|Ship Class||Northampton-class Heavy Cruiser|
|Builder Name||New York Shipbuilding Company, Camden, New Jersey, United States|
|Laid Down||6 Mar 1928|
|Launched||3 Jul 1929|
|Commissioned||24 Jun 1930|
|Decommissioned||10 Jun 1946|
|Displacement||9,300 tons standard|
|Machinery||8 White-Forster boilers; 4 Parsons reduction steam turbines; 4 shafts|
|Power Output||107,000 SHP|
|Armament||9x8in/55 guns, 4x5in/25 guns, 6x21in torpedo tubes|
|Armor||3.75in belt, 2.5in turrets, 1in deck, 1.25in conning tower|
Contributor: David Stubblebine
ww2dbaseWith additional contributions from E. Joel Starr (RM3c USS Chester)
ww2dbaseThe second US Navy cruiser named for the city of Chester, Pennsylvania was laid down 6 Mar 1928 (some sources say 6 Mar 1926) at the New York Shipbuilding Company in Camden, New Jersey, United States and launched 3 Jul 1929. USS Chester was commissioned 24 Jun 1930 with Captain A. P. Fairfield in command. Her shakedown cruise was a six-week Mediterranean cruise followed by participation in Fleet Problem XV off the Canal Zone in Panama.
ww2dbaseFollowing an overhaul at New York Navy Yard where she was equipped with two aircraft catapults amidships, Chester spent two years as part of the Pacific Fleet operating out of San Pedro, California, United States. In 1935 Chester took the Secretary of War and his party to the Philippines for the inauguration of the President of the Philippines Commonwealth. A year later, Chester was among the escorts for the USS Indianapolis as she transported President Franklin Roosevelt on a good-will visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay. Chester spent the next five years with the Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
ww2dbaseWhen the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941, Chester was at sea as part of the Enterprise task group returning to Hawaii from Wake Island. Chester then spent six weeks patrolling Hawaiian waters before sailing in support of landings on Samoa and Taroa in the Marshall Island. As Chester retired from Taroa she suffered her first casualties of the war when an aerial bomb struck Chester's well deck that killed eight and injured 38.
ww2dbaseAfter repairs, Chester sailed again and in May 1942 she saw action off Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands, Misima Island in the Solomon Sea, and offered anti-aircraft protection for the carriers during the Battle of the Coral Sea. The Chester then took aboard 478 survivors from the doomed aircraft carrier USS Lexington (Lexington-class) and delivered them to Tonga. Chester briefly returned to the west coast of the United States before rejoining the fight in the Ellice Islands.
ww2dbaseOn 20 Oct 1942, while cruising in support of the operations in the Solomons, Chester was struck by a torpedo fired from Japanese submarine I-176. The torpedo exploded on Chester's starboard side amidships, killing eleven and wounding twelve. Chester remained afloat and made her own way to Espiritu Santo for preliminary repairs. While there, the luxury liner SS President Coolidge, which had been converted into a troopship, hit two mines while entering the harbor and had to be beached. The order to abandon ship was given aboard the President Coolidge and Chester sent all her small boats to assist in the rescue, eventually taking aboard 440 survivors.
ww2dbaseChester sailed to Sydney, Australia for another level of repairs to her torpedo damage before steaming almost 10,000 miles to Norfolk, Virginia, United States for a complete overhaul.
ww2dbaseChester was away from the war zone for just over a year that finished with a month of escort duty between San Francisco, California and Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. In late November 1943, she returned to action in the Gilbert Islands and then the Marshall Islands. With the capture of Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands and its conversion to a forward anchorage, Chester became part of Majuro's submarine and antiaircraft screen until late April 1944. After some brief yard work in San Francisco, Chester then sailed to the Adak in Alaska's Aleutian Islands where the commander of Cruiser Division Five, Rear Admiral E.G. Small, made Chester his flagship. Chester then participated in the bombardment of Matsuwa (now Matua) and Paramushir in the Kurile Islands in June 1944. Returning to the Central Pacific, Chester was part of a bombardment sortie to Wake Island in September 1944 and then Marcus Island a month later.
ww2dbaseCruiser Division Five was then assigned to screen the Fast Carrier Task Force in the build-up for the landings on Leyte in the Philippines and remained with the carriers throughout the Battle for Leyte Gulf. Chester sailed with Vice Admiral John McCain's Task Group 38.1 and on 25 October 1944 these ships had withdrawn for refueling when Admiral Takeo Kurita's Center Force was discovered bearing down on the landing beaches from Samar in what turned out to be the height of the Leyte engagement. Chester then turned with the rest of McCain's ships to chase Kurita back through the San Bernardino Strait.
ww2dbaseBeginning in November 1944, Chester operated out of Ulithi in the Caroline Islands and Saipan in the Mariana Islands while still flying the flag of the Cruiser Division Five commander. In mid-November 1944, Chester and her task unit made a sortie to shell Iwo Jima in the Bonin Islands.
ww2dbaseAt dawn on 20 November 1944, Chester and the rest of Cruiser Division Five (USS Salt Lake City and USS Pensacola) departed Ulithi bound for another bombardment of Iwo Jima. What they did not know was that this was the date and place chosen by the Japanese to debut a new desperate special attack weapon, the kaiten manned torpedo. As Chester steamed out of the channel, one of her escorts, the USS Case, rammed one kaiten and broke it in two. Another kaiten successfully infiltrated the harbor and detonated against the hull of the fully laden fleet oiler USS Mississinewa which was inside the harbor but plainly visible from the ships in the channel. Chester sailed on and successfully shelled Iwo Jima four days later. Through the end of January 1945, Chester and her sisters made five more sorties to shell Iwo Jima as well as Chichi Jima and Haha Jima, all in preparation for the Iwo Jima landing set for mid February.
ww2dbaseBeyond just the preliminary shelling, Chester and her cruiser division took part in the Iwo Jima landings as well. For three days prior to the Marines landing, Chester circled the island shelling shore positions. In the early morning of 19 February 1945, the day the Marines landed, the waters around Iwo Jima were so crowded with ships and the night was so dark that Chester and the amphibious command ship USS Estes collided – bumped really – but it was enough to carry away Chester's starboard outboard propeller. Chester completed her operations for the day by shelling positions ashore as the landings took place but by the end of the day, she withdrew for repairs.
ww2dbaseChester made her way across the Pacific to Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California where she spent the entire month of April 1945 in drydock. After some sea trials and a brief shakedown, Chester returned to the war zone in the last days of June 1945 to the waters around Okinawa, Japan. A month later, Chester screened a force of escort carriers making a raid on Shanghai, China and patrolling the Yangtze River delta. Chester then returned to the Aleutian Islands where she received news that Japan had surrendered.
ww2dbaseChester participated in the landing of occupation forces in northern Japan in September and October of 1945 before returning to the United States in November with a load of servicemen from Iwo Jima. Chester made another voyage across the Pacific to transport servicemen from Guam back to the United States, arriving in mid-December.
ww2dbaseThe Chester then moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States where she remained until, battered and scarred, she was decommissioned on 10 June 1946. The ship was placed in the reserve fleet until it was sold for scrap on 11 August 1959.
ww2dbaseUSS Chester earned 11 battle stars for her service in World War II.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
US Navy: USS Chester War History and War Diaries
Naval History and Heritage Command
E. Joel Starr (RM3c USS Chester)
Last Major Revision: Jan 2016
Heavy Cruiser Chester (CA-27) Interactive Map
Chester Operational Timeline
|6 Mar 1928||The keel of heavy cruiser Chester was laid down by the New York Shipbuilding Company in Camden, New Jersey, United States.|
|3 Jul 1929||Heavy cruiser Chester was launched at Camden, New Jersey, United States.|
|24 Jun 1930||USS Chester was commissioned into service with Captain A. P. Fairfield in command.|
|20 Oct 1942||While cruising in support of the operations in the Solomon Islands, USS Chester was struck by a torpedo fired from Japanese submarine I-176, killing eleven and wounding twelve.|
|24 Nov 1944||USS Chester bombarded Iwo Jima, Japan.|
|10 Jun 1946||USS Chester was decommissioned from service.|
|11 Aug 1959||Heavy cruiser Chester was sold for scrap.|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939