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  USS Olympia CA-6 (CA-15, CL-15, IX-40)
Protected cruiser

5,586 Tons
344' 1" x 53' x 21' 6"
Turets (2x2)
4 × 8"/35 cal Mark 4 guns (replaced 1916 with 5"/51 cal guns)
Side Guns
10 × 5"/40 cal guns (later replaced with 5"/51 cal guns)
14 × 6-pounder Driggs-Schroeder RF guns
6 × 1-pounder guns
4 × Gatling guns
6 × 18" torpedo tubes, firing whitehead Mark 1 torpedoes

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USN 1912

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Justin Taylan 2013

Ship History
Built by Union Iron Works in San Francisco, CA. Laid down June 17, 1891. Launched November 5, 1892. Commissioned February 5, 1895 at San Francisco and proceeded to Mare Island for outfitting and assigned to Captain John J. Read.

In April, departed for Santa Barbara and conducted landing drills at Sausalito and Santa Cruz On April 20, conducted gunnery exercises. During the drills, Coxswain John Johnson was killed by one of the 5" guns. During July underwent a shakedown cruise and returned to Mare Island, and assigned to replace USS Baltimore as the flagship of the Asiatic Squadron.

On August 25 departed overseas arriving at Hawaii seven days later. Due to an outbreak of cholera, remained until October 23. Afterwards, departed for Yokohama arriving November 9. On November 15, USS Baltimore arrived from Shanghai to transfer command of the Asiatic Squadron to Olympia and Rear Admiral F.V. McNair arrived fifteen days later to take command of the squadron.

Over the next two years, undertook training exercises with the Asiatic Squadron, and goodwill visits to ports in Asia. On January 3, 1898 Commodore George Dewey assumed command with Olympia as his flagship.

As tensions with Spain increased, Olympia was in Hong Kong when the Spanish American War was declared on April 25, 1898 and moved to Mirs Bay, then were ordered to Manila Bay to attack or capture the Spanish flotilla in the Philippines.

Spanish American War
On May 1, 1898 Olympia with Commodore Dewey aboard entered Manila Bay and at 5:40am issued Dewey issued the order "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley" and fired the opening shots of the battle. At 7:30am, Olympia broke off the attack incorrectly thinking the ship was low on 5" shells, then resumed battle at 11:15am. The Americans prevailed against the Spanish ships and shore batteries. Afterwards, anchored to accept the surrender of Manila. Afterwards, supported the American occupation of the Philippines by providing fire support before departing on May 20, 1899 for China.

During June 1899 steamed via the the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea across the Atlantic Ocean arriving at Boston on October 10. In celebration of their role in the war, a gilded bow ornament was added and the ship placed in reserve status.

Recommissioned in January 1902 and assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron as flagship of the Caribbean Division. Over the following four years, the ship patrolled the Atlantic and Mediterranean. On April 2, 1906, she became a training ship for United States Naval Academy cadets for summer cruises. When not used, Olympia was placed in reserve at Norfolk and later Annapolis and Charleston as a barracks ship until 1916 when recommissioned.

World War I
Used as the flagship of the U.S. Patrol Force, patrolling the eastern United States and escorted transport ships in the North Atlantic. On June 15, 1917 ran aground in Long Island Sound. Afterwards, repaired at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During the repairs, the 8" and 5" guns were replaced with newer 5"/51 guns.

On April 28, 1918 departed Charleston transporting an American expeditionary force bound for Murmansk, Russia and afterwards occupied Archangel then departed via Portsmouth to the the Mediterranean as flagship for American naval forces stationed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea for patrols and goodwill visits. August 18, 1919 entered the Black Sea to aid the return of refugees from the Balkans and on September 23 deployed a landing party to prevent an incident between Italian and Yugoslav troops.

On November 24, 1919 returned to Charleston. Next, departed New York on February 14, 1920 for an Atlantic cruise until May 21, 1921 and was reclassified as CL-15 then became flagship of the Atlantic Fleet's training unit. She then participated in joint Army-Navy experiments in July, during which the ex-German warships Ostfriesland and Frankfurt were sunk off the Virginia Capes.

On October 3, 1921, Olympia departed Philadelphia for Le Havre, France, to bring the remains of the unknown soldier back to the United States for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Departed October 25, 1921 with ceremonial escorts and arrived at Washington Navy Yard to transfer the remains ashore and fired a gun salute.

During the summer of 1922, conducted her final training course for cadets. On December 9, 1922 decommissioned at Philadelphia and placed in reserve. On June 30, 1931 reclassified as Unclassified Miscellaneous Vessel IX-40 for preservation.

On September 11, 1957 transfered to the Cruiser Olympia Association and returned to her 1898 configuration as a museum ship. In January 1996, when faced with mounting debt and tremendous deferred maintenances, Cruiser Olympia Society merged with Independence Seaport Museum. Permanently moored at Penn's Landing at Philadelphia, PA in the Delaware River next to USS Becuna SS-319. Since 1996, open for walk through tours. Today, Olympia is the oldest steel warship afloat in the world.

Olympia | Independence Seaport Museum

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Last Updated
October 7, 2020


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