7 Warships Bristle Along Waterfront
by Larry Smyth, Portland, OR.


With seven fighting ships already in the harbor and two more at sea en route here, Portland's waterfront is taking on the appearance of a navy port such as it has not been since before Pearl Harbor.

The submarines, Icefish and Jaliao have left San Francisco and are due off the lightship Wednesday morning and in Portland late in the afternoon. The subs are sister ships of the U.S.S. Hawkbill, moored at the foot of SW Ankeny street. It submerged in the river Sunday as part of a memorial service.

Appearance Altered

At Terminal No. 1 is the U.S.S. Salt lake City, a heavy cruiser last seen in Portland in 1938. She is a different looking ship now with all her anti-aircraft batteries added after the war started.

The Salt Lake City is Astoria's Navy day ship and will remain here until Thursday when she will drop down to that city for the Saturday program. She will not be open to visitors here.

The cruiser came from Ominata, Japan, with 498 passengers, all navy men, who were taken to Swan Island. About 200 crew members went ashore on leave. It was the first time the ship had docked at a white man's port in 16 months.

Searchlights from all the ships were turned on at 8 p.m. Monday for a half-hour display. A similar display is scheduled from 8 to 8:30 p.m. daily.

The Salt Lake City made the run from Astoria to Portland Monday in 5 hours 20 minutes, considered very fast time for a big ship.

A thrill that comes once in a lifetime---and in this case even once too often---is what officers and crew describe as the big wave which hit the mighty cruiser Salt Lake City at the mouth of the Columbia Monday morning and heeled her over to a 47 degree angle.

ball-red-02 Deceased Capt. John Connor, the skipper, who spent most of the war rolling around the North Atlantic in destroyers which rolled as much as 58 degrees, said it was OK with him if he never has such an experience again.

Some time before the ship reached the Columbia the crew was ordered below decks and only a few men were in the superstructure. the combination of wind and tide right at the entrance was too much, and a wave, called "the granddaddy of them all" picked up the Salt Lake City and laid her over on the starboard side.

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Waves Leap Ship

Green water roared over the deck and into the anti-aircraft gun turrets, which are about 18 feet above the waterline. Men in the turrets were waist deep in water.

Down below the crew was at breakfast. Mess was described as a "mess". The steam tables, held in place, gave way as the ship heeled over and breakfast landed on the deck of the mess room. So did many of the crew, along with the dishes.

There was nothing to do but start breakfast all over again and it was 9:30 a.m. before the crew was eating. Except for that one wave the voyage was none too eventful. The ship rode at the head of a storm most of the way from Ominata but never saw a wave all the way across the Pacific which matched the "home-grown" one at the mouth of the Columbia.
Scout Plane One of the Scout Planes "almost" dumped overboard when that wave hit

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Another account of the "storms" the SLC confronted

Portland, OR. Tuesday, October 23, 1945
Oregonian Newspaper

Veteran of Sea War Against Japanese
Has Rough trip Into Columbia River

Veterans of the famous Bering Sea Komandorskie battle, and of the softening-up of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City docked Monday at 4 p.m. at terminal No. 1 bearing a crew of some 900 and about 500 high-point men from Okinawa due to discharge.

The 614-foot cruiser displayed a combat record that showed 40 bombarded islands, 12 planes downed, 11 merchant and auxiliary ships sunk, and four cruisers sunk. the cruiser left Japan on Columbus day, delayed some by the typhoons. Its job in Japan was participation in the occupation of Ominato, Aomori, the large city of Hokadate, and Otaru.

Troubles for the Salt Lake City didn't end with the war. On the trip over the cruiser encountered storms across the Pacific. Huge waves at the mouth of the Columbia rolled the cruiser to 47 degrees, short of the 55 degrees that would have sent the ship over. A big wave splashed over a plane, damaging it and the catapult. The plane was removed at Astoria naval station.

The Salt Lake City made a name for herself in the south Pacific, taking part in battles at Savo Island, the Marshalls and Gilberts. At Okinawa, she wore out completely her five inch guns.

Aboard the ship as passengers were 449 enlisted navy men and eight officers for discharge, four enlisted men and one officer for emergency leave, 14 officers and 18 enlisted men for reassignment, three enlisted men for service schools, four officers and six enlisted men who will be hospitalized and 17 enlisted men for re-enlistment leaves. Eighteen men were put ashore at Astoria to be treated at the naval hospital.

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Related Stories from Veterans ball-red-02 Robert J. Serazin   ball-red-02 Deceased Robert M. Epperson

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Portland Men on Salt Lake
Relatives Greet Crewmen at Pier

The heavy Cruiser Salt Lake City, which docked late Monday afternoon in Portland at Terminal No. 1, bore several men from this area.

ball-red-02 Deceased Robert Max Epperson, 21, aviation radioman, first class, of 6035 N.E. 8th Ave., was welcomed by his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd A. Epperson; his sister, Edith, and his aunt, Mrs. Jessie Coughlin, of Casper, WY.

Epperson joined the navy in April, 1943. He had not seen his family for a year and a half.

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Family Waits on Pier

Robert Swainson, 18, petty officer second class, was met by his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Swain Swainson, of 1715 S.E. Salmon St., his sister, Donna, and his brother, 14 year old Dickie.

Mrs. Beulah Wilbur, of Everett, Wash., and her son, Edward, greeted ball-red-02 Lloyd Wilbur, 21, gunner's mate 3rd class.

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Contributions from William "Bill" Ratliff



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