Tuscaloosa I (CA-37)
(CA-37: dp. 9,950; 1. 588'2"; b. 61'9"; dr. 19'5"; s. 32.7 k.; cpl. 708; a. 9 8", 8 5", 8 .50-cal. mg.; cl. New Orleans)
A city in the state of Alabama.
Tuscaloosa (CA-37) was laid down on 3 September 1931 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 15 November 1933; sponsored by Mrs. Thomas Lee McCann, wife of Lt. Thomas L. McCann and the niece of the Hon. William B. Oliver, Representative of the 6th District of Alabama; and commissioned on 17 August 1934, Capt. John N. Ferguson in command.
Tuscaloosa devoted the autumn to a shakedown cruise which took her to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo, before she returned to the New York Navy Yard shortly before Christmas. She then underwent post-shakedown repairs which kept her in the yard into March 1935.
The heavy cruiser soon shaped a course for the west coast. After a stop at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, she transited the Panama Canal on 7 and 8 April and then steamed north to San Diego, where she joined Cruiser Division (CruDiv) 6 in time to participate in Fleet Problem XVI staged in May in the northern Pacific off the coast of Alaska and in waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. This operation was divided into five distinct phases which might be aspects of some real naval campaign of the future in which the United States would take the strategic offensive.
Tuscaloosa subsequently was based at San Pedro, Calif., whence she conducted routine exercises and local operations with CruDiv 6. In the spring of 1936, the heavy cruiser participated in Fleet Problem XVII, taking place off the west coast of the United States, Central America, and the Panama Canal Zone. The five-phase exercise was devoted to preparing the fleet for antisubmarine operations, testing communications systems, and training of aircraft patrol squadrons for extended fleet operations.
In May 1937, the Fleet again exercised in Alaskan waters and in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands and Midway, practicing the tactics of seizing advanced base sites, a technique later to be polished to a high degree into close support and amphibious warfare doctrines. Tuscaloosa, as part of the "augmented" Scouting Force, "battled" the Battle Force that spring.
In April and May 1938, the heavy cruiser participated in Fleet Problem XIX, which was conducted in the vicinity of Hawaii. This operation gave the Navy added experience in search tactics; in the use of submarines, destroyers, and aircraft in scouting and attack; in the dispositions of the Fleet and the conduct of a major fleet battle.
In addition, the exercise again dealt with the matter of seizing advanced fleet bases and defending them against minor opposition. Fleet Problem XIX also tested the capabilities of the Hawaiian Defense Force, augmenting it with fleet units to help to defend the islands against the United States Fleet as a whole. The last phase of the exercise exercised the Fleet in operations against a defended coastline.
Tuscaloosa departed San Diego on 3 January 1939 and proceeded, via the Panama Canal, to the Caribbean. She took part in Fleet Problem XX, in the Atlantic to the east of the Lesser Antilles, before undergoing a brief refit at the Norfolk Navy Yard. She than joined San Francisco (CA-38) and Quincy (CA-39) for a goodwill tour of South American ports. Between 8 April and 10 May, the division, under the command of Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, visited Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires before transiting the storm-tossed Strait of Magellan. The three cruisers drove their bows deep into heavy seas and battled gale-force winds as they made the difficult passage on 14 and 15 May. The division then sailed up the west coast of South America, visiting Valparaiso, Chile, and Callao, Peru, before transiting the Panama Canal and returning to Norfolk, where she arrived on 6 June.
Tuscaloosa remained off the east coast into the summer of 1939. In August, she carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Campobello Island, New Brunswick. En route, off Portsmouth, N.H., the Commander in Chief witnessed salvage operations in progress on the sunken Squalus (SS-192) which had stayed down after a test dive on 24 May 1939. On 24 August, following visits to Campobello and several ports in Newfoundland, President Roosevelt disembarked at Sandy Hook, N.J.
A week later, the German Army invaded Poland, plunging Europe into war. The outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939 found Tuscaloosa at NOB Norfolk. On the 5th, President Roosevelt established the Neutrality Patrol; and, the next day, the cruiser departed for her first patrol which kept her at sea until she returned to her home port on the 11th. Three days later, the heavy cruiser departed Norfolk and spent the remainder of September and most of October engaged in gunnery training and conducting exercises out of Guantanamo Bay and San Juan, Puerto Rico. She departed the Caribbean on 27 October, bound for Hampton Roads, and arrived at Norfolk on 5 November and, but for gunnery exercises off the Virginia capes from the 13th to the 15th, remained in the Hampton Roads areas until mid-December.
Meanwhile, the Neutrality Patrol found itself keeping track of German merchantmen in waters of the western hemisphere. At the outbreak of hostilities, there had been some 85 German ships near the Americas. One of those, the North German (Norddeutcher) Lloyd (NDL) liner Columbus, the 13th largest steamship in the world, had been on a tourist cruise when war caught her in the West Indies. She put into Vera Cruz, Mex., where she fueled and prepared to make a break for home.
The liner departed Vera Cruz on 14 December 1939 but soon thereafter was picked up and shadowed by the destroyer Benham (DD-397). In ensuing days, a succession of United States warships, totaling seven in all, trailed the liner. Capt. Wilhelm Daehne, Columbus' master, was careful to keep his ship within the 300-mile neutrality zone until she was abreast of the Delaware capes. He then headed east.
Tuscaloosa, meanwhile, had been ordered out to participate in the chase. On 16 December, two days after Columbus departed Vera Cruz, Tuscaloosa stood out of Norfolk, bound for her patrol station. She soon relieved Cole (DD-155) and Ellis (DD-154)-two flushdeckers -and at 1450 on 19 December, spotted the British destroyer HMS Hyperion, guns trained out and battle ensigns streaming, standing toward Columbus. Hyperion radioed Tuscaloosa: "What ship are you escorting?" Tuscaloosa remained silent, but Hyperion was soon radioing Columbus to heave to and not use her radio. Two shots whistled across the German liner's bow.
For Capt. Daehne, there remained only one alternative. After having carefully planned for that eventuality, he scuttled his ship. All but two of his crew, a complement that included nine women stewardesses, succeeded in going over the side and manning the lifeboats. Since Hyperion clearly had no room for the 577 Germans who had abandoned the liner, she radioed Tuscaloosa, asking politely if the cruiser could handle the survivors.
From his motor launch, Capt. Daehne kept the lifeboats together while Tuscaloosa embarked the 567 men and nine women. He then followed them to safety on board the cruiser which provided hospitality for the shipwrecked mariners who were glad to be on board an American cruiser as rescued seamen and not in a British warship as prisoners-of-war. The bulk of the survivors were put up in the cruiser's seaplane hangar that had been cleared out to facilitate its use as a large berthing area; and the women were berthed in sick bay.
Tuscaloosa took the survivors to New York, the only port equipped to handle such a large and sudden influx of aliens, and disembarked them at Ellis Island between 1610 and 1730 on 20 December for officials to process. Ultimately, most of Columbus' officers and men returned, via the Pacific, to their native land. Meanwhile, Tuscaloosa departed New York on the 21st and arrived at Norfolk the following day.
The heavy cruiser remained at Norfolk into the New Year, 1940, and departed her home port on 11 January, bound for the West Indies. On the voyage to the Caribbean, she was accompanied by her sister ship, San Francisco; Battleship Division 5-less Wyoming (BB-33); and Manley (APD-1), the prototype, high-speed transport. Tuscaloosa and her consorts arrived at Culebra on the 16th and, two days later, shifted to Guantanamo Bay. There, she participated in fleet exercises from the 18th to the 27th. Departing Guantanamo on the latter day, Tuscaloosa returned to Norfolk on 29 January and entered the navy yard there for special alterations to fit her out for service as Presidential flagship.
Tuscaloosa departed the Norfolk Navy Yard on 2 February and moored at NOB Norfolk. Two days later, she got underway for Cuba, arriving at Guantanamo on the 7th, only to sail three days later for Pensacola, Fla., in company with Lang (DD-399). The two ships exercised en route and arrived at Pensacola on the 14th.
The next day, Tuscaloosa embarked President Roosevelt and his guests and departed in company with Jouett (DD-396) and Lang for a cruise to Panama and the west coast of Central America. The voyage gave the President an opportunity to discuss Pan-American defense with leaders of Latin American nations. Steaming to the Pacific coast of Central America, Roosevelt inspected the Pacific defenses of the Panama Canal. In addition, he fished regularly at a variety of locations but, as he later recounted, caught "damned few fish." On the return passage through the canal, on 27 February, Roosevelt conferred with United States Navy, Army, and Air Corps officers to discuss the defense of the vital passage.
After disembarking the President at Pensacola, Tuscaloosa proceeded north to Norfolk and from thence to the New York Navy Yard for a three-month overhaul. During her sojourn at Brooklyn, Hitler's legions conquered France in June 1940 and won mastery of continental Europe. Soon thereafter, Tuscaloosa returned to the neutrality patrol and conducted monotonous but intensive patrols in the Caribbean and Bermuda areas through the summer and fall months of 1940.
On 3 December 1940 at Miami, President Roosevelt embarked in Tuscaloosa for the third time for a cruise to inspect the base sites obtained from Great Britain in the recently negotiated "destroyers for bases" deal. In that transaction, the United States had traded 50 old flush-decked destroyers for 99-year leases on bases in the western hemisphere. Ports of call included Kingston, Jamaica; Santa Lucia, Antigua; and the Bahamas. Roosevelt fished and entertained British colonial officials-including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor -on board the cruiser.
While the President cruised in Tuscaloosa, American officials in Washington wrestled with the problem of extending aid to Britain. Having barely weathered the disastrous campaign in France in the spring and the Battle of Britain in the summer, the United Kingdom desperately needed war materiel. American production could meet England's need, but American neutrality law limiting the purchase of arms by belligerents to "cash-and-carry" transactions was about to become a major obstacle, for British coffers were almost empty. While pondering England's plight as he luxuriated in Tuscaloosa, the President hit upon the idea of the "lend-lease" program to aid the embattled British.
On 16 December, Roosevelt left the ship at Charleston, S.C., to head for Washington to implement his "lend-lease" idea, one more step in United States' progress towards full involvement in the war. Soon thereafter, Tuscaloosa sailed for Norfolk and, on 22 December, embarked Admiral William D. Leahy, the newly designated Ambassador to Vichy France, and his wife, for passage to Portugal. With the "stars and stripes" painted large on the roofs of Turrets II and III, and her largest colors flying, Tuscaloosa sailed for the European war zone, initially escorted by Upshur (DD-144) and Madison (DD-425).
After disembarking the Ambassador to Vichy France at Lisbon and returning to Norfolk on 11 January 1941, the cruiser went to sea on maneuvers that kept her at sea until 2 March. She subsequently arrived at the newly opened American naval facility at Bermuda, on 8 April, the day after the base's commissioning. Her consorts included Ranger (CV-4), Wichita (CA-45), and destroyers Kearny (DD-432) and Livermore (DD-429). Based at Bermuda, Tuscaloosa continued patroling shipping lanes in the North Atlantic, enforcing the neutrality of the United States.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the war between the British and the Germans took an anxious turn late in May when German battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prim Eugen broke out into the Atlantic. On 24 May, Bismarck had sunk the vaunted HMS Hood in the Denmark Strait and had temporarily eluded pursuit.
Bismarck's escape into the swirling mists of the Atlantic prompted orders which sent Tuscaloosa to sea immediately. Most of the crew on liberty at the time could not be rounded up in time, so the ship set out for the hunt with personnel "shanghaied" from Vincennes (CA-44) and Quincy and a group of reserve ensigns who happened to be on board for a reserve cruise. However, before the cruiser reached waters where she hoped to find the Bismarck, British warships, directed by an American naval reserve ensign piloting a British PBY, succeeded in pounding Bismarck to junk on 27 May, avenging the loss of Hood.
Tuscaloosa soon returned to the tedium of neutrality patrolling. As the United States continued in a slow but deliberate fashion to become involved, however, the tenor of events soon changed for the heavy cruiser. On 8 August, she departed Bermuda for Newfoundland and soon embarked General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, head of the Army Air Corps: Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner, Director of the War Plans Division of the Navy; and Capt. Forrest Sherman. She joined Augusta (CA-31) off New York; and, together, the two ships, escorted by a screen of three destroyers, proceeded to Argentia, Newfoundland.
Augusta, bearing President Roosevelt, and her consorts soon arrived in the barren anchorage where the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales, with Prime Minister Churchill embarked, awaited her. The ensuing discussions between the two heads of state hammered out the "Atlantic Charter."
Returning from Argentia upon the conclusion of the Anglo-American talks, Tuscaloosa conveyed Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles to Portland, Maine. Three weeks later, in September, the cruiser overtook the first American troop convoy to Iceland, as American Marines relieved British troops guarding that strategic island which lay like a pistol pointed at England.
Tuscaloosa soon received new orders which assigned her to a task group built around battleships Idaho (BB-40), Mississippi (BB-41), and New Mexico (BB-42). Wichita and two divisions of destroyers joined Tuscaloosa in the screen of the men-of-war. Under the two-starred flag of Rear Admiral Robert C. "Ike" Giffen, the Denmark Strait patrol worked out of wind-swept, cold Hvalfjordur, Iceland, known to Americans as "Valley Forge."
The similiarities between the Continental Army's historic winter campground and the Icelandic region were not just confined to a homonymous relation of their names. The bitter cold, wind, and snow and the wartime operations seemed similar, the latter in the form of daily patrols, unceasingly vigilant for any signs of the "enemy." Tuscaloosa and Wichita "stripped ship" for war, removing accumulated coats of paint and other inflammable and nonessential items before they set out for sea on 5 November. As the task force steamed toward Iceland, its warships were constantly alert to the possibility of an imminent sortie by the German battleship Tirpitz, the sistership of the late Bismarck.
While Tirpitz failed to show herself, the American ships continued to conduct "short of war" operations which became increasingly warlike as time went on. The attempted torpedoing of Greer (DD-145) ; the damaging of Kearny in October; the sinking of Reuben James (DD-245) by a German U-boat; and the torpedoing of Salinas (AO-9) all pointed to the fact that American ships were becoming involved in the fighting.
Meanwhile, tensions heightened in the Pacific, as Japan continued her undeclared war against China; took over French Indochina; and proceeded apace with plans to move southward against British and Dutch colonial possessions. The Japanese strike at Pearl Harbor on 7 December plunged the United States into "real" war at last, in both oceans, for Germany and Italy declared war on the United States on 11 December.
On 6 January 1942, Tuscaloosa stood out of Hvalfjordur in company with Wichita and two destroyers, Grayson (DD-435) and Meredith (DD-434), for a training cruise to the Denmark Strait. After returning to port three days later, the heavy cruiser moved on to Boston for a navy yard overhaul from 8 to 20 February. She conducted refresher training out of Casco Bay and then underwent another brief refit at New York before joining Task Group (TG) 39.1, under the command of Rear Admiral John W. Wilcox, Jr., whose flag flew in Washington (BB-56).
The task group sortied from Casco Bay and struggled through gale-whipped seas, bound for Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, the British Home Fleet's base. On 27 March, Rear Admiral Wilcox apparently suffered a heart attack and was washed overboard from Washington. The heavy seas ruled out rescue attempts, and the task group's commanding officer soon disappeared in the stormy Atlantic. With Wilcox' death, Rear Admiral Giffen, whose flag flew in Wichita, assumed command of TG 39.1.
Tuscaloosa arrived at Scapa Flow on 4 April and immediately took on board a British signals and liaison team. She was initially employed with the British Home Fleet on training duties and later took part in covering runs for convoys to North Russia.
At that period, Anglo-American naval operations frequently were mounted in an attempt to lure Tirpitz out of her snowy Norwegian lair. One such attempt, Convoy PQ-17, resulted in disaster in June 1942. The following two months found Tuscaloosa still active in convoy protection and covering assignments. In mid-August, Tuscaloosa received orders to carry supplies, including aircraft torpedoes, ammunition, and medical equipment, to North Russia. Soon after she and two destroyers set out on the mission, a member of the cruiser's crew developed symptoms of spinal meningitis. The sick man was quickly put ashore at Seidis-fjord, Iceland; and the group got underway again on 19 August, bound for Kola Inlet.
The next day, Tuscaloosa and her screen, which by that time consisted of three destroyers (two American and one British), were spotted by a snooping German reconnaissance plane. The task force changed course and, assisted by the worsening visibility in the northern latitudes, managed to shake the intruder. On the evening of 22 August, two more British destroyers joined Tuscaloosa's screen; and, the following day, a Russian escort guided them to Kola Inlet.
All hands turned-to and unloaded the valuable cargo. The cruiser then took on fuel; prepared to get underway; and, just before departure, embarked 243 passengers, most of whom were survivors of ships which had been sunk while serving in earlier convoys to Russia. Many of them had endured the special tribulation and agony of PQ-17. With her human cargo thus on board, Tuscaloosa cleared Kola Inlet on 24 August and reached Seidisfjord on the 28th.
She remained there but briefly before steaming to the mouth of the River Clyde, where she disembarked her passengers. Detached from the Home Fleet shortly thereafter, Tuscaloosa headed for Hvalfjord and proceeded thence to the United States for an overhaul.
On 8 November 1942, Operation "Torch," the code name of the Anglo-American effort to wrest North Africa from the hands of the Vichy French, got underway. Off Casablanca, French Morocco, steamed Tuscaloosa and her old companion, Wichita, joined by new Massachusetts (BB-59) as part of the covering force. As American troops splashed ashore, Tuscaloosa's guns, aided by accurate spotting from the cruiser's scout planes, thundered and sent shells whistling shoreward into the French positions. In the harbor, French ships scurried about like tadpoles as they prepared to sortie against the attackers.
French battleship Jean Bart, incomplete and immobile, nevertheless packed a powerful punch in her 15-inch guns and loosed heavy and accurate salvoes, straddling the American ships several times with giant shell splashes. French shore batteries at Table d'Aukasha and El Hank also proved troublesome; but the combined might of Allied sea and air power silenced both the shore batteries and Jean Bart as well.
After being narrowly missed by torpedoes from a Vichy submarine and shells from Jean Bart's heavy rifles, Tuscaloosa retired from the battle zone to refuel and to replenish her ammunition. After this, she remained offshore in support of the invasion and then headed back to the United States for refit.
Following repairs, she rejoined in covering convoys bound for the North African front, as American forces and their British and Free French allies sought to push the Germans and Italians out of Tunisia. Next, from March through May 1943, Tuscaloosa operated in a task force on training exercises off the east coast of the United States.
Besides honing its fighting edge, this group formed a fast, mobile, and ready striking force, should German surface ships slip through the Allied blockade to terrorize Allied shipping in the Atlantic. In late May, she escorted RMS Queen Mary, which bore British Prime Minister Churchill to New York City. After rejoining the task force for a brief time, Tuscaloosa joined Augusta at the Boston Navy Yard for a 10-day work period.
After leaving Boston, she escorted RMS Queen Elizabeth to Halifax, Nova Scotia, before rendezvousing with Ranger and proceeding to Scapa Flow to resume operations with the British Home Fleet. Tuscaloosa conducted sorties into the North Sea, in company with British and American units, in attempts to once again entice German heavy units to sea. However, the hope of drawing the Germans into a decisive sea fight diminished each passing day as the enemy apparently sought to stay in his protected waters.
On 2 October, Tuscaloosa formed part of the covering force for Ranger while the carrier launched air strikes against port installations and German shipping at Bodo, Norway, in Operation "Leader." These first American carrier strikes against European targets lasted from 2 to 6 October and devastated the area. German shore-based aircraft attacked the striking force only to be summarily shot down by covering American fighters.
Shortly afterward, the Germans did elect to come out to sea, conducting a foray against the important Allied weather station on Spitzbergen Island. Tirpitz and other heavy units subjected the installation and its garrison to a severe shelling before retiring, unscathed, to their Norwegian lair.
Tuscaloosa took part in the relief expedition to reestablish the station before the onset of winter. Assigned to Force One, the cruiser loaded two LCV(P) and cargo and departed Seidisfjord in company with four destroyer (three British and one American) on 17 October. Force Two, covering Force One, consisted of HMS Anson, HMS Norfolk, Ranger, and six destroyers.
On the morning of the 19th, Tuscaloosa's group arrived at devastated Spitzbergen and immediately commenced unloading operations. While ice "growlers" and pinnacles hampered antisubmarine screening by the destroyers' sound gear, Tuscaloosa fielded a party of 150 men on shore to unload supplies and equipment to reestablish the weather station. By nightfall, the cargo had been safely unloaded, and the force left the area. After fueling at Seidisfjord, the cruiser proceeded to the Clyde to disembark the survivors of the original Spitzbergen garrison.
Tuscaloosa conducted one more sweep of the Norwegian coast in an attempt to draw German fleet units to sea, but the enemy chose not to give battle. Upon the cruiser's return to Iceland, she was detached from the Home Fleet and proceeded to New York, where she began major overhaul on 3 December 1943.
Upon completion of the refit in February 1944, Tuscaloosa engaged in Fleet exercises and shore bombardment practice out of Casco Bay until April and then entered the Boston Navy Yard for installation of radio intelligence and electronic countermeasures gear. Later that month, she embarked Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo, Commander, CruDiv 7, and task force commander, and set out for the Clyde to join the Allied Forces massing for the assault on the European continent.
During the interim period prior to D-day, Tuscaloosa conducted further short bombardment practice and engaged in further exercises. Her aviation unit exchanged their venerable Curtiss SOC "Seagulls" for British Supermarine Spitfires and checked out in them for spotting purposes. Yet, they remained shore-based for the remainder of their time operating in support of the invasion.
On 3 June, Tuscaloosa steamed in company with the task force bound for the Normandy beaches. At 0550, 6 June 1944, she opened fire with her 8-inch battery; and, three minutes later, her 5-inch guns engaged Fort He de Tatihou, Baye de la Seine. For the remainder of D-day, coast defense batteries, artillery positions, troop concentrations, and motor transport all came under the fire of Tuscaloosa's guns which were aided by her air spotters and by fire control parties attached to Army units on shore. Initial enemy return fire was inaccurate, but it improved enough by the middle of the day to force the cruiser to take evasive action.
On the afternoon of 9 June, Tuscaloosa returned to Plymouth to replenish her depleted ammunition. Back in the vicinity of He St. Marcouf on the evening of the llth, she remained on station in the fire-support area until the 21st, providing gunfire support on call from her shore fire control party operating with Army units. She then returned to England.
Five days later, on 26 June, the Army's 7th Corps mounted a landward assault against Cherbourg, supported by ships of the covering force from the seaward side. For four hours, Tuscaloosa and her consorts dueled with the accurate German shore batteries. During the action, the enemy frequently straddled the British and American ships and forced them to take evasive action. Great clouds of smoke and dust, kicked up by the intense bombardment conducted from sea and land, initially hampered Allied fire. By noontime, however, visibility improved and greatly aided the accuracy of the bombardment.
In July, with the beachhead secured in Normandy and Allied forces pushing into occupied France, Tuscaloosa steamed from Belfast to the Mediterranean to join British, French, and American forces assembling for Operation "Anvil/Dragoon," the invasion of southern France.
Following preliminary bombardment exercises off Oran, French North Africa, Tuscaloosa was based at Palermo, Italy, and got underway on 13 August. Two days later, Tuscaloosa commenced fire at 0635 and continued to pound targets ashore until the combined Allied forces stormed onto the beaches at H-Hour, 0800. Then, moving off the 100-fathom curve, Tuscaloosa leisurely cruised the shoreline, visually inspecting it for targets of opportunity. A troublesome pillbox at the St. Raphel breakwater provoked Tuscaloosa's attention, and the cruiser's 8-inch shells soon destroyed it. Air spotters located a field battery, and Tuscaloosa's gunners promptly knocked it out of action with three direct hits.
For the next 11 days, the cruiser delivered fire support for the right flank of the Army's advance to the Italian frontier. She engaged German shore batteries and fought off air attacks. The raids, conducted by Junkers 88's and Dornier 217's singly, or in small groups, usually occurred during the covering force's nightly retirement from the beachheads. Of the high altitude variety, these aerial assaults included the use of radar-controlled glider bombs. However, radar counter-measures and jamming devices, as well as effective evasive action and gunfire, thwarted these twilight and nocturnal attacks.
In September, when Allied forces had secured footholds in both western and southern France, Tuscaloosa returned to the United States for refitting at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. After a short exercise period in Chesapeake Bay, she steamed via the Panama Canal to the west coast and reported to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. After stopping briefly at San Diego, she proceeded on westward to Pearl Harbor, where she conducted various exercises before steaming to Ulithi to join Commander, 3d Fleet in January 1945.
Following her sortie from Ulithi, she joined the bombardment group off Iwo Jima at dawn on 16 February. Three days later, as waves of landing craft bore Marines shoreward to invade the island, Tuscaloosa's guns pounded Japanese positions inland. Then, after the Americans had reached land, her batteries supported their advances with incessant fire and illumination. This continued from 19 February to 14 March, throughout all phases of the bitterly fought campaign to wrest the island from the Japanese.
Returning to Ulithi after the Iwo Jima operation, she spent four hectic days replenishing stores, ammunition, and fuel in preparation for the next operation: Okinawa, at the end of the chain of Japanese home islands. On Palm Sunday, 25 March, Tuscaloosa's main and secondary batteries opened fire on shore targets pinpointed by aerial reconnaissance. Only allowed a six-day respite in the middle of the arduous campaign for replenishment purposes, Tuscaloosa stood on duty for the entire operation.
Tuscaloosa's charmed life in the face'of everything the Axis could throw at her still held through the maelstrom of the kamikazes which came at the invasion ships and their escorts from all quarters. The "Divine Wind" came down from the Japanese home islands, in the form of planes piloted by pilots so loyal to their Emperor that they unhesitatingly gave their lives to defend their home soil.
Tuscaloosa's gunners splashed two of the intruders. One, headed for the fantail of Texas (BB-36), flew apart as the cruiser's shells splashed her in the old battleship's wake. The other headed for an escorting destroyer in the screen only to be splashed after hitting a curtain of fire from the cruiser's guns.
Only the mop-up of determined resistance ashore remained when Tuscaloosa departed from Okinawa on 28 June. Two days later, she arrived in Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands; there reporting to Commander, 7th Fleet, for duty. Six weeks later, with Allied warships bombarding her shores with near impunity and Allied planes sweeping her skies clear of rapidly dwindling numbers of her defending aircraft, Japan surrendered. The explosion of two atomic bombs, one over Hiroshima and the other above Nagasaki, had sealed Japan's fate in August 1945.
On 27 August, Tuscaloosa, in company with other units of the 7th Fleet, departed Subic Bay in the Philippines, bound for Korean and Manchurian waters. She touched at Tsingtao, China, en route, and proceeded to cruise off the newly liberated ports of Dairen and Port Arthur, Manchuria; Chefoo, Taku, Weihaiwei and Chinwangtao, China, before finally anchoring off Jinsen (now Inchon), Korea, on 8 September to support the landings of Marines nearby.
After a stay of 22 days, Tuscaloosa put to sea once more on 30 September, bound for Taku, China, to support Marines landing there. She next sailed for Chefoo on 6 October but, en route, received orders changing her destination to Jinsen to take on provisions.
As Chinese Nationalist and communist forces jockeyed for position to control formerly Japanese-held territory, American forces stood by in the uneasy role of observers. Tuscaloosa arrived off Chefoo, then held by the communists, on 13 October. Remaining until 3 November, she lay at anchor off the port, keeping well informed on the situation ashore through daily conferences with officials of the communist Eighth Route Army. During this period, puppet troops, who had been loyal to the Japanese during the war, clashed with communist forces near Chefoo.
On 3 November, she put to sea, bound for Tsingtao, where the cruiser spent one evening before proceeding down the China coast to call at Shanghai. There, she took on board 214 Army and 118 Navy passengers for "Magic Carpet" transportation home for demobilization.
She arrived in Hawaii on 26 November, where additional passenger facilities were installed, and took on board 206 more men before departing Hawaiian waters on the 28th and arriving at San Francisco on 4 December. After voyage repairs, the ship sailed for the South Pacific on 14 December, via the Solomon Islands, and proceeded to Noumea, New Caledonia.
Tuscaloosa embarked troops at Guadalcanal, moved to the Russell Islands where she took on more passengers, and arrived at Noumea on New Year's Day, 1946. By that afternoon, the ship got underway for the west coast with more than 500 passengers.
She arrived at Pearl Harbor nine days into the new year; fueled; and picked up additional demobilized servicemen to transport home. She sailed for San Francisco on 10 January and arrived five days later. On 29 January, the men delivered, Tuscaloosa stood out of San Francisco bound for the east coast on her last cruise as an active member of the Fleet.
Placed out of commission at Philadelphia on 13 February 1946, Tuscaloosa remained in reserve there until she was struck from the Navy list on 1 March 1959. Her hulk was sold on 25 June 1959 to the Boston Metals Co., of Baltimore, Md., for scrapping.
Tuscaloosa received seven battle stars for her World War II service.