Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Drydocking of the Oregon -- August 5, 2018

San Francisco Call, 27-April-1896
From the 27-April-1896 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image for a larger view. Oregon was a pre-Dreadnought battleship, built at San Francisco's Union Iron Works. When the Spanish-American War was on the brink of erupting, Oregon sailed around the Horn to the east coast in three weeks. This provided ammunition for proponents of a Panama Canal. Oregon served in the fleet that destroyed the Spanish fleet at Santiago de Cuba on 03-July-1898. In 1915 she visited the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Starting in 1925, she was preserved at Portland, Oregon as a museum ship. When World War II broke out, she was converted to a barge. 

How the Great Battle-Ship Was Handled at Hunters Point.
Went In on the Instant of Slack Water at Extreme High Tide.
The Tugs Monarch and Hercules Pushed the Mammoth Hull Safely Through the Gates.

With two-redstack tugs, the Monarch and Hercules, to work her along, the big battle-ship Oregon last night slipped into Hunters Point stone drydock and the falling tide grounded her gently in the chocks.

It was a ticklish bit of work, for if the ebb had caught her on the dock sill her steel back would have broken like a pipe-stem. The tide in that locality, when it reaches its highest point/does not stand the usual sixty or seventy minutes, but immediately begins its overflow, and should that great mass of 10,000 tons dead weight have come down on an insecure bed, beams and plates which fit to each other with the nicety of a watch's make-up would have been ruined beyond repair. With only a few inches to spare on each side of the bilges and under the keel the greatest care must be exercised regarding depth of water and the momentum of the great mass as it is* moved toward the dock gates.

The stone basin is 500 feet long, 115 feet wide at the top and 60 feet at the bottom, while the Oregon is 69 feet 3 inches in beam and as she stands draws about 23 feet of water. It was calculated that there would be almost 27 feet of water at high tide in the dock.

At 10 o'clock the Oregon, silent, white and ghostly in the bright moonlight, arrived off Hunters Point. Under her quarter were the two tugs holding her tightly against the still flooding, tide. Ahead of the majestic craft were the tugs Redmond and Rockaway standing motionless in the smooth water.

The big caisson had been removed, leaving a clear roadway into the dock, and everything was ready for the rush in when the water was at rest. On the pier-head the dock superintendent was watching intently the passing current and from time to time testing its flow by throwing chips out into the stream.

A large number of people came down to see the battle-ship come in to the dock that was a few sizes too small for her.

Captain George Harvey of the Merchants' Tug Company stood on the forward turret over the two monster 13-inch rifles and directed the two tugs. From time to time could be heard his shrill whistle as he jockeyed his 'great team for the start.

Superintendent Dickie of the Union Iron Works was stationed in the extreme forward part of the bow waiting for the vessels to cease their drift. The other tugs took their places between the dock and ship.

Presently the floating bits of wood thrown in the water stood stationary and Captain Harvey whistled "go ahead."

The stern of the battle-ship had swung toward the south, and Captain Shaw of the Redmond was directed to push the craft back into position.

The Redmond pressed her nose against the Hercules, which was on that side of the ship, and though she made the beams of her sister tug groan, her strong engine slowly jammed the Oregon; around until the shield on her stem faced the dock. Then the procession drew slowly in toward the gate.

Different currents threw her first one way. then the other, but the tugs backing, stopping and going ahead kept her pointing ever toward the center of the basin and soon her forefoot was in the threshold.

Would she go in? was the question each one asked himself. The men onshore watched the tide-gauge and those on the battle-ship watched her course.

As she drew in, so accurately had she been navigated that her smooth white flanks never touched the temporary wooden fenders, though there was only about five or six inches to spare on each side.

As the space became too, narrow for their entrance with the Oregon, the Hercules and Monarch let go, and the splendid battle-ship glided majestically into the basin, and the gate was closed behind her. To-day the great pumps will draw the water from under her and she will settle down on the blocks which will be adjusted to a nicety to catch her ponderous weight.

Then she will be cleaned and prepared for her trial trip and will prove her metal in speed. The test of the great thirteen inch guns and their sisters will come only when war sends them barking over the deep.

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