USS St Paul (CA-73) (originally Rochester)

USS St Paul (CA-73) was a Baltimore class heavy cruiser that took part in the final carrier raids on Japan during 1945 and carried out three combat tours of Korea, firing the last naval salvo of the war and five combat tours of Vietnam. St. Paul earned one battle star for World War II service, eight battle stars for Korean service, and eight battle stars for Vietnam service.

CA-73 was originally going to be called USS Rochester, while CA-71 was to be the St Paul. When the decision was made to rename CA-71 Quincy to honour the New Orleans class heavy cruiser USS Quincy (CA-39) CA-73 was renamed as USS St. Paul. CA-124 became the Rochester.

The St. Paul was laid down on 3 February 1943, launched on 16 September 1944 and commissioned on 17 February 1945. Her shakedown cruiser took her to the Caribbean, and she was then sent to the Pacific. She joined the fast carriers of Task Force 38 while they were replenishing at sea in July 1945, and accompanied them for the last series of carrier attacks on the Japanese Home Islands (24 July-10 August).

During this period the St Paul took part in several shore bombardments. On 29 July she hit textile mills at Hamamatsu. On 9 August she hit the iron and steel works at Kamaishi. During this raid she fired the last salvoes from a cruiser or larger ship of the Second World War.

After the end of the war the St Paul entered Sagami Wan (27 August) then Tokyo Bay (1 September). She was present during the Japanese surrender ceremony on 2 September. She spent the next two months with the occupation forces in Japan, before moving to China to become the flagship of Task Force 73. She was based on the Chinese coast until the end of 1946, when she returned to the United States for a refit.

St Paul carried out a second tour in Chinese waters from March-November 1947, this time as flagship of CTF 71. From August-December 1948 she was posted to China and Japan and a final peacetime tour of the Pacific followed between April and October 1949.

At the start of the Korean War the St Paul was in the middle of a training cruiser. She was ordered to break off from this and joined TG 77.3, which was used to guard the Formosa Strait. In November the St Paul was ordered to join the carriers of TF 77, which were then operating off the north-east coast of Korea. The St Paul performed a mix of carrier escort and shore bombardment duties. On 17 November she was engaged at Chongjin. A near miss wounded six, but in return the St Paul destroyed the North Korean guns responsible.

When China entered the fighting in November 1950 the UN forces had to retreat south. St Paul supported I Corps, Republic of Korea, as it withdrew along the coast. On 3 December she entered Wonsan harbour to support the evacuation of that port, and then covered the evacuation of Hungnam from 10-24 December. She then moved to the west coast and in late January 1951 was used for shore bombardment missions to the north of Inchon. On 7 April she helped support a raid on key North Korean rail links, carried out by the British 41st Independent Royal Marines. Soon after this she returned to the US for an overhaul.

Her second combat tour of Korea began on 27 November 1951. She carried out bombardments of Wonsan, Hungnam, Songjun and Chongjin. In December she formed part of the anti-aircraft screen for the carriers of TF 77. In April 1952 she bombarded Wonsan and Chongjin. During this sortie a serious fire broke out in the forward 8in turret in which thirty men were killed. This second tour ended in June 1952.

Her third tour began in April 1953. In June she supported the South Korean Army as it recovered Anchor Hill (operating alongside USS New Jersey (BB-62)). During this battle she came under heavy but inaccurate fire. On 11 July she was hit, but suffered no casualties. At 9.59pm on 27 July the St Paul fired the last naval salvo of the Korean War, one minute before the armistice came into effect.

The St Paul had an unusually long uninterrupted peacetime career for a Baltimore class ship. She was in the Western Pacific from May 1954 to July 1955, and again from August 1955 to January 1956, this time as flagship of the 7th Fleet.

In September 1955 she became flagship of the 1st Fleet, then in November became flagship of the 7th Fleet in the Western Pacific. This tour lasted to April 1957 and as followed by another tour from February-August 1958.  

In May 1959 St Paul moved to Yokosuka, which became her new home port (the first time a cruiser or larger ship had used a Far East port as its home port since the Second World War). This spell in the Far East lasted for 39 months. It was followed by a spell as flagship of the 1st Fleet.

In 1965 the St Paul rejoined the 7th Fleet at the start of five combat tours off Vietnam. Her main role was once again shore bombardment. The ship was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation and two Meritorious Unit Commendations for her actions off Vietnam.

The St Paul was decommissioned on 30 April 1971. She was struck off the Navy List on 31 July 1978 and sold for scrap in 1980.

Displacement (standard)

14,472t

Displacement (loaded)

17,031t

Top Speed

33kts

Range

10,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt

4-6in

 - armour deck

2.5in

 - barbettes

6.3in

 - turrets

8in face
3in roof
2-3.75in sides
1.5 rear

 - conning tower

6in
3in roof

 - underwater magazines

3in side
2.5in deck

Length

673ft 5in oa

Armaments

Nine 8in guns (three triple turrets)
Twelve 5in/38 guns (six double positions)
Forty eight 40mm guns (11x4, 2x2)
Twenty four 20mm guns
Four aircraft

Crew complement

2039

Laid down

3 February 1943

Launched

16 September 1944

Completed

17 February 1945

Stricken

31 July 1978

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 February 2015), USS St Paul (CA-73) (originally Rochester) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_St_Paul_CA73.html

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