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USS Juneau (CL-52)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Juneau (CL-52)

Commissioned at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., on 14 February 1942, Capt. Lyman K. Swenson in command, USS Juneau (CL-52) fit out at her delivery yard, departing New York on 22 March 1942, and proceeded to nearby Gravesend Bay. She arrived in her designated training area at 0800, took on ammunition and then conducted exercises in those waters through the 24th. Underway at 0748 on 25 March, USS Juneau (CL-52) participated in exercises near Staten Island and anchored for the night off Tompkinsville. She continued to drill in the vicinity through the 27th.

At 1430 on 4 May 1942, USS Juneau (CL-52) received word that she was to proceed to San Juan, P. R. Swenson recalled the crew from shore leave and the ship made preparations to clear Gravesend Bay. The cruiser weighed anchor at 1247 the next day, and set a course for San Juan. Shortly after her arrival in San Juan, USS Juneau (CL-52) was called upon to assist with Allied efforts to prevent military assets of the Vichy French government from falling into German hands. USS Juneau (CL-52) received word on 11 May 1942 that Vichy French ships might attempt to escape in the afternoon. No flight attempt ultimately transpired on the 11th, but the next day, while patrolling eastward of Martinique-Guadeloupe, USS Juneau (CL-52) received a warning that Émile Bertin and Jeanne d’Arc would attempt to escape.

After more than a week at port, USS Juneau (CL-52) departed the Navy Yard on 1 June 1942, and set a course for Naval Base Bayonne, N.J. After calibrating her degaussing gear, she returned to Gravesend Bay to take on ammunition at Fort Lafayette. She finally completed loading on the 3rd and was underway for Base George by the early morning hours of the 4th. On the 7th she departed Base George for Base Queen and while at anchor civilian engineers came on board and installed FD Radar amplifiers.

In the late evening of 19 August 1942, USS Juneau (CL-52) arrived at the Canal Zone, and she transited the isthmian waterway in just under six hours. She moored to Pier 8, Balboa and took on provisions. On 21 August, the cruiser entered dry dock to repair a leaky fuel oil tank, as well as, to be repainted for operations in the Pacific. On 13 September 1942, USS Juneau (CL-52) was proceeding with TF 18 and steaming, in calm seas, in her designated area of patrol, as USS Wasp conducted routine carrier operations. On 14 September, enemy seaplane contact was reported in the vicinity of the task force. 

USS Juneau (CL-52) fired off some 5-inch and 20-millimeter rounds and then she was struck on her port side by a torpedo from the Japanese destroyer Murasame, “below the armor belt and above the rolling chocks.” According to Lt. Roger W. O’Neill, one of USS Juneau (CL-52)’s medical officers, the hit from the concussion caused “a terrific jolt,” that he said “buckled the deck just aft of turret eight,” and threw three depth charges overboard. Severely damaged, USS Juneau (CL-52) lost her steering, which nearly caused her to collide with Helena. As survivors of the night’s engagement were being pulled from the water, the badly damaged Juneau was steaming through the Sealark Channel on only a single screw. Based on the accounts of some of those survivors it is estimated that of the 693 sailors on board at the time she was hit roughly 115 of them were stranded in the water following the sinking of the ship.

For a complete history of USS Juneau (CL-52) please see its DANFS page.