USS Trenton (CL-11)

USS Trenton (CL-11) was an Omaha class light cruiser that served in the south-east Pacific in 1942-44 and the Aleutians from 1944 to the end of the Second World War. She was awarded one battle star for her service in the war.

The Trenton was laid down on 18 August 1920, launched on 16 April 1923 and commissioned on 19 April 1924. Her shakedown cruise took her to the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and to Persia, returning to the US in September.

Bow View of USS Trenton (CL-11)
Bow View of
USS Trenton (CL-11)

Her service career started badly. In October 1924, during drills, powder bags in the forward turret exploded, killing or injuring the entire gun crew. Two of the crew attempted to drop unexploded powder charges into an immersion tank, but the charges exploded and both men died. Ensign Drexler and Boatswain's Mate Cholister were awarded the Medal of Honor for their efforts.

The Trenton became part of CruDiv 2 with the Scouting Fleet, based in the Atlantic (although most of her early service was spent on exercise in the Pacific). She carried Henry L. Stimson to Nicaragua in 1927 during an American intervention in the country. She returned again in 1928 to help supervise elections.

In March 1928 Light Cruiser Division 2 left the Scouting Fleet. It moved to Hawaii for exercises with the Battle Fleet, and then Trenton and Memphis (CL-13) joined Light Cruiser Division 3 on the Asiatic Station. This posting lasted until May 1929. She returned to the US for an overhaul then returned to the Scouting Force in the Atlantic.

In 1933 the Trenton moved to the Pacific to become flagship of cruisers for the Battle Force. This lasted until September 1934 when she joined the Special Service Squadron in the Atlantic and took part in a long good-will cruise to Latin America. She returned to the Battle Force in the Pacific from early 1936 to the spring of 1939.

In May 1939 the Trenton joined Squadron 40-T, a squadron that was based off the Spanish coast during the Spanish Civil War. She remained in the Mediterranean until mid July 1940, well after the end of the Spanish Civil War and the start of the Second World War. When she returned to the US she carried the royal family of Luxembourg, fleeing from the Nazi occupation of their country.

USS Trenton (CL-11) in Gulf of Panama, 11 May 1943
USS Trenton (CL-11) in Gulf of Panama, 11 May 1943

In November 1940 the Trenton returned to the Battle Force in the Pacific, as part of CruDiv 3. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor she was posted to the South-east Pacific Force, where she remained until the middle of 1944.

Early in 1942 she was used to escort convoys to Bora Bora in the Society Islands. After that she spent most of her time patrolling the western coast of South America.

On 18 July 1944 the Trenton departed for the Aleutian Islands. She arrived on 2 September, where she joined her sister ship Richmond (CL-9). She took part in two sweeps of the Kurile Islands in October 1944 in an attempt to distract the Japanese during the invasion of Leyte. In January 1945 she bombarded the Kuriles for the first time, attacking Paramushiru Island. For the rest of the war she split her time between attacks on the Kuriles and patrols in the Aleutians. Paramushiru was attacked on 18 February. Matsuwa was the target in March and June. The Trenton's last offensive patrol was an anti-shipping sweep of the central Kuriles in late June.

After this operation she returned to San Francisco for an overhaul. She thus missed the end of the war, and this effectively ended her career. She was decommissioned in November 1945, struck off the Navy List on 21 January 1946 and sold for scrap in December 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

18 August 1920


16 April 1923


19 April 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 (30 January 2014), USS Trenton (CL-11) ,

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