42,000 ton ‘o cruisers

Here we see the USS Des Moines (CA-134) and her sister ship USS Newport News (CA-148), laid up as part of the Bicentennial Exhibit at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, August 1976.

National Archives Photo K-117046

The two retired bruisers, the largest and most capable heavy heavy cruisers ever fielded by the U.S. Navy (with the exception of the Alaska-class “large cruisers”) Newport News had put in lots of heavy work on the gun line off Vietnam and was only decommissioned 27 June 1975, some 14 months prior to the above image. Des Moines, on the other hand, had been on red lead row since 6 July 1961.

The third, and unpictured, ship of the class, USS Salem (CA-139), had preceded her two sisters to early retirement and had been decommissioned on 30 January 1959 after less than a decade of service. Notably, she portrayed the German pocket battleship KMS Admiral Graf Spee (which she actually outweighed by 5,000 tons!) in the 1956 film The Battle of the River Plate.

How about a chubby German BM on Salem’s quarter deck?

Ironically, the low-mileage Salem would go on to become a museum ship in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1994 while both Des Moines and Newport News were disposed of and slowly scrapped, with CA-159 only fully dismantled in 2007.

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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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