The USA built no cruisers between the Salem class of 1905 and the Omaha class of 1917 because there was serious disagreement as to what type of cruiser the USN needed. The initial requirements for the 1917 Scout, as it was known, included a speed in excess of 30kts, an endurance of 10,000nm and an armament of not less than six 6in guns on a displacement of about 8,000 tons. This was soon amended to include ten 6in guns, four AA guns, two torpedo tubes and no fewer than four aircraft, as well as the ability to lay mines. The requirements were onerous, and it was soon necessary to adopt every possible weight-saving measure and economy. The ship was in fact described as a big destroyer during its design period, and it lacked many of the amenities and design features expected of a cruiser.
By the time the contract plans had been sealed the design had reached a standard displacement of 7,050 tons. The protective scheme included a 3in waterline belt 19ft deep, and a l.5in deck. There were armoured transverse bulkheads fore and aft, with l.5in and 3in protection respectively, but the gunhouses were given only splinter protection. This represented just over 8 per cent of the standard displacement.
For their relatively small displacement they were given very powerful machinery, which, allied to a fine hull form, gave them a high maximum a speed. For the first time, the machinery was disposed in the unit layout that was to be adopted for all subsequent US cruisers (except the New Orleans and Brooklyn Classes) and, eventually, by other nations as well. The twelve boilers were in four fire rooms, the forward pair being separated from the after pair by an engine room. They had a wide variation in endurance which meant that the ships could be grouped into 'large radius' (CL9 to 13) and 'short radius' (CL4 to 8) types, which affected tactical deployment.
One of the peculiarities of this design was that end-on fire had to be maximised, which led to the odd solution of four beam casemated guns fore and aft and two guns in the waist. No gun could be mounted on the forecastle because only single shielded mountings were available, and these could not have tolerated the blast of the casemate guns. However, a number of changes were made while the ships were under construction, the waist guns being omitted and a twin turret added forward and aft. The guns were 6in 53cal Mk 12. The secondary armament was four single 3in 50cal in the waist amidships. The torpedo outfit was greatly increased over the original design intentions, two triple banks of 21in tubes being shipped towards the after end of the forecastle, above the twin banks on the main deck. Finally, there were two catapults, one on each beam, but no hangar. Two floatplanes could be operated, initially probably the Vought VE-9.
Before WW2 various measures were taken to remove excess weight from these ships. These measures included landing the twin tubes and plating up the hull openings, removal of the after lower casemate 6in guns in five of the class (CL6 to CL9 and CL12), and the shipping of only four 3in guns (all in the waist). Marblehead was unique in having one of her removed casemate 6in remounted on the centreline aft. In 1940 there was a proposal to refit these ships as AA cruisers, but this was never carried out. Radar was fitted and all ships reduced to ten 6in.
Omaha Class War Records
served in the Atlantic from commissioning as Flagship (Destroyers), and was assigned to Neutrality Patrols after the start of the war in Europe, serving with CruDiv 2, TF3. After the USA's entry into the war the ship served in the Central and South Atlantic on anti-raider and blockade runner patrols, capturing the 5,098-ton blockade runner Odenwald off the Brazilian coast on 6 November 1941, By January 1944 she was with TF41, operating out of Recife, Brazil, and on 4 January one of her aircraft sighted a ship which turned out to be the blockade runner Rio Grande (6,062 tons). This was sunk by the cruiser and her consort, the destroyer Jouett. On 5 January she was instrumental in the scuttling of another blockade runner, Burgenland (7,320 tons). Later in 1944 she transferred to the Mediterranean for the invasion of the South of France, where she formed part of the support force for TF86 'Sitka'. After bombardment duties until the end of August, the ship returned to the South Atlantic for the remainder of the war. In August 1945 Omaha returned to the east coast, and on 1 November 1945 paid off, to be stricken at the end of the same month. She was broken up in February 1946 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
served mainly in the Pacific from 1928, with CruDiv 2 in the Asiatic Fleet. From 1933 she was with CruDiv 3, attached to the Battle Fleet in Pacific waters until the end of 1940, when she transferred to CruDiv 2 in the Atlantic. At first employed on the Neutrality Patrol, after Pearl Harbor she was assigned to Ocean Patrol duties, initially in the Caribbean and then, after a brief foray into the Pacific on convoy duties at the beginning of 1942, was based at Recife with TF41 for the next couple of years, for South Atlantic patrols. In February 1944 she returned to New York, and then operated in the North Atlantic. In March she escorted convoy JW58 to Russia, at the end of which she was transferred to the Soviet Navy in place of the Italian ships which had been allocated to Russia following the capitulation of Italy. These ships could not be transferred at that time for various reasons, but as the Soviets insisted on receiving their share, several Allied units were transferred temporarily, Milwaukee being one. She was lent to the Soviets on 20 April 1944 and renamed Murmansk. On 16 March 1949 she was handed back to the USN and subsequently sold for breaking up on 10 December 1949, to be scrapped by American Shipbreakers at Wilmington, Delaware.
Milwaukee as Murmansk
also joined CruDiv 2 with the Atlantic Fleet on completion, but in 1927 was with CruDiv 3 in the Asiatic Fleet, returning to the Atlantic in 1928. In 1932 she joined the battle fleet in the Pacific, with CruDiv 3. By the beginning of 1941 Cincinnati had been transferred to the Atlantic, and served with CruDiv 2 in that theatre until the end of the war, mostly in the South Atlantic with TF41 at Recife, except for a diversion to the Mediterranean for the landings in the south of France in August 1944. Cincinnati paid off on 1 November 1945, and was sold for breaking up on 27 February 1946.
Cincinnati in 1942
saw service with both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets in the years up to WW2. In 1927 she landed troops in Nicaragua, and in 1928 made a cruise to Europe. She participated in the international patrols off Spain during the Civil War, but by the summer of 1938 had assumed the role of Flagship, Destroyers, with the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. During the Japanese attack on 7 December the ship was hit by torpedoes in No. 2 boiler room, and almost all of the machinery spaces were flooded. Damage was also caused by a bomb near-miss. Had this happened at sea, the ship would almost certainly have been lost. As it was, she was under repair until July 1942. After completion of repairs Raleigh participated in the Aleutians campaign as part of the Southern Covering Force until March 1944. She took part in the bombardment of Attu on 18/19 February 1943, and the landings on Attu in May as part of TG16.6. She was with this Task Group when Kiska was bombarded in August 1943 in preparation for the landings, and when Paramushiro in the Kuriles was attacked in February 1944. In January 1945 she participated in the bombardment of the Kuriles again, but by November she had been paid off and stricken, to be sold for breaking up on 27 February 1946.
joined CruDiv 3 after completion. In 1927 she was part of the US forces deployed to Nicaragua during the unrest there, but in June of that year became Flagship of Commander, Naval Forces Europe, making an extensive cruise to European waters. She subsequently served as Flagship, Destroyer Flotillas, Battle Force, for most of the late 1930s, and in 1939 was also Flagship of Desron 2, in the Pacific, serving in this capacity until May 1942. Subsequently she serve with CruDiv 1 for the remainder of the war. On the outbreak of war in the Pacific she was at Pearl Harbor, then undertook local defence duties and convoy work between Pearl and the US west coast. In November 1942 Detroit became Flagship of TF8.6, deployed in the Aleutian Islands where she served until June 1944, taking part in the bombardments of Attu, Kiska and the Kurile Islands. By August 1944 the ship was at Balboa acting as Flagship of the South East Pacific Fleet, and operated off the west coast of South America until December 1944. On 16 January 1945 she sailed for Ulithi for service as Flagship, Replenishment Group, 5th Fleet, and on 1 September was one of the ships in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender. Her final task was to bring home troops from the Pacific, and on 11 January 1946 she was paid off, being sold for scrapping on 27 February that year.
made a major cruise to Europe, Africa and South America after entering service, and then assumed the role of Flagship, Scouting Force. In 1925 she became Flagship, Light Cruiser Division, with the Scouting Force. After a year on the China Station in 1927, she served on the east coast until 1934 and then transferred to the west coast until 1937, when she went to the Pacific as Flagship, Submarine Force. In 1940 Richmond transferred to Pearl Harbor as Flagship CruDiv 3, but when the war in Europe resulted in the formation of the Neutrality Patrol that December, she joined it; operating on the Pacific coast of North and South America. On the US entry into the war the ship undertook convoy escort work in the Pacific until 1943, when she went to the Aleutian Islands as Flagship TG16.6. She participated in the Battle of the Komandorski Islands on 26 March 1943, and in the bombardments of Attu, Kiska and the Kurile Islands until the end of the war, when she took part in the occupation of Japan. By June/July 1945 the cruiser, together with destroyers, was engaged on raids against Japanese convoys in the sea of Okhotsk. After returning to the USA she was paid off on 21 December 1945, stricken on 21 January 1946, and sold to Patapsco Scrap Co. of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for breaking up on 18 December 1946.
assumed the role of Flagship, Atlantic Destroyer Flotillas, in 1925, and served in this capacity until 1931, when she became Flagship of CruDiv 5 with the Scouting Force, later Battle Force. During the war Concord operated in the south-east Pacific on escort duties until transferred to the Aleutians in April 1944 as Flagship TF94. She took part in the bombardment of the Kurile Islands and in the occupation of Japan before returning to home waters in September. Concord was decommissioned on 12 December 1945 and sold for breaking up on 21 January 1947.
was another of the ships engaged in the Nicaragua operations in 1928. For most of the prewar period she was Flagship, CruDiv 2, but by 1939 she was in CruDiv 3 with the Battle Force. Trenton operated in the South Pacific during 1942/44 and then went to the Aleutian Islands in September, where she remained until the end of the war. She was paid off on 20 December 1945, stricken on 21 January 1946 and sold to Patapsco Scrap Co., Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on 29 December 1946 for breaking up.
began her career with a cruise to Great Britain and the Mediterranean, followed by a visit to Australia in 1925. In 1927/28 she was involved in operations on the Yangtse river in China and off Nicaragua before assuming a normal peacetime routine in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. In January 1938 Marblehead was detached to the Philippines, based at Cavite, and was still in this region on the outbreak of war in the Pacific in December 1941. Her duties included the escorting of Allied convoys in the East Indies and offensive sorties as required. As a unit of TF5 she sailed to attack the Japanese invasion force off Balikpapan in January 1942, but because of engine trouble was unable to continue the sortie. In February she was part of Admiral Doorman's ABDA force that sailed to attack the Japanese invasion forces at Balikpapan, but, in the course of attacks on the Allied force by Japanese bombers, Marblehead was hit by two bombs and also near-missed. Serious flooding and loss of steering almost caused the loss of the ship, but she managed to withdraw to South Africa via Ceylon, where repairs took until mid-April. After her return to the USA and completion of repairs, the ship was deployed to the South and central Atlantic for anti-blockade-runner duties, based at Recife and Bahia until February 1944. There followed several months of operations on the North Atlantic convoy routes before the ship was transferred to the Mediterranean for Operation Dragoon, the landings in the south of France. Marblehead was a part of the fire support group to TF87. This was her last active employment, as she then returned to home waters and was used for training purposes until being paid off on 1 November 1945. She was stricken on 28 November and sold for breaking up on 27 February 1946.
Marblehead, San Diego, January 1935. NH64611
Marblehead, May 1944. NH98035
joined CruDiv 3 with the Atlantic fleet, and, in 1927, CruDiv 2 with the Scouting Force in the Atlantic, remaining attached to this formation until becoming Flagship, Aircraft Scouting Forces, in 1939. During the intervening period the ship was deployed to many parts of the world, including European (Flagship, Commander USN Forces Europe) and Australasian waters. From 1928 she operated mainly in the Pacific, and between 1939 and 1941 was based in Alaska. She was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol in April 1941 and, after the US entry into the war, served in the South Atlantic, being based at Recife for much of the war. In January 1945 she was deployed to the Mediterranean as Flagship, Commander USN Forces in Europe. Memphis returned home to pay off, decommissioning on 17 December 1945 and being stricken on 8 January 1946. On 18 December 1946 she was sold for breaking up to the Patapsco Scrap Co., Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.