Florida class battleships

The Florida class battleships were the third class of dreadnoughts built for the US Navy, and were modified versions of the previous Delaware class ships. Like the Delaware class ships they were armed with ten 12in guns in five twin turrets, all on the centre line. They also a secondary armament of 5in guns mounted in casemates in the gun deck, a position that meant they were almost unusable at speed or in rough seas. Two extra 5in guns were carried, and the guns themselves were superior to those installed on the Delaware class. These ships were designed and laid down early in 1909, almost one year before the first of American dreadnought, the South Carolina was completed, and just over a year before the two Delaware class ships were completed.

USS Florida (BB-30), 1927
USS Florida (BB-30), 1927

Both ships took part in the occupation of Vera Cruz in 1914, where the Utah provided 384 sailors as well as her marines for land operations. They also both formed part of the American contribution to the naval war after the US entry into the First World War.

The Florida was one of the battleships chosen to serve alongside the British Grand Fleet, forming part of the 6th Battle Squadron. She reached Scapa Flow late in 1917, and took part in a number of convoy escort sorties. She was also part of the fleet that escorted the German High Seas Fleet to Scapa at the end of the war. The Florida remained in service until 1931, when as a result of the London Naval Treaty of 1930 she was decommissioned and scrapped.

The Utah remained on the US East Coast until August 1918, when she sailed to Ireland to form part of a squadron posted to protect American troop convoys against any possible attacks by German capital ships. For the rest of the war she formed part of Battleship Division 6, with the Oklahoma and Nevada.

The Utah had a varied post-war career, serving as flagship of US Naval Forces in European Waters in 1921-22, flagship of the Battleship Division, United States Scouting Fleet from 1922, and with the Midshipman Practice Squadron in 1925 and 1926. She underwent a refit late in 1925, receiving a pole mast in place of the cage mainmast, converting to burn oil instead of coal and having some of her secondary guns moved onto deck for use as anti-aircraft guns. She served as a battleship for another five years after the refit, before in 1931 she was converted into a radio controlled target ship (AG-16). After this transformation she was capable of operating without any crew onboard, making her a suitable target for training exercises. From 1935 she also carried a fleet machine gun school.

General Mess Pantry, USS Utah (BB-31)
General Mess Pantry, USS Utah (BB-31)

Early in 1941 the Utah underwent a refit to turn her into a gunnery training ship, and on 14 September she sailed for Pearl Harbor. On 7 December 1941 she was moored off Ford Island, where she was hit by a Japanese torpedo. She listed to port and then rolled over, trapping some men below decks. The torpedo hit at 8.01, and she rolled at 8.12. Soon after this tapping was heard from the hull, and with the help of cutting equipment from the cruiser Raleigh, holes were cut in the hull and ten men rescued. The Utah was not raised and repaired after Pearl Harbor. She was partly righted to clear a neighbouring berth, but otherwise remained in place, and is now an official war memorial.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



6,720nm at 10kts

Armour – belt


 - lower casemate


 - upper casemate


 - barbettes


 - turret faces


 - coning tower


 - decks



521ft 8in


88ft 3in


Ten 12in guns in five twin turrets
Sixteen 5in guns
Two 21in submerged beam torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Ships in Class


USS Florida (BB 30)

Stricken 1941

USS Utah (BB 31)

Sunk 7 December 1941

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (9 September 2011), Florida class battleships, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_florida_class_battleships.html

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