U S S
S A N D I E G O
(C L – 5 3)
Memorial Dedicated - April 30, 2004
USS San Diego (CL 53)
The USS San Diego (CL 53) was christened
at launching in July 1941 by Grace Benbough, wife of the mayor of the
ship's namesake city. Commissioned into service six months later-just
a month after the Pearl Harbor attack-the San Diego soon joined the
Pacific Fleet with which she served nearly continuously throughout
World War II.
The San Diego was a light cruiser-one of
four of the Atlanta class-and the only one of her sisters to survive
the war unscathed. Ships of this class could steam at over 30 knots
and carried a main battery of 16 five-inch guns, which enabled them to
provide formidable anti-aircraft defense for the fast carrier task
forces that spearheaded the naval offensive in the Pacific.
A fortunate and well-run ship, always
ready for action, the San Diego steamed over 300,000 nautical miles,
engaged the enemy on 34 different occasions, and never lost a man. She
earned 18 battle stars for her World War 11 service, more than any
other Navy ship except for the famous carrier Enterprise.
In recognition of her battle record and
her long, reliable and steady service-from the darkest days of the war
to the final victory-Admiral Halsey designated the San Diego to be the
first allied warship to enter Tokyo Bay at the war's end.
Returning after the war to the city for
which she was named, the San Diego received a tumultuous welcome and
was the center of jubilant Navy Day celebrations. Barely a year later,
a brief but action-filled career came to a close when she was
decommissioned in November 1946.
Click Here for
The 2nd ship named after San Diego
The 2nd Most Decorated Ship in Naval History – 18 Battle Stars
The First victorious American warship to enter Tokyo Bay
Bill Butcher, gunners mate second class, wonders about the
SAN DIEGO and
her place in history books. He recently wrote, "..Nothing ever happened
to us that was 'headline news' until we were the first major Allied
warship to enter Tokyo Bay. We were straddled by bombs, dodged torpedoes
and (were) attacked by suicide planes that missed. We never lost a man in
combat, never surrendered to the enemy, and earned eighteen battle stars
while steaming 300,000 miles without a major overhaul."
Then there was the design of SAN DIEGO, which made life a nightmare for
the enemy aviators. As one officer observed, "When seven turrets with
fourteen five-inch guns were all firing at the enemy, it looked like the
ship itself was on fire."
Length – 541 feet
Beam – 53 feet
Compliment – 796
Keel laid - March 1940
Commissioned - January 10, 1942
Armament – eight twin 5/38, 16 – 1.1”, and 8 – 21 inch torpedo tubes
Three and a half-inch armor belt
Two inches of deck armor
Full load displacement - 7,500 tons
On June 1, 1942, the ship departed San Diego. (It would be 41 months
before the city and the USS SAN DIEGO would get together again, and that
for a huge postwar victory jamboree.)
For those desiring more information about the
crew, ship or the memorial please contact the
Also take a few minutes to enjoy
Fred Whitmore's story about the crew of
USS San Diego.
SAN DIEGO (LPD 22) the next
ship to be named in honor of the city of San Diego. April 30th, 2004
USS San Diego CL-53 Memorial guest speaker Vice Admiral Timothy W.
LaFleur, Commander Naval Surface Forces, on behalf of the Secretary of
the Navy, declared LPD-22 will be the 4th ship named in honor of the
city San Diego. The ship is expected to be commissioned in 2008.
This will be the fourth "San
Diego," the first an armored cruiser (ACR 6) was the renamed USS
California, the second is the infamous WWII light cruiser (CL 53), and the
third a combat stores ship (AFS 6). Read about the
LPD-17 Class ships here and
more information here.
USS San Diego (CL 53) Memorial
was held April 25, 2003.
for those desiring to try and contact someone from the USS SAN
DIEGO, their family members, or place a comment about the proposed
memorial or the ship. Click here for the