Fargo-class light cruisers were an offshoot group of the quantitative Cleveland-class relied on so heavily by the United States Navy (USN) in the Pacific Theater of War during the fighting of World War 2 (1939-1945). The Cleveland-class was envisioned as a 52-strong series of which only 27 were eventually completed. The Fargo-class followed and was, itself, intended as a 13-strong fighting force - to which just two of the line were built towards the end of the war - lead ship USS Fargo (CL-106) and her sole sister USS Huntington (CL-107). Eleven of the lot were cancelled with the cessation of hostilities in 1945.
The cancelled ships were USS Newark (CL-108), USS New Haven (CL-109), USS Buffalo (CL-110), USS Wilmington (CL-111), USS Vallejo (CL-112), USS Helena (CL-113), USS Roanoke (CL-114), Unnamed Ship (CL-115), USS Tallahassee (CL-116), USS Cheyenne (CL-117), and USS Chattanooga (CL-118).
As the Cleveland-class had a tendency to heavily roll in rough seas, changes were instituted in its design resulting in the new warship group. Key differences included improved firing arcs for air defense guns, a new, dimensionally-smaller and pyramidal-shaped superstructure, and a single, more compact, shorter smoke funnel. The changes were enough to garner the warship a new class name.
USS Fargo (CL-106) was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey and launched on February 25th, 1945 while the war was still in full swing. However, official commissioning of the vessel was not had until December 14th, 1945 which kept her out of World War 2. Nevertheless, the warship made a post-war career for itself for its time on the water.
The "Fargo" name was to be assigned to hull CL-85 which ended up being converted to the light aircraft carrier Langley (CVL-27) of the Independence-class.
As built, the design has a displacement of 12,000 tons under standard load and this increased to 14,360 tons under full load. Overall length was 610 feet with a beam measuring 66.3 feet and a draught down to 25.5 feet. Power was from 4 x Boilers feeding 4 x Geared steam turbines developing 100,000 horsepower to drive 4 x Shafts under astern. Aboard was a complement of 1,255 officers and enlisted and armor measured up to 5" at the belt, 2" across the deck, and 6" at the turrets.
Primary armament were 12 x 6" (150mm) /47 caliber main guns set across four triple-gunned turrets, two forward and two aft. Secondary armament consisted of 12 x 5" (130mm) /38 caliber guns in six twin-gunned turrets. Beyond these were Anti-Aircraft (AA) measures that included 16 x 40mm Bofors guns in four quadruple-gunned emplacements, 12 x 40mm Bofors guns in six twin-gunned emplacements, and 10 x 20mm Oerlikon guns in single-gunned emplacements.
The warship carried four recoverable floatplanes for observation, reconnaissance, Search & Rescue (SAR) sorties, and artillery support. A pair of catapults were set at the stern to launch these aircraft were an onboard crane was used to recover them.
All these traits were common to Cleveland-class light cruisers as well - from armor to armament - with the physical changes detailed earlier being the only major differences between the two designs.
After departing Philadelphia waters in April of 1946, USS Fargo held an "under-the-radar" existence for all of her ocean-going career - particularly subdued when compared to the storied warships of the Second World War she was intended to follow. She saw no direct combat at any point in her voyages and was used primarily for goodwill stops, as a floating deterrent, and in various live exercises. Her stops took her to regions such as the Caribbean, South America, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean.
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12 x 6" (150mm) /47 caliber Mark 16 main guns in four triple-gunned primary turrets.
12 x 5" (130mm) /38 caliber guns in six twin-gunned turrets.
16 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) automatic cannons in four quadruple-gunned emplacements.
6 x 40mm Bofors AA automatic cannons in six twin-gunned emplacements.
10 x 20mm Oerlikon AA guns in single-gunned mountings.
4 x Floatplane aircraft (recoverable). 2 x Stern-based catapults for launching.
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Image from the United States Navy archives; Public Domain.
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