USS Portland (CA-33)

USS Portland (CA-33) at Pearl Harbor 1942.jpg
USS Portland (CA-33), at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 14 June 1942.
United States
Namesake:City of Portland, Maine
Ordered:13 February 1929
Awarded:15 August 1929
Builder:Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts
Cost:$10,753,000 (contract price)
Laid down:17 February 1930
Launched:21 May 1932
Sponsored by:Mrs. Ralph D. Brooks
Completed:15 August 1932
Commissioned:23 February 1933
Decommissioned:12 July 1946
Struck:1 March 1959
Nickname(s):"Sweet Pea"
Honors and
Bronze-service-star-3d.png Silver-service-star-3d.png 16 × battle stars
Fate:Sold for scrap, 6 October 1959
General characteristics (as built)[1]
Class and type:Portland-class cruiser
Displacement:9,800 long tons (10,000 t) (standard)
  • 610 ft 3 in (186.00 m) oa
  • 582 ft (177 m) wl
Beam:66 ft 1 in (20.14 m)
  • 17 ft 1 in (5.21 m) (mean)
  • 24 ft (7.3 m) (max)
Installed power:
Speed:32.7 kn (60.6 km/h; 37.6 mph)
Range:10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) @ 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Capacity:Fuel oil: 1,600 long tons (1,600 t)
Complement:91 officers 757 enlisted men
Aircraft carried:4 × floatplanes
Aviation facilities:2 × Amidship catapults
General characteristics (1945)[2]
  • 9 × 8 in (200 mm)/55 caliber guns (3x3)
  • 8 × 5 in (130 mm)/25 caliber anti-aircraft guns
  • 2 × 3-pounder 47 mm (1.9 in) saluting guns
  • 4 × quad 40 mm (1.6 in) Bofors anti-aircraft guns
  • 4 × twin 40 mm (1.6 in) Bofors anti-aircraft guns
  • 17 × single 20 mm (0.79 in) Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannons

USS Portland (CL/CA–33), the lead ship of her class of cruiser, was the first ship of the United States Navy named after the city of Portland, Maine.[1] Launched in 1932, she saw a number of training and goodwill cruises in the interwar period. In World War II, she saw extensive service beginning at the 1942 Battle of Coral Sea, where she escorted the aircraft carrier Yorktown and picked up survivors from the sunken carrier Lexington. She screened for Yorktown again in the Battle of Midway, picking up her survivors as well. She then supported the carrier Enterprise during the initial phase of the Guadalcanal Campaign later that year, and was torpedoed during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The torpedo inflicted heavy damage which put her out of action for six months as she was repaired in Sydney, Australia and later San Diego, California.

Returning to action in mid-1943, she saw action in many of the major campaigns of the Pacific War, conducting shore bombardments in support of campaigns at the Aleutian Islands, Gilbert and Marshall Islands, Mariana Islands, and New Guinea. She was involved in the October 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf, engaging Japanese ships in the decisive Battle of Surigao Strait. She then conducted shore bombardments at Lingayen Gulf and Corregidor Island, and in 1945 supported landings during the Battle of Okinawa until the end of the war.

Following World War II, Portland accepted the Japanese surrender in the Caroline Islands and then undertook several Operation Magic Carpet cruises to bring U.S. troops home. She was decommissioned in 1946 and scrapped by 1962. In her extensive service she accrued 16 battle stars, making her one of the most decorated ships in the U.S. fleet.

Design and construction

Portland was the lead ship of the third class of "treaty cruisers" to be constructed by the United States Navy following the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, following the two vessels of the Pensacola class ordered in 1926 and the six vessels of the Northampton class ordered in 1927.[3] Ordered for the U.S. Navy in Fiscal Year 1930. Portland was originally designated as a light cruiser, because of her thin armor, and given the hull classification symbol CL-33. She was reclassified a heavy cruiser, because of her 8-inch guns, with the symbol CA-33 on 1 July 1931, in accordance with the London Naval Treaty.[4]

Portland was designed for a standard displacement of 10,258 long tons (10,423 t), and a full-load displacement of 12,755 long tons (12,960 t).[5] However, Portland only displaced 9,800 long tons (10,000 t) when completed.[6] In 1943, a light tripod was added forward of the second funnel on the ship, and a prominent fire-control director was installed aft.[6]

Her four Parsons GT geared turbines each drove a propeller shaft using steam provided by eight Yarrow boilers. Portland's power plant generated 107,000 shaft horsepower (80,000 kW) and she had a designed maximum speed of 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph).[6] The ship reached, however, 32.7 knots (60.6 km/h; 37.6 mph) on sea trials.[7] She rolled badly until fitted with bilge keels.[4] Portland was designed for a range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).[6]

The ship was armed with a main battery of nine Mark 9 8"/55 caliber guns arrayed in three triple mounts, a superfiring pair forward and one aft. She was armed with eight 5"/25 caliber guns for anti-aircraft defense, and she also had two QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss saluting guns. In 1945, her anti-aircraft defenses were upgraded, receiving twenty four Bofors 40 mm guns which were arranged in four quad mounts and four twin mounts. Portland was also upgraded with seventeen Oerlikon 20 mm cannons.[6]

She was originally designed with 1 inch (25 mm) of armor for deck and side protection, but during construction her armor was increased.[4] As completed, the ship was protected with 3.25 inches (83 mm) of belt armor which increased to 5 inches (130 mm) around the magazines.[8] Her armor was between 2 inches (51 mm) and 5.75 inches (146 mm) thick on the transverse bulkheads, while armor on her main deck was 2.5 inches (64 mm) thick. Armor on her barbettes was 1.5 inches (38 mm) thick, armor on her gunhouses was 2.5 inches (64 mm) thick, and armor on her conning tower was 1.25 inches (32 mm) thick.[6]

Additionally, the Portland-class cruisers were designed with space to be outfitted as fleet flagships, with accommodations for an Admiral and his staff to operate. The class also featured two aircraft catapult amidships,[6] and she could carry four aircraft which were stored in a hangar. Her total crew complement varied, with a regular designed crew complement of 848,[5] a wartime complement of 952, and a complement 1,229 when the cruiser was operating as a fleet flagship.[6]

Portland was laid down by Bethlehem Steel at its Quincy Shipyard on 17 February 1930.[6] The machinery was provided by the builders.[4] Portland was launched on 21 May 1932 and commissioned on 23 February 1933.[6] She was the first ship named for the city of Portland, Maine, and sponsored by the daughter of Ralph D. Brooks of Portland, and with Captain Herbert F. Leary as her first commander.[7] Her sailors would later nickname her "Sweet Pea."[9]