Where We Live: Commissioning the USS Oregon

Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One of the U.S.’ newest and most powerful nuclear submarines is named after the state of Oregon.

The USS Oregon will be commissioned this fall, and a group of local Navy veterans wants to make the commissioning an event the crew will never forget.

The vessel is the U.S.’ 20th Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles in addition to torpedoes.

The USS Oregon, SSN 793, was christened in October 2019 in Groton, Connecticut, by Oregon native and ship sponsor Dana Richardson. It’s currently undergoing rigorous testing before it is commissioned this November.

Furthermore, this is the first USS Oregon since Battleship Oregon in the late 1800s, which is the ship that helped win the Spanish-American War.

Arlo Gatchell, Jim Lasher and Dave Vrooman, who are on the USS Oregon Commissioning Committee, met with KOIN 6 News at an iconic submarine — the USS Blueback near OMSI — to discuss the upcoming plans.

“It’s hard to describe. I mean, it’s really a sense of pride that I’m involved in this organization that’s getting the ship and the crew ready to defend our country,” Vrooman said.

While the military pays for the actual commissioning, the committee sponsors the other events around it, which includes receptions for the 140 crew members and their families, a commanding officer reception and plaques for sailors and major donors.

“It becomes part of our active-duty force where it’s commissioned as a United States ship,” Gatchel said.

The committee plans to bring a taste of Oregon to those events.

“The people who are attending that can sample either a beer, wine, or food, which originates here in Oregon,” Lasher said.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the committee’s fundraising efforts, so they’re still looking to raise about $200,000 for a once-in-a-lifetime commissioning the sailors and the people of Oregon will never forget. Click here to help raise money for the commissioning.

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