A BRIEF HISTORY
OF THE USS TUSCALOOSA (CA-37)


Adapted and condensed from the "Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships," (1981) Vol. 7, pp.356-360.


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Keel laid down on 3 September 1931 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Co.
Launched on 15 November 1933.
Commissioned on 17 August 1934, Capt. John N. Ferguson in command.

1934 and 1935 saw the Tuscaloosa take her shakedown cruise to South America and then undergo post-shakedown repairs in the New York Navy Yard.

During 1935-1938, Tuscaloosa participated in numerous fleet exercises.


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SOUTH AMERICAN GOODWILL CRUISE

During early to mid 1939, Tuscaloosa was part of a goodwill tour of South America ports accompanied by her sister ships, SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38) and QUINCY (CA-39).  Ports of call included Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires on the east coast.  Rounding the Strait of Magellan, the tour included Valparaiso, Chile; and Callao, Peru, before transiting the Panama Canal and returning to Norfolk.

FDR ABOARD - CAMPOBELLO

In August 1939, Tuscaloosa carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the first time.  En route, the President witnessed salvage operations in progress on the sunken SQUALUS (SS-192) which had stayed down after a test dive on 24 May 1939.  Tuscaloosa visited Campobello Island, New Brunswick, and several ports in Newfoundland.  The President disembarked at Sandy Hook, N.J. on 24 August 1939.

NEUTRALITY PATROL - NORTH ATLANTIC

The balance of 1939 saw the Tuscaloosa engaged in neutrality patrol and exercises.  During one patrol, Tuscaloosa was trailing a German steamship.  The liner COLUMBUS had been in the West Indies on a tourist cruise at the outbreak of war in Europe.  After an order from the British destroyer HMS HYPERION to heave to and two warning shots, Columbus' captain scuttled the ship. Tuscaloosa transported 577 crew and passengers of Columbus to New York.

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FDR ABOARD FOR SECOND TIME - LATIN AMERICA

On 15 February 1940, President Roosevelt embarked Tuscaloosa for the second time.  Tuscaloosa cruised for Panama and the west coast of Central America, accompanied by the destroyers JOUETT (DD-396) and LANG (DD-399).  FDR discussed defense issues with Latin American leaders, inspected defenses and held military conferences.

NEUTRALITY PATROL

After an overhaul, Tuscaloosa returned to the neutrality patrol and conducted monotonous but intensive patrols in the Caribbean and Bermuda areas through the summer and fall months of 1940.

FDR ABOARD FOR THIRD TIME - INSPECTION OF THE NEW CARIBBEAN BASES

On 3 December 1940 at Miami, President Roosevelt embarked Tuscaloosa for the third time for a cruise to inspect Caribbean base sites obtained from Great Britain in the recently negotiated "destroyers-for-bases" deal.  Roosevelt's guests onboard included the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  During this cruise, Roosevelt developed the idea of the "lend-lease" program to aid the embattled British.  On 16 December, Roosevelt left the ship at Charleston, S.C., to head for Washington to implement his "lend-lease" idea.

TRANSPORT OF US AMBASSADOR TO VICHY FRANCE

On 22 December, at Norfolk, Tuscaloosa embarked Admiral William D. Leahy, the newly designated Ambassador to Vichy France, and his wife.  Escorted by UPSHUR (DD-144) and MADISON (DD-425), Tuscaloosa delivered them to Lisbon, Portugal.

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ATLANTIC CHARTER MEETING - NEWFOUNDLAND

Much of 1941 involved the tedium of neutrality patrolling in the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic.  In August, Tuscaloosa traveled to Newfoundland, escorting the cruiser AUGUSTA (CA-31) which was carrying President Roosevelt.  Together with three destroyers, the ships joined the British battleship HMS PRINCE OF WALES carrying Prime Minister Churchill.  This meeting resulted in the "Atlantic Charter."

PATROL OF THE DENMARK STRAIT

Later that year, Tuscaloosa soon received new orders which assigned her to a task group built around battleships IDAHO (BB-42), MISSISSIPPI (BB-41), and NEW MEXICO (BB-40).  Together with WICHITA (CA-45) and two divisions of destroyers, the group performed patrols of the Denmark Strait based from out of Hvalfjordur, Iceland.  Tuscaloosa was at Hvalfjordur at the time of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor on 7 December. 

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ASSIGNED TO THE BRITISH HOME FLEET

After a brief refit in Boston for a navy yard overhaul from 8 to 20 February 1942, Tuscaloosa soon headed for Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands - the British Home Fleet's base.  She arrived there on 4 April and immediately took on board a British signals and liaison team.  She was initially employed with the British Home Fleet on training duties and later took part in delivering supplies and covering runs for convoys to North Russia.   One of the convoys was the ill-fated PQ-17.

OPERATION TORCH - NORTH AFRICA

After being detached from the British Home Fleet and an overhaul in the United States, Tuscaloosa went to North Africa.  On 8 November 1942, Operation "Torch" - the code name of the Anglo-American effort to wrest North Africa from the hands of the Vichy French - got underway.  Off Casablanca, French Morocco, steamed Tuscaloosa and her old companion, heavy cruiser Wichita, joined by new MASSACHUSETTS (BB-59) as part of the covering force.  Tuscaloosa provided fire support.  During the operation, Tuscaloosa was narrowly missed by torpedoes from a Vichy submarine and shells from the soon-to-be-sunk French Battleship JEAN BART. 

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ESCORT DUTIES AND TRAINING

Following repairs in the United States, Tuscaloosa rejoined in covering convoys bound for the North African front, as American forces and their British and Free French allies sought to push the Germans and Italians out of Tunisia.  Next, from March through May 1943, Tuscaloosa operated in a task force on training exercises off the east coast of the United States. In late May, she escorted RMS QUEEN MARY, which bore British Prime Minister Churchill to New York City.  After rejoining the task force for a brief time, Tuscaloosa joined AUGUSTA at the Boston Navy Yard for a 10-day work period. After leaving Boston, she escorted RMS QUEEN ELIZABETH to Halifax, Nova Scotia, before rendezvousing with the carrier RANGER (CV-4) and proceeding to Scapa Flow to resume operations with the British Home Fleet. 

OPERATION LEADER - NORWAY

On 2 October 1943, Tuscaloosa formed part of the covering force for RANGER while the carrier launched air strikes against port installations and German shipping at Bodo, Norway, in Operation "Leader."  These first American carrier strikes against European targets lasted from 2 to 6 October and devastated the area.  German shore based aircraft attacked the striking force only to be summarily shot down by covering American fighters. Tuscaloosa later proceeded to New York where she began major overhaul on 3 December 1943.

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Upon completion of her refit in February 1944, Tuscaloosa engaged in Fleet exercises and shore bombardment practice. 

OPERATION OVERLORD - D-DAY - NORMANDY, FRANCE

On 3 June, Tuscaloosa steamed in company with the task force bound for the Normandy beaches, and D-Day operations.  She opened fire at 0550, 6 June 1944.  During the operation, she fired at numerous targets including those sent by her spotter planes and by Army fire control parties.  Replenishing her ammunition on 9 June, she continued fire-support until 21 June.  Tuscaloosa then returned to England. Five days later, on 26 June, Tuscaloosa provided firepower to aid the Army's 7th Corps' landward assault against Cherbourg. 

OPERATION ANVIL/DRAGOON - SOUTHERN FRANCE

In July, with the beachhead secured in Normandy and Allied forces pushing into occupied France, Tuscaloosa steamed from Belfast to the Mediterranean to join British, French, and American forces assembling for Operation "Anvil/Dragoon," the invasion of southern France.  She commenced fire on 13 August.  For the next 11 days, the cruiser delivered fire support for the right flank of the Army's advance to the Italian frontier. 

In September, following a refit at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Tuscaloosa was assigned to the Pacific Fleet.  With stops at San Diego and Pearl Harbor, she traveled to Ulithi to join Commander, 3d Fleet in January 1945.

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IWO JIMA AND OKINAWA

From 16 February to 14 March 1945, Tuscaloosa bombarded Iwo Jima in support of the Marine invasion of the island.  She then returned to Ulithi for replenishment, hurriedly performed in four days, in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa.  Her bombardment of Okinawa commenced on 25 March and continued through 28 June with only a single break of six days to replenish. 

TIME IN FAR EAST; TROOP TRANSPORT

On 30 June, Tuscaloosa arrived in Leyte Gulf, the Philippine Islands for continued operations.  After the Japanese surrender, Tuscaloosa spent time in waters off the Philippines, Korea and China. During the balance of the year, she proceeded to various ports for transporting armed forces personnel and for repairs. 

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Tuscaloosa continued her troop transport duties with a final delivery to San Francisco on 15 January 1946.  On 29 January, Tuscaloosa stood out of San Francisco bound for the east coast on her last cruise as an active member of the Fleet. Placed out of commission at Philadelphia on 13 February 1946, Tuscaloosa remained in reserve there until she was struck from the Navy list on 1 March 1959.  Her hulk was sold on 25 June 1959 to the Boston Metals Co., of Baltimore, MD, for scrapping.

Tuscaloosa received seven battle stars for her World War II service.


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