Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Home-Coming of the Pacemaker Oregon -- September 5, 2018

San Francisco Call, 17-May-1896

From the 17-May-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.

USS Philadelphia was a protected cruiser. Monadnock was a modern monitor. Comanche (actually Camanche) was a Civil War-era monitor. Zaragoza was a Mexican corvette.  

Coulter did not do the drawing at the bottom.  

How the Big "White Queen" of the Navy Triumphantly Returned With Her Great Record.
Greeted With Honors by the Waiting Fleet — ln the Swell She Made the Ships Bowed Proudly to Her — An International Salute.

With brooms aloft the battle-ship Oregon literally swept into port yesterday morning the queen of her class. Very triumphant was her home-coming, this noble creation of steel and steam. Flags waved around her, whistles screamed at her, and the other vessels bowed to her on the swell she made as she went by.

No such ship was ever riveted together, for among her sisters she is the fleetest. Her average speed of 16.79 knots beats the Massachusetts' 16.15, beats the Indiana's 15.61. When the peerless Oregon was laid on paper she was told to go fifteen knots an hour. Then the Scotts hammered that idea into the ribs, beams, plates and engines. The great trial proves that they builded better than they knew, and the new battle-ship has outraced her theoretical speed.

Yesterday morning the Oregon weighed anchor at Santa Cruz, where she had taken a night's cool-off after she had set the pace for the battle-ships of the world. It was plowing across the ocean and a heavy swell was on, but when the "big one" got herself in motion she simply went through the billows. Nothing in the way of water can stop the Oregon, for what can withstand about 10,000 tons of metal driven by a force estimated at over 10,000 registered horsepower? At 11:30 she was sighted off the Heads and the whole "harbor" went out to meet the great white queen.

She slowed down to a few knots speed, and, with her tug escort, came up the bay. There never was such an imposing water scene. The battle-ship moved slowly among the shipping lying at anchor and the vessels screaming their steam whistle welcomes around her. Bunting waved from every mast on the bay and from every staff on the docks. The ship herself had her ribbons on, and from the great military mast blew outward in a wide sweep the "homeward pennant." This long streamer always flies in the breeze that sends the absent cruiser home.

The battle-ship passed in close to the wharves, giving crowds of people thereon an opportunity to see the new addition to the navy. Captain Minor Goodall on the bridge handled the ponderous mass with extreme caution, well knowing that a slight starboard wheel might run down some anchored vessel or a few spokes to port drive 10,000 tons of steel into the docks and possibly plow up the concrete ferry foundations, which have been built to outlive all time.

As the Oregon went by the Philadelphia the people on the latter vessel read the formers trial speed. and the legend, "Scott has the Cramps," a deplorably bad pun, if nothing else. The men of the Cramps cruiser cheered the que»n battle-ship in the spirit of "brotherly love. "The Monadnock was seen steaming down the bay from Vallejo, but she was too far away to join in the reception tendered her big Pacific Coast sister.

When the battle-ship steamed by the Comanche that decrepit craft seemed to draw up together and sink a little lower. A vessel built thirty years ago is old, very old, and must feel its age and helplessness. What a difference — not only of years — between the two standing side by side for a few instants. The Comanche has 5 inches of armor belt and 10 inches on her turret, while the Oregon has 18 inches armor belt and 17 on the turrets. The Comanche has a 350-horsepower engine and the Oregon 9500. The Comanche could once go six knots, while the new battle-ship adds ten to that record.

The Oregon carries four 13-inch, eight 8-inch, four 6-inch and a secondary battery, and the Comancbe carries two parodies. Should the Oregon's steam launch ever take a notion to ram the Comanche, it will indeed be "ring out the old, ring in the new."

After passing out of the thickest of the moored shipping, the Oregon let out a few links and began to put the bay behind her, just in practical demonstration of what she had done. The waves on the ram went up the incline a little higher, and the wake astern had more foam in it.

The battle-ship was only going twelve knots, but there is so much of her and her motion is so apparent that she seems to be racing away and will soon drop below the horizon.

Off the Union Iron Works the Oregon got her "home" reception, and the volume and spirit of it was truly royal. Every whistle shrieked to split its metal throat and every workman dropped his tools to cheer for the great, beautiful, perfect thing he had helped to create. They wanted all the world to know that they built the "White Queen," the first battle ship of the seas.

Presently the Zaragosa's guns began to roar, and so Mexico saluted first with powder her sister republic's latest fighter.

San Francisco Call, 17-May-1896

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