USS Olympia (C-6/CA-15/CL-15/IX-40) is a protected cruiser which saw service in the United States Navy from her commissioning in 1895 until 1922. This vessel became famous as the flagship of Commodore George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War in 1898.
The ship was decommissioned after returning to the U.S. in 1899, but was returned to active service in 1902. She served until World War I as a training ship for naval cadets and as a floating barracks in Charleston, South Carolina.
Following the end of World War I, Olympia participated in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War in 1919, and conducted cruises in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas to promote peace in the unstable Balkan countries. In 1921, the ship carried the remains of World War I’s Unknown Soldier from France to Washington, DC, where his body was interred in Arlington National Cemetery. Olympia was decommissioned for the last time in December 1922 and placed in reserve.
In 1957, the U.S. Navy ceded title to the Cruiser Olympia Association, which restored the ship to its 1898 configuration. Since then, Olympia has been a museum ship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is now part of the Independence Seaport Museum.
Sailors with two cats aboard cruiser Olympia, circa 1898.
Photograph from the Littlejohn collection at J. Welles Henderson Archives & Library, Independence Seaport Museum.