Collection Number: S 2226
Creator: Florida. Deptartment. of State. Division of Historical Resources.
Title: Charles H. Brems' USS Massachusetts photographic collection, 1917-1919
Quantity: 57 photographs.
Description: This collection consists of 57 images of the USS Massachusetts and its crew, many taken by Charles Brems. The collection includes candid shots of off-duty sailors enjoying leisure time, playing football, and celebrating holidays. The crew is shown in parade, and the collection includes portraits of Brems and other crew members. The ship band is pictured, as well as the USS Massachusetts and her crew at work and in dock. Images of the ship in the North Atlantic show decks frozen over with ice and the icebergs in the water. There are numerous images of the battleship's weaponry, including a picture of the "Winged Victory" bronze sculpture placed on Turret No. 1 that was given to the ship by the Secretary of the Navy and the Governor of Massachusetts.
Historical Note: Charles H. Brems was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 30, 1895. A lifelong amateur photographer, Brems served in the Illinois Naval Battalion from 1914-1917 and served aboard the USS Massachusetts as Chief Petty Officer. Later a supervisor in the Western Electric Company's Tool and Die Shop, Brems retired from that company after more than 40 years of service. Brems had three children: son Charles H. Brems retired as an engineer from AT & T; daughter Camilla Brems Ross, PhD, was Senior Research Scientist at Union Carbide and served as a Captain in the U.S. Merchant Marines; and son Richard A. Brems graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy 1962, served as a U.S. Naval Aviator, and worked for Delta Airlines.
The USS Massachusetts was a 10 ton Indiana-class battleship that served along the eastern seaboard of the United States and across the Atlantic for more than 20 years. The ship was the second modern, heavy-armor and heavy-caliber steel battleship built by the United States. Constructed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and commissioned in 1896, the ship took part in the blockade around Cuba during the Spanish-American War. After years as part of the North Atlantic Squadron and in service as a training vessel, including as a gunnery training vessel during World War I, the ship was decommissioned in March 1919. The Massachusetts was scuttled in Pensacola Bay January 1921, after being given by the Navy to the War Department as a target for coastal defense artillery practice. As the nation's oldest existing battleship, the Massachusetts remains in Pensacola Bay to this day where it provides a home to numerous species of aquatic life and is a popular destination for divers and fisherman. 100 years to the day after being launched, the Massachusetts became Florida's fourth Underwater Archaeological Preserve, located under 26 feet of water a mile and a half from Pensacola Pass at 30° 17.68'N and 87° 18.70'W.
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