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Photographed at Penn Landing
Philadelphia, PA
by
Bob Steinbrunn
February 1999


Constructed at Union Iron Works, San Francisco, and commissioned in 1895, the USS Olympia was designed as a fast commerce raider. The resulting ship more than met expectations. She was capable of a sustained 19 knots and had an exceptionally long range, 13,000 nautical miles. Had the US Navy not opted for a sea-control battleship fleet, the USS Olympia likely would have been the name ship of a large protected cruiser class. Nevertheless USS Olympia occupies an illustrious place in US Naval History. She was the flagship of Admiral Dewey's Asiatic Squadron when it vanquished the Spanish Fleet at Manila Bay in 1898. This greatly enhanced the prestige of a US Navy starting to flex its muscles on the world stage.

Today the USS Olympia is a museum ship on display at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, PA. Surviving ships from the turn-of-the-century, a period of great experimentation and progress, are very scarce. Olympia is the only US example, and naval enthusiasts should make it a point to check her out if they're in the vicinity. I live across the continent near San Francisco and have never had the opportunity to pay my respects. But thanks to Bob Steinbrunn's beautiful photos, we can all admire this graceful relic of a bygone era.

USS Olympia
Vital Statistics
Displacement: 5,870 tons
Coal bunker capacity:  1,085.6 tons (400 tons normal)
Length: 344'1"  Beam: 53'   Draft: 24'10" fully loaded
Engine Type: vertical triple expansion engines, 17,313hp
Armament: four 8" (2x2), ten 5", fourteen 6-pounders
six 1-pounders, two Colt Gatling guns
Torpedoes: six 18" Whitehead above-surface torpedo tubes
Complement: 33 officers, 378 enlisted men

Need more ideas and references for modeling USS Olympia?
Check out the Smithsonian's 1/96 scale USS Olympia
or let Bob Santos show you his Iron Shipwright 1:350 USS Olympia.

And don't forget to check out the photos in the
Warship Photo Archive:
USS Olympia
(1898-99
) #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6

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