CL-144 Worcester Class
USNC-Worcester01small.jpg
(some parts and underwater details taken from Shipbucket.com)

Ship Characteristics

Dimensions Length 679.5 ft
Beam 70.7 ft
Draft 25 ft
Displacement (Standard) 14,700 tons
Displacement (Full Load) 18,500 tons
Performance Speed (max) 32 knots
Speed (Cruising) 15 knots
Endurance 9,000 nm. at 15 knots
Armament Main Guns 12 6 inch L47
AA guns 26 3 inch L50
Armor Belt 5 inches
Deck 5 inches

Background

The Worcester class had their origins in a pre-war project for a six-inch cruiser that would be armored against long-range 8 inch gunfire. This obviously required a heavy armored deck and would imply the construction of a large ship. The design went through many iterations and eventually emerged as a merger of the Atlanta and Cleveland class cruiser lines of development, carrying her 12 6 inch guns in six twin turrets. The guns themselves were of a new, fully automatic design, that would, it was thought, provide a heavy anti-aircraft barrage. The design was ready in time for inclusion in the 1943 building program.

At this point, controversy arose. The ships were very large for six-inch cruisers and only a small further increase would give an 8 inch cruiser that also had a rapid-fire main battery (the the CA-134 Des Moines class. Surely it made more sense to build eight inch gun ships if a cruiser this large was to be accepted? There was added pressure against the Worcester class due to experience gained in the Atlantic. While the big CA-68 Baltimore class rode out the North Atlantic weather well, the smaller and less stable Cleveland class were badly affected. Also, experience had shown that the Clevelands were far from ideal in that their gun layouts suffered from mutual interference and they were severely crowded. The even smaller Atlanta class suffered from similar problems. The problems with the Clevelands were not addressed by the Fargo class that was derived from them and six of the twelve Fargo class cruisers were cancelled. Eventually, it was decided to build four of the Worcester class in the 1943 program (these being a near-equivalent in resource terms to six Fargos) more, it is suspected, to get the 6 inch AA gun to sea than anything else. The same building program included six CA-134 Des Moines class cruisers. The same arguments resurfaced in the 1944 building program that proposed the construction of a further six Worcester class and six Des Moines class. The Des Moines class was approved but the six Worcesters were dropped in favor of a smaller light cruiser that would have the same general layout but be armed with five inch L54 guns. These also were dropped when the design was considered immature and a further six Des Moines class ships were added to the program. Pressure on shipyards then caused those six ships to be deferred until the 1945 building program

Of the four ships actually ordered, only USS Worcester actually fired her guns in anger, shooting down a German reconnaissance aircraft on the last day of the war. Unfortunately, by the time that brief engagement was over, seven of her twelve guns had jammed, putting five of her six turrets out of action. This proved to be prophetic, all members of the class had extreme problems with their twin six inch mounts that defied any attempt at solution. By 1950, all four ships had been withdrawn from service and were being held in reserve while a decision was taken on their future with the likely probability they would be scrapped.

Class Members

Number Name Ordered Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
CL-144 Worcester 1943 1944 1946 1947 Converted to missile cruiser CG-144 1954 - 1957
CL-145 Roanoke 1943 1944 1946 1947 Converted to missile cruiser CG-145 1954 - 1957
CL-146 Vallejo 1943 1944 1946 1948 Converted to missile cruiser CG-146 1954 - 1957
CL-147 Gary 1943 1944 1946 1948 Converted to missile cruiser CG-147 1954 - 1957
CL-154 Unnamed 1944 Reprogrammed as CA-154 in FY45
CL-155 Unnamed 1944 Reprogrammed as CA-155 in FY45
CL-156 Unnamed 1944 Reprogrammed as CA-156 in FY45
CL-157 Unnamed 1944 Reprogrammed as CA-157 in FY45
CL-158 Unnamed 1944 Reprogrammed as CA-158 in FY45
CL-159 Unnamed 1944 Reprogrammed as CA-159 in FY45

Missile Conversion.

USNC-Worcester02small.jpg
(some parts and underwater details taken from Shipbucket.com)

Ship Characteristics

Dimensions Length 679.5 ft
Beam 70.7 ft
Draft 25 ft
Displacement (Standard) 14,700 tons
Displacement (Full Load) 18,500 tons
Performance Speed (max) 32 knots
Speed (Cruising) 15 knots
Endurance 9,000 nm. at 15 knots
Armament Long-range SAM 96 Talos
Short-range SAM 80 Tartar
Armor Belt 5 inches
Deck 5 inches

In 1953, the CG-123 Albany class conversions were being planned, using the Baltimore class as a basis. At that point, the Worcester class were remembered and it was noted that they were more or less the same size as the Baltimores (actually, the Worcesters being 6 feet or so longer) and they offered four brand new, barely used hulls that were eminently suitable for conversion. Since all the Tall Lady conversions involved work above the main deck, very little redesign was necessary although the work required inside the hull was more extensive than for the Baltimores. nevertheless, all four ships were converted becoming CG-144 to CG-147. In appearance they were almost identical to the Albany class, the visible differences being limited to a different bow profile, the lack of reinforcement to the ship's sides and the retention of (empty) three inch gun tubs at the stern. One of these was used to house refuelling equipment for helicopters, the other as a crew swimmimg pool.

The four ships received a major upgrade in the early 1980s, designated the "New Threat Upgrade" that gave them Standard-ER and Standard-SR missiles, Sea Falcon CIWS and a new radar suite. In retrospect, this money was wasted since they only served another four to six years before being scrapped as part of the Clinton era defense reductions.

Class Members

Number Name Ordered Conversion started Conversion completed Recommissioned Fate
CG-144 Worcester 1953 1954 1957 1957 Decommissioned and scrapped 1993
CG-145 Roanoke 1953 1954 1957 1957 Decommissioned and scrapped 1993
CG-146 Vallejo 1953 1954 1957 1957 Decommissioned and scrapped 1993
CG-147 Gary 1953 1954 1957 1957 Decommissioned and scrapped 1993
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