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Manchester I (CL‑83)


An industrial city in south central New Hampshire. The first U.S. Navy ship named Manchester.


(CL‑83: displacement 10,000; length 610'1"; beam 66'4"; draft 25'; speed 33 knots; complement 992; armament 12 6-inch, 12 5-inch, 28 40 millimeter, 10 20 millimeter; class Cleveland)

Manchester was laid down 25 September 1944 by the Fore River Shipyard, Bethlehem Steel Corp., Quincy, Mass.; launched 5 March 1946; sponsored by Mrs. Ernest J. Gladu; and commissioned 29 October 1946, Capt. Peter G. Hale in command.

Manchester completed her shakedown cruise in the Caribbean and returned to Boston, her home port, 26 March 1947. There she was equipped with an experimental plastic cover for her bridge to be tested on her first transatlantic crossing. On 18 April, she steamed for the Mediterranean to lend visible support to the Truman Doctrine of 12 March. Returning to the east coast for 2 weeks in June, she conducted a Naval Reserve training cruise out of Newport, R.I. She resumed her Mediterranean cruise 25 June, returning to Boston 30 November. Manchester completed two more deployments with the 6th Fleet (9 February to 26 June 1948, 3 January to 4 March 1949) before departing Philadelphia 18 March for assignment with the Pacific Fleet.

She arrived at Long Reach 3 April and departed 2 weeks later for the politically volatile Far East, entering the harbor at Tsingtao, China, 15 May. The cruiser steamed the waters of the Yellow, East China, and South China Seas until returning to Long Beach 28 November.

During this time, the Nationalist Chinese forces, having suffered extreme setbacks, had begun their withdrawal to the island of Taiwan, 16 July. and the People's Republic of China had been proclaimed at Peiping, 1 October 1949. The success of the Red Chinese bolstered other Asian Communist aspirations. On 25 June 1950, North Korean leaders ordered their troops to cross the 38th parallel into South Korea. The United Nations quickly declared North Korea the aggressor and called on members of that body to repel the invasion, 26 to 27 June.

At that time, Manchester, docked at San Francisco, was undergoing overhaul. Work was speeded up and by 1 August the cruiser was on her way to the western Pacific. She arrived at Sasebo, Japan. in early September and joined TF 77. As part of a carrier group, she commenced operations in the Yellow Sea, supporting United Nations Forces air efforts against the elongated Communist communications lines by coastal patrol, blockade, and bombardment. On 15 September, Manchester provided fire support for the masterfully executed landings at Inchon. After the establishment of major control of the Inchon‑Seoul transport complex, she moved north to bombard North Korean troop concentrations on Tungsan Got, while planes from her strike force hit the railhead at Ongjin, 27 September. This action effectively slowed reenforcement of Communist forces in the south by disrupting their supply lines and keeping their troops occupied in defensive action.

Manchester then steamed with her task group around the peninsula to support the invasion at Wonsan. Arriving 10 October, she commenced shore bombardment and patrol duties in support of the minesweeping operations in the area while planes from TF 77 conducted raids against North Korean vessels, road and rail centers, warehouses, and supply depots as far north as Songjin. The U.N. Forces soon reached the Yalu River and, as the heavy fighting appeared to be over, Manchester was reassigned, 29 October, to TF 72, then patrolling the Taiwan Straits. This patrol duty was ended shortly thereafter by the full scale intervention of Communist Chinese troops in Korea. On 3 December, the cruiser rejoined TF 77 and steamed to Hungnam to support the complete evacuation of that port and the demolition of its facilities. Completing this operation, the task force continued to defend U.N. units, effecting their safe withdrawal from untenable positions.

On 8 January 1951, Manchester evacuated injured crewmembers from the Thai corvette Prasae, which had grounded the previous day behind enemy lines near Kisamon Tan on the east coast. Naval gunfire kept enemy soldiers from swarming onto the ship until, the ship having been declared unsalvageable, the remainder of the crew was taken off by the cruiser's helicopter. Guns from accompanying destroyers were then turned on Prasae.

For the next month and a half, Manchester patrolled off the east coast of Korea. Firing at both shore and inland targets, she blasted communication and transportation centers, destroying and disrupting the enemy's equipment and troop concentrations. On 22 February, she steamed to Wonsan to add her guns to the seige and blockade of that port which had commenced 5 days earlier. She continued to conduct shore bombardment activities along the northeast coast, primarily at Wonsan and Songjin, for the remainder of her first Korean combat tour.

On 1 June, Manchester departed Korean waters for Yokosuka enroute back to Long Beach, arriving in California 15 June. Spending less than 5 months at home, the cruiser was underway for the Far East again 5 November. She arrived back in the combat zone 8 December and took up duties as flagship of TF 95, the U.N. blockading and escort force.

By this time, the conflict had altered in character, from quick forceful action to perseverance in the systematic destruction of the enemy's personnel and equipment. To this purpose, TF 95 maintained a blockade along the entire Korean coast and bombarded the Communist's main supply routes, which, due to the mountainous terrain, lay on the narrow coastal plains. Manchester patrolled along the Korean peninsula shelling military targets in areas such as Chinampo, Chongjin, Tong-Cho‑Ri as well as regularly returning to Hungnam, Songjin, and Wonsan to add to the destruction of those tightly held enemy positions. While her guns blasted, Manchester's helicopters continued her reputation as a good friend of downed pilots, performing rescues at sea and on land behind enemy lines. Her medical officers also worked overtime aiding sick and wounded members of the U.N. Forces.

On 14 May 1952, Manchester completed her second tour in Korea and departed the bombline on the east coast of Korea. She returned to Long Beach 29 May, departing 2 weeks later for voyage repairs and overhaul at San Francisco.

The new year, 1953, brought no change in the negative results of the cease‑fire talks begun at Kaesong 10 July 1951 and later moved to Panmunjon. The conflict continued and Manchester departed, 25 January, for her third deployment in Korean waters. On 4 March, she rejoined TF 77 on the bombline off the peninsula's east coast. On the 8th, she returned to Wonsan and again commenced shelling that enemy stronghold. She came back to this beseiged city periodically during this tour, spending the remainder of the time on patrol along the bombline, providing fire support for the U.N. Forces at the eastern end of the frontline.

On 23 July, Manchester departed Korea for Yokosuka. On the 27th, agreement was reached at Panmunjon and the truce which ended overt hostilities went into effect. On the 28th, Manchester got underway for her homeport, having successfully completed three combat tours with no major battle damage.

During 1954 and 1955, the cruiser was twice deployed for 6‑month periods with the 7th Fleet in the western Pacific. On her last return voyage she participated in Operation Glory, the return to Hawaii of 50 unidentified American dead from the Korean conflict. Departing Yokosuka 20 January 1956, she stopped at Pearl Harbor for ceremonies and continued onto Long Beach, arriving 5 February. At the end of the month she sailed for San Francisco, where she entered the Reserve Fleet 27 February, and decommissioned 27 June 1956. Struck from the Navy list 1 April 1960, she was sold 31 October 1960 to the Nicolai Joffe Corp.

Manchester received nine battles stars for Korean service.

Published: Wed Aug 05 13:31:43 EDT 2015