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MINNEAPOLIS / CA-36
Notes: The NEW ORLEANS class link the WICHITA and the wartime American cruisers with their lightly-protected predecessors. By the late 1920's, there was growing apprehension concerning the light protection of the large cruisers under construction. However, the Bureau of Construction and Repair maintained that a 10,000-ton ship of high speed, armed with 8" guns, could not be well protected. Not until the NORTHAMPTON class were completed did it become obvious that the U. S. "treaty cruisers" were about 1,000 tons below the treaty limit. In 1929, the U. S. Navy began a program of 15 additional heavy and light cruisers. This program was interrupted by a combination of the London Treaty of 1930 and the Great Depression of 1929. But in 1929, the General Board approved a design very similar to the NORTHAMPTON class. This was not to be. There was considerable pressure within the Navy for a better-protected cruiser, and eventually the Bureau of Construction and Repair had to admit that by making some modifications, a better-protected ship might be achieved. In fact, it proved possible to replace the lightly-armored gunhouses of the NORTHAMPTON class with a true turret, for a great advance in protection.
Wartime modifications were relatively minor, with the main focus being the augmentation of the anti-aircraft battery (and subsequently, the need to reduce topweight). The bridgework was reduced, the armored conning tower was eliminated, and an open bridge was fitted. One crane was removed, and later, one of the two catapults. By the end of the war, the surviving members of the class had 24 - 40mm AA guns in six quad mounts; NEW ORLEANS also had 28 - 20mm AA guns (in 14 twin mounts).
MINNEAPOLIS was commissioned in May, 1934. Following her shakedown cruise in the Atlantic, MINNEAPOLIS was transferred to the Pacific and assigned to the Pacific Fleet. MINNEAPOLIS was at sea near Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on 7 December 1941. For the next several months, she served as an escort for various carrier groups, and was present at both the Battle of the Coral Sea in May and at the Battle of Midway in June, 1942. Following several weeks of rest, repairs and training, VINCENNES was sent back to the Solomons in the South Pacific for the invasion of the Guadalcanal. MINNEAPOLIS assisted the carrier SARATOGA when the latter was torpedoed at the Battle of the Eastern Solomons on 31 August 1942. On 30 November 1942, MINNEAPOLIS was the flagship of Task Force 67 at the Battle of Tassafaronga off Guadalcanal. Early in the battle, MINNEAPOLIS sank a Japanese transport with her 8" gunfire, and assisted in the sinking of a second transport. However, a group of Japanese destroyers successfully hit MINNEAPOLIS with two torpedoes; one hit in her #2 fireroom, causing a loss of power and severe damage; the second on blew off her entire bow from her chain pipes forward. Excellent damage control work kept her afloat, and MINNEAPOLIS returned to Pearl Harbor and then Mare Island Navy Yard for complete repairs. Returning to service in August, 1943, MINNEAPOLIS took part in every subsequent major operation in the Pacific (except for the Iwo Jima), and took part in the Battle of Surigao Strait on 24-25 October 1944, the last major surface battle fought in World War II. MINNEAPOLIS was at Subic Bay in the Philippines, at the end of hostilities. She flew the flag of Adm. Thomas Kincaid as he accepted the Japanese surrender of Korea on 9 September 1945. After taking part in "Operation Magic Carpet", bringing American troops home, MINNEAPOLIS sailed in January 1946 for the Panama Canal and then on to Philadelphia. There, MINNEAPOLIS was placed in reserve on 21 May 1946, and decommissioned on 10 February 1947. Following 12 years in the "Mothball Navy", MINNEAPOLIS was sold for scrapping in August, 1959.