PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — U.S. Navy veterans, military buffs and anyone who enjoys an impressive sight might want to set Saturday afternoon aside. That’s when the USS Portland, the first U.S. Navy ship named solely for the city, is scheduled to arrive in town, to be commissioned a week later.
The sheer size of the vessel, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, will guarantee photo-worthy views as it navigates 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."
Many viewing opportunities are available. The USS Portland will be in Astoria on Friday, and then leave to travel up the Columbia River at 8 a.m. Saturday. It is expected to reach Kelley Point at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers by about 3 p.m., then arrive at Terminal 2 after passing along Catherdral Park in St. Johns at around 4 p.m.
Terminal 2 is owned by the Port of Portland 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.
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