USS Chester (CA-27)

USS Chester (CA-27) was a Northampton class heavy cruiser that fought at the Coral Sea, the invasion of the Marshall Islands, the Aleutians, the battle of Leyte Gulf and the invasion of Iwo Jima, winning eleven battle stars for her wartime service.

The Chester was laid down on 6 March 1926, launched 3 July 1929 and commissioned on 24 June 1930. Her first cruise took her to the Mediterranean, and lasted until October 1930. She then joined the Scouting Fleet in the Atlantic as flagship of the Light Cruiser Divisions as part of CruDiv 4. After a refit in 1932 she moved to the Pacific, as part of CruDiv 4. She moved to CruDiv 4 by 1936 and remained part of that division for the rest of her career (apart from a brief period with CruDiv 7 of the Patrol Force in 1940).

On 3 February 1941 Pearl Harbor became her home port. In December 1941 she was part of a small force escorting the carrier Enterprise (CV-6) on her way back from Wake Island to Pearl Harbor. She thus missed the attack. She spent the rest of December patrolling off Hawaii and on 12 December her aircraft attacked a submarine.

Between 18 and 24 January 1942 she helped get reinforcements to Samoa. On 1 February she took part in a raid on Tarao, but was hit by a bomb after the attack. Eight were killed and thirty-eight wounded and she needed repairs at Pearl Harbor.

USS Chester (CA-27) in 1932-33
USS Chester (CA-27)
in 1932-33

The Chester was soon back in action. She joined TF 17 during raids on Guadalcanal (4 May), Misima Island in the Louisiade Archipelago (7 May) and was present at the battle of the Coral Sea (8 May 1942) where she provided anti-aircraft cover for the carriers. After the battle she transported 478 survivors from the Lexington (CV-2) to Tonga. She then went to the US West Coast for an overhaul.

The Chester returned to the fleet in September 1942, forming part of TF 62 during the invasion of Funafuti in the Ellice Islands (2-4 October 1942). She then joined the fleet supporting the campaign in the Solomon Islands, in particular the fighting on Guadalcanal. On 20 October, while heading towards the Solomons, she was hid amidships by a torpedo from I 176. Eleven were killed and twelve wounded and she had to abandon the move to the Solomons. Instead she needed emergency repairs at Espiritu Santu, followed by more repairs at Sydney (October-December 1942), before on 25 December she set sail for Norfolk and another overhaul.

She was back at San Francisco on 13 September 1943 and spent the next month escorting convoys to Pearl Harbor. In November she joined the fleet for the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She supported the invasion of Abenama Islands, bombarded Tarao, Wotje and Maloelap then formed part of the defensive screen off Majuro until the end of April 1944.

After a brief refit at San Francisco the Chester was sent to the Aleutians. She joined TF 94 and took part in the bombardment of Matsuwa and Paramushiru in the Kuriles (13 and 26 June 1944). She then returned to Pearl Harbor.

USS Chester (CA-27), Mare Island Navy Yard, 16 May 1945
USS Chester (CA-27), Mare Island Navy Yard, 16 May 1945

In September 1944 she was part of TG 12.5 during the bombardment of Wake Island (3 September). She took part in the bombardment of Marcus Island (9 October 1944), then joined TG 38.1 and supported the carriers while their aircraft attacked Luzon and Samar. She was present at the battle of Leyte Gulf (October 1944), then from 8 November joined the bombardment forces at Iwo Jima. She supported the invasion of 19 February 1945, then returned to the US for another refit.

The Chester returned to the Pacific theatre in mid-June 1945. For a month she operated west of Okinawa, before in late July she joined the Coast Striking Group (TG 95.2) to provide anti-aircraft fire during operations off the Yangtze delta.

In August the Chester was sent to the Aleutians, but the end of the war meant that she was diverted to Japan to support the occupation of Ominato,  Aomori, Hakodate, and Otaru. This duty lasted into October, before on 2 November she left Iwo Jima for San Francisco, carrying servicemen home. She made another 'magic carpet' trip, this time from Guam (24 November-17 December). This ended her active service career. On 30 January 1946 she reached Philadelphia, where she was placed in reserve on 10 June 1946. She remained in the reserve fleet for some time and was finally sole for scrap on 11 August 1959.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



10,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt

3in over machinery
1in deck

 - magazines

3.75in side
2in deck

 - barbettes


 - gunhouses

2.5in face
2in roof
0.75in side and rear


600ft 3in oa


Nine 8in guns (three 3-gun turrets)
Four 5in guns (four single positions)
Six 21in torpedo tubes
Four aircraft

Crew complement

617? (734-48 for USS Chicago and USS Houston)

Laid down

6 March 1926


3 July 1929


24 June 1930

Sold for scrap

11 August 1959

US Heavy Cruisers 1941-45: Pre War Classes, Mark Stille. Looks at the 'treaty cruisers' built in the US between the wars, limited by treaty to 10,000 tons and 8in guns. Five classes of treaty cruisers were produced and they played a major role in the fighting during the Second World War, despite the limits imposed on them by the treaty restrictions. [read full review]
cover cover cover


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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 March 2014), USS Chester (CA-27) ,

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