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Armor and Armament


Armor-

Hull protection for the battleship consisted of carbon-hardened (Harveyized) steel armor belts of 18 inch thick steel that rose three feet above the waterline and extended four and half feet below the waterline. Behind this was six inches of wood and behind this was two 3/4 inch steel plates and finally a ten foot belt of bunkered coal.

To supplement the armor of ship built in the 1890's, including the USS Oregon,  a material called "woodite" or cellulose were packed into the cofferdams of the ships.  The cellulose consisted of extracts from coconut husks mixed with small proportions of coconut fiber. These were then pressed into briquettes and then placed into the cofferdams and then further compressed under a pressure of about 200 psi.  Later, American corn pith was used, as it was cheaper and lighter that the coconut based cellulose.  The theory behind the use of cellulose was that if the ship's hull was punctured, the incoming sea-water would cause the cellulose to expand and then plug the hole.  Unfortunately, condensation or minor leaks in the cofferdams would cause the cellulose to deteriorate, leaving behind a mess that proved hazardous and a great inconvenience to clean up.  The use of cellulose was soon discontinued.

The armored redoubts of the main battery consisted of steel 17 inches thick and rose above the main deck three and half feet. The redoubts provided protection for the turning gear of the thirteen inch rifles and the equipment and mechanisms required to reload the rifles. Of interest, the Bureau of Ordnance wanted ships turrets to have the conical, sloping sides to better deflect shell hits, but this would have required a completed redesign of the gun mounts and loading equipment arrangements, so the Civil War era pillbox shape was retained.  The original blueprints for the Indiana class show sloping turret faces   

The military mast (foremast) which housed voice tubes, electrical wiring, and steering connections, was protected by ten inches of armor.

Armor Protection for USS Oregon

 Location

Armor thickness

 Side Belt

18-8 inches

Armored Deck

3 1/4 inches

13 inch turrets

15 inches

13 inch barbettes

17 inches

8 inch turrets

6 inches

8 inch barbettes

8-6 inches

8 inch turret tube

3 inches

6 inch guns

5 inches

6 pdr guns

2 inches

1 pdr guns

2 inches

Conning Tower

10 inches

 Armored Tube

7 inches

 

Armament-

The armament of a ship is essential to how a ship functions in a fleet. Below is a chart listing the armament of the USS Oregon during her service life. A ship is constantly being upgraded and thus weapons will change in an effort to keep the ship modern and up to date with the current threats that are posed. It becomes a "game" of measure and counter-measure. Below is a chart that shows the weapon systems that were installed during the service life of the Oregon.

 

Armament carried by the USS Oregon (2 yr increments)
   1896  1898  1900  1902 1904 1906 1908 1910 1912 1914 1916  1918 1920 1922 1924  1926

 13"

 4

 4

 4

 4

 4

 4

 4

4

4

4

4

4

 8"

 8

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

8
6" 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

 3"

 -

- - - - -

12 

12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 0

 6pdr

 20
20 20 20 20 20

8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

 1pdr

 6
6 6 6 6 6 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

MG

 2
2 2 2 2 2

 2
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 0

 Torp
4 4 4 4 4 4

 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Legend -

13" = 13 inch rifles (Main Battery)
8" =  8 inch rifles (Secondary Battery)
3" =  3 inch Anti Destroyer rifles
6 pdr = 6 pound cannons
1 pdr = 1 pound cannons
MG = Machine Guns
Torp = Torpedoes

The USS Oregon also carried a variety of small arms for landing parties and security including a 3" man portable cannon (see the Landing Party section of the Weapons page), .38 cal pistols, .45 cal pistols, .303 rifles, and .50 rifles (Browning Automatic Rifle).  

 

 

Turret firingThe main battery of the USS Oregon consisted of four (4) thirteen inch breech loading naval rifles in two revolving turrets (designated Mark II), one mounted centerline forward and one centerline aft. The turrets themselves were protected by armor 17 to 20 inches thick.

The turrets on the Oregon traversed by means of a hydraulic power drive, unlike her sister ships, Indiana, and Massachusetts, which had steam powered mechanisms.

 

 

Side drawing 13" turret

Line drawing of a Mark II 13 inch gun turret

13" Main Battery

 Model

Mark II

Diameter of Bore

13 inches

Caliber

35

Weight of Armor Piercing shell

1,130 pounds

Muzzle Velocity

2,000 feet per second

Maximum Range

16,000 yards

Throw weight of main and secondary batteries = 5664 pounds

 

 

8" turretThe eight (8) eight inch rifles of the secondary battery were enclosed in four revolving turrets located in wing mounts, port and starboard, just behind and below the bridge and aft, port and starboard, just behind the boat deck. They were protected by steel eight and half inches thick. The barbettes of the eight inch turrets were ten inches thick.

 

 

8" Secondary Battery

 Model

Mark III and IV

 Diameter of Bore

8 inches

Caliber

35

Weight of Armor Piercing shell

260 pounds

Muzzle Velocity

2,100 feet per second

Maximum Range

 8,000+ yards

 

The secondary battery also included four (4) six inch breech loading rifles located in main deck casemates amidships.

An intermediate battery of twenty (20) six pound cannons were situated on the superstructure, main deck amidships casemates, and bridge decks. Hull casemates located at the extreme bow and stern of the ship contain four (4) one pound cannons (two forward and two aft), and located in the fighting tops (foremast) are two more one pound cannons and two Gatling guns.

The Oregon, like all naval vessels, provided crew members for the security of the ship and could form a landing party consisting of marines and sailors. Thus the ship contained various small arms such as pistols, rifles, grenades, and machine guns.

One pdr gunLoaned to U of O

Above: Photographs of a one pound gun that was on the USS Oregon at the time of the Spanish-American War. This gun is located at the Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon, The plate in the right picture states that the gun was loaned by the Navy Department to the University of Oregon.

The USS Oregon and her sisters also carried torpedo armament which consisted of six (6) eighteen Whitehead Torpedo Tubes. The torpedo rooms were situated centerline forward and aft.

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