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Rough Log Book of the U.S.S. Kearsarge, 1901: Finding Aid

Published in 1996

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 314
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Rough Log Book of the U.S.S. Kearsarge
  • Dates: 1901
  • Size: 1.42 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 flat box containing 1 volume of 32 leaves
  • Creator: Kearsarge (Battleship : BB-5)
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: The Rough Log Book of the U.S.S. Kearsarge is the product of a cruise from Woods Hole, Massachusetts to the Virginia Southern Drill Grounds off Hampton Roads in September 1901. The log consists of brief entries and enclosures noting course and speed, weather conditions, personnel status, communications, and duty performance.

History of U.S.S. Kearsarge

U.S.S. Kearsarge (Battleship : BB-5) was launched on March 24, 1898 by the Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Virginia, sponsored by Mrs. Herbert Winslow, daughter-in-law of Kearsarge's commander, Captain John A. Winslow, during her famous battle with the Alabama. She was commissioned on February 20, 1900, Captain William M. Folger in command.

Kearsarge became flagship of the North Atlantic Station, cruising down the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean. From June 3, 1903 to July 26, 1903 she served briefly as flagship of the European Squadron while on a cruise that took her first to Kiel, Germany. She was visited by the German Emperor on June 25, 1903 and by the Prince of Wales on July 13. She returned to Bar Harbor, Maine, on July 26, 1903 and resumed duties as flagship of the North Atlantic Fleet. She sailed from New York on December 1, 1903 for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where, on December 10, the United States took formal possession of the Guantanamo Naval Reservation. Following maneuvers in the Caribbean, she led the North Atlantic Battleship Squadron to Lisbon where she entertained the King of Portugal on June 11, 1904. She next steamed to Phaleron Bay, Greece, where she celebrated the Fourth of July with the King, Prince Andrew, and Princess Alice of Greece. The squadron paid goodwill calls at Corfu, Trieste, and Fiume before returning to Newport, Rhode Island on August 29, 1904.

Kearsarge remained flagship of the North Atlantic Fleet until relieved on March 31 by the battleship Maine, but continued operations with the fleet. During target practice off Cape Cruz, Cuba on April 13, 1906, an accidental ignition of a powder charge of a 13-inch gun killed two officers and eight men. Four men were seriously injured. Attached to the 2d Squadron, 4th Division, she sailed on December 16, 1907 with the Great White Fleet of battleships, sent around the world by President Theodore Roosevelt. She sailed from Hampton Roads around the coasts of South America to the western seaboard, thence to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Japan. From there, Kearsarge proceeded to Ceylon, transited the Suez Canal, and visited ports of the Mediterranean, before returning to the eastern seaboard of the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt reviewed the Fleet as it passed into the Hampton Roads on February 22, 1909, having completed a world cruise of overwhelming success, showing the flag and spreading good will. This dramatic gesture impressed the world with the power of the U.S. Navy.

Kearsarge was decommissioned in the Philadelphia Navy Yard on September 4, 1909 for modernization. She recommissioned on June 23, 1915 for operations along the Atlantic coast until September 17 when she departed Philadelphia to land a detachment of marines at Vera Cruz, Mexico. She remained off Vera Cruz from September 28, 1915 to January 5 1916, then carried the marines to New Orleans before joining the Atlantic Reserve Fleet on February 4, 1916 at Philadelphia. She trained Massachusetts and Maine State Naval Militia until America entered World War I, then trained thousands of armed guard crews as well as naval engineers in waters along the East Coast ranging from Boston to Pensacola. On the evening of August 18, 1918, Kearsarge rescued 26 survivors of Norwegian Bark Nordhav which had been sunk by German Submarine U-117. The survivors were landed in Boston.

Kearsarge continued as engineering training ship until May 29, 1919 when she embarked Naval Academy Midshipmen for training in the West Indies. The midshipmen were debarked at Annapolis on August 29 and Kearsarge proceeded to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she decommissioned on May 10, 1920 for conversion to a crane ship and a new career. She was designated AB-1 on August 5, 1920.

In place of military trappings, Kearsarge received an immense revolving crane with a rated lifting capacity of 250 tons, as well as 10-foot wide hull "blisters," which gave her more stability. The 10,000-ton crane ship served out of Boston until 1926 when she was towed to Bremerton. Ten years later, with battleship building contracts in the offing, cargo ship Sirius (AK-15) towed the crane ship back east to New York between May 14 and June 21, 1936. The crane ship was then shifted to the Boston Navy Yard. On November 6, 1941 she was designated Crane Ship No. 1, giving up her illustrious name which was assigned to an aircraft carrier. But she continued her yeoman service, handling guns, turrets, armor and other heavy lifts for new battleships such as Indiana and Alabama; cruisers Savannah and Chicago; and new rifles for the veteran battleship Pennsylvania.

In 1945 the crane ship was towed to the San Francisco Naval Shipyard where she assisted in the construction of carriers Hornet, Boxer, and Saratoga. She departed the West Coast in 1948 to finish her career in the Boston Naval Shipyard. Joe McDonald, master rigger, described her as "a big gray hulk of a thing" which was "pulled around by two or three tugs" on the job; "But the old girl has brought millions of dollars worth of business to Boston. Without her we would never have been able to do many of the big jobs that cost millions of dollars." As one example, he recalled that the former battleship lifted a gantry crane intact at the South Boston Naval Drydocks and transported it to Charleston where she placed it on crane tracks to be driven away. As Crane Ship No. 1, her name was struck from the Navy List on June 22, 1955. She was sold for scrapping on August 9, 1955.

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Description of Contents

The Rough Log of the U.S.S. Kearsarge spans from September 1, 1901 to September 30, 1901. During this period, the battleship Kearsarge (BB-5) served as flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron, bearing the flag of Rear Admiral Francis J. Higginson, and sailed under the command of Captain Bowman H. McCalla. The Kearsarge occupied most of the month of September in its passage from Woods Hole to the Southern Drill Grounds, engaged at the Southern Drill Grounds, and then moored at Hampton Roads, Virginia. The Rough Log concludes with the Kearsarge anchored off Old Point Comfort.

The Kearsarge's Rough Log, with its accompanying attachments and enclosures, records the daily occurrences and routine aboard ship. Entries in the log include brief notations on the ship's position and weather, including time, speed, course, wind, barometric readings, temperature, and cloud coverage. The entries also cover the ship's internal operations, such as personnel data, personnel transfers, offenses and punishments, stores and supplies, signals sent, maneuvers, exercises, drills, target practice, and coaling.

Included in the Log is a September 8, 1901 commendation from Rear Admiral Higginson on the Squadron's improved marksmanship. The September 16 entry notes the participation of the men of the Kearsarge in President McKinley's funeral.

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The Rough Log Book of the U.S.S. Kearsarge comprises a single volume. Entries within the logbook are arranged chronologically.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Rough Log Book of the U.S.S. Kearsarge is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Henry Glass Munson in May 1989. Accession No. 89-18.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to the cruises of the U.S.S. Kearsarge can be found in the C. W. Mauldin Diary, 1900-1906, MS 357 in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Rough Log Book of the U.S.S. Kearsarge, MS 314

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

Navy Department. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1959-1981.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1996. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1996 and revised by David D'Onofrio in February 2014.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Kearsarge (Battleship : BB-5)
  • McCalla, Bowman Hendry, 1844-1910

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Ships' logs
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Contents List

Box 1

Rough Log Book of the U.S.S. Kearsarge, 1901 September 1-30

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