USS Atlanta (CL-104)

USS Atlanta (CL-104) was a Cleveland class light cruiser that saw action in the last months of the Second World War, winning two battle stars.

The Atlanta was laid down on 25 January 1943 and was named after the light cruiser Atlanta (CL-51) that had been lost during the battle of Guadalcanal of November 1942. The new Atlanta was launched in February 1944 and commissioned on 3 December. Her shakedown cruise took place in Chesapeake Bay and the Caribbean early in 1945, and she set sail for the Pacific on 27 March. She arrived at Ulithi on 12 May, where she joined Task Force 58.

USS Atlanta (CL-104) in 1948

The Atlanta's first mission was as part of the carrier screen during a raid on the Ryukyus and Kyushu from 22-27 May. This was designed to prevent the Japanese from throwing more resources into the battle of Okinawa. After this the Atlanta went to the Philippines for upkeep, before joining Task Group 38.1 on 1 July.

Once again her role was to act as part of the carrier screen while the fast carriers attacked the Japanese home islands. For most of the time she was thus on anti-aircraft duty, but she also took part in a number of shore bombardments, so got to fire her main guns in anger. The Atlanta was still off the Japanese coast when Japan surrendered on 15 August. She spent the first month after the end of the fighting at sea, before entering Tokyo Bay on 16 September.

The Atlanta was soon on her way back to the United States, carrying 500 passengers. She left Japan on 30 September and reached Seattle on 24 October, and then went to Terminal Island, California, for an overhaul.

On 3 January 1946 the Atlanta left California for Japan and a tour of duty in the Far East. This lasted until June, when she returned to the US for yet another overhaul.

The Atlanta spent February-April 1947 at Hawaii, visited Australia in May and toured some of the Pacific battlefields on her way back to California. She was back at Hawaii in late September, before a tour of the Far East that lasted until April 1948.

The Atlanta spent the rest of 1948 and the first half of 1949 operating in American waters. On 1 July 1949 she was decommissioned and placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She was struck from the Navy list on 1 October 1962, normally a prelude to being scrapped.

The Atlanta had a different fate. She was chosen for use as an experimental vessel and recommissioned as IX-304 on 15 May 1964. She was used in experiments on the effects of high energy air explosions on the superstructure of warships. Her original superstructure was leveled and a series of experimental superstructures intended for guided missile ships were built instead. Early in 1965 these structures were subjected to series of explosions to see if lightweight structures could also be made strong enough for combat. These tests took place off Hawaii, and the Atlanta was still intact enough to return to California, where late in the year she was laid up for the final time. She was struck off the Navy List for a second time on 1 April 1970 and sunk in an explosive test on 1 October 1970.

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


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



New York SB

Laid down

25 January 1943


6 February 1944


3 December 1944



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 December 2013), USS Atlanta (CL-104) ,

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