USS New Orleans (CA-32) became one of the most decorated warships of World War 2 (1939-1945). Her wartime career began at the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 where the vessel survived with only minor damage. This then led her to have a storied ocean-going career that saw the Japanese Empire pay for its surprise assault and lose all of its territory leading up to the final surrender of 1945. New Orleans sailed until given up in the late 1940s as her services no longer required in the Cold War period.
USS New Orleans made up the lead ship of the New Orleans-class. The group numbered seven and were in commission from 1934 to 1947. In the whole of the war, three of the lot were lost and four survived to see retirement. Sister ships included Astoria, Minneapolis, Tuscaloosa, San Francisco and Vincennes.
Ordered on February 13th, 1929 as the light cruiser USS New Orleans (CL-42), she saw her keel was laid down on March 14th, 1931 by Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York. On July 1st, 1931, the warship was reclassified as "CA-32" to serve as a heavy cruiser. She was then launched on April 12th, 1933 and formally commissioned into USN service on February 15th, 1934.
As built, the vessel was required to adhere to the 10,000 displacement limit set forth by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. Her length reached 588 feet with a beam out to 61.8 feet and a draught down to 23,5 feet. Power came from 8 x Babcock & Wilcox boilers feeding 4 x Westinghouse geared turbines driving 107,000 horsepower to 4 x shafts. Maximum speed was nearly 33 knots in ideal conditions.
The warship housed a crew of 915 including nearly 100 officer-level personnel and over 1,650 tons of fuel oil could be stored. Two catapults positioned at midships to allow for four reconnaissance-minded floatplanes to be launched. Armor protection about her design ranged from 5" at the belt to 8 inches at the turrets. Armament consisted of 9 x 8" main guns in three, three-gunned primary turrets (two held fore and one positioned aft of midships), 8 x 5" Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns, 2 x 3-pounder saluting guns and 8 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns for close-in defensive work. Her profile included two smoke funnels at midships, two main masts and a forward-set superstructure containing the bridge and communications equipment.
After Pearl, USS New Orleans was a direct participant of some of the greatest battles of World War 2. Beginning in 1942 there was the Battle of Coral Sea (May 8th), the Battle of Midway (June 3rd - June 7th), the Battle of the Eastern Solomons (August 24th - 25th) and the Battle of Tassafaronga (November 30th). In the latter engagement, the warship was the recipient of a Japanese torpedo which claimed her entire bow section and forced major repairs to be enacted. For 1943, there were engagements at Wake, Gilbert and Marshall islands spanning from October to December. Then came more actions in 1944 that included stops at Truk, New Guinea and Satawan before supporting the Marianas campaign. Her air defense guns were used to protect American carriers during the Battle for Leyte Gulf (October 23rd - 26th) in the Philippines campaign. Her final wartime actions were in support of the amphibious landings at Okinawa (April 1st - June 22nd) and she ended her World War 2 career while berthed in the Philippines during the Japanese surrender. In the period immediately following, she was used on various assignments that involved landing troops abroad and bringing troops home.
By the end of the war, her armament scheme had changed to 9 x 8" main guns, 8 x 5" secondary guns, 2 x 3-pounder saluting guns, 6 x 40mm Bofors AA quad-gunned emplacements and 28 x 20mm Oerlikon single-gunned AA emplacements. Also, by this time, she carried only one catapult amidships as the emphasis was now on self-defense and defense of more important capital ships.
In March of 1946 USS New Orleans arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard to be decommissioned and this order followed in February of 1947. The vessel was held in reserve until March of 1959 to which point she was removed from the Naval Register and sold off for scrapping in September.
During her time afloat, USS New Orleans earned seventeen Battle Stars for her service in World War 2. She was known by the nickname of the "NO Boat".