By Carol McCracken
A memorial to the USS Portland was erected by the Naval Reserve Club at Ft. Allen Park on the Eastern Promenade back in 1949. This heavy cruiser nicknamed “Sweat Pea” had served admirably in the South Pacific during World War II. But no significant restoration work has been performed on the memorial (which is a mast rescued from the salvage of the ship itself) and the site since the memorial was erected. But a consortium of Maine companies is about to rectify that oversight.
This “heavy cruiser”, Class CA-33, USS Portland, was built by the Bethlehem Steel Co. in Quincy, MA. She was launched May 21, 1932. Her introduction into WW II began with the attack on Pearl Harbor – she was only two days out from Pearl Harbor when the Harbor was attacked by Japan in 1941. For a detailed history of the USS Portland and other fascinating details, please visit its web page: ussportland.org
Beginning next week, the consortium will encase the memorial in plastic which will enable them to begin sandblasting it leaving no residual dust in the environment, said Robbie Ferguson, a foreman for Cianbro Bros. who was on site earlier this week. (Cianbro Bros. is a member of the consortium who is donating its services). It took several days to build the 80 ft. plus platform around the mast which is 80 ft. high – from which the sandblasting will be conducted. It’s expected that the entire project, which includes electrical work, sandlbasting the mast (memorial) and replacing the pavement and widening the path at the base of the memorial, will take almost a month to complete.
Meanwhile, there will be a press conference to confirm these facts on Thursday, September 18th – perhaps around 10:30 am – at the site. It is hoped that Mrs. Mary Doughty, who was the ship’s original sponsor when she was only 12 years old and the daughter of a Portland city council member, will attend the press conference. Other details will be announced at that time.