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.
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.
During the night of November 12-13 1942 during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 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 searchlight from the Japanese destroyer Akatsuki and hit by a torpedo launched by either Inazuma or Ikazuchi. Afterwards, Atlanta was also 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 8:15 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.
The Atlanta rests on her port side at a depth of 430' in Iron Bottom Sound off Lunga Point on Guadalcanal.
During a 1991-1992 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.
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 (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 pages 19, 126-135, 138-139, 142, 145-146, 150, 164, 200-201 (map) 205-206, 208 (ROV dive photos)
YouTube "USS Atlantic: Defender of Guadalcanal (short version)"
IMDb "Return to the USS Atlanta" (2012)
Netflix "Return to
the USS Atlantia 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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October 25, 2017