- Length: 344 Feet
- Beam: 53 feet
- Displacement: 5,870 tons
- Crew: 33 Officers, 396 enlisted men
- Top Speed: 22 knots (25mph)
- Coal Consumption at Top Speed: 633 lbs./minute
Launched in 1892, Cruiser Olympia (C-6) is the oldest steel warship afloat in the world.
From the moment of her launching in 1892, Cruiser Olympia was a rare treasure in the U.S. naval fleet, as no sister ships were ever built. She is the world's oldest floating steel warship and the sole surviving naval ship of the Spanish-American War.
Cruiser Olympia served as Admiral Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay, which marked the U.S.'s emergence as a world naval power. Cruiser Olympia's last official naval mission was to carry the body of the Unknown Soldier from France to the United States in 1921. In addition to being a National Historic Landmark, Cruiser Olympia is also a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places, and part of the Save America's Treasures program.
Historic Ship Collections
Along with the Cruiser Olympia and Submarine Becuna, the Seaport Museum also maintains a vast collection of historical artifacts and records relating to both vessels. The Cruiser Olympia Collection has been inventoried and a collections guide can be found on the Online Resources page of the website.
The Submarine Becuna collection, which is not currently processed, dates from the 1940s until the 1960s. The collection is essentially divided into two parts: the submarine's plans and mechanical operations, and the personal accounts and artifacts of those that served aboard her. Accounts and artifacts include correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, oral histories, biographies and ephemera, like menus, ration cards, invitations, and programs, relating to submariner's time on Submarine Becuna.
For more information about either historic ships' collection, please contact the J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library. If you are interested in donating historical artifacts and records to the collections, please contact the Seaport Museum's Chief Curator.
Spanish American War
On May 1, 1898, in an eight-hour battle, Cruiser Olympia devastated the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines. This was not only the first victory of the Spanish-American War, but the Cruiser Olympia's efforts helped catapult the United States into the role of superpower and won fame for her most famous officer, Commodore George Dewey. It was from Cruiser Olympia's recently restored bridge that Dewey delivered his famous order, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley."
World War I
Cruiser Olympia served with anti-submarine escort convoys protecting shipping in the Atlantic from German U-boat attacks. Later, she was sent to Murmansk to engage the Bolsheviks in the newly formed USSR.
As the most significant commissioned US warship capable of making the journey, the Cruiser Olympia was selected for the honor of bringing the Unknown Soldier home for interment in the United States.
Cruiser Olympia was decommissioned in 1922 and has been part of Independence Seaport Museum since 1996.
Cruiser Olympia is a National Historic Landmark, a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is part of the Save America's Treasures program.
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Visit the Spanish-American War Centennial website.