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Brooklyn-class cruiser
USS Brooklyn (CL-40) in the Hudson River, in 1939 (80-G-1023215).jpg
USS Brooklyn (CL-40)
Class overview
Name: Brooklyn-class cruiser
Operators:  United States Navy
 Argentine Navy
 Brazilian Navy
 Chilean Navy
Preceded by: Omaha-class cruiser
Succeeded by: St. Louis-class cruiser
In commission: 30 September 1937
Completed: 7
Active: 0
Lost: 0 under US flag,1 under Argentinian flag
Retired: 6
Preserved: 0
General characteristics ([1])
Type: Light cruiser
Displacement: 9,767 tons (standard), 12,207 tons (full load)
Length: 606 ft (185 m) overall
Beam: 62 ft (19 m)
Draft: 23 ft (7.0 m)
  • 4 shaft Parsons geared turbines
  • 8 Babcock and Wilcox boilers
  • 100,000 shp
Speed: 32.5 knots
Range: 10,000 nm @ 15 kn
Complement: 868
  • Main Belt: 5.5 in (140 mm)
  • Deck: 2 in (50 mm)
  • Barbettes: 6 in (152 mm)
  • Turret Roofs: 2 in (50 mm)
  • Turret Sides: 6.5 in (170 mm)
  • Conning Tower: 5 in (127 mm)
  • Aircraft carried: 4 floatplanes
    Aviation facilities: 2 catapults

    The Brooklyn-class cruisers were seven light cruisers of the United States Navy that served during World War II. Armed with 5 (three forward, two aft) triple turrets mounting 6-inch guns, they and their two near sisters of the St. Louis class mounted more heavy-caliber guns than any other US cruisers. The Brooklyns were all commissioned during 1937 and 1938 in the time between the start of the war in Asia and before the outbreak of war in Europe. They served extensively in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters during World War II. Though some were heavily damaged, all survived the war. All were decommissioned shortly after the end of the war, and five were transferred in 1951 to South American navies, where they served for many more years. One of these, the General Belgrano, formerly the USS Phoenix (CL-46), was sunk during the Falklands War in the 1980s.[2]

    The Brooklyn-class ships were a strong influence on US cruiser design. Nearly all subsequent US cruisers, heavy and light, were directly or indirectly based on them.[2]


    The Brooklyns arose from the London Naval Treaty of 1930, which limited the construction of heavy cruisers, i.e., ships carrying guns with calibers between 6.1 inches and 8 inches. The United States did not favor this outcome, being of the opinion that the heavier-gunned ships more suited its Pacific needs. Design started in 1930, with the first four of the class ordered in 1933 and an additional three ships in 1934. Basic criteria had been that speed and range should match heavy cruisers and, when the Japanese Mogami-class cruisers carrying fifteen six-inch main guns appeared, the new U.S. ships would match their weaponry. Various combinations of armor and power plants were tried in the efforts to stay below the Treaty 10,000 ton limit.[3]

    The six-inch guns were of a new design, the Mk 16 which could fire a 130-pound shell up to 26,100 yards (nearly 23,900 metres). The intention to mount 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns was frustrated and the requirement was not fully met until 1943: interim solutions had to be accepted.[3]

    From 1942, the bridge structure was lowered and radar was fitted. Increased anti-aircraft weaponry was specified (four quadruple plus four twin 40 mm mountings) but not met. In practice there were varied mixes of 20 mm and 40 mm mountings, 28 40 mm (4x4, 6x2) and twenty 20 mm (10x2) being the most common.[3]

    The two ships of the St. Louis-class were modified Brooklyns (exploiting new boiler design, redesigned armor, and secondary armament placed to four twin mounts), while Wichita was a heavy cruiser version (as permitted by the London Treaty). The two wartime cruiser classes, Baltimore and Cleveland, were based on the Wichita-class and the St. Louis-class, respectively. Also derived from the "Brooklyn" design were the Fargo, Oregon City, and Des Moines cruisers. Thus the vast majority of cruisers built by the United States during World War II are derived from the Brooklyn design.[2] In addition the Independence class of light aircraft carriers, which were converted from "Cleveland" class cruisers,[4] and the Saipan light carriers used the basic form of the "Baltimore" class cruiser design.[5]

    War service

    Several Brooklyns were seriously damaged during the war, but all of the cruisers survived. Boise was severely damaged by a shell in her forward turret magazine during the Battle of Cape Esperance on 11 October 1942, suffering many casualties but luckily the shell did not explode. Nashville was hit by a kamikaze attack on 13 December 1944 off Mindoro which killed or wounded 310 crewmen. Honolulu was torpedoed at the Battle of Kolombangara on July 12–13, 1943, as was her near-sister St. Louis. After being repaired in the United States, Honolulu returned to service only to be torpedoed by a Japanese aircraft on 20 October 1944 during the invasion of Leyte.[6] On 11 September 1943 Savannah was hit by a German Fritz X radio guided bomb which penetrated her #3 turret and blew out the bottom of the ship. Skillful damage control by her crew saved her from sinking. While under repair in the United States, Savannah was rebuilt with a bulged hull that increased her beam by nearly 8 feet and her 5 inch guns were reinstalled as four twins.[7]


    All ships of the class were deactivated by early 1947. Except for Honolulu and Savannah, which were deemed unsuitable due to wartime damage and sold for scrap in 1959 and 1966, respectively, the rest were sold to South American countries in the early 1950s and served for many more years: Brooklyn and Nashville to Chile, Philadelphia to Brazil, and Boise and Phoenix to Argentina. ARA General Belgrano (ex-Phoenix), was torpedoed and sunk by HMS Conqueror during the Falklands War,[8] while O'Higgins (ex-Brooklyn) remained in service with the Chilean Navy until 1992. She sank under tow (on her way to the scrappers) in the mid Pacific in 1994.

    Brooklyn class ships


    • Ewing, Steve (1984). American Cruisers of World War II. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company. ISBN 0-933126-51-4. 
    • Fahey, James C. (1945). The Ships and Aircraft of the United States Fleet. New York: Ships and Aircraft. 
    • Preston, Anthony (1980). Cruisers. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 013-194902-0. 
    • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company. 
    • Whitley, M J (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-225-1. 


    1. Whitley p.248
    2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Ewing p.76
    3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Whitley pp.248–249
    4. Silverstone p.48
    5. Fahey p.9
    6. Ewing pp.81-88
    7. Whitley p.249
    8. Ewing pp.77-88

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