The Oregon was towed to Kalama, Washington and at once work commenced on the breaking down of the ship. But by September 1943, scrap steel became less critical and the dismantling process slowed down, with only the major machinery and the superstructure removed. The navy stopped the dismantling project due to the extreme embarrassment of this undertaking and by complaints of private citizens and naval historians. The navy again redesignated her IX-22 and decided that there was a military use for the Oregon after all.
By early 1944, the campaign in the Pacific Theater of Operations was moving at a steady pace and explosives were needed in the newly acquired islands so that constructions of airfields and other support facilities could be build. What better transport than the fully armored hull of the USS Oregon. She was loaded with about 1,400 tons of dynamite and towed to Guam.
Once in Guam, she was immediately moored in Port Merizo for the safety of the populated areas of Guam. The dynamite that was on Oregon was offloaded at a rate of fifteen tons a night. The work was done at night for safety due to the extremely hot weather. Oregons' time in Guam were relatively quiet except for a few minor incidents. As the war passed to the east as the Allied forces advance on the Japanese homelands, the Oregon now empty, sat in Guam rusting away.
Courtesy: Mr. Leslie Kirsch
Above: A photograph of IX-22, former USS Oregon in Guam during World War II. The ship ws utilized as a dynamite barge for the advancing US forces.
After the war ended, the Oregon, still rusting away in the hot Guam weather, was placed under the jurisdiction of Commanding Officer, Naval Operations Base, Apra. What to do with the rusting ship? Plans to sink and use her as a breakwater for Guam were formulated, but never materialized.
On November 14, 1948, a severe hurricane struck the Marianas and Guam. High winds and heavy seas tugged at the moorings of the Oregon until, she broke free and moved out to sea. When the weather cleared on November 16, the hull of the Oregon was nowhere to be found. It was assumed that the Oregon was now resting on the bottom of the ocean, but just to make sure, the base at Guam sent out search planes to ensure that the old warrior was not in the sea lanes as a hazard to navigation.
On December 8, 1948, the hull of the Oregon was found riding the seas quite easily, seemingly underway, about five hundred southeast of Guam and heading towards the Philippines. A very surprised and shocked naval aviator radioed Guam to report his findings. The commanding officer of the Guam installation quickly dispatched an ocean going tug to secure and tow the Oregon back to Guam.
The "unauthorized cruise" of the Oregon once again brought attention to the old warrior and talk of fully restoring her was brought up. But the "Bulldog of the Navy" was far from restoration as only the hull remained and the massive amount of money required to bring her back to her pre-World War II state was deemed too much.
The Oregon was sold to the Massey Supply corporation on March 15, 1956 for the sum of $208,000. Massey then resold the hulk of the Oregon to a Japanese salvage company, Iwai Sanggo. The ship was towed to Kawasaki, Japan and, scrapped to feed the growing mills of Japan, and finally ending the career of the USS Oregon.
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