USS Portland steams into town for commissioning
Salutations from shorebound citizens greeted the U.S.S. Portland as it glided beneath the St. Johns Bridge near the watery mouth of its namesake city.
The amphibious transport vessel, whose home port will be in San Diego, steamed into Portland shortly after 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, eliciting cheers and hand-waving from dozens on a dock even as the ship's wake swamped their shoes and pant legs.
"I was quite impressed with what I saw. I'm thinking finally our hard-earned dollars went somewhere," said Paul Landeros, a 64-year-old resident of North Portland who was out snapping pics of the ship's arrival.
"That was great! I loved it," he noted as the ship on the Willamette River sailed beneath a Burlington Northern railroad bridge, seemingly with only inches to spare.
Hundreds are expected to attend a formal commissioning ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 21 at the Port of Portland's Terminal 2, located at 3556 N.W. Front Ave. Unfortunately, there are no more free tickets available for the event, according to the U.S.S. Portland Commissioning Committee's website.
Built in a Mississippi shipyard at a cost of $1.6 billion, the San Antonio-class vessel displaces 25,000 tons and can accommodate at least 800 marines as well as aircraft, hovercraft and other amphibious equipment. The ship is 105 feet wide and 684 feet long.
"It was great. Always fun to see something semi-historic happen," commented Daniel Ribeiro, another Portlander armed with a Nikon P900.
"It's nice to see a different ship, especially one carrying the Portland name," added a woman named Caroline, who declined to give her last name.
Portland Police officers on motorcycles cited a "security risk" as they blocked off the St. Johns Bridge to all pedestrian traffic before the U.S.S. Portland steamed beneath it. Undeterred, a sizable crowd gathered near the waterline at Cathedral Park.
The U.S.S. Portland — which will also be known as LPD 27 — is the first Navy vessel to be exclusively named after Portland.
Need more info? Here's a previous article by reporter Jim Redden:
The USS Portland arrived in town under tight security Saturday afternoon for its upcoming commission.
The first US Navy ship named solely after the city slipped into Terminal 2 around 3:40 p.m. Only invited guests were allowed past the Port of Portland's security gate to greet the ship and crews. Reporters were excluded.
The ship left Astoria around 8 a.m. As the Daily Astorian reported, It had arrived there on Friday from its home port of San Diego. Portland Fire & Rescue boats preceded it, spraying water high into the air to signal its arrival.
The sheer size of the vessel, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship guaranteed photo-worthy views as it navigated the Willamette River to the Port of Portland's Terminal 2. Also known as the LPD 27, it is longer than the Wells Fargo Tower is tall, displaces 25,000 tons, and can carry up to 800 Marines on board.
Equally important, the USS Portland is designed for both combat and humanitarian missions. Other San Antonio-class ships were used in an offshore support role after Hurricane Harvey in Houston (USS San Antonio), and after Hurricane Irma in Miami (USS New York). The USS Portland's motto speaks to the importance of this role: "First Responders: Brave and Determined."
"It's an honor for such a ship to be named after Portland," says Nolan Johnson, a member of the committee arranging the commissioning ceremony and related events. The committee also purchased a billboard across the street from Terminal 2 that reads, "Welcome USS Portland."
Terminal 2 is at 3556 N.W. Front Ave. The USS Portland will remain there until the commissioning ceremony, which is set for April 21.
Public ship tours are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. All will begin at 2 p.m. and end at 5 p.m., except the one on Friday, which will end at 4 p.m. Parking is available near Terminal 2, but TriMet also has scheduled additional bus service during the ship's stay.
Although the Saturday commissioning ceremony is open to the public, all tickets already have been claimed.
The Portland will remain at Terminal Two through April 22, when it will return to its home port in San Diego.
The USS Portland left the Ingalls Shipbuilding yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, where it was built, on Dec. 15 of last year. It stopped in Key West, Florida, two weeks later, after traveling through the Caribbean, then squeezed through the Panama Canal on Jan. 9 on the way to its home port.
FInd out more
For more information on scheduled events: http://www.ussportlandlpd27.org.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.