Tag Archive | last cruiser

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 Farewell, Admiral

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, Farewell, Admiral

Note the WWII-style Carley rafts on the turrets

Here we see the De Zeven Provinciën-class light cruiser Hr.Ms. De Ruyter (C801) of the Dutch Koninklijke Marine as she appeared in 1953 while in her prime. Decommissioned last week an amazing 78 years after her first steel was cut, she was the last of the big-gun armed cruisers afloat on active duty.

The classes of ship between destroyers and battleships, fast gun-armed cruisers have long been a staple of naval modern warfare since all-steel navies took to the sea. However, their large batteries of powerful guns were antiquated by the second half of the 20th century.

Fast armored cruisers, a product of the late 19th century, were designed to serve as the eyes of the main battle fleet. Large enough to act independently, they sailed the world and showed their country’s flag in far-off ports in peace. During war, they were detailed to raid commerce and serve as fleet units. Over a 60-year period, more than 200 cruisers were placed in service and sailed in almost every fleet in the world. Fast enough to outrun battleships but not outfight them, they soon were obsolete after World War II and their days were numbered.

But the hero of our tale has a pass, as she was planned before the WWII started.

HNLMS De Ruyter was laid down 5 September 1939 at Wilton-Fijenoord, Schiedam, just 96-hours after Hitler invaded Poland. Part of the planned Eendracht-class of light cruisers which were to defend the far-flung Dutch East Indies from the Japanese, her original name was to be De Zeven Provinciën while her sister, laid down at the same time in a different yard, would be Eendracht.

The ships were to mount 10 5.9-inch Bofors but these guns were still in Sweden when the Germans rolled in in 1940 which led to their being confiscated by the Swedes and promptly recycled into their new Tre Kronor-class cruisers, stretched to accommodate the Swedish standard 6-inch shell.

Though the Germans tried to complete the two cruisers for use in their own Kriegsmarine, Dutch resistance hindered that effort and by the end of the war, they were still nowhere near complete.

After languishing in the builder’s yard for 14 years, De Zeven Provinciën was finished as De Ruyter and joined the Dutch Navy on 18 November 1953.

The name is an ode to the famous 17th-century Dutch Admiral Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter, for which no less than five prior Dutch warships had been named since 1799. The most recent of which was used by Rear-Admiral Karel Doorman in his ride to Valhalla during the Battle of the Java Sea in 1942.

Dutch propaganda poster, depicting Admiral Karel Doorman and his 1942 flagship light cruiser De Ruyter

Though considered light cruisers because of their armament of eight redesigned 15.2 cm/53 (6″) Model 1942 guns, these craft went well over 12,000-tons when full. The turrets, conning tower, and main engineering spaces were armored with up to five inches of steel plate, among the last non-carriers completed in the world to carry such protection. Designed originally for Parsons geared steam turbines and a half-dozen Yarrow boilers, they were instead completed with De Schelde-Parsons turbines and four Werkspoor-Yarrow boilers giving them a 32-knot speed and 7,000nm range.

Already cramped due to extensive AC-cycle electronics suites they were never planned to have (the 1939 design was DC), and built with the resulting need for a 900-man crew rather than the planned 700 souls in 1939, they never received their large AAA battery, seaplane catapults, and torpedo tubes, relying instead on a secondary armament of eight radar-controlled 57mm/60cal Bofors in four twin mounts.

De Ruyter‘s sistership Eendracht was instead completed as De Zeven Provinciën and they commissioned within weeks of each other just after the Korean War came to a shaky ceasefire.

The two ships served extensively with NATO forces and provided some insurance to Dutch interests during the tense standoff with Indonesia during the decade-long West New Guinea dispute — which could have seen the Indonesian Navy’s only cruiser, the Soviet-built KRI Irian, formerly Ordzhonikidze, face off with the Dutch in what would have been the world’s last cruiser-on-cruiser naval action.

However, the age of navies running big gun warships was in the twilight.

The Soviets maintained as many as 13 of the huge 16,000-ton Sverdlov class cruisers, armed with a dozen 6-inch guns as late as 1994 when the last one (the famously wrecked Murmansk) was finally removed from their navy list.

The Russians beat the U.S. by more than a decade as the last all-gun armed cruiser on the Navy List was USS Newport News (CA–148), struck 31 July 1978. The last big gun cruiser in U.S. service was USS Albany (CA-123) which had been reworked to a hybrid missile boat (CG-10) to be decommissioned in 1980 and struck five years later. An 8-inch armed destroyer, USS Hull, removed her experimental Mk.71 mount in 1979. Since then, it’s been a world of 5-inchers for U.S. cruisers and destroyers.

As for the Royal Navy, losing their heavies in the 1950s and their few remaining WWII-era light cruisers soon after, they decommissioned their two Tiger-class cruisers in the 1970s, disposing of them in the 1980s.

The navies of South America were the last to operate big gun-armed cruisers. Which brings us to the story of De Zeven Provinciën and De Ruyter‘s second life.

With the ABC powers (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile) all packing large former U.S. cruisers in their fleets, Peru went shopping in the early 1970s for some parity and bought the two Dutch cruisers for a song between 1972-75. De Ruyter was bought first and became fleet flagship BAP Almirante Grau (CLM-81) after the national naval hero, replacing the old Crown Colony-class light cruiser HMS Newfoundland which carried the same name. DZP was picked up later and became BAP Aguirre.

Cruiser Almirante Admiral Grau, flagship of the war navy of Peru, during its incorporation in 1973.

For a decade, this gave the Peruvians a good bit a prestige, and as the ABC navies shed their older vessels (all WWII-era), the much newer Dutch ships continued to give good service.

Chile decommissioned the 12,242-ton O’Higgins (formerly the USS Brooklyn CL-40) finally in 1992.

Crucero O’Higgins de la Armada Chilena, formerly USS Brooklyn CL-40

Sistership to the O’Higgins was the ARA General Belgrano (ex-USS Phoenix CL-46) a flagship of the Argentine navy for thirty years until she was deep-sixed by a British submarine in the 1982 Falkland Islands War. Brazil also had a pair of ex-Brooklyn class cruisers, which they operated until the 1970s.

To keep her sister alive, DZP/Aguirre was paid off in 2000, her parts used to keep De Ruyter/Grau in operation.

Ever since the battleship USS Missouri was struck on 12 January 1995, the eight Bofors 152/53 naval guns mounted on Almirante Grau were the most powerful afloat on any warship operated by any navy in the world. A record she went out with after holding for 22 years– a proud legacy of another generation and the end of an era.

Given an extensive refit in 1985 and other upgrades since then, she carried new Dutch electronics, updated armament including Otomat anti-ship missiles and 40L70 Dardo rapid fire guns, and in effect was the cruiser equivalent of the Reagan-era Iowa-class battleships.

Salinas, Peru (July 3, 2004) – The Peruvian cruiser Almirante Grau (CLM-81) fires one of its 15.2 cm caliber cannons as naval surface fire support during a Latin American amphibious assault exercise supporting UNITAS 45-04. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Journalist Dave Fliesen

A detailed look at her modernized scheme via Naval Analyses:

The Dutch still revere the name De Ruyter with a Tromp-class guided missile frigate commissioned as the 7th ship with the handle in 1975 and a new De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate, the 8th De Ruyter, placed in service in 2004.

Showing her age, and still requiring at least a crew of 600 even after modernization, the Peruvian cruiser with former Dutch and one-time German ownership papers was placed in a reserve status in 2010, maintained from sinking but not much else. However she still served a purpose as a pierside training and flag ship.

In 2012, Royal Netherlands Army Brigadier Jost van Duurling and the Peru’s Minister of Defense, Dr. Luis Alberto Otárola Peñaranda, signed a military cooperation agreement between the two countries on De Ruyter/Grau‘s deck.

She is also remembered in Dutch maritime art.

1959. J. Goedhart. De kruiser Hr. Ms. de Ruyter op zee via Scheepvaartmuseum

Hr.Ms. De Ruyter C801 – by Maarten Platje – 1984

Now, the end has come. She was decommissioned last week, though she is reportedly in poor condition and hasn’t been to sea in nearly a decade.

Word on the street is that she will be kept as a floating museum, perhaps at the Naval Museum in Callao, but concerns about asbestos, chemicals dating back to the 1930s, and lead paint may derail that.

Still, she has gone the distance.

Specs:

Hr.Ms. De Ruyter C801 via blueprints.com

Displacement: 12,165 tons fl (1995)
Length: 614.6 ft.
Beam: 56.6 ft.
Draught: 22.0 ft.
Propulsion:
4 Werkspoor-Yarrow three-drum boilers
2 De Schelde Parsons geared steam turbines
2 shafts
85,000 shp
Speed: 32 kn
Range: 7,000 nmi at 12 kn
Complement: 973 (1953) 650 (2003)
Electronics (1953)
LW-01
2x M45
Electronics (2003)
AN/SPS-6
Signaal SEWACO Foresee PE CMS
Signaal DA-08 surface search
Signaal STIR-240 fire control
Signaal WM-25 fire control
Signaal LIROD-8 optronic
Decca 1226 navigation
Armament: (1953)
4 × 2 Bofors 152/53 guns
8 × 57 mm AA guns
Armament (1995)
4 × 2 Bofors 152/53 guns
8 Otomat Mk 2 SSM
2 × 2 OTO Melara 40L70 DARDO guns
Armor:
50–76 mm (2.0–3.0 in) belt
50–125 mm (2.0–4.9 in) turrets
50–125 mm (2.0–4.9 in) conning tower

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The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

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Warship Wednesday June 17, 2015: Big Paul

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, June 17, 2015: Big Paul

USS Saint Paul off Yokosuka, Japan, 21 May 1966. Click to big up

USS Saint Paul off Yokosuka, Japan, 21 May 1966. Click to big up

Here we see the Baltimore-class cruiser, USS Saint Paul (CA-73) coming at you bow-on. She was a hard charger who never stopped in 26 years at sea.

When the early shitstorm of 1939 World War II broke out, the U.S. Navy, realized that in the likely coming involvement with Germany in said war– and that country’s huge new 18,000-ton, 8x8inch gunned, 4.1-inches of armor Hipper-class super cruisers– it was outclassed in the big assed heavy cruiser department.

When you add to the fire the fact that the Japanese had left all of the Washington and London Naval treaties behind and were building giant Mogami-class vessels (15,000-tons, 3.9-inches of armor), the writing was on the wall.

That’s where the Baltimore-class came in.

These 24 envisioned ships of the class looked like an Iowa-class battleship in miniature with three triple turrets, twin stacks, a high central bridge, and two masts– and they were (almost) as powerful. Sheathed in a hefty 6 inches of armor belt (and 3-inches of deck armor), they could take a beating if they had to. They were fast, capable of over 30-knots, which meant they could keep pace with the fast new battlewagons they looked so much like as well as the new fleet carriers that were on the drawing board as well.

While they were more heavily armored than Hipper and Mogami, they also had an extra 8-inch tube, mounting 9 8 inch/55 caliber guns whereas the German and Japanese only had 155mm guns (though later picked up 10×8-inchers, thanks for keeping me straight Tom!). A larger suite of AAA guns that included a dozen 5 inch /38 caliber guns in twin mounts and 70+ 40mm and 20mm guns rounded this out.

In short, these ships were deadly to incoming aircraft, could close to the shore as long as there was at least 27-feet of seawater for them to float in and hammer coastal beaches and emplacements for amphibious landings, and take out any enemy surface combatant short of a modern battleship in a one-on-one fight.

Class leader Baltimore was laid down 26 May 1941, just six months before Pearl Harbor, and was commissioned 15 April 1943.

Saint Paul, the 6th ship of the class, was laid down at Bethlehem Steel Company at Quincy, Mass on 3 February 1943.

USS Saint Paul (CA-73), a Baltimore-class cruiser note vertrep markings. She swapped her seaplanes for choppers in 1949

USS Saint Paul (CA-73), a Baltimore-class cruiser note vertrep markings. She swapped her seaplanes for choppers in 1949

As such, Paul, just the 2nd U.S. Naval ship named for the Minnesota city, was completed late in the war, only being commissioned 17 February 1945.

Whereas the original ships of the class mounted Mk 12 8-inch guns, Saint Paul was completed with the more advanced Mk 15 guns in three 300-ton triple turrets. These long-barreled 203mm guns could fire a new, “super-heavy” 335-pound shell out to 30,000 yards and penetrate 10-inches of armor at close ranges. It should be noted that the older cruisers used a 260-pound AP shell.

USS Saint Paul bombarding communist positions off Vietnam, Oct 1966

USS Saint Paul bombarding communist positions off Vietnam, Oct 1966

After shakedown, she was off the coast of Japan in July, getting in the last salvos fired by a major warship on a land target in the war when she plastered the steelworks in Kamaishi from just offshore, putting those big new 8-inchers to good use.

Watercolor

Watercolor “U.S.S. ST. PAUL – Let Go Port Anchor” by Arthur Beaumont, 1946

Then at the end of the war, a funny thing happened: the five almost new Baltimores that came before Saint Paul was decommissioned and laid up in reserve, whereas CA-73 remained on post. Further, many of the follow-on ships that were to come after her were never ordered, and some of these never completed. In all, just 14 Baltimore-class cruisers were built, with Saint Paul arguably seeing the most continuous service.

In Korea, Saint Paul saw hard use and made her 8-inchers a regular hitter, completing her first naval gunfire support on Nov. 19, 1950. It would be far from her last.

USS Saint Paul bombarding communist positions near Wonsan, Kangwon Province, Korea, 20 Apr 1951

USS Saint Paul bombarding communist positions near Wonsan, Kangwon Province, Korea, 20 Apr 1951

USS Saint Paul bombarding communist positions near Hungnam, South Hamgyong Province, Korea, 26 Jul 1953

USS Saint Paul bombarding communist positions near Hungnam, South Hamgyong Province, Korea, 26 Jul 1953

HO3S-1 helicopter landing on USS Saint Paul off Wonsan, Kangwon Province, Korea, 17 Apr 1951

HO3S-1 helicopter landing on USS Saint Paul off Wonsan, Kangwon Province, Korea, 17 Apr 1951. Her guns look sad…but are probably just depressed for cleaning as they had lots of chances to get dirty at the time.

Heavy cruiser USS Saint Paul (CA-73) lights up the night while firing her 8 inch guns off the coast of Hungnam, North Korea 1950

Heavy cruiser USS Saint Paul (CA-73) lights up the night while firing her 8-inch guns off the coast of Hungnam, North Korea 1950

Hungnam, Songjin, Inchon, Wonsan, Chongjin, Kosong, et. al. She racked up a steady total of hits onshore targets and picked up some Chinese lead in exchange from shore batteries. In all, Saint Paul earned eight Battle stars for her Korean War service, the hard way.

Much like she fired the last shots into Japan, she also completed the last naval gun mission into Korea, at a Chinese emplacement at on 27 July 1953 at 2159– one minute before the truce took effect.

USS SAINT PAUL (CA-73) near Wonsan, Korea just before signing of truce at Panmunjon. A 5

USS SAINT PAUL (CA-73) near Wonsan, Korea just before the signing of truce at Panmunjon. A 5″ shell is fired from the ship against the Communist shore batteries. This round is believed to have been the last fired on enemy positions by UN Naval units before the armistice.
NARA FILE #: 80-G-625878

Still, as after WWII, while most of her sisters took up space on red lead row, she remained in service. Tragically, in 1962, 30 of her crewmen were killed in a turret explosion in peacetime drills.

Heavy cruiser USS Saint Paul (CA-73) "Manning the Rails" off Pearl Harbor, July, 1959. [2607 × 1481]

Heavy cruiser USS Saint Paul (CA-73) “Manning the Rails” off Pearl Harbor, July 1959. [2607 × 1481]

After about 1963, when the Iowas were laid up, her guns and those of the few cruisers still left on active duty were the largest ones available to the fleet. This led to her spending most of her service as either a squadron or fleet flag.

This gave her a chance in 1964 to fill in as the battered cruiser “Old Swayback” in the iconic Otto Preminger/John Wayne film In Harm’s Way

The Duke on St.Paul aka Old Swayback

The Duke on St.Paul aka Old Swayback

By 1966, she earned a regular spot on the gun line off Vietnam, where she spent most of the next four years, earning another 9 Battlestars for an impressive total of 18 (1 WWII, 8 Korea, 9 RVN).

Tony D’Angelo, <em>USS St. Paul,</em> details the satisfaction of rounds on target and the danger of swapping fuses on the ship’s guns.

Tony D’Angelo, USS St. Paul, remembers conducting harassment and interdiction fire, along with supporting the Marines near the DMZ, during his deployment to Vietnam.

USS Saint Paul bombarding the Cong Phy railroad yard 25 miles south of Thanu Hoa, Vietnam, 4 Aug 1967; note splashes from coastal gun batteries

USS Saint Paul bombarding the Cong Phy railroad yard 25 miles south of Thanu Hoa, Vietnam, 4 Aug 1967; note splashes from coastal gun batteries

Big up. More Vietnam work

Big up. More Vietnam work

St. Paul in Da Nang

St. Paul in Da Nang

url

USS Saint Paul (CA-73) approaching USS Boston (CAG-1) off the coast of Vietnam, September 1968. Courtesy of John Jazdzewski.

USS Saint Paul (CA-73) approaching USS Boston (CAG-1) off the coast of Vietnam, September 1968. Courtesy of John Jazdzewski.

In the late 60s, as part of Project Gunfighter at Indian Head Naval Ordnance Station, Saint Paul picked up an experimental shell to use in her 8-inchers, a saboted 104mm Long Range Bombardment Ammunition (LRBA) round that had an estimated range of 72,000 yards.

In 1970, Big Paul, using LRBA, made some of the longest gunfire missions in history when she fired on Viet Cong targets some 35 miles away, destroying six structures. At the time, she was the last big-gun heavy cruiser in the United States Navy.

Video of her firing after the intro…

Then, on 30 April 1971, for the first time since 1945, Saint Paul was taken out of commission after three Pacific wars. Only sisterships Chicago and Columbus, who had long before traded in their 8-inchers for Tartar and Talos missiles, lasted longer.

In the end, Saint Paul was stricken from the Naval List on 31 July 1978 and scrapped in 1980.

She was remembered in the USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (SSN-708), the twenty-first Los Angeles-class submarine, in commission from 1984 to 2008.

The USS Saint Paul Association keeps her memory alive.

Her 1,000-pound brass bell is located in St. Paul’s city hall, where the city seems to take good care of it.

Specs:

uss-ca-73-saint-paul-1968-heavy-cruiser-1

Displacement: 14,500 long tons (14,733 t) standard
17,000 long tons (17,273 t) full load
Length: 673 ft. 5 in (205.26 m)
Beam: 70 ft. 10 in (21.59 m)
Height: 112 ft. 10 in (34.39 m) (mast)
Draft: 26 ft. 10 in (8.18 m)
Propulsion: Geared steam turbines with four screws
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph)
Complement: 61 officers and 1,085 sailors
Armament: 9 × 8 inch/55 caliber guns (3 × 3)
12 × 5 inch/38 caliber guns (6 × 2)
48 × 40 mm Bofors guns
24 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannons
Armor: Belt Armor: 6 in (150 mm)
Deck: 3 in (76 mm)
Turrets: 3–6 inches (76–152 mm)
Conning Tower: 8 in (200 mm)
If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

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