USS Baltimore (CA-68)

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USS Baltimore (CA-68) anchored in Guantanamo Bay on 22 September 1954 (NH 52422).jpg
USS Baltimore (CA-68), anchored in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 22 September 1954.
History
United States
Name: Baltimore
Namesake: City of Baltimore, Maryland
Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts
Laid down: 26 May 1941
Launched: 28 July 1942
Sponsored by: Mrs. Howard W. Jackson
Commissioned: 15 April 1943
Decommissioned: 31 May 1956
Struck: February 1971
Identification:
Honors and
awards:
Bronze-service-star-3d.png Silver-service-star-3d.png 9 × battle stars
Fate: Sold for scrap 10 April 1972
General characteristics
Class and type: Baltimore-class heavy cruiser
Displacement:
  • 14,472 long tons (14,704 t) (standard)
  • 17,031 long tons (17,304 t) (max)
Length: 673 ft 5 in (205.26 m) oa
Beam: 70 ft 10 in (21.59 m)
Draft:
  • 20 ft 6 in (6.25 m) (mean)
  • 26 ft 10 in (8.18 m) (max)
Installed power:
Propulsion:
Speed: 33 kn (38 mph; 61 km/h)
Range: 10,000 nmi (19,000 km) at 15 kn (17 mph; 28 km/h)
Complement: 1,142 officers and enlisted
Armament:
Armor:
  • Belt: 4–6 in (100–150 mm)
  • Deck: 2.5 in (64 mm)
  • Barbettes: 6–6.3 in (150–160 mm)
  • Turrets: 1.5–8 in (38–203 mm)
Aircraft carried: 4 × floatplanes
Aviation facilities: 2 × stern catapults

USS Baltimore (CA-68) was the lead ship of her class of heavy cruiser, the fifth ship of the United States Navy named after the city of Baltimore, Maryland.

Design[edit]

Baltimore was 664 feet (202.4 m) long at the waterline and 673 ft 5 in (205.26 m) long overall. She had a beam of 70 ft 10 in (21.59 m) and a draft of 24 ft (7.3 m). She displaced 14,472 long tons (14,704 t) at standard displacement and 17,031 long tons (17,304 t) at full combat load.[1] The ship had a crew of 1,142 officers and enlisted men.[2]

Construction and World War II[edit]

Baltimore off the coast of Massachusetts, June 1943

Laid down on 26 May 1941 at Bethlehem Steel Company's Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, she was launched on 28 July 1942, sponsored by the wife of Mayor of Baltimore Howard W. Jackson. The cruiser was commissioned on 15 April 1943 under the command of Captain Walter C. Calhoun.[2]

Following the completion of her fitting-out, Baltimore departed for Hampton Roads on 17 June, briefly visited the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis on 20 June, then conducted exercises off the Virginia Capes two days later. She went to Norfolk for upkeep between 24 June and 1 July, when she departed for shakedown off Trinidad. Operating from Port of Spain, the cruiser conducted gunnery training before returning to Hampton Roads on 24 July. Four days later, she steamed to Boston for post-shakedown availability (repairs to correct deficiencies found during shakedown) and to correct a leak in the main battery hydraulic piping. Returning to Norfolk in early September after the completion of the repairs, Baltimore and the destroyer Sigourney departed for the west coast. They transited the Panama Canal on 25 September and arrived in San Diego on 4 October, after which she trained off the west coast from 9 to 13 October. Departing San Diego three days later, the cruiser arrived at Pearl Harbor independently on 29 October after a brief stopover at San Francisco.[2]

Between November 1943 and June 1944 Baltimore was a unit of the fire support and covering forces at the Makin Islands landings (20 November – 4 December 1943); Kwajalein invasion (29 January – 8 February 1944), and the Truk raid (16–17 February) and Eniwetok seizure (17 February – 2 March). On the 17th, Lt. (j.g.) Denver M. Baxter, USNR, flying one of the heavy cruiser's Vought OS2U Kingfishers, covered by two Grumman F6F Hellcats, rescued Lt. (jg.) George M. Blair, USNR, of VF-9 less than 6,000 yards from Dublon Island inside Truk lagoon where he had ditched his flak crippled Hellcat.

Baltimore continued to provide fire support in the Marianas attacks (21–22 February), the Palau-Yap-Ulithi-Woleai raid (30 March – 1 April); the Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura) landing (21–24 April); the Truk-Satawan-Ponape raid (29 April – 1 May), air strikes against Marcus Island (19–20 May) and Wake Island (23 May), the Saipan invasion (11–24 June); and the Battle of the Philippine Sea (19–20 June).

Returning to the United States in July 1944, she embarked President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his party and steamed to Pearl Harbor. After meeting with Admiral Chester Nimitz and General Douglas MacArthur, the President was carried to Alaska where he departed Baltimore 9 August 1944.

Returning to the war zone in November 1944, she was assigned to the 3rd Fleet and participated in the attacks on Luzon (14–16 December 1944; and 6–7 January 1945); Formosa (3–4, 9, 15, and 21 January); the China coast (12 and 16 January); and Okinawa (22 January).

On 26 January she joined the 5th Fleet for her final operations of the war: Honshū Island attacks (16–17 February); Iwo Jima operation (19 February – 5 March); and the 5th Fleet raids in support of the Okinawa operation (18 March – 10 June).

Postwar[edit]

After the cessation of hostilities Baltimore served as a unit of the "Magic Carpet" fleet and then as a part of the naval occupation force in Japan (29 November 1945 – 17 February 1946). Departing the Far East 17 February 1946 she returned to the United States and went out of commission in reserve 8 July 1946 at Bremerton, Washington.[2]

Baltimore was recommissioned 28 November 1951 and assigned to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. She was deployed with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean during the summers of 1952, 1953, and 1954. In June 1953 she represented the United States Navy in the British Fleet Review at Spithead, England. On 5 January 1955 she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet and was deployed with the 7th Fleet in the Far East between February and August 1955.

Baltimore being dismantled at Zidell shipbreaking yard in September 1972.

Baltimore commenced pre-inactivation overhaul upon her return from the Far East and went out of commission in reserve at Bremerton, 31 May 1956 after only a total of 6.75 years in active service. She was struck from the Navy List 15 February 1971, sold 10 April 1972 to Zidell Ship Dismantling Company Portland, Oregon, and subsequently scrapped September 1972.

Awards[edit]

Alleged sinking by North Korea[edit]

The Victorious War Museum in Pyongyang, North Korea, has several exhibits that claim the Baltimore was sunk by Motor Torpedo Boats belonging to the Korean People's Navy on 2 July 1950. Exhibits include a poster and the "actual" boat which supposedly sank the American cruiser. However, the ship was in the U.S. Navy’s decommissioned reserve from 1946 to 1951 before being recommissioned and assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. In 1955, the Baltimore was transferred to the Pacific Fleet two years after the end of the Korean War.[3]

The actual battle actually involved USS Juneau as well as the Royal Navy’s sloop HMS Black Swan and cruiser HMS Jamaica. Together they destroyed several North Korean torpedo boats without loss or damage.[3]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Gardiner & Chesneau 1980, pp. 120–121.
  2. ^ a b c d Cressman 2005.
  3. ^ a b Salmon, Andrew (2012). Scorched Earth, Black Snow. Aurum. p. 41.

Bibliography[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

External links[edit]