USS Birmingham, a 3750-ton Chester class scout cruiser, was built at Quincy, Massachusetts. Commissioned in April 1908, she had intermittent active service with the Atlantic Fleet between then and the end of 1913. On 14 November 1910, the aviator Eugene Ely flew a Curtiss airplane from a temporary platform erected over her forecastle, the first airplane flight from a warship. Among her other activities, Birmingham carried the Panama-Pacific Exhibition Commissioners on a tour of South America in October-December 1913.
Early in 1914 Birmingham began service as Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla flagship. She operated off Mexico during the Vera Cruz intervention during April and May 1914, and in 1916 became flagship of the Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet. Once the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Birmingham had patrol duty off the Atlantic Coast. In June and July she crossed the ocean as an escort to the first convoy transporting U.S. troops to Europe. In August 1917 the cruiser returned to European waters to begin a lengthy deployment as flagship of U.S. Navy Forces operating out of Gibraltar. For the next fourteen months, until the 11 November 1918 Armistice stopped the fighting, Birmingham escorted convoys between ports in the United Kingdom, France and Gibraltar. Post-war, she made a brief cruise to the eastern Mediterranean.
In July 1919, some months after her January 1919 homecoming, Birmingham went to San Diego, California, where she served as flagship for the Pacific Fleet's Destroyer Squadrons. While so employed, in July 1920, she was reclassified as a light cruiser, with the hull number CL-2. Duty as flagship of the Special Service Squadron followed in 1922-1923, including operations off Central America and northern South America. USS Birmingham was decommissioned at the beginning of September 1923 and spent the rest of the decade in "Red Lead Row" at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was stricken from the list of Naval vessels in January 1930 and sold for scrapping in May of that year.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|