Today marks the 103rd anniversary of the battleship USS Wyoming’s christening. This was the third of four naval vessel to carry Wyoming’s name.
On May 25, 1911, the battleship USS Wyoming was launched in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Her keel had been laid just over two years earlier in February 1910 by William Cramp and Sons.
The USS Wyoming was the largest military ship in the world in 1911. To give you an idea of the size, here are the specs that were printed in the newspaper:
“Has displacement almost 4.000 tons great than Great Britain’s mightiest dreadnought
In length is equal to that of two ordinary city blocks.
In width more than twice that of two wide streets.
Its hull sinks into the water to a depth equal to a two-story business block, with as much hull as this above the waterline.
Twelve 12-inch rapid-fire until for defense, against torpedo boats. Also fourteen additional smaller guns.
Twelve 50-caliber guns which hurl 876-pound projectiles a distance of two miles.
Hull is protected by 11-inch steel.
Will carry 1,076 men and 36 officers.”
After her christening, the entire Wyoming delegation of over 40 people was treated to a sumptuous banquet at the Bellevue-Stratford by the Cramps.
According to the press, when Congressman Mondell gave his toast, he characterized the state as the fairest in the union; fairest because it was the first to give ballot to women. “My best wish is that the new battleship may never fire a hostile shot and be truly a man of war but daughter of peace, and a force for good in the world’s history, as the namesake is to be in the nation.”
Congressman Mondell’s toast turned out to be very prophetic. The USS Wyoming never fired a hostile shot during her 35 years of service, even though she participated in both WWI and WWII.
From 1914-1918, she escorted convoys and VIP’s across the Atlantic and served with the British Grand Fleet. After the London Naval Conference of 1930, she was demilitarized and served as a training ship in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This training was continued during and after WWII. She holds the record for firing the most ammunition of any American ship during the War, firing nearly 2 million rounds through 7 different types of guns while training an estimated 35,000 anti-aircraft gunners. All without a single personnel casualty. The ship was decommissioned, sold for scrap and dismantled in 1947.
The State of Wyoming presented the battleship with a full silver service, as was the custom. Though the State Legislature allocated some money, the public was given the opportunity to contribute. Certificates were issued to donors for their subscription of at least $1. A total of $7,500 was used to purchase the 50+ piece set. The officers aboard the ship used the silver for 35 years before it was given back to the state when the USS Wyoming was decommissioned.
The Gorham Company of New York designed the silver, with the assistance of Cheyenne jeweler Hugo Buechner. Each piece is masterfully engraved with scenes representing Wyoming and its history. The 24 punch cups are decorated with images of the blue gentian flower, the unofficial state flower prior to the designation of the Indian paintbrush in 1917.
The impressive punchbowl can hold 10-gallons and is adorned with figures of Sacajawea and a pioneer woman. The largest platter is 2 feet by 3 feet and bears an engraving of the State Capitol Building as it stood in 1911, before the second addition of both legislative chambers in 1917.
The silver is currently on display in the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne.