Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
  USS San Francisco (CA-38)
New Orleans-class
Heavy Cruiser

9,950 Tons
588' x 61' 9" x 19' 5"
9 x (3 x 3) 8" guns
8 x 5" AA guns
2 x 3 pounder 47mm guns
6 x quad 40mm Bofors guns
26 x 20mm AA guns
1 x aircraft catapult

USN November 12, 1942

USN October 13, 1944
Ship History
Built by Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California. Laid down September 9, 1931 as a New Orleans-class Heavy Cruiser. Launched March 9, 1933 as USS San Francisco (CA-38) named for San Francisco. Commissioned February 10, 1934 in the U.S. Navy (USN) under the command of Captain Royal E. Ingersoll.

On October 11, 1941 San Francisco entered the Pearl Harbor for overhaul that was scheduled to be completed by December 25, 1941. By early December 1941, she was awaiting repairs and keel cleaning with her power plant largely broken down for overhaul. Ammunition for her 5" guns and 8" guns were in storage and her 3" guns were removed for the installation of quad 1.1" guns. Her .50 caliber machine guns were being overhauled, leaving only two .30 caliber machine guns and small arms aboard.

Wartime History
On December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor the crew of San Francisco secured the ship for watertight integrity. Some of her crew moved to USS New Orleans (CA-32) to man her anti-aircraft guns while others transfered their .50 caliber ammunition to USS Tracy (DD-214). During the attacks, San Francisco was not bombed or damaged. Afterwards, her overhaul was rushed and her keel cleaning postponed. She departed the overhaul yard on December 14, 1941.

On December 16, 1941 departs Pearl Harbor with Task Force 14 (TF 14) bound for Wake Island but after it was captured by the Japanese diverted to Midway Atoll. On December 29, 1941 returns to Pearl Harbor.

On January 8, 1942 departs Pearl Harbor with Task Force 8 (TF-8) and rendezvous with transports and covers their unloading at Tutuila in American Samoa. Next, assigned to Task Force 17 (TF-17) to provide cover for the carrier strikes against the Gilbert Islands and Marshall Islands. On January 18, 1943 returns to Samoa and six days later was detached to cover transports.

On February 8, 1942 departs Tutuila and two days later rejoins Cruiser Division 6 (CruDiv 6) in Task Force 11 (TF-11) with USS Lexington (CV-2) for a planned carrier plane strike against Rabaul. When spotted, the warships are targeted by G4M1 Betty bombers and although sixteen were destroyed, the element of surprise was lost and the strike was canceled and the force withdraws eastward.

Next, links with Task Force 17 (TF-17) bound for New Guinea. On March 7, 1941 lost is SOC-2 0394 piloted by Lieutenant J. A. Thomas, and the radioman, O. J. Gannan. On March 9, 1942 during the night enters the Gulf of Papua. On March 10, 1942 the carriers planes launch for a strike on Lae and Salamaua. On March 11, 1942 the missing scout plane was found and crew rescued. Afterwards, returns to Pearl Harbor on March 26, 1942.


On November 12, 1942 at the start of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal Japanese G4M1 Bettys armed with torpedoes escorted by A6M2 Zeros attack U.S. warships and transports in Iron Bottom Sound off Guadalcanal. At 2:16pm a G4M1 Betty released a torpedo aimed at San Francisco that missed. The Betty was hit by anti-aircraft fire, then deliberately crashed into the after control station that killing 30 aboard including the Executive Officer (XO) Commander Mark H. Crouter, O-055937. Also Seaman 2nd Class Frank O. Slater, 6042657 (KIA) who later earned the Navy Cross. This was the only damage inflicted on the American vessels by the Japanese bombers. Also damaged was USS Buchanan (DD-484) that was accidentally hit by friendly gunfire that killed five aboard and forced it to be withdrawn for repairs.


On August 16, 1944 arrives in California and undergoes an overhaul at Mare Island with camouflage Measure 33, Design 13d. On October 31, 1944 departed bound for Ulithi arriving November 21, 1944 and resumes as flagship for CruDiv 6. On December 10, 1944 departs with Task Group 38.1 (TG-38.1) bound for the Philippines. On December 14, 1944 and December 15, 1944 her scout planes perform anti-submarine patrols and rescue work supporting the carrier plane strikes against Luzon.

On December 16, 1944 departs for a rendezvous with Task Group 30.17 (TG 30.17) for refueling and replenishment but a typhoon interrupts the operation and rides out the storm at sea for two days then searches for sailors that went missing from three destroyers that sank during the storm. On December 20, 1944 departs westward bound for Luzon but rough seas mean carrier plane strikes are canceled and four days later the force returns to Ulithi.


For her World War II service, San Francisco earned 17 battle stars during World War II and was the 3rd most decorated U.S. Navy vessel in World War II.

On August 28 1945 departed Subic Bay for China as part of a show of force in the Yellow Sea and Gulf of Pohai areas and to cover mine sweeping operations. On October 8, 1945 anchored at Inchon, Korea. During October 13–16, 1945 she participated in another show of force operation in the Gulf of Pohai area, then returned to Inchon, where Rear Admiral Jerauld Wright, Commander, CruDiv 6, acted as senior member of the committee to accept the surrender of Japanese Naval forces in Korea.

On November 27, 1945, San Francisco departed for San Francisco arriving in the middle of December 1945 then continued on to the east coast on January 5, 1946, and arrived at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for inactivation on January 19, 1946. Decommissioned on February 10, 1946 and berthed with the Philadelphia Group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until March 1, 1959, when struck from the Naval Vessel Register.

On September 9, 1959 sold to the Union Mineral and Alloys Corp. in New York and moved to Panama City, Florida. In May 1961 broken up for scrap in Panama City, Florida.

The crew members killed on November 12-13, 1942 were buried at sea. They are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) - USS San Francisco (CA-38)

USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List March 1942 SOC-2 0394 March 11, 1942
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Mark H. Crouter
FindAGrave - Cdr Mark H Crouter (photos)
FindAGrave - Mark H Crouter (memorial marker photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank Olga Slater
FindAGrave - S2 Frank Olga Slater (photos tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SMN Frank O. Slater (photo, memorial marker photo)

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
November 12, 2021


November 13, 1942

Photo Archive
  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram