Authored By Dan Alex (Updated: 5/9/2013):
After launching in 1933, the USS Minneapolis underwent the typical "shakedown" voyage to work out any kinks in her design. She was commissioned in May of 1934 and made ready for service. She operated as such throughout Europe from July through September of 1934. After some additional work at her home shipyard, she was relocated to the West coast of the United States by way of the Panama Canal. She arrived in San Diego, California, on April 18th, 1935 and was subsequently assigned to the Cruiser Division 7, Scouting Force ("CruDiv7"). From there, she was given peacetime patrolling assignments along the American coast, made a side trip to Caribbean waters in 1939, and - in response to increased tensions with the Japanese - made her new home at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1940.
In an effort to effect a deciding blow against American naval power in the Pacific, the Empire of Japan devised a cunning tactical plan. The plan generally revolved around attack the Pacific Fleet while they were still anchored (and unawares) in the harbor. The main goal was to knock out the American carrier force which, at the time of the actual attack, was nowhere to be found at Pearl. Nevertheless, on the morning of December 7th, 1941, forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy went airborne from their carriers and struck military targets throughout the harbor. The end result netted the sinking or destruction of eight battleships, three cruisers, four destroyers, a seaplane tender, target ship, repair ship, tug and drydock Number 2. While a victory from a logistical standpoint, major targets such as aircraft carriers and oil reserved remained untouched. Japan had awakened a sleeping giant and, in the long run, would pay dearly for her actions.
World War 2
Fortunately for the USS Minneapolis and her crew, she was sent off for gunnery practice and found herself some 20 miles from the harbor during the attack. Following the December events, she was refitted and sent on active patrols throughout the following January. She was later added to the carrier task force that included the USS Lexington and aided in the upcoming attacks on the Gilbert and Marshall islands. During her early action, she recorded three confirmed aircraft kills while protecting the Lexington. From February into early March, Minneapolis opened her man guns in anger against Japanese shipping attempting to resupply the Army garrisons at Gilbert and Marshall.
Her next prominent action found her fighting in the Battle of Coral Sea. The battle spanned from May 4th through May 8th and involved carrier battle groups from both sides. Once again, the Minneapolis was called on to protect the Lexington during the fight and once again she netted three enemy aircraft. However, the USS Lexington was severely crippled by two direct torpedo hits and an additional two dive bomb hits. Minneapolis sprung into action and rescued as many Navy sailors as she could find. Lexington was sunk by the American destroyer USS Phelps to prevent her capture. Regardless, the USN enjoyed her victory that day -the victory coming at a high price though.
USS Minneapolis returned to action during the Battle of Midway. During three days in early June, she once again served as carrier protection. The battle netted some 250 enemy aircraft and, more importantly, four enemy aircraft carriers. Minneapolis played a critical role in defending the American carrier groups from enemy dive bombers and fighter harassment. She was then sent back to Pearl for resupply before rejoining the American carriers for their upcoming operations.
The Americans next took to invading Guadalcanal and Tulagi during August 7th through the 9th. USS Saratoga suffered a torpedo hit by a Japanese submarine and was towed from the battle by the Minneapolis on August 30th. More landings followed and Minneapolis assisted in aerial defense as needed before being named flagship of Task Force 67, a cruiser-destroyer force designed to intercept enemy destroyers located off of Guadalcanal.
The Battle of Tassafaronga (November 30th, 1942) ensued when the Minneapolis located six Japanese surface ships. She sank the IJN destroyer Takanami with her main guns. However, a second Japanese force had entered the battle and managed to score two direct hits with torpedoes on the mighty Minneapolis. One torpedo struck her at the bow while the second was recorded along her port side. The bow blast rocked the vessel and exploded machinery and metal over the area, essentially removing her of her forward bow structure up to her first turret. The portside strike destroyed much of her engine power and left a gaping hole in her side. Despite her damage, her crews managed to keep the fires at bay and enact proper protocol to keep her from taking on water and listing or altogether sinking. Somehow, the crew managed to steer her clear of additional danger and get her back to Tulagi. With the help of Navy Seebees, the bow was admirably repaired to keep the vessel seaworthy. She took on a new revised form that saw a curved bow structure set in place that still allowed her to cut through water. She then made the journey back to Mare Island Navy Shipyard for complete repairs before being allowed back into the war. The Minneapolis was one of four USN cruisers badly damaged by enemy torpedoes in the battle.
By the end of August 1943, the USS Minneapolis was back in business. She bombarded enemy emplacements on Wake Island on October 5th and took part in the Makin and Gilbert islands (November) capture by American forces. She supported an invasion force group in December and helped out in the capture of the Marshall Islands in January-February, 1944. Additional service included more carrier protection from then until April.