United States Navy

Submarine Tenders

USS Arkansas / USS Ozark

The USS Ozark ready for action
USS Arkansas fitting out at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., 1 July 1902 - Her armament is completely installed and the ship is only four months away from commissioning.
The ship in the aft background is the battleship USS Missouri

3,255 Built / Launched 11/10/1900
Length 252' 0" Built By Newport News
Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.
Beam 50' 0" Class Arkansas
Renamed USS Ozark 1909
Draft 12' 6" Commisioned 10/28/1902
Speed (rated) 12.0kts Decommissioned 8/20/1919
Compliment 220 Disposition Sold 1/26/1922
The Arkansas class was the last group of monitors to be constructed for the U.S. Navy although the navies of Great Britain and Italy built and used monitors for shore bombardment during World War I and the former used them during World War II as well. Single turreted monitors, they mounted the most modern heavy guns in the U.S. Navy at the time they were built 12 inch 4- calibre weapons. The Arkansas class did not see any combat during World War I and instead served as submarine tenders. Alexander C. Brown, writing in the Society of Naval Architects and marine Engineers Historical Transactions noted in a penetrating comment that: Monitors found their final employment as submarine tenders in World War I for which their low freeboard hulls made them well suited. It is significant to note, however, that in this humble capacity they were ministering to the needs of that type of craft which had logically replaced them for initially envisaged monitors were designed to combine heavy striking power with concealment and the presentation of a negligible target area...

The second Ozark, a single-turreted "New Navy" monitor and one of the last monitors built for the U.S. Navy, was laid down 14 November 1899 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.; launched 10 November 1900; commissioned as Arkansas 28 October 1902, Comdr. C. E. Vreeland in command.

After shakedown, Arkansas' first duty was with the U.S. Naval Academy as an instruction and cruise ship for midshipmen. She was then assigned to the Coast Squadron North Atlantic Fleet, and cruised off the east coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the West Indies. She continued to make summer practice cruises with midshipmen, however, and in 1906 was again assigned to the Naval Academy for instructional purposes.

Renamed Ozark, 2 March 1909, she was assigned to the District of Columbia Naval Militia from 26 June 1910 to 6 March 1913. Later that month she began refitting in Norfolk as a submarine tender and began duties as a tender 12 July {1913}.
There is some speculation about her activities in late 1913 not covered by DANFS. See Deployments - The Panama Canal Zone for a discussion. [Ed.]
Returning to DANFS:
After special duty in Mexican waters during most of 1914, she participated in Atlantic Fleet maneuvers in 1915...
Here - DANFS penchant for "understatement" is again notable - as she is given credit as one of the founding elements of New London Submarine Base. From New London Submarine Base's own historical narative:

On October 13,1915, the monitor Ozark, a submarine tender, and four submarines arrived in Groton, Conn.  With the war effort in Europe and the Atlantic in full swing, additional submarines and support craft arrived the following year and the facility was named as the Navy's first Submarine Base.  Although physically located in Groton, the base had their main offices and housing in the larger city of New London, so it was christened as Naval Submarine Base New London.  Following World War I, the Navy established schools and training facilities at the base.  Today, Naval Submarine Base New London, located on the east side of Thames River in Groton, Conn., proudly claims its motto to be "The First and Finest."

Returning again to DANFS:
and operated in the Chesapeake Bay area in 1916. Ozark was ordered to SubDiv 6, Atlantic Fleet, 6 April 1917 and soon proceeded to Tampico, Mexico where she cruised off the coast protecting American and Allied interest. She sailed for New Orleans 18 December 1918 after which she cruised off Key West, Central America and the Panama Canal Zone. She returned to Hampton Roads 23 June 1919 and decommissioned in Philadelphia 20 August. Ozark was sold 26 January 1922.

The USS Ozark ready for action
Launch of USS Arkansas at New port News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, VA 10 November 1900.

History from the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.

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