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USS Trenton (CL-11)
USS Trenton
USS Trenton in the Gulf of Panama, May 1943
Name: USS Trenton
Builder: William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia
Laid down: 18 August 1920
Launched: 16 April 1923
Commissioned: 19 April 1924
Decommissioned: 20 December 1945
Struck: 21 January 1946
Honors and
1 battle star (World War II)
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 29 December 1946
General characteristics
Class & type: Omaha-class cruiser
Displacement: 7,050 long tons (7,160 t)
Length: 555 ft 6 in (169.32 m)
Beam: 55 ft (17 m)
Draft: 14 ft 3 in (4.34 m)
Speed: 35 kn (40 mph; 65 km/h)
Complement: 458
Armament: 12 × 6 in (150 mm)/53 cal guns (2x2, 8x1), 4 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 cal guns (4x1), 2 × 3-pounders (37 mm (1.5 in)) (2x1), 10 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes

USS Trenton (CL-11) was an Omaha-class light cruiser of the United States Navy. She was the second Navy ship named for the city of Trenton, New Jersey.

Trenton was laid down on 18 August 1920 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by William Cramp & Sons; launched on 16 April 1923; sponsored by Miss Katherine E. Donnelly; and commissioned on 19 April 1924, Captain Edward C. Kalbfus in command.

Inter-war period

On 24 May, she stood out of New York harbor for her shakedown cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. On 14 August, while in transit from Port Said, Egypt, to Aden, Arabia, she was ordered to Bushire, Persia. She arrived on the 25th and took on board the remains of Vice Consul Robert Imbrie. She received and returned the gun salute to the late vice consul and departed the same day. Following stops at Suez and Port Said, Egypt; and at Villefranche, France; Trenton arrived at the Washington Navy Yard on 29 September.

Trenton returning from her shakedown cruise in 1924.

In mid-October, while Trenton was conducting gunnery drills in the Norfolk area, powder bags in her forward turret exploded, killing or injuring every member of the gun crew. During the ensuing fire, Ensign Henry Clay Drexler and Boatswain's Mate First Class George Cholister attempted to dump powder charges into the immersion tank before they detonated but failed. Ensign Drexler was killed when the charge exploded, and Boatswain's Mate Cholister was overcome by fire and fumes before he could reach his objective. He died the following day. Both men were awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.

Later that month, Trenton steamed north to join in the futile search for a lost Norwegian ship. Following that mission, the light cruiser operated along the east coast until 3 February 1925, when she departed Philadelphia to join the rest of the Scouting Fleet off Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. After gunnery exercises, the fleet headed for the Panama Canal and transited it in mid-month. On the 23rd, the combined forces of the Battle Fleet and Scouting Fleet departed Balboa, Panama, and steamed north to San Diego. En route, the ships participated in a fleet problem, then assembled in the San Diego-San Francisco area. On 15 April, the US Fleet put to sea for the Central Pacific and conducted another battle problem en route — this one designed to test fully the defenses of the Hawaiian Islands. After reaching Hawaiian waters, the Fleet as a whole conducted tactical exercises there until 7 June, when most of the Scouting Fleet headed back toward the Atlantic.

Trenton — in Cruiser Division 2 (CruDiv 2) — sortied with the Battle Fleet on 1 July for a cruise to the South Pacific and visits to Australia and New Zealand. After stopping at Samoa, the ships visited the ports of Melbourne, Wellington, Sydney, Auckland, Dunedin, and Lyttelton. Late in August, CruDiv 2 turned homeward and steamed via the Marquesas and Galapagos Islands and the Panama Canal to rejoin the Scouting Fleet near Guantanamo Bay on 4 October. After gunnery practice, Trenton returned to Philadelphia on 9 November.

In January 1926, Trenton joined the other units of the Scouting Fleet and returned to Guantanamo for gunnery drills and tactical exercises. On 1 February, she departed Cuba with them, bound for Panama. For the next six weeks, she participated in combined maneuvers with units of both Battle Fleet and Scouting Fleet. In mid-March, the units of the Scouting Fleet returned to their home yards for repairs before leaving for summer training cruises with naval reservists and tactical exercises in the area around Narragansett Bay. In mid-September, she returned to Guantanamo Bay for winter maneuvers.

Trenton participated in maneuvers until just before 25 December, when the units of the Scouting Fleet dispersed to their home ports for the holidays. Early in 1927, she joined the Scouting Fleet in combined maneuvers with the Battle Fleet near Guantanamo Bay. In May, Trenton was called upon to transport Colonel Henry L. Stimson, a special observer in Nicaragua during a period of internal disorder. She embarked Colonel and Mrs. Stimson at Corinto and carried them back to Hampton Roads. Following a review by President Coolidge in June, the various units of the two fleets departed Hampton Roads for their normal summer routines. CruDiv 2, of which Trenton was flagship, operated off Narragansett Bay; then, in the fall, rejoined the Scouting Fleet for gunnery and tactical exercises along the east coast between Chesapeake Bay and Charleston, South Carolina.

In January 1928, Trenton and her division embarked Marines at Charleston and returned to Nicaragua, where they landed to assist in supervising the elections which resulted from Colonel Stimson's visit. 'She and her sister-ships rejoined the Scouting Fleet at Guantanamo and resumed maneuvers. On 9 March, CruDiv 2 parted company with the Scouting Fleet. The four light cruisers rendezvoused with the Battle Fleet off the California coast and headed for Hawaii, conducting drills en route. After exercises in the Hawaiian Islands, Trenton and Memphis cleared Honolulu to relieve CruDiv 3 on the Asiatic Station. During that tour of duty, she entertained Colonel Stimson, this time as Governor General of the Philippines. She participated in joint Army-Navy maneuvers in the Philippines and patrolled the northern Chinese coast, on one occasion putting a landing force ashore at Chefoo.

In May 1929, Trenton's division was detached from the Asiatic Fleet, and she steamed back to the United States along with Memphis and Milwaukee. The light cruiser was overhauled at Philadelphia in the latter part of 1929 and then rejoined the Scouting Fleet. For the next four years, Trenton resumed the Scouting Fleet schedule of winter maneuvers in the Caribbean followed by summer exercises off the New England coast. Periodically, however, she was ordered to the Isthmian coast to bolster the Special Service Squadron during periods of extreme political unrest in one or more of the republics of Central America.

In the spring of 1933, Trenton moved to the Pacific and became flagship of the Battle Force cruisers. She operated in the eastern Pacific until September 1934. At that time, the ship returned to the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal to cruise with the Special Service Squadron. Over the next 15 months, Trenton visited ports in the Caribbean, in Central America, and South America as the squadron conducted a good-will cruise to Latin America. In January 1936, she retransited the canal and, after an overhaul at the Mare Island Navy Yard, rejoined the Battle Force until late in the spring of 1939. During that period, she made her second cruise to Australia in the winter of 1937 and 1938 for the sesquicentennial of the first colonization of that continent.

In May 1939, she returned to the Atlantic and, after a stop at Hampton Roads, got underway on 3 June for Europe. There she joined Squadron 40-T, a small American naval force which had been organized in 1936 to evacuate United States citizens from Spain and to protect American interests during the Spanish Civil War. Trenton patrolled the western Mediterranean and waters off the coast of the Iberian peninsula until mid-July 1940 when she returned to the United States. During her homeward voyage, the light cruiser carried Luxembourg's royal family then in flight from Nazi aggression.

World War II

In November, Trenton reentered the Pacific and rejoined the Battle Force, becoming an element of CruDiv 3. From 1941 to mid-1944, the ship served with the Southeast Pacific Force. At the time of America's entry into the war early in December 1941, she was moored at Balboa, Canal Zone. During the early part of 1942, Trenton escorted convoys to Bora Bora in the Society Islands where the Navy was constructing a fuel depot. From mid-1942 to mid-1944, she patrolled the western coast of South America between the Canal Zone and the Strait of Magellan. During one of this sweeps, in September 1943, she missed the German raider Michel, which later intercepted and sunk the Norwegian tanker India with all hands.[1] On 18 July 1944, Trenton headed north for duty in waters surrounding the Aleutians. After stopping for a time at San Francisco, she arrived at Adak, Alaska on 2 September. A month later, she shifted bases to Attu. In October, Trenton joined Richmond and nine destroyers in two sweeps of the northern Kuril Islands — the first from the 16th-19th and the second from the 22nd-29th — as a diversion during the invasion of Leyte. She returned to the Kurils again on 3 January 1945 to bombard enemy installations on Paramushiru Island, then resumed Alaskan patrols.

Trenton after her last overhaul in August 1944.

For the remainder of the war, Trenton patrolled the waters off Alaska and the Aleutian Islands and made periodic sweeps of the Kuril Islands. On 18 February, she returned to Paramushiru to pound shore installations. A month later, she bombarded Matsuwa. On 10 June, the light cruiser shelled Matsuwa once more and made an anti-shipping sweep before conducting another bombardment during the evening hours of the llth. From 23–25 June, Trenton, conducted her last offensive operation of the war, an anti-shipping sweep of the central Kuriles. Task Force 94 (TF 94) split into two units. Trenton encountered no enemy shipping, but the other unit sank five ships of a small convoy.

Not long after that operation, the light cruiser steamed south for yard work. She reached San Francisco on 1 August, and the end of the war found her at Mare Island Navy Yard awaiting inactivation overhaul. Early in November, she headed south to Panama. Trenton transited the canal on the 18th, arrived at Philadelphia a week later, and was placed out of commission there on 20 December. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 21 January 1946. On 29 December, she was delivered to her purchaser, the Patapsco Scrap Co. of Bethlehem, Pa., for scrapping.


Trenton earned one battle star for World War II.



This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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