USS Fall River (CA-131)

USS Fall River (CA-131) was a Baltimore class heavy cruiser that had a very short active career that included a spell as a flagship during the Bikini Atoll atomic weapons tests of 1946.

Crew of USS Fall River (CA-131) watch Able Day Atom Bomb, 1 July 1946
Crew of
USS Fall River (CA-131)
watch Able Day
Atom Bomb, 1 July 1946

The Fall River was launched in August 1944 and commissioned on 1 July 1945. Her active career only lasted until 1947, and she spent much of that time on experimental duties. She was used in experimental operations from October 1945 until January 1946. She was then chosen to taken part in Operation Crossroads, two atomic bomb tests that were to be carried out at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in order to investigate the impact of nuclear bombs on warships.

Between 16 February and 6 March 1945 the Fall River was converted into a flagship. She reached Pearl Harbor in mod-March, where she picked up Read Admiral F. G. Fahrion, the officer in command of the target vessels for the tests. The Fall River was based in the Marshall Islands from 21 May to 14 September. Two tests were carried out - Test Able of 1 July in which an air-dropped bomb was used and Test Baker of 25 July, in which the bomb was exploded underwater. This was the more successful of the tests, partly because the bomb in Test Able missed its intended target.

After the atomic tests the Fall River had one more normal tour of duty, serving as the flagship of Cruiser Division 1 in the Far East from January to June 1947. She was decommissioned on 31 October 1947 and remained in the reserve until she was stuck off the Navy List on 19 February 1971.  She was sold for scrap in the following year.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



10,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt


 - armour deck


 - barbettes


 - turrets

8in face
3in roof
2-3.75in sides
1.5 rear

 - conning tower

3in roof

 - underwater magazines

3in side
2.5in deck


673ft 5in oa


Nine 8in guns (three triple turrets)
Twelve 5in/38 guns (six double positions)
Forty eight 40mm guns (11x4, 2x2)
Twenty four 20mm guns
Four aircraft

Crew complement


Laid down

12 April 1943


13 August 1944


1 July 1945


19 February 1971

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 April 2015), USS Fall River (CA-131) ,

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