Monday, September 14, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Cruisers

Above: The U.S.S. Vincennes (CA-44) in Hawaii, 1942. The Vincennes was one of four cruisers built with PWA funds in the early-mid 1930s. The others were the Savannah, Philadelphia, and Nashville (shown below). The Vincennes served as an escort ship for "Doolittle's Raid" on Japan, participated in the Battle of Midway and also the invasion of Guadalcanal, shot down many Japanese airplanes, and received two battle stars. Unfortunately, she was attacked and sunk by several Japanese ships in August 1942. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy, the National Archives, and

Above: U.S.S. Savannah (CL-42) and crew, ca. 1942-1945. The Savannah participated in Operation Torch (an allied invasion of axis-controlled North Africa) and supported many troop invasions in the Mediterranean with shore bombardments (knocking out many tanks and artillery batteries). On September 11, 1943, the Savannah was hit with a radio-controlled German glide bomb and lost 197 men. She was repaired but saw no further combat. The Savannah earned three battle stars during World War II. Photo courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center and

Above: The U.S.S. Philadelphia (CL-41) in New York Harbor, 1943, with a Liberty Ship in the background. The Philadelphia saw heavy combat action in the Mediterranean (for example, shore bombardment and defense against air attacks), in areas such as French Morocco, Sicily, Palermo, and Anzio. This PWA-built cruiser earned five battle stars. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy, the National Archives, and

Above: On board the U.S.S. Nashville (CL-43), in the South Pacific, 1943. Like the Vincennes, the Nashville provided support for "Doolittle's Raid" on Japan. She also provided convoy, transportation, and shelling support all over the Pacific theater and earned ten battle stars - the most battle stars of all the PWA-built cruisers. Photo courtesy of the Naval Historical Center and

Cruisers did it all during World War II. They fought enemy ships, engaged enemy aircraft, participated in shore bombardments, protected other vessels from attack, used their scout planes for reconnaissance missions, and more. The Vincennes was a heavy cruiser "with a standard tonnage of 9,400 and an overall length of 588 feet" and carried "a crew of 551 men." It was armed "with eight 5-inch anti-aircraft batteries...[and] nine 8-inch guns." The Savannah, Philadelphia, and Nashville were light cruisers "with a standard tonnage of 10,000 and overall lengths of 614 feet." They were armed "with eight 5-inch anti-aircraft batteries...[and] fifteen 6-inch guns." All four of these PWA-built cruisers could carry 4 planes and could travel at 32 knots.

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command (         

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