USS Pittsburgh (CA-72)
USS Pittsburgh (CA-72)
|Career (United States)|
|Builder:||Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts|
|Laid down:||3 February 1943|
|Launched:||22 February 1944|
|Commissioned:||10 October 1944|
|Decommissioned:||7 March 1947|
|Recommissioned:||25 September 1951|
|Decommissioned:||28 August 1956|
|Struck:||1 July 1973|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap, 1 August 1974|
|Class and type:||Baltimore-class cruiser|
|Displacement:||13,600 long tons (13,818 t)|
|Length:||673 ft 5 in (205.26 m)|
|Beam:||70 ft 10 in (21.59 m)|
|Draft:||20 ft 6 in (6.25 m)|
|Speed:||33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph)|
|Complement:||1,142 officers and enlisted|
|Armament:||9 × 8 in (203 mm)/55 cal guns
12 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 cal guns
48 × Bofors 40 mm guns
22 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons
The third USS Pittsburgh (CA–72), originally named USS Albany (CA-72), was a Baltimore-class heavy cruiser laid down on 3 February 1943 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's Fore River Shipyard at Quincy, Massachusetts; launched on 22 February 1944, sponsored by Mrs Cornelius D. Scully, wife of the Mayor of Pittsburgh; and commissioned at Boston on 10 October 1944, Capt. John Edward Gingrich in command.
World War II, 1944–1945
Pittsburgh trained along the east coast and in the Caribbean until departing Boston on 13 January 1945 for duty in the Pacific. After calling in Panama and final gunnery exercises in the Hawaiians, she joined TF 58 at Ulithi on 13 February, assigned to TG 58.2 formed around the aircraft carrier Lexington (CV-16).
The force sortied on 10 February to prepare the way for the assault on Iwo Jima. Carrier air strikes against airfields near Tokyo on 16 and 17 February limited Japanese air response to the initial landings on 19 February. That day planes from Pittsburgh's group began direct support to Marines fighting to overcome fierce Japanese resistance on the island. Final strikes against Tokyo's environs on 25 February and 1 March against the Nansei Shoto completed this operation.
The force sailed from Ulithi on 14 March to pound airfields and other military installations on Kyūshū on 18 March, and again the next day. The Japanese struck back at dawn on the 19th, with an air raid which set the carrier Franklin (CV-13) ablaze, her decks utter chaos and power lost. Pittsburgh dashed to the rescue at 30 knots (56 km/h). After saving 34 men from the water, Pittsburgh, with the light cruiser Santa Fe (CL-60), performed an outstanding feat of seamanship in getting a tow line on board the flaming carrier. Pittsburgh then began the agonizingly slow task of pulling the carrier to safety, as the flattop's crew struggled to restore power. Twice gunning off enemy air attacks attempting to finish Franklin, the cruiser continued her effort until noon, on 20 March when Franklin was able to cast off the tow and proceed, albeit slowly, under her own power. Capt. Gingrich had remained at the conn for 48 hours during the situation.
Between 23 March and 27 April, Pittsburgh guarded the carriers as they first prepared for, then covered and supported, the invasion of Okinawa. Enemy airfields were interdicted, and the troops given direct aid from the carriers. Pittsburgh repelled enemy air attacks and launched her scout planes to rescue downed carrier pilots. After replenishing at Ulithi, the force sortied once more on 8 May to attack the Nansei Shoto and Southern Japan in the continuing fight for Okinawa.
Damaged by a typhoon
On 4 June, Pittsburgh began to fight a typhoon which by early next day had increased to 70-knot (130 km/h) winds and 100-foot (30 m) waves. Shortly after her starboard scout plane had been lifted off its catapult and dashed onto the deck by the wind, Pittsburgh's second deck buckled, her bow structure thrust upward, and then wrenched free. Miraculously, not a man was lost. Now her crew's seamanship saved their own ship. Still fighting the storm, and maneuvering to avoid being rammed by the drifting bow-structure, Pittsburgh was held quarter-on to the seas by engine manipulations while the forward bulkhead was shored. After a seven-hour battle, the storm subsided, and Pittsburgh proceeded at 6 knots (11 km/h) to Guam arriving on 10 June. Her bow, nicknamed "McKeesport" (a suburb of Pittsburgh), was later salvaged by the tug Munsee (ATF-107) and brought into Guam.
With a false bow, Pittsburgh left Guam on 24 June bound for Puget Sound Navy Yard, arriving 16 July. Still under repair at war's end, she was placed in commission in reserve on 12 March 1946 and decommissioned on 7 March 1947. The typhoon damage also earned her the nickname "Longest Ship in the World" as literally thousands of miles separated the bow and stern.
Atlantic and Mediterranean, 1951–1954
As the Korean War called for a major restoration of naval strength, Pittsburgh recommissioned on 25 September 1951, Capt. Preston V. Mercer in command. She sailed on 20 October for the Panama Canal, trained out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and prepared at Norfolk for a tour of duty with the 6th Fleet for which she sailed on 11 February 1952. Returning on 20 May, she joined in the Atlantic Fleet's schedule of exercises and special operations in the western Atlantic and Caribbean.
During her second Mediterranean cruise, for which she sailed on 1 December, she flew the flag of Vice Admiral Jerauld Wright, Commander in Chief, Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean for a good-will cruise to the Indian Ocean in January 1953. She returned to Norfolk in May for a major modernization overhaul, but rejoined the 6th Fleet at Gibraltar on 19 January 1954. Once again she carried Admiral Wright to ports of the Indian Ocean during this cruise which ended with her return to Norfolk on 26 May. During the summer of 1954, she engaged in further operations along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean. On 29 July 1954, the Pittsburgh collided with another ship while sailing in the Saint Lawrence River. Damage to the hull was above the waterline and the holes were quickly repaired.
On 21 October 1954, she passed through the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet, with Long Beach her home port. She sailed almost at once for the Far East, calling at Pearl Harbor on 13 November and reaching Yokosuka on 26 November. She joined the 7th Fleet in exercises and to cover the Chinese Nationalist defense of the Tachen Islands and their evacuation of civilians and non-essential military personnel. Leaving Japan on 16 February 1955, she resumed west coast operations until reporting at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on 28 October for inactivation.
Decommissioning and sale, 1956–1974
Pittsburgh went into reserve 28 April 1956, and decommissioned at Bremerton on 28 August 1956. The ship remained there until stricken on 1 July 1973 and sold for scrap on 1 August 1974, to Zidell Explorations Corp., Portland, Oregon.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain. The entry can be found here.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to USS Pittsburgh (CA-72).|
- Photo gallery of USS Pittsburgh at NavSource Naval History
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article
- A film clip Cruiser Bow Ripped Off By Typhoon, 1945/07/23 (1945) is available for free download at the Internet Archive