USS Quincy (CA-39)

Pre-War and Introduction

USS Quincy (CA-39) was a New Orleans class heavy cruiser that served with the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic and fought at Guadalcanal, before being sunk during the battle of Savo Island of 9 August 1942. Quincy earned one battle star during World War II.

The previous pair of ships, Tuscaloosa (CA-37) and San Francisco (CA-38) had been given a lighter 8in gun and a smaller turret, saving around 40 tons. This weight was used to increase the amount of barbette armour, but this turned out to bring them very close to the treaty limits. In order to counter this Quincy and Vincennes had some armour removed, especially in the barbettes.

USS Quincy (CA-39) at New York, 29 May 1942
USS Quincy (CA-39) at
New York, 29 May 1942

San Francisco (CA-38), Quincy (CA-39) and Vincennes (CA-44) were the first US cruisers to be fitted with emergency diesel generators.

The Quincy was laid down in November 1933, launched in June 1935 and commissioned on 9 June 1936. She joined Cruiser Division 8 of the Atlantic Fleet. Her first operational duty came a few weeks later, when on 20 July she was ordered to join the American naval force protecting US interests during the Spanish Civil War. She reached Malaga on 27 July and formed part of an international fleet that included the German ships Deutschland, Admiral Graf Spee and Admiral Scheer.  During her time in Spain she transported 490 refugees to Marseilles and Villefranche, but she was replaced by the Raleigh on 27 September.

Her first deployment had been so rushed that she hadn’t yet undergone acceptance trials. These took place in March 1937, and she was then allocated to Cruiser Division 7, based at Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on 10 May. She was just in time to take part in a Pacific Fleet tactical exercise. In 1938 she took part in Fleet Problem XIX, off Hawaii. She was then overhauled at Mare Island Navy Yard, before at the start of January 1939 she was ordered to join the Atlantic Fleet. She arrived in time to take part in Fleet Problem XX in February 1939. In April-June she made a goodwill tour of South American then in July-August she carried out three training cruises for reservists.

Wartime Service

After the outbreak of the Second World War the Quincy took part in the Neutrality Patrol in the North Atlantic. In the spring of 1940 she was overhauled again, then took part in a lengthy tour of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina that lasted until September. She then carried out three more training cruises in October-December 1940.

USS Quincy (CA-39) moored
USS Quincy (CA-39) moored

In early 1941 Quincy took part in Atlantic Fleet manoeuvres. In April-June she was with Task Group 2 (USS Wasp), in the mid-Atlantic and from June-July she served alongside the Yorktown. In late July she was part of Task Group 16, the naval force that helped take over the protection of Iceland. She carried out a patrol in the Denmark Straits (21-24 September), then in late October sailed for Newfoundland, protecting a convoy. She then moved to Cape Town and escorted a convoy back to Trinidad, arriving on 29 December 1941. She was back at Iceland in January-March 1942, before returning to New York for an overhaul that lasted from March to May 1942.

After this overhaul the Quincy was sent to the Pacific, reaching San Diego on 19 June 1942. She became the flagship of Rear Admiral Norman R. Scott, Commander Cruisers, and part of Task Force 18. This force was allocated to the invasion of Guadalcanal. The Quincy took part in a pre-invasion bombardment of Lunga Point, then supported the Marine landings on 7 August.

The Japanese responded in force, sending a surface fleet to attack the American shipping. This fleet caught the Americans by surprise early on 9 August (battle of Savo Island). Three of the New Orleans class ships, Quincy, Astoria and Vincennes, formed the Northern Escort Force off Guadalcanal. They were attacked by the Japanese just before 2am on 9 August. Vincennes was first to be hit, and was soon dead on the water. Quincy was second in line, and was hit by heavy Japanese gun fire. All of her guns were knocked out and a few minutes after coming under attack she was on fire. Finally the Astoria was hit by the fifth Japanese salvo aimed at her and was out of control by the time the Japanese withdrew. All three of the damaged cruisers sank. Quncy was hit by at least 54 shells and three torpedoes and suffered the loss of 370 of her crew.

Wartime Modification

All members of the New Orleans class received quad 1.1in gun mounts early in 1942, with two on the quarterdeck and two at the same level as the chart house. They also got search radar and had the foremast reduced in height. Quincy was also give twelve single 20mm guns.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



10,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt

5in to 3.25in over 0.75in STS

 - over machinery


 - magazines

4in-3in side
2.25in above

 - barbettes


 - turrets

6in face
2.25in roof
1.5in side


588ft oa


Nine 8in/55 guns (three 3-gun turrets)
Eight 5in/25 guns (eight single positions)
Eight 0.5in guns (eight single positions)
Four aircraft

Crew complement


Laid Down

15 November 1933


19 June 1935


9 June 1936


9 August 1942

US Heavy Cruisers 1941-45: Pre War Classes, Mark Stille. Looks at the 'treaty cruisers' built in the US between the wars, limited by treaty to 10,000 tons and 8in guns. Five classes of treaty cruisers were produced and they played a major role in the fighting during the Second World War, despite the limits imposed on them by the treaty restrictions. [read full review]
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 December 2014), USS Quincy (CA-39) ,

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