|Ship Class||Brooklyn-class Light Cruiser|
|Builder Name||New York Shipbuilding Company, Camden, New Jersey, United States|
|Laid Down||15 Apr 1935|
|Launched||13 Mar 1938|
|Commissioned||3 Oct 1938|
|Decommissioned||3 Jul 1946|
|Sunk||2 May 1982|
|Displacement||9,575 tons standard; 12,242 tons full|
|Machinery||Geared turbines, 4 screws|
|Power Output||100,000 SHP|
|Armament||15x152mm guns, 8x127mm anti-aircraft guns, 8x0.50cal machine guns|
|Sold to Argentina||9 Apr 1951|
|Transferred to Argentina||17 Oct 1951|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseNamed after the capital city of Arizona, United States, light cruiser Phoenix was commissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania, United States on 3 Oct 1938 to Captain John W. Rankin. Rankin took the ship to Spain, Trinidad, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Puerto Rico for the shakedown cruise, returning to Philadelphia in Jan 1939. She arrived in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, United States after the post-shakedown repairs.
ww2dbaseWhen the United States entered the Pacific War, Phoenix was at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on 7 Dec 1941. She was anchored southeast of Ford Island near hospital ship Solace, and fired her guns against Japanese aircraft. She was not damaged during the attack, and participated in the failed search for the Japanese carriers after the raid. After returning from the search, she performed convoy duties between the United States and Hawaii, escorted a convoy from San Francisco, California, United States and Melbourne, Australia, and then escorted troop ships between Australia outlying British islands to the north. Between Feb and May 1942, she patrolled in the Indian Ocean, escorted a convoy to Bombay, India, and was present at the evacuation of Java. In Jul 1943, she received an overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Upon completion, she carried US Secretary of State Cordell Hull to Casablanca, Morocco before returning to the Pacific War.
ww2dbaseOn 26 Dec 1943, Phoenix supported the Cape Gloucester, New Britain invasion by bombarding Japanese defenses.
ww2dbaseDuring the night of 25-26 Jan 1944, Phoenix took part in a night raid against Japanese shore installations at Madang and Alexishafen, New Guinea. On 29 Feb, she provided naval gunfire support during the reconnaissance-in-force (which later turned into a full-blown invasion and occupation) of Los Negros, Admiralty Islands. On 4 and 7 Mar, she bombarded Hauwei Island, Admiral Islands. On 22 Apr, she again provided naval gunfire support during the invasion of Hollandia, New Guinea. During the night of 29-30 Apr, she bombarded Japanese airfields at Wakde and Sawar off northern New Guinea new Hollandia. On 17 May, in support of landings at Arare Point, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands, she bombarded Japanese positions in the Toem area and then escorted troop transports to Arare Point. On 25 May, she fired upon Japanese shore installations on Biak Island off New Guinea in support of the landing operations. On 4 Jun, off northwest coast of New Guinea, eight Japanese aircraft attacked the task force in which Phoenix was a member of; two of them targeted Phoenix, resulting in a near-miss that killed one, wounded four, and damaged the propellers. On 2 Jul, she bombarded Noemfoor Island, just south of Biak Island, before the landing operations.
ww2dbaseOn 15 Sep 1944, alongside of cruisers Boise, Nashville, Shropshire, and Australia, Phoenix joined the occupation force at Morotai in the Molucca Islands. During this time, they bombarded nearby Halmahera Island.
ww2dbaseDuring the Leyte, Philippine Islands campaign, Phoenix performed pre-invasion bombardment and then participated in the Battle of Surigao Straight; in the latter action, she shared the credit of sinking battleship Fuso. In the morning of 1 Nov, her group came under attack by 10 Japanese torpedo bombers. She downed two aircraft, but the attack force still was able to hit several destroyers in the group. In that afternoon at 1340, second wave of Japanese aircraft attacked, scoring a hit on one American destroyer; Phoenix downed one attacker of the second wave. On 5 Dec, she downed five Japanese aircraft. On 6 Dec, a Special Attack aircraft attempted to crash into her, but her 40-mm anti-aircraft fire downed the attacker when only 100 yards away. She operated in Philippine waters through early 1945.
ww2dbaseBetween 29 Jun and 7 Jul 1945, Phoenix covered minesweeping operations at Balikpapan, Borneo.
ww2dbaseWhen Japan surrendered, Phoenix was en route to Pearl Harbor for overhaul. She joined the US Navy Atlantic Fleet on 6 Sep 1945. She was decommissioned at Philadelphia, where she was commissioned nearly eight years earlier. She was sold to Argentina in 1951 for US$7,800,000, was renamed to Diecisiete de Octubre in Oct 1951 when she was initially commissioned by Argentina, and was renamed again to General Belgrano in 1956. The second renaming was done after Juan Perón was overthrown; as 17 Oct was a date associated with Perón's rise to power. During her Argentine career, she was eventually upgraded to carry two helicopters and anti-aircraft missiles.
ww2dbaseOn 26 Apr 1982, cruiser General Belgrano departed to Falkland Islands with Task Group 79.3. On 29 Apr, Task Group 79.3 patrolled the Burdwood Bank south of the islands. On 30 Apr, the group was detected by the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror. The order to attack the group was given personally by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (as the group was actually outside the British-declared Total Exclusion Zone), and the attack was carried out on 2 May. At 1557 that day, Conqueror fired three Mk 8 mod 4 torpedoes, each with a 363-kg Torpex warhead. Two of them hit General Belgrano, the first struck 10 to 15 meters from the bow, letting in water, while the second struck the after machine room, killing about 275 men and disabling electrical systems that prevented water pumps from easing the flooding. A third hit was likely, but not confirmed. The ship listed to port and began to sink at the bow. At 1624, Captain Hector Bonzo gave the order to abandon ship, which was carried out in order. Her escorts, which were two destroyers, were aware of a British submarine attack, but were unaware of how bad General Belgrano was damaged; as a result, the two destroyers sailed away to drop depth charges instead of performing rescue duties. Nevertheless, 770 men were eventually rescued; 323 lives were lost between the torpedo explosion and the final sinking. The sinking resulted in Argentine accusations that the British sunk the ship illegal for that not only she was outside the Total Exclusion Zone, she was also on her way back to Argentina, therefore should not be considered a threat to the British forces. The British claimed that although the task force was outside the zone, it was still a threat to British forces in the area; this argument was supported by General Belgrano's Captain Bonzo, who noted that "[w]e were heading towards the mainland but not going to the mainland; we were going to a position to await further orders". It was also made known later on that British government officials were never made known the fact that the Argentine ships were actually heading away from the Falkland Islands, although that fact would have little to do with the decision if Bonzo's account was held to be true. It was not until 1994 when the Argentine government finally dropped the accusations and announced that the sinking was considered legal.
ww2dbaseSources: United States Navy Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Oct 2007
Phoenix Operational Timeline
|3 Oct 1938||Phoenix was commissioned into service.|
|20 Jun 1940||Light cruiser USS Phoenix departed Lahaina, Maui, US Territory of Hawaii for the Panama Canal Zone.|
|3 Jul 1940||USS Phoenix arrived at Balboa, Panama Canal Zone.|
|5 Jul 1940||USS Phoenix departed Balboa, Panama Canal Zone for Valparaiso, Chile.|
|8 Jul 1940||USS Phoenix departed Valparaiso, Chile for Callao, Peru.|
|12 Jul 1940||USS Phoenix arrived at Valparaiso, Chile on a mission "to cultivate friendly relations".|
|22 Jul 1940||USS Phoenix arrived at Callao, Peru.|
|26 Jul 1940||USS Phoenix departed Callao, Peru.|
|30 Jul 1940||USS Phoenix arrived at Balboa, Panama Canal Zone.|
|7 Aug 1940||USS Phoenix arrived at San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, United States.|
|3 Jul 1946||Phoenix was decommissioned from service.|
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Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937