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New Orleans Class
574' x 61' 9" x 19' 5"
9 x 8" main guns
8 x 5" guns
8 x 50 cal MG
2 x catapults
4 x floatplanes)
Formally CL-32, lead ship in the New Orleans Class of Heavy Cruisers. Laid down 14 March 1931 by New York Navy Yard, launched 12 April 1933, sponsored by Cora S. Jahncke and commissioned 15 February 1934, Captain Allen B. Reed in command.
New Orleans made a shakedown cruise to Northern Europe in May and June 1934, returning to New York 28 June. On July 5, U. S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt embarked, for a cruise through the Panama Canal and an exercise with the United States Airship Macon (ER-5) off California. The cruise ended at Astoria, Oregon, 2 August, and New Orleans sailed at once for Panama and Cuba. New Orleans exercised off New England into 1935, then visited her namesake city while en route to join Cruiser Division 6 in operations in the eastern Pacific for over a year. She returned to New York from 20 August to 7 December 1936 and was once more in the Pacific early in 1937. Aside from winter training in the Caribbean early in 1939, she served out of California ports. On October 12, 1939 joined the Hawaiian Detachment for exercises, training, and patrol duties.
On December 7, 1941 in the morning moored at Pearl Harbor connected to electrical power ashore as her engines were under repair. During the Japanese attack, the electric power went out and the crew attempted to start the engines by raising steam using only flashlights while sailors topside fired on the attacking aircraft with small arms before breaking the locks on ammunition lockers because the keys could not be found to access 5" and anti-aircraft ammunition. Without power, all guns had to be manually aimed with only a few shells available in ready lockers or manually hoisted from below deck. During the attack, a bomb exploded nearby injuring many of the crew from shrapnel. During the Japanese attack, New Orleans suffered only light damage.
Afterwards, New Orleans operation on only 3 of 4 engines, escorted troop convoys from Pearl Harbor to Palmyra and Johnston then returned to San Francisco January 13, 1942 for engineering repairs and installation of search radar and 20mm anti-aircraft guns. On February 12, 192 departed escorting a troop convoy across the Pacific to Brisbane. Next provided a screen for a convoy to Nouméa then returned to Pearl Harbor and joined Task Force 11 (TF-11).
Battle of Coral Sea
Battle of Midway
Battle of Tassafaronga
The carriers, with New Orleans in escort, again heaped destruction on 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, 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 crewmember 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 30 April. She returned to Majuro 4 May.
Preparations were made in the Marshalls for the invasion of the Marianas, for which New Orleans sortied from Kwajalein 10 June. She bombarded Saipan 15 June and 16 June, then joined the screen protecting carriers as they prepared to meet the Japanese Mobile Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. In this last major carrier combat the Japanese were able to mount, American naval aviators and submariners sank three enemy carriers and destroyed almost every aircraft launched against them, 395 in all. The few enemy planes which penetrated to the American carriers were shot down by New Orleans and other escorts. The Marianas operation continued, and Japanese naval aviation was virtually nonexistent after this great victory of 19 June–20 June.
New Orleans made patrols and bombardments on Saipan and Tinian into August, returned to Eniwetok the 13th, and sailed the 28th for carrier raids on the Bonins, bombardments of Iwo Jima, 1 September–2 September, and direct air support for the invasion of the Palaus. After reprovisioning 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 20 October. The carriers continued to send raids, aiding troops ashore, as they prepared to meet the Japanese, who were sending almost every surface ship left afloat in one great effort to break up the Philippines operation. New Orleans guarded her carriers as they joined in the great Battle for Leyte Gulf, first attacking the Japanese Southern Force 24 October, then raiding the Center Force in the Sibuyan Sea, and next destroying the Japanese Northern Force of decoy carriers in the Battle off Cape Engano. The carriers then sped south to aid the gallant escort carriers holding off the powerful Japanese battleship-cruiser force in the Battle off Samar. A stunning American victory was followed by strikes against the retreating Japanese remnant.
New Orleans received 17 battle stars for World War II service. Other honors include 5 Navy Crosses, 10 Silver Stars, 1 Bronze Star, 1 Air Medal and 206 Purple Hearts awarded to members of her crew
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