Swan Island Basin, 1977

A lot of old ships hanging out in the Swan Island Basin.

Lets take a closer look at the two US Navy Gearing-class destroyers anchored side by side.

USS Rogers (DD-876) so named in honor of three brothers who all lost their lives aboard the USS New Orleans in 1942. She was built in 1944 by Consolidated Steel in Orange, Texas, launched in 1944 and served in WWII in the Pacific and the Korean War. Rogers was refitted in 1963 and deployed to Vietnam until 1969. Sailing between San Diego and Vietnam, she won meritorious commendation for her assistance in extinguishing a nearly catastrophic fire aboard the nuclear carrier Enterprise. In 1974 she shifted homeports to Swan Island and tasked with training US Navy reserves until being decommissioned in 1981 then sold to South Korea where she is now a museum ship.

The ship in the foreground is hard to identify, but I believe her to be USS Hamner (DD-718), named for Lieutenant Henry R. Hamner who died during a kamikaze attack on the USS Howorth just months before. Launched in 1945 in Newark, New Jersey. She immediately deployed with the 7th fleet destined for various Chinese and Japanese ports and returned home, repeating this pattern until Korean hostilities began in 1950. There, she bombarded communist supply lines with great success until 1953. After this she mainly made good-will visits to Asian ports. Modernized in 1962 Hamner resumed operation in the waters off Vietnam, participating in Operation Traffic Cop by shelling communist supply ships. By the early 70s she was reclassified as a Navy reserve training ship and regularly sailed between San Diego and British Columbia. In July 1975, she shifted her home port to Portland, Oregon, where her crew began referring to their ship as ‘the Old Gray Ghost of the Oregon Coast.’Hamner held her last training in 1979 and a year later was sold to Taiwan.

These and so many of the ships of Portland help illuminate the storied past of shipping so central to Portland over the years. The great many men who called these ships home if only briefly, have so many colorful histories to share. Indeed, many of these ships have whole websites devoted to collecting and documenting their stories.

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