The USS Portland was nicknamed Sweet Pea and her displacement was 14,181 tons with a length of 553 feet. Her beam was 84 feet with a draft of 20 feet. Her propulsion was two shafts, two turbines, and two 600psi (4.1MPa) boilers. At her top speed, she could reach up to 22 knots. She had a complement of 26 officers and 396 enlisted men.
The armament of the USS Portland consisted of eight 3 inch guns. She also had two CIWS, and four .50 caliber guns. She did not carry any aircraft, but was equipped with a landing pad for helicopters. The USS Portland was named after a seaport in Cumberland County in southern Maine. She was also named after the largest city in the state of Oregon. Her homeport was Little Creek, Virginia.
She was the second Naval Vessel to carry the name of USS Portland. She was classified as a United States Navy Anchorage-class dock landing ship. There were a total of five of these vessels made and commissioned by the Navy between 1965 and 1972. All five of the vessels were decommissioned by 2003. The Anchorage-class vessels were a form of amphibious warship. They were designed to reinforce and support amphibious operations.
The USS Portland was fabricated at the General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division located in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was officially commissioned on October 3, 1970.
During her career, the USS Portland transported the TEKTITE II and the Deep Submergence Research Submarine for the Navy. The TEKTITE II was an underwater research habitat. The Portland was also responsible for aiding over 300 United States Citizens and other multinational civilians in their escape from Beirut, Lebanon when the civil war broke out. The Portland was also awarded the meritorious Unit Commendation for her support of two Navy Patrol Gunboats on April 14, 1982. She was also a member of the Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group 2-83 in May 1983.
On April 25, 2004, she was sunk as a target at 034 degrees, 55’48.9″ North and 070 degrees, 14’56.3″ West. This was at a depth of 2621 fathoms, which is equivalent to 15,730 feet. Her official decommission was on August 4, 2003. The Portland was struck from the official Naval Vessel Record on March 8, 2004.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some auxiliary vessels also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.