Olympia

Icon of the American Navy

Imagine an era of discovery in communications media, a period with new technologies emerging at a rapidly accelerating pace,

With the ability to share information increasing exponentially decade by decade.

Imagine the power of new technologies with the ability to distribute stories, be they true or false, at a tremendous rate.

Those in control of such technologies would possess incredible power.

They could sway elections, propel relative unknowns to stardom, agitate for war or peace, drive public opinion to suit their purposes for good or ill.

Imagine the 1890s.

America had an established telegraph network, a telephone system under construction, and radio in development.

Photography, not yet mass-produced in printed publications, soon would be.

Moving pictures began to attract the era’s top business and artistic talent.

Coupled with equally accelerating developments across science and engineering, all of this innovation had a phenomenal impact on society.

In the post-Civil War era, the US Navy was decidedly not a national priority.

After the build-up to blockade and conquer the South, the Navy was allowed to atrophy,

With no new ships designed or built, and the existing fleet was minimally maintained.

A seniority system of promotion that discouraged change exacerbated the situation.

The United States was preoccupied with western expansion and railroads.

With oceans on two sides serving as formidable barriers to any foreign aggression, there was no immediate need for a power ful navy.

As the American navy deteriorated, those of other nations advanced, attempting to take advantage of emerging technologies.

It was an era in which vessels could become obsolete faster than they could be constructed, and there was no certainty as to which materials,

During this transitional period, it was not merely that the ships were outdated, the industries needed to produce them did not yet exist.

Armament, or strategies might emerge victorious when put to the test.

This situation began to change in the 1880s, and by the 1890s a full-blown technological revolution was sweeping through.

American naval shipbuilding and training programs.

As the United States was on the verge of establishing itself as a global power, in 1888 Congress authorized the construction of seven new cruisers.

When the protected cruiser Olympia was launched from Union Iron Works in San Francisco on 5 November 1892,

She would be the heaviest of the seven and represented the new modern US Navy.

By the time she was commissioned early in 1895,

She had already become well known because she was one of the first ships that came close to being on par with ships deployed in the navies of Europe.

She was fast, powerful, and well protected.

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