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USS Des Moines (CA-134)
USS Des Moines (CA-134)
USS Des Moines (CA-134) under way, 15 November 1948
Career (US)
Namesake: Des Moines, Iowa
Ordered: 25 September 1943
Builder: Bethlehem Steel Company
Laid down: 28 May 1945
Launched: 27 September 1946
Commissioned: 16 November 1948
Decommissioned: 6 July 1961
Struck: 9 July 1991
Fate: broken up
General characteristics
Class & type: Des Moines-class heavy cruiser
Displacement: 17,000 tons
Length: 716 ft 6 in (218.39 m)
Beam: 76 ft 6 in (23.32 m)
Draft: 22 ft (6.7 m)
Propulsion: 4 shaft; General Electric turbines; 4 boiler; 120,000 shp
Speed: 33 knots (38 mph; 61 km/h)
Range: 10,500 nmi (19,450 km) at 15 knots (17 mph; 28 km/h)
Complement: 1,799 officers and enlisted
Armament: 9 × 8"/55 caliber guns
12 × 5"/38 caliber guns
24 × 3"/50 caliber guns
24 × 20 mm AA guns

The second USS Des Moines (CA-134) was the lead ship of the Des Moines-class heavy cruisers in the United States Navy.


Des Moines was launched 27 September 1946 by Bethlehem Steel Company, Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts; sponsored by Mrs. E. T. Meredith, Jr.; and commissioned 16 November 1948, Captain A. D. Chandler in command. She became the first of her class to mount the semi-automatic Mark 16 8 inch turrets [1] and carry the new Sikorsky HO3S-1 utility helicopters in place of seaplanes. It was named after the capital of the state of Iowa.

Naval Service

USS Des Moines (CA-134) at anchor off Newport News – 1957

In a varied operating schedule designed to maintain the readiness of the Navy to meet the constant demands of defense and foreign policy, Des Moines cruised from her home port at Newport, Rhode Island and after 1950, from Norfolk, Virginia on exercises of every type in the Caribbean, along the East Coast, in the Mediterranean Sea, and in $3 waters. Annually between 1949 and 1957 she deployed to the Mediterranean, during the first seven years serving as flagship for the 6th Task Fleet (known as the 6th Fleet from 1950). In 1952, and each year from 1954 to 1957, she carried midshipmen for summer training cruises, crossing to Northern European ports on the first four cruises. She also sailed to Northern Europe on NATO exercises in 1952, 1953, and 1955. On 18 February 1958, she cleared Norfolk for the Mediterranean once more, this time to remain as flagship for the 6th Fleet until July 1961 when was placed out of commission in reserve.

Through her Mediterranean services Des Moines contributed significantly to the success of the 6th Fleet in representing American power and interests in the countries of Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Near East. She made this contribution through such activities as her participation in NATO Mediterranean exercises; her call to seldom-visited Rijeka, Yugoslavia, in December 1950 and Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, in May 1960, and to many other ports as a regular feature of her schedule; her cruising in the eastern Atlantic during the wake of the Suez Crisis of 1956; and service on patrol and as control center for American forces in the Lebanon crisis of 1958. Film footage of her cruising with other ships of the United States 6th Fleet was used in the introduction and conclusion of the movie: "John Paul Jones" starring Robert Stack (Warner Brothers-1959).


ex-USS Des Moines at the Philadelphia Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in June 2004

After decommissioning in 1961 she was mothballed in the South Boston Naval Annex and eventually laid up in the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Philadelphia in maintained reserve. In 1981 Congress directed that the Navy conduct a survey to determine if she and sistership USS Salem could be reactivated to support the 600 ship fleet proposed by the Reagan Administration. After an attempt to turn her into a museum ship in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, failed, she was towed to Brownsville, Texas, for scrapping, and arrived there 7 September. By July 2007, she had been completely broken up. Her status officially changed to "disposed of by scrapping, dismantling" on 16 August 2007. Two of her dual 5"/38 gun mounts were donated to the USS Lexington (CV-16) museum in Corpus Christi, TX, where they can now be seen on display.[2]

Her sister ship USS Newport News (CA-148) was scrapped in New Orleans in 1993. The third Des Moines-class ship, the USS Salem (CA-139), is a museum ship in Quincy, Massachusetts.


This article includes information collected from the public domain sources Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships and Naval Vessel Register.

External links

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