Pre-War Service

The Oklahoma began its service during World War I by escorting supply and troop ships across the Atlantic Ocean. German submarines, called U-boats, were threatening to sink any ship they could find, so the Oklahoma protected them as they sailed back and forth to Europe and America. The Oklahoma even escorted President Woodrow Wilson as he sailed to Europe to negotiate the Treaty of Paris to end the war.

After World War I, the Oklahoma spent her time traveling the world and providing help to those in need. In 1925, the Oklahoma and ten other battleships, along with their destroyer escorts and support ships, traveled around the Pacific Ocean. They sailed all over the Pacific, including places like Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand. The sailors on board the Oklahoma enjoyed the trip and even had a special celebration to mark their crossing the Equator. The Oklahoma also helped many people in need. When Long Beach, California, experienced a disastrous earthquake in 1933, the commander of the Oklahoma sent sailors ashore to help police and firefighters. They helped to keep the peace so that the firefighters could help people in need. In 1936, the Oklahoma traveled to Spain to help evacuate American and European refugees. A refugee is someone who is forced out of his or her home because of a natural disaster or war. That year was the start of the Spanish Civil War, and so many American, British, and French citizens needed to escape the fighting. One woman who left Spain on the Oklahoma had a baby while traveling home. It was the first baby ever born on an American battleship.

Crowds of people wait to board the USS Oklahoma and the USS Nevada in Melbourne, Australia
during the Great Tour of 1925.
(Image courtesy of Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, for educational use only. http://museumvictoria.museum/collections/items/767077/negative-us-naval-ships-port-melbourne-victoria-1925)

Crewmen practice their football skills on the deck
of the Oklahoma in their free time.
(22895.99. Lyman T. Branch Collection,
Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division)

Crew members cradle children evacuated from the Spanish
Civil War as they board the Oklahoma off the coast of Bilbao,
Spain in 1936.
(Photo #: NH 50969 – National Archives photo courtesy
Naval Heritage & History Command -

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