USS Guam (CB-2)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Guam.
USS Guam.jpg
USS Guam in 1944
Career (US)
Name: Guam
Ordered: 9 September 1940
Builder: New York Shipbuilding Corporation
Laid down: 2 February 1942
Launched: 12 November 1943
Commissioned: 17 September 1944
Decommissioned: 17 February 1947
Struck: 1 June 1960
Identification: Hull number: CB-2
Honors and
awards:
2 battle stars
Fate: Scrapped in May 1961
General characteristics
Class & type: Alaska-class large cruiser
Displacement: Standard: 29,779 long tons (30,257 t)
Full load: 34,253 long tons (34,803 t)
Length: 808 ft 6 in (246.4 m)
Beam: 91 ft 1 in (27.8 m)
Draft: 31 ft 10 in (9.7 m)
Installed power: 153,000 shp (114,000 kW)
8 Babcock & Wilcox water-tube boilers
Propulsion: 4 shafts
General Electric steam turbines
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph)
Range: 12,000 nmi (22,000 km; 14,000 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Crew: 1,517
Armament: 9 × 12"/50 caliber (305 mm),
12 × 5 in (127 mm) guns
56 × 40 mm (1.6 in) guns
34 × 20 mm (0.79 in) guns
Armor: Belt: 9 in (229 mm)
Turrets: 12.8 in (325 mm)
Deck: 4 in (102 mm)
Aircraft carried: 4

USS Guam (CB-2) was an Alaska-class large cruiser which served with the United States Navy during the end of World War II. She was the second and last ship of her class to be completed. The ship was the second vessel of the US Navy to be named after the island of Guam, an American territory in the Pacific. Due to her commissioning late in the war, Guam saw relatively limited service during the war. She participated in operations off Okinawa in March–July 1945, including providing anti-aircraft defense for the carrier task force and conducting limited shore bombardment operations. She participated in sweeps for Japanese shipping in the East China and Yellow Seas in July–August 1945. After the end of the war, she assisted in the occupation of Korea and transported a contingent of US Army troops back to the United States. She was decommissioned in February 1947 and placed in reserve, where she remained until she was stricken in 1960 and sold for scrapping the following year.

Description and construction[edit]

Main article: Alaska-class cruiser
Guam as she appeared in 1944

Guam was authorized under the Fleet Expansion Act on 19 July 1940, and ordered on 9 September.[1] She was laid down on 2 February 1942 at the New York Shipbuilding in Camden, New Jersey. She was launched on 12 November 1943, after which fitting-out work was effected. The ship was completed by September 1944, and she was commissioned into the US Navy on 17 September, under the command of Captain Leland Lovette.[2][3] She cost the US Navy $67,053,828 at her completion.[4]

The ship was 808 feet 6 inches (246.43 m) long overall and had a beam of 91 ft 1 in (27.76 m) and a draft of 31 ft 10 in (9.70 m). She displaced 29,779 long tons (30,257 t) as designed and up to 34,253 long tons (34,803 t) at full combat load. The ship was powered by four General Electric geared steam turbine sets, each driving one propeller, and eight oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers rated at 150,000 shaft horsepower (110,000 kW) and a top speed of 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph). The ship had a cruising range of 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km; 14,000 mi) at a speed of 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph).[5][6] She carried four floatplanes, housed in two hangars,[7] with a pair of aircraft catapults mounted amidships.[8]

The ship was armed with a main battery of nine 12 inch L/50 Mark 8 guns in three triple gun turrets, two in a superfiring pair forward and one aft of the superstructure.[Note 1] The secondary battery consisted of twelve 5-inch L/38 dual-purpose guns in six twin turrets. Two were placed on the centerline superfiring over the main battery turrets, fore and aft, and the remaining four turrets were placed on the corners of the superstructure. The light anti-aircraft battery consisted of 56 quad-mounted 40 mm (1.6 in) Bofors guns and 34 single-mounted 20 mm (0.79 in) Oerlikon guns.[5] A pair of Mk 34 gun directors aided gunlaying for the main battery, while two Mk 37 directors controlled the 5-inch guns and a Mk 57 director aided the 40 mm guns.[9] The main armored belt was 9 in (229 mm) thick, while the gun turrets had 12.8 in (325 mm) thick faces. The main armored deck was 4 in (102 mm) thick.[5]

Guam was laid down on 2 February 1942 by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, in Camden, New Jersey, launched on 12 November 1943, and commissioned on 17 September 1944.[2] She received the first operational SC Seahawk floatplanes in October.[10]

Service history[edit]

Guam left Philadelphia on 17 January 1945, after completing her shakedown cruise off Trinidad. She proceeded through the Panama Canal to join the United States Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, which she reached on 8 February. While there, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal visited the ship. On 3 March, she departed Hawaii for Ulithi, where she joined her sister Alaska on 13 March. Shortly thereafter, Guam and the rest of Task Force 58, the main strike force of the US Navy under the command of Admiral Arthur W. Radford, departed for a raid on the mainland Japanese islands of Kyushu and Shikoku. Task Force 58 arrived off Japan on the morning of 18 March and was quickly attacked by Japanese kamikazes and bombers. Guam was detached from the unit to escort the badly damaged carrier Franklin back to port, which lasted until 22 March.[4]

Guam's main battery firing during gunnery practice

Guam then returned to Task Force 58, assigned to Cruiser Division 16, part of Task Group 58.4, and steamed to Okinawa. On the night of 27–28 March, Guam and the rest of Cruiser Division 16 bombarded the airfield on Minamidaitō. After concluding the bombardment, Guam returned to the carrier screen while they conducted operations off Nansei Shoto until 11 May. The ship then steamed to Ulithi for periodic maintenance and to replenish ammunition and supplies. She then returned to Okinawa, assigned to Task Group 38.4 of William Halsey's Third Fleet. She continued to provide anti-aircraft defense for the carriers while they launched fighter sweeps of Kyushu.[4] Guam and Alaska bombarded Oki Daitō for an hour and a half on 9 June, after which they steamed to San Pedro Bay in the Leyte Gulf, arriving on 13 June.[11]

After returning to Okinawa in July, Guam was assigned to Cruiser Task Force 95, where she served as the flagship,[4] along with her sister Alaska, under the command of Rear Admiral Francis S. Low.[12] On 16 July, Guam and Alaska conducted a sweep into the East China and Yellow Seas to sink Japanese shipping. They had only limited success, however, and returned to the fleet on 23 July. They then joined a major raid, which included three battleships and three escort carriers, into the estuary of the Yangtze River off Shanghai. Again, the operation met with limited success,[13] and they returned to Okinawa by 7 August.[4]

Shortly after returning to Okinawa, Guam became the flagship of the North China Force, again commanded by Rear Admiral Low. The unit was tasked with showing the flag in the region, including the ports of Tsingtao, Port Arthur, and Dalian.

Post war[edit]

On 8 September, Guam entered Jinsen, Korea, to assist in the occupation of the country. She left Jinsen on 14 November bound for San Francisco, carrying a group of Army soldiers back to the United States. She arrived in port on 3 December and departed two days later for Bayonne, New Jersey, arriving on the 17th. She remained there until she was decommissioned on 17 February 1947.

She was then assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, where she remained until she was stricken from the Navy List on 1 June 1960. She was sold on 24 May 1961 for $423,076 to the Boston Metals Company in Baltimore. She was towed to the shipbreakers on 10 July 1961.[14] Guam had served only 29 months on active duty.[15] In the course of her career, she received two battle stars for her service during World War II.[3]

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ L/50 refers to the length of the gun in terms of calibers. An L/50 gun is 50 times long as it is in bore diameter.
Citations
  1. ^ Friedman, p. 301
  2. ^ a b Garzke & Dulin, p. 187
  3. ^ a b "Guam". Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Egan, p. 32
  5. ^ a b c Gardiner & Chesneau, p. 122
  6. ^ Egan, p. 36
  7. ^ Garzke & Dulin, p. 182
  8. ^ Friedman, p. 303
  9. ^ Friedman, p. 483
  10. ^ Swanborough & Bowers, p. 169
  11. ^ Egan, pp. 30–32
  12. ^ Cressman, p. 339
  13. ^ Rohwer, p. 423
  14. ^ Egan, p. 33
  15. ^ Garzke & Dulin, p. 179

References[edit]

  • Cressman, Robert (2000). The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-149-1. 
  • Dulin, Robert O., Jr.; Garzke, William H., Jr. (1976). Battleships: United States Battleships in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-174-2. 
  • Egan, Robert S. (March 1971). "The US Navy's Battlecruisers". Warship International (International Naval Research Organization) VIII (1): 28–51. 
  • Friedman, Norman (1984). U.S. Cruisers: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-718-6. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922–1946. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-913-8. 
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea, 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two. Annapolis, Maryland: US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2. 
  • Swanborough, Gordon; Bowers, Peter M. (1990). United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911 (3rd ed.). London: Putnam Aeronautical Books. ISBN 0-85177-838-0.