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  USS Atlanta CL-51
St. Louis Class
Light Cruiser

6,000 tons
541' x 52' 10" x 20' 6"
16 x 5" main guns
9 x 1.1" AA guns
8 x torpedo tubes
Click For Enlargement
USN October 16, 1942

Ship History
Atlanta was built at Kearny, NJ. Laid down on April 22, 1940 and launched on September 6, 1941. Commissioned on December 24, 1941 then departed for the Pacific during early April 1942.

Wartime History
After a escort voyage to the South Pacific in May, she became part of a task force built around USS Enterprise and USS Hornet, operating with them during the early June Battle of Midway.

In mid-July 1942 left Pearl Harbor for operations in the southern Pacific. She screened the carriers that supported the landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi during August 1942.

Later in the month, she escorted USS Enterprise during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and protected USS Saratoga after that carrier was damaged by a Japanese submarine torpedo.

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

After providing distant support during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in late October, she was employed closer to Guadalcanal. On 30 October, she used her five-inch guns to bombard Japanese positions Guadalcanal and nearly two weeks later, on 11-12 November, her guns helped fight off enemy planes attacking U.S. transports and supply ships nearby.

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

In an action known as the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, American and Japanese warships engaged each other in Iron Bottom Sound off Guadalcanal. During the battle, Atlanta was illuminated by searchlight from the Japanese destroyer Akatsuki, was torpedo by either Inazuma or Ikazuchi. In addition, this cruiser was also hit by gunfire from other enemy and friendly ships and suffered heavy casualties and was almost completely disabled.

During the daylight hours of November 13, 1942 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 8:15 roughly three miles west of Lunga Point into the open sea with a 400' bottom. Officially, she was struck from the Navy register on January 13, 1943.

Sunk in Iron Bottom Sound at a depth of roughly 430'. Resting on her port side off Lunga Point on Guadalcanal.

During 1991-1992, during an expedition led by Dr. Robert Ballard, the shipwreck of the Atlanta was briefly examined by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The footage was used in the National Geographic: The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal documentary that aired during 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 G.U.E., with the object of gathering HD video footage for a TV documentary, made six dives on the shipwreck using rebreathers with local operator Neil Yates / Tulagi Dive.

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

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 onboard."

Navy Historial Center - USS Atlanta (CL-51) 1941-1942
Navy Source - USS Atlanta CL-51 (photos) by Don Edwards
National Geographic: The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal
The Lost Ships of Guadalcanal pages 19, 126-135, 138-139, 142, 145-146, 150, 164, 200-201 (map) 205-206, 208 (ROV dive photos)
Thanks to Kevin Denlay for additional information

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Last Updated
May 22, 2017



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