USS Tucson (CL-98)

USS Tucson (CL-98)

USS "Tucson" (CL-98) was a modified "Atlanta"-class cruiser, sometimes referred to as "Oakland"-class. She was laid down on 23 December 1942 at San Francisco, California, by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation; launched on 3 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Emmett S. Claunch, Sr.; and commissioned on 3 February 1945, Capt. Arthur D. Ayrault in command.

Following outfitting at San Francisco and shakedown out of San Diego, "Tucson" sailed for the western Pacific on 8 May. She stopped at Pearl Harbor on 13 May for three weeks of additional training before resuming her voyage west on 2 June. She stopped overnight at Ulithi on 13 June and 14 June, then continued on to the Philippines, and reached Leyte on 16 June. The cruiser was assigned to the screen of the Fast Carrier Task Force, TF 38, specifically to that of Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan's Task Group (TG) 38.3 built around carriers USS "Essex", USS "Ticonderoga", USS "Randolph", USS "Monterey", and USS "Bataan".

"Tucson" joined the fast carriers just in time to participate in their final rampage against the Japanese Empire and its inner defenses. On 1 July, she sortied from Leyte Gulf with TF 38 and headed north to the Japanese home islands. On 10 July, the flattops launched planes against Tokyo. On 14 July and 15 July, TF 38's air groups struck Hokkaidō and northern Honshū. They returned to southern Honshū on the 17 July and 18 July to blast Tokyo again and then left the area for almost a week. On 24 July and 28 July, she appeared with the carriers south of Shikoku while their planes hit shipping in the Inland Sea. On the 30 July, they zeroed in on Kobe and Nagoya. After that, they retired south to fuel and replenish before striking out northward. By the second week of August, "Tucson" was off northern Honshū screening the carriers while their planes pounded the island once more. She then accompanied them south to pummel Tokyo again on 13 August. Two days later, Japan capitulated.

Though hostilities had ceased in mid-August and the Japanese had surrendered formally on 2 September, "Tucson" remained in the Far East, steaming with TF 38 to the east of Honshū, covering the occupation forces moving into Japan. On 20 September, she cleared area and, two days later, stopped at Okinawa before shaping a course back to the United States. En route, she called at Pearl Harbor and then arrived in San Francisco on 5 October. On 23 October, the warship headed down the coast to San Pedro, where she participated in the Navy Day celebration on 27 October and 28 October. On 29 October, she shifted to San Diego where she reported for duty with Pacific Fleet Training Command as an antiaircraft gunnery training ship. Between November 1945 and August 1946, the antiaircraft cruiser trained about 5,000 officers and men in the use of 5 inch and 40 and 20 millimeter antiaircraft guns. She interrupted her training duties periodically to represent the Navy at special events held in various ports on the Pacific coast.

On 6 September, she entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a three-month overhaul to get ready for duty under the Commander, Destroyers, Pacific Fleet. For the next two months, "Tucson" trained out of San Diego in preparation for a fleet exercise to be conducted near Hawaii. On 24 February 1947, the cruiser stood out of San Diego and cruised Hawaiian waters as an element of the force charged with the defense of the islands against an aggressor force moving in from the western Pacific. At the completion of the exercise, the warship put into Pearl Harbor on 11 March. However, she got underway again on 18 March to participate in the fruitless search to the northwest of Hawaii for survivors of the wrecked SS "Fort Dearborn".

On 27 March, "Tucson" returned to San Diego and resumed normal west coast operations until late summer. She again departed the west coast on 28 July and proceeded, via Pearl Harbor, to the Far East, arriving at Yokosuka, Japan, on the 15 August. For the next two months, the warship cruised the waters of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea making observations during the Communist-Nationalist struggle for supremacy in Manchuria and northern China. During that period, she visited Shanghai twice and Tsingtao once. "Tucson" returned to Yokosuka on 19 October, stayed overnight, and sailed the next day for the United States, arriving at San Diego on 6 November. The cruiser resumed west coast operations and, for the brief remainder of her active career, remained so engaged.

On 9 February 1949, "Tucson" reported to Mare Island Naval Shipyard to begin preparations for inactivation. On 11 June 1949, she was decommissioned and berthed with the San Francisco Group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She remained in reserve at Mare Island until 1 June 1966 when her name was struck from the Navy list. The former warship served as a test hulk until 1970. On 24 February 1971, the hulk was sold to the National Metal & Steel Corp., of Terminal Island, California, for scrapping.

"Tucson" earned one battle star during World War II.


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