complete the crossing. Her sister-ship the Albany completed eleven round trips to Europe during the War. New Orleans was called away to the Asiatic station to support the Allied intervention in Russia's Civil War on the side of the Whites, a disparate coalition of groups whose only common thread was opposition to Bolshevik party dominance. For a time New Orleans and Albany were together, stationed at Vladivostok in support of the U.S. Marine/Czech Legion force fighting Bolshevism ashore during 1919-20. Although the Communists triumphed in European Russia in November 1920, confused fighting continued in Siberia and the U.S. ships remained at Vladivostok supporting foreign interventionists through the summer of 1922 (New Orleans did break from this duty for repairs at Cavite, and later returned). At the end of 1922 both sisters were recalled and decommissioned at Mare Island Naval Station. Tied up for several years at the base's "death row," (see photo above), they were struck off the Register, sold in 1929, and scrapped in 1930.

Plans and Specifications

Schematic of the 1898 NEW ORLEANS class Elswick cruisers

Profile of the USS Albany and New Orleans. In 1907 the entire armament was replaced with U.S.-made 5"/50 ordnance; the torpedo tubes were also removed in 1907. Though the side guns often were rendered inoperable by weather, the 6-inchers on forecastle and quarterdeck could be fought even in rough seas.   Source: Jane's Fighting Ships, 1914 ed.

Specifications for the New Orleans and Albany:
Dimensions: Length: 354'5", Beam: 43'9", Draft: 18'. Displacement: 3,769 tons. Armament: (6) 6"/50; (4) 4.7"/50; (10) 2¼" 6-pdr; (8) 1-pdr; and (4) .30-calibre Maxim guns; (3) 18" torpedo tubes. Armor: Harvey type. 4" shields, 6" conning tower, 4"/2¾" deck. Watertight subdivision: 14 watertight bulkheads plus double bottom. Fuel capacity: 450 tons of coal normal; 822 tons maximum. Propulsion: (4) double-ended coal-fired Scotch boilers; (2) Humphreys & Tennant inverted vertical triple-expansion engines developing 7,500 hp, shafted to twin screw. Speed: 20 knots; 21.05 kts forced draft. Crew: 366. NOTE: Albany's engines were by Hawthorn Leslie.

Metric specs:
Dimensions: 108m x 13.3m x 5.5m. Displacement: 3,769 tons. Armament: (6) 152 mm/50; (4) 120 mm/50; (10) 57 mm 6-pdr; (8) 1-pdr; (4) .30-calibre (7.6 mm) Maxim guns; (3) 45 cm torpedo tubes. Armor: 101 mm shields, 152 mm conning tower, 101/70 mm deck. Watertight subdivision: 14 watertight bulkheads plus double bottom. Fuel capacity: 450 tons of coal normal; 821 tons maximum. Propulsion: (4) double-ended coal-fired Scotch boilers; (2) Humphreys & Tennant inverted vertical triple-expansion engines developing 5,593 kW, shafted to twin screw. Speed: 37 km/hr; 39 km/hr forced draft. Crew: 366. NOTE: Albany's engines were by Hawthorn Leslie.

A New Orleans Class Scrapbook

USS NEW ORLEANS at Elswick after completion, 1898
New Orleans at Elswick following completion, 1898, before her express voyage to America.

USS NEW ORLEANS at New York Navy Yard on arrival, 1898

The New Orleans on her arrival at the New York Navy Yard, after her first transatlantic crossing. The ship flies an extravagantly long commission pennant to brag of the slick accomplishment of her acquisition in time for war, ready for war. Behind her is the old ship-of-the-line Vermont, of 1840s vintage, used as an accommodation ship (floating barracks) at the base until 1901.

USS ALBANY of 1900 anchored, dressed for review
USS Albany dressed over all for review, showing finely filigreed bow crest.

USS ALBANY of 1900 anchored, dressed for review
The Albany pitching through a chop, by Enrique Muller.


A fine photo of the New Orleans at sea under full power -- a bone in her teeth and a dense plume of coal-smoke streaming overhead. Few images in our collection convey the romance of the sea better than this.

AnchorU.S. ShieldAnchor