USS Minneapolis (CA-36)
Heavy Cruiser Warship
The USS Minneapolis was nearly destroyed in a violent torpedo strike but lasted the whole of the war and beyond.
Authored By: Dan Alex | Last Edited:
The USS Minneapolis was purchased and constructed before America had become embroiled in World War 2. She was the third ship in the seven-strong New Orleans-class that included the USS New Orleans, USS Astoria, USS Tuscaloosa, USS San Francisco, USS Quincy and the USS Vincennes. The vessel took part in many of the major Pacific Theater battles throughout the war. For her excellent service throughout the conflict, the USS Minneapolis and her fighting crews earned no fewer than 17 Battle Stars - quite the testament for any warship.
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.
May of 1944 saw the vessel in service during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Throughout June, she provided a portion of the much-needed air defense for the American carrier battle groups throughout the battle. A near-direct hit forced some make-shift repairs but the Minneapolis and her crew sailed on. Guam followed next with the Minneapolis supplying overhead support to the incoming American Marine forces. When needed, she directed her main guns with pinpoint accuracy based on ground level coordinates from Marine units. Minneapolis harassed the enemy throughout the day and night and kept them at bay while Marine units advanced. She recorded five more enemy aircraft after reaching Leyte Gulf.
The Battle for Leyte Gulf (October 23rd through October 26th, 1944) involved a coordinated Japanese attack utilizing three offensive forces brought to bear on the Americans. The Minneapolis made up a defensive ring about Surigao Strait to look out for any Japanese forces. As a Japanese force approached, guns opened and two Japanese battleships and three destroyers were hit and ultimately sunk. The Battle of Leyte Gulf would become known as one of the largest battles in recorded naval history before the last cannon was fired and the largest naval battle of World War 2. The battle itself was made up of four smaller battles that included the Battle of Surigao Straight (October 24-25, 1944). Surigao Straight deserves mention for it became the last major naval gunfire battle of the war. In the end, it was a decisive Allied victory. After the battle, Minneapolis resumed her carrier protection sortie and supported Allied landings where needed. She took part in actions during Luzon, Bataan, Corregidor and Okinawa. Four more Japanese aircraft found their end thanks to the guns of the Minneapolis.
Needing refitting, the Minneapolis sailed for Bremerton in Washington. After repairs and replenishment (including new gun barrels), she was back on station, this time in Subic Bay of the Philippines Islands. By this time, the atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan officially capitulated under the strength of the Allies. The official Japanese surrender of Korea to the Minneapolis occurred on September 9th, 1945. The vessel then oversaw a few more Marine landings during post-war occupation actions in China and Korea before resuming patrols in the Yellow Sea. One of her final efforts in the war became the return of American veterans back stateside along the American west coast. She ultimately made her way back to Philadelphia by way of the Canal and set on reserve status on May 21st, 1946. She was officially decommissioned on February 10th, 1947. After twelve years in mothballs, the mighty Minneapolis (like many memorable USN fighting ships of World War 2) met an unceremonious end and was sold to Union Metals and Alloys Corporation for crap on August 14th, 1959 - a rather quiet end to a rather spirited ship.
USS Minneapolis Walk-Around
As a heavy cruiser, the USS Minneapolis was built for a combination of speed and firepower. Her main battery was concentrated along the bow with two triple-mounted turret emplacements followed by a single triple-mounted turret emplacement at the stern. This allowed the ship to bring six main guns on a forward target and all nine guns for a broadside salvo. The bridge was allocated to the forward superstructure with a commanding view of the forward action. This was followed by two funnels located just aft at amidships. A rear superstructure was fitted ahead of the third turret. She was protected from aircraft attacks through a network of anti-aircraft cannons and machine guns. Minneapolis embarked up to four floatplanes for reconnaissance work, these launched by way of two catapult systems located at amidships and recovered by way of crane. The Minneapolis displaced at 9,950 tons and held some 1,650 tons of fuel oil in reserve. She was optimally crewed by 708 personnel made up of officers and enlisted.
Armor protection measured approximately 5-inches along her amidships belt and 1.5-inches forward and aft. The Deck was protected by up to 5-inches itself while her turrets enjoyed protection levels topping 6-inches. Her conning tower was given 8-inches of armor protection.
The Minneapolis fielded 9 x 8-inch /55 cal main guns in groupings of three across her three main turrets. Anti-aircraft protection was by way of 8 x 5-inch /25 cal AA guns as well as 8 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns.
The USS Minneapolis was powered by 4 x Westinghouse geared turbines. This was furthered by her 8 x Babcock and Wilcox boilers delivering up to 107,000 shaft horsepower to her four shafts. She could maintain a top speed of up to 32 knots in ideal conditions.
The USS Minneapolis (CA-36) was laid down on June 27th, 1931 and launched on September 6th, 1933. She was officially commissioned on May 19th, 1934 with Captain Gordon W. Haines in command. She was constructed by Philadelphia Navy Yard and became the second US Navy vessel to bear the name of Minneapolis after the northern American city. At the time of her construction, the USS Minneapolis cost American tax payers roughly $11.5 million dollars to complete.