Tuesday, October 18, 2011
USS Philadelphia (CL-41)
Figure 1: USS Philadelphia (CL-41) off the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania, on 22 October 1937. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Philadelphia (CL-41) anchored in the Hudson River, off New York City, 1939. Donation of Lieutenant Gustave J. Freret, USN (Retired), 1972. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Philadelphia (CL-41) at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 9 April 1942. USS Munargo (AP-20) is in the upper left background. Courtesy of Charles N. Dragonette, 1979. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: Curtiss SOC Seagull scout-observation aircraft is hoisted on board USS Philadelphia (CL-41), during the North African operation, November 1942. Note crewmen holding lines to steady the plane as the aircraft crane swings it inboard. Photographed by Lieutenant Horace Bristol, USNR. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Philadelphia (CL-41) in New York Harbor, 26 April 1943. A Liberty Ship is in the background, with a crated deck cargo. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Philadelphia (CL-41) off New York City, 26 April 1943. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Philadelphia (CL-41) off the New York Navy Yard, 26 April 1943. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: Salerno Operation, September 1943. A US Navy destroyer lays a smoke screen during a "Red Alert" for air attack off the Salerno invasion beaches in September 1943. Photographed from the port bridge wing of USS Philadelphia (CL-41). Note manned and ready 20-mm and 40-mm guns on Philadelphia and elevated fire control radar antenna and 5-inch guns on the destroyer. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: Salerno Operation, September 1943. USS Philadelphia (CL-41) and a motor minesweeper (YMS) making a smoke screen to cover the landing area from German air attack, circa 9 September 1943. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: Roman Catholic church services on board USS Philadelphia’s after deck, while she was at Algiers, Algeria, circa 1944. Note the use of the US ensign and signal flags as a backdrop, and the cruiser's aircraft catapults flanking the ceremonies. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: Undated starboard side photograph of the Brazilian Navy’s Barroso (C11), formerly USS Philadelphia. Courtesy Robert Hurst. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 12: Undated photograph of the Brazilian Navy’s Barroso (C11), formerly USS Philadelphia, in Guanabara bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Courtesy Artemio Bueno Rosa, Jr. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after the city in Pennsylvania, USS Philadelphia (CL-41) was a 9,700-ton Brooklyn class light cruiser built by the Philadelphia Navy Yard at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and commissioned on 23 September 1937. The ship was approximately 608 feet long and 61 feet wide, had a top speed of 32 knots, and had a crew of 868 officers and men. Philadelphia was armed with 15 6-inch guns, eight 5-inch guns, 20 40-mm guns, and 10 20-mm guns, and carried four scout planes.
After being commissioned, Philadelphia spent most of her time on patrol in the Atlantic area. On 30 April 1938, Philadelphia arrived at Charleston, South Carolina, and hosted President Franklin Roosevelt during the first week of May for a cruise in Caribbean waters. The president returned to Charleston on 8 May. The ship then resumed operations off the Atlantic coast until mid-1939, when she left for the Pacific. After transiting the Panama Canal, Philadelphia was based at San Pedro, California, and then at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While at Pearl Harbor, the ship participated in fleet maneuvers until May 1941. Philadelphia left Pearl Harbor on 22 May 1941 and returned to the Atlantic via the Panama Canal. The cruiser arrived at Boston, Massachusetts, on 18 June.
Once Philadelphia arrived at Boston, she was assigned to participate in “Neutrality Patrols,” which were created on 4 September 1939 as a response to the war in Europe. Neutrality Patrols were ordered to track and report the movements of any warlike operations of belligerents in the waters of the western hemisphere. As part of the patrols, Philadelphia steamed as far south as Bermuda and as far north as Halifax, Nova Scotia. The ship entered the Boston Navy Yard on 25 November 1941 for an overhaul and was there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December.
After her overhaul was completed on 18 December 1942, Philadelphia resumed patrol and escort duties off the coast of the United States. Philadelphia escorted two convoys to Scotland during the middle of 1942, but was pulled off escort duty to become the flagship of the Southern Attack Group for the invasion of North Africa. Philadelphia’s task force left Norfolk, Virginia, on 24 October 1942 with 102 ships carrying 35,000 men and their equipment bound for North Africa. The troops were under the command of the famous General George S. Patton and the entire landing force reached Casablanca, Morocco, shortly before midnight on 7 November. The invasion force was split up into three different sections and landed at three different points along the Moroccan coast in the early morning darkness of 8 November.
During the invasion, Philadelphia provided critical and highly accurate gunfire support for the troops landing on shore, knocking out several Vichy French artillery batteries that were firing at the invasion force. Once the landing troops had secured their beachheads, Philadelphia was ordered to leave Morocco for New York City on 13 November and arrived there on 24 November. The ship was based at New York until 11 March 1943, when she escorted two convoys to Casablanca. Philadelphia then moved to Norfolk, Virginia, and began preparing for the next big Allied invasion.
Philadelphia left Norfolk with nine destroyers on 8 June 1943 and arrived at Oran, Algeria, on 22 June. Oran was the final staging area for the invasion of Sicily and on 5 July the entire invasion force left Oran and headed north for the Italian island. The Allies arrived off the beaches of Scoglitti, Sicily, shortly before midnight on 9 July 1943, with Philadelphia once again providing gunfire support for the troops on shore. Philadelphia provided gunfire support for Allied troops until 5 September. While hitting targets all over Sicily, Philadelphia also endured numerous enemy air attacks and shot down a total of six aircraft during these battles.
On 9 September 1943, Philadelphia’s guns were used yet again during the Allied invasion of Salerno in southern Italy. One of the ship’s scout planes spotted 35 German tanks not far from the beach where the Allies were landing and this information was relayed back to the ship. Philadelphia opened fire with her six-inch guns and destroyed seven of the tanks before the rest retreated from the area. The ship was almost hit by a German glide bomb during an aerial attack. The bomb exploded next to the ship, wounding several of her crewmen. But the ship could still remain in action and her guns continued to provide badly needed support for the troops on shore. Philadelphia’s guns shot down another German aircraft on 15 September and two more on 17 September. After providing numerous gunfire support missions along the Italian coast, Philadelphia returned to the United States on 6 November as part of a convoy heading for Norfolk.
Philadelphia left Norfolk on 19 January 1944 and, after making a stop in Oran, Algeria, joined the Allied invasion force off the coast of Anzio, Italy, on 14 February. The ship provided gunfire support for the troops on shore until 23 May. In August 1944, Philadelphia then provided gunfire support for the Allied invasion of southern France. After bombarding German positions along the coast of southern France, the ship returned to Philadelphia on 6 November.
Philadelphia underwent a major overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and, after a refresher training cruise for her crew, was ready for another assignment on 4 June 1945. Although the war in Europe had ended on 8 May 1945, Philadelphia was still a very active warship and was ordered to escort USS Augusta (CA-31), which was carrying President Harry Truman to and from the Potsdam Conference in Europe. Later that year, Philadelphia transported US military personnel home from Europe as part of Operation “Magic Carpet.”
Philadelphia returned to her namesake city and was placed on the “inactive” list on 9 January 1946. She was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 3 February 1947 and was struck from the Navy List on 9 January 1951. As a part of a plan to assist countries that were allied to the United States during the Cold War, USS Philadelphia was sold to Brazil in 1951 and reactivated at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The ship was re-named Barroso (C-11) and served in the Brazilian Navy for more than two decades. Barroso was eventually scrapped in 1973.