United States Navy

Submarine Tenders

USS Florida / USS Tallahassee

USS Tallahassee tending Submarines in 1916

3,225Built / Launched1901
Length252' 0"Built ByLewis Nixon,
Crescent Shipyard,
Elizabethport, N.J.
Beam50' 0"Commisioned1903
Draft12' 6"ClassArkansas
Renamed USS Tallahassee1908
Speed (rated)12.0ktsDecommissioned1922
Compliment220DispositionSold 1922

The Arkansas class was the last group of monitors to be constructed for the U.S. Navy although the navies of Great Britain and Italy built and used monitors for shore bombardment during World War I and the former used them during World War II as well. Single turreted monitors, they mounted the most modern heavy guns in the U.S. Navy at the time they were built 12 inch 4- calibre weapons. The Arkansas class did not see any combat during World War I and instead served as submarine tenders. Alexander C. Brown, writing in the Society of Naval Architects and marine Engineers Historical Transactions noted in a penetrating comment that: Monitors found their final employment as submarine tenders in World War I for which their low freeboard hulls made them well suited. It is significant to note, however, that in this humble capacity they were ministering to the needs of that type of craft which had logically replaced them for initially envisaged monitors were designed to combine heavy striking power with concealment and the presentation of a negligible target area...

The fourth Florida, Monitor No. 9, was launched 30 November 1901 by Lewis Nixon, Crescent Shipyard, Elizabethport, N.J.; sponsored by Miss S. Wood; and commissioned 18 June 1903, with Commander J. C. Fremont in command.

Serving with the Coast Squadron, Florida trained midshipmen on summer cruises, and operated along the east coast and in the Caribbean waters. She participated in the Presidential Naval Review in Oyster Bay, Long Island, held by Theodore Roosevelt on 3 September 1906, and 4 days later reported to the Naval Academy for regular service as a practice ship. She was placed in reserve 11 September 1906 but returned to full commission between 7 June and 30 August 1907 for a midshipman cruise, and between 21 May and 19 June 1908 for participation in ordnance experiments.

On 1 July 1908 Florida was renamed Tallahassee to free the State name for assignment to a battleship. On 1 August 1910 she was placed in commission in reserve and began a regular schedule of ordnance experimentation and occasional duty in the Canal Zone and Norfolk area as a submarine tender.

Not documented in DANFS:
During the latter part of 1913, the five C class submarines...USS C-1 (SS-9), USS C-2 (SS-13), USS C-3 (SS-14), USS C-4 (SS-15), and USS C-5 (SS-16) ... under the overall command of a Lieutenant Junior Grade officer, successfully completed the longest cruise made up to that time by United States submarines operating under their own power. Accompanied by several surface ships, including submarine tenders USS Tallahassee and Severn, fleet tug USS Potomac and a (to date - unidentified) fourth surface ship -- the submarines completed a 700-mile passage between Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Cristobal, Panama Canal Zone, Panama...without serious engineering mishap.[See the section: Deployments: Early Panama Canal for more on this - ED]

Back to DANFS:

During World War I she served as submarine tender in the Canal Zone, the Virgin Islands, and Bermuda areas; and on 30 September 1919 entered Charleston Navy Yard where she was decommissioned on 3 December 1920.

Tallahassee was assigned to the 6th Naval District as a reserve training ship from 19 February 1920, serving in commissioned status from 3 September 1920 to 24 March 1922. She was sold at Philadelphia on 25 July 1922.

History from the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.

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