New Orleans Class
574' x 61' 9" x 19' 5"
9 x 8" main guns
8 x 5" guns
8 x 50 cal MG
2 x catapults
4 x floatplanes)
Formally CL-32, lead ship in the New Orleans Class of Heavy Cruisers. Laid down 14 March 1931 by New York Navy Yard, launched 12 April 1933, sponsored by Cora S. Jahncke and commissioned 15 February 1934, Captain Allen B. Reed in command.
New Orleans made a shakedown cruise to Northern Europe in May and June 1934, returning to New York 28 June. On 5 July, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt embarked, for a cruise through the Panama Canal and an exercise with the United States Airship Macon (ER-5) off California. The cruise ended at Astoria, Oregon, 2 August, and New Orleans sailed at once for Panama and Cuba. New Orleans exercised off New England into 1935, then visited her namesake city while en route to join Cruiser Division 6 in operations in the eastern Pacific for over a year. She returned to New York from 20 August to 7 December 1936 and was once more in the Pacific early in 1937. Aside from winter training in the Caribbean early in 1939, she served out of California ports. On October 12, 1939 joined the Hawaiian Detachment for exercises, training, and patrol duties.
Moored at Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941, New Orleans was taking power and light from the dock while her engines were under repair. When yard power went out during the attack, the crew fought to raise steam, working by flashlight, while on deck men fired on the Japanese attackers with rifles and pistols. The crew was force to break the locks on the ammunition ready boxes as the keys couldn't be located and 5" 25 AA gun had to be aimed and fired manually without power. The gunners only had the few shells in their ready boxes. The ammunition hoists did not have power making it nearly impossible to get more ammunition topside. The 100lbs shells had to be pulled up the powerless hoists by ropes attached to their metal cases. Every man with no specific job at the moment formed ammunition lines to get the shells to the guns. A number of her crew were injured when a fragmentation bomb exploded closeby. The New Orleans suffered only light damage during the attack.
After the attack, New Orleans convoyed troops to Palmyra and Johnston operation on only 3 of 4 engines. Afterwards, returned to San Francisco on January 13, 1942 for engineering repairs and installation of new search radar and 20mm guns. She sailed February 12, commanding the escort for a troop convoy to Brisbane; then screened a convoy to Nouméa, and returned to Pearl Harbor to join TF 11.
Battle of Coral Sea
TF 11 sortied 15 April to join the task force including USS Yorktown (CV-5) southwest of the New Hebrides. It was this force, together with a cruiser-destroyer group during the Battle of the Coral Sea May 7-8, 1942. During the battle, USS Lexington was mortally damaged and New Orleans stood by, her men diving overboard to rescue survivors and her boat crews were able to save 580 of Lexington's crew who were afterwards landed at Nouméa. New Orleans then patrolled the eastern Solomons until returnng to Pearl Harbor to replenish.
Battle of Midway
New Orleans sailed 28 May, screening USS Enterprise during the Battle of Midway arriving on June 2.
After USS New Orleans replenished at Pearl Harbor, sailing July 7 to rendezvous off Fiji for the invasion of Guadalcanal and Tulagi during which she screened USS Saratoga. Fighting off vicious enemy air attacks August 24 - 25 New Orleans participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. When USS Saratoga was torpedoed August 31, New Orleans guarded her passage to Pearl Harbor, arriving 21 September. With the repaired carrier, New Orleans sailed to Fiji early in November, then proceeded to Espiritu Santo, arriving 27 November to return to action off Guadalcanal.
Battle of Tassafaronga
With four other cruisers and six destroyers, she fought in the Battle of Tassafaronga on the night of 30 November, engaging a Japanese destroyer-transport force. When the flagship USS Minneapolis (CA-36) was hit by two torpedoes. New Orleans, next astern, was forced to sheer away to avoid collision, and ran into the track of a torpedo which ripped off her bow. Bumping down the ship's port side, the severed bow punched several holes in New Orleans' hull. A fifth of her length gone, slowed to 2 knots (4 km/h), and blazing forward, the ship fought for survival. Individual acts of heroism and self-sacrifice along with skillful seamanship kept her afloat, and under her own power she entered Tulagi Harbor near daybreak on December 1st.
Camouflaging their ship from air attack, the crew jury-rigged a bow of coconut logs, and 11 days later, New Orleans sailed to replace a damaged propeller and make other repairs in Sydney, Australia, arriving 24 December.
On March 7, 1943, she was underway for Puget Sound Navy Yard, where a new bow was fitted and all battle damage repaired. The Battle of Tassafaronga, although being a tactical victory for the Japanese, it was a strategic victory for the United States as it was the last effort the Tokyo Express made to resupply their troops on Guadalcanal.
Returning to Pearl Harbor 31 August for combat training, New Orleans next joined a cruiser-destroyer force to bombard Wake Island, 5 October–6 October, repulsing a Japanese torpedo-plane attack. Her next sortie from Pearl Harbor came 10 November when she sailed to fire preinvasion bombardment in the Gilberts 20 November, then to screen carriers striking the eastern Marshalls 4 December. In aerial attacks that day, the new Lexington, namesake of the carrier whose men New Orleans had pulled from the Coral Sea, was torpedoed, and New Orleans guarded her successful retirement to repairs at Pearl Harbor, arriving 9 December.
From 29 January 1944, New Orleans fired on targets in the Marshalls, hitting air installations and shipping as the Navy took Kwajalein. She fueled at Majuro, then sailed 11 February to join the fast carriers in a raid on Truk, Japanese bastion in the Carolines 17 February–18 February. While air strikes were flown, New Orleans, with other warships circled the atoll to catch escaping ships; the task force's combined gunfire sank a light cruiser, a destroyer, a trawler, and a submarine chaser. The force sailed on to hit the Marianas, then returned to Majuro and Pearl Harbor.
The carriers, with New Orleans in escort, again heaped destruction on targets in the Carolines late in March, then in April, sailed south to support Allied landings at Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura), New Guinea. There, 22 April, a disabled Yorktown plane flew into New Orleans' mainmast, hitting gun mounts as it fell into the sea. The ship was sprayed with gas as the plane exploded on hitting the water, one crewmember was lost, another badly injured, but New Orleans continued in action, patrolling and plane guarding off New Guinea, then joining in further raids on Truk and Satawan, which she bombarded 30 April. She returned to Majuro 4 May.
Preparations were made in the Marshalls for the invasion of the Marianas, for which New Orleans sortied from Kwajalein 10 June. She bombarded Saipan 15 June and 16 June, then joined the screen protecting carriers as they prepared to meet the Japanese Mobile Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. In this last major carrier combat the Japanese were able to mount, American naval aviators and submariners sank three enemy carriers and destroyed almost every aircraft launched against them, 395 in all. The few enemy planes which penetrated to the American carriers were shot down by New Orleans and other escorts. The Marianas operation continued, and Japanese naval aviation was virtually nonexistent after this great victory of 19 June–20 June.
New Orleans made patrols and bombardments on Saipan and Tinian into August, returned to Eniwetok the 13th, and sailed the 28th for carrier raids on the Bonins, bombardments of Iwo Jima, 1 September–2 September, and direct air support for the invasion of the Palaus. After reprovisioning at Manus, the task force assaulted Okinawa, Formosa, and Northern Luzon, destroying Japanese land-based aviation which otherwise would have threatened the landings on Leyte 20 October. The carriers continued to send raids, aiding troops ashore, as they prepared to meet the Japanese, who were sending almost every surface ship left afloat in one great effort to break up the Philippines operation. New Orleans guarded her carriers as they joined in the great Battle for Leyte Gulf, first attacking the Japanese Southern Force 24 October, then raiding the Center Force in the Sibuyan Sea, and next destroying the Japanese Northern Force of decoy carriers in the Battle off Cape Engano. The carriers then sped south to aid the gallant escort carriers holding off the powerful Japanese battleship-cruiser force in the Battle off Samar. A stunning American victory was followed by strikes against the retreating Japanese remnant.
After replenishing at Ulithi, New Orleans guarded carriers during raids throughout the Philippines in preparation for the invasion of Mindoro, then late in December sailed for a Mare Island Navy Yard overhaul, followed by training in Hawaii. She returned to Ulithi 18 April 1945, and two days later, departed to give direct gunfire support at Okinawa, arriving 23 April. Here, she dueled with shore batteries and fired directly against the enemy lines. After nearly two months on station, she sailed to replenish and repair in the Philippines, and was at Subic Bay when hostilities ceased.
New Orleans received 17 battle stars for World War II service. Other honors include 5 Navy Crosses, 10 Silver Stars, 1 Bronze Star, 1 Air Medal and 206 Purple Hearts awarded to members of her crew
New Orleans sailed 28 August with a cruiser-destroyer force to ports of China and Korea. She covered the internment of Japanese ships at Tsingtao, the evacuation of liberated Allied prisoners-of-war, and the landing of troops in Korea and China, until sailing 17 November from the mouth of the Peking River, carrying veterans homeward bound. More returning troops came aboard at the Sasebo U.S. Fleet Activities base, and all were disembarked at San Francisco 8 December. After similar duty took her to Guam in January 1946 she sailed through the Panama Canal for a 10 day visit to her namesake city, then steamed to Philadelphia Navy Yard, arriving 12 March. There, she decommissioned 10 February 1947 and lay in reserve. On March
1, 1959 struck from the Naval Vessel Register.
On September 22, 1959 sold for scrap to Boston Metals Company in Baltimore, Maryland and scrapped afterwards.
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
November 16, 2018