USS Portland Informational Sign

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USS Portland Informational Sign


Informational sign with four sections, and several images of the USS Portland and other items relating to its history. The text of the sign are on the history of the ship, its wartime service and how it came to be in Portland.



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Welcome to the USS Portland Memorial
You see the top of the mast, the bridge sheet and the bell from one of the most decorated ship of World War II. Authorized in February 1929, and commissioned in February 1933, the USS Portland (CA-33), known as Sweet Pea to her crew, cruised the Pacific before World War II and participated gallantly throughout the war from 1942 through 1945. She was decommissioned  in July of 1946 after suffering irreparable damage in a hurricane as she was transporting American troops from Europe during Operation Magic Carpet. In 1959, the USS Portland was "scrapped", saving only the elements that are part of this memorial display.

World War II
During WWII, the USS Portland was involved in a number of battles in the Pacific, earning 16 battle stars. She participated in many campaigns including Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, the Gilbert and Marshall Island, Leyte Gulf, Corregidor, and Okinawa. At Guadalcanal in 1942, the Sweet Pea was badly damaged by a torpedo and shellfire, and 18 men were killed. With a busted rudder and steaming in circles, its gunner still managed to severely damage a Japanese battleship and sink a destroyer.

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Because of her outstanding record during the war, the ship was selected as the site for the surrender of the headquarters of Japan's forces in the Pacific. The signing of these documents took place at the same hour on September 2, 1945 as the ceremonies aboard the battleship Missouri.

The Ship
The USS Portland (CA-33) was a heavy cruiser, the prototype of a two-ship class. She was twice the length of a football field (610ft. 3in.), as slim as the distance from a baseball pitcher's rubber to home plate (66ft. 1in.) and had an underwater depth about two stories of a skyscraper (17ft. 1in.). She displaced 9,950 tons, had a speed of 32.7 knots and a range of 10,000 nmi at 15 knots. Aboard there were nine 8" guns, eight 5" dual-purpose guns and a host of smaller antiaircraft guns.

The Commissioning
The commissioning of the USS Portland came at the depth of the Great Depression in February 1933. Twelve-year-old Mary Elizabeth Brooks, daughter of the chairman of the Portland city council, "christened" the ship with a bottle of sparkling water, since this was also the Prohibition era. A tradition was for the namesake city to provide a silver service set for a newly commissioned cruiser. Portland's included a bowl, a tray, and cups like those used to serve grog in the early days of the Republic. Because of the dire economic times and Maine's long history of temperance, the city council did not pay for the purchase of the silver, but instead the money of the service was raised from raised from residents, businesses, and service clubs.

Bringing Sweet Pea Home
When the ship was scheduled for demolition in 1959, a local Maine businessman, Arthur Forestall, arranged for the mast and shield to be transported to Maine from Panama City, Florida. He then advocated for reassembling the pieces in Fort Allen Park on the Eastern Promenade. After almost fifty years, the memorial was deteriorating and Bill Whitten, a former U.S. Marine, started the process of refurbishing the site with the help of Cianbro Corporation and many other companies and individuals who donated their resources.

What you are view today is a monument to the men who served on the USS Portland and other ships in time of war. It also serves as a reminder of what private people can give to their communities.

On November 11, 2008, 75 years after the ship was commissioned, she was rededicated by Mary Elizabeth Brooks Doughy; this time with real champagne.




Bill Whitten, “USS Portland Informational Sign,” Portland’s Historical Markers, accessed April 15, 2021,