Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Brooklyn III (CL-40)

(CL-40: dp. 9700: l. 608'4"; b. 61'9"; dr. 24'; s. 33.6 k.; cpl. 868; a 15 6", 8 5"; cl. Brooklyn)


A city located at the southwestern end of Long Island, N.Y., that was incorporated into New York City in 1898 as one of six boroughs. During the American Revolution, the Battle of Long Island was fought on land that now constitutes Brooklyn, and the New York Navy Yard was established on its waterfront in 1801.


The third Brooklyn (CL-40) was launched 30 November 1936 by New York Navy Yard; sponsored by Miss Kathryn Jane Lackey, daughter of Rear Admiral F. R. Lackey; and commissioned 30 September 1937, Captain William D. Brereton, Jr., in command.

Designed and built under the terms of the 1922 Washington Naval Arms Limitation Treaty, the Brooklyn-class light cruisers were authorized by Congress in 1933. The treaty restrictions, which limited the size and armament of major warships in an attempt to avoid a naval arms race, meant the light cruiser designs were kept under 10,000 tons and armed with six-inch guns. Built in response to heavily-armed light cruisers laid down by the Japanese, the Brooklyn-class warships had five triple six-inch gun turrets, three forward and two aft with turrets II and IV in super-firing (mounted above turrets I and III) position. This was the same layout as the Japanese Mogami-class warships. The Brooklyn-class was also noticeable for its flush-deck hull, with its high transom and built-in hangar aft.

Following shakedown training out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Brooklyn joined the fleet in the Panama Canal Zone during the latter part of 1938. She was assigned to Cruiser Division 8 and attended to routine duties with the fleet until April 1939. In mid-April she returned to the United States where she participated in the opening of the New York World's Fair (30 April 1939). On 23 May Brooklyn was ordered to the scene of the Squalus (SS-192) disaster, six miles south of the Isles of Shoals N. H. Until 3 June she acted as a base ship during the salvage and rescue operations. Brooklyn then steamed to the west coast where she joined the Pacific Fleet and participated in the opening of the Golden Gate Exposition (18 February 1940). She served on the went coast until February 1941, when she carried a Marine detachment to help garrison Midway Island. The following month, the light cruiser departed San Diego on a good-will and training tour of the South Pacific, which included stops at American Samoa; Tahiti and Auckland, New Zealand. After returning to Pearl Harbor in May, the light cruiser received orders for the east coast where she joined the Atlantic Squadron. During 1-7 July 1941 she escorted the convoy carrying a Marine garrison to Reykjavik, Iceland. During the remainder of 1941 Brooklyn engaged in convoy escort and Neutrality Patrol cruises in the western Atlantic.

With the entry of the United States into World War II on 7 December 1941, Brooklyn got underway from Bermuda to patrol off Martinique, keeping an eye on Vichy French naval units. In April 1942 she was assigned convoy escort duty between the United States and the United Kingdom. On 3 September, during Broolyn's third trans-Atlantic crossing, Wakefield (AP-21), a member of the convoy caught fire and was abandoned. Brooklyn rescued 1,173 troops which had been embarked on board Wakefield. Although severely damaged by the fire, Wakefield was towed to safety and repaired.

On 24 October 1942 Brooklyn departed Norfolk for North Africa as part of Operation Torch, the landings in Morocco and Algeria. On 8 November, the light cruiser bombarded shore installations to cover the Fedhala landing. Unhappily, it is later determined Brooklyn fired upon friendly troops (Seventh Infantry) before the nearby French fort surrenders. French warships then sortie from Casablanca, and Brooklyn and Augusta (CA-31) take destroyer Milan under fire. During the action, Brooklyn is struck by small caliber fire. Brooklyn also assists in damaging French destroyer Brestois and may have damaged light cruiser Primauguet. Both French warships are later beached or sink from the damage. Unbeknownst to the cruisers' crew, Brooklyn is also attacked by French second-class submarine Amazone, but her torpedoes miss wide of the mark. Later in the day, Brooklyn bombards French artillery positions near Casablanca. While thus engaged the cruiser was hit by a dud projectile that damaged two of the cruiser's guns and wounded five of her crew.

Naval operations off Morocco wound down quickly after the first day and Brooklyn departed Casablanca for the east coast on 17 November 1942. Between January and July 1943 she made three convoy escort voyages between the east coast and Casablanca and then steamed to the Mediterranean where she carried out screening and fire support duties during the invasion of Sicily (10-14 July).

Remaining in the Mediterranean, Brooklyn next covered the Anzio-Nettuno landings (22 January-9 February 1944). Between 13 and 23 May 1944 she participated in the bombardment of the Formia-Anzio area and then carried out exercises in preparation for the invasion of southern France. On 15 August 1944 Brooklyn furnished part of the heavy naval gunfire which preceded the landing of Allied troops on the coast of southern France. She remained on duty in the Mediterranean until 21 November 1944 when she departed Sicily for New York, arriving 30 November.

Between December 1944 and May 1945 Brooklyn underwent extensive overhaul and alteration at New York Navy Yard. From May through September 1945 she exercised along the eastern seaboard and then reported to Philadelphia Navy Yard for her pre-inactivation overhaul. She went in commission in reserve 30 January 1946 and out of commission in reserve 3 January 1947. On 9 January 1951 Brooklyn was transferred under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program to Chile. The light cruiser served as O'Higgins (C 02) in the Chilean Navy until retired in 1992.

Brooklyn received four battle stars for her World War II service.


1 December 2005

Published: Mon Jun 29 10:02:39 EDT 2015