USS Oregon (BB-3)

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USS Oregon (BB-3) was a pre-Dreadnought Indiana-class battleship of the United States Navy.

Her construction was authorized on 30 June 1890, and the contract to build her was awarded to Union Iron Works of San Francisco, California on 19 November 1890. Her keel was laid exactly one year later. She was launched on 26 October 1893, sponsored by Miss Daisy Ainsworth, delivered to the Navy on 26 June 1896, and commissioned on 15 July 1896, Captain H.L. Howison in command.


Spanish-American War

After commissioning, Oregon was fitted out for duty on the Pacific Station, where she served for a short time.

Leaving drydock on 16 February 1898, she received news that Maine had blown up in Havana harbor the previous day. As tensions with Spain grew, on 9 March Oregon arrived in San Francisco and loaded ammunition. Three days later she was ordered on what was to become one of the most historic voyages ever undertaken by a Navy ship.

Oregon departed San Francisco on 19 March for Callao, Peru, the first coaling stop on her trip around South America to the East Coast for action in the impending war with Spain. Arriving at Callao on 4 April and departing several days later, she bypassed the coaling station at Valparaíso, Chile on the orders of her commanding officer, Captain Charles Edgar Clark, and continued on through the Straits of Magellan. On 16 April, Oregon entered the Straits and ran into a terrific gale which obscured the perilously close rocky coastline. For a time she was in great danger, but just after dark she let go her anchors on a rocky shelf fringed by islets and reefs, and safely weathered the night. Before dawn on the 17th, the gale moderated and Oregon proceeded around Cape Forward to Punta Arenas, where she was joined by Marietta, also sailing to the East Coast.

Both ships coaled and departed on 21 April for Rio de Janeiro, keeping their guns manned all the while for a Spanish torpedo boat rumored to be in the area. Head seas and winds delayed them, and they did not reach Rio until 30 April. There, Oregon received news of the declaration of war against Spain, and on 4 May she left on the next leg of her remarkable journey. By chance on 14 May, just north of the equator, Oregon encountered Joshua Slocum in his little vessel Spray nearing the end of his famous solo circumnavigation. With a brief stop in Bahia, Brazil, Oregon arrived at Barbados for coal on 18 May, and on the 24th, anchored off Jupiter Inlet, Florida, reporting ready for battle. Altogether, Oregon had sailed over 14,000 mi (23,000 km) since leaving San Francisco 66 days earlier.

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