The USS Connecticut under full steam, 1907. One of naval history's most famous photos - it almost cost the photographer his life.
The USS Connecticut was the pride and joy of the American Navy and flagship of the Great White Fleet that sailed around the world from 1907 to 1909. This image of her under full steam is one of naval history’s most famous photos. Copies of it hung in Theodore Roosevelt’s study and on the wall of Kaiser Wilhelm’s imperial yacht. The dramatic photo almost cost the photographer his life.
The incident happened during the Connecticut’s standardization trials in Maine’s Penobscot Bay in 1907. Photographer Enrique Muller was hired to photograph the ship as it ran a three-mile run in an attempt to push the ship to its highest speed. As the photographer waited in a navy launch near the end of course, a navy staff officer took the helm and raced directly towards the oncoming battleship in order to produce a more dramatic shot. The photographer quickly took a number of shots as the ship rapidly grew larger in his camera’s frame. Violently swinging the launch’s rudder to avoid a collision, the helmsman shouted “We can’t run any closer”. To everyone’s horror, the steering gear suddenly broke with the maneuver and the tiny launch continued on a collision course with the Connecticut.
On the battleship’s bridge, Admiral Evans covered his eyes in anticipation of the certain disaster. The photographer, however, remained steadfastly devoted to his task and exposed one more negative before the Connecticut’s wake capsized the launch. Holding his exposed glass negatives above his head with one hand and treading water with the other, Mr. Muller, along with the others on board the launch, was quickly rescued and the photograph became a part of history.