On May 4, 1898, Congress authorized the construction of three battleships, the plans of which very closely followed those of the “Alabama” class, the idea being to have a homogeneous squadron of six identical vessels. When it was learned, however, that the contract speed of these ships was to be only 16 knots, which was about two knots slower than the' speed of many foreign battleships, Which were under construction at that date, there was a strong agitation in favor of the modification of these ships, which led to a revision of the plans to the extent of lengthening them by 20 feet, in order to provide the necessary space for an increase in the motive power. The “Alabama” class are 368 feet between perpendiculars, and the “Maine” class 388 feet, the other dimensions of the hull being identical throughout. The additional 20 feet of length raised the displacement from 11,552 tons in the “Alabama” to 12,500 tons in the “Maine"; and enabled the horse-power to be increased from about 11,000 to 15,603, with the result that on trial the “Maine” accomplished 18 k n o t s. The “Maine” was built at Cramps, the “Missouri” at Newport News, and the “Ohio” at San Francisco. The additional length made it possible to mount an extra pair of 6-inch guns in the central battery, and the 35-caliber 13-inch gun of 2,100 foot- seconds velocity, gave place to the new 40-caliber 12-inch piece of 2,700 foot- deconds velocity. This resulted in a saving of 40 tons in the weight of the four guns, and a gain in penetration of from 12.5 inches at 3,000 yards for the 13-inch to 16.3 inches at the same distance for the 12-inch piece. An additional smokestack was added, and a return was made to the practice of placing the stacks on the longitudinal center line of the vessel. The previous tion, and both the hoisting of the ammunition and the maneuvering of the guns are done electrically
This article was originally published with the title "First-Class Battleship “Maine”—Class of Three Ships"