Friday, February 1, 2008

The Time Has Come for Oregon

Bubblehead posted about the announcement of the next three Virginia Class submarine names: Missouri, California, and Mississippi. I was a little disappointed by the announcement, although not surprised by any means. The reason I was disappointed is that I keep hoping to see another name on the announcement of the next Virginia Class to be built. I keep hoping to see a new USS Oregon.

USS OREGON (BB-3)
Print from the Ship's Christening Pamphlet

I mean, don't you think it's about time? Hasn't it been long enough? The last USS Oregon (BB-3) was the pride of the fleet and "McKinley's Bulldog."

In 1890, Mahan's Influence of Sea Power on History had planted the seeds of American Imperialism and led others like Teddy Roosevelt (then Assistant Secretary of the Navy) to realize the importance of coaling stations for ships to replenish their supplies and extend their operating range around the globe. As America prepared for the Spanish American War in 1898, the Oregon embarked on her famous journey that took 66 days and 14,000 miles to steam from San Francisco all the way down through the Strait of Magellan and back up to Jupiter Inlet, Florida to join the U.S. Atlantic Fleet for action. She kicked some serious butt at the Battle of Santiago and defeated the Spanish Navy.

USS OREGON the Day She Left San Francisco

The voyage of the OREGON to join the Atlantic Fleet captured America's attention, and they waited with baited breath for each report of her progress. Remember they didn't have satellite communications, so the only way to measure her progress was when she arrived at refueling stations along the way.
Lights out! And a prow turned toward the South,
And a canvas hiding each cannon's mouth
And a ship like a silent ghost released
Is seeking her sister ships in the East.
When your boys shall ask what the guns are for,
Then tell them the tale of the Spanish war,
And the breathless millions that looked upon
The matchless race of the Oregon.
- John James Meehan, "The Race of the Oregon"
The crew of the OREGON prepares for rough
seas as she heads toward the Strait of Magellan.

At the time World War II erupted, she was a museum in Portland, Oregon. It was determined that her scrap metal was too valuable for the war effort though, so she was taken away to a rather inglorious ending.

We've had many ships named after states since then, most notably the Ohio Class submarines. Now, as the Ohio Class are still in service and the Virginia Class are being built, I figure sooner or later they're going to run out of state names, and they'll have to resurrect this proud and honorable name from the naval history books and christen another USS Oregon.

When I googled "USS OREGON," I was surprised how many links came up. Wikipedia and the Navy both offer good overviews of the ship's history. Someone put a lot of effort into this Spanish American War Centennial Website. There are online photo archives here and here.

3 comments:

C said...

Bleh. California? California is so overrated. (Besides, Oregon is our neighbor. And a nice, slightly hippie-ish, Shakespeare Festive-hosting one at that!)

Seriously, though, Oregon has such a storied history in the Navy. I hope Oregon's time comes soon.

blunoz said...

Yes, you bring up a very good point. The granola anti-nuclear protesters would have a heyday protesting having a NUCLEAR warship named after the great green environazi state of Oregon. :-)

JoLee said...

We Environazis are far better @ recycling than those living in the islands - which makes no sense since you're on an ISLAND. At least 3 of us a still reeling from not being able to recycle everything we do weekly @ the curb in HI.

And, personally, I'd love a Nuclear ship USS Oregon... I'm certain it would move faster than most political things in OR.