> 1854-1894 Illinois State Association History

USS Illinois Battleship No. 7 (BB-7)

USS Illinois Battleship No. 7 (BB-7)

On Oct. 4, 1898 at the Newport News ship building yard, the U.S. Navy launched the USS Illinois Battleship which stayed in service until 1956. This picture is of the real ship at sea in about 1902 but a full-size wooden replica was also produced for display at the 1893 Coumbian Exposition world's fair at Jackson Park in Chicago to show the public what the future ship then under construction would look like.

In December 1907 Illinois steamed out of Hampton Roads, Virginia, to begin a voyage around South America. This was the first leg of the World Cruise of the "Great White Fleet". In company with most of the U.S. Navy's battleships, she arrived at California in the spring of 1908 and that summer crossed the Pacific to Australia and Asia. During the rest of 1908 and the first weeks of 1909 she transited the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic, arriving back at Hampton Roads in February 1909. Some months later Illinois was decommissioned and underwent a major modernization, receiving new "cage" masts and more modern equipment.

After over two years in the shipyard and in reserve, Illinois returned to active service in 1912. During 1913 and 1914 she again went to Europe on training cruises and, after the United States entered World War I in April 1917, was employed for training along the East Coast. Illinois was placed in reserve at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1919. Given the hull number BB-7 in July 1920, the next year she became a training ship for the New York State Naval Militia and in 1922 was reduced to "unclassified" status. Subsequently disarmed and housed over as a floating armory, Illinois continued in Naval Reserve service through the 1920s and 1930s. In January 1941 she was renamed Prairie State (IX-15). The old ship served through World War II as a Midshipmen's training school at New York and was kept there after the war to provide quarters for the Naval Reserve. USS Prairie State was stricken from the Navy list in March 1956 and sold for scrapping a few months later.

When World War II ended in 1945 an Iowa Class Battleship USS Illinois BB 65 was under construction but it was cancelled because it was no longer needed.

In April 2012 the U.S. Navy announced that a new Virginia class attack submarine would be given the name USS Illinois also. The Navy has named a new Virginia-class attack submarine the USS Illinois.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced names for five new submarines on April 12. They will be named the USS Illinois, the USS Washington, the USS Colorado, the USS Indiana and the USS South Dakota.

The Navy says none of the five states has had a ship named for it for more than 49 years. The USS Illinois submarine is the second ship named for Illinois. Illinois is home to the Navy’s Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, north of Chicago. It’s where all enlisted sailors begin service.

The next-generation submarines have sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements. They can attack with Tomahawk missiles. The submarines weigh 7,800 tons and are 377 feet long.

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