Fargo Class Light Cruisers

The Fargo Class of light cruisers were a modified version of the prolific Cleveland class, but although a large production run was planned only two were actually completed and neither of them arrived in time to fight in the Second World War. The new design appears not to have been recognised as a distinct class until after the end of the war, but was instead seen as a modification of the Cleveland class. 

The modified Cleveland design was developed in the first half of 1942 and in the middle of the year the Bureau of Ships proposed adopting it for production. The new design carried the same mix of 6in and 5in guns as the Cleveland class, with twelve 6in guns in four triple turrets (two fore and two aft) and twelve 5in dual purpose guns in six double mounts (two on each side, one fore and one aft). Although none of the Cleveland class ships had been completed by the middle of 1942 (the first two were commissioned in June), there were already concerns about the stability of the design.

On the modified design the 6in guns were dropped by a foot. The 5in gun mountings on the side were lowered to the upper deck and the 40mm gun mountings next to them were also lowered. The superstructure was modified to improve the arc of fire of the AA guns and the twin funnels of the Cleveland class were replaced with a single tunnel. The aircraft hanger was halved in size, reducing the number of aircraft that could be carried to two. The spare space was used for crew accommodation to make up for rooms lost elsewhere in the ship. The bridge was also redesigned. 

Originally the Navy intended to build the new design in large numbers. On 7 August 1942 an order was placed for sixteen Cleveland class light cruisers were ordered (CL103 to CL118). In the same month the navy decided to built CL103-CL105 as standard Cleveland class ships and CL106-CL118 as Fargo class cruisers.

In June 1943 two more orders were placed for Cleveland/ Fargo class cruisers, with CL148 and CL149 ordered on 14 June and CL143-147 on 15 June. Very little work appears to have been done on these ships, and even the numbers were soon reallocated to other designs.

CL144 to CL147 were allocated to the Worcester class cruisers, and on 5 October 1044 CL112 to CL115 were cancelled to free up resources for these new ships. At this stage none of these ships had been laid down.

CL108-CL111 and CL116-CL118 were all cancelled on 12 August 1945 at the end of the fighting in the Pacific. All seven had been laid down, but only the Newark (CL-108) had been launched. She was never completed, but was used for shock tests in March-July 1948 before being sold for scrap in April 1949.

Only two Fargo class ships were actually completed. USS Fargo (CL-106) was completed on 9 December 1945 and USS Huntington (CL-107) on 23 February 1946. This shows the wisdom of the original decision to stick to the Cleveland class in 1940, when no delays could be tolerated. Both Fargo class ships arrived too late for wartime service and after short periods of active service were placed into the reserve in 1949-50 and stricken in 1970 and 1961 respectively.

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


66ft 4in

Armaments (light anti-aircraft guns varied greatly)

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


Ships in Class


CL106 USS Fargo

Stricken 1970

CL107 USS Huntington

Broken up 1962

CL108 USS Newark

Hull broken up 1949

CL109 USS New Haven

Cancelled 1945

CL110 USS Buffalo

Cancelled 1945

CL111 USS Wilmington

Cancelled 1945

CL112 USS Vallejo

Cancelled 1944

CL113 USS Helena

Cancelled 1944

CL114 un-named

Cancelled 1944

CL115 USS Roanoke

Cancelled 1944

CL116 USS Tallahassee

Cancelled 1945

CL117 USS Cheyenne

Cancelled 1945

CL118 USS Chattanooga

Cancelled 1945

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 (13 February 2014), Fargo Class Light Cruisers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_fargo_class_cruisers.html

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