Woodrow Wilson had won re-election by the time his Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, submitted his annual report on the state of the Navy in December 1916. In his communiqué Daniels singled out the Brooklyn Navy Yard for distinction. It was a busy era at the facility on the East River across from Manhattan; everyone knew that ships would be increasingly important with the coming completion of the Panama Canal. Construction of the USS New York and Florida had begun even before the outbreak of the Great War, and the Arizona came soon after.
During the hot summer of 1916 Daniels pushed for a greater expansion of the Navy, advocating for 100+ new ships. This was good news to Daniels’s assistant, the rising politico, Preparedness advocate, and avid amateur naval historian Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR had personally attended the laying of the keel for the USS Arizona in March 1914, the same month Wilson entered the White House. Now, 2 1/2 years later, Secretary Daniels wrote that the Brooklyn Navy Yard had “demonstrated an increase of efficiency in new construction” and added that “the actual cost” of the Arizona in real dollars was much lower when compared with that of those even slightly older ships. The cost per ton of the Florida had been $286, of the New York $233, and of the Arizona $211.
(image/Library of Congress)