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Louisville

 

The largest city of Kentucky.

 

II

 

The American Line steamship St. Louis (q.v.), after seeing service in the Navy during the Spanish‑American War under her merchant name, was taken over for a second time on 26 April 1918, renamed Louisville (SP‑1644) and commissioned 27 April 1918. Following several round‑trip voyages to Europe as a troop transport, she decommissioned and was returned to her owner 11 September 1919.

 

(CL‑28: dp. 9,050; l. 600'3"; b. 66'1"; dr. 16'4"; s. 32.5 k.; cpl. 621; a. 9 8", 4 5", 6 21" it.; cl. Northampton.)

 

The third Louisville (CL‑28) was launched 1 September 1930 at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash.; sponsored by Miss Jane Brown Kennedy; commissioned 15 January 1931, Capt. E. J. Marquart in command. Effective 1 July 1931, Louisville was redesignated CA‑28 in accordance with the provisions of the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

 

Louisville’s shakedown cruise, running through the summer, fall, and winter of 1931, took her from Bremerton to New York City via the Panama Canal. Returning from New York, she participated in the 1932 fleet problems before commencing gunnery exercises in the San Pedro‑ San. Diego area. During the winter of 1933 she steamed for Hawaii, returning after exercises to San Pedro where she became a schoolship for antiaircraft training. In April, 1934, the cruiser steamed out of San Diego to begin a 9‑month voyage “showing the flag” at various ports in Central America, the Caribbean, and along the gulf and east coasts. Arriving back in California in late fall, Louisville participated in gunnery and tactical exercises until the spring of 1935, when she departed for Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and, thence, to Pearl Harbor to take part in fleet problems.

 

For the next 2 years she operated off the west coast, participating in the 1936 and 1937 fleet problems, making good will calls at Latin American ports and undergoing local training operations. In January, 1938, Louisville began a long Pacific cruise which took her to Hawaii, Samoa, Australia, and Tahiti before returning to Pearl Harbor for fleet problems. While in Sydney, the crew of Louisville rescued a number of passengers from a sightseeing ferryboat which had capsized when most of the passengers crowded to the rail to wave the cruiser off.

 

The winter of 1939 found Louisville participating in fleet exercises in the Caribbean. She operated in these warm waters until May, when she returned to the west coast. After fleet problems, off Hawaii, that autumn, Louisville departed Long Beach for an extended cruise through the Panama Canal to eastern South America. At Bahia, Brazil, she received orders to proceed to Simonstown, South Africa.

 

As a neutral ship, Louisville traveled the U‑boat infested waters with her American flag spotlighted. At Simonstown, she received $148 million in British gold for deposit in the United States. She then sailed for New York City, delivered her precious cargo and returned to the Pacific.

 

On 7 December 1941, Louisville, escorting A. T. Scott and President Coolidge, was en route from Tarakan, East Borneo, to Pearl Harbor. She continued on to Hawaii, stopped briefly to survey the damage and proceeded on to California. There she joined TF 17 and steamed from San Diego, 6 June 1942, for Samoa, landing troops there on the 22d. Her first offensive operation of the war came on her return trip when she took part in carrier plane raids on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. During this action, she lost one of her planes.

 

After a short stay at Pearl Harbor, Louisville commenced patrolling the Canton‑Ellice area to help protect our bases in that vicinity. Early in March she joined TF 119 a carrier force, and began operations to stem the Japanese advancement down the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomons. This force steamed in the Salamaua‑Lae‑Rabaul sector for a number of days, making airstrikes on numerous objectives.

 

Following this operation, Louisville returned to Pearl Harbor, proceeding thence to Mare Island Navy Yard, San Francisco, where her armament was increased. On 31 May, she steamed for the Aleutians to join TF 8. Her duties, during this period of Japan’s strongest efforts to establish the northern end of her “ribbon defense” in the western Aleutians, were primarily those of convoy escort, but included shore bombardment of Kiska Island.

 

On 11 November, the cruiser departed San Francisco for Pearl Harbor, continuing, after a few days on to the South Pacific, escorting several troop transports as far as New Caledonia. She then proceeded north to Espiritu Santo to Join TF 67, which was then battling Japanese forces in the Solomons. On 29 January 1943, she participated In the Battle off Rennell Island, the last of the seven naval battles for Guadalcanal, after which she operated east of the island until it was entirely secured.

 

In April, Louisville steamed, via Pearl Harbor, to the Aleutians. There, as a unit of TF 16, she covered the assault and occupation of Attu (11 to 30 May) and participated In the preinvasion bombardment of Kiska In July‑New York City, 1934.

 

After the latter was evacuated by the Japanese, she conducted escort of convoy operations in the northern Pacific. In January 1944, Louisville returned to the southern Pacific as the flagship of Rear Adm. J. B. Oldendorf, who was to command the naval gunfire support groups through the amphibious operations ahead. In the Marshalls at the end of the month, she bombarded Wotje Island, west of Kwajalein, on the 29th. Then she turned her guns on the airfield and troop concentrations on Rol and Namur on the .southern tip of the atoll, contributing to the conquest of those islands by 3 February. Two weeks later, Louisville led the gunfire support group into action at Eniwetok, which succumbed on the 22d.

 

After Eniwetok, Louisville joined TF 58, and with the fast carriers struck Japanese installations in the Palaus, in March, and bombarded Truk and Sawatan in April. June brought preparations for the invasion of the greater Marianas, and, again Louisville was the leading unit in shore bombardment operations; be‑ginning with Saipan, where she fired continuously for the first 11 days of that engagement, through the shelling of Tinian, and ending with the assault on Guam.

 

After the Marianas, Louisville retired to the rear area until mid‑September, when she steamed to the Palaus for the preinvasion bombardment of Peleliu. Then as advanced bases were created, final preparations for the invasion of the Philippines were made. On 18 October, Louisville entered Leyte Gulf and pounded Japanese shore installations. Seven days later she participated in the last engagement of a battleline as the Japanese southern force attempted to force its way into Leyte Gulf through Surigao Strait. The American battlellne, drawn across the strait by Admiral Oldendorf, virtually destroyed the Japanese force as it was harassed through the strait and into their guns by PT boats and destroyers stationed on either side of the narrow body of water.

 

Following Leyte operations, Louisville rejoined the fast carriers now designated TF 38, and participated in preinvasion strikes against the enemy on Luzon. By the new year, 1945, Louisville was headed towards Lingayen Gulf. While en route, 5 to 6 January, two kamikaze& headed for and scored on her. Despite extensive damage, the cruiser shelled the beaches and shot down several enemy planes before withdrawing and proceeding to Mare Island for repairs.

 

Her repairs completed in the spring, Louisville returned to the Pacific to join TF 54 in providing firecover for ground forces on Okinawa. On 5 June she was again hit by a kamikaze, but was back on the firing line by the 9th, to remain on station until ordered back to Pearl Harbor for repairs on the 15th.

 

With the end of the war, 14 August, Louisville was again seaworthy and hurriedly prepared for postwar duties. On the 16th she sailed for Guam, thence to Darien, Manchuria, with Rear Adm. T. G. W. Settle on board. From Darien, where the evacuation of Allied POWs was supervised, she steamed to Tsingato, where Japanese vessels in that area were surrendered by Vice Admiral Kaneko. Louisville then escorted the surrendered vessels to Jinsen, Korea, after which she returned to China for further postwar duties at Chefoo. In mid‑October, she joined the. Yellow Sea force for abbreviated service before proceeding, via San Pedro, to Philadelphia, where she decommissioned 17 June 1946 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Remaining with that fleet for the next 13 years, Louisville was struck from the Navy list, 1 March 1959, and sold, 14 September, to the Marlene Blouse Corp. of New York.

 

Louisville was awarded 13 battle stars for her service during World War II.