USS Oklahoma City (CL-91)

USS Oklahoma City (CL-91) was a Cleveland class light cruiser that saw three months of active service in the pacific during the Second World War and that went on to be converted into a guided missile cruiser and serve in that role for nearly twenty years. She won two Battle Stars during the Second World War and thirteen during the Vietnam War.

The Oklahoma City was laid down on 8 December 1942, launched on 20 February 10944 and commissioned on 22 December 1944. Its shakedown cruise took up the first part of 1945 and it didn't arrive at Pearl Harbor until 2 May. It then spent twenty days operating around Hawaii before heading west to join Carrier Task Force 38.1 at Ulithi on 6 June 1945.

USS Oklahoma (CL-91) in the Delaware River, 9 April 1945
USS Oklahoma City (CL-91)
in the Delaware River,
9 April 1945

The Oklahoma City arrived in time to take part in the last phase of the battle for Okinawa, supporting the fleet carriers. On 18 July she became part of a bombardment group for attacks on Japanese shore targets.

After this brief break the Oklahoma City rejoined the cruiser screen, and operated in support of the carriers during their raids on the Japanese Home islands until the end of the war.

After the end of the fighting she remained on duty off the Japanese coast until 10 September when she finally entered Tokyo Bay. She formed part of the occupation force until 30 January 1946, when she departed to the United States, arriving at San Francisco on 14 February.

The Oklahoma City entered the reserve on 30 June 1947, and remained there for nearly ten years, before she was selected for conversion into a Providence class guided missile cruiser and reclassified as CLG-5.

The conversion took three years, and the Oklahoma City emerged in her new layout on 31 August 1960. She was recommissioned on 7 September and then began a shakedown cruise where she became the first ship of the Pacific Fleet to fire a TALOS guided missile. After a series of training deployments she became the flagship for the US 7th Fleet at Japan, holding that post from December 1960 until her return to the US in June 1961.

In July 1964 the Oklahoma City returned to the Far East, once again as the flagship for the 7th Fleet. This time her visit wouldn't be so peaceful. The Tonkin Gulf incident, in which North Vietnamese gunboats attacked US destroyers, marked an escalation in hostilities. The Oklahoma City spent twenty five days in the Gulf then returned to the area in June 1965, where she provided fire support for the troops fighting in Vietnam. She remained in theatre for two and a half years, taking part in Operations Piranha, Double Eagle, Deckhouse IV and Hastings II. She returned to the US for an overhaul in December 1966.

The Oklahoma City returned to the Far East for a second combat tour in November-December 1968 and remained on active service there until the mid 1970s. During this period she recorded the first successful combat surface-to-surface guided missile shot for the US Navy, destroying a radar control van in 1971 and came under air attack on 19 April 1972. She also took part in the evacuation of Saigon in 1975.

After the end of the Vietnam War funding was approved to modernise the Oklahoma City, already the longest serving member of the Cleveland class, but this work was never carried out. She was decommissioned in 1979, and was part of the Reserve Fleet until 1999. She was then chose for use as a target for air-to-ship missile tests, before finally being deliberately sunk by a South Korean submarine during a training exercise near Guam.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



11,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt


 - armour deck


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - turrets

6.5in face
3in top
3in side
1.5in rear

 - conning tower

2.25in roof


610ft 1in oa


Twelve 6in/47 guns (four triple turrets)
Twelve 5in/38 guns (six double positions)
Twenty eight 40mm guns (4x4, 6x2)
Ten 20mm guns
Four aircraft

Crew complement




Laid down

8 March 1942


20 February 1944


22 December 1944



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
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (18 November 2013), USS Oklahoma City (CL-91),

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