USS Springfield (CL-66)

USS Springfield (CL-66) was commissioned as a Cleveland class light cruiser (CL-66) and fought in the Pacific during the Second World War. She was later converted into a Providence class Guided Missile Cruiser (CLG-7), and her active career lasted until 1974. During her short combat career she was awarded two battle stars.

The Springfield was laid down in February 1943, launched on 9 March 1944 and commissioned on 9 September 1944. Training and shakedown cruises occupied her until the end of 1944.

On 23 January 1945 the Springfield joined Task Group 21.5. This group was escorting the USS Quincy (CA-71) as she carried President Roosevelt to Malta, from where he flew to Yalta in the Crimea for a conference with Churchill and Stalin. TG 21.5 accompanied the Quincy to a point 300 miles south of the Azores, where they handed the President over to a fresh escort group. The Springfield then headed west, making for the Panama Canal, and from there Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on 16 February 1945.

The Springfield joined the main fleet just outside Ulithi on 14 March 1945, and became part of Task Force 58, the fast carrier force. Her first combat operations were raids on Kyushu (18 March) and Honshu (19 March), where she provided part of the cruiser screen for the carriers. The next target was Okinawa. Once again the Springfield was part of the carrier screen during a series of air attacks that lasted from 23 March to 1 April. She also got to fire her main guns as part of a shore bombardment, attacking Minami Daito Shima on 27 and 28 March.

USS Springfield (CL-66) off Boston, 6 January 1945
USS Springfield (CL-66)
off Boston,
6 January 1945

On 1 April 1945 the Americans invaded Okinawa. The carrier fleet remained in the area for the next two months, providing air support to the troops fighting on land. For most of that time the Springfield formed part of the defensive screen protecting TF 58's carriers against attack, mainly by kamikaze aircraft. During this period she claimed at least three victories, and narrowly avoided being hit herself, moving out of the way of a kamikaze with only missed by 50 yards (17 April).

Between 23 March and 28 May the Springfield was on station off Okinawa continuously, with only one break when the fleet moved to attack Japanese airfields on Kyushu on 13-14 May in an attempt to destroy the bases used by the kamikazes. While at Okinawa she was part of the anti-aircraft screen apart from two periods on 10 and 11 May when she repeated her short bombardment of Minami Daito Shima. 

On 27 May 1945 Admiral Halsey took command of the fleet, which was thus redesignated as the Third Fleet (it was the Fifth Fleet when Admiral Spruance was in command). Just after this the Springfield moved to Leyte for a month of maintenance and repairs. She rejoined TF 38 in early July.

In July and the first half of August TF 38 repeatedly attacked targets on the Japanese Home Islands, including Tokyo, northern Honshu and Hokkaido. For most of this period the Springfield was part of the carrier screen, but she did take part in shore bombardments of southern Honshu on the night of 24-25 July.

After the Japanese surrender the Springfield, as part of TF 35, sailed into Sagami Bay (outside Tokyo Bay). On 30 August she covered the movement of TF 31 into Tokyo Bay, before moving into the bay herself on 3 September.

The Springfield remained in the Far East until January 1946, when she returned to San Pedro, California. She spent most of 1946 operating off the US west coast, before returning to the Pacific in November. 

Over the next few years the Springfield operated in the western Pacific from late 1946 until March 1947 and again from November 1948 until June 1949. She then returned to the US, where in January 1950 she joined the San Francisco group of the Reserve Fleet.

For many Cleveland class cruisers the entry into the reserve marked the end of their career, but the Springfield was one of a group that was chosen for conversion into a Providence class Terrier guided missile cruiser. Work began in May 1959 and took until 2 July 1960 when she was re-commissioned as CLG-7.

In December 1960 the Springfield left Boston for the Mediterranean, where she became the flagship for the commander of the 6th Fleet. She spent the next six years serving with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean (apart from a refit in Boston during 1963).

In January-February 1967 the Springfield returned to Boston for a six month long overhaul. She then became the flagship of the commander of the 2nd Fleet, based on the US east coast. She held that position until the summer of 1969, and again for a spell in 1970. In August 1970 she returned to the Mediterranean to serve as flagship of the 6th Fleet for a second time, this time spending four years in the Mediterranean.

On 1 September 1973 she was relieved by USS Little Rock and began a return trip to the United States. After her return she was decommissioned (15 May 1974) and she was sold off in 1978 after a career that had lasted for over thirty years, with half of them in active service.

Displacement (standard)

11,744t

Displacement (loaded)

14,131t

Top Speed

32.5kts

Range

11,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt

3-5in

 - armour deck

2in

 - bulkheads

5in

 - barbettes

6in

 - turrets

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

 - conning tower

5in
2.25in roof

Length

610ft 1in oa

Armaments

Twelve 6in/47 guns (four triple turrets)
Twelve 5in/38 guns (six double positions)
Twenty four 40mm guns
Twenty one 20mm guns
Four aircraft

Crew complement

1,285

Builder

Bethlehem, Quincy

Laid down

13 February 1943

Launched

9 March 1944

Commissioned

9 September 1944

Sold for break up

1978

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 (29 October 2013), USS Springfield (CL-66) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Springfield_CL66.html

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