Aboard the USS Brooklyn: These photographs document the lives of sailors on a 1896 warship

USS Brooklyn, the third United States Navy armored cruiser, was completed in 1896 at Cramp, New York, and named after a famous quarter of the city. Recognizable by her three very long funnels, she embodied grace and power, being the longest, fastest cruiser in the American arsenal.

These stunning photographs, taken by the Detroit Photographic Company in 1896, document the inside of the battleship, its armament and facilities, and the everyday lives of the sailors on board.

The design of the USS Brooklyn had some French influence with the lozenge armament arrangement and Hull's considerable tumblehome, clean lines and deck. Weighing over 9,000 tons, Brooklyn had eight 8-inch guns, 12 5-inch guns, and four 6-pounder guns. The battleship was manned by a complement of 561 enlisted men and officers.

She had significantly less protection than her sister USS New York to allow for increased armament. The belt was 3 inches (76 mm) thick and 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 m) deep, of which 5 feet (1.5 m) was below the water line. It only protected machinery spaces.

The armored deck was 6 inches (152 mm) thick on its sloping sides and 3 inches (76 mm) in the middle of the flat. Brooklyn was intended to be relatively fast at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph), and achieved 21.91 knots (40.58 km/h; 25.21 mph) on trials.

After commissioning, Brooklyn's first duty was to take representatives of the United States to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria of Great Britain.

Upon his return to Brooklyn, he served at various locations on the East Coast and in the West Indies until being commissioned as the flagship of the "Flying Squadron" on March 28, 1898. Two months later, the squadron took up its position, blocking Cuba.

On July 3, 1898, the USS Brooklyn was a key vessel in the Battle of Santiago, which resulted in the loss of the Spanish fleet in the Caribbean. Although he was hit 20 times by full shots, Brooklyn only got one person injured and one person killed.

After the war, the USS Brooklyn was present for the Spanish–American War Victory Ceremony in New York on October 5, 1898, and the Dewey Festival in September 1899.

On October 16, 1899, Brooklyn sailed for the Philippines, where she became the flagship of the Asian Squadron. He participated in the North China Relief Campaign ("Boxer Rebellion") in 1900.

In 1902, the USS Brooklyn returned to Cuba for the ceremony of the transfer of authority from the United States to a new Cuban government. She cruised with the North Atlantic Fleet and the European Squadron, becoming flagship of Rear Admiral C. de Sigsby, the last commander of the ill-fated USS Maine, on June 7, 1905.

Under Sigsby, he had the honor of traveling to Cherbourg, France to return the remains of American Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones to the United States.

USS Brooklyn was decommissioned on June 23, 1908, but was "normally" commissioned in 1914 to serve as a receiving ship at the Boston Naval Yard. Fully recommissioned in 1915, he served as part of the Neutrality Patrol. At the end of the same year he was transferred to the Asian station, where he served as major to the Commander-in-Chief.

He later held various diplomatic assignments as well as major assignments to Commander of Division 1, Asian Fleet and later to Commander of Destroyer Squadron. USS Brooklyn was last put out of commission on March 9, 1921, and sold on December 20, 1921.

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