Of light cruisers and baby flattops

Here we see an aerial photo of the Pacific Reserve Fleet, San Francisco unit, in early 1958, some 60 years ago.

Located at Hunter’s Point (San Francisco Naval Shipyard), the most recognizable vessel in the collection of cargo ships, light/escort carriers, and light cruisers is the USS Bataan (CVL-29) with her pennant number on her deck. Directly behind her should be The Mighty Moo, 12 battlestar-recipient USS Cowpens (CVL-25), which had been in mothballs since 1947. The bows on these cruisers-hulled light carriers are a dead ringer for the greyhounds they are moored among.

Among the escort carriers listed at San Francisco at the time were the Commencement Bay-class USS Rendova (CVE-114) who was completed too late for WWII but was home to F4U Corsairs of VMF-212 off Korea for 1,700 sorties as well as fellow classmates and Korean War vets USS Bairoko (CVE-115), USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116), and USS Sicily (CVE-118).

Many of the escort carriers in U.S. inventory during the mid-to-late 1950s were reclassified as auxiliary aircraft ferries (ACV), helicopter carriers (CVHE), aviation cargo ships (AKV), or aircraft transport (AVT) with some administratively transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on paper before they were removed from Naval custody, although they were not given any modifications to operate as such.

Among the light cruisers at San Fran at the time were USS Astoria CL-90, Birmingham CL-62, Vincennes CL-64, Springfield CL-66, Topeka CL-67, Vicksburg CL-86, Duluth CL-87, Miami CL-89, Oklahoma City CL-91, Amsterdam CL-101, and Atlanta CL-104, a Cleveland-class light cruisers completed late in the war. Two anti-aircraft cruisers are also seen middle left of the photo. Moored on red lead row at Hunters Point in 1958 were USS Oakland (CL-95) and USS Tucson (CL-98).

By 1962, virtually the entire assemblage you see above (save for Atlanta, who went on to be destroyed in 1965 as a weapons effects test ship and Tuscon, which was a test hulk until 1971) was stricken from Navy List and subsequently sold for scrap, the days of 1945-era all-gun cruisers and abbreviated flattops in the rearview for a Navy that was increasingly all-jet and missile. Oakland’s mast and nameplate are preserved just a few miles from where this image was taken at the Port of Oakland’s shoreline park.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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