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USS St. Louis (CL-49)

Light Cruiser Warship

United States | 1939

"USS St Louis CL-49 was the lead ship of her two-strong class that included USS Helena - both built just prior to World War 2."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/02/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
In 1929, the United States Navy (USN) ordered a pair of new light cruiser warships for its all-new St. Louis-class. The series succeeded the earlier seven-strong Brooklyn-class and were intended as improvements to the design by installation of new high-pressure boiler units with a focus on combat survivability. Additionally, the new class was to shore up the anti-aircraft limitations inherent in the Brooklyn ships. The ships of the St. Louis-class became lead ship USS St. Louis (CL-49) and USS Helena (CL-50).

USS St. Louis (CL-49) was ordered on February 13th, 1929 and the contract awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Virginia on October 16th, 1935. Her keel was laid down on December 10th, 1936 and she was launched to sea on April 15th, 1938. The warship was formally commissioned on May 19th, 1939.

As built, USS St. Louis displaced 10,000 tons under standard load and held a length of 608.7 feet with a beam of 61.4 feet and a draught of 24 feet. Installed power became 8 x Steam-based boiler units feeding 4 x Geared steam turbines outputting 100,000 horsepower to 4 x Shafts. The vessel could make headway at 32.5 knots.

Armament centered on a main battery of 15 x 6" guns held in five triple-gunned turrets. Three of these turrets were positioned forward of the superstructure and two were featured aft. The secondary battery consisted of 8 x 5" guns in twin-gunned mountings and served in the Anti-Aircraft (AA) role. There were also 8 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns fitted.

Armor protection ranged from 5" at the belt and 2" along the deck to 6" at the turret barbettes and 5" at the conning tower.

Aboard there was a crew of some 868 personnel that included a small air wing. The embarked aircraft were 4 x Curtiss SOC Seagull floatplanes which were launched via 2 x catapult systems located at the stern. These aircraft were recoverable by way of a crane. Full-service facilities ensured proper maintenance and repair was possible for these mission-critical aerial platforms.

Despite World War 2 (1939-1945) already having broken out in Europe on September 1st, 1939, the United States remained neutral in the early going so USS St. Louis was used mainly for Neutrality Patrols in Atlantic waters. She eventually passed through the Panama Canal to access the Pacific Ocean in November of 1940 and ended her voyage at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where she was part of local patrols and exercises once on station there.

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While moored in Hawaiian waters, USS St Louis was one of the ships present during the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Her crew managed to get their AA guns active against the inbound enemy force as chaos reigned and several (three) Japanese attackers were shot down in the ensuing action. She managed to get underway at around 9:30AM and escaped the carnage in the harbor along with USS Detroit and USS Phoenix (USS St. Louis was the first large ship out of the harbor). Her luck at Pearl earned her the nickname of "Lucky Lou" for the entirety of her career with the United States Navy. Indeed, a Japanese midget submarine attempted a torpedo attack against her and these "fish" struck a nearby shoal instead.

Surviving Pearl, USS St. Louis remained active throughout the remainder of the Pacific Campaign. On July 13th, 1943, she took a torpedo at the bow with, amazingly, no loss of life. Temporary repairs were enacted to keep her afloat and viable for subsequent operations. On June 15th, 1944, her guns were used in anger against enemy positions at Saipan. An aerial attack by Japanese "Val" dive bombers on January 14th resulted in twenty-three dead and twenty wounded. A month of repairs then followed. In November of 1944, she was the victim of a successful Kamikaze attack (some 12 to 14 enemy warplanes taking part) resulting in multiple fatalities. The on-the-spot bravery and thinking of her crew kept fires from gaining control of the ship. The end of the war in the Pacific arrived on August 15th, 1945 with USS St. Louis now a battered, but surviving, veteran - having earned 11 Battle Stars for her service in the conflict which took her from Bougainville, the Mariana Islands, Leyte and Okinawa.

She remained on station in Asian waters during the immediate post-war period, undertaking minesweeping operations in the East China Sea, and served as part of Operation "Magic Carpet", the return of veterans to U.S. soil, in some of her final actions. She was deactivated on February 25th, 1946 and decommissioned on June 20th of that year. On January 22nd, 1951, she was officially struck from the Naval Register and given over to the Brazilian Navy where she served out the rest of her days as Almirante Tamandare (C-12). She held the post of flagship of the fleet until 1976 before being decommissioned for second time and placed in reserve. Her stripped hulk was then sold for scrap to Taiwan in 1980. However, the warship took on water and sunk near the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) en route to the island nation.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one sea-going vessel design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for USS St. Louis (CL-49).
8 x Steam boilers feeding 4 x Geared steam turbines developing 100,000 horsepower to 4 x Shafts.
32.5 kts
37.4 mph
Surface Speed
The bow-to-stern, port-to-starboard physical qualities of USS St. Louis (CL-49).
608.7 ft
185.53 meters
O/A Length
61.4 ft
18.71 meters
19.9 ft
6.07 meters
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of USS St. Louis (CL-49).
15 x 6" (150mm) /47 caliber Mark 16 main guns in five triple-gunned turrets.
16 x 5" (130mm) /38 caliber secondary guns in eight twin-gunned turrets.
8 x 0.50 caliber Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs)
Air Arm
Available supported fixed-wing / rotary-wing aircraft featured in the design of USS St. Louis (CL-49).
4 x Curtiss SOC Seagull floatplane aircraft (recoverable)
Ships-in-Class (2)
Notable series variants as part of the USS St. Louis (CL-49) family line as relating to the St Louis-class group.
USS St. Louis (CL-49); USS Helena (CL-50)
Global operator(s) of the USS St. Louis (CL-49). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national naval warfare listing.
National flag of Brazil National flag of the United States

[ Brazil (post-war); United States (retired) ]
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Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to seaborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
USS St. Louis (CL-49) Light Cruiser Warship appears in the following collections:
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