for Fun Miscellaneous
Tanks Trains Contact Me
VINCENNES / CA-44
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).
VINCENNES, the final ship of the NEW ORLEANS class, was commissioned in February, 1937 and assigned to the U. S. Atlantic Fleet. In December, 1939, she was assigned to the Caribbean Patrol, with the heavy cruiser WICHITA and several destroyers. In June, 1940, she brought a shipment of gold from Morocco to the United States. Later, VINCENNES brought another gold shipment from South Africa to the United States. VINCENNES took part in many training exercises, including support of amphibious landings, before being transferred to the Pacific Fleet in March, 1942. In early April, 1942, VINCENNES escorted the aircraft carrier HORNET as Lt. Col. James Doolittle's squadron of 16 B-25 medium bombers attacked targets in Japan. Following her return to Pearl Harbor, VINCENNES was assigned to the aircraft carrier YORKTOWN's screening forces for the Battle of Midway. 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. On the night of 8-9 August 1942, VINCENNES (along with her sisters ASTORIA and QUINCY of Task Force 18) were engaged by Vice Admiral Mikawa's Cruiser Division 6 (consisting of the heavy cruisers CHOKAI, AOBA, FURUTAKA, KINUGASA, and KAKO, the light cruisers TENRYU and YUBARI, and two destroyers) at the First Battle of Savo Island. Unseen in the darkness, the Japanese force was able to close to approximately 2,000 yards before opening fire - with devastating results. Quickly illuminated by a fire in her own aircraft hangars, VINCENNES was soon hit by a "Long Lance" torpedo which hit in her #1 fireroom, putting it out of action. Five minutes later, VINCENNES lost all steering control and became dead in the water. Hit by at least 57 8" and 5" shells and battered from stem to stern, VINCENNES sank less than an hour after coming under fire on 9 August 1942.