Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Helena (CL-50)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Helena (CL-50)

USS Helena (CL-50), was launched 27 August 1939 by the New York Navy Yard; sponsored by Miss Elinor Carlyle Gudger, granddaughter of Senator Thomas J. Welch of Montana; and commissioned 18 September 1939, Captain Max B. Demott in command.

USS Helena (CL-50), assigned to the Pacific Fleet, was at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, when the Japanese attacked. She was moored at 1010 Dock Navy Yard on the east side of the harbor; outboard was mine layer USS Oglala (CM-4)By chance USS Helena (CL-50) was in the berth normally assigned to Pennsylvania; and this became a prime target for the Japanese planes. After preliminary overhaul at Pearl Harbor, Helena steamed to Mare Island Navy Yard for permanent repairs. In 1942, she sailed to enter action, escorting a detachment of SeaBees and an aircraft carrier rushing planes to the South Pacific.

USS Helena (CL-50)'s next action was near Rennell Island, again in support of a movement of transports into Guadalcanal. Air attacks from Henderson Field had slowed down the Tokyo Express for several days, so 11 October 1942 the Japanese poured everything they could deliver against the airstrip, hoping to neutralize air operations long enough to bring heavy troop reinforcements during the night. USS Helena (CL-50) was next under attack on the night of 20 October 1942 while patrolling between Espiritu Santo and San Cristobal. Several torpedoes exploded near her but she was not hit. She later participated in a bombardment near Koli Point, Guadalcanal, on 4 November.

For a complete history of USS Helena (CL-50) please see its DANFS page.