Historical Sketch of
Text from Principal Investigator
CL-50 was named for the capital city of Montana. The second to bear the
name, the cruiser
(CL-50) was commissioned on 18 September
Assigned to the Pacific Fleet,
was at Pearl Harbor when the
Japanese attacked on 7 December 1941. She was moored at 1010 Dock Navy
Yard on the east side of the harbor. Outboard of her was the minesweeper
. By chance
happened to be in the berth
normally assigned to the battleship
and so became a
prime target of the attacking Japanese planes. Within 3 minutes of the
first attack, a lone torpedo plane launched a torpedo that passed
on the starboard side
almost amidships. The explosion flooded one engine room and one boiler
room. Wiring to the main and 5-inch batteries was cut but quick repairs
brought an emergency generator into action making power available to all
gun mounts. Rapid, heavy firing kept the
free from further
damage. Effective damage control and the fact that watertight integrity
was never lost kept the
During the early years of the war,
participated in many of
the fiercest battles of the Pacific War including Guadalcanal, Rennell
Island, and Savo Island.
's final action came soon after
midnight on 6 July 1943.
had been acting in defense of
American landings on New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. While escorting
troop ships with three cruisers and four destroyers she was attacked during
the night by a force of 10 Japanese ships.
was struck by
three torpedoes within the space of a few minutes and began to jackknife
and sink almost immediately. Abandoning ship in an orderly manner, many of
the survivors clung to the bow of the ship which remained floating during
the nightlong battle. Over the next several days many of the wounded died
as the survivors floated wherever the wind and currents took them and as
rescuers sought them in vain. Some of the men reached land on rafts and
ships boats. Coastwatchers and loyal natives hid them from the Japanese.
Finally, on the night of 16 July American naval forces picked up the
remaining 165 survivors. Of
crew of 900, 168 had died.
was the first ship to receive the Navy Unit Commendation.
She earned 7 battle stars for her actions.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
vols., (Navy Department, Office of Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History
Division, Washington, DC, 1963), Volume III, pp.287-289.
| Manuscripts and Rare Books
| Joyner Library
East Carolina University
Page Updated 21 August 2003
© 2003 J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University