U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King today sent a letter to Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, asking that the USS Portland, a new San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship named after the city of Portland, Oregon, also be named in honor of Portland, Maine, consistent with the long history and tradition of U.S. Navy ships bestowed with the name USS Portland.
Below is the full text of the letter:
Dear Secretary Mabus:
On April 12, 2013, you announced that LPD 27, a new San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, will be named the USS Portland after the city of Portland, Oregon.
We were surprised that the press release did not state that the ship was also named in honor of the city of Portland, Maine. We write to ask that you clarify that the ship will also be named in honor of Portland, Maine, consistent with the long history and tradition of U.S. Navy ships bestowed with the name USS Portland.
The Department of the Navy press release stated LPD 27 will be the third ship to bear the name USS Portland. The press release failed to mention that both of the previous two ships were named, in whole or in part, to honor the city of Portland, Maine. The first USS Portland (CA-33) was the lead ship of a new class of heavy cruisers. Launched in 1932, it was named after the city of Portland, Maine, and saw battle during World War II at the 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway, and the Battle of Guadalcanal. After accruing 16 battle stars, she was decommissioned in 1946.
The second USS Portland (LSD-37) was commissioned in 1970 and served until 2004. The ship was also named after the city of Portland, Maine, but it was also named after the city of Portland, Oregon. The ship's insignia incorporates the seals of both cities.
The third USS Portland should continue this tradition. We understand that amphibious transport dock ships are named for major American cities, and we can assure you that Portland, Maine is the largest city in Maine and the metro area is home to one-third of Maine's entire population.
Portland also has a rich naval history. South Portland is where many Liberty cargo ships were built that sustained the war effort during World War II, and 4,700 skilled shipyard workers repair Los Angeles-class and Virginia-class nuclear powered submarines one hour to the south of Portland at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Portland also has the largest port in Maine, and it is home to men and women whose livelihood relies upon the ocean and its resources, as demonstrated by the historic and bustling working waterfront.
We are confident that the impressive capabilities of LPD 27 and her crew can honor Portland, Maine, without in any way reducing the simultaneous honor afforded to Portland, Oregon. In fact, part of the rich history of Portland, Oregon, is that it was named after the city in Maine. In 1845, two of the city's founders, Asa Lovejoyof Boston, and Francis Pettygroveof Portland, Maine, each wanted to name the new city after his original home town. After Pettygrove won a coin toss two out of three times, the city was named after Portland, Maine. You can view the "Portland Penny" in person at the Oregon Historical Society in downtown Portland, Oregon.
We request that you clarify that the USS Portland will be named in honor of Portland, Maine, as well as Portland, Oregon. Given the history of both cities and the previous ships given the proud name of USS Portland, we are confident that you will agree that doing so will greatly contribute to the rich and storied history the USS Portland will carry with her as she and her crew defend our nation.