USS Newport News CA-148

"Through The Years 1949-1975"


Historical Overview

The USS NEWPORT NEWS had a displacement of 17,255 Tons (standard) and weighed out at 20,934 tons with a full load. It's length over all was 248.4 Meters (717 feet) with a beam of 23.0 Meters. The crew complement during peace time was around 1240 and in war time, the crew grew to about 1565. Her armor measured 76 mm Horizontally, 203 mm vertically with 152 mm of armor on her turrets. Powered by 120,000 hp, she could exceed 33 knots. The USS NEWPORT NEWS's armament consisted of (9) 8in/55cal Main Guns, (12) 5in/38cal, (20) 3in/50cal and some 20 mm.

In 1962, 4 of the 3in/50's were removed as were all of the 20 mm. In 1966, 8 more 3in/50cal's were removed and in 1974, the rest of the 3in/50's were taken off the ship.

(also called the Salem Class by the less educated)
USS Des Moines CA-134 * USS Salem CA-139 * USS Newport News CA-148

It can be said that with this class the high point and the end of American cruiser development arrived simultaneously. In general terms, these ships had much in common, from an exterior point of view with their Oregon City class predecessors - in the disposition of weaponry and in fire control instruments. This class was the summation of lessons learned in wartime and its ships were (the Alaska class excepted!) the largest cruisers ever built. The fact that they were approximately 4,000 tons heavier than Oregon City stemmed mainly from the introduction of the world's first fully automatic 8" gun turret. These were capable of a rate of fire 20 shells per gun per minute. Obviously a greater quantity of ammunition had to be stowed which meant larger magazines. A further proportion of the additional displacement was devoted to improved armor.
For the first time in heavy cruisers the newly introduced 3in/50's were a standard installation following the experiences of wartime in the Pacific when it was clear that the 2Omm AA was relatively ineffective against Kamikaze aircraft, and that even the 40mm Bofors did not always succeed in preventing such aircraft from reaching their target. To improve the performance of the 5in AA , Ship of the Des Moines Class were given two additional MK 37 control instruments while, for the first time, fire control of the 8" guns was directed by Mk 54.

The 20 mm AA - if ever installed was removed very speedily. Those aircraft catapults that had been installed were removed and the aircraft replaced by helicopters. The after hangar was then used for stowage of ship's boats, the launching and retrieving of which could be carried out by the crane.

With the intention to provide fully-automatic main armament, the Des Moines class shows parallels with th e Worcester class which followed. In 1937 the navy had begun to give the priority to the development of fully automatic twin and triple turrets, and in about 1943 planning began for a cruiser type that would have a main armament of three triple turrets. At that time, development of 8in turrets, able to fire three times as quickly as hitherto available guns, was a breakthrough in gunnery technology. It made the heavy cruiser of much greater value, freeing it as it did from its main drawback - an over-slow rate of fire - a basic reason for the earlier enforced construction of light cruisers with their 6in guns which fired more rapidly. It is interesting to learn that the Oregon City Class with three twin turrets of the new type but the navy was anxious to develop a new design of ship to receive these tun turrets and the idea was dropped in mid- 1943.

The class was to have consisted of at least eight ships. Even after the end of the war the navy wished to complete eight but the growing expectations of the possibilities and effects of guided weapons and cruise missiles made the future of conventional armament problematical. The Korean War, however, had shown that long-range gunnery was of great value in support of troop landings. In this connection the last active ship of the class, Newport News, was in fact used for intensive fire support off the Vietnam coast.
The importance of the class showed itself at the beginning of the 1980s when the Reagan Administration reactivated battleships of the Iowa class. There had been discussion of a possible alternative reactivating of Des Moines (CA-134) and Salem (CA-I39) which had been in reserve. For in the quest for ships with adequate armament and adequate accommodation for a unit staff, and with sufficient deck area to accommodate ship-to-ship missile launchers, the Des Moines class were the only serious candidates. Ultimately a navy study demonstrated that cost effectively, it was more practical to reactivate battleships than the two heavy cruisers.
Only three ships of the Des Moines class were completed. The construction of nine further ships was suspended at the end of the war.

Other Facts and information
The USS Newport News CA-148 was the highest decorated ship from the east coast during the Vietnam campaign.

Significant dates in the History of USS Newport News (CA-148)

1945  Oct 1 Laid Down
1948  Mar 6 Launched
1949  Jan 1 Commissioned
1950 - 1961 Yearly deployments to Mediterranean with intervening fleet maneuvers and midshipmen training cruise in Caribbean and West Atlantic
1957  Crisis in Syria
1960  Mar Rescue work during earthquake in Agadir
1961  June Crisis in San Domingo
1962  Wintered at yard for modification as flagship
1962  Aug Flagship, COM Second Fleet, Nato maneuvers and visit to north European ports
1962  Oct Blockade off Cuba, Flagship, Second Fleet
1965  San Domingo crisis
1967  Sept 1 COM Second Fleet, transferred his flag to Springfield (CLG-7)
1967  Oct 09 Arrived Da Nang, Vietnam; Flagship, COMCRUDESFLOT 3
1968  May 13 Returned to Norfolk, VA
1968  Nov Departed NOB for WestPac, Second Viet Nam tour
1969  July 03 Return to Norfolk, VA
1972  Apr 13 Sailed through Panama Canal enroute to Viet Nam for third tour of duty
1972  Oct 1 Explosion in No.2 turret during coastal bombardment, center gun barrel destroyed; entire turret out of action for remainder of service
1972  Dec 24 Arrived Norfolk, VA
1975  Jun 27 Decommissioned
1978  July Stricken
1993  Scrapped at New Orleans, LA

**Most of the information on this page was gathered from the book “CRUISERS of the US NAVY; 1922-1962” by Stefan Terzibaschitsch. Published and distributed in the US by the Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland 21402. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Navy Cruiser. Half of the 319 pages are pictures with the other half of the book filled with details of each ship.