New Orleans-class Heavy Cruiser
|Builder||New York Navy Yard|
|Ordered||13 Feb 1929|
|Laid Down||14 Mar 1931|
|Launched||12 Apr 1933|
|Commissioned||15 Feb 1934|
|Decommissioned||10 Feb 1947|
|Displacement||9,950 tons standard|
|Machinery||Eight Babcock & Wilcox boilers, four Westinghouse geared turbines, four screws|
|Bunkerage||Fuel oil: 1,650t|
|Power Output||107,000 SHP|
|Armament||3x3x200mm 55cal guns, 8x130mm 25cal guns, 2x37mm 30-pdr guns, 8x12.7mm machine guns|
|Armor||3-5in belt, 1.25-2.25in deck, 5in barbettes, 1.5-8in turrets, 5in conning tower|
Contributor: David Stubblebine
ww2dbaseThe cruiser USS New Orleans was ostensibly the lead ship of her class but the New Orleans-class cruisers were something of a special case. The seven ships of the class were built in the 1930s within the 10,000-ton limit of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, even though France, Italy, and Japan had all effectively abandoned any compliance. To test design principles that would be needed when the treaty expired in 1936, the New Orleans-class cruisers were built with three distinct sub-classes. New Orleans was only truly a sister-ship to Astoria (New Orleans-class) and Minneapolis.
ww2dbaseThe New Orleans was laid down 14 Mar 1931 at the New York Navy Yard, launched 12 Apr 1933, and commissioned 15 Feb 1934 with Captain Allen B. Reed in command.
ww2dbaseFor her shakedown cruise, New Orleans sailed to Northern Europe in May-Jun 1934. She spent the following month as one of USS Houston's escorts as Houston transported President Franklin Roosevelt through the Panama Canal, to Hawaii, to California for exercises with the airship USS Macon, and finally to Portland, Oregon. New Orleans spent the rest of the inter-war years back and forth between the Pacific and the Atlantic before joining the Hawaiian Detachment in 1939.
ww2dbaseOn 7 Dec 1941, New Orleans was having her engines repaired at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. Despite being in almost perfect position to fire on the torpedo bombers attacking Battleship Row, New Orleans was without power so her guns could not be brought to bear with any effectiveness.
ww2dbaseOnce New Orleans returned to full service, she joined a few task forces escorting men and equipment to several Pacific locations early in the war including Palmyra and Johnston islands, Brisbane in Australia, Noumea, and then back to Pearl Harbor. New Orleans joined the Yorktown task force for the Battle of the Coral Sea where she stood by the mortally wounded carrier USS Lexington (Lexington-class) and took 580 of her survivors to Noumea.
ww2dbaseNew Orleans again returned to Pearl Harbor where she joined USS Enterprise in June 1942 before sailing out to the Battle of Midway. Sailing back to the southwest Pacific, New Orleans screened USS Saratoga for the defense of Guadalcanal in the Solomons for most of Aug 1942. When Saratoga was torpedoed 31 Aug 1942, New Orleans guarded the carrier's passage to Pearl Harbor, arriving 21 Sep 1942. After Saratoga was repaired, New Orleans escorted her back to the Solomons in Nov 1942.
ww2dbaseIn the dead of night on 30 Nov 1942, New Orleans along with four other cruisers and six destroyers engaged a Japanese destroyer transport force in the Battle of Tassafaronga north of Guadalcanal. Shortly after sister-ship USS Minneapolis was struck with two torpedoes dead ahead of New Orleans, New Orleans herself had a torpedo strike her port side under the number 1 main turret. The explosion detonated New Orleans' forward magazine and gasoline storage tanks and broke off 150 feet of New Orleans' bow between the #1 and #2 turrets. 178 officers and men were killed. Slowed to 2 knots, taking on water, and with fires forward, the ship fought for her very life. Individual acts of heroism and self-sacrifice along with skillful seamanship kept her afloat, and under her own power she made her way to Tulagi Harbor near daybreak of 1 Dec 1940, escorted by destroyer USS Maury. Using tree branches and palm fronds to camouflage the ship from air attack, the crew jury-rigged a bow of coconut logs and 11 days later, New Orleans sailed for Sydney, Australia, arriving 24 Dec 1942. There, New Orleans received further repairs, including replacing a damaged propeller. Once fitted with a temporary bow, New Orleans sailed 7 Mar 1943 for Puget Sound Navy Yard in Washington where a new permanent bow was fitted and all battle damage repaired. This overhaul altered many aspects of New Orleans' outward appearance and better prepared her to return to the fight.
ww2dbaseBy the fall of 1943, New Orleans steamed back into the Pacific for a bombardment of Wake Island on 5 & 6 Oct 1943, a pre-invasion bombardment of Makin (Butartari) in the Gilbert Islands on 20 Nov 1943, and screening carriers striking Kwajalein in the eastern Marshall Islands on 4 Dec 1943. In aerial attacks that day, the new carrier USS Lexington (Essex-class) was torpedoed and New Orleans guarded her retirement for repairs at Pearl Harbor, arriving 9 Dec 1943.
ww2dbaseOver the first nine months of 1944, New Orleans continued supporting the fleet in operations at Kwajalein, Truk, Palau, Hollandia, Satawan, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Formosa (Taiwan), and Luzon. During the action off Hollandia on 22 Apr 1944, New Orleans was struck in the mainmast by a TBF Avenger torpedo bomber that had just launched from USS Yorktown (Essex-class) and was struggling to get into the air with a full load of bombs and fuel. After crashing into New Orleans' mast, the airplane fell into the sea killing all three airmen. The entire deck of New Orleans was sprayed with burning aviation gasoline with one sailor being killed and another badly injured.
ww2dbaseNew Orleans finished the month with further raids on Truk and Satawan before moving on to the invasion of the Marianas in Jun 1944. Her guns fired on Saipan then she protected the carriers as they prepared for the decisive Battle of the Philippine Sea. In October 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, New Orleans was part of USS Washington's bombardment group that took part in the action against the Japanese carrier decoy force off Cape EngaĆ±o. New Orleans continued screening the carrier groups around the Philippines until Dec 1944 when she sailed for Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California, United States for a badly needed overhaul.
ww2dbaseAfter a training period in Hawaiian waters, New Orleans rejoined the fleet at Ulithi in Apr 1945 and began two months of shore bombardments and screening assignments at Okinawa. She then sailed for the Philippines for replenishment and while she was at Subic Bay, the war ended.
ww2dbaseNew Orleans then joined the occupation force covering ports in China and Korea. She covered the internment of Japanese ships at Tsingtao (now Qingdao) and the evacuation of liberated Allied prisoners-of-war. She made two trips across the Pacific returning veterans to the United States. After her second trip, she passed through the Panama Canal and briefly visited her name-sake city in Louisiana. New Orleans then shifted to the Philadelphia Navy Yard arriving in Mar 1946. Eleven months later, New Orleans was decommissioned, placed in reserve, and then scrapped in 1959.
ww2dbaseNew Orleans was at the point of the spear throughout the Pacific War from Pearl Harbor to the surrender of Japan. For World War II service, New Orleans received 17 Battle Stars. Officers and men were individually decorated with a total of four Navy Crosses, fifteen Silver Stars, five Air Medals, and several Purple Hearts and personal commendations.
United States Navy
United States National Archives
NavSource Naval History
Last Major Revision: Aug 2020
New Orleans-class Heavy Cruiser Interactive Map
New Orleans-class Heavy Cruiser Operational Timeline
|15 Feb 1934||Cruiser USS New Orleans (New Orleans-class) was commissioned at New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, United States, Captain Allen B. Reed in command.|
|28 May 1942||USS Enterprise and Task Force 16 departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for Midway Atoll.|
|30 Nov 1942||Near Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, US cruisers ambushed a night time fast destroyer convoy led personally by Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka. Tanaka's quick thinking led to a Japanese victory in the Battle of Tassafaronga. Cruisers USS Northampton, USS Pensacola, USS Minneapolis, and USS New Orleans (New Orleans-class) were badly damaged by torpedoes.|
|12 Dec 1942||Destroyers USS Lansdowne and Shaw departed Tulagi, Solomon Islands in escort of the badly damaged cruiser USS New Orleans bound for Sydney, Australia.|
|24 Dec 1942||Destroyers USS Lansdowne and Shaw in escort of the badly damaged cruiser USS New Orleans arrived at Sydney, Australia.|
|7 Mar 1943||Cruiser USS New Orleans (New Orleans-class) departed Sydney, Australia bound for Puget Sound, Washington, United States after being fitted with a temporary bow at Sydney.|
|10 Aug 1943||Cruiser USS New Orleans (New Orleans-class) departed Puget Sound, Washington, United States after overhaul and being fitted with a new permanent bow due to her bow being blown off in the Battle of Tassafaronga.|
|5 Oct 1943||American carrier aircraft bombed Wake Island as surface ships, including USS New Orleans (New Orleans-class), shelled the island|
|4 Dec 1943||USS Portland and USS New Orleans (New Orleans-class), among other ships, screened carrier Lexington (Essex-class) in strikes against Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Lexington received a torpedo hit that crippled her steering. New Orleans escorted Lexington to Pearl Harbor.|
|19 Feb 1944||Armed merchant cruiser Akagi Maru, cruiser Katori, destroyer Maikaze, destroyer Nowaki, and minesweeping trawler Shonan Maru No. 15 departed Truk, Caroline Islands at 0430 hours for Yokosuka, Japan. After 0500 hours, Truk came under attack by many US carrier aircraft. A number of aircraft spotted the group and attacked, sinking Akagi Maru and damaging Katori and Maikaze; at least one US F6F fighter was shot down during the attack on this group. Battleship New Jersey, battleship Iowa, cruiser Minneapolos, cruiser New Orleans, destroyer Bradford, and destroyer Burns then approached at about 1300 hours about 64 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Truk. Maikaze fired a spread of torpedoes, which missed the two battleships. Gunfire from Minneapolis and New Orleans started a fire on Maikaze, causing an explosion, and leading to her sinking at 1343 hours; all aboard were lost. Then, New Jersey sank Shonan Maru No. 15 with her port side 5-inch battery. Next, Iowa opened fire on Katori, straddling Katori with the first salvo. Katori fired torpedoes, but all of them missed. Iowa's gunfire eventually overwhelmed and sank Katori; Captain Tamekiyo Oda was among those killed. Nowaki alone escaped the attack.|
|22 Apr 1944||USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched raids the landing areas at Hollandia (Jayapura), Dutch East Indies area of northern New Guinea in support of General Douglas MacArthur's assault on Hollandia. Cruiser USS New Orleans (New Orleans-class) was struck in the mast by a TBF Avenger just after launch from Yorktown. All 3 airmen were killed with one New Orleans sailor killed and another injured.|
|10 Feb 1947||Cruiser USS New Orleans (New Orleans-class) was decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philidelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The ship spent 12 years in the reserve fleet before being scrapped.|
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