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  USS Atlanta CL-51
USN
St. Louis Class
Light Cruiser

6,718 Tons (standard)
8,340 Tons (max load)
541' 6" x 53 x 20' 6"
16 x 5" Mark 12guns (8x2)
9 x 1.1" AA guns (3x4)
8 x 20mm AA guns
8 x 21" torpedo tubes

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USN December 24, 1941

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USN October 16, 1942

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USS Atlanta May 2011
Ship History
Built by Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company at Kearny, NJ. Laid down April 22, 1940 as St. Louis Class Light Cruiser. Launched September 6, 1941 as USS Atlanta (CL-51) as the third ship named in honor of Atlanta, Georgia. Commissioned December 24, 1941 in the United States Navy (USN) at New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn, NY sponsored by Margaret Mitchell author of Gone With The Wind with Captain Samuel P. Jenkins in command.

Wartime History
Afterwards, underwent a shake down cruise off Chesapeake Bay off Virginia and Casco Bay off Maine until March 13, 1942. Following trials, returned to returned to the New York Navy Yard for repairs and alterations until the end of the month then departs via the Panama Canal on April 5, 1942 then to Balboa a week later until ordered to perform a reconnaissance of Clipperton Island a remote coral atoll west of Mexico then to Pearl Harbor arriving April 23, 1942 and continues training exercises including anti-aircraft practice on May 3, 1942.

On May 10, 1042 departs with USS McCall (DD-400) escorting a convoy including USS Rainier (AE-5) and USS Kaskaskia (AO-27) to the South Pacific to Nouméa on New Caledonia. On May 16, 1942 joins Task Force 16 (TF-16) under the command of Vice Admiral William F. Halsey including USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Hornet (CV-8) and proceeded from the South Pacific to Pearl Harbor arriving on May 26, 1942 then two days later departs as part of the screening force for the aircraft aircraft carriers and proceeds to the northeast of Midway Atoll.

On June 4, 1942 during the Battle of Midway served as part of the warship screen protecting USS Hornet (CV-8) for a week then back to Pearl Harbor arriving June 13, 1942. For the remainder of the month and took on provisions and undertook training exercises including anti-aircraft practice and being on alert status. On July 1, 1942 entered dry dock until the next day for hull scraping, cleaning and painting then resumed training.

On July 15, 1942 departed Pearl Harbor still as a part of TF-7 bound for Tongatapu on Tonga nine days later. That same day, Atlanta refueled USS Maury (DD-401) then was refueled herself. She screened the carriers that supported the landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi during August 1942.

Later in the month, escorted USS Enterprise and during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons (Second Battle of the Solomon Sea) and protected USS Saratoga (CV-3) after that carrier was damaged by a torpedo fired by a Japanese submarine.

During the next two months, she kept busy escorting combat and auxiliary ships engaged in the ongoing struggle to hold Guadalcanal.

In late October 1942 provides distant support during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands then was stationed closer to Guadalcanal. On October 30, 1942, her 5" guns conducted a shore bombardment of Japanese positions Guadalcanal and nearly two weeks later, on November 11-12, 1942, her guns helped defend against Japanese planes attacking U.S. transports and supply ships.

Sinking History
During the night of November 12-13, 1942 during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (Third Battle of the Solomon Sea), USS Atlanta was part of the cruiser and destroyer force ordered to stop the Japanese bombardment of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.

During the battle, Atlanta was illuminated by searchlights from Hiei and Akatsuki and hit by a torpedo launched by either Inazuma or Ikazuchi. Afterwards, Atlanta was hit by gunfire from other enemy and friendly ships and was almost completely disabled and suffered heavy casualties.

On November 13, 1942 during the early daylight hours her crew worked to save the ship but the damage was too extensive. The captain ordered her scuttled and the remaining crew were rescued. Atlanta sank at 8:15am roughly three miles west of Lunga Point in Iron Bottom Sound off Guadalcanal. On January 13, 1943 Atlanta was officially struck from the Navy register.

Shipwreck
The
Atlanta rests on her port side at a depth of 430' in Iron Bottom Sound off Lunga Point on Guadalcanal.

During the 1991-1992 Lost Ships of Guadalcanal expedition led by Dr. Robert Ballard, Atlanta was briefly examined by a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and video footage was included in National Geographic: The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal that first aired in 1993.

In November 1995, the Atlanta was first dived by Kevin Denlay and Terrence Tysall and then thoroughly explored in detail on several dedicated expeditions led by them during the following years.

During May 2011, a team of six divers from Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) with Neil Yates / Tulagi Dive made six dives on the shipwreck using rebreathers. They recorded high-definition video footage for the documentary USS Atlantic: Defender of Guadalcanal documentary.

Veterans
Stewart Moredock (interviewed in National Geographic: The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal)

Relatives
Richard Nunziato adds:
"Carmen Nunziato, was (is) a crew member of the USS Atlanta CL-51. He is 85 years old. He is very proud of the Atlanta and the others who served on board."

References
Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) - Atlanta III (CL-51) 1941-1943
(photos)
Navy Source - USS Atlanta CL-51 (photos)
USSAtlanta.com by Don Edwards
National Geographic: The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal
The Lost Ships of Guadalcanal (1993) pages 19, 126-135, 138-139, 142, 145-146, 150, 164, 200-201 (map) 205-206, 208 (ROV dive photos)
IMDb "Return to the USS Atlanta" (2012)
YouTube "Return To The USS Atlanta: Defender of Guadalcanal" (2012)
Facebook "Return To The USS Atlanta: Defender Of Guadalcanal"
Fort Green Film Works "Return to the USS Atlanta: Defender of Guadalcanal"

Thanks to Kevin Denlay for additional information

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Last Updated
August 4, 2020

 

SCUBA
430' / 131m

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