Haze Gray Mystery Picture #150 Answer


Can You Identify This Ship?

This is the barracks hulk Alton (IX 5), formerly the cruiser Chicago, at Pearl Harbor in the 1930's.

Chicago was one of the US Navy's first "modern" cruisers, constructed under the 1883 shipbuilding program. The largest of the four 1883 cruisers, she was commissioned in 1889 armed with four 8-inch guns, eight 6-inch guns, two 5-inch guns, and a variety of light weapons. Like all ships of the 1883 program, she was soon considered obsolete. Chicago underwent a major modernization in 1895-1898, but was decommissioned by 1903. She spent the following years in and out of reserve, with periods as a training ship, until she was commissioned as a flagship for the submarine force in 1917. Chicago arrived at Pearl Harbor in 1919 and remained there for the rest of her career - first as submarine force flagship, then as a barracks hulk after she was decommissioned in 1923. The old cruiser was redesignated IX 5 in 1921, and was renamed Alton in 1928. Alton went out of service in 1935 and was sold in 1936; she sank under tow to San Francisco on 8 July 1936.

In this view Alton has been stripped of her rigging and housed over, but retains her distinctive features. Most notable are the casemates fore and aft, which once housed her 8-inch guns. The only other old cruiser at Pearl Harbor in this era, Baltimore, did not have these casemates. She can be distinguished from several old battleship hulks (such as Oregon, Utah or Oklahoma) because her beam is much less than a battleship.

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