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Nashville II (CL-43)

1938-1951

The capital of Tennessee.

 II

(CL-43: displacement 9,475; length 608'4"; beam 61'8"; draft 19'2"; speed 32.5 knots; complement 868; armament 15 6-inch, 8 5-inch, 8 .50 caliber machine guns; class Brooklyn)

The second Nashville (CL-43) was laid down on 24 January 1935 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 2 October 1937; sponsored by Misses Ann and Mildred Stahlman, daughters of James G. Stahlman, President of The Nashville Banner; and commissioned at the Philadelphia [Pa.] Navy Yard on 6 June 1938, Capt. William W. Wilson in command.

After fitting out, Nashville departed Philadelphia on 19 July 1938 for her shakedown cruise, pausing at Norfolk, Va., on 23 July to take on stores and load ammunition. She operated from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (1-11 August), punctuating that period of training with a visit to Gonaives, Haiti, on 8 August. Subsequently, she sailed for European waters on a good will visit, arriving at Cherbourg, France, on 24 August 1938. She then visited Stockholm (3 September) and Göteborg (7 September), Sweden, before continuing on to the British Isles, visiting Portland (12 September) and Gravesend (14 September). Ultimately, she got underway on 21 September from Portland, with 25 million dollars in British gold bullion aboard, arriving at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., on 30 September, offloaded the gold, and returned to Philadelphia on 5 October for post-shakedown repairs and alterations.

Nashville cleared Philadelphia on 4 January 1939, reaching Norfolk the following day. She conducted battle practice out of Gonaives (10 January), then Guantanamo (13 January), Port of Spain, Trinidad (16 February), then, between 27 February and 12 March, from Culebra, Gonaives, and Guantanamo. Returning to Norfolk on 1 April, she proceeded to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for an overhaul (13-29 April), after which, at New York, N.Y., she embarked Brig. Gen. George C. Marshall, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, and a staff of five officers and 10 enlisted men, on 29 April, bound for the Pan American Defense Conference, and sailed for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Steaming via San Juan, Puerto Rico (14 May), and Port of Spain (16 May), she arrived at her destination on 25 May, remaining there until 10 June, when she got underway to return to the U.S., with Gen. Goes Monteiro, Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Army and a staff of five embarked as passengers, disembarking the Brazilian military delegation at Annapolis, Md., on 20 June. On the 23rd Nashville sailed from Norfolk for the Pacific, proceeding via the Panama Canal (5-6 July), and arriving at San Pedro, Calif., on 16 July to begin two years of operations, with her home port changed from Philadelphia to San Pedro.

On 20 May 1941, Nashville departed Pearl Harbor for the east coast, arriving at Boston on 19 June to escort a convoy carrying marines to Iceland. From August to December 1941 Nashville was based at Bermuda for neutrality patrols in the Central Atlantic. On 28 August, the light cruiser cleared Bermuda as part of TG 2.7, comprising aircraft escort vessel Long Island (AVG-1) (with VGS-1 embarked), and the destroyers Livermore (DD-429) and Kearny (DD-432). The patrol--the first involving the prototype “escort carrier”—concluded back at Bermuda on 9 September.

With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Nashville sailed to Casco Bay, Maine, where she picked up a troop and cargo convoy to escort to Iceland. She continued escort duty to Bermuda and Iceland until February 1942.

On 4 March 1942 she rendezvoused with the aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-8) off the Virginia capes and escorted the carrier to the west coast via the Panama Canal, arriving 20 March at San Diego. Hornet and Nashville sailed from San Diego on 2 April, the carrier laden with 16 USAAF North American B-25 Mitchell medium bombers under the command of Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, USAAF. On 13 April, Hornet and her consorts rendezvoused with TF 16 under Vice Adm. William F. Halsey, Jr., north of Midway and set course for Japan. When 1,000 miles from Japanese soil on 17 April, Halsey detached the destroyers and oilers, and Nashville, along with heavy cruisers Northampton (CA-26) and Salt Lake City (CA-25), and carriers Hornet and Enterprise (CV-6) made a high-speed run to the launching point 500 miles from Japan.

TF 16 approached to within 650 miles of the enemy homeland when discovery by the Japanese guardboat No.23 Nitto Maru compelled Vice Adm. Halsey to order Hornet to launch the 16 B-25s earlier than planned. Doolittle’s raiders bombed targets in Tokyo, Yokosuka, Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagoya; one B-25 bombed and damaged the carrier Ryuho (being converted from the submarine depot ship Taigei) at Yokosuka. Of the 16 B-25s launched, however, 15 were lost in occupied China, where the Japanese exacted brutal reprisals against the populace of the province of Chekiang; one B-25 landed intact at Vladivostok where it and its crew were interned by the Soviets.

Enterprise planes, Douglas SBD Dauntlesses from Bombing Squadron (VB) 3 and VB-6, as well as Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats from Fighting Squadron 6, meanwhile, strafed and bombed Japanese guardboats (“picket” boats) encountered near TF 16, damaging armed merchant cruiser Awata Maru (the depot ship for the Second Squadron) and the guardboats Chokyu Maru, No.1 Iwate Maru, No.2 Asami Maru, Kaijin Maru, No.3 Chinyo Maru, Eikichi Maru, Kowa Maru, and No.26 Nanshin Maru. Guardboats No.23 Nitto Maru and Nagato Maru, also damaged by SBDs and F4Fs from Enterprise, were sunk by Nashville’s gunfire. While the material damage inflicted by the raid proved small, the psychological effect of an air raid on the Japanese capital itself proved enormous, for the Halsey-Doolittle Raid ended all debate within the Japanese high command as to whether or not a thrust against Midway should be attempted. TF-16 retired to Pearl Harbor, reaching its destination on 25 April 1942.

Nashville left Hawaii on 14 May 1942 to become flagship of TF 8 defending Alaska and the Aleutians, and arrived at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on 26 May. She sailed for Kodiak two days later to join other units of the task force, and became the flagship for Rear Adm. Robert A. Theobald, Commander TF 8. On 3 June, as part of the overall Japanese “AL Operation,” the Imperial Navy’s Second Strike Force (Rear Adm. Kakuta Kikuji) bombed Dutch Harbor, Alaska, planes from the small carriers Ryujo and Junyo carrying out the attack, Nashville and her task force were unable to make contact with the enemy due to heavy fog. The Japanese carried out a second strike on Dutch Harbor on 5 June, and the same day the Japanese Attu Occupation Force (Rear Adm. Omori Sentaro) occupied Attu, without opposition; two days later, on 7 June, the Kiska Occupation Force (Capt. Ono Takeji) occupied Kiska, also without opposition. From June to November 1942, Nashville patrolled the inhospitable North Pacific, and as part of TG 8.6 (Rear Adm. William W. Smith) shelled Kiska, on 7 August in which heavy damage was inflicted on Japanese shore installations.

Nashville arrived at Pearl Harbor on 22 November 1942 and then proceeded to the Fiji Islands on 24 December. At Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, she became flagship of Rear Adm. Walden L. Ainsworth, Commander TF 67. After escorting troopships to Guadalcanal, Nashville, Helena (CL-50) and St. Louis (CL-49) inflicted heavy damage on the Japanese air base at Munda on the night of 4-5 January 1943 as TG 67.2 (Rear Adm. Ainsworth) bombarded the airfield and installations there. After the rest of TF 67 joined TG 67.2, Japanese planes attacked the force, near-missing light cruiser Honolulu (CL-48) and damaging the New Zealand light cruiser HMNZS Achilles, 18 miles south of Cape Hunter, Guadalcanal. In that action, Helena became the first U.S. Navy ship to use Mk. 32 proximity-fused projectiles in combat, downing a Japanese Aichi D3A Type 99 carrier bomber (Val) with her second salvo.

Subsequent attacks were made on Kolombangara Island and New Georgia in the next several months. While covering TG 36.5 as its ships sowed mines across the northwestern approaches to Kula Gulf, shelling Vila Airfield on Kolombangara on the night of 12-13 May, Nashville suffered an explosion of two 6-inch/47 caliber powder charges in Turret III, killing 18 men and injuring 17.

Leaving Espiritu Santo 22 May 1943, Nashville arrived at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., for repairs and modernization. Departing San Francisco on 6 August she arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 12th to join carrier task forces for strikes on Marcus (31 August) and Wake (5-6 Octyober) over the next two months. Tragically, Rear Adm. Sakaibara Shigemitsu, the Japanese atoll commander, fearing (erroneously) that the strikes portended a landing, ordered the execution of the remaining U.S. civilian prisoners of war (Contractors, Pacific Naval Air Bases), 98 souls all told.

Nashville returned to Espiritu Santo on 25 October 1943 and for the next seven months shelled targets in New Guinea and the Admiralty Islands. As the Allies pursued the Japanese along the New Guinea coast, Nashville provided fire support for the landings at Bougainville and Cape Gloucester, New Britain. After bombarding Wadke Island, 21-22 April 1944, Nashville provided fire support and carried Gen. Douglas MacArthur to the amphibious operations at Hollandia, Tanahmerah Bay, and Aitape, on 22-23 April.

On 27 May 1944, Nashville participated in Operation Horlicks as TF 77 (Rear Adm. William M. Fechteler) landed the U.S. Army’s 41st Division (Maj.Gen. Horace H. Fuller, USA) on Biak, Schouten Islands, off New Guinea. Heavy and light cruisers, and destroyers of TG 77.2 (Rear Adm.Victor A.C. Crutchley, RN) and TG 77.3 (Rear Adm. Russell S. Berkey) provided gunfire support. Soon thereafter, on 4 June, while repelling Japanese horizontal bombers that attacked Allied cruiser and destroyer forces (TF 74 and TF 75) (Rear Adm. Crutchley) off Biak, Nashville suffered damage from a near miss. Her sister ship Phoenix (CL-46) also suffered damage as well.

After repairs and patrol duty out of Espiritu Santo, Nashville carried Gen. MacArthur and his staff to the invasion of Morotai on 15 September 1944, in Operation Trade Wind, when  TF 77 (Rear Adm. Daniel E. Barbey) put the U.S. Army’s 41st Infantry (Reinforced) (Maj. Gen. John C. Persons, USA) on Morotai Island, N.E.I., supported by two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers and ten destroyers (TG 77.2) (Rear Adm. Berkey) and planes from six escort carriers (TG 77.1) (Rear Adm. Thomas L. Sprague), screened by eight destroyer escorts. Airfield facilities built on Morotai would facilitate operations against Japanese positions in the Philippines.

Nashville then transported the general to the Philippines, clearing Manus on 16 October 1944. She provided fire support for the Leyte landings on 20 October, when, under the overall command of Gen. MacArthur (who made good on his promise to “return” to the Philippines) and Vice Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid, Commander Seventh Fleet, TF 78 (Rear Adm. Barbey) and TF 79 (Vice Adm. Theodore S. Wilkinson) landed four divisions of the U.S. Sixth Army (Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger, USA) on Leyte. Fast carriers and battleships of the Third Fleet provided support, as did the older battleships and escort carriers of the Seventh Fleet. Nashville remained on station at the mouth of Leyte Gulf until 25 October, guarding the beachhead and transports.

Returning to Manus for brief repairs, Nashville left the Admiralties on 28 November 1944 as flagship for Commander, Visayan Attack Force, en route to the invasion of Mindoro. On 13 December she was struck by a bomb-laden kamikaze off Negros Island; another suicide plane crashed the destroyer Haraden (DD-585). The suicider crashed into Nashville’s port 5-inch battery amidships, both bombs exploding about 10 feet off the deck. Gasoline fires and exploding ammunition made her midships area an inferno, 133 men were killed and 190 were wounded. Fires, explosions, and fragmentation demolished the combat information center (CIC) and communications office, and fires damaged the bridge superstructure. Five of the ship’s eight 5-inch guns were out of commission.

The Attack Group Commander shifted his flag, and the damaged cruiser sailed for San Pedro Bay, Pearl Harbor, and Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., arriving on 12 January 1945, for permanent repairs. Underway on 12 March, Nashville departed San Diego on 15 April after training exercises.

Arriving at Subic Bay, Philippine Islands, on 16 May 1945, Nashville became flagship of Rear Adm. Russell S. Berkey as Commander TF 74. The closing months of the war found her providing fire support for the landings at Brunei Bay, Borneo, and protecting carriers in the Makassar Straits. On 29 July, Nashville made a brief sortie from Subic to intercept a Japanese convoy reported off Indochina, but the sortie was cancelled, ending the cruiser’s final wartime operation. The cruiser then operated from Subic Bay, engaged in training exercises. Nashville’s war diary on 11 August noted: “Anchored in Subic Bay received radio reports of a Japanese offer to surrender. All hands took report in stride and continued to be on the alert for surprise attack. There were many anxious gatherings around the radio receivers, however. We all hope it is true.” Then, on 15 August, came the word: “received official word of surrender of Japan and an order to cease offensive action.”

Nashville, Rear Adm. C. Turner Joy, Commander TF 73 embarked, sailed for Shanghai on 7 September 1945, the warship “[Turning] on all running lights and steamed lighted for first time since start of the war.” She entered Shanghai harbor on 19 September 1945 in a triumphal procession in company with the amphibious force flagship Rocky Mount (AGC-3), standing up the Whangpoo River “crowded with junks and sampans,” with the cruiser’s war diarist noting “much shouting, blowing of whistles and waving of Chinese, U.S., British, and Russian flags.” Rear Adm. Joy hauled down his flag on 17 November, and Nashville sailed for the west coast with 450 returning troops, as part of Operation Magic Carpet. Embarking 90 more men in Hawaii, she reached San Pedro on 3 December, disembarking her Marine Detachment and aviation unit to make room for passengers, then immediately sailed for Eniwetok and Kwajalein “for a capacity personnel lift” -- to embark more returning troops. Nearing the west coast on 3 January 1946, Nashville came to the aid of the attack transport St. Mary’s (APA-126), the latter laboring in heavy seas with an engine breakdown and 1,800 men on board. The cruiser took St. Mary’s in tow, delivering her safely to tugs off San Francisco on 6 January.

Nashville departed San Francisco on 21 January 1946 and arrived at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard – where she had been placed in commission -- for pre-inactivation overhaul. Decommissioned and placed in reserve on 24 June 1946, she remained in active until 1950. After overhaul at Philadelphia, she was sold to the government of Chile on 9 January 1951 under the Mutual Defense Assistance Pact (MDAP). Stricken from the Naval Register on 22 January 1951, the ship was transferred to Chile three days later [25 January] and renamed Capitàn Prat (CL.03). On 21 November 1951, she was commissioned as a unit of the Chilean Navy. Subsequently renamed Chacabuco, she served until 1985.

Nashville received ten battle stars for her World War II service for the Capture and Defense of Guadalcanal (5 January 1943), Consolidation of the Southern Solomons (12-13 May 1943), Pacific Raids 1943 (Marcus Island, 31 August 1943, and Wake Island, 5-6 October 1943), Bismarck Archipelago Operation (Cape Gloucester, New Britain, 26 December 1943, and Admiralty Islands Operation, 29 February-7 March 1944), Eastern New Guinea Operation (Supporting and Consolidating Operations, Seventh Fleet, 26 December 1943 – 24 July 1944), Hollandia Operations (Aitape-Humboldt Bay-Tanahmerah Bay, 22-23 April 1944), Western New Guinea Operations (Toem-Wakde-Sarmi, 17 May 1944, Biak Island, 27 May and 4-5 June 1944, Morotai Landings, 15 September 1944), Leyte Operation (20-24 October 1944), Luzon Operation (Mindoro Landings, 12-18 December 1944), Borneo Operations (Brunei Bay, 7-17 June 1945 and Balikpapan, 28 June-9 July 1945).

Commanding Officers Dates of Command
Capt. William W. Wilson 6 June 1938 – 1 January 1940
Capt. Ralph S. Wentworth 1 January 1940 – 30 April 1941
Capt. Francis S. Craven 1 May 1941 – 30 September 1942
Capt. Herman A. Spanagel 30 September 1942 – 25 April 1944
Capt. Charles E. Coney 25 April 1944 – 30 January 1945
Cmdr. John T. Corwin 30 January – 21 March 1945
Capt. Atherton Macondray, Jr. 21 March 1945 – 24 June 1946

 

Updated, Robert J. Cressman
25 April 2017

Published:Mon Apr 24 15:03:37 EDT 2017