USS Minneapolis CA-36

Pre-war and Introduction

USS Minneapolis (CA-36) was a New Orleans class cruiser that fought at the Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal and Tassafaronga, the invasions of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, the battle of the Philippine Sea, the invasions of the Mariana Islands, the Palau Islands and the Philippines, the battle of Leyte Gulf and the early part of the invasion of Okinawa. Minneapolis received 16 battle stars for World War II service.

The Minneapolis was laid down in June 1931, launched in September 1933 and commissioned in May 1934. Her shakedown cruiser took her to Europe, then in April 1935 she joined Cruiser Division 7 of the Scouting Force at San Diego. She was based on the Pacific Coast from then until 1940, when she was moved to Pearl Harbor.

Wartime Service

The Minneapolis was at sea on 7 December 1941, carrying out gunnery practice twenty miles from the harbour. In the aftermath of the attack she conducted patrols in the local area. In January 1942 she joined a carrier task force and formed part of the screen for the carrier Lexington (as Task Force 11). She helped repel a Japanese air attack on 1 February, and supported the successful raid against Japanese ships at Lae and Salamaua (10 March). For this raid the carriers were bases south of New Guinea and their aircraft crossed to the north coast, catching the Japanese by surprise.

The Minneapolis fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea (4-8 May 1942), forming part of the anti-aircraft screen for the Lexington. The carrier was eventually sunk, and the Minneapolis helped rescue her crew.   

The Minneapolis was present at the Battle of Midway of June 1942, again helping to protect the carriers.

She then moved south to take part in the landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi (7-9 August 1942). After the initial landings she supported the carriers, and towed the Saratoga to safety after she was hit by a Japanese torpedo on 30 August. After that incident she remained in the Guadalcanal area and was used to support troops that landed west of Lunga Point on Guadalcanal and later on Funafuti, a small island in Tuvalu.

The Minneapolis took part in the Battle of Tassafaronga (30 November 1942), which saw a US force attempt to stop a Japanese force bringing reinforcements to Guadalcanal. During the battle she was hit by two torpedoes, one on the port bow and one in No.2 fireroom. She lost the front part of her bow, two firerooms were exposed to the water and she lost power, but her crew managed to keep her afloat and got her to relative safety at Tulagi. There she was camouflaged to hide her from Japanese aircraft and basic repairs were carried out. She was then able to make her way back to Mare Island, on the US West Coast, for fuller repairs.

The Minneapolis was back in service by August 1943. She took part in a bombardment of Wake Island on 5 October. She then supported the invasion of Makin in the Gilbert Islands (20 November-4 December 1943). She was part of the carrier screen for pre-invasions attacks on Kwajalein and Majuro in the Marshall Islands, then supported the landings in the Marshall Islands. In March-April she supported the carriers as they raided the Palau Islands, Truk, Satawan and Ponape.

On 14 June she took part in the pre-invasion bombardment of Saipan in the Mariana Islands. The Japanese responded to this attack with their last great carrier attack of the war, but the resulting Battle of the Philippine Sea (19-20 June) was a disaster for them, with hundreds of aircraft lost. The Minneapolis joined TF58 for this battle, and provided part of the anti-aircraft screen for the careers. She suffered one near miss from a Japanese bomb, but didn’t suffer significant damage. She was able to stay with the fleet and from 8 July to 9 August provided direct support for the troops fighting on Guam. She was congratulated for her efforts by General A.H. Turnage, commander of the 3rd Marine Division on Guam. She carried out a similar role from 6 September-14 October during the invasion of the Palau Islands.

The next US target was Leyte in the Philippines. The Minneapolis entered Leyte Gulf on 17 October and provided anti-aircraft cover for the troops landing on the island. Once again the Japanese Navy responded in force, although by now their carriers were powerless due to a lack of aviators. Instead they were used to lure the main US fleet north, in an attempt to expose the landing fleets to two groups of surface ships. The resulting battle of Leyte Gulf was one of the largest naval battles in history. The Minneapolis took part in the Battle of Surigao Strait, the southern part of the battle. This saw Admiral Jesse Oldendorf's force of older battleships defeat a smaller Japanese force and sink two battleships.

After the excitement of Leyte Gulf the Minneapolis remained in the Philippines to support the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon (4-18 January 1945), and the landings at Bataan and Corregidor (13-18 February). On 25 March she reached Okinawa, and took part in the pre-invasion bombardment of the island. On 1 April she bombarded the Japanese airfield on 1 April, then provided fire support for the troops.

The Minneapolis had now used her main guns so much that their barrels needed replacing. She left Okinawa on 13 April, after she had helped repel the largest Japanese air attack so far. During this battle she shot down four kamikaze aircraft and had three more target her but miss.

The Minneapolis returned to Mare Island to have her gun barrels re-lined. The repairs were completed before the end of the war, but she had only reached Subic Bay in the Philippines when the Japanese surrendered. The Minneapolis was the flagship of Admiral Thomas Kincaid for the Japanese surrender in Korea (9 September 1945). She was used to patrol the Yellow Sea and supported landings at Taku and Chinwangtao on the Chinese coast. Her last active duty was a magic carpet trip, taking US troops home from the Pacific to the West Coast. In January 1946 she sailed to Philadelphia where in May 1946 she entered the reserve. She was put out of commission in February 1947, and eventually sold for scrap in August 1959. 

Wartime Modification

All members of the New Orleans class received quad 1.1in gun mounts early in 1942, with two on the quarterdeck and two at the same level as the chart house. They also got search radar and had the foremast reduced in height.

All four of the ships that survived 1942 were given more anti-aircraft guns over time, with six quad 40mm mountings replacing the 1.1in guns and 20mm guns in single mountings added in large numbers. They didn’t have much spare weight for these additions and so the conning tower and one of the cranes were removed and the bridge lightened. In 1945 one of the aircraft catapults was also removed. Minneapolis had 12 single 20mm guns installed in 1942, boosted to 24 single mountings in 1943 but then cut down to nine twin mountings in June 1945 when a twin 40mm mounting was added.

Displacement (standard)

10,136t

Displacement (loaded)

12,463t

Top Speed

32.7kts

Range

10,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt

5in to 3.25in over 0.75in STS

 - over machinery

2.25in

 - magazines

4in-3in side
2.25in above

 - barbettes

6in-5in

 - turrets

6in face
2.25in roof
1.5in side

Length

588ft oa

Armaments

Nine 8in/55 guns (three 3-gun turrets)
Eight 5in/25 guns (eight single positions)
Eight 0.5in guns (eight single positions)
Four aircraft

Crew complement

868

Laid Down

27 June 1931

Launched

6 September 1933

Completed

19 May 1934

Stricken

1 March 1959

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 December 2014), USS Minneapolis CA-36, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Minneapolis_CA36.html

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