USS Olympia, in the Spanish-American War, Inspired a Famous Historical Phrase


USS Olympia


The USS Olympia, open as a museum ship for tours, at Independence Seaport Museum, Penn's Landing, Philadelphia. To see the flagship in its full glory, click directly on the photo to enlarge it.



This battle cruiser inspired a famous historical phrase, when it fired the first shots in the Spanish-American War on May 1, 1898. Let's read how...

The ship had been authorized and funded in 1888. In 1892, it was launched in San Francisco, California, but was not commissioned until 1895. It served as the flagship of U.S. Navy Admiral George Dewey, commander of the Navy's squadron in the Pacific Ocean.

War was declared between the United States and Spain on April 25, 1898, with Olympia in the neutral port of Hong Kong. It sailed out of the port, in order to comply with the British possession's neutrality.

On May 1, the U.S. squadron confronted the Spanish fleet in the Philippines, then under Spanish control, and devastated it. Dewey gave the famous order, "You may fire when ready, Gridley", to one of his subordinate officers.

After its victory over the Spanish fleet, Olympia helped to blockade and capture the city of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Once its service was completed, it sailed back to the U.S., reaching the port of Sandy Hook in September 1899.

Today, Olympia that was once Admiral Dewey's Flagship, can now be toured at Penn's Landing, as part of Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia.

Go Visit USS Olympia While You Can - It Is Scheduled to Close For Good at the End of September 2010

Update, Wednesday, May 26, 2010:

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Seaport Museum is considering sinking Olympia unless a benefactor with very deep pockets can be found. According to the Seaport Museum, it would require $20 million to renovate and restore and maintain the ship, and it doesn't have it.

While Olympia is not facing certain doom - the Seaport Museum is continuing talks to try to find a benefactor or benefactors - we'd strongly recommend, with the highest level of urgency- that you visit Olympia, prior to the end of September 2010. And, that you begin planning your potential visit, well before the end of September...

Also, you should frequently visit the Seaport Museum's official site, which is located at the bottom of the page, for the latest updates on when Olympia may be closing for good, its operating hours, etc., as Olympia's status is very much up in the air, for the foreseeable future...

You can learn more by visiting the

A Map of USS Olympia / Independence Seaport Museum, and the Surrounding Area


View USS Olympia - Independence Seaport Museum in a larger map

official Independence Seaport Museum web site's page on Olympia.


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