CB-1 USS Alaska - History

CB-1 USS Alaska - History


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CB-1 USS Alaska

Alaska

III

(CB-1: dp. 27,000; 1. 806'6", b. 91'1", dr. 27'1" (mean), s. 31.4 k.; cpl. 2,251; a. 9 12", 12 5", 56 40mm., 34 20mm.; act 4; cl. Alaska)

The third Alaska (CB-1 )-the first of a class of "large cruisers" designed as a compromise to achieve a fast cruiser with a rela heavy main battery—was laid down on 17 December 1941 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Iaunched on 15 August 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ernest Gruening, wife of the Honorable Ernest Gruening, Governor of Alaska, and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 17 June 1944, Capt. Peter K. Fischler in command.

Following post-commissioning fitting out at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Alaska stood down the Delaware River on 6 August 1944, bound for Hampton Roads, escorted by Simpson (DD-221) and Broome (DD-210). She then conducted an intensive shakedown, first in Chesapeake Bay and then in the Gulf of Paria, off Trinidad, British West Indies, escorted by Bainbridge (DD-246) and Decatur (DD-341). Steaming via Annapolis, Md., and Norfolk, Alaska returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where the large cruiser underwent changes and alterations to her fire controd suite: the fitting of four Mk. 57 directors for her five-inch battery.

Alaska departed Philadelphia on 12 November 1944 for the Caribbean, in company with Thomas E. Fraser (DM-24), and after two weeks of standardization trials out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, sailed for the Pacific on 2 December. She completed her transit of the Panama Canal on 4 December, and reached San Diego on the 12th. Thereafter, the new large cruiser trained m shore bombardment and anti-aircraft firing off San Diego before an availability at Hunter's Point, near San Francisco.

On 8 January 1945, Alaska sailed for Hawaii, and reached Pearl Harbor on the 13th, where, on the 27th, Capt. Kenneth M. Noble relieved Capt. Fischler, who had achieved flag rank. Over the ensuing days, Alaska conducted further training before getting underway as a unit of Task Group (TG) 12.2, weighing anchor for the western Pacific on 29 January. She reached Uhthi, the fleet anchorage in the Caroline Islands on 6 February, and there joined TG 58.5, a task group in the famed Task Force (TF) 58, the fast carrier task force.

Alaska sailed for the Japanese home islands as part uf TG 58.5 on 10 February 1945, assigned the mission of screening the aircraft carriers Saratoga (CV-3) and Enterprise (CV-6) as they carried out night air strikes against Tokyo and its airfields. During the voyage, all hands on board Alaska speculated about what lay ahead—almost three-quarters of the men had never seen action before—and sought out the veterans in their midst "for counsel and advice."

Sensing the air of expectation on board his ship Capt. Noble spoke to the crew over the public address system and reassured them of his confidence in them. In doing so, he used an analogy familiar to most Americans: "We are a member of a large task force which is going to pitch directly over the home plate of the enemy, " he said, "It is our particular job to back uu the pitchers. "

Backing up the "pitchers" proved comparatively easy. TF 58 cloaked by bad weather, approached the Japanese homeland from east of the Marianas. Using radio deception and deploying submarines, lona-range patrol aircraft from Fleet Air Wing 1 and Army Air Force Boeing B-29 "Superfortresses" as scouts ahead of the advancing task force, the Americans neared their objective undetected. The first major carrier strike against the heart of the Japanese Empire, a year after the successful raids on Truk, covered the developing Iwo Jima landings and proved good practice for future operations against Okinawa. The low ceiling prevented Japanese retaliation, thus giving Alaska no opportunity to put into practice her rigorous antiaircraft training as she guarded the carriers. Assigned to TG 58.4 soon thereafter, Alaska supported the Iwo Jima operations, and, as before, no enemy aircraft came near the carrier formation to which the large cruiser was attached. For nineteen days she screened the carriers before retiring to Ulithi to take on stores and carry out minor repairs.

With the decision reached to occupy Okinawa, in the Nansei Shoto chain, in early April of 1945, invasion planners proceeded on the assumption that the Japanese would resist with maximum available naval and air strength. To destroy as many planes as possible—and thus diminish the possibility of American naval forces coming under air attack from Japanese planes—the fast carrier task force was hurled against the enemy's homeland again: to strike airfields on Kyushu, Shikoku, and western Honshu.

Alaska, still with TG 58.4—formed around the fleet carriers Yorktoum (CV-10), Intrepid (CV-11), Independence (CVL-22) and Langley (CVL-27 - again drew the duty of protecting the valuable flattops. Her principal mission then, as it had been before, was defense of the task group against enemy air or surface attacks.

Its battle plan outlined in detail, TF 58 cruised northwesterly from the Carolines, following the departure from Ulithi on 14 March. Refueling at sea on the 16th, this mighty force reached a point southeast of Kyushu early on the 18th. On that day, the planes from TG 58.4 swept over Japenese airfields at Usa, Oita and Saeki, joining those from three other task groups, TG 58.1 TG 58.2, and TG 58.3 in claiming 107 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground and a further 77 (of 142) engaged over the target area.

Alaska tasted action for the first time as the Japanese retaliated with air strikes of their own. Task Force 58's radars provided "Iittle if any warning" of the approach of enemy planes, due to the weather conditions encountered. All too often, the first indication of the enemy's presence was a visual sighting. Alaska spotted a "Frances" at 0810 and commenced fire. She registered hits almost immediately but the suicider maintained its course— toward the stern of the nearby Intrepid. Less than a half-mile from his quarry, however, the "Frances" exploded into fragments with a direct hit from Alaska's guns.

Soon thereafter, Alaska received word of the proximity of "friendlies" in the vicinity. At 0822 a single-engined plane approached the large cruiser "in a threatening fashion" from ahead m a shallow dive. Alaska opened fire promptly and scored hits. Unfortunately, almost simultaneously her fire eontrolmen were receiving word that the plane was, indeed, a friendly F6F

"Hellcat." Fortunately, the pilot was uninjured and ditched his crippled plane, another ship in the disposition picked him up.

For the balance of the day, the suicide attacks continued. The vigilant combat air patrol (CAP), however, downed a dozen planes over the task force while strips' gunfire accounted for almost two dozen more. Alaska added a second enemy bomber to her "bag" when she splashed a "Judy" at about 1315.

The next morning, the 19th, photo reconnaissance having disclosed the presence of a large number of major Japanese fleet units in the Inland Sea, TF 58 launched planes to go after them. TG 58.4's aircraft took on targets of opportunity at Kobe; others at Kure and Hiroshima. Extremely heavy and accurate enemy antiaircraft fire, however, rendered the attacks only moderately successful for TF 58's aviators.

Shortly after the first strikes had been launched, however, the Japanese struck back, hitting TG 58.2, some 20 miles to the northward of the other groups in TF 58. At about 0708, Franklin (CV-13) reeled under the impact of two bomb hits, Wasp (C V-18) too, fell victim to Japanese bombs. On board Alaska, those in a position to watch the developing battle noted a flash, followed by a slowly rising column of smoke. "All who saw it knew that a carrier had been hit," the cruiser's historian records, "and soon the radio brought confirmation that the Franklin had been the victim .... "

The thin cloud layer having rendered radar Iargely useless Japanese planes attacked all task groups. During the afternoon TF 58 retired slowly to the southwestward, covering the crippled Franklin and simultaneously launching fighter sweeps against airfields on Kyushu in order to disorganize any attempted strikes against it. To further protect Franklin, a salvage unit Task Unit (TU) 58.2.9, was formed.

Composed of Alaska, her sister ship Guam (CB-2), the heavy cruiser Pittsburgh (CA-72), the light cruiser Santa Fe (CL 60) and three destroyer divisions, TU 58.2.9 drew the duty of screening the damaged "Big Ben," as Franklin had been affectionately nicknamed by her crew. Ordered to make its best speed toward Guam, TU 58.2.9 set out in that direction, covered by TU 58.2.0 four aircraft carriers and the remaining heavy units originally assigned to TG 58.2 at the outset.

The initial part of the voyage proved uneventful, and not until the afternoon did Japanese aircraft appear. Several bogies (unidentified aircraft) showed up on the radar screens, investigation revealed most to be Navy PB4Y patrol bombers failing to show IFF (identification, friend or foe). Two of three CAP divisions sent out to challenge a bogey identified it as a PB4Y; unfortunately, because the friendly character of one bogey was established, the interception of a second bogey at about the same time failed to materialize. Only poor marksmanship on the part of the "Judy" pilot saved Franklin from another bomb hit. Alaska added to the hail of gunfire put up on the "Judy" but it sped away, unscathed. The final salvo from Alaska's mount 51 caused flash burns on men manning a 40-millimeter mount nearby—the only casualties suffered by the large cruiser. Later that day Alaska received on board 15 men from Franklin for medical treatment.

The following morning, Alaska assumed fighter director duty and controlled three divisions of fighters from Hancock (CV-19). While these divisions remained on station pending the arrival of their relief, Alaska's SK radar picked up a bogey, 35 miles away at 1143. The large cruiser vectored the CAP fighters to the scene, and at 1148, heard the "tallyho" indicating that the CAP had spotted the bogey. At 1149, the fighters splashed a "Nick" 19 miles away.

On 22 March, Alaska's part in the escort of the damaged Franklin was complete, and she rejoined TG 58.4, fueling that same day from Chicopee (AO-34). At 2342 one of the destroyers in the screen, Haggard (DD-555), reported d "skunk" (submarine contact) 25,000 yards distant. She and Uhlmann (DD-687) were detached to investigate, and early the next morning, Haggard rammed and sank a Japanese submarine (perhaps I-370, which had departed the Bungo Channel on 21 February 1945 for Iwo Jima as part of a special kaiten-carrying attack unit), suffering enough damage herself in the encounter to be ordered back to base in company with Uhlmann.

Over the next few days, the air strikes against Okinawa continued, setting the stage for the landing set to commence on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945. Alaska continued to provide support for the carriers launching the strikes until detached on 27 March to carry out a shore bombardment against Minami Daito Shima, a tiny island 160 miles east of Okinawa. The task unit TU 58.4.9, consisted of Alaska, Guam, San Diego (CL 53), Flint (CL-97), and Destroyer Squadron 47.

Ordered to carry out the shoot en route to a fueling area Alaska and Guam and their screen steamed west of the island on north/south courses between 2245 on 27 March and 0030 on the 28th. Alaska's main battery hurled 45 high-capacity rounds shoreward, while her five-inch battery added 352 rounds of antiaircraft common. No answering fire came from the beach, and Alaska's observers noted "satisfactory fires" on the island.

Rejoining TG 58.4 at the fueling rendezvous, Alaska transferred the Franklin wounded to Tomahawk (AO 88) while she took on fuel from the fleet oiler. She then resumed her screenine of the fast carriers as they carried out operations in support of the build-up and landing on Okinawa, on the alert to repel aircraft attacks. The landings went off as scheduled on 1 April, and her operations over ensuing days supported the troops. On 7 April, Japanese surface units moving through the East China Sea toward Okinawa to disrupt the landings ran afoul of a massive air strike from Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's fast carrier task force which sank the giant battleship Yamato, one cruiser and four destroyers.

Operating off Okinawa and Kyushu, Alaska lent the protection of her guns to the fast carriers in the task group which sent daily sweeps of "Hellcats" and "Corsairs" over enemy airfields, shore installations and shipping. On the evening of ll April, Alaska chalked up an assist in shooting down a Japanese plane shot down one, unassisted, and claimed what might have been a piloted rocket bomb "bake" on the night of 11-12 April.

Four days later, on the 16th, Alaska's gunfire splashed what were probably a "Judy" and two "Zekes,' and the ship claimed assists in downing three additional enemy aircraft. That same day, however an enemy aircraft managed to get through Alaska's barrage to crash Intrepid. That night, though, the cruiser's gunfire proved instrumental in driving off a single snooper attempting to close the formation. On the night of 21-22 April, the cruiser again used her heavy antiaircraft battery to drive off single planes attempting to attack the task group. On the night of 29-30 April, toward the end of the ship's time at sea with the fast carriers for that stretch, Alaska twice drove off attacking groups of Japanese planes.

Alaska anchored back at Ulithi on 14 May, bringing to a close a cruise of almost two months' duration. Ten days later, after rest and refreshment, the ship sailed—now part of the 3d Fleet— and with TG 38.4. Newcomers to the formation included the battleship lowa (BB - 1) and the carrier Ticonderoga (CV-14). Over the next two weeks, Alaska again screened a portion of the fast carrier task force, and conducted her second shore bombardment when, on 9 June, she and her sister ship Guam shelled the Japanese-held Okino Daito Shima, just south of Minami Daito Shima which had been visited by the two cruisers in late March, and known to have enemy radar sites located there.

Subsequently, the task group sailed southwesterly for San Pedro Bay, Leyte, reaching its destination on the afternoon of 13 June 1945. A month in Leyte Gulf then ensued—a period of "rest, refreshment, and maintenance"—before Alaska sailed again on 13 July, this time as part of the newly formed TF 95. Reaching Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on the 16th, TF 95 fueled there and then sailed the following day, bound for the coast of China and a foray into the East China Sea, long a hunting ground for American planes and submarines but not entered by an American surface force since before Pearl Harbor.

Although planners for the sweep had anticipated resistance none materialized, Alaska, Guam, and their consorts ranged the area at will, encountering only Chinese fishing junks. Enemy aircraft venturing out to attack the task force several times fell to CAP fighters. Operating out of Buckner Bay, Alaska participated in three sweeps into these waters, and all could see how effective the blockade of Japan had become, no Japanese ships were sighted during the course of the operation. Commented Guam's commanding officer, Capt. Leland P. Lovette: "We went prepared to tangle with a hornet's nest and wound up in a field of pansies—but we've proved a point and the East China Sea is ours to do with as we please."

Buckner Bay proved to offer more excitement than the sweeps. Even the war's waning days possessed elements of danger, on 12 August a Japanese torpedo plane scored a hit on the battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38), near Alaska's anchorage. Over the days that ensued, nightly sorties to avoid last-ditch suiciders took place. When the war did finally end in mid-August, the ship went wild with joy, as Alaska's chronicler wrote: "We knew that we would be going home far sooner than any of us had ever expected when we first set out the preceding January for the combat area."

There was, however, still work to be done. On 30 August Alaska sailed from Okinawa as part of the 7th Fleet's occupation forces, and after taking part in a "show of force" in the fellow Sea and Gulf of Chihli, reached Jinsen (later Inchon), Korea, on 8 September 1945. Alaska supported the landing of Army occupation troops at Jinsen, and remained at that port until 26 September, on which date she sailed for Tsingtao, China, making port the following day. She shifted to an anchorage outside the harbor entrance on 11 October to support the 6th Marine Division landings to occupy the key North China seaport, and ultimately remained at Tsmgtao until 13 November, when she got underway to return to Jinsen, there to embark returning Army soldiers homeward-bound as part of Operation "Magic Carpet." Sailing for the United States on 14 November, Alaska stopped briefly at Pearl Harbor before proceeding on to San Francisco.

Steaming thence to the Panama Canal, and completing her transit of the isthmian waterway on 13 December 1945, Alaska proceeded to the Boston Naval Shipyard arriving on 18 De- cember. There she underwent an availability preparing her for inactivation. Departing Boston on 1 Feburary 1946 for her assigned permanent berthing area at Bayonne, N.J., Alaska arrived there the following day. Placed in inactive status, 'in commission in reserve" at Bayonne, on 13 August 1946, Alaska was ultimately placed out of commission, in reserve, on 17 February 1947.

The large cruiser never returned to active duty. Her name struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 June 1960, the ship was sold on 30 June 1960 to the Lipsett Division of Luria Broth ers of New York City, to be broken up for scrap.

Alaska (CB-1) was awarded three battle stars for her World War II service.


USS Alaska (CB 1)

USS ALASKA was the first ship in a class of large cruisers designed as a compromise to achieve a fast cruiser with a relatively heavy main battery. Named after the territory of Alaska, she was the third ship in the Navy to bear the name. Decommissioned on February 17, 1947, the ship was sold for scrapping on June 30, 1960.

General Characteristics: Awarded: September 9, 1940
Keel laid: December 17, 1941
Launched: August 15, 1943
Commissioned: June 17, 1944
Decommissioned: February 17, 1947
Builder: New York Shipbuilding, Camden, NJ
Propulsion system: General Electric steam turbines eight Babcock & Wilcox boilers 150,000 shaft horsepower
Length: 808.6 feet (246.46 meters)
Beam: 91.9 feet (28 meters)
Draft: max. 31.9 feet (9.7 meters)
Displacement: approx. 34,253 tons full load
Speed: 33 knots
Aircraft: four OS2U Kingfisher or SC Seahawk
Armament: nine 12-inch/50 caliber Mk-8 guns in three triple mounts, twelve 5-inch/38 caliber guns in six twin mounts, 56 40mm Bofors AA guns, 34 20mm Oerlikon AA guns
Crew: 2251

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS ALASKA. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

USS ALASKA was laid down on 17 December 1941 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Corp. launched on 15 August 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Ernest Gruening, wife of the Honorable Ernest Gruening, Governor of Alaska and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 17 June 1944, Capt. Peter K. Fischler in command.

Following post-commissioning fitting out at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, ALASKA stood down the Delaware River on 6 August 1944, bound for Hampton Roads, escorted by SIMPSON (DD 221) and BROOME (DD 210). She then conducted an intensive shakedown, first in Chesapeake Bay and then in the Gulf of Paria, off Trinidad, British West Indies, escorted by BAINBRIDGE (DD 246) and DECATUR (DD 341). Steaming via Annapolis, Md., and Norfolk, ALASKA returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where the large cruiser underwent changes and alterations to her fire control suite: the fitting of four Mk-57 directors for her five-inch battery.

ALASKA departed Philadelphia on 12 November 1944 for the Caribbean, in company with THOMAS E. FRASER (DM 24), and, after two weeks of standardization trials out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, sailed for the Pacific on 2 December. She completed her transit of the Panama Canal on 4 December, and reached San Diego on the 12th. Thereafter, the new large cruiser trained in shore bombardment and anti-aircraft firing off San Diego before an availability at Hunter's Point, near San Francisco.

On 8 January 1945, ALASKA sailed for Hawaii, and reached Pearl Harbor on the 13th, where, on the 27th, Capt. Kenneth M. Noble relieved Capt. Fischler, who had achieved flag rank. Over the ensuing days, ALASKA conducted further training before getting underway as a unit of Task Group (TG) 12.2, weighing anchor for the western Pacific on 29 January. She reached Ulithi, the fleet anchorage in the Caroline Islands, on 6 February, and there joined TG 58.5, a task group in the famed Task Force (TF) 58, the fast carrier task force.

ALASKA sailed for the Japanese home islands as part of TG 58.5 on 10 February 1945, assigned the mission of screening the aircraft carriers SARATOGA (CV 3) and ENTERPRISE (CV 6) as they carried out night air strikes against Tokyo and its airfields. During the voyage, all hands on board ALASKA speculated about what lay ahead, almost three-quarters of the men had never seen action before, and sought out the veterans in their midst "for counsel and advice."

Sensing the air of expectation on board his ship, Capt. Noble spoke to the crew over the public address system and reassured them of his confidence in them. In doing so, he used an analogy familiar to most Americans: "We are a member of a large task force which is going to pitch directly over the home plate of the enemy," he said, "It is our particular job to back up the pitchers."

Backing up the "pitchers" proved comparatively easy. TF 58, cloaked by bad weather, approached the Japanese homeland from east of the Marianas. Using radio deception and deploying submarines, long-range patrol aircraft from Fleet Air Wing 1, and Army Air Force Boeing B-29 "Superfortresses" as scouts, ahead of the advancing task force, the Americans neared their objective undetected. The first major carrier strike against the heart of the Japanese Empire, a year after the successful raids on Truk, covered the developing Iwo Jima landings and proved good practice for future operations against Okinawa. The low ceiling prevented Japanese retaliation, thus giving ALASKA no opportunity to put into practice her rigorous antiaircraft training as she guarded the carriers. Assigned to TG 58.4 soon thereafter, ALASKA supported the Iwo Jima operations, and, as before, no enemy aircraft came near the carrier formation to which the large cruiser was attached. For nineteen days she screened the carriers before retiring to Ulithi to take on stores and carry out minor repairs.

With the decision reached to occupy Okinawa, in the Nansei Shoto chain, in early April of 1945, invasion planners proceeded on the assumption that the Japanese would resist with maximum available naval and air strength. To destroy as many planes as possible, and thus diminish the possibility of American naval forces coming under air attack from Japanese planes, the fast carrier task force was hurled against the enemy's homeland again to strike airfields on Kyushu, Shikoku, and western Honshu.

ALASKA, still with TG 58.4, formed around the fleet carriers YORKTOWN (CV 10), INTREPID (CV 11), INDEPENDENCE (CVL 22) and LANGLEY (CVL 27), again drew the duty of protecting the valuable flattops. Her principal mission then, as it had been before, was defense of the task group against enemy air or surface attacks.

Its battle plan outlined in detail, TF 58 cruised northwesterly from the Carolines, following the departure from Ulithi on 14 March. Refueling at sea on the 16th, this mighty force reached a point southeast of Kyushu early on the 18th. On that day, the planes from TG 58.4 swept over Japenese airfields at Usa, Oita, and Saeki, joining those from three other task groups, TG 58.1, TG 58.2, and TG 58.3 in claiming 107 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground and a further 77 (of 142) engaged over the target area.

ALASKA tasted action for the first time as the Japanese retaliated with air strikes of their own. Task Force 58's radars provided "little if any warning" of the approach of enemy planes, due to the weather conditions encountered. All too often, the first indication of the enemy's presence was a visual sighting. ALASKA spotted a "Frances" at 0810 and commenced fire. She registered hits almost immediately but the suicider maintained its course- toward the stern of the nearby INTREPID. Less than a half-mile from his quarry, however, the "Frances" exploded into fragments with a direct hit from ALASKA's guns.

Soon thereafter, ALASKA received word of the proximity of "friendlies" in the vicinity. At 0822, a single-engined plane approached the large cruiser "in a threatening fashion" from ahead, in a shallow dive. ALASKA opened fire promptly and scored hits. Unfortunately, almost simultaneously her fire controlmen were receiving word that the plane was, indeed, a friendly F6F "Hellcat." Fortunately, the pilot was uninjured and ditched his crippled plane another ship in the disposition picked him up.

For the balance of the day, the suicide attacks continued. The vigilant combat air patrol (CAP), however, downed a dozen planes over the task force while ships' gunfire accounted for almost two dozen more. ALASKA added a second enemy bomber to her "bag" when she splashed a "Judy" at about 1315.

The next morning, the 19th, photo reconnaissance having disclosed the presence of a large number of major Japanese fleet units in the Inland Sea, TF 58 launched planes to go after them. TG 58.4's aircraft took on targets of opportunity at Kobe others at Kure and Hiroshima. Extremely heavy and accurate enemy antiaircraft fire, however, rendered the attacks only moderately successful for TF 58's aviators.

Shortly after the first strikes had been launched, however, the Japanese struck back, hitting TG 58.2, some 20 miles to the northward of the other groups in TF 58. At about 0708, FRANKLIN (CV 13) reeled under the impact of two bomb hits WASP (CV 18) too, fell victim to Japanese bombs. On board ALASKA, those in a position to watch the developing battle noted a flash, followed by a slowly rising column of smoke. "All who saw it knew that a carrier had been hit," the cruiser's historian records, "and soon the radio brought confirmation that the FRANKLIN had been the victim. "

The thin cloud layer having rendered radar largely useless, Japanese planes attacked all task groups. During the afternoon, TF 58 retired slowly to the southwestward, covering the crippled FRANKLIN and simultaneously launching fighter sweeps against airfields on Kyushu in order to disorganize any attempted strikes against it. To further protect FRANKLIN, a salvage unit, Task Unit (TU) 58.2.9, was formed.

Composed of ALASKA, her sister ship GUAM (CB 2), the heavy cruiser PITTSBURGH (CA 72), the light cruiser SANTA FE (CL 60), and three destroyer divisions, TU 58.2.9 drew the duty of screening the damaged "Big Ben," as FRANKLIN had been affectionately nicknamed by her crew. Ordered to make its best speed toward Guam, TU 58.2.9 set out in that direction, covered by TU 58.2.0, four aircraft carriers and the remaining heavy units originally assigned to TG 58.2 at the outset.

The initial part of the voyage proved uneventful, and not until the afternoon did Japanese aircraft appear. Several bogies (unidentified aircraft) showed up on the radar screens investigation revealed most to be Navy PB4Y patrol bombers failing to show IFF (identification, friend or foe). Two of three CAP divisions sent out to challenge a bogey identified it as a PB4Y unfortunately, because the friendly character of one bogey was established, the interception of a second bogey at about the same time failed to materialize. Only poor marksmanship on the part of the "Judy" pilot saved FRANKLIN from another bomb hit. ALASKA added to the hail of gunfire put up on the "Judy" but it sped away, unscathed. The final salvo from ALASKA's mount 51 caused flash burns on men manning a 40-millimeter mount nearby-the only casualties suffered by the large cruiser. Later that day, ALASKA received on board 15 men from FRANKLIN for medical treatment.

The following morning, ALASKA assumed fighter director duty, and controlled three divisions of fighters from HANCOCK (CV 19). While these divisions remained on station pending the arrival of their relief, ALASKA's SK radar picked up a bogey, 35 miles away, at 1143. The large cruiser vectored the CAP fighters to the scene, and at 1148, heard the "tallyho" indicating that the CAP had spotted the bogey. At 1149, the fighters splashed a "Nick" 19 miles away.

On 22 March, ALASKA's part in the escort of the damaged FRANKLIN was complete, and she rejoined TG 58.4, fueling that same day from CHICOPEE (AO 34). At 2342, one of the destroyers in the screen, HAGGARD (DD 555), reported a "skunk" (submarine contact) 25,000 yards distant. She and UHLMANN (DD 687) were detached to investigate, and early the next morning, HAGGARD rammed and sank a Japanese submarine (perhaps I-370, which had departed the Bungo Channel on 21 February 1945 for Iwo Jima as part of a special kaiten-carrying attack unit), suffering enough damage herself in the encounter to be ordered back to base in company with UHLMANN.

Over the next few days, the air strikes against Okinawa continued, setting the stage for the landing set to commence on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945. ALASKA continued to provide support for the carriers launching the strikes until detached on 27 March to carry out a shore bombardment against Minami Daito Shima, a tiny island 160 miles east of Okinawa. The task unit, TU 58.4.9, consisted of ALASKA, GUAM, SAN DIEGO (CL 53), FLINT (CL 97), and Destroyer Squadron 47.

Ordered to carry out the shoot en route to a fueling area, ALASKA and GUAM and their screen steamed west of the island on north/south courses between 2245 on 27 March and 0030 on the 28th. ALASKA's main battery hurled 45 high-capacity rounds shoreward, while her five-inch battery added 352 rounds of antiaircraft common. No answering fire came from the beach, and ALASKA's observers noted "satisfactory fires" on the island.

Rejoining TG 58.4 at the fueling rendezvous, ALASKA transferred the FRANKLIN wounded to TOMAHAWK (AO 88) while she took on fuel from the fleet oiler. She then resumed her screening of the fast carriers as they carried out operations in support of the build-up and landing on Okinawa, on the alert to repel aircraft attacks. The landings went off as scheduled on 1 April, and her operations over ensuing days supported the troops. On 7 April, Japanese surface units moving through the East China Sea toward Okinawa to disrupt the landings ran afoul of a massive air strike from Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's fast carrier task force which sank the giant battleship YAMATO, one cruiser and four destroyers.

Operating off Okinawa and Kyushu, ALASKA lent the protection of her guns to the fast carriers in the task group which sent daily sweeps of "Hellcats" and "Corsairs" over enemy airfields, shore installations and shipping. On the evening of 11 April, ALASKA chalked up an assist in shooting down a Japanese plane, shot down one, unassisted, and claimed what might have been a piloted rocket bomb "baka" on the night of 11-12 April.

Four days later, on the 16th, ALASKA's gunfire splashed what were probably a "Judy" and two "Zekes," and the ship claimed assists in downing three additional enemy aircraft. That same day, however, an enemy aircraft managed to get through ALASKA's barrage to crash INTREPID. That night, though, the cruiser's gunfire proved instrumental in driving off a single snooper attempting to close the formation. On the night of 21-22 April, the cruiser again used her heavy antiaircraft battery to drive off single planes attempting to attack the task group. On the night of 29-30 April, toward the end of the ship's time at sea with the fast carriers for that stretch, ALASKA twice drove off attacking groups of Japanese planes.

ALASKA anchored back at Ulithi on 14 May, bringing to a close a cruise of almost two months' duration. Ten days later, after rest and refreshment, the ship sailed, now part of the 3d Fleet, and with TG 38.4. Newcomers to the formation included the battleship IOWA (BB 61) and the carrier TICONDEROGA (CV 14). Over the next two weeks, ALASKA again screened a portion of the fast carrier task force, and conducted her second shore bombardment when, on 9 June, she and her sister ship GUAM shelled the Japanese-held Okino Daito Shima, just south of Minami Daito Shima which had been visited by the two cruisers in late March, and known to have enemy radar sites located there.

Subsequently, the task group sailed southwesterly for San Pedro Bay, Leyte, reaching its destination on the afternoon of 13 June 1945. A month in Leyte Gulf then ensued, a period of "rest, refreshment, and maintenance", before ALASKA sailed again on 13 July, this time as part of the newly formed TF 95. Reaching Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on the 16th, TF 95 fueled there and then sailed the following day, bound for the coast of China and a foray into the East China Sea, long a hunting ground for American planes and submarines but not entered by an American surface force since before Pearl Harbor.

Although planners for the sweep had anticipated resistance, none materialized ALASKA, GUAM, and their consorts ranged the area at will, encountering only Chinese fishing junks. Enemy aircraft venturing out to attack the task force several times fell to CAP fighters. Operating out of Buckner Bay, ALASKA participated in three sweeps into these waters, and all could see how effective the blockade of Japan had become no Japanese ships were sighted during the course of the operation.

Buckner Bay proved to offer more excitement than the sweeps. Even the war's waning days possessed elements of danger on 12 August a Japanese torpedo plane scored a hit on the battleship PENNSYLVANIA (BB 38), near ALASKA's anchorage. Over the days that ensued, nightly sorties to avoid last-ditch suiciders took place. When the war did finally end in mid-August, the ship went wild with joy, as ALASKA's chronicler wrote: "We knew that we would be going home far sooner than any of us had ever expected when we first set out the preceding January for the combat area."

There was, however, still work to be done. On 30 August, ALASKA sailed from Okinawa as part of the 7th Fleet's occupation forces, and after taking part in a "show of force" in the Yellow Sea and Gulf of Chihli, reached Jinsen (later Inchon), Korea, on 8 September 1945. ALASKA supported the landing of Army occupation troops at Jinsen, and remained at that port until 26 September, on which date she sailed for Tsingtao, China, making port the following day. She shifted to an anchorage outside the harbor entrance on 11 October to support the 6th Marine Division landings to occupy the key North China seaport, and ultimately remained at Tsingtao until 13 November, when she got underway to return to Jinsen, there to embark returning Army soldiers homeward-bound as part of Operation "Magic Carpet." Sailing for the United States on 14 November, ALASKA stopped briefly at Pearl Harbor before proceeding on to San Francisco.

Steaming thence to the Panama Canal, ALASKA proceeded to the Boston Naval Shipyard, arriving on 18 December. There she underwent an availability preparing her for inactivation. Departing Boston on 1 Feburary 1946 for her assigned permanent berthing area at Bayonne, N.J., ALASKA arrived there the following day. Placed in inactive status, "in commission, in reserve" at Bayonne, on 13 August 1946, ALASKA was ultimately placed out of commission, in reserve, on 17 February 1947.

The large cruiser never returned to active duty. Her name struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 June 1960, the ship was sold on 30 June 1960 to the Lipsett Division of Luria Brothers of New York City, to be broken up for scrap.


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CB-1 USS Alaska - History

Posted on 09/09/2006 4:52:42 PM PDT by alfa6



Keep our Troops forever in Your care

Give them victory over the enemy.

Grant them a safe and swift return.

Bless those who mourn the lost.
.

FReepers from the Foxhole join in prayer
for all those serving their country at this time.

Where Duty, Honor and Country
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The six Alaska class "large cruisers" were ordered in September 1940 under the massive 70% Expansion ("Two Ocean Navy") building program. The Navy had been considering since 1938 building ships of this entirely new type, intermediate in size between battleships and heavy cruisers. The new ships were to carry out what were then the two primary missions of heavy cruisers: protecting carrier strike groups against enemy cruisers and aircraft and operating independenly against enemy surface forces. Their extra size and larger guns would enhance their value in both these missions and would also provide insurance against reports that Japan was building "super cruisers" more powerful than U.S. heavy cruisers. In fact, Japan developed plans for two such ships in 1941--partly as a response to the Alaskas--but never placed orders for their construction.

As built, the Alaskas were much closer to cruisers in design than to battleships or battlecruisers. They lacked the multiple layers of compartmentation and special armor along the sides below the waterline that protected battleships against torpedos and underwater hits by gunfire. Other typical cruiser features in their design were the provision of aircraft hangars and the single large rudder. Unlike other U.S. cruisers of the day, the hangars and catapults were located amidships, and the single rudder made them difficult to maneuver. On the other hand, the Alaskas' side armor covered more of the hull than was standard in contemporary U.S. cruisers.

Wartime conditions ultimately reduced the Alaska class to two ships. Construction of CB-3 through CB-6--along with the five Montana (BB-67) class battleships--was suspended in May 1942 to free up steel and other resources for more urgently needed escorts and landing craft. A year later, CB-4 through CB-6 were definitively cancelled. Hawaii (CB-3), however, was restored to the building program. Launched and partially fitted out, her construction was suspended and she was considered for conversion to a missile ship or command ship, but she was scrapped, still incomplete, in 1959.

After more normal construction periods, Alaska (CB-1) and Guam (CB-2) both arrived in the Pacific theater ready for action in early 1945. There they carried out both of their designed missions--carrier protection and surface strike--although their chances of encountering their primary intended opponents, Japanese heavy cruisers, had long since disappeared. Both returned to the U.S. soon after the war's end and, not finding a place in the postwar active fleet, remained in reserve until scrapped in 1960-61.

Design Specifications for the Alaska Class Cruisers displacement. 27,000tons length. 806'6" beam. 91'1" draft. 27'1" (mean)
speed. 31.4 Kts complement. 2,251
Armor: 9" belt, 12 4/5" turrets, 1 2/5" + 4" + 5/8" decks
armament. 9 12", 12 5", 56 40 mm, 34 20 mm aircraft. 4
Machinery: 150,000 SHP G.E. geared turbines, 4 screws.

The Alaska class consisted of six ships, of which three were never begun:

# Alaska (CB-1), built at Camden, New Jersey. Keel laid in December 1941 launched in August 1943 commissioned in June 1944. # Guam (CB-2), built at Camden, New Jersey. Keel laid in February 1942 launched in November 1943 commissioned in September 1944. # Hawaii (CB-3), built at Camden, New Jersey. Construction suspended between May 1942 and May 1943. Keel laid in December 1943 launched in November 1945 never completed. # Philippines (CB-4), ordered at Camden, New Jersey. Never begun, suspended in May 1942 and cancelled in June 1943. # Puerto Rico (CB-5), ordered at Camden, New Jersey. Never begun, suspended in May 1942 and cancelled in June 1943. # Samoa (CB-6), ordered at Camden, New Jersey. Never begun, suspended in May 1942 and cancelled in June 1943.

The Navy's third Alaska (CB-1 )-the first of a class of "large cruisers" designed as a compromise to achieve a fast cruiser with a heavy main battery was laid down on 17 December 1941 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Launched on 15 August 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Ernest Gruening, wife of the Honorable Ernest Gruening, Governor of Alaska, and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 17 June 1944, Capt. Peter K. Fischler in command.

Following post-commissioning fitting out at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Alaska stood down the Delaware River on 6 August 1944, bound for Hampton Roads, escorted by Simpson (DD-221) and Broome (DD-210). She then conducted an intensive shakedown, first in Chesapeake Bay and then in the Gulf of Paria, off Trinidad, British West Indies, escorted by Bainbridge (DD-246) and Decatur (DD-341). Steaming via Annapolis, Md., and Norfolk, Alaska returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where the large cruiser underwent changes and alterations to her fire control suite: the fitting of four Mk. 57 directors for her five-inch battery.

Alaska departed Philadelphia on 12 November 1944 for the Caribbean, in company with Thomas E. Fraser (DM-24), and after two weeks of standardization trials out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, sailed for the Pacific on 2 December. She completed her transit of the Panama Canal on 4 December, and reached San Diego on the 12th. Thereafter, the new large cruiser trained m shore bombardment and anti-aircraft firing off San Diego before an availability at Hunter's Point, near San Francisco.

On 8 January 1945, Alaska sailed for Hawaii, and reached Pearl Harbor on the 13th, where, on the 27th, Capt. Kenneth M. Noble relieved Capt. Fischler, who had achieved flag rank. Over the ensuing days, Alaska conducted further training before getting underway as a unit of Task Group (TG) 12.2, weighing anchor for the western Pacific on 29 January. She reached Uhthi, the fleet anchorage in the Caroline Islands on 6 February, and there joined TG 58.5, a task group in the famed Task Force (TF) 58, the fast carrier task force.

Alaska sailed for the Japanese home islands as part uf TG 58.5 on 10 February 1945, assigned the mission of screening the aircraft carriers Saratoga (CV-3) and Enterprise (CV-6) as they carried out night air strikes against Tokyo and its airfields. During the voyage, all hands on board Alaska speculated about what lay ahead almost three-quarters of the men had never seen action before and sought out the veterans in their midst "for counsel and advice."

Sensing the air of expectation on board his ship Capt. Noble spoke to the crew over the public address system and reassured them of his confidence in them. In doing so, he used an analogy familiar to most Americans: "We are a member of a large task force which is going to pitch directly over the home plate of the enemy, " he said, "It is our particular job to back up the pitchers."

Backing up the "pitchers" proved comparatively easy. TF 58 cloaked by bad weather, approached the Japanese homeland from east of the Marianas. Using radio deception and deploying submarines, lona-range patrol aircraft from Fleet Air Wing 1 and Army Air Force Boeing B-29 "Superfortresses" as scouts ahead of the advancing task force, the Americans neared their objective undetected. The first major carrier strike against the heart of the Japanese Empire, a year after the successful raids on Truk, covered the developing Iwo Jima landings and proved good practice for future operations against Okinawa. The low ceiling prevented Japanese retaliation, thus giving Alaska no opportunity to put into practice her rigorous antiaircraft training as she guarded the carriers. Assigned to TG 58.4 soon thereafter, Alaska supported the Iwo Jima operations, and, as before, no enemy aircraft came near the carrier formation to which the large cruiser was attached. For nineteen days she screened the carriers before retiring to Ulithi to take on stores and carry out minor repairs.

With the decision reached to occupy Okinawa, in the Nansei Shoto chain, in early April of 1945, invasion planners proceeded on the assumption that the Japanese would resist with maximum available naval and air strength. To destroy as many planes as possible—and thus diminish the possibility of American naval forces coming under air attack from Japanese planes—the fast carrier task force was hurled against the enemy's homeland again: to strike airfields on Kyushu, Shikoku, and western Honshu.

Alaska, still with TG 58.4—formed around the fleet carriers Yorktoum (CV-10), Intrepid (CV-11), Independence (CVL-22) and Langley (CVL-27 - again drew the duty of protecting the valuable flattops. Her principal mission then, as it had been before, was defense of the task group against enemy air or surface attacks.

Its battle plan outlined in detail, TF 58 cruised northwesterly from the Carolines, following the departure from Ulithi on 14 March. Refueling at sea on the 16th, this mighty force reached a point southeast of Kyushu early on the 18th. On that day, the planes from TG 58.4 swept over Japenese airfields at Usa, Oita and Saeki, joining those from three other task groups, TG 58.1 TG 58.2, and TG 58.3 in claiming 107 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground and a further 77 (of 142) engaged over the target area.

Alaska tasted action for the first time as the Japanese retaliated with air strikes of their own. Task Force 58's radars provided "Iittle if any warning" of the approach of enemy planes, due to the weather conditions encountered. All too often, the first indication of the enemy's presence was a visual sighting. Alaska spotted a "Frances" at 0810 and commenced fire. She registered hits almost immediately but the suicider maintained its course— toward the stern of the nearby Intrepid. Less than a half-mile from his quarry, however, the "Frances" exploded into fragments with a direct hit from Alaska's guns.

Soon thereafter, Alaska received word of the proximity of "friendlies" in the vicinity. At 0822 a single-engined plane approached the large cruiser "in a threatening fashion" from ahead m a shallow dive. Alaska opened fire promptly and scored hits. Unfortunately, almost simultaneously her fire eontrolmen were receiving word that the plane was, indeed, a friendly F6F"Hellcat." Fortunately, the pilot was uninjured and ditched his crippled plane, another ship in the disposition picked him up.

For the balance of the day, the suicide attacks continued. The vigilant combat air patrol (CAP), however, downed a dozen planes over the task force while strips' gunfire accounted for almost two dozen more. Alaska added a second enemy bomber to her "bag" when she splashed a "Judy" at about 1315.

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The next morning, the 19th, photo reconnaissance having disclosed the presence of a large number of major Japanese fleet units in the Inland Sea, TF 58 launched planes to go after them. TG 58.4's aircraft took on targets of opportunity at Kobe others at Kure and Hiroshima. Extremely heavy and accurate enemy antiaircraft fire, however, rendered the attacks only moderately successful for TF 58's aviators.

Shortly after the first strikes had been launched, however, the Japanese struck back, hitting TG 58.2, some 20 miles to the northward of the other groups in TF 58. At about 0708, Franklin (CV-13) reeled under the impact of two bomb hits, Wasp (C V-18) too, fell victim to Japanese bombs. On board Alaska, those in a position to watch the developing battle noted a flash, followed by a slowly rising column of smoke. "All who saw it knew that a carrier had been hit," the cruiser's historian records, "and soon the radio brought confirmation that the Franklin had been the victim . "

The thin cloud layer having rendered radar Iargely useless Japanese planes attacked all task groups. During the afternoon TF 58 retired slowly to the southwestward, covering the crippled Franklin and simultaneously launching fighter sweeps against airfields on Kyushu in order to disorganize any attempted strikes against it. To further protect Franklin, a salvage unit Task Unit (TU) 58.2.9, was formed.


Composed of Alaska, her sister ship Guam (CB-2), the heavy cruiser Pittsburgh (CA-72), the light cruiser Santa Fe (CL 60) and three destroyer divisions, TU 58.2.9 drew the duty of screening the damaged "Big Ben," as Franklin had been affectionately nicknamed by her crew. Ordered to make its best speed toward Guam, TU 58.2.9 set out in that direction, covered by TU 58.2.0 four aircraft carriers and the remaining heavy units originally assigned to TG 58.2 at the outset.

The initial part of the voyage proved uneventful, and not until the afternoon did Japanese aircraft appear. Several bogies (unidentified aircraft) showed up on the radar screens, investigation revealed most to be Navy PB4Y patrol bombers failing to show IFF (identification, friend or foe). Two of three CAP divisions sent out to challenge a bogey identified it as a PB4Y unfortunately, because the friendly character of one bogey was established, the interception of a second bogey at about the same time failed to materialize. Only poor marksmanship on the part of the "Judy" pilot saved Franklin from another bomb hit. Alaska added to the hail of gunfire put up on the "Judy" but it sped away, unscathed. The final salvo from Alaska's mount 51 caused flash burns on men manning a 40-millimeter mount nearby—the only casualties suffered by the large cruiser. Later that day Alaska received on board 15 men from Franklin for medical treatment.

The following morning, Alaska assumed fighter director duty and controlled three divisions of fighters from Hancock (CV-19). While these divisions remained on station pending the arrival of their relief, Alaska's SK radar picked up a bogey, 35 miles away at 1143. The large cruiser vectored the CAP fighters to the scene, and at 1148, heard the "tallyho" indicating that the CAP had spotted the bogey. At 1149, the fighters splashed a "Nick" 19 miles away.

On 22 March, Alaska's part in the escort of the damaged Franklin was complete, and she rejoined TG 58.4, fueling that same day from Chicopee (AO-34). At 2342 one of the destroyers in the screen, Haggard (DD-555), reported d "skunk" (submarine contact) 25,000 yards distant. She and Uhlmann (DD-687) were detached to investigate, and early the next morning, Haggard rammed and sank a Japanese submarine (perhaps I-370, which had departed the Bungo Channel on 21 February 1945 for Iwo Jima as part of a special kaiten-carrying attack unit), suffering enough damage herself in the encounter to be ordered back to base in company with Uhlmann.


Over the next few days, the air strikes against Okinawa continued, setting the stage for the landing set to commence on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945. Alaska continued to provide support for the carriers launching the strikes until detached on 27 March to carry out a shore bombardment against Minami Daito Shima, a tiny island 160 miles east of Okinawa. The task unit TU 58.4.9, consisted of Alaska, Guam, San Diego (CL 53), Flint (CL-97), and Destroyer Squadron 47.

Ordered to carry out the shoot en route to a fueling area Alaska and Guam and their screen steamed west of the island on north/south courses between 2245 on 27 March and 0030 on the 28th. Alaska's main battery hurled 45 high-capacity rounds shoreward, while her five-inch battery added 352 rounds of antiaircraft common. No answering fire came from the beach, and Alaska's observers noted "satisfactory fires" on the island.

Rejoining TG 58.4 at the fueling rendezvous, Alaska transferred the Franklin wounded to Tomahawk (AO 88) while she took on fuel from the fleet oiler. She then resumed her screenine of the fast carriers as they carried out operations in support of the build-up and landing on Okinawa, on the alert to repel aircraft attacks. The landings went off as scheduled on 1 April, and her operations over ensuing days supported the troops. On 7 April, Japanese surface units moving through the East China Sea toward Okinawa to disrupt the landings ran afoul of a massive air strike from Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's fast carrier task force which sank the giant battleship Yamato, one cruiser and four destroyers.

Operating off Okinawa and Kyushu, Alaska lent the protection of her guns to the fast carriers in the task group which sent daily sweeps of "Hellcats" and "Corsairs" over enemy airfields, shore installations and shipping. On the evening of ll April, Alaska chalked up an assist in shooting down a Japanese plane shot down one, unassisted, and claimed what might have been a piloted rocket bomb "bake" on the night of 11-12 April.

Four days later, on the 16th, Alaska's gunfire splashed what were probably a "Judy" and two "Zekes,' and the ship claimed assists in downing three additional enemy aircraft. That same day, however an enemy aircraft managed to get through Alaska's barrage to crash Intrepid. That night, though, the cruiser's gunfire proved instrumental in driving off a single snooper attempting to close the formation. On the night of 21-22 April, the cruiser again used her heavy antiaircraft battery to drive off single planes attempting to attack the task group. On the night of 29-30 April, toward the end of the ship's time at sea with the fast carriers for that stretch, Alaska twice drove off attacking groups of Japanese planes.

Alaska anchored back at Ulithi on 14 May, bringing to a close a cruise of almost two months' duration. Ten days later, after rest and refreshment, the ship sailed—now part of the 3d Fleet— and with TG 38.4. Newcomers to the formation included the battleship lowa (BB - 1) and the carrier Ticonderoga (CV-14). Over the next two weeks, Alaska again screened a portion of the fast carrier task force, and conducted her second shore bombardment when, on 9 June, she and her sister ship Guam shelled the Japanese-held Okino Daito Shima, just south of Minami Daito Shima which had been visited by the two cruisers in late March, and known to have enemy radar sites located there.

Subsequently, the task group sailed southwesterly for San Pedro Bay, Leyte, reaching its destination on the afternoon of 13 June 1945. A month in Leyte Gulf then ensued—a period of "rest, refreshment, and maintenance"—before Alaska sailed again on 13 July, this time as part of the newly formed TF 95. Reaching Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on the 16th, TF 95 fueled there and then sailed the following day, bound for the coast of China and a foray into the East China Sea, long a hunting ground for American planes and submarines but not entered by an American surface force since before Pearl Harbor.

Although planners for the sweep had anticipated resistance none materialized, Alaska, Guam, and their consorts ranged the area at will, encountering only Chinese fishing junks. Enemy aircraft venturing out to attack the task force several times fell to CAP fighters. Operating out of Buckner Bay, Alaska participated in three sweeps into these waters, and all could see how effective the blockade of Japan had become, no Japanese ships were sighted during the course of the operation. Commented Guam's commanding officer, Capt. Leland P. Lovette: "We went prepared to tangle with a hornet's nest and wound up in a field of pansies—but we've proved a point and the East China Sea is ours to do with as we please."


Buckner Bay proved to offer more excitement than the sweeps. Even the war's waning days possessed elements of danger, on 12 August a Japanese torpedo plane scored a hit on the battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38), near Alaska's anchorage. Over the days that ensued, nightly sorties to avoid last-ditch suiciders took place. When the war did finally end in mid-August, the ship went wild with joy, as Alaska's chronicler wrote: "We knew that we would be going home far sooner than any of us had ever expected when we first set out the preceding January for the combat area."

There was, however, still work to be done. On 30 August Alaska sailed from Okinawa as part of the 7th Fleet's occupation forces, and after taking part in a "show of force" in the fellow Sea and Gulf of Chihli, reached Jinsen (later Inchon), Korea, on 8 September 1945. Alaska supported the landing of Army occupation troops at Jinsen, and remained at that port until 26 September, on which date she sailed for Tsingtao, China, making port the following day. She shifted to an anchorage outside the harbor entrance on 11 October to support the 6th Marine Division landings to occupy the key North China seaport, and ultimately remained at Tsmgtao until 13 November, when she got underway to return to Jinsen, there to embark returning Army soldiers homeward-bound as part of Operation "Magic Carpet." Sailing for the United States on 14 November, Alaska stopped briefly at Pearl Harbor before proceeding on to San Francisco.

Steaming thence to the Panama Canal, and completing her transit of the isthmian waterway on 13 December 1945, Alaska proceeded to the Boston Naval Shipyard arriving on 18 December. There she underwent an availability preparing her for inactivation. Departing Boston on 1 Feburary 1946 for her assigned permanent berthing area at Bayonne, N.J., Alaska arrived there the following day. Placed in inactive status, 'in commission in reserve" at Bayonne, on 13 August 1946, Alaska was ultimately placed out of commission, in reserve, on 17 February 1947.

The large cruiser never returned to active duty. Her name struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 June 1960, the ship was sold on 30 June 1960 to the Lipsett Division of Luria Brothers of New York City, to be broken up for scrap.

Alaska (CB-1) was awarded three battle stars for her World War II service.


USS Alaska (CB-1)


Figure 1: USS Alaska (CB-1) photographed from USS Missouri (BB-63) off the U.S. east coast during their shakedown cruise together in August 1944. Note her Measure 32 camouflage. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 2: USS Alaska photographed in the summer or fall of 1944, probably in the Hampton Roads area, Virginia. Copied from an original print included in the Fifth Naval District's "War Diary of Open Intelligence Branch of District Intelligence Office". U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 3: USS Alaska photographed from the air on 13 November 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 4: Norfolk Naval Base, Virginia. Warships at the Base piers, circa August 1944. Among them are: USS Missouri (BB-63), the largest ship USS Alaska (CB-1), on the other side of the pier USS Croatan (CVE-25), and destroyers of the Fletcher and "Four-Pipe, Flush-Deck" classes at the next pier. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.

The USS Alaska (CB-1) was the first of the 27,500-ton Alaska-class “large cruisers” and was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation at Camden, New Jersey. The ship was launched in August 1943 and was commissioned on 17 June 1944. The Alaska was approximately 808 feet long and 91 feet wide, and had an excellent top speed of 31.4 knots and a crew of 2,251 officers and men. She was armed with nine 12-inch guns and twelve 5-inch guns, plus numerous smaller-caliber guns.

The Alaska-class warships (of which six were ordered in September 1940) were a new class of warship, originally designed to fulfill duties that were unsuitable for either a battleship or a heavy cruiser. They would have two primary missions normally carried out by heavy cruisers: protecting carrier groups against enemy cruisers and aircraft and operating independently against enemy surface forces. Their large size and guns were ideal for both of these missions and they were designed to stand up to the larger Japanese cruisers that were being developed during the early part of the war. However, once the Alaska was built, it resembled a large cruiser rather than a battleship or a battlecruiser. It didn’t have the multiple layers of compartments and special armor along the sides and below the waterline that protected battleships against torpedoes and underwater gunfire hits. But the Alaska, like other cruisers, did have aircraft hangers and a single large rudder. Although the single rudder made her difficult to maneuver, the side armor the Alaska did have covered more of the hull than was standard in other US cruisers.

After an extensive shakedown cruise in the Chesapeake Bay area and the Caribbean, the Alaska was sent to the Pacific and joined the US Pacific Fleet in January 1945. From February to July 1945, the Alaska provided anti-aircraft protection for the fast carrier battle groups as they attacked the Japanese home islands. The Alaska also took part in the assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, providing anti-aircraft protection and bombarding shore targets with her 12-inch guns. In July and August 1945 the Alaska, along with her sister ship the USS Guam (CB-2) and four light cruisers, conducted anti-shipping raids in the East China Sea.

After the Japanese surrendered, the Alaska remained in the Pacific to support the occupation of Japan, China and Korea. She returned to the United States in December 1945 and on 17 February 1947 was placed out of commission and in reserve at Bayonne, New Jersey. Not needed in the post-war American fleet, the Alaska was never re-commissioned and was finally sold for scrapping in June 1960.

Only two of the proposed six Alaska-class large cruisers were completed (the Alaska and the Guam). The USS Hawaii (CB-3) was partially built but never completed and was eventually scrapped. The three other ships in the class were canceled, primarily to free up steel and other resources for more urgently needed escorts and landing craft. Although the Alaska did an excellent job in carrying out its primary missions of carrier protection and surface strike, she never did come into contact with any enemy warships. It’s a pity that the Alaska wasn’t built in time to take part in the deadly naval surface battles that took place off the coast of Guadalcanal. A ship with her heavy armor and large guns could have made a considerable contribution in that conflict.


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The Navy had been considering since 1938 building ships of this entirely new type, intermediate in size between battleships and heavy cruisers. The new ships were to carry out what were then the two primary missions of heavy cruisers: protecting carrier strike groups against enemy cruisers and aircraft and operating independently against enemy surface forces. Their extra size and larger guns would enhance their value in both these missions and would also provide insurance against reports that Japan was building "super cruisers" more powerful than U.S. heavy cruisers. In fact, Japan developed plans for two such ships in 1941—partly as a response to the Alaskas, but never placed orders for their construction.

As built, the Alaskas were much closer to cruisers in design than to battleships or battlecruisers. They lacked the multiple layers of compartmentation and special armor along the sides below the waterline that protected battleships against torpedoes and underwater hits by gunfire. Other typical cruiser features in their design were the provision of aircraft hangars and the single large rudder. Unlike other U.S. cruisers of the day, the hangars and catapults were located amidships, and the single rudder made them difficult to maneuver. On the other hand, the Alaskas' side armor covered more of the hull than was standard in contemporary U.S. cruisers.

Wartime conditions ultimately reduced the Alaska class to two ships. Construction of CB-3 through CB-6 - along with the five Montana (BB-67) class battleships - was suspended in May 1942 to free up steel and other resources for more urgently needed escorts and landing craft. A year later, CB-4 through CB-6 were definitively cancelled. Hawaii (CB-3), however, was restored to the building program. Launched and partially fitted out, her construction was suspended and she was considered for conversion to a missile ship or command ship, but she was scrapped, still incomplete, in 1959.

After more normal construction periods, Alaska (CB-1) and Guam (CB-2) both arrived in the Pacific theater ready for action in early 1945. There they carried out both of their designed missions - carrier protection and surface strike - although their chances of encountering their primary intended opponents, Japanese heavy cruisers, had long since disappeared. Both returned to the U.S. soon after the war's end and, not finding a place in the postwar active fleet, remained in reserve until scrapped in 1960-61.

The Alaska class consisted of six ships:

  • Alaska (CB-1), built at Camden, New Jersey. Keel laid in December 1941 launched in August 1943 commissioned in June 1944.
  • Guam (CB-2), built at Camden, New Jersey. Keel laid in February 1942 launched in November 1943 commissioned in September 1944.
  • Hawaii (CB-3), built at Camden, New Jersey. Construction suspended between May 1942 and May 1943. Keel laid in December 1943 launched in November 1945 never completed.
  • Philippines (CB-4), ordered at Camden, New Jersey. Never begun, suspended in May 1942 and canceled in June 1943.
  • Puerto Rico (CB-5), ordered at Camden, New Jersey. Never begun, suspended in May 1942 and canceled in June 1943.
  • Samoa (CB-6), ordered at Camden, New Jersey. Never begun, suspended in May 1942 and canceled in June 1943.

USS Alaska (CB 1)


USS Alaska shortly after completion.

Arrived at her permanent berthing area at Bayonne, New York on 2 February 1946. Placed in inactive status commission, in reserve at Bayonne, on 13 August 1946. Alaska was ultimately placed out of commission, in reserve, on 17 February 1947. The large cruiser never returned to active duty. Her name struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 June 1960, the was sold on 30 June 1960 to the Lipsett Division of Luria Brothers of New York City, to be broken up for scrap.

Commands listed for USS Alaska (CB 1)

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CommanderFromTo
1T/R.Adm. Peter Kalsh Fischler, USN17 Jun 194427 Jan 1945
2T/Capt. Kenneth Hill Noble, USN27 Jan 194518 Dec 1945

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CB-1 USS Alaska - History

The six Alaska class "large cruisers" were ordered in September 1940 under the massive 70% Expansion ("Two Ocean Navy") building program. The Navy had been considering since 1938 building ships of this entirely new type, intermediate in size between battleships and heavy cruisers. The new ships were to carry out what were then the two primary missions of heavy cruisers: protecting carrier strike groups against enemy cruisers and aircraft and operating independenly against enemy surface forces. Their extra size and larger guns would enhance their value in both these missions and would also provide insurance against reports that Japan was building "super cruisers" more powerful than U.S. heavy cruisers. In fact, Japan developed plans for two such ships in 1941--partly as a response to the Alaska s--but never placed orders for their construction.

As built, the Alaska s were much closer to cruisers in design than to battleships or battlecruisers. They lacked the multiple layers of compartmentation and special armor along the sides below the waterline that protected battleships against torpedos and underwater hits by gunfire. Other typical cruiser features in their design were the provision of aircraft hangars and the single large rudder. Unlike other U.S. cruisers of the day, the hangars and catapults were located amidships, and the single rudder made them difficult to maneuver. On the other hand, the Alaska s' side armor covered more of the hull than was standard in contemporary U.S. cruisers.

Wartime conditions ultimately reduced the Alaska class to two ships. Construction of CB-3 through CB-6--along with the five Montana (BB-67) class battleships--was suspended in May 1942 to free up steel and other resources for more urgently needed escorts and landing craft. A year later, CB-4 through CB-6 were definitively cancelled. Hawaii (CB-3), however, was restored to the building program. Launched and partially fitted out, her construction was suspended and she was considered for conversion to a missile ship or command ship, but she was scrapped, still incomplete, in 1959.

After more normal construction periods, Alaska (CB-1) and Guam (CB-2) both arrived in the Pacific theater ready for action in early 1945. There they carried out both of their designed missions--carrier protection and surface strike--although their chances of encountering their primary intended opponents, Japanese heavy cruisers, had long since disappeared. Both returned to the U.S. soon after the war's end and, not finding a place in the postwar active fleet, remained in reserve until scrapped in 1960-61.

This page features a small selection of photographs of Alaska class large cruisers and provides links to more extensive pictorial coverage of the individual ships.

For more images related to the Alaska class design, see: Alaska Class Large Cruisers -- Drawings.

For coverage of classes of U.S. Navy battleships, see: Battleships -- Overview and Special Image Selection.

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Photographed in the summer or fall of 1944, probably in the Hampton Roads area, Virginia.

Copied from an original print included in the Fifth Naval District's "War Diary of Open Intelligence Branch of District Intelligence Office".

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 75KB 740 x 530 pixels

Photographed from USS Missouri (BB-63) off the U.S. east coast during their shakedown cruise together in August 1944.
Note her Measure 32 camouflage.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 126KB 740 x 580 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Underway during shakedown on 13 November 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 151KB 740 x 615 pixels

Leaving the launching ways at the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N. J. on 3 November 1945.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 181KB 595 x 765 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

For more images related to the Alaska class design, see: Alaska Class Large Cruisers -- Drawings.


USS Alaska was ordered for construction on September 9, 1940. She was laid down by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation at Camden on December 17, 1941, launched on August 15, 1943 and commissioned on June 17, 1944. She served in the Pacific, escorting aircraft carriers and performing commerce raiding against Japanese merchant fleets in the East China Sea. One of her most notable periods of service was during the landings at Okinawa, were she provided shore bombardment ahead of the US Marine Corps landing elements. She was decommissioned on February 17, 1947 after less than three years of service and was finally scrapped at Newark in 1961.

USS Alaska was named after the United States territory of Alaska. Her pennant code was CB-1, classifying her as a large cruiser, when in theory she was actually a battle cruiser.


USS Alaska (CB-1)

USS Alaska was the lead ship of the Alaska class of large cruisers which served with the United States Navy during the end of World War II. She was the first of two ships of her class to be completed, followed only by Guam, four other ships were ordered but were not completed before the end of the war. Alaska was the third vessel of the US Navy to be named after what was then the territory of Alaska. She was laid down on 17 December 1941, ten days after the outbreak of war, was launched in August 1943 by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, in Camden, New Jersey, and was commissioned in June 1944. She was armed with a main battery of nine 12 in guns in three triple turrets and had a top speed of 33 kn.
Due to the fact, commissioned at the end of the war, in Alaska saw relatively limited service. She participated in operations off the Islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in February–July 1945, including providing anti-aircraft defense for various target groups of the carrier and conducting limited operations shelling the shore. She shot down several Japanese planes off Okinawa, including possible Ohka manned rocket. In July–August 1945 participated in sweeps for Japanese shipping in the East China and Yellow seas. After the war, she helped in the occupation of Korea and was carrying us troops back to the United States. She was decommissioned in February 1947 and placed in reserve, where she remained until she was stricken in 1960 and sold for scrapping the following year.

1. Design. (Дизайн)
Alaska was 808 feet 6 inches 246.43 m overall and had a beam of 91 feet 1 in 27.76 m and a draught of 31 ft 10 in 9.70 m She moved 29.779 long tons 30.257 t and to 34.253 long tons 34.803 tons with a full combat load. The ship was powered by four-shaft General electric steam turbines and eight oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers with a capacity of 150.000 shaft horsepower of 110.000 kW of generating the maximum speed of 33 knots 61 km / h 38 miles per hour. The ship had been cruising range of 12.000 nautical miles km 22.000, 14.000 miles at a speed of 15 KN 28 km / h 17 km / h. She carried four OS2U Kingfisher or SC Seahawk seaplanes can, with a pair of steam catapults installed on the midsection.
The ship was armed with a main battery of nine 12 in 300 mm L / 50 mark 8 guns in three triple turrets, two in a superfiring pair forward and one aft of the superstructure. The secondary battery consisted of twelve 5 in 130 mm L / 38 dual-purpose guns in six twin turrets. Two were placed on the axis superfiring over the main battery turrets, fore and aft, while the other four towers were located at the corners of the superstructure. In light anti-aircraft battery consisted of 56 Quad-mounted 40-mm gun Bofors 1.6 34 and single-mounted 20 mm 0.79 in Oerlikon gun. A pair of MK 34 Directors, the automated gun aiming for the main battery, while two MK 37 Directors was controlled by a 5-inch guns and MK 57 Director helped 40 mm guns. The main armored belt was 9 in 229 mm thickness, while machine gun turrets 12.8 in 325 mm thick faces. The main armored deck was 4 in a thickness of 102 mm.

2. Service history. (История обслуживания)
Alaska was the Commissioner in accordance with the Act on expanding the Navy 19 July 1940 and commissioned on 9 September. 17 December 1941 she was laid down at new York Shipbuilding in Camden, new Jersey. She was launched on 15 August 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Dorothy Gruening nee Smith, wife of Governor Ernest Gruening of Alaska, after which fitting-out work was carried out. The ship was completed by June of 1944, and was inducted into the U.S. Navy on June 17, under the command of captain Peter K. Fischler.

2.1. Service history. World War II
After her commissioning, Alaska steamed to HAMPTON roads, escorted by destroyers Simpson and Broome. The ship was then deployed for a test flight, first in Chesapeake Bay and then in the Caribbean, from Trinidad. On the cruise, she was accompanied by the destroyer Bainbridge and DECATUR. After the completion of the cruise, Alaska returned to the Philadelphia Navy yard, some minor changes including installation of four MK 57 fire control Directors for her 5-inch guns. November 12, she left Philadelphia in the company of a destroyer-minelayer Thomas E. Fraser, heading for two weeks of sea trials from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On 2 December she left Cuba Pacific ocean passing through the Panama canal two days later and reached San Diego on 12 Dec. There, her gun crews were trained on shore bombardment and anti-aircraft fire.
On 8 January 1945, Alaska went from California to Hawaii, arriving at pearl Harbor on January 13. There she participated in advanced training courses and was assigned to task group 12.2, which took off on the radio on January 29. The task group reached Ulithi on 6 February and were United in the task group 58.5, part of task force 58, a fast task force of the carrier. Task group 58.5 was tasked to provide air defense for carriers, Alaska was imposed on the carriers enterprise and Saratoga. The fleet sailed to Japan on February 10 to conduct air strikes against Tokyo and the surrounding airfields. The Japanese did not attack the fleet during operation. Then Alaska was transferred to task group 58.4 and assigned to support the landing on Iwo Jima. She served in the screen for carriers off Iwo Jima for nineteen days, after which she had to return to Ulithi for replenishment and fuel supplies.
Alaska was still with TG 58.4 at the time of the battle of Okinawa. She was assigned to screen the aircraft carriers Yorktown and intrepid fleet left Ulithi on 14 March and reached its operating area to the South-East of Kyushu, four days. The first air strikes on Okinawa began that day, and claimed 17 Japanese planes destroyed on the ground. Here in Alaska, finally saw, as the Japanese launched a major air strike on the American fleet. Her gunners destroyed the bomber, Yokosuka P1Y, trying to crash in fearless. Shortly thereafter, Alaska warned that American aircraft were in the vicinity. About ten minutes later, her gunners detected the unidentified aircraft approaching in what they thought was a threatening way, they knocked down what proved to be the fighter Grumman F6F Hellcat, although the pilot was not injured. Later that day, Alaska was hit by a second Japanese bomber Yokosuka D4Y.
The next day, the carrier Franklin was heavily damaged by multiple hits bombs and suicide bombers. Alaska and her sister GUAM, two cruisers and several destroyers were detached to create task group 58.2.9 to escort the crippled Franklin back to ulithi. On the way back to port, another D4Y bomber attacked Franklin, while the ships are unable to shoot it down. Shooting from one of the 5-inch guns accident caused burns on several men standing near it were the only casualties suffered by his team during the war. Alaska then took on the role of Director of the fighter, using its radar to search the air, she vectored the fighters to intercept and destroy a Kawasaki Ki-45 heavy fighter. On 22 March, the ships reached Ulithi and Alaska was detached to return to Tg 58.4.
Returning to his division, Alaska continued the screen for aircraft carriers off Okinawa. March 27, it was separated to fire Minamidaitō. She joined GUAM, two light cruisers, and destroyer squadron 47. In the night from 27 to 28 March, she fired forty-five 12-inch shells and three hundred and fifty-two 5-inch rounds on the island. The ships returned Tg 58.4 at the fueling stations, after which they returned to Okinawa to support the landings when they began on 1 April. The evening of 11 April, Alaska downed one Japanese plane and assisted in destroying the other, and argued that perhaps it was Ohka manned rocket-bomb. On 16 April, the ship shot down three aircraft and helped with the other three. Throughout the month, its heavy anti-aircraft fire succeeded in driving from the Japanese bombers.
Then Alaska and returned to Ulithi to resupply, arriving on 14 may. Then she was assigned to Tg 38.4, the restructured target group of the carrier. The fleet then returned to Okinawa, where AK continued to work in his role of anti-aircraft defense. On 9 June, she and GUAM bombarded Oki Daito. Tg 38.4 then steamed to San Pedro Bay in Leyte Gulf for rest and repairs, the ship remained there from 13 June until 13 July when she was assigned to cruiser task force 95 along with her sister GUAM, under the command of rear Admiral Francis S. low. July 16, the Alaska and GUAM conducted a sweep in the East China and yellow seas to sink Japanese shipping company. They had only limited success, however, and returned to the Navy on July 23. Then they joined the main RAID, which included three battleships and three escort carriers, at the mouth of the Yangtze river from Shanghai. Again, the operation met with limited success. In the course of its service during the Second world war, Alaska was awarded three battle stars.

2.2. Service history. Post-war. (После войны)
On 30 August, Alaska left Okinawa Japan to participate in the 7th occupying forces of the fleet. She arrived in Incheon, Korea, 8 September and support army operations there until 26 September when she went to Qingdao, China, arriving the following day. There she supported the 6th marine division until 13 November when she returned to Incheon to take on Army soldiers as part of operation "magic carpet", the massive repatriation of millions of American troops from Europe and Asia. Alaska left Incheon with a contingent of soldiers bound for San Francisco. After reaching San Francisco, she went to the Atlantic, through the Panama canal, which she transited on December 13. The ship arrived at the Boston naval shipyard on 18 December, where it was conducted and preparatory work to place the ship in reserve. She left Boston on 1 February 1946 in Bayonne, state of new Jersey, where she will be moored in the reserve. She came back the next day and on 13 August it was removed from active service, although she will not be charged until February 17, 1947.
In 1958, the Presidium of the court prepared a feasibility study to see if the Alaska and GUAM were suitable to be converted into a missile cruiser. In the first study involved removing all the guns in favor of four different missile systems. On $ 160 million that was seen as too expensive, so a second study was conducted. This study leaves the forward batteries - the two 12-inch triple turrets and three 5-inch dual turret - and added a shortened version of the first plan at the stern. It will cost $82 million, and was deemed too costly. As a consequence, the offer of conversion was abandoned and the ship was stricken from the naval register on 1 June 1960. On 30 June she was sold to the Lipsett division of Luria brothers to be broken down for scrap.

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