USS Detroit (CL-8)

USS Detroit (CL-8) was a Omaha class light cruiser that served from Pearl Harbor, in the Aleutians and in the South East Pacific during the Second World War, earning six battle stars.

The Detroit was laid down on 10 November 1920, launched on 29 June 1922 and commissioned on 31 July 1923. After her shakedown cruise she joined CruDiv 3, part of the Scouting Fleet (the name then used for the Atlantic fleet). She remained with the Scouting Fleet until June 1927, spending most of her time off the US east coast or in the Mediterranean. One of her first tasks, in September-October 1924, was to serve as one of a series of lifeguard ships posted under the route of the US Army's successful round the world flight (the first aerial circumnavigation of the world).

USS Detroit (CL-8), 10 January 1945
USS Detroit (CL-8),
10 January 1945

In March-April 1927 she was part of the US naval force sent to Nicaragua as part of an American intervention in a civil war. On 16 June 1927 she left Boston to become the flagship of the Commander, U.S. Naval Force, Europe. This was largely a diplomatic role and she made goodwill visits to many European ports and hosted several heads of state. She was also used to transport the US Secretary of State F.B. Kellogg from Ireland to France during the 1927 negotiations that led to the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, an international treaty in which most powers agreed not to go to war.

In September 1928 the Detroit joined the Scouting Fleet. She was the flagship for the Commander, Light Cruiser Divisions, from July 1929 until September 1930. In 1931 she moved to the Battle Force in the Pacific and in March 1931 she became the flagship for the, Commander, Destroyer Squadrons, Battle Force. Her home base was San Diego.

The Detroit moved to Pearl Harbor in 1941. She was at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack, and was moored next to the Raleigh (CL-7). Her sister ship was hit by a torpedo but the Detroit was undamaged, and was able to get underway. She was sent to guard the west coast of Oahu against any possible Japanese invasion, then took part in the unsuccessful attempt to catch the retiring Japanese fleet. She was back at Pearl Harbor by 10 December.

Band of USS Detroit (CL-8) 'crossing the line'
Band of USS Detroit (CL-8) 'crossing the line'

For most of the next year the Detroit was used to escort convoys travelling between Pearl Harbor and the US West Coast. She also escorted two convoys to Pago Pago on Samoa in September 1942.

In November 1942 the Detroit became the flagship of Task Group 8.6 in the Aleutians. Her first task was to patrol between Adak and Attu to prevent the Japanese moving further east along the island chain. On 12 January 1943 she covered the unopposed occupation of Amchitka, where the US went on to build bases to use against the Japanese at Attu and Kiska. She then went to Bremerton for repairs (February-March 1943). She returned to the Aleutians in time to take part in the bombardment of Attu in April and the invasion in May. In August she bombarded Kiska, then supported the unopposed invasion of the island (15 August). The Japanese garrison had withdrawn under the cover of the dreadful local weather and nobody had noticed!

In June 1944 the Detroit was part of TF 94 during a bombardment of the Kurile Islands. Later in the same month she left the Aleutians and on 9 August arrived at Balboa to take up a new post as flagship, Southeast Pacific Fleet. From then until December she operated off the west coast of South America.

At the start of February 1945 the Detroit joined the 5th Fleet at Ulithi, where she became the flagship of the replenishment group supporting the fast carrier task force. She performed this role to the end of the war, and was present in Tokyo Bay on 1 September for the Japanese surrender. She continued to work with the replenishment group until 15 October when she left for the US, carrying servicemen being repatriated. This was the end of her career. On 11 January 1946 she was decommissioned and on 27 February she was sold.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



10,000nm at 10kts (design)
8,460nm at 10kts (actual)

Armour – deck


 - belt



555ft 6in


55ft 5in

Armaments (as built)

Twelve 6in/53 guns
Two 3in/50 AA guns
Ten 21in torpedo tubes (two triple and two double mountings)

Crew complement


Laid down

10 November 1920


29 June 1922


31 July 1923



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 (6 January 2014), USS Detroit (CL-8) ,

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