|"Unleash the dogs of war!
The enemy will find us unrelenting.
When our cannons roar,
The little King of Spain
Will be repenting."
Sung by Alice and young Ted Roosevelt as the marched around the lawn of Theodore Roosevelt’s home at Sagamore Hill – (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 213)
On August 3, 1886 Congress authorized the construction of two large warships. Finally there was a departure from the indifference in naval matters displayed by the American government in the 21 years since the end of the American Civil War. Ironically, it was not construction of Great Britain, France or any other major naval power that prompted this reversal. It was new construction for Chile, Brazil and other South American countries that woke the legislature from their two-decade slumber. With this new construction in place, these countries would have a navy that could easily handle anything that the USN possessed. The United States had to learn from scratch the science and art of large ship design and manufacturing. The design of small coastal monitors in the Civil War had little bearing of the complexities of design and production of large deep ocean warships and what little practical knowledge had been gained had largely evaporated in the past 20 years.
These first two ships were the armored cruiser USS Maine and the battleship USS Texas. Both were based on British designs. Another factor in these two designs was that a first rate warship had been deliberately excluded. Congress wished to avoid producing any possible rival for the large European navies. Rather, these two ships were to be smaller armored cruising or battleships on much smaller displacements than that found on first class European battleships. That is exactly what the USN received, two second class ships, both of which were redesignated as 2nd Class battleships while still under construction.
Four years later times had changed. On June 30, 1890, before either Maine or Texas was launched, Congress decided that the United States deserved something better than second class ships. Three new Coast Defense Battleships were authorized that became the Indiana Class battleships, BB-1 through BB-3. In part this appropriation was based upon a 1889 policy study that recommended building 192 ships in the next 15 years in a dramatic increase for the USN. Of the 192 ships, 10 were to be first class battleships, equal to any in the world, and 25 were to be coast defense battleships of limited endurance. An isolationist Congress still had misgivings about first class battleships, so the three new ships that were authorized were classified as "sea-going, coast line battleships." They were to mount the greatest armament on 8,500-tons.
As the design evolved, it did match the "1st Class Battleship of Limited Coal Endurance" parameters established by the 1889 Navy board but was longer and had a much stronger secondary armament than originally conceived. As well as having a limited range, the ships had a low freeboard, more in line with monitors than with ocean-going warships, which satisfied Congress. The original design also featured conical turrets. All three were laid down in 1891 and launched in 1893. The conical turrets, which were designed to provide protection through the slope of the armor, as well as the thickness of the armor itself. At the time these turret designs posed difficulties that the USN did not what to spend the time to solve and circular turrets, similar to Civil War monitor turrets were used instead. The four 13-inch main guns and eight 8-inch secondary guns, all mounted in turrets, were exceptionally powerful for the size of the vessels. The armor with an 18-inch Harvey-Nickel steel belt at its thickest was equal to the best armor then found in European battleships. The armor was concentrated over the key spaces amidships, leaving the ends relatively unprotected.
The third of these three was laid down at Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California. The company had built the monitor Monterey, so had some experience with building large ships but this was the biggest warship yet to be constructed on the American West Coast. The new battleship was fittingly given the name of a West Coast state, the USS Oregon. Oregon was laid down on November 19, 1891, launched August 26, 1893 and commissioned July 15, 1896. Her trials were in May 1896 and her performance mattered to the builder. Oregon had to make the contracted speed of 15 knots and on May 15 on her official speed trial, she averaged 16.8 knots in four hours steaming. This earned Union Iron Works a bonus of $175,000. While sisterships, Indiana and Massachusetts, featured scrollwork on their bows, Oregon had a Union shield, no doubt inspired by the fact that her builder was Union Iron Works. Also the upper bow of Oregon was flat, whereas the other two bulged out at the hawse openings. Another difference for Oregon was an angular aft bridge, rather than a rounded one found on the other two.
Originally, none of the three had bilge keels. They were designed to have them but these were dropped during construction so the ships could more easily use dry docks. It soon became obvious that this caused significant problems. Without these keels they were subject to heavy rolling. The turrets were unbalanced with the weight being forward to minimize the size of the barrel openings in the turret. In October 1896 Indiana ran into heavy weather and the turrets broke loose from their clamps. The turrets would swing from side to side as the ship rolled. Stronger clamps were installed but the same thing happened to Indiana in February 1897. After that bilge keels were installed. When trained abeam the unbalanced turrets also caused problems. With the weight centered towards the turret face, the freeboard decreased on that side to such an extent that the main belt was submerged. The opposite happened on the unengaged side. The freeboard would rise to such an extent that the belt would come out of the water. During their service in the Spanish-American War, the ships of the class were under standing orders to turn the rear of the turrets to face the enemy, when they were not firing.
Indianaand Massachusetts had their stacks lengthened but Oregon kept her short stacks during the war. After the war their height was increased. With shakedowns at the end of 1896 and teething problems into 1897, the three Indianas were finished just in time for the first major war with a foreign power that United States had experienced since 1815. Since 1895 the insurrectionist movement in Cuba and the reaction to it by Spain, steadily grew worse. The majority in the United States sympathized with the insurrectionists. There was no official American government reaction to the increasing violence in Cuba until November 1896, when President Grover Cleveland in his annual speech stated that unless the problems in Cuba were resolved soon, "a situation will be presented in which our obligations to the sovereignty of Spain will be superseded by higher obligations which we can hardly hesitate to recognize and discharge." (Naval Annual 1899, Naval Aspects of the Spanish-American War by G.S. Clarke, at page 124)
Throughout 1897 the situation in Cuba intensified and the relationship between Spain and the United States steadily degraded. On January 24, 1898 USS Maine was ordered to make a friendly visit to Havana. Even at the end of 1897 the USN was preparing itself for a possibility of hostilities with Spain. The entire Atlantic Fleet was concentrated at Key West when Maine left the fleet on her mission to Cuba. She was still there on February 15, 1898 when she was torn apart by an explosion, probably caused by spontaneous combustion in a coalbunker. However, the report of the official naval inquiry stated that the loss was caused by an external mine planted by unknown persons. Almost everyone in the US blamed Spain and the calls for war became increasingly strident. On February 25 Oregon, which was then at Bremerton, Washington was ordered to "keep full of coal" and was ordered south to San Francisco, "to prepare for a long voyage."
Spain belatedly starting making its own preparations for war. Admiral Pascual Cervera had command of the best striking force that Spain had, a powerful armored cruiser force, at least on paper. Cervera had doubts as to the strength of his force if it came to combat and included Oregon in his calculations of the enemy’s strength.
March 4, 1898 - The Minister of Marine of Spain writes to Admiral Cervera. "In gauging the force the United States could marshal in the Caribbean, Bermejo discounted the U.S.S. Oregon, one of the four first-class battleships of the American fleet. The oregon was on the West Coast, Bernejo pointed out, and it could be expected to remain there." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 140)
Cervera estimated that his Spanish force had only about one-third the combat power as the American forces arrayed against him. "It is frightful to think of the results of a naval battle, even if it should be a successful one for us, for how and where could we repair our damages?" (Naval Annual 1899, Naval Aspects of the Spanish-American War by G.S. Clarke, at page 129) To boost Cervera’s morale, the Minister of Marine also discounted the capabilities of the officers and sailors of the USN and described them as mercenaries.
March 19, 1898 – "THE LARGE, TWIN SCREW, triple-expansion engines of the U.S.S. Oregon turned over, churning the water aft as the twelve thousand-ton battleship began to move through San Francisco Bay. The vessel was a familiar sight from the city’s hills; she had been built there at the Union Iron Works and launched five years earlier. San Franciscans looked upon her with something akin to civic pride and claimed she was the mightiest warship afloat. They were probably right." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 148)
"On March 19, the mighty Oregon, ordered to join the North Atlantic Squadron, had left San Francisco. A week later (March 27), as she pounded her way through Pacific swells toward Callao, Peru, to take on coal, her crew noticed smoke and heat in the forward division of the ship. The smoke was traced to a coal bunker. A damage control team dug furiously down into the bunker to expose smoldering coal and doused the fire. It had been caused by spontaneous combustion."(A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 173)
March 26 – Under Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, reported to Secretary of the Navy Long, that the Spanish torpedo gunboat, Temerario, based at Montevideo, Uruguay for the last two years, had left port on March 25 with an unknown destination. "He believed she might be on her way to the Straits of Magellan to intercept the Oregon or the Marietta, an American gunboat also on route to the Caribbean from the West Coast. The big battleship would be at a tactical disadvantage in the narrow waters of the straits. Roosevelt suggested that it might be safer to reroute the Oregon around Cape Horn to avoid encountering the Spanish vessel." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 159)
\April 4 – "AFTER A CONTINUOUS RUN of sixteen days and 4,112 nautical miles, the Oregon arrived at Callao, Peru. Nine Hundred tons of coal had been burned. The ship proceeded to recoal while the chief engineer and his assistant overhauled the engines. A double watch was posted and the ship’s steam launches patrolled day and night to guard against any actions by Spanish sympathizers in the port. Captain Clark received a dispatch from Washington containing Roosevelt’s warning about the Spanish torpedo gunboat Termerario. Among the crew the word was that Clark intended to sink the Temerario if she was sighted, war or no war." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 165-166)
April 9 – "TWO DAYS OUT of Callao, fully coaled and overhauled, the Oregon steamed south towards the Straits of Magellan. Today the battleship’s fourth boiler was fired, increasing her speed to thirteen knots." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 168)
By April 15 the USN was at a war footing and ready for hostilities. However, there was a fly in the ointment. The public of the eastern coast had developed a strong fear of the ability of the Spanish cruiser squadron to suddenly pop up on their doorstep. Some banks moved their assets inland. To placate this fear the fleet had been divided as a Flying Squadron based around Brooklyn, Texas and Massachusetts was based at Hampton Roads, Virginia in order to respond to any Spanish attack on the eastern seaboard. The North Atlantic Squadron based around New York, Iowa and Indiana stayed at Key West.
April 16 – "The Oregon, running before a moderate gale, plowed through the heavy winter seas off the coast of Chile. Just before dark Captain Clark made out the Evangelistas and Cape Pillar, marking the western entrance to the Straits of Magellan. The battleship anchored for the night off Tamar Island." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 171)
April 21 – "The Oregon recoaled and overhauled, left Sandy Point on the eastern end of the Straits of Magellan and headed north into the Atlantic." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 172)
April 21 - Schley was promoted to Commodore and given Flying Squadron "The Oregon could be swiftly readied when she arrived; she had fought her way through the Strait of Magellan in a gear-busting gale and was steaming north to join his squadron." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 200)
April 29 - Cervera leaves Cape Verde with his squadron and the New York Herald runs story on the 30th. That same day some of the smaller USN warships were dispatch to form a scouting line in the Caribbean until My 10, to report the arrival of Cerveras. "Scientific American thought the danger lay not to the seaboard but to a lone battleship pounding its way north off the coast of Brazil. It wondered whether the Cape Verde fleet might be strung out across the path of the Oregon. If Cervera intercepted Captain Charles E. Clark, the journal asserted, the Oregon would fight it out, despite theodds, before going to the bottom, ‘for it goes without saying that no American flag will be struck in the present war!" (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 212)
"Clark looked forward to an engagement with the Spanish cruisers. He thought he could whip them single-handedly and had worked out the tactics that would bring this about. On sighting the Spanish, he would turn 180 degrees and run away at speed. The pursuing cruisers, of varying speed potential, would become separated. Then, like a bear turning on a stretched-out pack of hounds, Clark would reverse course and hammer the Spaniards, one by one, with his 13-inch guns. Clark announced the plan to the crew; they whooped with delight. As one of his marine orderlies put it, ‘We all think Captain Clark is going to be a ring-tail snorter for fighting." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 212-213)
On May 4 Admiral Sampson took the North Atlantic Squadron out of Key West and steamed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he arrived on May 12. Sampson thought that he would find Cervera there but the only ships there were a couple of decrepit Spanish gunboats and an ancient French cruiser. It was calculated that if Cervera had averaged 10 knots, his force would have been at San Juan on the 11th. After some unproductive shelling, the squadron returned to Key West. With every day the anxiety mounted along the seaboard of the US. Would Cervera suddenly appear and fire a city? In Spain his unknown status was hailed as "a triumph of strategy". Actually Cervera was steaming at a slow rate and took the southern entrance into the Caribbean. On May 14th he was off of Curacao and his whereabouts were cabled to the US. The Navy Department immediately dispatched the Flying Squadron south to Charleston, then Key West and finally on the 19th to Cienfuefos on the south coast of Cuba. The next day Cerveras entered the port of Santiago.
May 28 – "A GREAT GRAY SPECTER slowly formed in the ocean haze off Jupiter Inlet, off the west coast of the Florida mainland. The Navy signalmen watching from their station ashore had never seen anything like it. For one terrible moment they may have thought that it was Cervera, that he had arrived at last on the Florida coast in this fearsome and magnificent man-of-war. Then, from the top of its towering signal mast, the Stars and Stripes unfurled. Sixty-six days and sixteen thousand miles from San Francisco, the long odyssey of the U.S.S. Oregon was at an end." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 221)
"The New York arrived at Key West early the next morning. As she approached sand key light, a great gray shape loomed on the horizon. Even in the morning mist there was no mistaking the formidable Oregon. (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 269-270)
Oregonhad averaged 12 knots in her voyage of over 15,000 miles. The passage took 67 days with 58 of them being at sea. The engines had never stopped, except for some target practice. That same day Schley, with his Flying Squadron, arrived off of Santiago. Three days later Sampson with his North Atlantic Squadron, including Oregon, arrived as well. Sampson had overall command.
June 1 – Blanco in Havana and Correa in Madrid did not fully understand Cervera’s situation in Santiago, otherwise they would not have wasted the cable charges for their exchange of telegrams. But from the castellated ramparts above Morro Point it was perfectly obvious that the squadron of Admiral Cervera could go nowhere. To the nine warships of the blockading squadron had been added Sampson’s flagship, the New York and one other. The U.S.S. Oregon." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 238)
June 10 – Oregon is sent east and marine detachments from Oregon and Marblehead seize Guantanamo Bay under Oregon’s guns.
June 12 – Under Sampson’s blockade of Santiago, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Iowa take turns, illuminating harbor entrance with searchlights at night at 2 miles
June 18 - Secretary of the Navy Long warns Sampson that he may have to give up Oregon, Iowa and Brooklyn to form a new Eastern Squadron to be assigned the duty of going to Spain, if the Spanish sent a division with Pelayo and Carlos V through the Suez Canal to the Philippines. Fortunately for Sampson, this plan was never activated.
On the evening of July 2, 1898 plumes of smoke rising from the harbor of Santiago were sighted from Brooklyn and Iowa. Schley signaled Sampson of this but Sampson was preparing to steam to the port of Saboney the next morning to meet US Army General Schafter, whose troops had become bogged down in their advance on Santiago. About 8:45 Sampson took his flagship New York off the line, eastward to make his meeting in the hills. At 9:30 the Spanish armored cruiser Infanta Maria Teresa boiled out of Santiago, followed by the rest of Cervera’s squadron.
The Oregon is Ready
"ABOARD THE Oregon there was disbelief. Lieutenant W.H. Allen, who was officer of the deck at that moment recalled: ‘Although I had at many times rehearsed what I would do in case the Spaniards came out, I was momentarily dazed but recovering quickly, I caused the alarm gongs to be sounded from the pilot house. For a moment or two every one thought the gongs had sounded accidentally, as was often the case, but the order, ‘To yours quarters,’ convinced the crew that this was no false alarm. A rousing cheer went up from the men as they rushed to their stations." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 331)
1000 - "When the Spanish came out, chief engineer Robert W. Milligan of the Oregon had fires in all four main boilers; they were quickly spread. In a short time the 10,000-ton battleship worked up to a 14-knot speed. Charles Clark saw immediately, as Phillip (Commander Texas) had, that the Spanish were all going westward. He turned to port past the Iowa, still heading in to ram the Vizcaya, and sped in pursuit. At about 10:10 AM the curtain of dense smoke parted to starboard. Clark saw the Iowa, only a ship’s length away." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 344)
Shooting the Gap
1040 - "Those ten or fifteen minutes after he had completed the loop were, Schley thought, the most furious part of the battle. But he suddenly realized they were no longer alone. Some four hundred yards off his starboard quarter the Oregon burst out of the smoke ‘with a tremendous bone in her mouth.’ Cook (Commander Brooklyn) shouted, ‘God bless the Oregon!’ Schley signaled, ‘Follow the flag.’ Clark was equally pleased to find a comrade-in-arms nearby. After shooting the gap between the Texas and the Iowa, the Oregon had sped down the Spanish wing, hammering each ship in turn." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 346)
1042 - Americans had worried about the two large Spanish destroyers Furor and Pluton , the dreaded vipers of the Spanish squadron." as Secretary Long had called them. They didn’t survive long. The bravery of the small warships was admired. After watching the Pluton receive tremendous punishment, a crewman of Oregon stated, "Seaman Cross, on the Oregon, admired the way the Spanish fought back. One destroyer gunner in particular caught his eye. ‘I do think he was one of the bravest men I ever had the pleasure to look upon. That man must have known he was going to a shure Deth, he stud on Deck and cep firing at us all the time, and the last time I seen him he was Just going up in the air." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 350)
On the Beach
1050- "At ten-fifty, when the burning Oquendo headed for the beach, an officer on the bridge of the Oregon turned to Clark and observed, ‘Captain, that vessel could be destroyed now.’ ‘No,’ Clark replied, ‘that’s a dead cock in the pit. The others can attend to her. We’ll push on for the two ahead.’ The Oregon surged on after them and pulled ahead." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 348)
1100- "Now the Vizcaya was in peril. During the second hour of the battle she was closely chased by the Brooklyn, the Oregon, the Texas, and the Iowa. The Oregon took a particular delight in pounding her. As Gunner Murphy put it, "We had it in for the Vizcaya because she had pointed her guns arrogantly at New York." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 351) Vizcaya had left Spain to pay a visit to New York. She arrived there 3 days after Maine blew up, in complete ignorance of what had happened. On learning of the explosive situation, she canceled her plans to anchor off the southern tip of Manhattan and left for Cuba on the 24th. She didn’t point her guns at New York, Captain Eulate was too much of a gentleman for that type of boorish behavior, but the newspapers thought that such a headline would sell their product.
1105- "The Spanish cruiser should have been able to outrun the Oregon, but her bottom was foul and shell concussions had burst a steam pipe, exploded a boiler, and destroyed fire mains. A conflagration on the aft deck burned furiously. She fought back bravely, handicapped by deficiencies in her guns and ammunition. Breeches jammed, firing pins failed, and one gun crew tried seven shells before they found one that fired." It was the Vizcaya’s time to die. "Charles Clark was saddened by the sight: ‘As this last battletorn wreck of what had once been a proud and splendid ship fled to the shore like some sick and wounded thing, seeking a place to die, I could feel none of that exultation that is supposed to come with victory." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 352)
The Great Chase
However, two things happened to Colon that doomed her. One was tactical, as Colon hugged the coastline following the curves and her pursuers steamed in a straight line. The second and ultimately fatal flaw with Colon was her coal. She did not have enough quality coal and lost speed.
"Parede’s confidence had been misplaced, not in the ship he commanded but in the coal she carried. Sometime after noon an engineer appeared topside to report that his good hard coal was exhausted; they were down to the inferior Santiago supply." (A Ship to Remember, 1992 by Michael Blow at page 354)
"Coal was no problem on Oregon. Chief Engineer Milligan thought each chunk precious, especially the sought-after, high-grade Welsh coal loaded on the West Coast. Milligan still had a few hundred tons of the prized fuel in a padlocked battle bunker. He babied the ship’s four ‘Scotch’ boilers, too. They were never filled with corrosive salt water. That meant reduced drinking and bathing water for the crew, but they willingly cut back." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 354)
"The Spanish called her ‘the Yankee Devil,’ Murphy thought of the Oregon as ‘the Irish Boat O’Regan’ because there were seven Murphys and three Kellys on board. Built as much for coastal defense as war at sea, the heavily armed and armored ship was known as ‘the bulldog’ of the fleet. But on this day, unleashed by Milligan’s black gang, powered by the ‘dusky diamonds’ of Cardiff, she became a greyhound." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 354-355)
"Standing on his turret, ‘Guncotton’ Murphy was awed by the ship’s furious charge through the water: ‘Our two stacks were pillars of red fire.’ White water boiled over the jack staff, surged across the deck, and crashed against the forward turret. Her propellers thrashed the green water of her wake into white froth more than a mile long. The Oregon’s maximum design speed was 15.5 knots. Now, even with the growth of two oceans on her bottom, she was doing 16 and still accelerating." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 355)
As she came abeam of Brooklyn, Captain Clark ordered cold beer from the officer’s refrigerator to be carried to the sweating black gang in the 150-degree heat of the engine rooms.
1220 – "The Colon was now discernibly closer. When the range had closed to about ninety-five hundred yards, Schley asked Clark to try one of his ‘railroad trains’ – the 1100-pound shells of the 13-inch guns." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 356)
"At 12:20 a white cloud erupted with a roar from one of the massive thirteen-inch guns in the Oregon’s forward turret. A half-ton of steel and high explosive screamed into the sky, and seconds later a distant fountain sprang from the ocean astern of Colon." (The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole, at page 337)
Bravo Blanco Diablo!
Clark fired a ranging shot, which fell astern. "When the watery explosion of a shell from the Oregon soaked the Colon’s fantail, he (Commodore Paredes) doubted the wisdom of fighting on….Another 13-inch shell exploded a huge geyser of water off the Colon’s starboard bow. It was time. ‘In order to obviate being captured,’ he reported, ‘I decided to run ashore and lose the ship rather than sacrifice in vain the lives of all these men….’ He ordered the helmsman to turn the ship to starboard. At 13 knots, the Colon charged directly at the mouth of the Turquino River." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 356)
Colon struck a sandbar at 1320, fifty miles to the west of Santiago, where she started her run, four hours earlier. Captain Cook of the Brooklyn went aboard Colon to transport the high ranking officers to the flagship. "As Cook brought his prisoners back to the Brooklyn, they passed the Oregon and the Spanish saluted the salt-splotched battleship: ‘Bravo Blanco Diablo!" (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 361)
After the war the Indiana Class were still important but were rapidly becoming obsolescent as newer construction cam into the USN. Limited by the "coastal battleship" impediments and errors made in design, since they were the first American battleship designs. In the early 1900s the unbalanced turret problem was solved by adding 28 tons of lead to the rear of the turrets. Electric rammers were also substituted for the slow, unsatisfactory hydraulic rammers. The old fire tube boilers were replaced with water tube boilers in this time. In 1908 all of the 6-inch guns and most of the lighter weapons were removed. From 1908-1910 Oregon was modernized with the installation of twelve 3-inch/50 guns on broadside and on turret tops, a cage main mast and search light platform. She also lost her torpedo tubes.
Obsolete before the end of World War One, they were quickly placed on the disposal list. Indiana was sunk in explosive and bomb tests in Chesapeake Bay in 1920 and the hulk was scrapped. Massachusetts was turned over to the Army for tests with coastal artillery batteries and was sunk in shallow water two miles from Pensacola, Florida. Her hulk is now the property of the State of Florida and her turret tops and parts of her amidships section can still be seen above water at low tide. Because of the fame of Oregon she was considered for preservation from 1919. In 1925 she was loaned to the State of Oregon and berthed at Portland as a memorial and museum. At one time it was considered encasing her in concrete but this was determined to be too costly. That was too bad, otherwise she would probably still be in existence. In fact she was so well maintained that on December 7, 1941 her engines, boilers, 13-inch guns, 8-inch guns and their operating mechanisms were still intact. The State of Oregon offered to return her to service. She was reclaimed by the navy and sold for scrap in December 1942 only to be taken back by the navy in 1943. She was towed to Guam and stored explosives for Construction Battalions (SeaBees). In 1945 a storm broke her free and forced her on a coral reef, where she stayed for three years. In 1948 a hurricane broke her free of the reef and three weeks later, she was found happily floating 500 miles away. Oregon was retrieved and towed back to Guam until 1956, when she was sold to a private firm, which in turn sold her to a Japanese scrapyard in Kawasaki. From her keel being laid to her final dissolution, the USS Oregon was around for two-thirds of a century. Now her foremast is all that remains, still preserved in Portland. (History from American Battleship 1886-1923, 1980, by John C. Reilly and Robert L. Scheina; The Battleship USS Orgon, Warship 1990, y William C. Emerson: Naval Annual 1899, Naval Aspects of the Spanish-American War by G.S. Clarke; A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow; The Spanish War, An American Epic 1898, 1984, by G.J.A. O’Toole)
|"No one loved her more, and perhaps not as much, as Ed ‘Guncotton’ Murphy. In December 1941, when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, Murphy knew the Oregon ‘wanted to steam to battle once more, with Old Glory at the masthead. She tried to enlist, in this global war, when the State of Oregon offered her for active patrol duty. I tried to enlist, too, even if I am 65, but they found the both of us too old, my ship and me." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War, 1992, by Michael Blow at page 447)|
YS Master Pieces Oregon
If you start with the deck, all of the hatch covers have dogs represented in the resin. To really appreciate all of the fine detail that has gone into the hull, you have to look at magnified photographs of the piece. With small bollards, large bollards, sky lights, deck winches, anchor bill-boards and deck coamings scattered about, there is plenty of detail on the forecastle and quarterdeck of the YSM Oregon to fire up anybody’s interest. Then you look at the raised deck amidships and not only do you see the same detail in the coamings and hatches found there, but also you see 32 locator holes for even more separate detail that will be attached to the deck. Definitely, the decks of the YSM USS Brooklyn are busy places.
The detail on the hull sides, as with the 1:350 Brooklyn, is of the same exquisite detail on the 1:700 Oregon. On each side Oregon has four excellent above water doors. Two open from the side and two open from the bottom. How do I know? Because I can see the hinges on the casting! The barbettes for the 13-inch and 8-inch turrets have an exterior lip that protrudes upwards, rather than being flat. Therefore the turrets actually do fit inside of the barbette, as they did in the original. The cutwater and stern centerline are perfect, requiring no clean-up of any nature. Indeed there is very little cleaning, sanding or fixing of any nature to be done on the YSM Oregon.
Smaller Resin Parts
With the 13-inch gun turrets, you get one more treat, ventilator funnels. Each turret has two J-type funnel ventilators on the roof with the funnel openings hollowed. The rear of all the turrets do have a small area that is a little rough, at the point that it was removed from the casting vent. However, these are easily smoothed with a little sanding. Among the smallest parts there are two very detailed boat cranes. Other parts rounding out the mix are the stacks with their banding, foremast, small deck winches, anchors, search lights, davits and binnacles.
Brass Photo-Etch Fret
Among the other brass parts with relief etching are boat thwarts, bow shield, aft superstructure platform, brass davits and QF guns. The QF guns have two sides that are folded together to give the part more bulk and a greater three-dimensional look. There is a host of two-dimensional or flat photo-etched parts as well. All of it is of excellent quality. Some oh the railing has drooping rails and some have high stanchions. Ship’s wheels, pulleys, platform railing for the cranes, QF gun shields, boat oars, crane wheels & hooks, a multi-piece boat skid, pilot house & fighting tops supports, tripod QF supports, and many more. YSM even provides eight awning supports for the steam launch, just as YSM provided in the 1:350 scale Brooklyn.