USS Honolulu (CL-48)

USS Honolulu (CL-48) was a Brooklyn class light cruiser that was damaged at Pearl Harbor before fighting in the Aleutian and Guadalcanal campaigns and the invasions of Saipan, Guam and Leyte. She was badly damaged twice during the war, but was still awarded eight battle stars.

The Honolulu was laid down in September 1935, launched in August 1937 and commissioned on 15 June 1938. Her shakedown cruise took her to Britain, and she then took part in fleet exercises in the Caribbean before sailing to join the Pacific fleet, arriving at her new Californian base in June 1939.

USS Honolulu (CL-48), 1944
USS Honolulu (CL-48),

Between then and the US entry into the war the Honolulu served as Flagship, Cruisers Battle Force and Flagship CruDiv 9. She was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked, and suffered minor hull damage from a near miss. This took her out of action until mid-January, but she was able to sail on 12 January 1942 as part of the escort of a convoy heading from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco. She continued to perform convoy escort duty until May 1942, moving between the United States, Samoa and Australia.

On 29 May the Honolulu departed for the Aleutian Islands, where she was based at Kodiak Island. She took part in a naval bombardment of Kiska in mid-August, and helped protect the US troops who landed on Adak Island on 21 August. After this she returned to San Francisco for a short refit at Mare Island.

On 3 November 1942 the Honolulu left San Francisco as part of the escort for a convoy heading to Noumea. She then took part in the Guadalcanal campaign. She was present at the Battle of Tassafaronga (30 November 1942), a disastrous clash with the Japanese in which the Northampton was sunk and the Minneapolis, New Orleans and Pensacola damaged. The Honolulu was based out of Espiritu Santo for the rest of the Guadalcanal campaign, taking part in operations to intercept the 'Tokyo Express', bringing supplies and reinforcements to the island.

Colour Picture of USS Honolulu (CL-48), Spring 1944
Colour Picture of USS Honolulu (CL-48), Spring 1944

US attention now moved to New Georgia, further west up the Solomon chain. In May the Honolulu took part in a heavy bombardment of New George. She returned to the same target in late June, and took part in the battle of Kula Gulf (5-6 July 1943), where she helped sink the destroyer Niisuki. During this battle the Helena (CL-50) was sunk.

The Honolulu fought at the battle of Kolombangara (13 July 1943). Together with the St Louis she sank the Japanese cruiser Jintsu. She was then hit by two torpedoes - one dud and one live, which badly damaged the entire bow fore of the capstans. The Honolulu retreated to Tulagi for temporary repairs, and then returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs. She then moved on to San Francisco for more work at Mare Island.

She was finally ready to return to the war zone in November 1943. She re-entered combat in the Solomon Islands in late December 1943. On 28 December she took part in the bombardment of a major Japanese concentration on Bougainville. She spent the next few months operating in the Solomon Islands, as well as taking part in the capture of Green Island (13 February 1944).

In June 1944 the Honolulu took part in the invasion of the Mariana Islands. Early in June she took part in the bombardment of Saipan as part of TG52.10. She was attacking Guam when the Japanese fleet attempted to attack the invasion force (Battle of the Philippine Sea, 19-20 June 1944), and the Honolulu took part in that clash. She then returned to Eniwetok for fresh supplies before returning to take part in the invasion of Guam. She remained off Guam for three weeks before departing to replenish at Florida Island on 18 August.

On 6 September the Honolulu departed from Florida Island to take part in the invasion of the Palua Islands. She remained in that area for the rest of September.

In mid-October the Honolulu left Manus Island to take part in the return to the Philippines. On 19 October she took part in a shore bombardment in support of the troops about to invade Leyte. On 20 October she was screening the invasion when she was attacked by a Japanese torpedo bomber. She was hit on the port side, and once again suffered damage that required a return to the US for repairs.

She reached Manus Island on 29 October, where she was patched up ready for the trans-Pacific trip. She crossed via Pearl Harbour and San Diego, and then moved to Norfolk, Virginia, for proper repairs. She was still at Norfolk when the war ended.

In October 1945 the refurbished Honolulu underwent a fresh shakedown cruise. She was then used as a training ship, but only for a short period. On 3 February 1947 she was decommissioned at Philadelphia where she entered the reserve. She was stricken on 1 March 1959 and sold for scrap.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



10,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt

5in on 0.625in STS

 - deck


 - barbettes


 - turrets

6.5in face
2in roof
1.25in side and rear

 - conning tower

2.25in roof


608ft 4in


Fifteen 6in/47 guns (five triple turrets)
Eight 5in/25 guns (/38 on St Louis, Helena) (eight single positions)
Eight 0.5in guns
Four aircraft

Crew complement


Laid down

10 September 1935


26 August 1937


15 June 1938

Sold for scrap

17 November 1959

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 (5 June 2015), USS Honolulu (CL-48) ,

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