Thursday, August 22, 2013

Work on the USS Cleveland

For a few days in August, beginning on today's date in 1943, Dad's ship, Vestal, did repair work to the boilers of the light cruiser, USS Cleveland. The cruiser will be back again for more boiler work in September.

Commissioned in June 1942, the ship saw extensive service in the war, both the Mediterranean and Pacific theaters. Cleveland's first war service was in November supporting the invasion of North Africa. She covered landings in French Morocco where she remained on patrol before returning to Norfolk late that same month.

Cleveland's new assignment was in the Pacific in December 1942. By late January 1943, her first mission was in the Solomon Islands to help guard a troop convoy on its way to Guadalcanal. Cleveland fired on the enemy as she came under heavy air attack in the Battle of Rennell Island on the 29th-30th. In early March, after the Allied victory in the Solomons Campaign, the cruiser bombard Japanese airfields at Vila on Kolobangara before joining in the night action which sank 2 Japanese destroyers in the Battle of Blackett Strait. In June, Cleveland again participated in bombarding the enemy, this time in the Shortland Islands. Then she provided cover for the invasion at Munda, New Georgia.

Following a short repair period at Sydney, and then stopping at Espiritu Santo in August, where Vestal re-bricked her boilers, Cleveland sailed to support the bombardment and landings on the Treasury Islands in late October. By November 1, she was supporting troops invading nearby Bougainville, then the same day returned to bombard the Shortlands. That same night Cleveland intercepted a Japanese force in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, where she attacked 4 enemy cruisers, aided in the sinking of one, then pursued the fleeing ships until daybreak, downing several enemy planes in the process. For her action in the battle, Cleveland earned the Navy Unit Commendation. The ship returned to Buka for another bombardment in late December, then saw action patrolling the area around northeast New Guinea into February 1944.

After supporting the capture of Emirau Island in March 1944, Cleveland sailed back to Sydney for replenishment and repairs. By April, she was back in the Solomons to practice for the Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign, then from June to August, Cleveland participated in the operation. During the invasion of Tinian in July, Cleveland came to the aid of the US destroyer, Norman Scott. Cleveland's crew bravely maneuvered between the destroyer and the shore batteries, preventing her from taking any more hits and saving the stricken ship. Cleveland then provided fire support for invading troops. Next, she participated in the task force that fought in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June, where she was credited with destroying at least 1 enemy aircraft and assisting in downing another.

In September, Cleveland participated in the invasion of Palau, then in October, she sailed to the States for an overhaul. Back in the Philippines in February 1945, she sailed on to bombard Corregidor. After the Allies retook that Japanese island fortress, Cleveland continued to support the consolidation of the Philippines, covering subsequent landings through June. On June 15, she picked up Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Manila for the assault at Balikpapan on Borneo.

In July, Cleveland sailed to Okinawa where she participated in attacks against Japanese shipping. After Japan's formal surrender on September 2, 1945, Cleveland left Okinawa to support the occupation of Japan and the evacuation of Allied prisoners of war. In November, she sailed back to the East Coast for overhaul. She participated in various training exercises before her inactivation in June 1946. The USS Cleveland was taken out of commission in February 1947, and then she languished in reserve until being sold for scrap in 1960.

In addition to her Navy Unit Commendation, Cleveland received 13 Battle Stars for her WWII service.

Sources: War Diaries for USS Vestal & Cleveland, August & September 1944; NavSource Online; Wikipedia


  1. My father was on the Cleveland - Jeff Carr

  2. Thanks for commenting about your father, Jeff. Feel free to share anything you know about his service on the Cleveland.