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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Philadelphia

 

The city in Pennsylvania where the Continental Congress met during much of the American Revolution.

 

V

 

(CL–41: dp. 9,700; l. 608’4”; b. 61’9”; dr. 19’5”; s. 32.5 k.; cpl. 868; a. 15 6”, 8 5”, 20 40mm., 10 20mm; cl. Brooklyn)

 

The fifth Philadelphia, a light cruiser, was laid down 28 May 1935 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched 17 November 1936; sponsored by Mrs. George H. Earle, first lady of Pennsylvania; and commissioned at Philadelphia 23 September 1937, Captain Jules James in command.

 

After fitting out, the cruiser departed Philadelphia 3 January 1938 for shakedown in the West Indies followed by additional alterations at Philadelphia and further sea trials off the Maine coast.

 

Philadelphia called at Charleston, S.C. 30 April 1938 and hosted President Roosevelt the first week of May for a cruise

 

in Caribbean waters. The President debarked at Charleston 8 May and Philadelphia resumed operations with Cruiser Division 8 off the Atlantic coast. She was designated flagship of Rear Admiral F.A. Todd, Commander Cruiser Division 8, Battle Force, 27 June. In the following months she called at principal ports of the West Indies, and at New York, Boston, and Norfolk.

 

Transiting the Panama Canal 1 June 1939, Philadelphia joined Cruiser Division 8 in San Pedro, Calif. 18 June for Pacific coastal operations. She departed Los Angeles 2 April 1940 for Pearl Harbor, where she engaged in fleet maneuvers until May 1941.

 

Cruiser Philadelphia stood out of Pearl Harbor 22 May 1941 to resume Atlantic operations, arriving Boston 18 June. At this point she commenced neutrality patrol operations, steaming as far south as Bermuda and as far north as Halifax, Nova Scotia. She entered Boston Navy Yard 25 November for upkeep and was in repair status there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

 

Eleven days after the Japanese attack, Philadelphia steamed for exercises in Casco Bay, after which she joined two destroyers for antisubmarine patrol to Argentia, Newfoundland. Returning to New York 14 February 1942, she made two escort runs to Hafnarfiordur, Iceland. She then joined units of Task Force 22 at Norfolk 16 May, departing two days later for an ASW sweep to the Panama Canal.

 

She then returned to New York, only to depart 1 July as an escort unit for a convoy bond for Greenock, Scotland. The middle of August found her escorting a second convoy to Greenock. Returning to Norfolk, Va. 15 September, she joined Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt’s Western Naval Task Force.

 

This force was to land some 35,000 troops and 250 tanks of General Patton’s Western Task Force at three different points on the Atlantic coast of French Morocco. Philadelphia became flagship of Rear Admiral Lyal A. Davidson, commanding the Southern Attack Group. which was to carry 6,423 troops under Major General E. N. Harmon, USA, with 108 tanks, to the landing at Safi, about 140 miles south of Casablanca.

 

Philadelphia’s task group departed Norfolk 24 October and set course as if bound for the British Isles. The entire Western Naval Task Force, consisting of 102 ships and spanning an ocean area some 20 by 40 miles, combined 450 miles off Cape Race, Newfoundland 28 October. It was, to that time, the greatest war fleet sent forth by the United States.

 

The task force swept northward 6 November, thence changed course toward the Straits of Gibraltar. But after dark a southeasterly course was plotted towards Casablanca, and shortly before midnight of 7 November, three separate task groups closed three different points on the Moroccan coast.

 

Philadelphia took up its fire support station as the transports offloaded troops in the early morning darkness of 8 November. Shore batteries opened fire at 0428, and within two minutes Philadelphia joined New York (BB–34) in bombardment of Batterie Railleuse which, with four 130mm. guns, was the strongest defense unit in the Safi area. Later in the morning, Philadelphia bombarded a battery of three 155mm. guns about three miles south of Safi.

 

Spotter planes from the cruiser also got into the act by flying close support missions. One of Philadelphia’s aircraft discovered and bombed a Vichy French submarine 9 November in the vicinity of Cape Kantin. The next day the Vichy submarine Medeuse, one of eight that had sortied from Casablanca, was sighted down by the stern and listing badly to port, beached at Mazagan, north of Cape Blanco. Thought to be the same submarine previously attacked off Cape Kantin, Medeuse was again spotted by a plane from Philadelphia and was subsequently bombed.

 

Departing Safi 13 November, Philadelphia returned to New York 24 November. Operating from that port until 11 March 1943, she assisted in escorting two convoys to Casablanca. She then joined Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk’s Task Force 85 for training in Chesapeake Bay preparatory to the invasion of Sicily.

 

A convoy escorted by Philadelphia and nine destroyers sortied from Norfolk, Va. 8 June 1943 and arrived Oran, Algeria 22 June, where final invasion staging operations took place. The convoy stood out from Oran 5 July and arrived off the beaches of Scoglitti, Sicily shortly before midnight of 9 July Philadelphia assisted in furnishing covering bombardment as the troops of Major General Troy Middleton’s 45th Infantry Division stormed ashore. By 15 July she had joined the gunfire support group off Porto Empedocle, where her guns were put to good use.

 

Philadelphia took departure from her gunfire support area 19 July and steamed to Algiers, where she became flagship of Rear Admiral Davidson’s Support Force. This Task Force 88 was formed 27 July and given the mission of the defense of Palermo, gunfire support to the 7th Army’s advance along the coast, provision of amphibious craft for “leap frog” landings behind enemy lines, and ferry duty for heavy artillery, supplies, and vehicles to relieve congestion on the railway and the single coastal road. Cruisers Philadelphia and Savannah and six destroyers entered the harbor at Palermo 30 July and the next day commenced bombardment of the batteries near San Stefano di Camatra.

 

Action in the area of Palermo continued until 21 August, when Philadelphia steamed for Algiers. During her operations in support of the invasion of Sicily, the cruiser had provided extensive gunfire support and, in beating off several hostile air attacks, had splashed a total of six aircraft. She touched at Oran, departing 5 September enroute Salerno.

 

Her convoy entered the Gulf of Salerno a few hours before midnight of 8 September 1943. Philadelphia’s real work began off the Salerno beaches at 0943 the next day, when she commenced shore bombardment. When one of her scouting planes spotted 35 German tanks concealed in a thicket adjacent to Red Beach, Philadelphia’s guns took them under fire and destroyed seven of them before they escaped to the rear.

 

Philadelphia narrowly evaded a glide bomb 11 September, although several of her crew were injured when the bomb exploded. While bombarding targets off Aropoli 15 September, the cruiser downed one of twelve attacking planes and assisted in driving off a second air attack the same day in the vicinity of Altavilla. She downed two more hostile aircraft 17 September and cleared the gunfire support area that night, bound for Bizerte, Tunisia. After upkeep at Gibraltar, Philadelphia departed Oran, Algeria 6 November as part of the escort for a convoy which arrived at Hampton Roads 21 November.

 

Philadelphia underwent overhaul at New York and then engaged in refresher training in Chesapeake waters until 19 January 1944, when she steamed from Norfolk as an escorting unit for a convoy arriving Oran, Algeria 30 January.

 

Philadelphia joined the gunfire support ships off Anzio 14 February and provided support for the advancing ground troops through 23 May 1944. After overhaul at Malta, she joined Admiral C. F. Bryant’s Task Group 85.12 at Taranto, Italy. The cruiser served as one of the escorting units for the group, which reached the Gulf of St. Tropez, France 15 August. At 0640 she teamed with Texas (BB–35) and Nevada (BB–36) and, with other support ships, they closed the beaches and provided counter-battery fire. By 0815 the bombardment had destroyed enemy defenses and Major General Eagles’ famed “Thunderbirds” of the 45th Army Infantry Division landed without opposition.

 

After replenishing ammunition at Propriano, Corsica 17 August, Philadelphia provided gunfire support to the French army troops on the western outskirts of Toulon. Four days later her commanding officer, Capt. Walter A. Ansel, accepted the surrender of the fortress islands of Pomeques, Chateau D’If, and Ratonneau in the Bay of Marseilles. After gunfire support missions off Nice, she departed Naples 20 October and returned to Philadelphia, Pa., arriving 6 November.

 

Philadelphia underwent overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and then refresher training in the West Indies, returning to Norfolk, Va. 4 June 1945. She steamed for Antwerp, Belgium 7 July, acting as escort for Augusta (CA–31) who had embarked President Harry S Truman and his party, including Secretary of State Byrnes and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy. Arriving Antwerp 15 July, the President departed Augusta and was flown to the Potsdam Conference. Before the conference ended, Philadelphia proceeded to Plymouth, England to await return of the President.

 

On 2 August 1945, Philadelphia rendered honors to King George VI, who visited President Truman in Augusta. The ships departed that same day and Philadelphia arrived Norfolk, Va. 7 August.

 

Philadelphia stood out of Narragansett Bay for South Hampton, England 6 September, returning 25 September as escort for the former German liner Europa. After operations in Narragansett Bay and in Chesapeake Bay, she arrived Philadelphia 26 October 1945. Steaming for Le Havre, France 14 November, she embarked Army passengers for the return to New York 29 November. She made another “Magic Carpet” run from New York to Le Havre and return 5–25 December, and arrived Philadelphia for inactivation 9 January 1946. She decommissioned in the Philadelphia Navy Yard 3 February 1947. Struck from the Navy List 9 January 1951, she was sold to the government of Brazil under terms of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. She now serves in the Brazilian Navy under the name Barroso (C11).

 

Philadelphia received five battle stars for World War II operations.