USS New Orleans (CA-32)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

USS New Orleans (CA-32) underway in Puget Sound on 30 July 1943 (NH 94847).jpg
USS New Orleans (CA-32), steams through a tight turn in Elliott Bay, Washington, on 30 July 1943, following battle damage repairs and overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard.
United States
NameNew Orleans
NamesakeCity of New Orleans, Louisiana
Ordered13 February 1929
  • 12 July 1929 (date assigned to ship yard)
  • 2 June 1930 (beginning of construction period)
BuilderBrooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York
Cost$12,000,000 (limit of price)
Laid down14 March 1931
Launched12 April 1933
Sponsored byMiss Cora S. Jahncke
Commissioned15 February 1934
Decommissioned10 February 1947
ReclassifiedCA-32, 1 July 1931
Stricken1 March 1959
Nickname(s)NO Boat[1]
Honors and
FateSold for scrap 22 September 1959
General characteristics (as built)[2]
Class and typeNew Orleans-class cruiser
Displacement9,950 long tons (10,110 t) (standard)
  • 588 ft (179 m) oa
  • 574 ft (175 m) pp
Beam61 ft 9 in (18.82 m)
  • 19 ft 5 in (5.92 m) (mean)
  • 23 ft 6 in (7.16 m) (max)
Installed power
Speed32.7 kn (37.6 mph; 60.6 km/h)
CapacityFuel oil: 1,650 tons
Complement96 officers 819 enlisted
  • Belt: 3–5 in (76–127 mm)
  • Deck: 1+142+14 in (32–57 mm)
  • Barbettes: 5 in (130 mm)
  • Turrets: 1+12–8 in (38–203 mm)
  • Conning Tower: 5 in (127 mm)
Aircraft carried4 × floatplanes
Aviation facilities2 × Amidship catapults
General characteristics (1945)[3]
  • 9 × 8 in (203 mm)/55 caliber guns (3x3)
  • 8 × 5 in (127 mm)/25 caliber anti-aircraft guns
  • 2 × 3-pounder 47 mm (2 in) saluting guns
  • 6 × quad 40 mm (1.6 in) Bofors anti-aircraft guns
  • 28 × single 20 mm (0.79 in) Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannons
Aviation facilities1 × Amidship catapult

USS New Orleans (CL/CA-32) was the lead New Orleans-class cruiser in service with the United States Navy. The New Orleans-class cruisers were the last U.S. cruisers built to the specifications and standards of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. Such ships, with a limit of 10,000 long tons (10,160 t) standard displacement and 8-inch (203-millimetre) calibre main guns may be referred to as "treaty cruisers." Originally classified a light cruiser, because of her thin armor, she was reclassified, soon after being laid down, a heavy cruiser, because of her 8-inch guns. The term "heavy cruiser" was not defined until the London Naval Treaty in 1930.

Inter-war period[edit]

New Orleans keel was laid on 14 March 1931, at the New York Navy Yard, commonly known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The ship was launched on 12 April 1933, sponsored by Cora S. Jahncke, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and daughter of Ernest L. Jahncke, a civil engineer and president of the Jahncke Shipbuilding Co. in New Orleans. Jahncke had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the administration of President Herbert Hoover, returning to private life in March 1933 with the inauguration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. New Orleans was commissioned at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 15 February 1934, with Captain Allen B. Reed as the first commander. Attending the commissioning ceremonies were Rear Admiral Yates Stirling Jr., Commandant of the New York Naval Yard and former Assistant Navy Secretary Jahncke. Among New Orleans' junior officer plankowners in 1934, were Jahncke's son, Ensign E.L. Jahncke Jr. and Ensign T.H. Moorer, who as Admiral Thomas H. Moorer was Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) from 1967 to 1970 and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970 to 1974.

New Orleans was lead ship in her class of seven heavy cruisers that collectively saw extensive service in all major engagements in the Pacific theater during World War II. New Orleans-class cruisers earned more than sixty battle stars during World War II. New Orleans herself received 17 battle stars, placing her among the top four highest decorated ships of World War II, along with two of her sister ships, San Francisco and Minneapolis.

Under Captain Reed's command that ended on 30 August 1935, New Orleans made a shakedown Transatlantic crossing to Great Britain and Scandinavia in May and June 1934. New Orleans made ports of call and was greeted by thousands at Stockholm, Sweden, Copenhagen, Denmark, Amsterdam, Netherlands and Portsmouth, England, returning to New York on 28 June. On 5 July, New Orleans sailed to Balboa, Panama, the western entrance to the Panama Canal to rendez-vous with the heavy cruiser Houston, carrying President Roosevelt, on a nearly 12,000 nmi (22,000 km; 14,000 mi). cruise to Hawaii and an exercise with the United States Airship Macon and her aircraft off the California coast.

New Orleans reached Honolulu, Hawaii, on 26 July 1934, and Astoria, Oregon, on 2 August, where the cruise ended. New Orleans sailed at once for Panama and Cuba, stopping at San Pedro, Los Angeles, on 7 August 1934. She exercised off New England into 1935, then visited her namesake city at the end of March while en route to join United States Fleet Scouting Force Cruiser Division 6 (CruDiv 6) based out of San Pedro, and operating along the coast of California and the eastern Pacific. New Orleans was open for public viewing while visiting the "Crescent City" and thousands of citizens visited the ship during the time she was berthed there. Shortly after arriving at San Pedro, the cruiser participated in Fleet problem XVI from 29 April to 10 June. It was the largest mock battle ever staged and conducted in five separate stages over five million square miles of the North Central Pacific between Midway, Hawaii, and the Aleutian Islands, involving 321 vessels and 70,000 men. In June New Orleans visited San Diego for the first-ever Fleet Week, one of 114 American warships in the "mightiest fleet ever assembled under the U.S. flag" for the California Pacific International Exposition.

New Orleans returned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York where she was dry-docked for maintenance from 20 August to 7 December 1936. Early in 1937, she was once more in the Pacific. Aside from winter training in the Caribbean early in 1939, she served out of California ports until joining the Hawaiian Detachment on 12 October 1939, for exercises, training, and, as war drew close, vigilant patrol.

World War II[edit]

Attack on Pearl Harbor[edit]

Moored in Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, New Orleans was taking power and light from the dock, her engines under repair. With yard power out during the attack, New Orleans' engineers began to raise steam, working by flashlight, while on deck men fired on the Japanese attackers with rifles and pistols. The crew was forced to break the locks on the ammunition ready boxes as the keys couldn't be located, and because the ship was taking power from the dock, the 5"/25 cal AA gun had to be aimed and fired manually. The gunners topside were ducking machine gun bullets and shrapnel, training their guns manually, as they had no ammunition other than the few shells in their ready boxes. The ammunition hoists did not have power, making it nearly impossible to get more ammunition topside to the gun crews. The 54 lb (24 kg) shells had to be pulled up the powerless hoists by ropes attached to their metal cases. Every man with no specific job at the moment formed ammunition lines to get the shells to the guns. A number of her crew were injured when a fragmentation bomb exploded close aboard. New Orleans suffered no severe damage during the attack. The ship's chaplain was Howell Forgy, who during the attack walked the ammo handling lines patting sailors on the back and urging them to "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition".


Before having the engine work complete at Pearl Harbor, the cruiser convoyed troops to Palmyra Atoll and Johnston Atoll operating on only three of her four engines; she then returned to San Francisco on 13 January 1942 for engineering repairs and installation of new search radar and 20 mm guns. She sailed on 12 February, commanding the escort for a troop convoy to Brisbane; from Australia she screened a convoy to Nouméa, and returned to Pearl Harbor to join Task Force 11 (TF 11).

Battle of Coral Sea[edit]

TF 11 sortied on 15 April to join the Yorktown task force southwest of the New Hebrides. It was this joint force, together with a cruiser-destroyer group, which won the Battle of the Coral Sea on 7–8 May, driving back a southward thrust of the Japanese which threatened Australia and New Zealand and their seaborne life lines. In this battle Lexington was sunk and New Orleans stood by, her men diving overboard to rescue survivors and her boat crews closing the burning carrier, saving 580 of Lexington's crew who were subsequently landed at Nouméa. New Orleans then patrolled the eastern Solomons until sailing to replenish at Pearl Harbor.

Battle of Midway[edit]

New Orleans sailed on 28 May, screening Enterprise, to surprise the Japanese in the Battle of Midway. On 2 June, she rendezvous with the Yorktown force, and two days later joined battle. Three of the four Japanese carriers -- Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu—were sunk by hits scored in dive bomber attacks. The fourth carrier, Hiryu, was found and wrecked later, but not before her dive bombers had damaged Yorktown so badly she had to be abandoned.

Battle of the Eastern Solomons[edit]

Again the New Orleans was replenished at Pearl Harbor, steaming out on 7 July to rendezvous off the Fiji Islands for the invasion of the Solomon Islands, during which she screened the Saratoga. Fighting off enemy air attacks on 24–25 August, the New Orleans aided the U.S. Marine Corps beachhead on Guadalcanal, as a Japanese landing expedition was turned back in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. At this point, New Orleans had been in the Coral Sea for two full months, and food began to run low. The crew went on half rations and Spam became the main course of every meal; eventually they ran out of rice. When the Saratoga was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on 31 August, the New Orleans escorted her to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 21 September.

Battle of Tassafaronga[edit]

With the repaired carrier, New Orleans sailed to Fiji early in November 1942, then proceeded to Espiritu Santo, arriving on 27 November to return to action in the Solomons. With four other cruisers and six destroyers, she fought in the Battle of Tassafaronga on the night of 30 November, engaging a Japanese destroyer-transport force. When the flagship Minneapolis was struck by two torpedoes, New Orleans, next astern, was forced to sheer away to avoid collision, and ran into the track of a torpedo which detonated the ship's forward magazines and gasoline tanks. This explosion severed 150 ft (46 m) of her bow just forward of turret No. 2. The severed bow, including Turret No. 1, swung around the port side and punched several holes in the length of New Orleans' hull before sinking at the stern and damaging the port inboard propeller.[4] With one quarter of her length gone, slowed to 2 kn (2.3 mph; 3.7 km/h), and on fire forward, damage control parties managed to repair the ship enough to sail to Tulagi Harbor near daybreak on 1 December. The crew camouflaged their ship from air attack, jury-rigged a bow of coconut logs, and worked clearing away wreckage. Eleven days later, New Orleans sailed stern first to avoid sinking to Cockatoo Island Dockyard in Sydney, Australia, arriving on 24 December. At Cockatoo, the damaged propeller was replaced and other repairs were made including the installation of a temporary stub bow. On 7 March 1943, she left Sydney for Puget Sound Navy Yard, sailing backward the entire voyage, where a new bow was fitted with the use of Minneapolis' No. 2 Turret. All battle damage was repaired and she was given a major refit involving the reducing of the forward superstructure along the lines of other pre-war cruisers, adding new air-search and surface search radars, as well as numerous 20mm and 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns. In addition, her boilers, machinery, and hull structures were overhauled to almost new condition. She continued to sail with the back portion (aft) riveted and the front portion (bow) welded.


Returning to Pearl Harbor on 31 August for combat training, New Orleans next joined a cruiser-destroyer force to bombard Wake Island on 5–6 October, repulsing a Japanese torpedo-plane attack. Her next sortie from Pearl Harbor came on 10 November when she sailed to fire precision bombardment in the Gilberts on 20 November, then to screen carriers striking the eastern Marshalls on 4 December. In aerial attacks that day, the new Lexington, namesake of the carrier whose men New Orleans had pulled from the Coral Sea, was torpedoed, and New Orleans guarded her successful retirement to repairs at Pearl Harbor, arriving on 9 December.

Sister ships Salt Lake City and Pensacola, with New Orleans (L to R), at Pearl Harbor in 1943


From 29 January 1944, New Orleans fired on targets in the Marshalls, hitting air installations and shipping as the Navy took Kwajalein. She fueled at Majuro, then sailed 11 February to join the fast carriers in a raid on Truk, Japanese bastion in the Carolines on 17–18 February. While air strikes were flown, New Orleans, with other warships circled the atoll to catch escaping ships; the task force's combined gunfire sank a light cruiser, a destroyer, a trawler, and a submarine chaser. The force sailed on to hit the Marianas, then returned to Majuro and Pearl Harbor.

The carriers, with New Orleans in escort, attacked targets in the Carolines late in March, then in April, sailed south to support Allied landings at Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura), New Guinea. There on 22 April, a disabled Yorktown plane flew into New Orleans' mainmast, hitting gun mounts as it fell into the sea. The ship was sprayed with gas as the plane exploded on hitting the water, one crew member was lost, another badly injured, but New Orleans continued in action, patrolling and plane guarding off New Guinea, then joining in further raids on Truk and Satawan, which she bombarded on 30 April. She returned to Majuro on 4 May.

Preparations were made in the Marshalls for the invasion of the Marianas, for which New Orleans sortied from Kwajalein on 10 June. She bombarded Saipan on 15–16 June, then joined the screen protecting carriers as they prepared to meet the Japanese Mobile Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

New Orleans made patrols and bombardments on Saipan and Tinian into August, returned to Eniwetok on the 13th, and sailed the 28th for carrier raids on the Bonins, bombardments of Iwo Jima on 1–2 September, and direct air support for the invasion of the Palaus. After re-provisioning at Manus, the task force assaulted Okinawa, Formosa, and Northern Luzon, destroying Japanese land-based aviation which otherwise would have threatened the landings on Leyte on 20 October.

New Orleans was present during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which started on 23 October. On 25 October, the Fast Carrier Strike Force had steamed north, to attack the Northern Force commanded by Jisaburō Ozawa. New Orleans again screened for the carriers, which sank or damaged several Japanese carriers. Task Force 34 was detached to finish off several of the crippled Japanese ships with gunfire; New Orleans and three other cruisers sank the light carrier Chiyoda and the destroyer Hatsuzuki.[5][6]


After replenishing at Ulithi, New Orleans guarded carriers during raids throughout the Philippines in preparation for the invasion of Mindoro, then late in December sailed for a Mare Island Navy Yard overhaul, followed by training in Hawaii. She returned to Ulithi on 18 April 1945, and two days later, departed to join Task Force 54 (TF 54), in the ongoing invasion of Okinawa, arriving at Okinawa on 23 April. Here, she engaged with shore batteries and fired directly against the enemy lines. After nearly two months on station, she sailed to replenish and repair in the Philippines, and was at Subic Bay when hostilities ceased in the Pacific War.


New Orleans sailed on 28 August with a cruiser-destroyer force to ports of China and Korea. She covered the internment of Japanese ships at Tsingtao, the evacuation of liberated Allied prisoners-of-war, and the landing of troops in Korea and China. She sailed on 17 November from the mouth of the Peking River (Hai He), carrying veterans homeward bound. More returning troops came aboard at the Sasebo U.S. Fleet Activities base, and all were disembarked at San Francisco 8 December. After similar duty took her to Guam in January 1946, she sailed through the Panama Canal for a 10-day visit to her namesake city. She then steamed to Philadelphia Navy Yard, arriving on 12 March. There, she decommissioned on 10 February 1947 and lay in reserve until struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 March 1959 and sold for scrapping on 22 September to Boston Metals Company, Baltimore, Maryland.



  • One Destroyer (DD) and four Destroyer Escorts (DE) were named after USS New Orleans sailors killed in action at the Battle of Tassafaronga.
  1. USS Rogers (DD-876),
  2. USS Hayter (DE-212),
  3. USS Foreman (DE-633),
  4. USS Swenning (DE-394),
  5. USS Haines (DE-792/APD-84).


  1. ^ "Ship Nicknames". Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Ships' Data, U. S. Naval Vessels". US Naval Department. 1 July 1935. pp. 16–23. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  3. ^ Rickard, J (19 December 2014). "USS New Orleans (CA-32)". Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  4. ^ Hornfischer, Neptune's Inferno, pp. 384-390
  5. ^ Rohwer, p. 366–367
  6. ^ Cressman, p. 267
  7. ^ U.S.Historical Society,


External links[edit]