USS Raleigh (CL-7)

USS Raleigh (CL-7) was a Omaha class light cruiser that was damaged at Pearl Harbor but returned to action in the summer of 1942 and fought in the Aleutians and the northern Pacific. Raleigh received three battle stars for World War II service.

The Raleigh was laid down on 16 August 1920, launched on 25 October 1922 and commissioned on 6 February 1924. She was ready to join the fleet by July, was allocated to the Light Cruiser Division, Scouting Fleet (the name given to the Atlantic Fleet at that date). Her first duty was to support the Army World Flight, the first successful circumnavigation of the world by air. The flight was travelling west around the world, so by the time it reached the Atlantic was close to success. The Raleigh was posted off Harafjord, Iceland from 31 July then off the east coast of Greenland from 10 August. Two of the original four aircraft successfully completed the trip, reaching Seattle, Washington on 28 September 1924. One aircraft did come down in the Atlantic, but the Raleigh wasn't involved in the rescue. 

USS Raleigh (CL-7) anchored
USS Raleigh (CL-7)

The Raleigh was based in the Atlantic until the autumn of 1928. During that period she visited Hawaii (June 1925) while in February-March 1927 she was involved in the US intervention in Nicaragua, landing US Marines in an attempt to end an ongoing civil war.

On 15 September 1928 the Raleigh replaced the Detroit (CL-8) as the flagship of Vice Admiral John H. Dayton, Commander, Naval Forces, Europe. She spent a year in this role, mainly carrying out diplomatic visits to European ports.

In September 1929 she returned to Boston and rejoined Light Cruiser Division 3, Scouting Force. She remained in the Atlantic until the summer of 1933, when she joined the fleet in the Pacific. For the next three years she was based in California, before returning to Norfolk for an overhaul in June 1936.

In the autumn of 1936 the US Navy organised a force that would join the international patrols off Spain, protecting their national interests and attempting to enforce neutrality during the Spanish Civil War. The Raleigh was assigned to this force, Squadron 40-T, and reached Gibraltar on 27 September. The American squadron evacuated hundreds of foreign nationals from Spain during the civil war. Raleigh remained in Spanish waters for over a year, before being relieved by the Omaha (CL-4) on 28 April 1938.

Side view of USS Raleigh (CL-7), 1920s
Side view of USS Raleigh (CL-7), 1920s

In August 1938 the Raleigh was assigned to Flotilla One, Destroyer Squadron, US Battle Force (the Pacific fleet). She was based at San Diego from 1938 until October 1939, and then moved to Pearl Harbor.

On 7 December 1941 the Raleigh was moored berth F-12, on the east side of the north channel. She was hit by a torpedo amidships on the port side and took on a very heavy list. Despite this her anti-aircraft guns kept firing and she claimed five victories. The torpedo hit No.2 boiler room and flooded most of the engineering spaces. Despite this her crew managed to save the ship, and none of the crew were lost.

The Raleigh was towed into the Navy Yard for repairs on 22 December, and was seaworthy by 21 February 1942 when she left as part of five ships escorting a convoy to San Francisco. She then underwent more complete repairs at Mare Island, before rejoining the fleet on 23 July 1942. Her first assignment was to Task Force 15, which escorted convoys between San Francisco, Hawaii, Samoa and Fiji.

This role lasted until November, when she was allocated to the fleet operating in the Aleutians. On 3 November she left Pago Pago to look for four Japanese picket ships. She then moved on to Pearl Harbor, before finally reaching Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians on 24 November.

In January 1943 Raleigh was part of Task Group 8.6, which covered the occupation of Amchitka Island. This had been a Japanese target, but the Americans moved first and used it as a base for their campaign against the Japanese on Kiska and Attu. On 10 February the Raleigh escorted a convoy from Dutch Harbor heading for Kulak, and on 23 March she entered Puget Sound Navy yard for repairs.

On 22 April she sailed again, and joined Task Group 16.6. This force supported the invasion of Attu in May 1943, bombarded Kiska on 2 and 12 August and supported the unopposed landings on Kiska on 15 August. She then departed for San Francisco and another overhaul.

This lasted until 15 September, when she set sail to rejoin the fleet in the Aleutians. She formed part of Task Group 94.6 and took part in the bombardment of Kurabu Zaki on Paramishiru Island in the northern Kuriles on 4 February. During this attack she fired at Japanese gun batteries, an airfield and a small merchant ship. After this mission she returned to Puget Sound Navy Yard for a three-month long overall, which lasted from March to May 1944. She took part in another bombardment of the Kuriles in January 1945, but soon after this her combat career ended. In the summer of 1945 she was back on the US East Coast, where she carried out two midshipman training cruises. On 2 November 1945 she was decommissioned, and on 28 November she was struck off the Navy List. She was sold for scrap on 27 February 1946.

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

16 August 1920


25 October 1922


6 February 1924



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 (6 January 2014), USS Raleigh (CL-7) ,

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