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Launching A Battleship

Under construction
Under construction

The second West Virginia (BB-48) was authorized by Congress in 1916 as part of the great U. S. naval building program. The hull was laid down on April 12, 1920 in Newport News, Virginia.

The ship, which was the length of two football fields and stood eight stories high, was launched on November 19, 1921, sponsored by Alice Wright Mann, daughter of West Virginia millionaire Isaac T. Mann. The mood of the occasion was darkened by the possibility that the ship would not be completed due to the proposed reduction of naval forces worldwide in the post-war era.

West Virginia Governor Ephraim Morgan and Alice Wright Mann
West Virginia Governor Ephraim
Morgan and Alice Wright Mann

Launching of the USS West Virginia
Launching of the
USS West Virginia

Although another battleship was destroyed following the international arms limitation agreement reached at the 1921-22 Washington Conference, the USS West Virginia was commissioned on December 1, 1923. It was the last American battleship constructed prior to World War II.

USS West Virginia, 1923
USS West Virginia, 1923
Photo courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding

Captain Wat T. Cluverius
Captain Wat T. Cluverius,
USS West Virginia, 1926-28

Field day aboard the USS West Virginia, 1926
Field day, 1926

USS West Virginia entering the Panama Canal, 1927
Entering the Panama Canal, 1927

USS West Virginia at the Brooklyn Bridge, 1927
Crossing under the
Brooklyn Bridge, 1927

During her first year of service, the ship ran aground off Hampton Roads. After repairs were completed, the West Virginia became the flagship for the Commander, Battleship Divisions, Battle Fleet. The ship won numerous awards and participated in annual large-scale exercises. During 1926, she took part in maneuvers to test the defenses of Hawaii and joined the fleet for a cruise to Australia and New Zealand. The West Virginia also participated in exercises from Hawaii to the Caribbean and the Atlantic, and from Alaskan waters to Panama.

John Stewart, 1927
Sailor John Stewart aboard the West Virginia, 1927

Airplanes on the USS West Virginia, 1927
Airplanes on the USS West Virginia, 1927

The USS West Virginia on the way to Hawaii in 1928
On the way to Hawaii, 1928

USS West Virginia firing her guns en route to Hawaii in 1928
Firing her guns en route
to Hawaii, 1928

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