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Dry Dock: 1910

Dry Dock: 1910

Circa 1910. "Brooklyn Navy Yard, dry dock No. 4." The battleship is unidentified, but probably not for long. Detroit Publishing glass negative. View full size.


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Additional reason to identify ship as DELAWARE

In looking at photos of DELAWARE and NORTH DAKOTA while in this configuration at, I spotted an additional reason to identify the ship as DELAWARE. A close look shows that the pole mast atop the after cage mast is mounted on the *forward* side of the mast on DELAWARE and on the *aft* side on NORTH DAKOTA. This ship appears to have the pole on the fore side, hence more likely to be DELAWARE. Funnel stripes can vary from year to year so are not as reliable by themselves.

I love Shorpy comments

I always learn something when I read through the comments and I especially enjoy the lack of trolling. Even when someone is corrected it is usually done with manners and grace.

re: Cannons - still in use in 1910?

The guns on the side are the ship's secondary armament. In this case they are fourteen 5" guns in casemates. The guns were placed there to deal with smaller ships close in - like destroyers or torpedo boats - that the main battery couldn't depress low enough to hit.

Cannons - still in use in 1910?

Even with the turret mounted big guns, a bit of old school Naval design seems to have remained in place; are those cannon sticking out the sides??

Dakota or Delaware

The USS North Dakota had a large open chock built into the side of the ship behind the hawse pipe. The Delaware did not. This is the Delaware. The ship in the background is a Connecticut class battleship.

Brooklyn Navy Yard 2011

I took this photo yesterday from the same spot as the original. There have been crews here attempting to clean up the area around this dry dock and make it into more of an attraction. The water hasn't been drained for years, but the dry dock on the other side of the building on the left (featured in a previous post) is one of the oldest active dry docks in the country. The Navy Yards is an amazing place to work and to visit. Tours are offered every weekend and it's a great thing to check out if you are in the NYC area.

Battleship in background

My first guess was way off base. Especially since there is only one aft turret. I'm glad now that one did not get posted.

With one aft turret, two gun positions near the stern (the boxy squares) and a gap between the upgrade cage mast and the rear stack, this is a Connecticut class battleship. I notice a band at the top of the rear stack, and assume this is an identifier but I did not see a photo to pinpoint which of the six ships this might be.


First the Crow's Nests are probably just that. Remember these ships didn't have radar, so the only way to detect any other ship or objects in the water was visually and the best place to detect things visually is not from the bridge but from the highest point on the ship, in this case the top of the cage mast. You'd send lookouts up, and either have high powered binoculars up there already or send them up with them.

As far as identifying markings on the bow, the don't appear to be in use during this period, at least not in the U.S. Navy. In fact I don't believe they were in use for battleships at the time of Pearl Harbor. I'm given to understand that they'd have their names on the stern in brass letters, but that was pretty much the only obvious identification from off the ship.

The question not answered

Why are there no identifying markers on the bow? Was it typical not to mark the ships?


It looks like this modern metal marvel has two old school crow's nests.

The Navy Yard

Shortly after September 11, 2001, I looked at some warehouse space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The guy that was showing me around had bought the property shortly before. One of the features that he thought might impress me was that it was bomb proof. It seems the Navy built the 6 story structure as an ammo depot during WW2.

Navy Yard tenant now

I have a studio overlooking this dry dock. It is no longer in use and there are cranes surrounding it that must have been added after this photo. My studio is in the building to in the left of the photo second floor 5th and 6th window from the end.

Ship in the right background

The shape of the turret makes me think it could be a Pennsylvania/Tennessee class armored cruiser, not a battleship.

Hard to tell.


If this is the Brooklyn Navy Yard, why is th Williamsburg Bridge on the LEFT? Shouldn't it be on the right? Or has the yard shrunk about a mile in intervening years?

[The camera is facing northeast into Wallabout Bay, and the bridge is where you'd expect it to be -- straight ahead and a little to the left. - Dave]

And today it looks like

It just so happens I took a tour of the old Brooklyn Navy Yard a few months ago. I believe that this is either the same dry dock or the one next to it. The "innards" cranes, tracks, etc... have been replaced over time.

Additional photos of the dry dock in its present state are here.

"Pocket Battleship"

These vintage warship pictures are fascinating. So this is the USS North Dakota, eh? BB-29, caught with her pants down, as it were. I know little about old battleships, but to my eye this one appears kind of small. Looking at the turrets and gun muzzles in particular, plus the apparent overall size. Since my knowledge is limited I would have guessed this to be a heavy cruiser. I wonder what its dimensions were? Back in my PA days I used to visit the USS Olympia in Philly. I loved the lavish wood paneling in the wardroom and the brass fixtures in the engine room. And I've always liked the "reverse" bow profile of those turn of the century ships. Great stuff!

Fire damage

The USS North Dakota was at the Brooklyn Navy Yard at least twice in 1910 - in June and again in October. On September 8, 1910, an oil explosion on board killed three sailors, and put the ship at risk. Six members of the crew were awarded Medals of Honor for their heroism in the immediate aftermath of the explosion.


That's a lot of bricks!

An Amazing Picture

I have been through many dry docks in my military service but this amazing on many aspects. One being the year and the size of the ship. Modernization and technology was starting to take effect as we know it.

Dry docking 1910 and 2011 -- not much difference.

Sisters, Not Twins

Delaware and North Dakota looked the same from the outside, but the former had reciprocating engines and the latter had turbines. Reciprocating engines had better fuel econmy in this period (before reduction gears) while turbines were less vibration prone and could produce more power in the same volume. In this case the engines seem to have been rated the same and therefore the piston engines' better efficiency seemed to make them an obvious choice, leading to a few later US battleships being engined with recips. The British converted to turbines in Dreadnought (1906) and never looked back.

The other battleship

Looking at the photo I notice that the turret does not have the squared, boxy look turrets have in other classes but rather angle upwards from gun ports to the rear of the turret.

Looking at photos of the various battleship classes circa 1910 shows only the South Carolina class (South Carolina, BB26 and Michigan, BB27) having this angled turret armor.

The South Carolina class was the first to have the cage type masts and also the first to superimpose the turrets, ie, putting a turret directly behind and above the other changing battleship appearance to what we are most familar with.

North Dakota

It could very well be the USS North Dakota, BB-29. According to Wikipedia it suffered an oil-tank explosion and subsequent fire, and this could be a photo of it being refitted and fixed up after said incident.

USS North Dakota

This is the USS North Dakota. She and her sister-ship, USS Delaware, had a second funnel behind the mainmast while the next two dreadnoughts in the US Navy, USS Florida and USS Utah, had two funnels inside of the masts.

The USS North Dakota also had three stripes on the second funnel whereas the USS Delaware only had two.

I'm still trying to ID the pre-dreadnought docked beyond the warehouse.

Delaware Class BB

Checking through the photos I could find, I believe this is either the Delaware (BB28, launched February, 1909, commissioned April, 1910) or North Dakota (BB29, November, 1908, April, 1910). One identifier to me were the low mounted casement 5 inch guns.

Also of interest and something I had not seen before is the large below water port towards the bow. This I believe is the starboard 21 inch torpedo tube.


Looks like USS North Dakota (BB-29) to me.

USS Delaware/USS North Dakota

I think it's either the Delaware (BB-28) or the North Dakota (BB-29). The bridge and forecastle match the Delaware class. They were both commissioned in April 1910 and went on a cruise to Europe that November, so it could be either.

Can anyone identify the battleship in the right background?


This ship is either the Delaware, BB-28, or the North Dakota, BB-29. The distinguishing characteristic is the arrangement of the cage masts and funnels: in the order mast-funnel-mast-funnel. Also, the secondary battery is located in casements on the second deck along the sides of the ship.

USS Florida

This could be the USS Florida (BB30) which was launched in May of 1910. The USS New York (BB34) and USS Arizona (BB39) were launched subsequently in 1912 and 1915, respectively.

[This ship looks like it's been around the block a few times. - Dave]

Or around the Horn a few times. I should've noticed that.

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