|Ship Class||Portland-class Heavy Cruiser|
|Builder||Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp, Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts, United States|
|Laid Down||17 Feb 1930|
|Launched||21 May 1932|
|Commissioned||23 Feb 1933|
|Decommissioned||12 Jul 1946|
|Displacement||10000 tons standard|
|Machinery||8 Yarrow boilers, 4 Parsons geared turbines, 4 screws|
|Power Output||107000 SHP|
|Range||10,000nm at 15 knots|
|Armament||3x3x8in/55 guns, 8x5in/25 AA guns, 2x47mm 3pdr guns, 4x4x40mm Bofors AA guns, 4x2x40mm Bofors AA guns, 17x20mm Oerlikon AA cannon|
|Armor||3.25-5in belt, 2.5in deck, 1.5in barbettes, 1.5-2.5in turrets, 1.25in conning tower|
Contributor: David Stubblebine
ww2dbaseUSS Portland was the lead ship of the third class of "treaty cruisers" to be built by the United States Navy following the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. There was only one other ship in the class, the USS Indianapolis, and both were originally designated as light cruisers because of their thin armor. However, because of their nine 8-inch guns, they were both reclassified as heavy cruisers in accordance with the London Naval Treaty of 1930. Under the London Naval Treaty, Portland-class ships were also allowed more armor so the thickness of each ships' armor belt was increased prior to launching. Because of the look created by the deep well deck between the two funnels, both Portland and Indianapolis were known as "Swayback" cruisers.
ww2dbasePortland was the first Navy ship named for the city of Portland, Maine. Launched in 1932 and commissioned the following year, Portland exceeded her rated top speed during trials. Six weeks after commissioning, Portland received her first assignment of importance when the Navy airship USS Akron crashed at sea off New Jersey. Underway thirty-six minutes after receiving her orders, Portland was the first Navy ship to reach Akron's crash site but no further rescue efforts were possible. 73 of the 76 aboard Akron were lost.
ww2dbasePortland then served as an escort for cruiser USS Houston as Houston carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt from San Diego, California through the Panama Canal to Charleston, South Carolina. Portland spent the remainder of the interwar era with the Scouting Force and then with the United States Pacific Fleet. She crossed the equator for the first time on 20 May 1936 during fleet maneuvers.
ww2dbaseWhen war broke out with the Pearl Harbor Attack of 7 Dec 1941, Portland was two days out of Pearl Harbor on her way to Midway Atoll as part of the USS Lexington group. From Dec 1941 through Apr 1942, she operated on patrols between the west coast of the United States, the Hawaiian Islands, and Fiji. On 23 Apr 1942 while at Tongatabu in the Kingdom of Tonga, Portland's commanding officer, Captain Robert R Thompson, was transferred to the hospital ship USS Solace with a broken back after a fall down a ladder. The best choice for a replacement captain under the circumstances was the captain of the Solace, Captain Benjamin Perlman, who took temporary command of Portland.
ww2dbasePortland then became a part of a task force built around the carrier USS Yorktown (Yorktown-class) and sailed to the Coral Sea along with the group built around USS Lexington (Lexington-class). Following the battle, Portland was to escort the stricken Lexington but the carrier was so badly damaged that she had to be abandoned and sunk. Portland took aboard 929 of Lexington's survivors while suffering no casualties herself. Back at Tongatabu for brief repairs, Portland received a new commanding officer with Captain Lawrence DuBose relieving Captain Perlman who returned to the Solace. Portland then steamed for Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii escorting the damaged Yorktown.
ww2dbaseAfter only three days at Pearl Harbor, Portland sailed again with the still damaged Yorktown bound for Midway, along with the Enterprise and Hornet (Yorktown-class). On 4 Jun 1942, Portland screened the carriers while the carrier aircraft sought out the attacking Japanese carriers and sunk all four of them. The Japanese carrier aircraft were trying to do the same thing and they were able to score several torpedo hits on the Yorktown. The carrier had to be abandoned with 2,046 of her survivors transferred to Portland. While steaming toward Pearl Harbor, she met the submarine tender USS Fulton and transferred the Yorktown survivors.
ww2dbasePortland then joined a group built around the carrier Saratoga and steamed for the Aleutian Islands to counter a Japanese force thought to be there, but the group was recalled to Pearl Harbor two days later.
ww2dbasePortland was then assigned as one of the escorts for USS Enterprise bound for the Solomon Islands in support of the Guadalcanal operations. These actions included the Battle of the Eastern Solomons where allied forces stopped a large Japanese armada from reinforcing their forces on Guadalcanal. Portland and Enterprise then steamed for Pearl Harbor. From there, Portland was ordered on a secret mission to the Gilbert Islands to conduct a raid on Tarawa along with the light cruiser USS San Juan. On 15 Oct 1942 Portland attacked Japanese ships near Tarawa before withdrawing to rejoin the Enterprise task group on their way to the Solomons. They steamed south in time to participate in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. About midday on 24 Oct 1942, Portland came under attack from a Japanese submarine and Portland was struck with three torpedoes, but all three failed to detonate.
ww2dbaseTwo weeks later on 12 & 13 Nov 1942, Portland participated in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. During the night action, Portland was struck with a torpedo fired from the Japanese destroyer Yudachi that caused heavy damage to Portland's stern. Portland lost both inboard propellers, had her rudder jammed at five degrees to starboard, and froze her Number Three turret in train and elevation. A four-degree list was quickly corrected by shifting ballast, but the steering problem was harder to overcome and the ship could only steam in circles. At the end of her first circle, she fired on the battleship Hiei with her forward turrets. In four six-gun salvos fired by Portland, she succeeded in starting fires on the Japanese battleship. At dawn, still circling, Portland opened fire on the abandoned hulk of Yudachi at a range of 6 miles (9.7 km). After the sixth salvo, Yudachi exploded, rolled over, and sank within five minutes. Portland was eventually able to partially correct the steering problem and withdraw under her own power. With the assistance of a tug and other small craft, Portland made her way to Tulagi harbor on 14 Nov 1942. The battle resulted in heavy damage to both forces but broke up the determined Japanese effort to disrupt the landing of 6,000 American troops on Guadalcanal, to bombard Henderson Field, and to land 7,000 reinforcements of their own. Portland later received a Meritorious Unit Commendation for her actions in the battle, suffering 18 killed and 17 wounded.
ww2dbaseFrom Tulagi, Portland was towed to Sydney, Australia for preliminary repairs before being overhauled in the United States. She arrived at Mare Island Navy Yard, California, United States on 3 Mar 1943.
ww2dbaseAfter training cruises in southern Californian waters, Portland steamed for the Aleutians late in May 1943 and bombarded Kiska on 26 Jul 1943. Portland next participated in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaigns. She bombarded Tarawa on 20 Nov 1943 in support of the landings there. She was lightly damaged by friendly depth charges when the destroyer Anderson attacked what was believed to be a Japanese submarine. In Dec 1943, she moved to the Marshall Islands escorting the new Essex-class carrier Lexington. Portland then returned to Pearl Harbor and went into drydock for more repairs to her rudder and propellers.
ww2dbaseAfter those repairs, she steamed for Majuro Atoll arriving 30 Jan 1944. After her bombardment group shelled the island for 30 minutes, it was discovered there were no Japanese ashore. She then moved to support operations on Eniwetok Atoll on 8 Feb 1944 providing shore bombardment ahead of landings which took place on 19 Feb 1944. Between 30 Mar and 1 Apr 1944, she screened carriers conducting airstrikes at Palau, Yap, Ulithi, and Woleai. Later that month, she joined a carrier force covering the landings around Hollandia and Tanahmerah on New Guinea. She then steamed northward with the carrier force and struck Truk with five other cruisers and destroyers. Portland then shelled Satawan in the Caroline Islands.
ww2dbaseFollowing this series of operations, Portland returned to Mare Island for a more extensive overhaul, which was completed in Aug 1944. She returned to the western Pacific for shore bombardments of Peleliu from 12–14 Sep 1944 with the Peleliu landings on 15 Sep 1944. She remained at Peleliu through 29 Sep 1944, and then steamed for Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands.
ww2dbasePortland arrived off Leyte on 17 Oct 1944 and began two days of shore bombardments to prepare for the troop landings there. On the night of 24 Oct 1944, a strong Japanese force consisting of two battleships, one heavy cruiser, and four destroyers headed for Surigao Strait with the apparent intent of raiding shipping in Leyte Gulf. The Japanese force advanced in rough column up the narrow strait during darkness but was met with a large U.S. force of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, including Portland. She and her sisters steamed across the top of the strait, crossing the 'T' of the Japanese force. The Japanese were first met by PT boats, then in succession by three coordinated destroyer torpedo attacks, and finally by devastating gunfire from American battleships and cruisers disposed across the northern end of the strait. Portland took the Japanese heavy cruiser Mogami under fire, scoring several hits, and continued firing on the stranded Mogami throughout the night, striking her several more times. The Battle of Surigao Strait was a decisive defeat for the Japanese force, with most of its ships being destroyed.
ww2dbaseFrom 3 Jan to 1 Mar 1945, Portland covered the landings at Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines. Portland entered Manila Bay on 15 Feb 1945 and bombarded the south shore of Corregidor in preparation for landings there. She returned to Leyte Gulf on 1 Mar 1945 for repairs and replenishment, having seen five months of continuous action.
ww2dbaseFrom 26 Mar to 20 Apr 1945, Portland conducted shore bombardments of Okinawa in support of the Allied landings. At Okinawa, Portland endured twenty-four air raids, shot down four Japanese aircraft, and assisted in downing two others. From 8 May, she provided artillery support for ground forces on Okinawa, departing on 17 Jun 1945 for maintenance at Leyte. She returning to Buckner Bay, Okinawa on 6 Aug 1945 and where she remained conducting shore bombardments for the next nine days until the war ended.
ww2dbaseWith the termination of hostilities, Portland was designated flagship of Vice Admiral George D. Murray, Commander Mariana Islands, who was to accept the surrender of the Caroline Islands on behalf of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. The ship steamed to Truk Atoll and where Murray accepted the formal capitulation from senior Japanese Army, Navy, and civilian officials in ceremonies on Portland's quarter deck.
ww2dbasePortland was then selected for Operation Magic Carpet duty and returned to Pearl Harbor from 21–24 Sep 1945 embarking 600 troops for transportation to the United States. She transited the Panama Canal on 8 Oct 1945 and arrived at Portland, Maine, United States, for Navy Day celebrations on 27 Oct 1945. She conducted two trans-Atlantic crossings in Nov and Dec 1945, bringing troops home from the European Theater. Portland was decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 12 Jul 1946 and placed in the US Reserve Fleet. Despite being identified as one of the few ships that fought throughout the entire war without missing any major battles, no attempt was made to save her as a museum ship at either Portland, Maine, or Portland, Oregon. She was struck from the Navy List on 1 Mar 1959 and was scrapped in Panama City, Florida during 1961 and 1962.
ww2dbasePortland's tripod aftermast is preserved at Fort Allen Park in Portland, Maine, United States. She received 16 battle stars for service in World War II, making her among the most decorated US ships of the war.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
US Navy War Diaries; USS Portland, USS Solace, USS Bobolink, USS Anderson, others
CombinedFleet.com Tabular Records of Movement; Mogami, Yudachi, others
William Generous, Sweet Pea at War: A History of the USS Portland
Last Major Revision: Jul 2018
Heavy Cruiser USS Portland (CA-33) Interactive Map
USS Portland Operational Timeline
|17 Feb 1930||The keel of Portland was laid down by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation at the Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts, United States.|
|21 May 1932||Portland was launched at Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts, United States.|
|23 Feb 1933||USS Portland was commissioned into service.|
|4 Apr 1933||Portland was first Navy ship to arrive at the crash site of the Navy airship USS Akron|
|20 May 1936||USS Portland crossed the equator while on maneuvers with the rest of the Pacific Fleet, prompting Crossing the Line ceremonies on at least 102 ships.|
|8 May 1942||Portland took aboard 929 survivors of the stricken carrier USS Lexington (Lexington-class) in the Battle of the Coral Sea|
|5 Jun 1942||Portland took aboard 2,046 survivors of the stricken carrier USS Yorktown (Yorktown-class) in the Battle of Midway|
|8 Jun 1942||Portland joined with Saratoga for sortie to the Aleutian Islands. Task Force recalled two days later without reaching the Aleutians|
|24 Aug 1942||Portland screened carrier USS Enterprise during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons|
|15 Oct 1942||Portland shelled Tarawa Atoll in the Gilberts. The Japanese on Tarawa then execute 22 captured Australian coast-watchers.|
|24 Oct 1942||Portland was struck with three Japanese torpedoes that did not detonate during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands|
|13 Nov 1942||Portland was struck with a torpedo in her starboard quarter during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (Third Battle of Savo Island). The torpedo explosion took off Portland's two inboard propellers, jammed the rudder at five degrees to starboard, and froze the No 3 main turret. Portland could only steam in circles but still managed to fire her forward main batteries effectively, starting fires on the Japanese battleship Hiei and sinking the abandoned destroyer Yudachi.|
|3 Mar 1943||Portland arrived at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California, United States for repairs and an overhaul.|
|26 Jul 1943||USS Portland fired on radar contacts south of Kiska Island in the Aleutians that were later determined to be false radar echoes and would become known as the Battle of the Pips.|
|20 Nov 1943||USS Portland shell shore positions on Betio Island at Tarawa Atoll in support of the US Marine landings.|
|4 Dec 1943||USS Portland screened carrier Lexington (Essex-class) in strikes against Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands|
|9 Dec 1943||USS Portland entered Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for drydocking and repairs to her rudder and propellers.|
|31 Jan 1944||USS Portland bombarded Djarrit Island, Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands for 30 minutes before receiving word that there were no Japanese on the island.|
|17 Feb 1944||Portland bombarded Parry Island, Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands as part of the Battle of Eniwetok|
|30 Mar 1944||USS Portland screened fleet carriers as their aircraft struck enemy installations located in the Palau Islands, Caroline Islands.|
|31 Mar 1944||USS Portland screened fleet carriers as their aircraft struck enemy installations located in the Palau Islands, Caroline Islands.|
|1 Apr 1944||USS Portland screened fleet carriers as their aircraft struck enemy installations located in the Woleai, Caroline Islands.|
|21 Apr 1944||As part of US Navy Carrier Task Force 58, USS Portland screened carriers launching the initial strikes in support of the landings at Hollandia on New Guinea.|
|29 Apr 1944||As part of US Navy Carrier Task Force 58, USS Portland screened carriers launching strikes against Truk in the Caroline Islands.|
|30 Apr 1944||As part of a cruiser task group under Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf, Portland participated in the bombardment of Salawan Island in the Carolines.|
|25 May 1944||USS Portland arrived at Mare Island Naval Shipyard for repairs and an overhaul.|
|7 Aug 1944||USS Portland departed Mare Island Naval Shipyard after overhaul bound for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.|
|30 Aug 1944||USS Portland rejoins Cruiser Division 4 under Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf at Purvis Bay, Florida Island, Solomon Islands.|
|12 Sep 1944||USS Portland and Cruiser Division 4 begin pre-invasion bombardment of Peleliu in the Palau Islands. Bombardments continued for 3 days until the US 1st Marine Division landed on the island.|
|1 Oct 1944||USS Portland arrived at Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands for 10 days of recreation, upkeep, and replenishment of fuel and stores.|
|18 Oct 1944||USS Portland entered Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands in preparation for pre-invasion bombardments.|
|19 Oct 1944||USS Portland shells the east side of Leyte Island, Philippines in advance of the landings to take place the following day.|
|25 Oct 1944||After six days of shore bombardments of the island of Leyte in the Philippines, USS Portland withdrew to join the battleship and cruiser force tasked with intercepting Japan's Southern Force in the Surigao Strait. Portland was part of the force that crossed the "T" of the Japanese force and directed most of her fire against the cruiser Mogami. After the decisive victory in the Surigao Strait, Portland returned to Leyte Gulf and prepared to fend off Japan's Center Force, then engaged with Task Force 77.4.3 in the Battle off Samar.|
|1 Nov 1944||USS Portland entered Ulithi Lagoon and became one of the screening vessels in the Fast Carrier Task Force.|
|22 Nov 1944||USS Portland was detached from the Carrier Task Force and assigned to the Mindoro invasion force then gathering at Kossol Roads, Palau Islands.|
|15 Dec 1944||USS Portland covered the landings on Mindoro, Philippines.|
|6 Jan 1945||USS Portland entered Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippines for the first time in support of the landings there 3 days later.|
|15 Feb 1945||USS Portland entered Manila Bay, Luzon, Philippines, to support the landings to take place on Corregidor the following day.|
|26 Mar 1945||USS Portland commenced destructive bombardment of Okinawa from the west, all in advance of the landings to take place one week later. Portland would continue this assignment for nearly a month.|
|24 Apr 1945||USS Portland entered Ulithi Lagoon for ten days of repairs and replenishment.|
|8 May 1945||USS Portland returned to her station off Okinawa for shore bombardments.|
|17 Jun 1945||USS Portland departed the Okinawa area en route San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippines.|
|3 Aug 1945||USS Portland departed Leyte, Philippines en route Okinawa, Japan.|
|6 Aug 1945||USS Portland arrived in Buckner Bay (Nakagusuku Wan), Okinawa, Japan where she remained for the rest of the war without firing another shot in anger.|
|25 Aug 1945||USS Portland departed Okinawa for Guam.|
|31 Aug 1945||Vice Admiral George D. Murray, Commander Marianas Area, came aboard USS Portland at Apra Harbor, Guam, Marianas and made Portland his flagship for the coming operation.|
|1 Sep 1945||USS Portland departed Guam en route Truk Atoll, Caroline Islands, to accept the surrender of Japanese forces there.|
|2 Sep 1945||At Truk Atoll, Caroline Islands, USS Portland received aboard Lieutenant General Shunzaburo Magikura of the Japanese Imperial Army, Vice Admiral Chuichi Hara of the Japanese Imperial Navy, Rear Admiral Aritaka Aihara of the Japanese Imperial Navy and head of the Eastern Branch of the Japanese South Seas Government and their aides. Together, they surrendered all islands and territories under their commands to Vice Admiral George Murray, acting on behalf of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. Immediately following the signing of the surrender documents, Portland departed Truk bound for Guam.|
|3 Sep 1945||USS Portland arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam, Marianas where Vice Admiral George D. Murray left the ship.|
|12 Sep 1945||USS Portland departed Guam en route Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.|
|20 Sep 1945||USS Portland arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.|
|25 Sep 1945||USS Portland departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii bound for the Panama Canal.|
|8 Oct 1945||USS Portland transited the Panama Canal eastbound.|
|25 Oct 1945||USS Portland arrived at Portland, Maine, United States for Navy Day celebrations two days later.|
|15 Nov 1945||USS Portland departed Boston, Massachusetts, United States bound for Le Havre, France as part of Operation Magic Carpet to bring US troops home.|
|22 Nov 1945||USS Portland arrived at Le Havre, France for the embarkation of US troops for transportation to the United States as part of Operation Magic Carpet.|
|23 Nov 1945||USS Portland departed Le Havre, France bound for New York, New York, United States with 1,242 US Army personnel for transportation to the United States as part of Operation Magic Carpet.|
|29 Nov 1945||USS Portland arrived at New York, New York, United States and disembarked 1,242 US Army personnel returned from France as part of Operation Magic Carpet.|
|12 Jul 1946||USS Portland was decommissioned from service at Philadelphia Navy Yard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.|
|6 Oct 1959||Portland was sold for scrap to Union Mineral and Alloys Corporation of New York, New York, United States for scrap.|
Did you enjoy this article? Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.
Visitor Submitted Comments
All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.
» Battle of Coral Sea
» Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands
» Guadalcanal Campaign
» Solomon Islands Campaign
» Aleutian Islands Campaign
» New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 3
» Gilbert Islands Campaign
» Marshall Islands Campaign
» Palau Islands and Ulithi Islands Campaigns
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 2
» Okinawa Campaign
» Japan's Surrender
- » 1,048 biographies
- » 330 events
- » 35,983 timeline entries
- » 728 ships
- » 330 aircraft models
- » 184 vehicle models
- » 341 weapon models
- » 104 historical documents
- » 179 facilities
- » 458 book reviews
- » 25,228 photos
- » 290 maps
Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939