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Battleship U.S.S. Iowa

By Patrick McSherry

The U.S.S. Iowa at Anchor
The U.S.S. IOWA (BB-4) at anchor

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An Account of Danger in Fireroom 2! (Medal of Honor Recipents on the IOWA)
Iowa in drydock ||| An IOWA broadside painting ||| Chart of hits recieved by the IOWA in the Battle of Santiago
Click here for Iowa Crewman Bernard Keegan's account of the Battle of Santiago

Please Visit our Home Page to learn more about the Spanish American War


The USS IOWA was the very newest American battleship in the Spanish-American War. Like the INDIANA class, IOWA was classified as a "Seagoing Coastline Battleship", but she was a better sea boat than the earlier battleships. She took part in the Battle of Santiago on July 3, 1898.


USS IOWA was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, and was ordered to blockade duty off Santiago de Cuba on May 28, 1898. She was the first US ship to sight Admiral Cervera's Spanish ships coming out of the channel on July 3, and fired the first shot in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. In a 20-minute duel with Spanish cruisers MARIA TERESA and OQUENDO, IOWA's effective fire helped set both ships aflame and drive them upon the beach. Later in the engagement, IOWA joined with INDIANA and GLOUCESTER in destroying the Torpedo Boat Destroyers PLUTON and FUROR. IOWA then turned her attention to the Spanish cruiser VIZCAYA which she pursued until the Spanish ship was run aground and surrendered. After the battle, IOWA received on board many Spanish prisoners, including Admiral Cervera and the officers and crews of the VIZCAYA, PLUTON and FUROR.

USS IOWA arrived in New York from Cuban waters on August 20, 1898. That October, she departed for the Pacific, sailing around Cape Horn, and arriving in San Francisco on February 7,1899. After a refit at Bremerton, Washington, she conducted training cruises, drills, and target practice. IOWA left the Pacific early in February 1902 to become flagship of the South Atlantic Squadron. She sailed for New York February 12, 1903 where she decommissioned June 30th. She was recommissioned that December, returned to reserve in July, 1907, and again decommissioned in July, 1908. IOWA was recommissioned for training duties from May, 1910 to May, 1914. She was in limited commission for receiving, training and guardship duties beginning April 28, 1917, and was decommissioned for the last time on March 31, 1919. USS IOWA was stricken in 1920, reinstated as IX 6 that same year, and converted to a radio controlled target ship and sunk March 23, 1923.


The major advantage of USS IOWA over the ships of the INDIANA class was the new battleship's higher freeboard, which made the guns easier to work in heavy seas. She was not, however, a full-fledged first class battleship equal to those of Great Britain and other powers. Also, IOWA was of single-screw design and shipped only 12" main guns, both features were a step backwards from the INDIANA.


Plan and Profile of the U.S.S. Iowa

Sea-Going Coast-Line Battleship, BB 4
Keel Laid:
August 5, 1893
March 28, 1896
June 16, 1897
One military mast.
Four 12" guns

Eight 8" guns

Six 4" guns

Twenty 6 pounders

Four 1 pounders

Four 14" torpedo tubes
William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, PA.
362 feet, 6 inches
72 feet
Mean draft:
24 feet
Normal Displacement:
11,410 tons
Displacement Fully Loaded:
12,647 tons 
727 Officers and Enlisted Men, under the command of Captain Robey D. Evans
Engine type:
Vertical triple expansion engines, generating 11,000 hp. Single screw
Boiler type:
Five 160 psi boilers.
17 knots
4-14" belt, 2.75-3" deck, 12.5-15" barbettes, 15-17" turrets.


Clerk of Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress., Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899. 4 vols. (all are documents relating to the war)

Gardiner, Robert, Ed., Conway's History of the Ship: Steam, Steel & Shellfire - The Steam Warship 1815-1905. London: Conway Maritime Press Ltd., 1992.

Naval History Department, Navy Department, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1959.

Reynolds, Francis J., The United States Navy. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1918

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