Brooklyn-class cruiser

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USS Brooklyn (CL-40)
Class overview
Name: Brooklyn-class cruiser
Preceded by: Omaha class
Succeeded by: St. Louis class[1]
Built: 1935 − 1938
In commission: 1937 - 1982[2]
Completed: 7
Active: 0
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 (185 m) overall
Beam: 62 ft (19 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:5 inches (127 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 the 1980s.[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 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. The United States did not favor this outcome, being of the opinion that the heavier-gunned ships more suited its Pacific needs. 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 cruisers 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.[5]

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 metres). The intention to mount 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns was frustrated and the requirement was not fully met until 1943: interim solutions had to be accepted.[5]

From 1942, the bridge structure was lowered and radar was fitted. Increased anti-aircraft weaponry was specified (four quadruple plus four twin 40 mm mountings) but not met. In practice there were varied mixes of 20 mm and 40 mm mountings, 28 40 mm (4 × 4, 6 × 2) and twenty 20 mm (10 × 2) being the most common.[5]


The vast majority of cruisers built by the United States during World War II originally derive from the Brooklyn design.[4] This was because modifications of Brooklyn-class hull were the predecessors to the two lines of wartime cruisers, respectively the Cleveland-class light cruiser armed with 6-inch (150 mm) guns and Baltimore-class heavy cruiser armed with 8-inch (200 mm) guns. Despite the end of the restrictions of the London Naval Treaty, this separation between the classes existed throughout the war.

The first derived class were two ships of the St. Louis-class cruiser, 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 use of a modified Brooklyn-class hull for the USS Wichita, with a heavy cruiser armament featuring a smaller number of triple turrets, but each turret containing larger 8-inch guns, and increased armor. The Baltimore-class was the successor, including the Oregon City-class cruiser subclass, and the upgraded Des Moines-class cruiser. As the Baltimore-class was built about a year after the Cleveland-class, later developments and improvements were transferred to the Baltimore-class hull.

Finally, both types of hull were converted to light aircraft carriers. The Independence-class of light aircraft carriers, were converted from Cleveland-class cruisers,[6] and the Saipan-class light carriers used the basic form of the Baltimore-class cruiser design.[7]

War service

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.[8] 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.[9]


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,[10] 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

Ship Name Hull No. Builder Commission–
Brooklyn CL-40 New York Navy Yard 30 September 1937 - 3 January 1947 [4]
Philadelphia CL-41 Philadelphia Navy Yard 23 September 1937 - 3 February 1947 [4]
Savannah CL-42 New York Shipbuilding Corporation 10 March 1938 - 3 February 1947 [4]
Nashville CL-43 New York Shipbuilding Corporation 6 June 1938 - 24 June 1946 [4]
Phoenix CL-46 New York Shipbuilding Corporation 3 October 1938 - 3 July 1946 [4]
Boise CL-47 Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company 12 August 1938 - 1 July 1946 [4]
Honolulu CL-48 New York Navy Yard 15 June 1938 - 3 February 1947 [4]


  • Ewing, Steve (1984). American Cruisers of World War II. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company. ISBN 0-933126-51-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fahey, James C. (1945). The Ships and Aircraft of the United States Fleet. New York: Ships and Aircraft.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Preston, Anthony (1980). Cruisers. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 013-194902-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Whitley, M J (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-225-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1. Toppan, Andrew (22 January 2000). "US Cruisers List: Light/Heavy/Antiaircraft Cruisers, Part 1". Retrieved 17 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rickard, J (18 May 2015). "USS Phoenix (CL-46)". Retrieved 17 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Whitley p.248
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Ewing p.76
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Whitley pp.248–249
  6. Silverstone p.48
  7. Fahey p.9
  8. Ewing pp.81-88
  9. Whitley p.249
  10. Ewing pp.77-88