The Denver-class cruisers were a group of six protected cruisers in service with the United States Navy from 1903 through 1929. Authorized by Congress in 1899 as part of the naval buildup touched off by the Spanish–American War, they were designed with peacetime duties on foreign stations and tropical service in mind, specifically patrolling Latin America and the Caribbean. However, they had insufficient armament, armor, and speed for combat with most other cruisers. Thus, they were also called "peace cruisers" and were effectively gunboats. They were intended to augment the Montgomery class in these roles.
USS Denver at the North Atlantic Fleet review in 1905
|Preceded by:||Columbia class|
|Succeeded by:||St. Louis class|
|General characteristics (as built)|
|Displacement:||3,200 long tons (3,251 t)|
|Length:||308 ft 10 in (94.13 m)|
|Beam:||44 ft (13 m)|
|Draft:||15 ft 9 in (4.80 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 × screws|
|Speed:||16.41 knots (30.39 km/h; 18.88 mph) (trial)|
|Range:||2,200 nmi (4,100 km; 2,500 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
|Complement:||19 officers and 308 enlisted|
Design and construction
The as-built main armament was ten 5 in (127 mm)/50 caliber Mark 5 rapid firing (RF) guns, arranged one each fore and aft and the remainder in casemates along the sides; the hull was cut away to allow ahead and astern fire from the end casemates. Secondary armament was six 6-pounder (57 mm (2.2 in)) RF guns, two 1-pounder (37 mm (1.5 in)) RF guns, and four .30 caliber (7.62 mm) machine guns, possibly the M1895 Colt–Browning machine gun.
Armor protection was very light. The protective deck was 2 1⁄2 in (64 mm) on the slopes, 5⁄16 in (8 mm) in the flat middle, and 1 in (25 mm) at the ends. The 5-inch gun casemates had 1 3⁄4 in (44 mm) armor.
The engineering plant included six coal-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers supplying 275 psi (1,900 kPa) steam to two vertical triple-expansion engines, totaling 4,700 ihp (3,500 kW) for 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph) as designed. On trials Galveston achieved 16.41 knots (30.39 km/h; 18.88 mph) at 5,073 ihp (3,783 kW). The low design speed relegated these ships to the gunboat role or commerce raiding against slower merchant ships. The ships normally carried 467 tons of coal for a service range of 2,200 nmi (4,100 km; 2,500 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph); this could be increased to 675 tons.
Most of the class served in Latin America and the Caribbean on missions ranging from protection of American citizens and interests, disaster relief, and diplomatic negotiations to military intervention. Galveston and Chattanooga served primarily on the Asiatic Station based in the Philippines until World War I, when they were convoy escorts. Shortly after the war Galveston and Des Moines served in the North Russia Intervention, and Galveston patrolled the Caribbean 1924–30.
In January 1924 Tacoma grounded and was lost at Blanquilla Reef near Veracruz, Mexico.
Chattanooga's bell was at a now-closed American Legion post in Shelbyville, Tennessee from the 1930s until the 2010s. In late 2015 was at the National Medal of Honor Museum in the Northgate Mall, and soon will be incorporated into a memorial to the victims of the attack on the recruiting station at Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Ships in class
|USS Denver (C-14)||Neafie & Levy, Philadelphia||28 June 1900||21 June 1902||17 May 1904||14 February 1931||Sold for scrap 13 September 1933|
|USS Des Moines (C-15)||Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts||28 August 1900||20 September 1902||5 March 1904||9 April 1921||Sold for scrap 11 March 1930|
|USS Chattanooga (C-16)||Crescent Shipyard, Elizabeth, New Jersey||29 March 1900||7 March 1903||11 October 1904||19 July 1921||Sold for scrap 8 March 1930|
|USS Galveston (C-17)||William R. Trigg Company, Richmond, Virginia||19 January 1901||23 July 1903||15 February 1905||2 September 1930||Sold for scrap 13 September 1933|
|USS Tacoma (C-18)||Union Iron Works, San Francisco||27 September 1900||2 June 1903||30 January 1904||Grounded near Veracruz, Mexico and lost 16 January 1924|
|USS Cleveland (C-19)||Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine||1 June 1900||28 September 1901||2 November 1903||1 November 1929||Sold for scrap 7 March 1930|
Construction of Chattanooga was halted on 18 June 1903 when Crescent went out of business; she was completed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Galveston's construction was similarly halted on 24 December 1902 with the closure of Trigg; she was completed at the Norfolk Navy Yard.
7 July 1920
8 August 1921
- Friedman, pp. 48–49, 463–464
- Silverstone, p. 95
- DiGiulian, Tony, 5"/50 USN guns
- Gardiner and Chesneau, p. 155
- Bauer and Roberts, p. 146
- "Ships' Data, U.S. Naval Vessels". US Navy Department. 1 July 1921. p. 64. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
- Mark Kennedy, "Ship's Bell finds a home, a purpose", Chattanooga Times Free Press, 31 December 2015
- Cruiser photo gallery index at NavSource Naval History
- Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
- Burr, Lawrence (2011). US Cruisers 1883-1904: The Birth of the Steel Navy. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9781780962702. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
- Friedman, Norman (1984). U.S. Cruisers: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-718-6.
- Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978 1 84832 100 7.
- Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. New York: Mayflower Books. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
- Silverstone, Paul H. (1970). U.S. Warships of World War I. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-7110-0095-6.
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