USS Vincennes, originally Flint (CL-64)

USS Vincennes (CL-64) was a Cleveland class light cruiser which fought in the Pacific, taking part in the battle of the Philippine Sea, the invasion of the Philippines, the battle of Okinawa and the raids on the Japanese home islands. She was awarded six battle stars for her World War II service.

The Vincennes was laid down in March 1942 as the USS Flint, but in August 1942 the existing USS Vincennes (CA-44) was sunk at the Battle of Savo Island. The Flint was renamed as Vincennes on 16 October 1942 to commemorate the earlier ship, and she was launched by the same person (Harriet Osborn nee Kimmell).

The Vincennes was commissioned on 21 January 1944. Her shakedown cruise lasted from 25 February to the end of March, with most of the time spent near Trinidad. She then became the flagship for Rear Admiral Wilder D. Baker, Commander CruDiv 14, serving with the USS Miami (CL-89) and USS Houston (CL-81). The Vincennes departed for the Pacific and reached Hawaii on 6 May.

On 24 May the Vincennes left Pearl Harbor to join the fleet. She joined Task Force 58. Her first combat came during a raid on the Bonin Islands, in which Japanese aircraft got close to the fleet. Her first combat victory came on 10 June when she shot down a 'Betty' bomber attacking the fleet. Next came attacks on Saipan (12 June), Pagan (13 June), and on 16 June took part in the first US raid on Iwo Jima. She took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, where she formed part of the anti-aircraft screen around the all-important carriers.

USS Vincennes (CL-64), 1945
USS Vincennes (CL-64), 1945

On 23 June 1944 Rear Admiral Baker shifted his flag to the Miami while the Vincennes sailed to Eniwetok for repairs. She was back on 7 July, and the admiral shifted his flag back.

From 18-21 July the Vincennes supported the carriers while they raided Guam. Between then and 27 July Tinian and Rota were attacked and Guam was visited for a second time.

In early August the Vincennes was with the carriers during an attack on the Bonins (4-5 August 1944). After this raid she retuned to Eniwetok, where Admiral Baker was relieved by Rear Admiral F. E. M. Whiting.

At the same time overall command of the fleet changed, and the Fifth Fleet became the Third Fleet. Vincennes was now part of Task Force 34, before joining Task Group 38.2 on 3 September. On 6 September the carriers attacked the Palau Islands, and on 7 September the Vincennes took part in a bombardment of Japanese targets on Ngesebus, Peleliu and Angaur Islands.

The fleet's next task was to support the invasion of the Philippines. The Vincennes helped screen the carriers as they attacked Mindanao (9-10 September), Negros, Leyte, Cebu and the Bohol Islands (12-14 September) and Luzon (21-22 September).

On 1 October Vincennes visited Ulithi in the Caroline Islands to replenish her stores, but was forced to leave port to avoid a typhoon. This delayed her return to the fleet to 6 October.  On 10 October the fleet reached Okinawa for the first air strikes against that island, and Vincennes formed part of the anti-aircraft screen against the inevitable heavy Japanese response. On 12 October Formosa was the target. Once again the Japanese attacked in strength, and the Vincennes was able to claim two successes within ten minutes of each other and another overnight. During this raid the light cruiser Houston and the heavy cruiser Canberra (CA-70) were both badly damaged, and the Vincennes formed part of the impromptu  'Cripple Division 1' that escorted them out of the area.  

The Vincennes fought at the battle of the Leyte Gulf, coming under heavy air attack. She took part in the pursuit of the northern Japanese fleet that helped draw the fast carriers away from the main Japanese striking force, and then headed south to try and intercept any Japanese ships that were retreating through the San Bernardino Strait. Just after midnight on 25-26 October they caught and sank the Japanese Kagero class destroyer Nowaki

After the battle the Vincennes remained in the Philippines until early November, when she returned to Ulithi to replenish. After a five day break she returned to the Philippines, where the kamikaze threat had become more serious. The Vincenneswas operating in a group with carriers Hancock (CV-19), Intrepid (CV-11) and Cabot (CV-28), all of which were hit by kamikazes. The Vincennes successfully shot down another Japanese aircraft before it could hit the Cabot. The Vincennesremained off the Philippines until 18 December when a typhoon hit the fleet, sinking three destroyers.

Early in January 1945 the Vincennes escorted the carriers as they attacked Formosa. She them took part in a raid into the South China Sea, hitting targets near Camranh Bay in Indochina, on Formosa and on the Chinese mainland. On 21 January, during another raid on Formosa, the Vincennes and her group were unable to stop two kamikazes hitting the carrier Ticonderoga (CV-14).

In late January the Vincennes supported a raid on Okinawa. On 10 February she joined TG 58.1 in preparation for an attack on the Japanese Home Islands. During gunnery exercises the ship was hit by a radio controlled target drone, which struck a 40mm gun mounting, starting a fire. Four seamen were awarded commendation ribbons for their actions in preventing the fire from spreading.

The Vincennes was able to remain with the group and was thus present when the carriers made the first attack on the Tokyo area on 16 February 1945. The fleet remained in the area for several days, hitting the Bonin Islands, Chichi Jima and returning to Tokyo on 25 February.

On 29 February Okinawa was the target. On 1 March the Vincennes, with the rest of her squadron (Miami and San Diego) along with Destroyer Squadron 61, shelled Japanese targets on Okino Daito Shima.  

After a two-week break at Ulithi in early March the Vincennes joined TG 58.1 for a raid on Kyushu. On 18-19 March the Vincennes was heavily engaged in a running battle with Japanese aircraft, and he anti-aircraft fire control officer, Lt Henry M. Lamberton, was awarded the Bronze Star for his performance during the fighting.

On 23-25 March the Vincennes covered the carriers as they attacked Okinawa. She then supported the invasion of 1 April, and remained in the area to provide support until 5 April. On 1 April the Vincennes came the closest to suffering an enemy hit when a kamikaze aircraft crashed only fifty feet from her stern.

In the last three weeks of April the Vincennes supported the carriers in attacks on Okinawa and Kyushu, fighting of waves of Japanese aircraft.

On 17 May the Vincennes and her sister ship Vicksburg joined the shore bombardment forces at Okinawa. She was engaged for 27 of the following 30 days, firing 5,836 6in shells and 10,583 5in shells. The last bombardment shoot was on 16 June, and she then sailed for the US and a refit. This lasted until late August, so she never returned to combat.

After finishing her refit the Vincennes took part in Operation Magic Carpet, sailing between Pearl Harbor and the West Coast with returning service personnel onboard. She then moved to New Caledonia, where she became the flagship of Rear Admiral Paul Hendron, Commander, South Pacific Are Force. After two trips to New Zealand she made a final Magic Carpet voyage, bringing 300 troops home on 23 March 1946. After this final voyage she was deactivated. She was decommissioned on 10 September 1946 and remained in the reserve until 1 April 1966 when she was struck off. She was then used as a target in missile experiments and was sunk on 28 October 1969.

Displacement (standard)

11,744t

Displacement (loaded)

14,131t

Top Speed

32.5kts

Range

11,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt

3-5in

 - armour deck

2in

 - bulkheads

5in

 - barbettes

6in

 - turrets

6.5in face
3in top
3in side
1.5in rear

 - conning tower

5in
2.25in roof

Length

610ft 1in oa

Armaments

Twelve 6in/47 guns (four triple turrets)
Twelve 5in/38 guns (six double positions)
Twenty four 40mm guns
Twenty one 20mm guns
Four aircraft

Crew complement

1,285

Builder

Bethlehem, Quincy

Laid down

7 March 1942

Launched

17 July 1943

Commissioned

21 January 1944

Expended

1966

US Navy Light Cruisers 1941-45, Mark Stille. Covers the five classes of US Navy light cruisers that saw service during the Second World War, with sections on their design, weaponry, radar, combat experience. Nicely organised, with the wartime service records separated out from the main text, so that the design history of the light cruisers flows nicely. Interesting to see how new roles had to be found for them, after other technology replaced them as reconnaissance aircraft [read full review]
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 October 2013), USS Vincennes, originally Flint (CL-64) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Vincennes_CL64.html

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