U.S. Navy - A Brief History of Cruisers

The Cruisers

A Brief History of U.S. Navy Cruisers
Part I - The Early Years (1910 - 1932)

All images below are hyperlinked to larger images for better viewing. All images are official Navy photographs.

Picture, caption follows. Nov. 14, 1910 - Twenty-four-year-old Eugene B. Ely, a civilian barnstormer, became the first pilot to fly off a ship. The takeoff of his Curtiss pusher biplane was made possible from a wooden platform erected over the bow of the cruiser USS Birmingham (CL 2) at Hampton Roads, Va.
Picture, caption follows. Jan. 11, 1911 - Ely became the first man to land an airplane on a ship when he brought his Curtiss pusher down on a wooden platform jury-rigged on the cruiser USS Pennsylvania (ACR 4) in San Francisco Bay. Killed in a crash ashore later in the year, Ely was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1933.
Picture, caption follows. Dec. 14, 1911 - The fleet base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was ceremonially opened when the armored cruiser USS California (ACR 6) steamed through the channel.
Picture, caption follows. May 19, 1912 - USS Birmingham (CL 2) began the first American ice patrol in the North Atlantic. The patrol was deemed necessary by the sinking of the White Star ocean liner Titanic the previous month. An International Ice Patrol was established in 1914 and the responsibility of the United States assumed by the Coast Guard.
Picture, caption follows. Sep. 5, 1912 - A battalion of 323 seamen and Marines landed at Corinto from the armored cruiser USS Colorado (ACR 7), which raised the strength of the forces available to Colonel Pendelton in western Nicaragua to approximately 2,000 men. He deployed them to take control of the railway from Corinto through Managua to Granada, which was, in effect, the artery of the revolution.
Picture, caption follows. Jul. 13, 1913 - USS Albany (CL 23) landed her Marine detachment to protect American interests during disorders at Shanghai, China.
Picture, caption follows. Nov. 5, 1915 - Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin made the first catapult launched from a ship underway, in a Curtiss AB-2 flying boat, from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina (CA 12) in Pensacola, Florida.
Picture, caption follows. Aug. 29, 1916 - USS Memphis (ACR 10), Captain Edward L. Beach, was wrecked by a tidal wave at Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. Forty of her crewmen are killed and 204 injured.
Picture, caption follows. Jan. 13, 1917 - The cruiser USS Milwaukee (C 21) stranded and wrecked off Eureka, California, while attempting to refloat the submarine H-3 (SS 30) with no loss of life.
  May 29, 1917 - Rear Adm. Albert Gleaves was made commander of the force, eventually numbering 45 transports and 24 cruisers, organized to carry troops of the American Expeditionary Force to Europe. It moved 911,047 soldiers - almost half of the AEF - to France and England without the loss of a single life as a result of enemy action.

Picture, caption follows. May 24, 1918 - The outbreak of the Russian revolution and the Bolshevik's withdrawal from the war in March 1918 left huge amounts of arms and munitions, sent by the Allies to supply the czar's army, stockpiled at Archangel. To avert the possibility of these stores falling into unfriendly hands, the Allies decided to occupy Archangel, using Murmansk as a base. On this date, USS Olympia (C 6), Captain Bion B. Bierer, landed a detachment to cooperate with British forces in the unopposed seizure of Murmansk. During the month of June, 55 of the cruiser's men participated in the advance on and occupation of Archangel.
Picture, caption follows. July 19, 1918 - USS San Diego (ex-California) (ACR-6), Captain Harley H. Christy, hit a mine laid by U-156 off Fire Island, New York, and was sunk with the loss of 6 lives. She was the only major American warship lost in World War I. On her return voyage to Germany, U-156 would be sunk in the North Sea mine barrage.
Picture, caption follows. July 30 - August 1, 1919 - USS New Orleans (CL 22) landed her marine detachment to protect American interests at Tyutuke Bay, near Vladivostok, Russia.
Picture, caption follows. July 29, 1920 - USS St. Louis (CA 18) and six destroyers were dispatched to Turkish waters to protect American citizens during the disturbances resulting from the Craeco-Turkish War.
Picture, caption follows. Jan. 25, 1922 - USS Galveston (CL 19) landed her marine detachment at Corinto, Nicaragua, to reinforce the Managua legation guard during a period of political tension.
Picture, caption follows. Jan. 16, 1924 - USS Tacoma (CL 20) was wrecked on Blanquilla Reef, off Veracruz, Mexico, with the loss of four lives.
Picture, caption follows. May 7 - June 5, 1926 - USS Cleveland (C 19) landed a marine detachment at Bluefields, Nicaragua, to protect American and other foreign interests when a civil war broke out between the Liberals and the Conservatives.
Picture, caption follows. Aug. 27, 1926 - A flare-up of fighting in Nicaragua led to the landing of 200 seamen and marines from the cruiser USS Galveston (C 17) to maintain a neutral zone around Bluefields. The Galveston force was subsequently relieved by detachments from the cruiser USS Rochester (ACR 2) (October 31) and USS Denver (C 14) (November 30).
Picture, caption follows. Oct. 10, 1926 - A detachment of seamen and marines from the cruiser USS Denver (C 14) landed at Corinto, Nicaragua, to preserve order during a conference between warring Liberal and Conservative leaders. The meeting proved unproductive.
Picture, caption follows. Jan. 6, 1927 - A marine detachment landed from the cruiser USS Galveston (C 17) reestablished the U.S. Legation Guard at Managua, Nicaragua.
Picture, caption follows. Feb 9, 1927 - Rear Admiral Julian L. Latimer, commander of the Special Service Squadron operating off the coast of Nicaragua, ordered the marines to take control of the Corinto-Managua railway to prevent it from being disrupted by the civil war. This was accomplished by detachments from the cruisers USS Galveston (C 17), USS Milwaukee (C 21) and USS Raleigh (CL 7).
Picture, caption follows. Feb 3, 1932 - USS Houston (CA 30) landed her marines detachment to reinforce the Fourth Marines in protecting American interests at Shanghai, China, following a Japanese attack on the city.

Last Update: 22 June 2009