Tuesday, April 24, 2012
USS Louisville (CA-28)
Figure 1: USS Louisville (CA-28) photographed during the early 1930s. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Louisville (CA-28) steams past Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, New York City, in 1934. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Louisville (CA-28) "Vanguard of Fleet Honors War Dead." "Veterans and sons of veterans stand at attention at Grant's Tomb as the USS Louisville fires a salute" (quoted from the original photo caption). These Memorial Day ceremonies took place in New York City, 31 May 1934. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Louisville (CA-28) passengers from the British Motor Ship Silver Larch pose with Louisville's Commanding Officer, Captain William S. Farber, upon their arrival at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 14 March 1937. The cruiser had rescued them on the previous day from the burning Silver Larch, about 450 miles northeast of Honolulu. Courtesy of Don S. Montgomery, USN (Retired), 1987. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Louisville (CA-28) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 26 May 1942. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection at the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Louisville (CA-28) steams out of Kulak Bay, Adak, Aleutian Islands, bound for operations against Attu, 25 April 1943. The photograph looks toward Sweepers Cove. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Louisville (CA-28) operating in the Bering Sea during May 1943. She is followed by USS San Francisco (CA-38). Collection of Vice Admiral Robert C. Giffen. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Louisville (CA-28) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 17 December 1943. Her camouflage scheme is probably Measure 32, Design 6d. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: USS Louisville (CA-28) in a Pacific anchorage in 1944, while wearing camouflage Measure 32, Design 6d. This image has been taken from a color motion picture film. Courtesy of Don S. Montgomery, USN (Retired), 1987. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: USS Louisville (CA-28) is hit by a kamikaze in Lingayen Gulf, Philippine Islands, 6 January 1945. Photographed from USS Salamaua (CVE-96). Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: USS Louisville (CA-28) arrives off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, on 6 February 1945 to receive repairs for damage inflicted by two kamikazes a month earlier. The photograph is annotated with details about the suicide plane crashes and the damage inflicted. The ship's camouflage scheme is probably Measure 32, Design 6d. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 12: USS Louisville (CA-28) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 7 April 1945. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection at the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a city in Kentucky, the 9,050-ton USS Louisville was a Northampton class heavy cruiser that was built at the Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton, Washington, and was commissioned on 15 January 1931. Designated CL-28 (for light cruiser) when built, the ship was re-designated CA-28 (for heavy cruiser) shortly after being commissioned in accordance with the provisions of the London Naval Treaty of 1930. Louisville was approximately 600 feet long and 66 feet wide, had a top speed of 32 knots, and had a crew of 621 officers and men. She was armed with nine 8-inch guns, four 5-inch guns, 6 21-inch torpedo tubes, and four aircraft.
Louisville’s shakedown cruise lasted from the summer to the winter of 1931 and it took her from Bremerton, Washington, to New York City via the Panama Canal. The ship returned to the west coast in 1932 to participate in naval exercises and was based at San Diego, California. During the winter of 1933, Louisville steamed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and then returned to the west coast to be used as a training ship for antiaircraft gunnery while based at San Pedro, California. In April 1934, Louisville began a nine-month voyage to “show the flag” in Central America, the Caribbean, and along the gulf and east coasts of the United States. Louisville returned to the west coast in the fall of 1934 to take part in gunnery and tactical naval exercises and then in the spring of 1935 the ship sailed to Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Towards the end of 1935, Louisville returned to Pearl Harbor for yet another round of naval exercises.
For the next two years, Louisville was based on the west coast and participated in major fleet exercises in 1936 and 1937. She also made good-will visits to Latin America. In January 1938, the cruiser began a long Pacific journey that took her to Hawaii, Samoa, Australia, and Tahiti before returning to Pearl Harbor. While in Sydney, Australia, the Louisville’s crew rescued a large number of passengers from a sightseeing ferryboat which had capsized when most of the passengers crowded to the rail to wave the cruiser off.
During the winter of 1939, while World War II had already begun in Europe, Louisville participated in fleet exercises in the Caribbean. She remained in that area until May, when she returned to the west coast. Later that year, the ship left Long Beach, California, for a journey that was to take her through the Panama Canal and to various ports along the eastern coast of South America. While in Bahia, Brazil, Louisville received orders to go to Simonstown, South Africa. Although the United States was still neutral at that time, Louisville had to steam through waters infested with German U-boats. When she arrived at Simonstown, approximately $148 million in British gold was placed on board the ship to be deposited in the United States for safekeeping. Louisville steamed directly to New York City and offloaded the gold and then returned to the Pacific.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Louisville was at sea escorting American ships from the East Indies to Hawaii. She participated in American aircraft carrier raids in the central and southern Pacific in February and March 1942. Later that year, Louisville operated in the Aleutians area, where she was used as a convoy escort and to bombard Kiska Island. In late 1942, the ship was sent to the Solomon Islands and took part in the final months of the Guadalcanal campaign. In late January 1943, she was present during the major Battle of Rennell Island. Louisville was hit by a torpedo during the battle, but fortunately it turned out to be a dud and did no damage to the ship. Louisville did tow the crippled cruiser USS Chicago after the battle, until that job was taken over by the tug USS Navajo.
Louisville returned to the Aleutians in April 1943 and remained there until the United States recaptured the islands of Attu and Kiska from the Japanese. After that, Louisville went to the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, for an extensive overhaul. Once the overhaul was completed, Louisville began a long tour of duty providing heavy gunfire support for American amphibious landings. In this role, the ship bombarded Wotje, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands from January to February 1944. After serving with aircraft carriers on raids in the central Pacific during March and April, Louisville provided invasion support bombardments at Saipan, Tinian, and Guam during June and July 1944, Peleliu in September and Leyte, the Philippines, in October. During the evening of 24-25 October, when what was left of the Japanese battle fleet tried to stop the American landings at Leyte, Louisville participated in the Battle of Surigao Strait, where the United States Navy achieved a major victory over the Japanese Navy.
After the invasion of Leyte, Louisville was assigned to escort aircraft carriers as part of Task Force 38. She participated in pre-invasion bombardments and air strikes against the island of Luzon in the Philippines. By the beginning of January 1945, Louisville was heading towards Lingayen Gulf. At the time, Louisville served as the flagship for Rear Admiral Theodore E. Chandler. On 5 January, a Japanese kamikaze aircraft crashed into Louisville, causing extensive damage. The plane hit the Number 2 turret, killing one man and injuring 59 others. One of the injured crewmembers was the ship’s commanding officer, Captain R.L. Hicks, who was badly burned after the plane exploded and started a large fire. The next day, a kamikaze crashed into the starboard side of the bridge structure, causing even more damage. Standing on the flag bridge at the time was Rear Admiral Chandler, who was badly burned by flaming gasoline after the plane hit the ship. Although seriously wounded, Rear Admiral Chandler assisted in handling a fire hose to combat the fire and then took his turn with the enlisted men for first aid. But the massive flames had severely scorched his lungs and all efforts to save him failed. He died the next day. During this second kamikaze attack, Louisville lost 31 crewmen killed and 56 wounded. But the cruiser continued to shell the beaches and shot down several enemy planes before being ordered to withdraw and sent back to the Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs.
Louisville was again ready for action in the spring of 1945. The cruiser returned to the Pacific and joined Task Force 54 and provided gunfire support for the American troops on Okinawa. On 5 June 1945, Louisville was again hit by a kamikaze. Fortunately, the damage was not too serious and there were no casualties. The sturdy ship remained on station and continued to bombard Japanese positions on Okinawa until ordered back to Pearl Harbor for repairs on 15 June.
By the time the war ended in the Pacific on 14 August 1945, Louisville was repaired and prepared for postwar duties. Louisville supported Allied occupation duties along the Chinese coast but was sent back to the United States in 1946. First arriving at San Pedro, the ship continued on to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she was decommissioned on 17 June 1946. The ship entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet and remained there for the next 13 years. USS Louisville was struck from the Navy list on 1 March 1959 and sold for scrapping on 14 September. Louisville was awarded 13 battle stars for her service during World War II.