The U.S.S. MARBLEHEAD was the fifth
in a line of ships loaned by the United States Navy to the Naval
Militia of the State of California. She was formally loaned pursuant
to a written agreement dated February 2, 1915, between the Governor
of the State of California and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as acting
Secretary of the Navy.
The ship was placed in service in 1910 prior to its administrative
loan and was used by the state's Naval Militia as evidenced by
an article in Sunset Magazine of September 1914, describing
Maritime design changes had an almost bewildering rapidity between
1860 and 1914, from broadside to central battery to turret arrangement
of guns, from all around, to "Citadel" to "Armored
Deck" arrangement; of protection from wrought iron to case
hardened composite quality of armor; from piston to turbine engine
power; from coal propulsion to oil.
In 1913, modern battleships were achieving speeds of 25 knots
from turbine engines fired by oil.
MARBLEHEAD was launched in 1892. It was already behind
the curve in terms of speed and armament. Only two years afterwards,
the battleship OREGON (later to become part of California's
Naval Militia history) was launched in Oakland and was attaining
speeds of 16.791 knots. MARBLEHEAD was only about one
knot faster, although the role of a light cruiser was to serve
as the eyes of the fleet and seek out enemy squadrons well in
advance of the main body, speed was essential to run away from
a stronger force. She had little reserve capacity.
In looking at the MARBLEHEAD she almost seems to harken
back to the days of Lord Nelson. There is no center turret armament.
The guns are in broadside placement mounted in barbetts, with
the exception of stern chaser mounted aft. The bow chaser in
an open mount is not visible.
During her state service between 1910 and 1916, the MARBLEHEAD
participated in coastal cruises up and down the Pacific Coast
and in the summer of 1910, while staffed with 26 officers, four
warrant officers and 236 Naval Militiamen plus six U.S. Navy
Shipkeepers, she called at ports of call in the states of Washington
and in Portland, Oregon. On July 11, 1910, she called at Portland,
Oregon with her crew participating in a parade as well as helping
to subdue a fire in the business district on the night of July
14. The ship put ashore a party of two officers and 56 men with
fire hoses who served with credible distinction. She left the
port to meet operational commitments at 6:00 A.M. that morning.
MARBLEHEAD was eventually replaced in 1916 with the loan
of the battleship OREGON to the state and she was transferred
to the State of Oregon for use by her sister state's Naval Militia.
She was scrapped in 1920 and replaced by the third MARBLEHEAD
which served with distinction through WWII.
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