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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Oakland

 

A city in California on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay.

 

II

 

(CL–95: displacement 6,000 tons; length 541’; beam 53’; draft 26’6”; speed 31.8 knots; complement 802; armament 12 5-inch guns, 8 40mm, 16 20mm, 6 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Oakland)

 

Oakland (CL–95) was laid down by Bethlehem Steel Co., San Francisco, Calif., 15 July 1941; launched 23 October 1942; sponsored by Dr. Aurelia H. Reinhardt; and commissioned 17 July 1943, Capt. William K. Phillips in command.

 

Following a shakedown and training cruise off San Diego in the summer of 1943, and a final yard period at Mare Island in September and October, Oakland sailed for Hawaii the day before Halloween, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 3 November. Joining with three heavy cruisers and two destroyers, she linked up with carrier Task Group 50.3 near Funafuti in the Ellice Islands to help pave the way for operation “Galvanic”, the amphibious landings in the Gilberts. Task Group carriers launched initial air strikes 19 November, and in retaliation, a wave of Japanese torpedo-bombers attacked the formation on the afternoon of the 20th, during which Oakland helped splash four enemy aircraft.

 

Transferred to TG 50.1 on 26 November, Oakland took over screen commander duties, covering aircraft carriers Yorktown (CV-10), Lexington (16) and Independence (CVL-22) as they raided anchorages at Kwajalein, Wotje and Maloelap atolls in the Marshall Islands on 4 December. Oakland coordinated antiaircraft fire during Japanese counterattacks but could not prevent damage one aerial torpedo from striking Lexington, damaging steering control. During the action, destroyer Taylor (DD-468) was also damaged by friendly fire from Oakland. The cruiser then covered the slow withdrawal of Lexington to Hawaii, both ships arriving at Pearl Harbor on 9 December.

 

Oakland departed Pearl Harbor 16 January 1944 with the carriers of TG 58.1 and headed for the Marshalls. The task group launched strikes against Maloelap on 29 January, sinking Japanese netlayer Uji Maru, and against Kwajalein on the 30th, and then supported the amphibious landings at Kwajalein and Majuro the following day. Oakland with her carriers supported operations ashore until anchoring in newly secured Majuro lagoon on 4 February to resupply.

 

Weighing anchor 12 February, the ships of TG 58.1 sailed south and helped launch a series of punishing air strikes against Truk on 17-18 February. The attacks, carried out by nine aircraft carriers, sank two cruisers, three destroyers and over 30 patrol craft and auxiliaries, greatly damaging the important Japanese naval base there. Swinging west, TF 58 raided the Marianas Islands before returning to Majuro.

 

Oakland next sortied with TG 58.1 on 7 March, bound for Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. The task group skirted the Solomons and covered the occupation of Emirau Island, north of New Britain, on the 20th. After remaining in the area a few days to protect reinforcement convoys, the task group swept on into the western Carolines, where the three American carriers pounded Palau on 30 March, Yap on the 31st and Woleai 1 April, before returning to Majuro on the 6th April. During the strikes, which sank over 40 auxiliaries and small craft, naval aircraft also dropped extensive minefields in and around the channels and approaches to the Palaus. The cruiser continued this rapid pace of operations for the rest of April, with TG 58.1 carriers striking Japanese bases in New Guinea at Wake and Sawar on the 21st and 22d. After refueling and resupplying at Manus on the 26th the TG again hammered Truk at the end of the month before retiring to Kwajalein on 4 May.

 

Following a month of upkeep and preparations, Oakland sailed with TG 58.1 for the Marianas Islands on 6 June, covering the carriers as they attacked Japanese installations on Guam 11-13 June, before steaming north for a sweep of Japanese airfields on the Volcano and Bonin Islands on the 14th.

 

Alerted by the news of a Japanese naval counter-attack, the carriers rushed west of Saipan to cover the invasion force and fought in the ensuing Battle of the Philippine Sea, 19-20 June. The mainly aerial battle, called the “Marianas Turkey Shoot” by Navy pilots, cost the Japanese almost 400 carrier aircraft and virtually destroyed the trained pool of Japanese naval aviators. American attack aircraft also sank one fleet carrier and damaged three others in what was later called the "Mission beyond Darkness," as the strike groups had to make their way home after dusk. Overall, 130 American planes and 76 crews were lost in the battle, a number that undoubtedly would have been higher had not Admiral Marc A. Mistscher ordered the task force ships to turn on their spot lights to help the planes land at the end of the second day.

 

TG 58.1 next struck at Pagan on 23 June and Iwo Jima the 24th before gathering at Eniwetok atoll for replenishment. The group then sailed northwest to the Bonins, delivering a withering air-sea bombardment against Iwo and Chichi Jima 3-4 July, and by the 5th was speeding south for a return engagement in the Marianas. The carriers then began launching a series of alternating strikes against Guam and Rota. In a change of pace, Oakland and Helm (DD–388) teamed up to recover downed pilots off Guam and fire at targets on Orote Peninsula on 9 July. In support of Marine landings on Guam later in the month, TG 58.1 steamed southwest to hammer Japanese airfields at Yap and Ulithi in the western Carolines 26-27 July before returning to Saipan.

 

Around 0800 on 4 August, while Oakland helped cover air strikes on Iwo Jima, search planes reported a Japanese convoy zig-zagging out of Chichi Jima in the Bonin Islands. Later air strikes damaged and slowed the convoy. A surface task group was quickly assembled, consisting of the light cruisers Oakland, Santa Fe (CL–60), Mobile (CL–63), Biloxi (CL–80) and seven destroyers, and raced northwest at 30 knots. Arriving off Muko Jima around 1730, the warships soon sank esort destroyer Matsu, collier Ryuko Maru and finished off damaged cargo ship Hokkai Maru. At 2145 Oakland and company then turned south to rake Chichi Jima, with the light cruiser making three shore bombardment runs against shipping in Funtami Ko harbor, damaging the seaplane base and starting fires among the wharves and warehouses.

 

Following a resupply and upkeep period at Eniwetok in August, Oakland’s task group hit Peleliu and other islands in the western Carolines 6-7 September before steaming northwest for a two-week raid on Japanese airfields in the Philippines, striking installations on Mindanao, in the Visayan Sea area and on Luzon. The air attacks also sank five transports and cargo ships and at least a dozen small craft, while a surface force destroyed a convoy of small craft off Mindanao. The task groups' then retired to Ulithi on 2 October.

 

On 6 October, Oakland got underway with TG 38.2 for a massive raid on Japanese shipping and installations in the Ryukyus, with air strikes sinking over two dozen auxiliaries and small craft on the 10th. Two days later, her task group struck airfields, shipping and industrial sites on Formosa, helping sink over a dozen more cargo ships and tankers there and off the Pescadores. The carrier raid attracted a major Japanese counter-attack, however, and heavy cruiser Canberra (CA-70) was seriously damaged by an aerial torpedo on 13 October. Oakland then transferred back to TG 38.1 to cover the withdrawal of the damaged cruiser, helping to fight off repeated Japanese attacks the following day. The light cruiser returned to the fray on 19 October during heavy air strikes on Japanese airfields near Manila in the Philippines and then covered the Leyte landings on the 20th.

 

While enroute to Ulithi to refit and refuel, TG 38.1 was ordered to backtrack at once to help stop the Japanese warships converging on Leyte Gulf. By the time she arrived on the scene, however, the massive series of engagements later called the Battle for Leyte Gulf 23-26 October were mostly over, with the Japanese losing four aircraft carriers, three battleships and over a dozen cruisers and destroyers, virtually destroying the Imperial Navy as an effective fighting force.

 

During November and December, Oakland operated with various task groups of TF 38 supporting the Philippine liberation campaign, covering fleet and escort carriers as they attacked targets on Luzon and in the Visayan Sea. On 18 December, after "the bottom dropped out of the barometer," the light cruiser rode out a raging typhoon in the Philippine Sea. Following those hectic months, Oakland received the news she was going home for a yard overhaul in preparation for major campaigns planned later in the new year. Returning to San Francisco on 11 January 1945, she entered the Bethlehem Steel shipyard there for engine repairs, new antiaircraft armament and a new coat of rust resistant paint. Departing California on 4 March, the light cruiser stopped at Pearl Harbor before moving on to Ulithi, her staging area for the upcoming invasion of Okinawa.

 

Oakland sailed for the Ryukyus on 31 March, arriving off Okinawa on 3 April. The light cruiser covered air strikes by various task groups of TF 58 for the next week, a task uneventful until the 11th when her guns drove off a raid by Japanese aircraft. During the action, Oakland lost two sailors to strafing or friendly antiaircraft fire, her only battle casualties suffered during the entire war. With other groups of TF 58, Oakland moved northward on 15 April to launch strikes against airfields on Kyushu. Enemy planes tried time and again to pierce the task force’s protective fighter umbrella and twice Oakland’s guns cut loose, aiding in the destruction of twin-engine bomber and driving off another.

 

After returning for almost two more weeks of operations off Okinawa on the 17th, and repeated Japanese kamikaze strikes on various U.S. Navy formations, TG 58.3 retired east of the island in May to replenish and conduct more leisurely strikes against Okinawa itself from a safer distance. Alerted by snooper planes winging near the group early in the morning of 11 May, Oakland's crew scrambled to general quarters but an attack failed to materialize. When the Japanese did strike, it was like a bolt of lightening when two kamikazes plummeted into the flight deck of Bunker Hill (CV–17), 2000 yards from the light cruiser. A trio of life rafts were cut loose from Oakland to aid in the rescue of Bunker Hill survivors.

 

The task force struck again at airfields on Kyushu on 13 May, provoking the usual response the following day which kept Oakland's gunners busy until the task group returned to fight off Okinawa. She remained there until the 29th when she shifted to TG 38.1 and made for Leyte Gulf, anchoring in San Pedro Bay on 1 June.

 

On 10 July, TG 38.1 commenced what was called the "Month of Fire," a series of large and repeated raids on the Japanese mainland, beginning with Honshu and then shifting north to Hokaido. Naval aircraft pounded Tokyo 17–20 July, Kure and Kobe 24-27 July and then Tokyo again on the 30th along with Nagoya. On 7 August the ships turned north to strike the Honshu-Hokaido area for a second time, though poor weather and rumors of armistice negotiations following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki limited strikes. August 15th brought the long awaited “cease all offensive operations” order and Oakland took up station off Kyushu for the occupation of Japan. She moved to Tokyo Bay on 30 August and, while anchored near the Yokosuka naval base, witnessed the signing of the peace treaty ending the war in the Pacific on 2 September.

 

Oakland lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay until 1 October when she sailed for Okinawa to embark homeward bound veterans for a “magic carpet” voyage to San Francisco. Leaving Okinawa on the 3rd, she arrived at San Francisco on the 20th. “Magic carpet” duty in November and December took Oakland back to the Pacific twice, first to Eniwetok and then to Kwajalein, before Oakland was ordered to an inactivation area at Bremerton, Washington.

 

Reprieve came in the form of a change in orders soon thereafter and, instead of inactivation, Oakland was slated for continued active service. She received a thorough overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in the first half of 1946. Shifting back south to San Diego, the cruiser operated in and around San Diego as a Fleet Gunnery Training Ship through the end of that year.

 

On 6 January 1947, Oakland got underway for her first post-war cruise to the Far East. After a stop at Pearl Harbor on the 14th, the light cruiser conducted a two-month fleet exercise in the Marianas and Marshall Islands, visiting Guam, Saipan and Kwajalein before returning to Pearl Harbor on 11 March. Instead of returning to San Diego, however, Oakland was ordered east to China, where American support for the Nationalist Chinese in the Civil War against the communist Chinese was growing following the collapse of mediation efforts. Arriving at Tsing-tao on 30 March, Oakland became the flagship of Capt. Sherman R. Clark, Commander, Destroyer Flotilla Three. The light cruiser operated out of that port and Shanghai, for the next three months, conducting almost a dozen patrols in the East China Sea. Tensions were particularly high in May, as communist forces threatened the U.S. consulate at Peking, and American forces in China were placed on high alert. As part of that response, Oakland supplied a small landing force of sailors to help out the Marines in Tsing-tao. Tensions eased in June and the light cruiser departed China on 20 July, stopping at Yokosuka and Pearl Harbor before arriving at San Diego on 8 August.


After a maintenance period, and then an overhaul in early 1948 Oakland began her second voyage to China in support of the American mission to help the Nationalist Chinese. The warship made two long cruises in Chinese waters, the first between 26 April and 10 July and the second 27 September to 9 November, though by the end of the second patrol the Nationalist government in China had virtually collapsed under communist pressure. Oakland returned to the west coast for the last time before the end of the year and reported to the Pacific Reserve Fleet for inactivation on 28 February 1949. She was redesignated CLAA-95 that same day but saw no active service as such since the light cruiser was decommissioned at San Francisco on 1 July 1949. Later struck from the navy list on 1 March 1959, she was sold to Louis Simons Inc. on 1 December 1959 for scrapping, a task completed by the end of 1962.

 

Oakland earned nine battle stars for service in World War II.


02 February 2006