At least 30 ships have been named after the state of Oregon, its cities, places and people. The first USS Oregon was a brig that served in the U.S. Navy from 1841 to 1845. Lieutenant Charles Wilkes purchased the American brig Thomas H. Perkins for U.S. Navy service in August 1841. Renamed Oregon, the acquisition was taken to Fort Vancouver for alterations and fitting out for service. Oregon and her crew explored the shoals and reefs of the Hawaiian Islands, South Africa and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and conducted surveys in the Gulf of Mexico. Later she carried condemned ordnance from Pensacola, Florida, to New York. Laid up in the Norfolk Navy Yard in April, 1945, she was sold soon thereafter.
In the years after the Civil War, the U.S. government built up its military defenses by developing short-distance or sea-going coastline battleships. The second Oregon (BB 3) was laid down on November 19, 1891 at Union Iron Works in San Francisco, completed on October 26, 1893; and commissioned on July 15, 1895 as an official battleship for the U.S. Navy.
On March 19, 1898, the Oregon was called to fight in the Spanish-American War. The battleship was in the Pacific Ocean and was forced to head south, around the horn of South America, to fight in the Caribbean Sea. She traveled roughly 250 nautical miles a day, battling harsh seas, and reached Callao, Peru, on May 26, to join the North Atlantic Squadron. The battleship had made the journey in an unprecedented amount of time, traveling 14,500 miles in only sixty-six days. The Oregon exceeded all limitations of the short-distance vessel and established an impressive reputation for itself.
During the battle at Santiago and other actions during the war, the ship outmatched and outgunned its adversaries, contributed heavily to the U.S. victory over Admiral Cervera’s fleet, and impressed the nation with the power of its thirteen-inch guns.
The Oregon saw little action after the Spanish-American War. It served in the Pacific during the Philippine-American War, when it performed blockade duty in Manila Bay and off Lingayen Gulf, and during the Boxer Rebellion of China before it was decommissioned in 1903. It was brought back into service as a reserve battleship in World War I. The Oregon was decommissioned for the final time in October 1919. In 1925, the ship was lent to the State of Oregon, which used her as a floating monument and museum in Portland, Oregon. At the outbreak of World War II she was sold, as her scrap value was deemed more important than her historical value. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on November 2, 1942.
A monument made from the ship’s mast stands in Portland’s Waterfront Park, recognizing all who fought and died in the Spanish-American War and the contribution the USS Oregon (BB 3) made in its victory.
Oregon is the 20th submarine of the Virginia Class. With the other ships of the class, it represents a revolution in submarine design, construction and mission capability. This versatile and powerful vessel will maximize the contribution the U.S. Submarine Force makes to national security.
Oregon and the Virginia Class are among the most effective platforms in the U.S. Navy portfolio. Unobtrusive, non-provocative and connected with land, air, sea and space-based assets, these submarines are equipped to wage multi-dimensional warfare around the globe.
The central characteristic of the class is the modularity derived from the design/build approach, which supports efficient construction and mission capability. This provides the U.S. Navy with a submarine class that advances the state-of-the-art with each succeeding ship. Oregon’s adaptability makes it highly responsive to changing mission requirements.
Oregon will provide the submarine force with the capabilities required to dominate the open ocean and the littorals. In addition to anti-submarine, anti-surface ship and counter-mine warfare, Oregon will support surveillance, Special Operations and covert strike missions.
Electric Boat, its construction partner Newport News Shipbuilding, and the U.S. Navy continue collaborating to reduce the cost of future ships while introducing new capabilities to ensure the ongoing relevance of Oregon and the Virginia Class. Electric Boat’s goal remains unchanged – to provide the U.S. Navy with the most sophisticated undersea warships in the world.