CL-51 Atlanta Class
usnc-atlantasmall.jpg
(some parts and underwater details taken from Shipbucket.com)

Ship Characteristics

Dimensions Length 541 ft
Beam 53 ft
Draft 20.5 ft
Displacement (Standard) 6,720 tons
Displacement (Full Load) 8,340 tons
Performance Speed (max) 32.5 knots
Speed (Cruising) 15 knots
Endurance 8,000 nm. at 15 knots
Armament Medium Guns 16 5 inch L38
Light guns 10 40mm L60
Armor Belt 3.75 inches
Deck 1.25 inches

Background

Intended to serve as destroyer flotilla leaders, four Atlanta (CL-51) class light cruisers were authorized during the pre-World War II build-up program. This class was intended to replace the 1920s era Omaha class light cruisers. This class was developed to satisfy the need for a light displacement, high speed vessel whose mission was primarily combating large scale attack by aircraft, but which also possessed the ability to perform certain types of cruiser duty. Their initial purpose, contrary to popular belief, was not only that of an anti-aircraft cruiser but that of a small, fast scout cruiser that could operate in conjunction with destroyers on the fringes of the battle line in addition to the defense of the battle line against destroyer and aircraft attack. While they were not designed to "slug it out" with heaver ships, they were well suited to close surface action in bad weather (poor visibility) and to night actions, where their fast firing 5"/38's and eight 21" torpedos could be used to advantage.

The design consisted of many novel features, including the provision of an inner bottom extending to the second deck and following the contour of the outer shell. The side armor was of watertight reverted construction forming part of the watertight envelope of the hull. Armor protection was moderate, due to the weight limitation dictated by speed requirements, and consisted of side armor in way of the machinery spaces, bulkheads enclosing magazines, conning tower and steering engine room, with lighter protection on decks and on the boundaries off other vital areas. The propelling machinery was of improved design based on experience gained in the operation of destroyer machinery. Manufactured by Westinghouse Electric Corporation, each set of turbines consisted of one cruising, one high pressure and one double flow low pressure. The cruising turbine connected to the forward end of the high-pressure turbine rotor shaft through a single reduction gear.

The first group of four ships had a disastrous entry to service. With the eruption of the German submarine onslaught on the Atlantic coast in November 1942, the four new Atlanta class cruisers were committed to the ASW battle, apparently due to the provision for depth charges and throwers on their stern and in the belief that their larger size would make them more suitable for hunting submarines in the bad weather of an Atlantic winter. This was a catastrophic mistake since three of the four cruisers were torpedoed and sunk within as many months. Only the name ship of the class survived and she was hastily withdrawn from the battle and sent to the Pacific. She would return to the Atlantic in 1946 where she would be part of the escort assigned to the two search -and rescue carriers Wright and Kittyhawk. Following the end of the war, Atlanta was decommissioned and placed in reserve pending conversion to a dedicated ASW configuration. This never took place and she was sold for scrap in 1954.

Class Members

Number Name Ordered Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
CL-51 Atlanta 1940 1940 1941 1942 Decommissioned 1947 and scrapped 1954
CL-52 Juneau 1940 1940 1941 1942 Torpedoed and sunk by U-99 11/1942
CL-53 San Diego 1940 1940 1941 1942 Torpedoed and sunk by U-131 1/1943
CL-54 San Juan 1940 1940 1941 1942 Torpedoed and sunk by U-100 12/1942

Modified Atlanta Class

usnc-fresnosmall.jpg
(some parts and underwater details taken from Shipbucket.com)

Ship Characteristics

Dimensions Length 541 ft
Beam 53 ft
Draft 20.5 ft
Displacement (Standard) 6,720 tons
Displacement (Full Load) 8,340 tons
Performance Speed (max) 32.5 knots
Speed (Cruising) 15 knots
Endurance 8,000 nm. at 15 knots
Armament Medium Guns 12 5 inch L38
Light guns 20 40mm L60
Armor Belt 3.75 inches
Deck 1.25 inches

Background

With the sinking of three of the four original Atlanta class cruisers, a batch of three replacement ships was ordered. These gained from experience with the first group of four ships and had greatly reduced topweight. The beam 5 inch twin turrets were deleted and the superimposed mounts dropped a deck. In addition, the bridge structure was moved aft and the funnels were placed closer together. The three ships of this class joined Atlanta in the Pacific for two years before being returned to the Atlantic to screen the new search and rescue aircraft carriers. Wright and Kittyhawk. Following the end of the war, all three were decommissioned and placed in reserve pending conversion to a dedicated ASW configuration. This never took place and they were sold for scrap in 1954.

Class Members

Number Name Ordered Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
CL-95 Oakland 1942 1943 1944 1944 Decommissioned 1947 and scrapped 1954
CL-96 Reno 1942 1943 1944 1944 Decommissioned 1947 and scrapped 1954
CL-97 Flint 1942 1943 1944 1944 Decommissioned 1947 and scrapped 1954

CLK Atlanta Class

usnc-fresno02small.jpg
(some parts and underwater details taken from Shipbucket.com)

Ship Characteristics

Dimensions Length 541 ft
Beam 53 ft
Draft 20.5 ft
Displacement (Standard) 6,720 tons
Displacement (Full Load) 8,340 tons
Performance Speed (max) 32.5 knots
Speed (Cruising) 15 knots
Endurance 8,000 nm. at 15 knots
Armament Medium Guns 2 5 inch L54
Light guns 4 3 inch L70
ASW Weapons 4 Weapon Able
Armor Belt 3.75 inches
Deck 1.25 inches

Background

A third group of Atlanta class cruisers was assigned to the 1944 building program but growing doubts over the ship's general utility resulted in construction being very slow. Experience with the Atlanta and Modified Atlanta class ships proved them to be too small to be suitable for cruiser duties in the Atlantic. However, the same experience also showed the Gearing class destroyers were also too small to be considered effective ASW ships. Accordingly, the four remaining Atlanta class ships were redesigned as ASW cruisers with the new designation of CLK. All existing guns were stripped off and replaced by two single 5 inch L54s and two twin 3 inch L70s along with four of the new Weapon Able ASW rocket launchers. Interestingly, teh combination of 5 inch and 3 inch L70 guns was considered at least equivalent to the original armament of 12 5 inch L38s. The internal arrangement of the ships was changed and a (for the time) complex sonar array fitted. In this mode, the ships entered service in 1950. In parallel with their conversion, a dedicated ASW cruiser was designed, the USS Norfolk (CLK-1) while a destroyer version was also produced, initially as DLK-1, later simply as DL-1. Experience with these three designs quickly showed that the converted cruisers were by far the least effective of the three concepts since they lacked the sound insulation and large, slow-turning propellers of the other designs. Careful evaluation showed that the CLKs had very little advantage over the DLs yet cost almost twice as much. Accordingly, the DLs were selected as the basis for the future fast fleet escorts. The four converted Atlantas soldiered on until the mid-1960s when they were decommissioned and scrapped. Plans to convert the rest of the Atlantas to this configuration were abandoned.

Class Members

Number Name Ordered Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
CLK-98 Tucson 1944 1945 1948 1951 Decommissioned and scrapped 1964
CLK-119 Fresno 1944 1945 1948 1950 Decommissioned and scrapped 1964
CLK-120 Spokane 1944 1945 1948 1950 Decommissioned and scrapped 1964
CLK-121 Trumbull 1944 1945 1948 1950 Decommissioned and scrapped 1964
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