Brooklyn-class cruiser

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USS Brooklyn (CL-40) in the Hudson River, in 1939 (80-G-1023215).jpg
USS Brooklyn (CL-40)
Class overview
Name: Brooklyn-class cruiser
Preceded by: Omaha class
Succeeded by: St. Louis class[1]
Built: 1935–1938
In service: 1938–1992
In commission: 1937–1982[2]
Planned: 7
Completed: 7
Lost: 1 under Argentine flag [2]
Retired: 6
Preserved: 0
General characteristics ([3])
Type: Light cruiser
Displacement: 9,767 long-tons (standard), 12,207 long-tons (full load)
Length: 606 ft (184.7 m) overall
Beam: 62 ft (18.9 m)
Draft: 23 ft (7.0 m)
Speed: 32.5 knots (60.2 km/h; 37.4 mph)
Range: 10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 868
  • Main Belt at Machinery:5 inches (127 mm) on 0.625-inch (16 mm) STS plate
  • Main Belt at Magazines:2 inches (51 mm) on 0.625-inch (16 mm) STS plate
  • Deck: 2 in (50 mm)
  • Barbettes: 6 in (152 mm)
  • Turret Roofs: 2 in (50 mm)
  • Turret Sides: 1.25 in (31.75mm)
  • Turret Face: 6.5 in (165 mm)
  • Conning tower: 5 in (127 mm)
Aircraft carried: 4 floatplanes
Aviation facilities: 2 catapults

The Brooklyn-class cruisers were seven light cruisers of the United States Navy that served during World War II. Armed with 5 (three forward, two aft) triple turrets mounting 6-inch guns, they and their two near sisters of the St. Louis-class mounted more heavy-caliber guns than any other US cruisers. The Brooklyns were all commissioned during 1937 and 1938 in the time between the start of the war in Asia and before the outbreak of war in Europe. They served extensively in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters during World War II. Though some were heavily damaged, all survived the war. All were decommissioned shortly after the end of the war, and five were transferred in 1951 to South American navies, where they served for many more years. One of these, the General Belgrano, formerly the USS Phoenix (CL-46), was sunk during the Falklands War in 1982.[4]

The Brooklyn-class ships were a strong influence on US cruiser design. Nearly all subsequent US cruisers, heavy and light, were directly or indirectly based on them.[4] Notable among these are the Cleveland-class light cruiser and Baltimore-class heavy cruiser of World War II.


The Brooklyn Class design was a further refinement of the New Orleans class Heavy Cruiser that preceded it.[5] The desire for the Brooklyns arose from the London Naval Treaty of 1930, which limited the construction of heavy cruisers, i.e., ships carrying guns with calibers between 6.1 inches and 8 inches. Great Britain needed trade control cruisers and hoped that the treaty would limit nations to smaller cruisers to a 6,000 to 8,000 ton range that she could afford. Agreement to the London Treaty and the proceeding with the American Light cruiser design can be focused to Admiral William V. Pratt who overrode the vehement objections of the General Board.[6] Under the treaty the US was allowed 30,000 tons for heavy cruisers and 143,500 tons for light cruisers.[7] The United States needed large cruisers to deal with the extreme ranges that operations in the Pacific Ocean required. Cruisers with 6" guns and 10,000 tons were therefore desired.[8] The US Navy's experience with the Omaha-class cruiser was not all that could be hoped for. The light hull design caused a stressed hull and was very overweight. Design started in 1930, with the first four of the class ordered in 1933 and an additional three ships in 1934. Basic criteria had been that speed and range should match heavy cruisers and, when the Japanese Mogami-class cruiser carrying fifteen six-inch main guns appeared, the new U.S. ships would match their weaponry. Various combinations of armor and power plants were tried in the efforts to stay below the Treaty 10,000 ton limit.[9] Aviation facilities were moved to the stern of the ship from the amidships position of the New Orleans Class cruisers.[10]

From 1942, the bridge structure was lowered and radar was fitted.


The Brooklyn Class was equipped with 15 6"/47 Mark 16 naval guns developed from the 6"/53 Mark 8 used on the Omaha Class cruiser. The decision was reached as the gun could achieve up to ten rounds per minute rate of fire. This gave the class the ability to send up to one hundred and fifty rounds a minute at its intended target. This allowed the cruiser to smother an enemy ship with fire. The turret arrangement was five turrets each mounting three guns on a single sleeve. The six-inch guns were of a new design, the Mk 16, which could fire a 130-pound shell up to 26,100 yards (nearly 23,900 meters). The 130-pound shell had twice the penetrative power of the old gun noted at rising from 3.5 inches to 5.5 inches at 10,000 yards and 2 inches of deck armor at 20,000 yards. The impact of the shell changed the General Board's view on the usefulness of light cruisers in service.[11] The ammunition was of the semi-fixed type.[12]

As designed, the anti-aircraft weaponry specified eight 5"/25 caliber gun and eight M2 Browning .50 caliber machine guns. The intention to mount 1.1 inches anti-aircraft guns were frustrated and the requirement was not fully met until 1943. The weapon as deployed was less than satisfactory frequent jamming and weight were serious issues.[13] Some of the class had 5"/38 caliber gun installed versus the 5"/25 guns.[14] There were varied mixes of 20 mm and 40 mm mountings actually installed during World War 2, 28 40 mm (4 × 4, 6 × 2) and twenty 20 mm (10 × 2) being the most common.[9]

Fire control[edit]

The Brooklyn Class was deployed with the Mark 34 director and later the Mark 3 radar. This would be upgraded to the Mark 8 and again to the Mark 13 radar. The secondary battery was controlled by the Mark 28 and upgraded to the Mark 33 fire control systems. The associated radars were the Mark 4 fire control radar and upgraded again to the Mark 12. Two anti-aircraft fire directors were fitted to each ship. A late World War 2 refit saw the Mk 51 director installed for the 40mm Bofors guns. Night engagements were improved when in 1945 the Mark 57 and 63 directors in installed.[15]


The vast majority of cruisers built by the United States during World War II derive from the Brooklyn design.[4] Modifications of Brooklyn-class hull were the predecessors to the two main lines of wartime cruisers, respectively the Cleveland-class light cruiser armed with 6-inch (152 mm) guns and Baltimore-class heavy cruiser armed with 8-inch (203 mm) guns.[16]

The first derived class was the two-ship St. Louis-class, which were modified Brooklyns using new boiler design, redesigned armor, and secondary armament placed into four twin mount turrets (two turrets per side). This class would lead onto the Cleveland-class light cruiser (less a fifth triple 6-inch turret), of which two were upgraded as the Fargo-class cruiser. The other predecessor was the USS Wichita, built on a modified Brooklyn-class hull, with a heavy cruiser armament featuring three rather than five triple turrets, but each turret containing larger 8-inch guns, and increased armor. The Wichita was succeeded by the Baltimore-class, including the Oregon City-class cruiser subclass, and the upgraded Des Moines-class cruiser. As the Baltimore-class began building about a year after the Cleveland-class, later developments and improvements were transferred to the Baltimore-class hull.

Finally, both Cleveland and Baltimore hulls were converted to light aircraft carriers. The Independence-class of light aircraft carriers, were converted from Cleveland-class cruisers,[17] and the Saipan-class light carriers used the basic form of the Baltimore-class cruiser design.[18]

War service[edit]

Several Brooklyns were seriously damaged during the war, but all of the cruisers survived. Boise was severely damaged by shell hit in her forward turret magazine during the Battle of Cape Esperance on 11 October 1942, suffering many casualties but luckily the magazine (being partially flooded as a result of shell hits in her hull) did not explode. Nashville was hit by a kamikaze attack on 13 December 1944 off Mindoro which killed or wounded 310 crewmen. Honolulu was torpedoed at the Battle of Kolombangara on July 12–13, 1943, as was her near-sister St. Louis. After being repaired in the United States, Honolulu returned to service only to be torpedoed by a Japanese aircraft on 20 October 1944 during the invasion of Leyte.[19] On 11 September 1943 Savannah was hit by a German Fritz X radio guided bomb which penetrated her #3 turret and blew out the bottom of the ship. Skillful damage control by her crew saved her from sinking. While under repair in the United States, Savannah and Honolulu were rebuilt with a bulged hull that increased their beam by nearly 8 feet and their 5-inch guns were reinstalled as four twins, though the repairs to Honolulu were completed too late for her to see action again.[20]


All ships of the class were deactivated by early 1947. Except for Honolulu and Savannah, which had been modernized with bulges, 5"/38 secondaries and Mk 37 directors, so were retained for potential reactivation until sold for scrap in 1959 and 1966, respectively, the rest were sold to South American countries in the early 1950s and served for many more years: Brooklyn and Nashville to Chile, Philadelphia to Brazil, and Boise and Phoenix to Argentina. ARA General Belgrano (ex-Phoenix), was torpedoed and sunk by HMS Conqueror during the Falklands War,[21] while O'Higgins (ex-Brooklyn) remained in service with the Chilean Navy until 1992. She sank under tow (on her way to the scrappers) in the mid Pacific in 1994.

Brooklyn class ships[edit]

Ship Name Hull No. Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate Reference
Brooklyn CL-40 Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York City 12 March 1935 30 November 1936 30 September 1937 3 January 1947 Transferred to Chilean Navy as O'Higgins, 9 January 1951 [4]
Philadelphia CL-41 Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia 28 May 1935 17 November 1936 23 September 1937 3 February 1947 Transferred to Brazilian Navy as Barroso, 9 January 1951 [4]
Savannah CL-42 New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden 31 May 1934 8 May 1937 10 March 1938 3 February 1947 Sold for scrap, 25 January 1966 [4]
Nashville CL-43 24 January 1935 2 October 1937 6 June 1938 24 June 1946 Transferred to Chilean Navy as Capitán Prat, 9 January 1951 [4]
Phoenix CL-46 25 April 1935 19 March 1938 3 October 1938 3 July 1946 Transferred to Argentine Navy as Diecisiete de Octubre, 9 April 1951, renamed ARA General Belgrano 1956

Sunk, 2 May 1982, Falklands War

Boise CL-47 Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News 1 April 1935 3 December 1936 12 August 1938 1 July 1946 Transferred to Argentine Navy as Nueve de Julio, 11 January 1951 [4]
Honolulu CL-48 Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York City 9 December 1935 26 August 1937 15 June 1938 3 February 1947 Sold for scrap, 17 November 1959 [4]

See also[edit]


  • Ewing, Steve (1984). American Cruisers of World War II. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company. ISBN 0-933126-51-4. 
  • Fahey, James C. (1945). The Ships and Aircraft of the United States Fleet. New York: Ships and Aircraft. 
  • Preston, Anthony (1980). Cruisers. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 013-194902-0. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company. 
  • Whitley, M J (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-225-1. 


  1. ^ Toppan, Andrew (22 January 2000). "US Cruisers List: Light/Heavy/Antiaircraft Cruisers, Part 1". Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Rickard, J (18 May 2015). "USS Phoenix (CL-46)". Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Whitley p.248
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ewing p.76
  5. ^ US Cruisers: An illustrated design history, Norman Friedman. pg 155-156
  6. ^ US Cruisers: An illustrated design history, Norman Friedman. pg 164-165
  7. ^ US Cruisers: An illustrated design history, Norman Friedman. pg 187
  8. ^ US Navy Light Cruisers location 77
  9. ^ a b Whitley pp.248–249
  10. ^ US Cruisers: An illustrated design history, Norman Friedman. pg 183
  11. ^ US Cruisers: An illustrated design history, Norman Friedman. pg 194
  12. ^
  13. ^ Schreier, Konrad F. (1994). "The Chicago Piano". Naval History. United States Naval Institute. 8 (4): 44–46.
  14. ^ US Navy Light Cruisers 1941 - 45 location 100 ISBN 1472811402
  15. ^ US Navy Light Cruisers 1941 - 45 location 130 ISBN 1472811402
  16. ^ US Cruisers: An illustrated design history, Norman Friedman. pg 183
  17. ^ Silverstone p.48
  18. ^ Fahey p.9
  19. ^ Ewing pp.81-88
  20. ^ Whitley p.249
  21. ^ Ewing pp.77-88