USS Reno (CL-96)

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USS Reno (CL-96) two days after being torpedoed
USS Reno (CL-96) listing two days after being torpedoed
Career (US)
Name: USS Reno
Builder: Bethlehem Steel Company
Laid down: 1 August 1941
Launched: 23 December 1942
Commissioned: 28 December 1943
Decommissioned: 4 November 1946
Struck: 1 March 1959
Honors and
awards:
Three battle stars during WW II
Fate: Scrapped in 1962
General characteristics
Class & type: Atlanta-class cruiser
Displacement: 8,600 tons
Length: 541 ft (165 m)
Beam: 53 ft 2 in (16.21 m)
Draft: 26 ft 6 in (8.08 m)
Speed: 31 kn (36 mph; 57 km/h)
Complement: 688 officers and enlisted
Armament: 12 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 cal guns, 16 × Bofors 40 mm
Armor: none

USS Reno (CL-96) was an updated Atlanta-class light cruiser - sometimes referred to as the "Oakland-class" - designed and built to specialize in antiaircraft warfare. She was the first warship to be named for the city of Reno, Nevada. The one other USS Reno was a destroyer named for Lt. Commander Walter E. Reno.

The Reno was laid down by Bethlehem Steel Co., at San Francisco, California on 1 August 1941. She was launched on 23 December 1942, and commissioned on 28 December 1943, with Captain Ralph C. Alexander in command. The USS Reno spent her entire service life in the Pacific War, and its immediate aftermath, during 1944 though 1946.

Service history[edit]

Following a shakedown cruise off the coast of San Diego, the USS Reno departed from San Francisco on 14 April 1944, steaming west to join the 5th Fleet, under the command of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. As an active unit in Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force (Task Force 58), the sharp spearpoint of the 5th Fleet, Reno first came in contact with the enemy while supporting minor air raids against Marcus Island on 19–20 May. Three days later, she also supported air strikes on Japanese-held Wake Island.

During the months of June to July 1944, Reno joined the fast aircraft carriers in sudden air attacks against Saipan on 11 June, Pagan Island on 12–13 June, and against the Volcano Islands and the Bonin Islands - namely Iwo Jima, Haha Jima, and Chichi Jima on 15–16 June. Three days later, Reno aided in repelling a large-scale Japanese Navy aircraft carrier task force attempt to defeat the American invasion of the Marianas Islands (including Guam, Saipan, and Tinian, during the huge Battle of the Philippine Sea - the world's largest carrier vs. carrier battle of all time, and an overwhelming victory by the U.S. Navy.

From 20 June to 8 July, Reno joined operations covering the conquest of Saipan. She then covered amphibious landings on Guam from 17-24 July, and two days later, she took part in air strikes against the Palau Islands from 26-29 July. The 5th Fleet then became the 3rd Fleet, as Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., rotated in to command this fleet. Doubling back northward again, one more series of air strikes were made on the Bonin Islands on 4–5 August. Then on 7 September, TF 38 (formerly TF 58) returned south to hit the Palaus again.

After steaming west across the Philippine Sea, Reno and TF 38 carried out some of the first American air raids against the Philippines hitting the southern island of Mindanao, and its adjacent islands, from 9-13 September. TF 58 supported the amphibious landings on two of the Palau's from 15-20 September, and then on 21–22 September, it carried out air strikes against the Manila area of Luzon in the northern Philippines. While striking the island of Nansei Shoto on 8 October, Reno and TF 38 came closer to the Japanese Home Islands than any other major units of the U.S. Navy had been during World War II.

During a huge series of air strikes by TF 38 on Japanese airfields on the previously-touched island of Formosa from 12-14 October, which brought out large counterattacks of Japanese aircraft, Reno shot down at least six enemy aircraft. At the height of this aerial battle, one Imperial Japanese Navy torpedo plane crashed Reno's fantail, exploding and partially incapacitating turret #6, but the turret officer in charge succeeded in maintaining his defensive fire against the attacking Japanese planes.

On 24 October, four days after the amphibious invasion of Leyte, while supporting air strikes against Japanese airfields on Luzon, TF 38 was subjected to a large-scale air attack by land-based aircraft from Clark Field, Luzon. The light aircraft carrier USS Princeton (CVL-23) took the brunt of the attack; she was hit by an aerial bomb and forced to withdraw from the Task Force. Reno was assigned to help fight fires on board Princeton by bringing her fire hoses to bear, and also to rescue her crewmen. Reno closed Princeton five times but could not remain on station because of intense heat and smoke from the burning carrier.

While Reno was assisting Princeton, the carrier began listing and her flight deck struck Reno, crushing one of her 40 mm mounts. Efforts to save the aircraft carrier continued, but when Princeton's torpedo warhead magazine exploded, the effort became hopeless. Reno was ordered to sink Princeton with her own torpedoes. Princeton was the last major U.S. Navy aircraft carrier sunk by an enemy attack.

On 25 October, having rejoined TF 38, Reno and the other warships steamed northward to engage the Japanese Northern Force, setting off the Battle off Cape Engaño, which was the final engagement of the huge, multipart Battle for Leyte Gulf.

On the night of 3 November, well east of the San Bernardino Strait, as part of Admiral Sherman's Task Group 3 (TG 38.3) of Task Force (TF 38) Fast Carrier Task Force, Reno received two torpedo hits on her port side fired from Japanese submarine I-41 while escorting USS Lexington (CV-16). One torpedo lodged in the outer hull of Reno and was later defused. The second hit exploded four decks below topside. This was the first time in almost two years that a Japanese submarine successfully attacked a ship operating with fast carriers.[1] Fortunately, casualties were light: 2 dead, 4 injured.

After a night dead in the water, she survived yet another attempt to sink her by an unknown Japanese submarine firing 3 torpedoes that missed, but was rescued by a destroyer left behind to defend her. Reno was towed 1,500 miles (2,400 km) to the major American base at Ulithi Atoll for some temporary repairs by fleet tug USS Zuni (ATF-95). During this 700 mile voyage, a crew of 242 remained aboard. A total of 1250 tons of seawater was pumped from flooded compartments, a feat noted favorably by Vice Admiral Charles McMorris in his November 1944 endorsement of Reno's report on the torpedoing.[2]

She then steamed under her own power across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal, then to Charleston, S.C., where she entered Charleston Navy Yard on 22 March for heavy repairs. Emerging seven months later, Reno was ordered to the Texas coast, then back to Charleston for the addition of hundreds of bunk spaces. She then reported for "Operation Magic Carpet," steaming roundtrip twice to Le Havre, France bringing home U.S. Army troops.

In early 1946, Reno steamed to Port Angeles, Washington, where she decommissioned on 4 November 1946, and then entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet, berthed at Bremerton, Washington. Reclassified CLAA-96 18 March 1949, she remained at Bremerton until her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 1 March 1959. Her hulk was sold on 22 March 1962 to the Coal Export Co., of New York City, for scrapping.

One of Reno's 5 inch gun turrets was kept for display at the U.S. Navy Museum, in eastern Washington, D.C..

Awards[edit]

Reno earned three battle stars for World War II service.

References[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  1. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). XII History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. New York, NY, USA: Little, Brown & Co. p. 347. 
  2. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). XII History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. New York, NY, USA: Little, Brown & Co. p. 347. 

I was aboard the Reno when she was hit. We took only one torpedo which hit port side. Another Torpedo missed and hit the Ticondoroga and did not explode but was defused, it hit and hung in the outer hull. I was a Signalman Petty Office 2nd class. My phone is 706-326-7699 I know these facts and have my diary to prove it. Also we were towed 701 miles by the U.S.S Zuni, not 1500 miles. Thanks about the e-mail.