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USS Huntington


The USS Huntington (ARC-5), originally the USS West Virginia, was the first ship named for West Virginia. An armored cruiser, one of three Pennsylvania-class ships authorized by Congress in 1899, it was constructed at Newport News, launched in 1903 and commissioned February 23, 1905. The vessel was 504 feet long, 70 feet wide, and displaced 13,680 tons. There was a main battery of four eight-inch guns in two turrets, with 14 six-inch guns as secondary weapons.

As the West Virginia, the ship spent the years before World War I in routine training and flag-showing cruises, mainly in the Pacific and Far East. In 1914 and 1916, it was on the West Coast during difficulties with Mexico. On November 11, 1916, the cruiser was renamed Huntington to allow transfer of the original name to a newly authorized battleship.

In 1917, the Huntington was equipped for early experiments in naval aviation. During World War I, it escorted convoys across the Atlantic and in coastal waters. Following the armistice, the ship was converted into a troop transport and made six roundtrips between January and July 1919, bringing home almost 12,000 soldiers. Reconverted to warship status, the Huntington remained in service until decommissioned in September 1920.

The name Huntington was assigned to a Cleveland-class light cruiser in 1941, but the ship was converted to an aircraft carrier while under construction and completed as the Cowpens (CVL-25). The second assignment of the name to a light cruiser was made in 1943. This Huntington made three tours of duty to the Mediterranean Sea before being decommissioned in 1949.

Written by William P. McNeel