Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cruiser Olympia Is Formally Delivered -- May 27, 2010

From the 27-January-1895 San Francisco Call. WA Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. This one shows the new protected cruiser Olympia, built by San Francisco's Union Iron Works, which went on to a distinguished career in the New Navy. Olympia served as Commodore Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay. Olympia still survives, serving as a museum ship in Philadelphia. Charleston was the Navy's first protected cruiser. Protected cruiser San Francisco served the Navy until 1937. Monterey was a monitor. On the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, battleship Oregon sailed 14,000 miles from San Francisco to Florida and arrived in time to participate in the battle of Santiago de Cuba.

I like the ram bows on warships of this period.


Cruiser Olympia Is Formally Delivered.


Will Be Ready for Business in a Very Short Time.


In Another Month the Handsome Flagship Will Be in Condition to Meet All Comers.

Uncle Sam has taken unto himself a new cruiser, which is the greatest in strength, speed and armament yet turned out by the Scotts.

The Olympia is now at Mare Island, where she went yesterday to be formally turned over to the Government. The Pacific Coast has been wonderfully successful in turning out fighters for the white navy, and the Scotts look with special pride on their last product, yet they have a strong and lingering affection for the Charleston, which was their first experiment, and which has seen more real service up to date than any other member of the new navy.

She has been in the atmosphere of wars, if not an active participant, all the way from Rio de Janeiro to China, and has been of incalculable benefit to our commerce in foreign ports from a moral point of view.

The San Francisco was a somewhat larger enterprise, which was also a success, and then came another experiment in the shape of the coast-defense vessel Monterey, and that has fulfilled all expectations.

The Olympia is the fourth jewel in the diadem of the Union Iron Works, or rather the "fourth one of our babies," as Irving M. Scott puts it.

Soon the great battle-ship Oregon will be ready to go into commission, and then the Pacific Coast alone will have turned out a navy that could have destroyed all the war vessels of the North and South employed in the recent rebellion in very short order.

When the Olympia was about to be taken from her moorings at the iron works there was quite a little crowd present, as well as a delegation of naval men from Mare Island.

The cruiser looked as clean as if she had just come out of a bath. Her brasswork glowed under the bright rays of the sun, her decks were clean enough to eat from, and the six and eight inch guns had been burnished and housed with their neat canvas covers.

It required three big tugs to take the monster on her journey to the navy-yard. The first to lay hold of her was the Vigilant, which swung her head out and towed her clear of the wharf, when the tugs Active and Alert fastened on to either side. It was rather a queer sight to see the three little fellows grappling with the glittering white fighter, which was so helpless without men or steam-power.

She took her departure amid the blowing of whistles, huzzas of spectators and the waving of handkerchiefs. The three strong tugs fairly scooted along with her through the water, passing in quite close along the wharves, where she was greeted with other salutes.

A run was made in the direction of Alcatraz, and the course taken thence to the yard, where it is expected she will be able to go in commission within about a month. This is provided the requisite crew of 280 men can be secured, and that will be a hard matter, as the 6000 men allowed the navy by act of Congress are all employed. She may have to wait until 2000 more are allowed by an act which is now proposed.
Update 04-June-2010: The organization that takes care of Olympia, the Independence Seaport Museum, is threatening to sink her as a reef or scrap her because they cannot afford to give her the maintenance she needs. Olympia has not been drydocked for over 60 years. The Friends of the Cruiser Olympia ( are trying to raise money to save her.

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