USS Oakland (CL-95)

USS Oakland (CL-95) was the first in the second group of Atlanta light cruisers to enter service, and supported carrier raids, fought at the battle of Leyte Gulf, and supported the final attacks on the Japanese Home islands. She earned nine battle stars for service in World War II

The Oakland was launched on 23 October 1942 and commissioned on 17 July 1943. Her shakedown cruiser and working up period lasted until October, and she didn't reach Pearl Harbor until 3 November. From Pearl she joined a force of three heavy cruisers and two destroyers heading for Carrier Task Group 50.3, catching up with the fleet in the Ellice Islands.

Her first combat came during Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. She fired her guns in anger for the first time on 20 November 1943, helping to fight off a Japanese air attack on the carriers.

On 26 November the Oakland was moved to TG 50.1 and placed in charge of the anti-aircraft screen for the carriers Yorktown (CV-10), Lexington (CV-16) and Independence (CVL-22) during a raid on Kwajalein, Wotje and Maloelap in the Marshall Islands (4 December 1943). The Japanese responded with air attacks, and the Oakland and the rest of the screen managed to fight off most of the attacks. Unfortunately friendly fire from the Oakland damaged the destroyer USS Taylor (DD-468), while one Japanese torpedo damaged the steering controls on the Lexington. The Oakland was given the job of escorting the Lexington back to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 9 December.

USS Oakland (CL-95), Mare Island, 27 October 1943
USS Oakland (CL-95),
Mare Island,
27 October 1943

On 16 January 1944 the fleet left Pearl Harbour heading for the Marshall Islands. The carriers attacked Maloelap on 29 January, Kwajalein on 30 January and then supported the landings on Kwajalein and Majuro on 31 January. By 4 February Majuro was so secure that the Oakland could anchor in her lagoon to take on supplies.

On 17-18 February 1944 the carriers hit the Japanese fleet base at Truk. TF 58, with the Oakland, then hit the Mariana Islands. On 20 March TG 58.1 covered the occupation of Emirau Island, north of New Britain, one of the final steps in the isolation of Rabaul. Next the carriers hit targets in the Caroline Islands, attacking Palau on 30 March, Yap on 31 March and Woleai on 1 April. Bases on New Guinea were the target on 21-22 April and Truk was hit once more before the end of the month.

The next American target was the Mariana Islands. On 11-13 June the Oakland covered the carriers as they attacked Guam, then escorted them as they raided the Volcano and Bonin Islands (14 June). The Japanese responded by launching a major attack on the American fleet. This triggered the Battle of the Philippine Sea (19-20 June 1944), a massive carrier battle that resulted in very heavy losses amongst Japanese carrier aviators.

In the aftermath of this battle the Oakland's carrier group hit Pagan (23 June), Iwo Jima (24 June), Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima (3-4 July) and then Guman and Rota. On 9 July the Oakland and the destroyer Helm (DD-388) bombarded the Orote Peninsula and provided air-sea rescue services for downed pilots. Finally in July the carriers hit Yap and Ulithi (26-27 July).

In early August the Oakland had a rare chance for a surface engagement. She was provided part of the anti-aircraft screen for an attack on Iwo Jima when a Japanese convoy was discovered near Chichi Jima. Air attacks slowed down the Japanese convoy, and a force made up of four light cruisers (Oakland, Santa Fe (CL–60), Mobile (CL–63), Biloxi (CL–80)) and seven destroyers was sent to finish it off. This force caught the Japanese late on 4 August, and sank the destroyer escort Matsu, the collier Ryuko Maru and the cargo ship Hokkai Maru). The American squadron then bombarded Chichi Jima, and the light cruisers attacked shipping and the seaplane base in Funtami Ko harbour.

In early September the Oakland’s carrier group hit targets on Peleliu and in the western Caroline Islands. They then spent two weeks hitting Japanese targets on the Philippines. At the start of October TG 38.2 carried out a massive raid on the Ryukyu Islands. This was followed by an attack on Formosa (12 October 1944), which triggered a major Japanese air attack. The heavy cruiser Canberra (CA-70) was badly damaged, and the Oakland helped escort her to safety. Once the Canberrawas safe the Oakland rejoined the main fleet, and helped cover the invasion of Leyte (20 October 1944).  

USS Oakland (CL-95), San Francisco, 2 August 1943
USS Oakland (CL-95), San Francisco, 2 August 1943

Soon afterwards the Oakland was ordered back to Ulithi to refit and refuel, but she was ordered to turn back to help repulse a complex Japanese naval attack (Battle of Leyte Gulf, 23-26 October 1944). The Oakland missed most of the battle, just arriving in time for the very tail end of the action.

In November and December the Oakland supported the invasion of the Philippines, escorting carriers as they hit targets around the islands. She survived the typhoon that hit the fleet on 18 December, and was then ordered back to San Francisco for a major refit.

This lasted from mid January until the start of March 1945 and saw her get new anti-aircraft guns. She returned to the Pacific in time to take part in the invasion of Okinawa. She joined the fleet off Okinawa on 3 April and was used to provide cover for the carriers. She helped fight off a Japanese air attack on 11 April, losing two men to gunfire. These were her only battle casualties of the entire Pacific War.

On 15 April she escorted the carriers of TF 58 as they carried out an attack on Kyushu, once again helping to fight off Japanese air attacks, The second half of April was spent off Okinawa, where she helped repel a series of kamikaze attacks. In May her task force operated a little further away from Okinawa, but this didn't protect the Bunker Hill (CV-17), which was hit by two kamikaze attacks on 11 May. Despite this loss the carriers hit Kyushu again on 13 May. The Oakland returned to Okinawa until 29 May then returned to the Philippines for a rest.

In July-August 1945 the Oakland supported the carriers as they carried out a month of attacks on the Japanese Home Islands. Honshu was hit first, followed by Hokaido. Tokyo was hit on 17-20 July, Kure and Kobe on 24-27 July and Tokyo and Nagoya on 30 July. Honshu and Hokaido were hit again on 7 August, before the order to cease fire was issued on 15 August.

The Oakland entered Tokyo Bay on 30 August, and was part of the fleet that witnessed the Japanese surrender on 2 September. The Oakland remained in Tokyo Bay until 1 October. She then left for the US as part of the Magic Carpet operation, carrying US servicemen home. This first trip ended at San Francisco on 20 October and was followed by two more Magic Carpet trips in November and December. She was then ordered to Bremerton to be inactivated, but at the last minute she was chosen for active service.

The Oakland was given an overhaul in 1946 and was then used as a Fleet Gunnery Training Ship. In 1947 she made a cruise to the Pearl Harbor, which was intended as a peacetime cruiser. Instead she ended up supporting the Chinese Nationalists in their struggle against the Communists. She repeated this mission in 1948, carrying out two tours of duty. American support was unable to prevent the Communist victory and the Oakland finally returned to the US to be inactivated on 28 February 1949. She was decommissioned on 1 July 1949, struck off on 1 March 1959 and scrapped in 1962.

Displacement (standard)

6,718t

Displacement (loaded)

8,340t

Top Speed

32.5kts

Range

15kts

Armour – belt

3.75in

 - bulkheads

3.75in

 - armour deck

1.25in

 - gunhouses

1.25in

 - deck over underwater magazines

1.25in

Length

541ft 6in oa

Armaments

Twelve 5in/ 38 guns (six two-gun turrets)
Sixteen 40mm guns (eight double mountings) - as ordered but modified in some
Up to Eighteen 20mm guns
Eight 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement

623

Laid down

13 July 1941

Launched

23 October 1942

Completed

17 July 1943

Stricken

1 March 1959

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 June 2015), USS Oakland (CL-95) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Oakland_CL95.html

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