1941 - 1945 USS SAN DIEGO CL-53 WWII

PO BOX 182142

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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 MEMORIAL


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 memorial association.  Also take a few minutes to enjoy Fred Whitmore's story about the crew of USS San Diego.

USS 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.

Ground Breaking Ceremony  for the USS San Diego (CL 53) Memorial
was held April 25, 2003.
Click here!

Discussion Pages 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 discussion pages.

USS appraoching Tokyo Bay.jpg (17349 bytes)