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Louisville III (CL-28)

1931-1959

The largest city of Kentucky.

The third U.S. Navy ship named Louisville. The first Louisville, an ironclad centerwheel gunboat, served from 1862-1865 (http://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/l/louisiana-ii.html). Union sidewheel steamer Manitou of the Mississippi Squadron captured Confederate steamer Louisville on the Little Red River, Ark., on 13 July 1863, and she was subsequently renamed Cuachita. The second U.S. Navy ship named Louisville, therefore, American Line steamship St. Louis (q.v.), served during the Spanish‑American War under her merchant name, and was taken over for a second time on 25 April 1918, renamed Louisville (Id. No. 1644), and served from 1918-1919 (http://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/s/st-louis-iii.html). The fourth Louisville, an attack submarine (SSN-724), has served since 1986 (http://www.csp.navy.mil/subssquadrons/louisville/louisville_homepage.shtml).

II

(CL‑28: displacement 9,050; length 600'3"; beam 66'1"; draft 16'4"; speed 32.5 knots; complement 621; armament 9 8-inch, 4 5-inch, 6 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Northampton)

The third Louisville (CL‑28) was launched on 1 September 1930 at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash.; sponsored by Miss Jane B. Kennedy; and commissioned on 15 January 1931, Capt. Edward J. Marquart in command. On 1 July 1931, Louisville was redesignated a heavy cruiser (CA‑28) in accordance with the provisions of the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

Louisville's shakedown cruise, running through the summer, fall, and winter of 1931, took her from Bremerton to New York City via the Panama Canal. Returning from New York, she participated in the 1932 fleet problems before commencing gunnery exercises in the San Pedro‑San Diego area. During the winter of 1933 she steamed for the Hawaiian Islands, returning after exercises to San Pedro where she became a schoolship for antiaircraft training. In April 1934, the cruiser steamed out of San Diego to begin a 9‑month voyage "showing the flag" at various ports in Central America, the Caribbean, and along the gulf and east coasts. Arriving back in California in late fall, Louisville participated in gunnery and tactical exercises until the spring of 1935, when she departed for Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and, thence, to Pearl Harbor to take part in fleet problems.

For the next two years she operated off the west coast, participating in the 1936 and 1937 fleet problems, making good will calls at Latin American ports and undergoing local training operations. In January, 1938, Louisville began a long Pacific cruise which took her to Hawaii, Samoa, Australia, and Tahiti before returning to Pearl Harbor for fleet problems. While in Sydney, Australia, the crew of Louisville rescued a number of passengers from a sightseeing ferryboat which had capsized when most of the passengers crowded to the rail to wave the cruiser off.

The winter of 1939 found Louisville participating in fleet exercises in the Caribbean. She operated in these warm waters until May, when she returned to the west coast. Following fleet problems in Hawaiian waters that autumn, Louisville sailed from Long Beach for an extended cruise through the Panama Canal to eastern South America. At Bahia, Brazil, she received orders to proceed to Simonstown, South Africa.

As a neutral ship, Louisville traveled the U‑boat infested waters with her American flag spotlighted. At Simonstown, she received $148 million in British gold for deposit in the United States. She then made for New York City, delivered her precious cargo and returned to the Pacific.

On 7 December 1941, Louisville, escorting A. T. Scott and President Coolidge, steamed en route from Tarakan, East Borneo, Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) to Pearl Harbor. She continued on to Oahu, stopping briefly to survey the damage from the Japanese attack, and then continuing her voyage to California. There she joined Task Force (TF) 17 and steamed from San Diego on 6 June 1942, landing troops at Samoa on 22 June. Her first offensive operation of the war came on her return trip when she took part in carrier plane raids on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. During this action, she lost one of her planes.

After a short stay at Pearl Harbor, Louisville commenced patrolling the Canton‑Ellice area to help protect Allied garrisons in that vicinity. Early in March she joined TF 119, a carrier force, and began operations to stem the Japanese advancement down the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomons. This force steamed in the Salamaua‑Lae‑Rabaul sector for a number of days, making airstrikes on numerous objectives.

Following this operation, Louisville returned to Pearl Harbor, proceeding thence to Mare Island Navy Yard, Calif., where her armament was increased. On 31 May, she steamed for the Aleutians to join TF 8. Her duties, during this period of Japan's strongest efforts to establish the northern end of her "ribbon defense" in the western Aleutians, primarily escorting convoys but also shelling Kiska Island.

On 11 November, the cruiser departed San Francisco for Pearl Harbor, continuing, after a few days on to the South Pacific, escorting several troop transports as far as New Caledonia. She then proceeded north to Espíritu Santo in the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) and joined TF 67 while that force battled the Japanese in the Solomons. On 29 January 1943, she participated In the Battle off Rennell Island, the last of the seven naval battles for Guadalcanal, after which she operated east of the island until it was entirely secured.

In April, Louisville steamed, via Pearl Harbor, to the Aleutians. There, as a ship of TF 16, she covered the assault and occupation of Attu (11 to 30 May) and participated In the preinvasion bombardment of Kiska in July. After the Japanese evacuated Kiska, she conducted escort of convoy operations in the northern Pacific. In January 1944, Louisville returned to the southern Pacific as the flagship of Rear Adm. Jesse B. Oldendorf, who was to command the naval gunfire support groups through the amphibious operations ahead. In the Marshalls at the end of the month, she bombarded Wotje Island, west of Kwajalein, on 29 January. Then she turned her guns on the airfield and troop concentrations on Roi and Namur on the southern tip of the atoll, contributing to the conquest of those islands by 3 February. Two weeks later, Louisville led the gunfire support group into action at Eniwetok.

After Eniwetok, Louisville joined TF 58, and with the fast carriers struck Japanese installations in the Palaus, in March, and bombarded Truk and Sawatan in April. June brought preparations for the invasion of the greater Marianas, and, again Louisville turned her guns on enemy troops ashore; beginning with Saipan, where she fired continuously for the first 11 days of that engagement, through the shelling of Tinian, and ending with the assault on Guam.

After the Marianas, Louisville retired to the rear area until mid‑September 1944, when she steamed to the Palaus for the preinvasion bombardment of Peleliu. The Allies meanwhile created advanced bases during their final preparations to invade the Philippines. On 18 October, Louisville entered Leyte Gulf and pounded Japanese shore installations. Seven days later she participated in the last engagement of a battleline as the Japanese southern force attempted to force its way into Leyte Gulf through Surigao Strait. Adm. Oldendorf deployed the American battlellne across the strait and PT boats and destroyers on either side of the narrow body of water, virtually destroying the Japanese ships as they passed through the strait.

Louisville then rejoined the fast carriers, redesignated TF 38, and participated in preinvasion strikes against the enemy on Luzon. By the New Year of 1945, Louisville steamed toward Lingayen Gulf. While en route on 5 to 6 January 1945, two Japanese kamikaze suicide planes crashed her. Despite extensive damage, the cruiser shelled the beaches and shot down several enemy planes before withdrawing and proceeding to Mare Island for repairs.

Her repairs completed in the spring, Louisville returned to the Pacific to join TF 54 in providing firecover for ground forces on Okinawa. On 5 June a kamikaze crashed the ship, but she returned to the firing line by 9 June, remaining on station until ordered back to Pearl Harbor for repairs on 15 June.

With the end of the war on 14 August 1945, Louisville hurriedly prepared for her postwar duties. On 16 August she sailed for Guam, and thence to Darien (Dalian), Manchuria, with Rear Adm. Thomas G. W. Settle on board. From Darien, where the ship supervised the evacuation of Allied POWs, she steamed to Tsingato (Qingdao), China, where Vice Admiral Shigeji Kaneko surrendered the Japanese vessels in that area. Louisville then escorted the surrendered vessels to Jinsen (Inchon), Korea, after which she returned to China for further postwar duties at Chefoo (Yantai). In mid‑October, she joined ships operating in the Yellow Sea for abbreviated service before proceeding, via San Pedro, to Philadelphia, Pa., where she decommissioned on 17 June 1946 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Remaining with that fleet for the next 13 years, Louisville was stricken from the Navy list on 1 March 1959, and sold on 14 September to the Marlene Blouse Corp. of New York.

Louisville was awarded 13 battle stars for her service during World War II.

Updated and expanded by Mark L. Evans 

Published:Wed Jul 29 09:42:37 EDT 2015