USS Philadelphia (CL-41), a Brooklyn-class
cruiser light cruiser of the United States Navy. She was the fifth
ship named for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the 1950s, she was
commissioned into the Brazilian Navy as Almirante Barroso.
Philadelphia was laid down on 28 May 1935 at the Philadelphia Navy
Yard; launched on 17 November 1936; sponsored by Mrs. Huberta F.
Earl (née Potter), first lady of Pennsylvania and wife of Governor
George H. Earle III, ; and commissioned at Philadelphia on 23
September 1937, Captain Jules James in command.
After fitting out, the cruiser departed Philadelphia on 3 January
1938 for shakedown in the West Indies followed by additional
alterations at Philadelphia and further sea trials off the Maine
Philadelphia called at Charleston, South Carolina, on 30 April and
hosted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt the first week of May for
a cruise in Caribbean waters. The President debarked at Charleston
on 8 May, and Philadelphia resumed operations with Cruiser Division
8 (CruDiv 8) off the Atlantic coast. She was designated flagship of
Rear Admiral F.A. Todd, Commander CruDiv 8 (ComCruDiv 8), Battle
Force on 27 June. In the following months, she called at principal
ports of the West Indies, and at New York City, Boston, and Norfolk,
Transiting the Panama Canal on 1 June 1939, Philadelphia joined
CruDiv 8 in San Pedro, California, on 18 June for Pacific coastal
operations. She departed Los Angeles, California on 2 April 1940 for
Pearl Harbor, where she engaged in fleet maneuvers until May 1941.
In September 1940, fifteen of the ship's African American mess men
wrote an open letter to a newspaper protesting the treatment of
African Americans in the Navy. "We sincerely hope to discourage any
other colored boys who might have planned to join the Navy and make
the same mistake we did. All they would become is seagoing bell
hops, chambermaids and dishwashers," they wrote. On publication of
the letter, the fifteen were confined to the brig. They were later
dishonorably discharged. The incident drew protests from hundreds of
mess men on other ships as well as anger in the African American
community, and led to a series of meetings between Roosevelt and
NAACP leaders A. Philip Randolph and Walter White to discuss partial
desegregation of the armed forces.
Philadelphia stood out of Pearl Harbor on 22 May 1941 to resume
Atlantic operations, arriving Boston on 18 June. At this point, she
commenced Neutrality Patrol operations, steaming as far south as
Bermuda and as far north as Halifax, Nova Scotia. She entered Boston
Navy Yard on 25 November for upkeep, and was in repair status there
when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
World War II
11 days after the Japanese attack, Philadelphia steamed for
exercises in Casco Bay, after which she joined two destroyers for
anti-submarine patrol to NS Argentia, Newfoundland. Returning to New
York on 14 February 1942, she made two escort runs to Hafnarfjörður,
Iceland. She then joined units of Task Force 22 (TF 22) at Norfolk
on 16 May, departing two days later for an anti-submarine warfare
sweep to the Panama Canal.
She then returned to New York, only to depart on 1 July as an escort
unit for a convoy bound for Greenock, Scotland. The middle of August
found her escorting a second convoy to Greenock. Returning to
Norfolk on 15 September, she joined Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt’s
Western Naval Task Force.
This force was to land some 35,000 troops and 250 tanks of General
George Patton's Western Task Force at three different points on the
Atlantic coast of French Morocco. Philadelphia became flagship of
Rear Admiral Lyal A. Davidson, commanding the Southern Attack Group.
which was to carry 6,423 troops under Major General Ernest N.
Harmon, with 108 tanks, to the landing at Safi, Morocco, about 140
mi (220 km) south of Casablanca.
Philadelphia's task group departed Norfolk on 24 October and set
course as if bound for the British Isles. The entire Western Naval
Task Force, consisting of 102 ships and spanning an ocean area some
20 × 40 mi (30 × 60 km), combined 450 mi (720 km) off Cape Race on
28 October. It was the greatest war fleet sent forth by the United
States at the time.
The task force swept northward on 6 November, thence changed course
toward the Straits of Gibraltar. But after dark, a southeasterly
course was plotted towards Casablanca, and shortly before midnight
on 7 November, three separate task groups closed three different
points on the Moroccan coast.
Philadelphia took up its fire support station as the transports
offloaded troops in the early morning darkness of 8 November. Shore
batteries opened fire at 0428, and within two minutes Philadelphia
joined New York in bombardment of Batterie Railleuse which, with
four 5.1 in (130 mm) guns, was the strongest defense unit in the
Safi area. Later in the morning, Philadelphia bombarded a battery of
three 6.1 in (150 mm) guns about 3 mi (5 km) south of Safi.
Spotter planes from the cruiser also got into the act by flying
close support missions. One of Philadelphia's aircraft discovered
and bombed a Vichy French submarine on 9 November in the vicinity of
Cape Kantin. The next day, the Vichy submarine Medeuse, one of eight
that had sortied from Casablanca, was sighted down by the stern and
listing badly to port, beached at Mazagan, north of Cape Blanco.
Thought to be the same submarine previously attacked off Cape Kantin,
Medeuse was again spotted by a plane from Philadelphia and was
Departing Safi on 13 November, Philadelphia returned to New York on
24 November. Operating from that port until 11 March 1943, she
assisted in escorting two convoys to Casablanca. She then joined
Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk’s TF 85 for training in Chesapeake Bay
preparatory to the invasion of Sicily.
A convoy escorted by Philadelphia and nine destroyers sortied from
Norfolk on 8 June and arrived Oran, Algeria on 22 June, where final
invasion staging operations took place. The convoy stood out from
Oran on 5 July, and arrived off the beaches of Scoglitti, Sicily
shortly before midnight of 9 July. Philadelphia assisted in
furnishing covering bombardment as the troops of Major General Troy
Middleton’s 45th Infantry Division stormed ashore. By 15 July, she
had joined the gunfire support group off Porto Empedocle, where her
guns were put to good use.
Philadelphia took departure from her gunfire support area on 19 July
and steamed to Algiers, where she became flagship of Rear Admiral L.
A. Davidson’s Support Force. This TF 88 was formed on 27 July and
given the mission of the defense of Palermo, gunfire support to the
Seventh Army’s advance along the coast, provision of amphibious
craft for "leap frog" landings behind enemy lines, and ferry duty
for heavy artillery, supplies, and vehicles to relieve congestion on
the railway and the single coastal road. Philadelphia, Savannah, and
six destroyers entered the harbor at Palermo on 30 July and the next
day commenced bombardment of the batteries near San Stefano di
Action in the area of Palermo continued until 21 August, when
Philadelphia steamed for Algiers. During her operations in support
of the invasion of Sicily, the cruiser had provided extensive
gunfire support and, in beating off several hostile air attacks, had
splashed a total of six aircraft. She touched at Oran, departing on
5 September en route to Salerno.
Her convoy entered the Gulf of Salerno a few hours before midnight
of 8 September 1943. Philadelphia's real work began off the Salerno
beaches at 0943 the next day, when she commenced shore bombardment.
When one of her scouting planes spotted 35 German tanks concealed in
a thicket adjacent to Red Beach, Philadelphia's guns took them under
fire and destroyed seven of them before they escaped to the rear.
Philadelphia narrowly evaded a KG 100-launched glide bomb on 11
September, although several of her crew were injured when the bomb
exploded. While bombarding targets off Aropoli on 15 September, the
cruiser downed one of 12 attacking planes and assisted in driving
off a second air attack the same day in the vicinity of Altavilla.
She downed two more hostile aircraft on 17 September and cleared the
gunfire support area that night, bound for Bizerte, Tunisia. After
upkeep at Gibraltar, Philadelphia departed Oran, Algeria on 6
November as part of the escort for a convoy which arrived at Hampton
Roads on 21 November.
Philadelphia underwent overhaul at New York and then engaged in
refresher training in Chesapeake waters until 19 January 1944, when
she steamed from Norfolk as an escorting unit for a convoy arriving
Oran, Algeria on 30 January.
Philadelphia joined the gunfire support ships off Anzio on 14
February and provided support for the advancing ground troops
through 23 May. On this same day she collided with the USS Laub
(DD-613). She then sailed to the British naval yard at Malta, where
repairs to her bow were effected. After overhaul at Malta, she
joined Admiral C. F. Bryant’s Task Group 85.12 (TG 85.12) at Taranto,
Italy. The cruiser served as one of the escorting units for the
group, which reached the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, France, on 15 August.
At 0640, she teamed with Texas and Nevada and, with other support
ships, they closed the beaches and provided counter-battery fire. By
0815, the bombardment had destroyed enemy defenses, and Major
General William W. Eagles’ famed "Thunderbirds" of the 45th Army
Infantry Division landed without opposition.
After replenishing ammunition at Propriano, Corsica, on 17 August,
Philadelphia provided gunfire support to the French army troops on
the western outskirts of Toulon. Four days later, her commanding
officer, Captain Walter A. Ansel, accepted the surrender of the
fortress islands of Pomeques, Château d'If, and Ratonneau in the Bay
of Marseilles. After gunfire support missions off Nice, she departed
Naples on 20 October and returned to Philadelphia, Pa., arriving on
Philadelphia underwent overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and
then refresher training in the West Indies, returning to Norfolk,
Virginia on 4 June 1945. She steamed for Antwerp, Belgium on 7 July,
acting as escort for Augusta which had embarked President Harry S.
Truman and his party, including Secretary of State James F. Byrnes
and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy. Arriving Antwerp on 15 July, the
President departed Augusta and was flown to the Potsdam Conference.
Before the conference ended, Philadelphia proceeded to Plymouth,
England to await return of the President.
On 2 August, Philadelphia rendered honors to King George VI, who
visited President Truman aboard Augusta. The ships departed that
same day and Philadelphia arrived Norfolk, Virginia on 7 August.
Philadelphia stood out of Narragansett Bay for Southampton, England
on 6 September, returning on 25 September as escort for the former
German liner Europa. After operations in Narragansett Bay and in
Chesapeake Bay, she arrived Philadelphia on 26 October. Steaming for
Le Havre, France on 14 November, she embarked Army passengers for
the return to New York on 29 November. She made another "Magic
Carpet" run from New York to Le Havre and return from 5 to 25
December, and arrived at Philadelphia for inactivation on 9 January