U.S. Navy - A Brief History of Cruisers

The Cruisers

A Brief History of U.S. Navy Cruisers
Part II - World War II (1941-1943)

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

Picture, caption follows. Aug. 9-12, 1941 - The Argentia Conference: President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill met secretly at Placentia Bay, Argentia, Newfoundland. The president traveled on the cruiser Augusta (CA 31), the prime minister on the battleship Prince of Wales. It was their first meeting that the two leaders agree on the principles set forth in the Atlantic charter.
Picture, caption follows. Nov. 6, 1941 - USS Somers (DD 381) and the cruiser USS Omaha (CL 4) captured the Odewald, a German blockade runner, in the central Atlantic. The Odewald was disguised as the American merchantman Willmoto.
Picture, caption follows. Feb. 28, 1942 - Battle of Sunda Strait: After nightfall, the cruisers USS Houston (CA 30), Captain Albert H. Rooks, and HMAS Perth, Captain H.M.L. Waller, RAN, survivors of the Battle of Java Sea proceeding in company towards the Sunda Strait on the western end of the island of Java, encountered a Japanese landing in progress at Banten Bay. Three enemy transports were destroyed - two by friendly fire - and three were damaged in the melee before the Japanese covering force of three cruisers and nine destroyers under Read Adm. Takeo Kurita sank the cruisers.
Picture, caption follows. Aug 8-9 1942 - Battle of Savo Island: Vice Adm. Mikawa sorties from Tabaul under orders from Admiral Yamamoto to break up the invasion of Guadalcanal with a force consisting of the heavy and light cruisers and a destroyer. Entering Ironbottom Sound shortly after midnight unobserved by American picket destroyers, Mikawa inflicted one of the worse defeats in the history of the US Navy, sinking four cruisers, USS Astoria (CA 34), HMAS Canberra, USS Quincy (CA 39) and USS Vincennes (CA 44) without suffering significant damage to a single vessel of his own. Fortunately for his enemies, he then threw away the fruits of victory; he left the scene without molesting the American amphibious forces that he had just rendered defenseless.
Picture, caption follows. Oct. 12, 1942 - Battle of Cape Esperance: A Japanese force of three heavy cruisers and two destroyers under Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto was sent to escort a troop convoy to Guadalcanal and afterwards bombard Henderson Field. A few minutes before midnight it was intercepted by Rear Admiral Scott's Task Force 64, consisting of the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco (CA 38) and light cruisers USS Salt Lake City (CL 25), USS Boise (CL 47) and USS Helena (CL 50), and five destroyers. The Japanese cruiser Furutake limped away from the action to sink a few hours later, as does the US destroyer USS Duncan (DD 485).
Picture, caption follows. Nov. 12-13, 1942 - Naval Battle of Guadalcanal: the Cruiser action - Adm. Yamamoto has determined to have Rear Adm. Tanaka's Tokyo Express carried the 38th Division to reinforce the defenders of Guadalcanal. First, however, he planned to soften up the American opposition by delivering a heavy bombardment of Henderson Field. The mission was assigned to Adm. Abe's Raiding Force, consisting of battleships Hiei,and Kirishima, light cruiser Nagara, and fourteen destroyers. At approx. 1:50 am on the 13th, the force was intercepted off Lunga Point by Read Adm. Callaghan's Task Foce 67.4, composed of heavy cruisers USS Portland (CA 33) and USS San Francisco (CA 38), the light cruisers USS Atlanta (CL 51), USS Helena (CL 50), and USS Juneau (CL 52), and eight destroyers. The ensuing actions lasted less than a quarter-hour, but was one of the fiercest of the war as the US force, steaming line ahead, literally sails through the wedge-shaped, Japanese formation. Callaghan and the other American flag officer present, Rear Adm. Scott, were killed in the opening minutes of the engagement, Callaghan in USS San Francisco, Scott in the USS Atlanta. The American forces lost the cruiser USS Atlanta and the destroyers USS Barton (DD 599), USS Cushing (DD 376), and USS Laffey (DD 459). USS San Francisco was severely damaged and several other vessels, Japanese and American, more or less so. Admiral Abe retires without having shelled Guadalcanal. The battleship Hiei, crippled by 30 hits, was sunk by American planes the next afternoon, hours after the Japanese submarine I-22 sank the cruiserUSS Juneau.

Picture, caption follows. Nov 30, 1942 - Battle of Tassafaronga - Off Guadalcanal, Rear Adm. Wright's Task Force 67.4 composed of the heavy cruisers USS Minneapolis (CA 36), USS New Orleans (CA 32), USS Northampton (CA 26), and USS Penascola (CA 24), light cruiser USS Honolulu (CL 48), and six destroyers - encountered eight destroyers of "Tenacious" Tanaka's Tokyo Express. American gunfire obliterated the destroyer Takanami, but Tanaka's other ships launched a salvo of torpedoes that sank the USS Northampton, and hit every other cruiser except the USS Honolulu.
Picture, caption follows. Jan 29-30, 1943 - Battle of Rennell Island - Approaching Guadalcanal from the south, Rear Adm. Giffen, commander of Task Force 18, left his tow escort carriers because their slow speed would have prevented him from making a schedule rendezvous with another force and presses on with seven cruisers and six destroyers. At twilight he was attacked near Rennell Island by land-based Japanese planes, which torpedoed the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA 29). The next day Giffen's ships came under the air umbrella of the USS Enterprise (CV 6), but Japanese bombers penetrated the screen to sink the crippled cruiser.
Picture, caption follows. March 26, 1943 - Battle of the Komandorskis - A classic, daylight gunnery action occurred in the Aleutians when Rear Adm. McMorris's Task Group 16.6 - consisting of light cruisersUSS Richmond (CL 9) and USS Salt Lake City (CL 25) and several destroyers encountered a greatly superior Japanese force of two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and four destroyers escorting two transports to Kiska. After a bold attempt to reach the transports, McMorris was compelled to turn away with the Japanese pursuing. For more than three hours the American ships evaded disaster in a skillful running battle. The USS Salt Lake City was finally disabled, but Japanese Vice Adm. Hosogaya has had enough and broke off the action.

BPicture, caption follows. Jul 6, 1943 - Battle of Kula Gulf - Around mid afternoon on July 5, the Third Fleet learned that a "Tokyo Express" was en route south from Bougainville with Japanese reinforcements for the central Solomons. Rear Adm. Ainsworth's Task Force 36.1, consisted of the light cruisers USS Honolulu (CL 48), USS Helena (CL 50), and USS St. Louis (CL 49) and four destroyers, making full speed to Kula Gulf to intercept the Japanese. It met the enemy force - ten destroyers, seven of which were being used as transports, under Rear Adm. Akiyama - a few minutes past midnight. In a confused action that lasts almost until dawn, Adm. Akiyama's flagship, the Niizuki, was sunk and Nagatsuki driven ashore, where she was destroyed by US planes during the day; but the destroyer-transports succeeded in unloading their troops on Kolombangara, and USS Helena, was sunk by three torpedoes fired by the Suzukaze and Tanikaze.

Picture, caption follows. July 11, 1943 - Fire support on Sicily. Fore from the light cruisers USS Boise (CL 47) and USS Savannah (CL 42) and eight destroyers helped defeat an armored thrust by the Hermann Goering division on the Allied beachhead at Gela, Sicily. After their attempts to repel the landing were unsuccessful, the Germans fought an expert rear-guard action to the north towards the Straits of Messina.
Picture, caption follows. July 13, 1943 - Battle of Kolombangara - On his fifteenth patrol up the Slot, Rear Adm. Ainsworth fought another night with the Tokyo Express. He had the light cruisers USS Honolulu (CL 48), USS St. Louis (CL 49) and HMNZS Leander and 10 destroyers. Leander was badly damaged by a torpedo in the opening moments of the action, then the failure to promptly identify the destroyers of the Japanese escort force allowed them to reach a position to launch torpedoes that blew up the destroyer USS Gwin (DD 433) and damaged the cruisers USS Honolulu and USS St. Louis.
Picture, caption follows. Oct 4, 1943 - An American task force consisting of the carrier USS Ranger (CV 4), heavy cruiser USS Tuscaloosa (CA 37), and a destroyer division under the command of Rear Adm. Hustvedt participated in a raid by the British Home Fleet on German shipping at Bodo, Norway. Six enemy freighters were sunk and four damaged by Allied air strikes.

Last Update: 22 June 2009