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THE FINAL SALVO


Marine at Port ArmsSo why a website about the USS Oregon? Well as with most people that utilize the Internet, I see the 'net as a great medium to convey ideas, interests, and information. I first heard to the Battleship Oregon when I was a kid growing up in Salem, Oregon. I saw the mast in Portland one day, but didn't think much about it. To me, it was just a piece of metal in a park, although I did have an interest in military history. After high school, I joined the Navy, and soon learned more about naval history and found it very interesting. So I started reading more about it. I started to studied the battles, the ships, and the men and found that naval warfare had a fascinating aspect about it. While I was on shore duty in Washington State, I happen to walk into the naval museum in Bremerton, Washington one day and saw a model that someone had done of the USS Oregon, a battleship named after my home state. So I started to research the ship and learned of its accomplishments. The more I read and found out, the more I saw the ship as an important part of naval and American history. So here we are. I hope that you have found this site informative and interesting. Today, I see the mast in that Portland park as something different and special. It shows of period when the United States built a magnificent ship, and sent her and her young crew a great distance to show the country's strength and resolve in time of crisis.


As the mast and stacks of the Oregon sit peacefully overlooking the Willamette River on this day, one can only wonder why such a historically significant ship would be discarded. A magnificent piece of United States history was forever lost when the first welders torch hit the ship. Since then, no other warship has carried the name Oregon.

The performance of the USS Oregon and crew during her voyage from the Pacific to the Caribbean Sea and her performance during the battle of Santiago de Cuba was nothing less than stellar and for time period, was a technological coup of first magnitude. This is reflected by the annual report of 1898 by Engineer-in-Chief George W. Melville, Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering, about the Oregon's performance:

It has not been customary to call special attention to the performance of vessels except under trials under maximum conditions,but that of the Oregon is so exceptional that it deserves a record in the Bureau's report. She was ordered from the Pacific to the Gulf before the war was declared, and leaving Puget Sound 6 March, arrived Jupiter Inlet 24 May, having steamed some 14,500 mile stopping only for coal, and not delayed an hour anywhere through derangements of the machinery. Stopping at Key West only long enough to coal, she took her place in the blockading fleet at Santiago, and was always ready for service.

This alone would have given her an unparalleled record among battleships but the culmination came in the great battle of 3 July when she surpassed herself. Always ready for action, she speedily attained a power greater than that developed on trial, giving a speed (on account of greater displacement and foul bottom) only slightly less than then attained, and distancing all other ships except the Brooklyn, which is five knots faster. Every official report comments on her wonderful speed, and it is generally believed that but for it, one at least, and possibly two, of the Spanish ships might have escaped.

The whole record is thus one which has never been equaled in the histories of navies, and it will remain the standard for a long time to come. The credit is due, in the first place, to the builders--Union Iron Works--for the excellence of the material and workmanship, but still more, and chiefly, to the engineering department of the vessel. The Bureau, therefore, takes great pleasure in commending the Department's most favorable Chief Engineer Robert W. Milligan, the executive head of the department, for his professional ability, untiring care, and excellent discipline, and also the junior officers, and the enlisted men, whose faithfulness and zeal, under most trying circumstances, have enabled our Navy to add this to the other brilliant records of our vessels.*

* Records of the Bureau of Ships, United States Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C.

 

Anchors

The career of the USS Oregon spanned over 45 years and added a fine chapter to the history of the United States Navy. The ship provided the final justification for the construction of the Panama Canal, played a major in the destruction of a enemy fleet, showed the flag over half of the globe, and ushered in the new American "Steel Navy". She continued to serve her country in peacetime and wartime, during two World Wars, all the while never losing a crew member.

USS Oregon berthed in Portland

Credit: Oregon Historical Society, #OrHi 1459

Above: The USS Oregon in Portland on the eve of World War II. Had the ship remained intact, thousands of people could have visited the ship yearly and experienced a unique part of American naval history.

It is indeed sad that such a fine warship was cast away by misguided intentions, and the ship, because of its historical and patriotic value should have never scrapped. But the accomplishments of the USS Oregon and her crews will remain "logged" in the history books forever and always be remembered as the ship that sailed into harms way to bolster the Atlantic Fleet earning the name: "Bulldog of the Navy!" 

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[Commissioned|Dramatic Voyage|Battle of Santiago|1900-1921]

[1922-1942|End of the USS Oregon|The Oregon Today|The Final Salvo]

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