USS Detroit (CL-8)

USS Detroit (CL-8)

USS Detroit (CL-8) was a Omaha class light cruiser that served from Pearl Harbor, in the Aleutians and in the South East Pacific during the Second World War, earning six battle stars.

The Detroit was laid down on 10 November 1920, launched on 29 June 1922 and commissioned on 31 July 1923. After her shakedown cruise she joined CruDiv 3, part of the Scouting Fleet (the name then used for the Atlantic fleet). She remained with the Scouting Fleet until June 1927, spending most of her time off the US east coast or in the Mediterranean. One of her first tasks, in September-October 1924, was to serve as one of a series of lifeguard ships posted under the route of the US Army's successful round the world flight (the first aerial circumnavigation of the world).

In March-April 1927 she was part of the US naval force sent to Nicaragua as part of an American intervention in a civil war. On 16 June 1927 she left Boston to become the flagship of the Commander, U.S. Naval Force, Europe. This was largely a diplomatic role and she made goodwill visits to many European ports and hosted several heads of state. She was also used to transport the US Secretary of State F.B. Kellogg from Ireland to France during the 1927 negotiations that led to the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, an international treaty in which most powers agreed not to go to war.

In September 1928 the Detroit joined the Scouting Fleet. She was the flagship for the Commander, Light Cruiser Divisions, from July 1929 until September 1930. In 1931 she moved to the Battle Force in the Pacific and in March 1931 she became the flagship for the, Commander, Destroyer Squadrons, Battle Force. Her home base was San Diego.

The Detroit moved to Pearl Harbor in 1941. She was at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack, and was moored next to the Raleigh (CL-7). Her sister ship was hit by a torpedo but the Detroit was undamaged, and was able to get underway. She was sent to guard the west coast of Oahu against any possible Japanese invasion, then took part in the unsuccessful attempt to catch the retiring Japanese fleet. She was back at Pearl Harbor by 10 December.

For most of the next year the Detroit was used to escort convoys travelling between Pearl Harbor and the US West Coast. She also escorted two convoys to Pago Pago on Samoa in September 1942.

In November 1942 the Detroit became the flagship of Task Group 8.6 in the Aleutians. Her first task was to patrol between Adak and Attu to prevent the Japanese moving further east along the island chain. On 12 January 1943 she covered the unopposed occupation of Amchitka, where the US went on to build bases to use against the Japanese at Attu and Kiska. She then went to Bremerton for repairs (February-March 1943). She returned to the Aleutians in time to take part in the bombardment of Attu in April and the invasion in May. In August she bombarded Kiska, then supported the unopposed invasion of the island (15 August). The Japanese garrison had withdrawn under the cover of the dreadful local weather and nobody had noticed!

In June 1944 the Detroit was part of TF 94 during a bombardment of the Kurile Islands. Later in the same month she left the Aleutians and on 9 August arrived at Balboa to take up a new post as flagship, Southeast Pacific Fleet. From then until December she operated off the west coast of South America.

At the start of February 1945 the Detroit joined the 5th Fleet at Ulithi, where she became the flagship of the replenishment group supporting the fast carrier task force. She performed this role to the end of the war, and was present in Tokyo Bay on 1 September for the Japanese surrender. She continued to work with the replenishment group until 15 October when she left for the US, carrying servicemen being repatriated. This was the end of her career. On 11 January 1946 she was decommissioned and on 27 February she was sold.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



10,000nm at 10kts (design)
8,460nm at 10kts (actual)

Armour – deck


- belt



555ft 6in


55ft 5in

Armaments (as built)

Twelve 6in/53 guns
Two 3in/50 AA guns
Ten 21in torpedo tubes (two triple and two double mountings)

Crew complement


Laid down

10 November 1920


29 June 1922


31 July 1923



Pearl Harbor Attack, USS Detroit (CL-8)

From: The Commanding Officer.
To: Commander-in-Chief, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET.

Subject: URDIS 102102 December 1941.

Set Condition Zed throughout ship.
Manned and fired all A.A. Guns, both 3" and .50 calibre machine guns. Round fired: 422 3" 10,000 .50 calibre.
Two planes were brought down by joint fire of this vessel and Curtiss.
Two men received superficial wounds.
No damage to ship, Motor boat sunk by explosion alongside Nevada.
No case of distinguished conduct.
One aerial torpedo passed about ten yards astern of Detroit at Berth F-13. Believe this torpedo buried in mud or coral between Berths F-12 and F-13.

On a day like today. 1700: Russia gives up its Black Sea fleet as part of a truce with the Ottoman Empire.

1758: British and Hanoverian armies defeat the French at Krefeld in Germany.

1760: Austrian forces defeat the Prussians at Landshut, Germany.

1776: The final draft of Declaration of Independence was submitted to US Congress.

1812: Marine Lt. John Heath became the first casualty of the War of 1812.

1861: The Confederate Navy began the reconstruction of the ex U.S.S. Merrimack as ironclad C.S.S. Virginia at Norfolk.

1863: Confederate forces overwhelm a Union garrison at the Battle of Brasher City in Louisiana.

1865: Confederate General Stand Watie surrenders his army at Fort Towson, in the Oklahoma Territory.

1884: A Chinese Army defeats the French at Bacle, Indochina.

1933: The Navy's last dirigible, the USS Macon, is commissioned.

1st in lineage underachieved

The first U.S. ship to bear the Detroit name represents what may be one of the worst investments in Naval history — British naval history to be precise.

In the midst of the War of 1812, British and American forces traded control of Detroit following incursions into each others’ territory. At one point, following successful capture of the territory, Britain commissioned the construction of the HMS Detroit.

The first USS Detroit started out belonging to the British Royal Navy.
(Photo: US Bureau of Ships)

Built in Amherstburg, Ontario, the Detroit launched in August 1813. A relatively small design made the ship ideal for scouting and carrying dispatches. And roughly a month after the ceremony, the sloop-of-war was engaged with American vessels in the Battle of Lake Erie.

In the rush to control Lake Erie, both sides were sending ships of all sizes and stages of readiness into battle.

“She was 12-guns at the Battle of Lake Erie . not a large ship for the most part,” said Mark Evans, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command. “It was a fierce battle. (The Americans) shot her to pieces and captured her from the British.

“I would say his majesty would have been a bit upset.”

USS Detroit: A new breed of ship for U.S. Navy

When the smoke cleared, however, what was left of the Detroit was barely seaworthy. American ships towed her out of Lake Erie’s open waters and into the safety of Put-in-Bay.

The Detroit stayed there for the next 12 years until she was sold to a private interest.

“She just lay there in Lake Erie — rotting, quite frankly,” Evans said. “Unfortunately, it’s not the most stirring history.”

HMS Detroit

Type: Sloop-of-war

Built at: Maiden, Canada

Launch date: August 1813

Sold in: 1825

Hull material: Wood

Length: 132 feet

Propulsion: Wind

Accommodations: 150

USS Detroit (CL-8)

Built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation of Quincy, Massachusetts, the USS Detroit (CL-8) was the fifth of ten Omaha-class cruisers. Launched on 29 June 1922, she was commissioned on 31 July 1923.

The Detroit joined the Scouting Fleet and operated along the East Coast and in the Mediterranean. She also served on a lifeguard station for the Army around-the-world flight in 1924 and as the flagship for Commander, Light Cruiser Divisions, until 23 November 1924.

In March 1927, the Detroit was dispatched to patrol the Nicaraguan coast. Several months later, she transported U.S. Secretary of State F. B. Kellogg between Ireland and France for talks that led to the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. In the 1930s, the Detroit operated with the Pacific Fleet Battle Force out of San Diego, and in 1941, she was transferred to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Pearl Harbor Ship - USS Detroit (CL-8).. .

Pearl Harbor Ship - USS Detroit (CL-8).
USS Detroit (CL-8) was an Omaha-class light cruiser of the US Navy. She was the fourth Navy ship named for the City of Detroit, Michigan. She was at Pearl Harbor, her home port, on 7 December 1941 and successfully defended herself against attacking aircraft and was able to sortie that afternoon in search of the Japanese Fleet.

This is a 33" X 58" Dettra "Bulldog" brand cotton bunting 48-star flag with double appliqué stars and sewn stripes and finished with a canvas header with two brass grommets. It is marked: "USS Detroit (CL-8)" and has a Dettra marker mark and size designation of 3 X 5.

Commissioned in 1923, the Detroit started her career as a scout cruiser, smaller, faster, and more lightly armed and armored than protected cruiser, but larger than contemporary destroyers. In 1924, she supported the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe before reporting to the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. On 7 December she was anchored north of Ford Island, the last ship in a row formed by Tangier, Utah, Raleigh and Detroit. The ships moored ahead of her bore the brunt of the attack and Detroit, undamaged, was able to amount an effective anti-aircraft defense and get underway. The Detroit took up convoy escort duty and delivered to San Francisco the Philippine gold and silver evacuated from Corregidor by submarine before being assigned to Alaskan waters where she remained until l944. She next was assigned to the Southeast Pacific Force where she served as flagship. After a refit in San Francisco, Detroit rejoined the Pacific Fleet as the flagship for the fast attack carrier replenishment force, which she did until the end of the war. Detroit was at Tokyo Bay for the Japanese Surrender, one of the few Pearl Harbor survivor ships present. After the surrender, she had occupation duties until serving in Operation Magic Carpet, to return US servicemen to the states. This flag would be appropriate for a collector of WWII, the War in the Pacific, the Aleutians Campaign and Pearl Harbor artifacts.

The awards of the USS Detroit are: Navy Combat Action Ribbon Navy Expeditionary Medal Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal American Defense Service Medal with FLEET Clasp American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with six campaign stars World War II Victory Medal - Navy WWII Occupation Medal with ASIA Clasp.

The Detroit's flag is in Good condition - used, worn and soiled, but otherwise intact.

This flag was formerly in the collection of Dr. Clarence Rungee, and is accompanied by his original museum inventory sheet with identifying information.

For those who did not receive a hard copy of the auction catalog, we present here the introductory comments and history of Dr. Rungee and his remarkable collection. If you scroll further, you will also find various contemporary newspaper articles, as well as a selection of the many letters of donation and transmittal which accompanied the collection and a categorization of the collection.

USS Detroit (CL-8) - History

The name is USS Detroit is almost as old as the US Navy itself. The first USS Detroit started as the HMS Detroit and served with the Royal Navy. She was a 20 gun brig that was built at the Amherstburg Royal Navy Dockyard in Amherstburg, Ontario. Amerherstburg is about 20 miles or so south of Detroit and used to serve as the home of Boblo Island.
So how did a ship that originally belonged to the Royal Navy become a US Navy ship? She was captured during the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813. After the battle she was used as a hospital ship. Three days after her capture, a gale swept Lake Erie and demasted her, effectively making her a hulk. She was then towed to Erie, PA and eventually sold for scrap in 1925.

The next USS Detroit never came to be. She was intended to be a screw steamer and was laid down in 1865 at the New York Navy Yard. However, the Civil War ended and she was finally cancelled and broken up.

The third USS Detroit was launched as the USS Canadaigua in 1862. She was named after a city and lake in New York. She first took part in the blockade of Charleston, SC. She captured a few ships as part of her blockade duty. In 1863 to 1864, she operated with the US Army in order to capture the fort in Charleston. On February 17, 1864, she rescued 150 survivors from the USS Housatonic after she was torpedoed by the Confederate Navy's CSS Hunley. She was decommissioned in 1865.

In 1869, she was recommissioned as the USS Detroit but she would only wear that name briefly and would regain her original name. In 1875, she was again decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1884.

The current USS Detroit (LCS-7) was built by the Marinette Marine Company in Marinette, Wisconsin. She is the fourth Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship which is a ship designed to operated closer to the shore than other ships. She was launched in October 2014 and will be commissioned in her namesake city on October 22, 2016. She will be the first USS Detroit commissioned in Detroit.

The last picture is mine from this afternoon. The rest come from Wikipedia.


Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 3, 2021: Crossing the Delaware to See the World

Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Here we see the Old Glory flying from the stern of the four-piper Omaha-class light (scout) cruiser, USS Trenton (CL-11) as she sits in dry dock at South Boston’s Charleston Navy Yard, 6 December 1931. Note the narrow destroyer-like beam, her four screws, and the curious arrangement of stacked 6-inch guns over her stern. She would specialize in waving that flag around the globe

The Omaha class

With the country no doubt headed into the Great War at some point, Asst. Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt helped push a plan by the brass to add 10 fast “scout cruisers” to help screen the battle line from the enemy while acting as the over-the-horizon greyhound of the squadron, looking for said enemy to vector the fleet to destroy.

As such, speed was a premium for these dagger-like ships (they had a length-to-beam ratio of 10:1), and as such these cruisers were given a full dozen Yarrow boilers pushing geared turbines to 90,000 shp across four screws. Tipping the scales at 7,050 tons, they had more power on tap than an 8,000-ton 1970s Spruance-class destroyer (with four GE LM2500s giving 80,000 shp). This allowed the new cruiser class to jet about at 35 knots, which is fast today, and was on fire in 1915 when they were designed. As such, they were a full 11-knots faster than the smaller Chester-class scout cruisers they were to augment.

The Artist’s conception of the final class design, made circa the early 1920s by Frank Muller. Ships of this class were: OMAHA (CL-4), MILWAUKEE (CL-5), CINCINNATI (CL-6), RALEIGH (CL-7), DETROIT (CL-8), RICHMOND (CL-9), CONCORD (CL-10), TRENTON (CL-11), MARBLEHEAD (CL-12), and MEMPHIS (CL-13).Catalog #: NH 43051

For armament, they had a dozen 6″/53 Mk12 guns arranged in a twin turret forward, another twin turret aft, and eight guns in Great White Fleet throwback above-deck stacked twin casemates four forward/four aft. These guns were to equip the never-built South Dakota (BB-49) class battleships and Lexington (CC-1) class battlecruisers, but in the end were just used in the Omahas as well as the Navy’s two large submarine cruisers USS Argonaut (SS-166), Narwhal (SS-167), and Nautilus (SS-168).

Besides the curious 6-inchers, they also carried two 3″/50s DP guns in open mounts, six 21-inch torpedo tubes on deck, another four hull-mounted torpedo tubes near the waterline (though they proved very wet and were deleted before 1933), and the capability to carry several hundred sea mines.

Mines on an Omaha class (CL 4-13) light cruiser Description: Taken while the ship was underway at sea, looking aft, showing the very wet conditions that were typical on these cruisers’ after decks when they were operating in a seaway. Photographed circa 1923-1925, before the addition of a deckhouse just forward of the ships’ after twin six-inch gun mount. Donation of Ronald W. Compton, from the collection of his grandfather, Chief Machinist’s Mate William C. Carlson, USN. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 99637

Triple 21-inch torpedo tubes on the upper deck of an Omaha (CL 4-13) class light cruiser, circa the mid-1920s. The after end of the ship’s starboard catapult is visible at the left. Donation of Ronald W. Compton, from the collection of his grandfather, Chief Machinist’s Mate William C. Carlson, USN. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 99639

The subject of our tale was the second U.S. Navy warship named for the New Jersey city famous for the small but pivotal Christmas 1776 battle after Washington crossed the Delaware. The first to blaze that trail on the Naval List was a steam frigate commissioned in 1877 and wrecked by a hurricane in Samoa in 1889.

USS Trenton (1877-1889) Making Sail, probably while in New York Harbor in the mid-1880s. The original print is a letterpress reproduction of a photograph by E.H. Hart, 1162 Broadway, New York City, published circa the 1880s by the Photo-Gravure Company, New York. NH 2909

Authorized in 1916, the new USS Trenton wasn’t laid down at William Cramp & Sons in Philadelphia until August 1920, finally commissioned on 19 April 1924.

Her four-month shakedown cruise ran some 25,000 miles, taking the shiny new cruiser as far as Persia before popping in at the choicest ports in the Mediterranean, circumnavigating the continent of Africa in the process, and ending at the Washington Naval Yard.

USS Trenton (CL-11) photographed circa the mid-1920s. NH 43751

Before her freshman year was up, two of her plankowners would earn rare peacetime Medals of Honor– posthumously.

While Trenton carried out gunnery drills about 40 miles off the Virginia capes on 24 October 1924, powder bags in her forward turret exploded, killing or injuring every man of the gun crew. The explosion erupted with such force that it thrust open the rear steel door and blew five men overboard, one of whom, SN William A. Walker, drowned. During the ensuing fire, Ens. Henry C. Drexler and BM1c George R. Cholister attempted to dump powder charges into the immersion tank before they detonated but the charges burst, killing Drexler, and fire and fumes overcame Cholister before he could reach his objective, and he died the following day.

After repairs and mourning, Trenton spent the next 15 years enjoying much better luck, busy sailing around the globe, participating in the standard peacetime work of Fleet Problems, exercises, foreign port calls, and the like. During much of this period, she served as a cruiser division flagship. About as hairy as it got during these happy days was putting a landing force ashore in China during unrest, a trip to take Marines from Charleston to Nicaragua in 1928, and responding to a 1930 revolt in Honduras during the Banana Wars.

USS TRENTON (CL-11) Carrying the U.S. secretary of the navy and the president of Haiti pass in review of the U.S. fleet, off Gonaives, Haiti, about 1925. USS ARIZONA (BB-39) is the nearest battleship. NH 73962

USS Trenton (CL-11) Flagship of Commander Light Cruiser Divisions, Scouting Fleet, underway at sea in April 1927. She has the Assistant Secretary of the Navy on board. NH 94168

USS Trenton in dry dock, South Boston, Dec 6, 1931, Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection.

Another of Leslie Jones’ superb shots, note her weapon layout.

A great view of her rudder and screws from the same collection.

And a bow-on shot, sure to be a hit with fans of dry docks. The slim profile of the Omahas is in good display here.

USS TRENTON (CL-11) In Pearl Harbor during the later 1930s. Color tinted photo, reproduced by the ship’s service store, Submarine Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, circa 1938. Collection of Rear Admiral Frank A. Braisted, USN ret., who was TRENTON’s commanding officer in 1937-38 NH 91636-KN

USS TRENTON (CL-11) in San Diego Harbor on 17 March 1934. NH 64630

USS TRENTON (CL-11) view taken at Sydney, N. S. W., in February 1938, during her visit to that port. Note that the ship is “dressed overall” with the Australian flag at the main. Also note French BOUGAINVILLE-class sloop astern. Courtesy of the Oregon Army National Guard, Oregon Military Academy, 1975. NH 82486

View of the commemorative map of the nearly 20,000-mile cruise made from San Diego, U. S. A., to Australia, and back to San Diego, from late 1937 to early 1938. Cruise made by sisterships USS TRENTON (CL-11), USS MILWAUKEE (CL-5), and USS MEMPHIS (CL-13). Courtesy of the Oregon Army National Guard, Oregon Military Academy, 1975. Catalog #: NH 82488

USS TRENTON (CL-11) Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, served in her as ComCruDiv Two from 9 July to 17 September 1938. He has signed this photo. NH 58114

Fita-Fita Guards handling USS Trenton’s lines at Naval Station, Tutuila, Samoa, March 31, 1938. Ironically, a warship of the same name was destroyed in Samoa in 1889 by Neptune. NARA # 80-CF-7991-2

USS Trenton (CL-11) in Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, circa early 1939. Photographed by Tai Sing Loo. Trenton is carrying SOC floatplanes on her catapults. Donation of the Oregon Military Academy, Oregon National Guard, 1975. NH 82489

By June 1939, with the drums of war beating in Europe, our cruiser joined Squadron 40-T, the dedicated task force organized to protect American interests during the Spanish Civil War.

USS TRENTON (CL-11) View taken at Madeira, in the Azores, circa 1939. Note motor launch in the foreground. Courtesy of the Oregon Army National Guard, Oregon Military Academy, 1975. NH 82487

She was swinging at anchor in the idyllic French Riviera port of Villefranche-sur-Mer when Hitler marched into Poland in September.

Squadron 40-T, view taken at Villefranche-Sur-Mer, France, circa 1939, showing USS TRENTON (CL-11) and an unidentified U.S. “Four-pipe” destroyer in Harbor. NH 82493

Over the next 10 months, she would spend much of her time in neutral Portuguese waters awaiting orders, typically as squadron flagship with an admiral aboard. When finally recalled home in July 1940, following the collapse of the Low Countries to the German Blitzkrieg, Trenton carried exiled Luxembourger royals to America at the behest of the State Department.

Switching Europe for Asia, Trenton was ordered to the Pacific in November, and she was soon busy escorting transports carrying men and equipment to the Philippines with stops at scattered outposts such as Midway, Wake Island, and Guam, all of which would soon become battlegrounds.

By the time the balloon went up on 7 December 1941, our cruiser was moored at Balboa in the Panama Canal Zone, where she had been assigned on orders of ADM Stark to be ready to prowl the Eastern Pacific for enemy shipping and commerce raiders in the event of a real-live war.

Her first mission of WWII was to escort the joint Army-Navy Bobcat Force (Task Force 5614) to the French colony of Bora Bora in late January 1942, an operation that saw the first use of the Navy’s new Seabee units.

U.S. Navy ships in Teavanui Harbor in February 1942. The town of Vaitape is in the left-center. The cruiser and destroyer on the right are USS Trenton (CL-11) with four smokestacks, and USS Sampson (DD-394). An oiler is in the center distance. #: 80-G-K-1117.

While fast and with long legs, the Omaha class cruisers were under-armed and under-armored for 1940s fleet actions, a role that relegated them to the periphery of the conflict. As noted by Richard Worth in his Fleets of World War II:

The fleet sought a way to turn the Omahas into something valuable. Proposals included a conversion to carrier-cruiser hybrids or a complete reconstruction into aircraft carriers. A more realistic plan would have specialized the ships as AA escorts, retaining their twin mounts with a new DP battery of seven 5-inch guns, but the navy didn’t bother.

With that, Trenton kicked her heels for most of the war ranging from the Canal Zone to the Straits of Magellan, visiting the west coast ports of South America, the Juan Fernandez Islands, the San Felice chain, the Cocos, and the Galapagos, keeping an eye peeled for Axis vessels which never materialized.

USS TRENTON (CL-11) Underway off Bona Island in the Gulf of Panama, 11 May 1943. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Bow view. #: 19-N-44442

Same series, # 19-N-44440. Note, her seaplanes appear to be Kingfishers

In the same series, note the depth charge racks on her stern, something you don’t see a lot of on a cruiser. #: 19-N-44438

Following a two-month refit at Balboa, she shipped North for San Francisco in July 1944, cleared to finally get into the action.

When she left Panama, she had her war paint on.

USS Trenton (CL-11) underway in the Gulf of Panama, 14 July 1944. She is wearing camouflage Measure 33, Design 2f. #: 19-N-68655

USS Trenton (CL-11) in San Francisco Bay, California, 11 August 1944. Note her large SK annetnna atop the mast. The SK was a surface search radar capable of picking up a large airborne target, such as a bomber, at 100nm and a smallish surface contact, for example, a destroyer, at 13nm. She is wearing camouflage Measure 33, Design 2f. # 19-N-91697

Arriving at Adak in the Aleutian Islands on 2 September 1944, she joined the North Pacific Force as a unit of Cruiser Division One. She would soon be running amok in the Japanese Kuriles chain, alongside other members of her class such as sisterships USS Richmond and USS Concord (CL-10), who had, like Trenton, up to that time had spent most of the war in the Southeastern Pacific.

From her Trenton’s official War History, which is online at the National Archives:

Trenton fired her first shots against the enemy on 5 January 1945 in a bombardment of shore installation at Surubachi Wan, Paramushiru. There followed more shore bombardments against Kurabu Zaki, Paramushiru, on 18 February Matsuwa on 15 March and 10 and 11 June. On this last raid, Trenton, along with other units of Task Force 92, made an anti-shipping sweep inside the Kurile chain during daylight hours of 11 June before firing the second night’s bombardment. Targets on these islands included fish canneries, air strips, and hangars, radar and gun installations, and bivouac areas. Aerial reconnaissance showed substantial damage inflicted in these shellings by Task Force 92.

Trenton’s guns got a heck of a workout during this period. For instance, in the 15 March raid on Matsuwa alone, they fired 457 Mk. 34 high capacity, 18 Mk. 27 common, and 14 Mk. 22 illum shells in a single night. This was accomplished in 99 salvos fired at an average rate of 4.95 salvos per minute, or 22.45 shells per minute. A star shell was set to burst every sixth salvo, providing “excellent illumination,” while the ship used her SG radar to furnish ranges and bearings and Mk 3 radar to check range to the land from fire bearings with correction adjusted accordingly. The firing was done from 13,000 yards and ran for just 21 minutes. Not bad shooting!

The cruiser also helped put some licks in on Japanese surface contacts.

Trenton’s last war-time action occurred 23 to 25 June, when the task force again made an anti-shipping sweep along the central Kuriles. With the force split over a wider area, the other unit made contact with the enemy inside the chain. By sinking five ships out of a small convoy [the auxiliary submarine chasers Cha 73, Cha 206, and Cha 209, and guard boat No. 2 Kusunoki Maru, sunk and the Cha 198 damaged], Task Force 92 disclosed the presence of U.S. Naval Forces in the Sea of Okhotsk and set off a wave of alarm in the Japanese press and radio. Fear of this “formidable task force prowling the northern home waters of Japan,” coupled with the increased attacks by Task Forces 38 and 58 to the south, convinced the Japanese that they were at last surrounded and added to their discouragement which led to the surrender in August.

Steaming for San Francisco to get an overhaul in for the final push on the Home Islands, Trenton was there when the war ended. Ordered to proceed to Philadelphia via the Canal that she spent most of the war protecting, she arrived there just before Christmas 1945 and was decommissioned. Like the rest of her class, there was little use for her in a post-war Navy filled with shiny new and much more capable cruisers, so they were liquidated entirely and without ceremony.

Of her sisters, they proved remarkably lucky, and, though all nine saw combat during the war– including Detroit and Raleigh who were at Pearl Harbor– none were sunk. The last of the class afloat, USS Milwaukee (CL-5) was sold for scrap at the end of 1949, mainly because after 1944 she had been loaned to the Soviets as the Murmansk.

As for Trenton, she was stricken from the Navy List on 21 January 1946 and later sold for $67,228 to the Patapsco Scrap Co. along with sistership Concord, who reportedly fired the last naval bombardment of the war.

Trenton had a string of 15 skippers in her short 21-year career, four of whom would go on to put on admiral’s stars including ADM “Old Dutch” Kalbfus who commanded the battlefleet on the eve of WWII, the long campaigning VADM Joseph Taussig, and ADM Arthur Dewey Struble who led the 7th Fleet during the miracle landings at Inchon.

One of the most tangible remnants of the vessel is the State silver service that she carried for most of her career. Originally made for the first battleship USS New Jersey (BB-16) in 1905 by Tiffany & Co., Trenton became caretaker of the 105-piece set when she was commissioned as the obsolete Virginia class of pre-dreadnought was disposed of as part of the Washington Naval Treaty in 1920. Trenton turned the set back over to the Navy during WWII for safekeeping and it was eventually presented to the Iowa-class battlewagon (BB-62) post-war. Today half the set, which is still owned by the Navy, is at the New Jersey Governor’s Mansion while the other half is on display in a secure case in the captain’s quarters of the Battleship New Jersey museum.

Silver service of USS NEW JERSEY then on USS TRENTON, 1933. NH 740

The Navy has recycled the name “Trenton” twice since 1946. The first for an Austin-class amphibious dock (LPD-14) which served from 1971 through 2007 and is still in service with the Indian Navy as INS Jalashwa (L41), a name which translates roughly into “seahorse.”

An undated file photo of a starboard bow view of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Trenton (LPD 14) underway. Trenton was one of several ships that participated in Operation Praying Mantis, which was launched after the guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) struck an Iranian mine on April 14, 1988. (U.S. Navy photo 30416-N-ZZ999-202 by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Bates/Released)

The fourth and current Trenton is an MSC-operated Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (T-EPF-5), in-service since 2015.

1946 Jane’s plan, by which time only Milwaukee was still in service– with the Soviets!

Displacement: 7,050 long tons (7,163 t) (standard) 9,508 full load
Length: 555 ft. 6 in oa, 550 ft. pp
Beam: 55 ft.
Draft: 14 ft. 3 in (mean), 20 feet max
Machinery: 12 × Yarrow boilers, 4 × Westinghouse reduction geared steam turbines, 90,000 ihp
Range: 8460 nm at 10 knots on 2,000 tons fuel oil
Speed: 35 knots estimated design, 33.7 knots on trials
Sensors: SK, 2 x SG, 2 x Mk 3 radars fitted after 1942
Crew: 29 officers 429 enlisted (peacetime)
Belt: 3 in
Deck: 1 1⁄2 in
Conning Tower: 1 1⁄2 in
Bulkheads: 1 1⁄2–3 in
Aircraft carried: 2 × floatplanes (typically Vought O2U-1 then Curtiss SOC Seagulls), 2 amidships catapults
2 × twin 6 in /53 caliber
8 × single 6 in /53 caliber
2 × 3 in /50 caliber guns anti-aircraft
6 × triple 21 in torpedo tubes
4 × twin 21 in torpedo tubes
224 × mines (capability removed soon after completion)
2 × twin 6 in/53 caliber
6 × single 6 in/53 caliber
8 × 3 in/50 caliber anti-aircraft guns
6 × triple 21 in torpedo tubes
3 × twin 40 mm Bofors guns
14 × single 20 mm Oerlikon cannons

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Forgotten on the Far Side of Ford Island: USS Utah, USS Detroit, USS Raleigh and USS Tangier

When you visit Pearl Harbor most eyes are drawn to the USS Missouriand the USS Arizona Memorial on Battleship Row. On the mooring quays the names of the Battleships California, Oklahoma, Maryland, West Virginia, Tennesseeand Arizonamark the places where the proud Battle Force of the U.S. Pacific fleet was moored on the fateful morning of December 7 th 1941. Movies such as Tora! Tora! Tora!, In Harm’s Wayand Pearl Harborhave recorded the attack in varying degrees of accuracy for audiences worldwide in the 1960s, 1970s and 2000s. All record the attack on Battleship row and the attacks on the Army Air Corps at Hickam Field but all overlook the former battleship moored on the west side of Ford Island, the two elderly light cruisers and the Seaplane Tender moored nearby.

USS Utah AG-16 in 1935

Of course these ships hold little interest to most people, they were elderly, Utah had been converted to a gunnery training ship years before and the Omaha Class light cruisers Raleighand Detroit were obsolescent and after Pearl Harbor would serve in the backwaters of the Pacific war. The Tangier a new Seaplane Tender occupied the berth aft of Utah.

The USS Utah AG-16, ex-BB-31 was one of the early U.S. Navy Dreadnought battleships of the Florida Class. Utah was 521 feet long, displaced 21,825 tons and mounted 10 12” guns making her comparable to British Dreadnoughts of the Neptune and Colossus class and slightly inferior to the German Helgoland class. Utah was commissioned on 31 August 1911 and served at the Vera Cruz incident where a Naval “battalion” of 17 officers and 371 her prevented the delivery of arms from Germany to Mexican dictator Victoriano Huerta. The in the clash with Huerta’s forces the sailors distinguished themselves earning 7 Congressional Medals of Honor.

Utah served as part of the U.S. Battle Squadron sent to operate with the Royal Navy operating out of Ireland conducting convoy protection missions and preparing to engage the German High Seas Fleet if called upon. Utah served from 1919-1931 as a battleship conducting training and goodwill missions to Europe and South America before being converted to a gunnery training and target ship (AG16) in 1931 per the stipulations of the Washington Naval Conference. In 1941 she was modernized and equipped with weapons being installed on modern destroyers before resuming training duties with the fleet at Pearl Harbor.

On the morning of December 7 th Utah was moored on the West side of Ford Island and at colors the ship was struck by a torpedo forward and began to heal to port. With the flooding causing the list to increase the senior officer on the ship, LCDR Isquith the Chief Engineer ordered Utah abandoned and while most of the crew was able to escape some were trapped below including Chief Water Tender Peter Tomich who remained below to ensure that the boilers were secured and his sailors safely out of the boiler rooms. Tomich was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his sacrifice. By 0812 the mooring cables had snapped and Utah lay on her beam sinking into the harbor her war over. 6 Officers and 58 crewmen died the majority trapped in the ship. The ship would be partially righted to clear an adjacent berth in 1944.

The Raleigh and Detroit were Omaha Class Light Cruisers 555 feet long, displacing 7050 tons and mounting 12 6” guns and 10 21” torpedo tubes and were capable of 3 knots. This made them more heavily armed than the contemporary Japanese Nagara Class or the British C, D or E Class light cruisers and larger than all but the two ship E Class. However by the beginning of the war they were inferior to all newly constructed ships.

USS Raleigh CL-7 fighting to stay afloat

The cruiser Raleigh took a torpedo that caused her to list so sharply that it was feared she would capsize, however the heroic efforts of her crew and service force craft and sailors kept her afloat and allowed her to fight another day. Most of her war would be fought in the Aleutians and following the war she would be decommissioned and scrapped.

USS Detroit CL-8 1945, final configuration

Detroit was able to get underway during the attack and avoid damage to join other ships which had escaped to form an ad hoc task group to find the Japanese strike force. She would also serve in the Aleutians through 1944 when she became flagship of the Replenishment Group servicing the U.S. Carrier Task Forces of the 3 rd and the 5 th Fleets. She would be present in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the peace treaty ending the war. She too would be decommissioned and scrapped shortly after the war.

Tangier would serve in many parts of the Pacific as a mobile base for PBY Catalina’s which conducted reconnaissance, anti-submarine and search and rescue operations in support of the fleet for the duration of the war. She was decommissioned in 1947 and sold for scrap in 1961.

USS Utah Memorial (Google Earth)

Today a monument is located on Ford Island near the rusting hulk of the Utah. It replaced a bronze plaque which had been placed on the wreck in the late 1940s. The Memorial was officially dedicated on Memorial Day 1972. The monument is not listed on most tourist brochures and the memorial attracts few visitors. I was able to visit the memorial in 1978 while on a Navy Junior ROTC Cadet Cruise to Pearl Harbor and back. The official USS Utah association website is linked here: and the Historical Naval Ships Association webpage on Utah is here: and the Naval History and Heritage Webpage is here:

The Raleigh, Detroit and Tangier have no memorials. Despite the anonymity of these ships and the men who served on them they all played a role in the war and they should not be forgotten.

Cost of Living 1967

1967 the continued presence of American troops increased further and a total of 475,000 were serving in Vietnam and the peace rallies were multiplying as the number of protesters against the war increased. The Boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing world championship for refusing to be inducted into the US Army. In the middle east Israel also went to war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan in the six day war and when it was over Israel controlled and occupied a lot more territory than before the war. Once again in the summer cities throughout America exploded in rioting and looting the worst being in Detroit on July 23 where 7000 national Guard were bought in to restore law and order on the streets. In England a new type of model became a fashion sensation by the name of Twiggy and mini skirts continued to get shorter and even more popular with a short lived fashion being paper clothing. Also during this year new Discotheques and singles bars appeared across cities around the world and the Beatles continued to reign supreme with the release of "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band" album, and this year was also coined the summer of love when young teenagers got friendly and smoked pot and grooved to the music of "The Grateful Dead. Jefferson Airplane and The Byrds". The movie industry moved with the times and produced movies that would appeal to this younger audience including "The Graduate" Bonnie and Clyde" and "Cool Hand Luke" . TV shows included "The Fugitive" and "The Monkees" and color television sets become popular as the price comes down and more programmes are made in color.

USS Detroit by the numbers

Hull: Advanced steel monohull
Length Overall: 118.6 meters (389 feet)
Beam Overall: 17.5 meters (57 feet)
Draft: 4.1 meters (13.5 feet)
Beam Overall: 4.1 meters (13.5 feet)
Full Load Displacement: Approximately 3,400 metric tons
Top Speed: Greater than 40+ knots (46 mph)
Propulsion: Combined diesel and gas (CODAG) turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
Hangar Space: Two H-60 helicopters (either MH-60S or MH-60R) and up to three VTUAV helicopters (MQ-8B or MQ-8C Firescout).
Core Crew: 50 Accommodations for 98 sailors
Integrated Bridge System: Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite: Includes 3D air search radar (4D in hulls after LCS 17), Rolling Airframe Missile (SeaRAM after LCS 17), medium caliber 57-mm Mk 110 deck gun, EO/IR gunfire control system and decoy launching system.