USS Memphis (CL-13)

USS Memphis (CL-13) was a Omaha class light cruiser that served in the South Atlantic from 1942 to the start of 1945, then moved to the Mediterranean for the rest of her career.

The Memphis was laid down on 14 October 1920, launched on 17 April 1924 and commissioned on 4 February 1925. Her shakedown cruise took her to the Caribbean. In June 1925 she joined a fleet at Hawaii and took part in a visit to Australia and New Zealand. She spent October 1925 to April 1926 in the West Indies, then returned to New York.

USS Memphis (CL-13) in the South Atlantic, 1941-42
USS Memphis (CL-13)
in the South Atlantic,

On 4 July 1926 she replaced the Pittsburgh (CA-4) as the flagship of the Commander, US Naval Forces in Europe. She remained in Europe until the summer of 1927. In June 1927 she collected Captain Charles Lindbergh from Southampton, after his transatlantic flight. She then carried him back across the Atlantic. After that she spent the rest of the year on the east coast.

In January 1928 the Memphis escorted President Calvin Coolidge during a visit to the West Indies. She spent four months in the Caribbean, then in June 1928 moved to the Panama Canal Zone. She spent the next five years operating in Central American, ending in May 1933. She then spent five years alternating between the US west coast and the Caribbean.

In January 1938 she made a good will cruise to Australia. She was based in Hawaii from then until the summer of 1939, then in August 1939 moved to Alaska, where she remained until early in 1941.

On 24 April 1941 the Memphis left Newport to join the neutrality patrol, operating in the area between Trinidad, Cape San Roque and the Cape Verde Islands from a base at Recife in Brazil. She spent most of the war patrolling the South Atlantic. This was a routine duty, with few moments of excitement. In March 1942 she escorted a convoy to Ascension Island, where the US Army built an airfield. In January 1943 she flew President Roosevelt's flag off Bathurst, Gambia, while the President was at the Casablanca Conference. The presidents of Uruguay and Brazil toured the ship in January 1944.

Vought UO-1 being lowered from USS Memphis (CL-13)
Vought UO-1 being lowered from USS Memphis (CL-13)

In January 1945 the Memphis left the South Atlantic and moved to the Mediterranean where she became the flagship of Admiral Harold R. Stark, Commander, US Naval Forces in Europe. In January she provided naval cover for the Allied conference at Malta, part of the preparation for the three power Yalta Conference.  Once again she had famous visitors, this time Admiral Ernest J. King and General George C. Marshall. In February she was at Algiers during President Roosevelt's visit. Her duties for the rest of the year were mainly ceremonial, the Axis powers having largely been cleared from the Mediterranean. These included celebrations of the first anniversary of Operation Dragoon and Navy Day festivities at Naples.

In November 1945 she left the Mediterranean and returned to the United States. She was decommissioned on 17 December 1945, struck from the Navy List on 8 January 1946 and sold for scrap on 10 January 1947.

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

14 October 1920


17 April 1924


4 February 1925



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 (30 January 2014), USS Memphis (CL-13) ,

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