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Dewar RN at pages 69, MacDonald pressed for more arms reductions. MacDonald suspended activity on two cruisers ordered in May but not yet laid down, the Northumberland and Surrey. In response Hoover deferred laying down the three cruisers allocated to the Navy Yards but the USN was already contractually obligated to proceed with the two of the five allocated to private yards.

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Both ships were laid down in spring while the London Conference was meeting over further armament limitations. This time, instead of coming in at 9,tons, the designers used the 10,ton limit to add extra armor protection.

Although the belt remained 3-inches, the armored deck jumped from 1-inch to 2. So this pair in terms of deck and magazine protection were much more robust that the earlier eight cruisers. However, the belt armor had not changed and the navy wanted their cruisers to have better side protection. The upshot of the postponement of new cruiser construction was the London Treaty of The same signatories to the Washington Treaty agreed to further restrictions.

Cruisers were now subdivided into two types; heavy cruisers with guns over 6. The terms, heavy and light, did not refer to displacement but just gun size. The maximum displacement per ship was left at 10,tons but now the parties agreed to maximum total tonnage of cruisers by the light and heavy categories.

By it was well recognized that heavy cruiser designs were vulnerable. The 10,ton limit just did not allow an adequate armor scheme with the designs that had already appeared. It is possible that experience will show that some reduction in the designed speed and in the radius of action is acceptable; the reduction of space required for machinery and fuel would permit of reduced dimensions for the ship, there would be a saving of weight in hull, and a reduction in the areas requiring protection.

Berry at pages Of course the Italian and Japanese navies had already solved this dilemma by adding the extra armor to their designs and then lying about the true displacement of their cruisers. The USN had taken a step in the right direction with the increased deck and magazine protection of Portland and Indianapolis but that was still not enough armor. The vexed question of United States cruisers has at last been settled.

The RN received ,tons in heavies and ,tons in lights, while Japan received ,tons in heavies and ,tons in lights. The Royal Navy received what it wanted. It stopped the huge new US cruiser program dead in its tracks. With the two Pensacolas , six Northamptons and two Portlands , the USN could build eight more heavy cruisers and even here there were additional restrictions imposed on the US. Three of the eight were already accounted for.

When the London Treaty was signed in April , the plans for the two private yard ships of were locked. Portland was laid down on February 17, and Indianapolis on March 31, Portland was built by Bethlehem in the Quincy, Massachusetts yard. She was launched on May 21, and completed on February 23, Her displacement was 10,tons standard and 12,tons full load.

She was feet long overall feet wl , with a beam of feet and draught of feet. Her engineering plant provided ,shp for her four shafts with a On key aspect of the Portland design was to provide increased protection over the preceding tin- clad designs. Her belt was 3-inches over machinery spaces and a 2. Magazine armor was 5. In her early years Portland spent time in Cruiser Divisions 3, 4, 5 and 6.

By tensions had steadily been building between Japan and the US. US diplomatic policy centered around ending the Japanese war against China and the Japanese army was not about to end it. Still an embargo, including oil, was finally imposed. On December 7, Portland , along with Astoria and Chicago was escorting Lexington on a mission to reinforce Midway with a Marine squadron. A jittery scout pilot from Johnston Island reported Portland to be a Japanese aircraft carrier disguised to look like a cruiser, but fortunately there was no reaction to this bit of high anxiety.

On December 14 it was Portland , Indianapolis and Chicago , which escorted Lexington on a raid on Japanese eastern Pacific islands and then relief expedition to relieve Wake Island.

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That spring Portland received four quadruple 1. Akagi , Kaga and Soryu were all knocked out before the Japanese could strike back. As the avenging strike of Hiryu came in on Yorktown , the cruisers knocked down two of the attackers but the Yorktown was hit three times. As Admiral Fletcher transferred his flag to Astoria , he ordered Portland to take Yorktown under tow but before this could be done, Yorktown had regained power.


Portland took position ahead and slightly off to the port of Yorktown for the 2 nd wave from Hiryu. After taking two torpedoes, the Yorktown lost power again and was abandoned. Portland picked up many of the survivors but the cruisers were detached with some of the destroyers from the carrier, and Yorktown remained behind with a few destroyers awaiting the arrival of a tug. On June 15 the carrier task groups and their escorts were reassigned.

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The Yorktown had been lost at the Battle of Midway, so Sweet Pea was up for reallocation to escort another carrier. Her new assignment was to protect USS Enterprise. It was still August and neither the USN nor IJN knew that they were still in the opening phases of a death struggle for Guadalcanal that would see so many more warships joining those already littering the seabed around that jungle island. The Battle of Savo Island had occurred on August 9 and now, two weeks later, the Japanese proposed to end the Marines temporary hold on the island with the best of Japanese naval aviation.

Veterans of the Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Coral Sea, the big fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku , along with the light carrier Ryujo , were tasked with ridding the Solomons of those irksome Americans. In the following Battle of the Eastern Solomons of August 24, Portland used her anti-aircraft guns attempting to swat Japanese naval aircraft away from the Big E. Vals from the big carriers bored in on Enterprise. The Japanese scored three hits on Enterprise and reported back the Big E was a goner.

Sweet Pea at war : a history of USS Portland (CA-33)

Far from it, the Enterprise was back up to knots after one hour. Things looked good at first but a delayed result of the bomb hits caused the flooding of the steering room of the carrier. With her rudder frozen at 10 degrees to port, the Big E steamed in circles and was lucky that a second strike missed her. The Japanese aircraft were visible on radar to the west but they turned back for the Zuikaku and Shokaku , having never sighted the Enterprise , slightly over the horizon to their east. The Americans had sunk the Ryujo and at this point the battle ended. Portland and four destroyers were tasked to escort her back to Pearl.

It was just beyond two months since the Battle of the Eastern Solomons with the last big carrier battle.

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The stage was set for the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. Again Portland occupied the position of a bit player, hanging out in the AA screen for Enterprise but for this battle the South Dakota garnered almost as much headlines as the carriers for the number of Japanese aircraft she claimed to have shot down. In the August carrier battle, the Enterprise was damaged but it was the Japanese who lost a carrier. For this October engagement it was the Americans that lost a carrier.

She was finished off by four inch Long Lance torpedoes from two Japanese destroyers. No doubt about it, the carriers of the Yorktown class were tough ships. Portland had been in the carrier screen up to now, but her sideshow status was about to end. Instead of going all of the back to Pearl she went just to Noumea for repairs. The Japanese launched a series of air strikes against the US forces during the 12 th. As the day progressed, new information kept coming in that the Japanese were amassing a heavy surface force northwest up the slot.

It appeared that two battleships, up to six cruisers and numerous destroyers were going to show up that night. At dusk the transports hauled out of the anchorage and sped off to the southeast to get out of harms way. In the meantime Callaghan prepared his force for battle. With a single line of battle as a long column, Callaghan put four destroyers in the van, five cruisers in the middle and four destroyers to the rear of the column.

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The cruisers were in the following order, Atlanta , San Francisco , Portland , Helena and Juneau , so Portland was in the exact middle of the column. Callaghan again displayed a lack of appreciation for radar, as Helena with the best radar was 4 th in line of the cruisers, instead of being on point. The forces ran head long into each other and became intermingled at point blank range. At Helena still made first contact as she picked up suspicious blips to the northeast, and promptly reported this to Callaghan on San Francisco.

Sixteen minutes later the lead destroyer Cushing sighted the lead Japanese destroyers at yards. As the two columns piled into each other, all battle plans disintegrated and the engagement became a close order knife fight in a darkened closet. The actual firing began at when the Japanese ships illuminated the American ships in their searchlights and the range had dropped to yards. Portland opened up at this time on a target to starboard and only a feeble return fire was encountered, hitting Portland only once and wounding the XO.

At Callaghan was confused and ordered a cease-fire, afraid that American was firing on American. His confusion was greatly increased by his poor selection of flagship. Callaghan said yes and ordered a course change to the north. A Japanese torpedo tore through the water toward her. A terrific wallop rocked the cruiser as the explosion ripped a huge chunk from her stern, bending the structure so that projecting hull plates acted as an unwanted auxiliary rudder and she made an involuntary complete circle.

The Hiei was less than two miles distant when Portland opened up on the Japanese battleship.

Both forces kept on their paths and left the cruiser behind as Portland remained fixed on a point, circling around and around and around. As dawn broke on November 13, Portland was still doing her circles on the glassy waters of the slot five miles from Guadalcanal. The surface of the slot was littered from flotsam from many lost and damaged ships from both sides. Most of both sides warships had left the scene of the train wreck. However, there were still some wounded ducks littering the slot.

Mortally wounded Atlanta was to the southeast beyond Portland , closer to Guadalcanal. Just north of Savo Island the immobile Hiei , attended by the destroyer Yukikaze , loosened a few salvos at the Aaron Ward , before Marine pilots from Henderson Field swarmed over her and sealed her fate. There was one more cripple to be seen.

The destroyer Yudachi was six miles to the northeast of Portland.