The battleship USS Tennessee. (U.S. Naval Institute)

Pacific Fleet’s history in Port Angeles a busy one

PORT ANGELES — Five of the ships that were in Pearl Harbor the day of the attack had dropped anchor at some point in Port Angeles Harbor.

The largest of the five was the battleship USS Tennessee, which was damaged in the Japanese attack.

The Tennessee was in Port Angeles in 1939, according to Alice Alexander, Port Angeles historian.

Others were the destroyers USS Phelps, which was in Port Angeles Harbor in 1937; USS MacDonough, 1938; USS Whitney, 1935; and USS Ramsay, 1940.

The Pacific Fleet first dropped anchor in Port Angeles Harbor on Oct. 2, 1895.

Fleet commander Rear Adm. Lester A. Beardslee came with his flagship, the cruiser USS Philadelphia.

Beardslee approved the deep, protected harbor as an ideal location for naval practice, and until the 1930s, the Pacific Fleet returned annually for summer exercises in the harbor.

After 1935, Alexander said, the summer exercises were not conducted in the harbor; however, individual ships did anchor at Port Angeles until 1940.

Among the ships that sources say visited Port Angeles Harbor were the Mississippi, Texas, Marblehead, Connecticut, Louisiana, Virginia, Missouri — an earlier ship than the Missouri that housed the Japanese surrender – and Iowa, along with scores of smaller ships.

One year, there were 70 ships in Port Angeles Harbor, Alexander said.

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