USS Brooklyn (CL-40)

USS Brooklyn (CL-40) was the name ship of the Brooklyn class of light cruisers and served in the Mediterranean and Atlantic theatres during the Second World War, taking part in Operation Torch and the invasions of Sicily, Italy and the south of France. Brooklyn received four battle stars for her World War II service.

The Brooklyn was launched on 30 November 1936 and commissioned on 30 September 1937. Her shakedown cruise took her into the Caribbean. She entered active service late in 1938 when she joined Cruiser Division 8 in the Panama Canal Zone. She served on the East Coast for a short period in 1939, then on the West Coast until February 1941. In that month she was used to transport a Marine garrison to Midway. This was followed by a goodwill tour of the South Pacific, before in the summer of 1941 she was assigned to the Atlantic Squadron.

USS Brooklyn (CL-40) in the Hudson River, 1939
USS Brooklyn (CL-40)
in the Hudson River, 1939

One of the Brooklyn's first tasks in the Atlantic was to escort a convoy carrying US troops to Reykjavik, where the United States was taking over from the British (1-7 July). She spent the rest of the year on Neutrality Patrol duties in the western Atlantic.

After the American entry into the Second World War the Brooklyn was sent to watch the Vichy French warships based at Martinique. Next came a spell on convoy duty, which began in April 1942. In September, while escorting her third convoy, she rescued 1,173 soldiers who had to abandon their burning transport ship.

The Brooklyn was allocated to the force that crossed the Atlantic to take part in Operation Torch. She left Norfolk, Virginia, on 24 October, and reached North Africa on 8 November. On the first day of the invasion she bombarded troops near Fedhala, but they turned out to be American troops involved in an attack on a French held fort. She was then engaged by French naval forces, first the destroyer Milan and then the destroyer Brestois and the cruiser Primauguet. The French ships were all either sunk or forced to beach. The submarine Amazone also fired at her, but missed, and the attack wasn't noticed onboard. She remained off Morocco for the next few days before heading back to the United States on 17 November 1942.

US Marines at 5in/ 40 broadside guns of USS Brooklyn (CL-40)
US Marines at 5in/ 40 broadside guns of USS Brooklyn (CL-40)

Between January and July 1943 the Brooklyn escorted three convoys travelling between the US and Casablanca. She was then allocated to the fleet that supported the invasion of Sicily, and spent 10-14 July providing anti-aircraft defences for the fleet and bombarding short targets. She formed part of TG86, covering Licata and the US 7th Army. In September she supported TF81 during the Salerno landings.

Supply Officer's Stateroom, USS Brooklyn (CL-40)
Supply Officer's Stateroom,
USS Brooklyn (CL-40)

Between 22 January and 9 February 1944 the Brooklyn helped support the landings at Anzio, north of Rome, an attempt to break the stalemate in Italy. The attack soon bogged down, and the Brooklyn returned again between 13 and 23 May 1944 to take part in the bombardment that helped lead to the eventual Allied breakout.  

Next came Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France. On 15 August 1944 the Brooklyn took part in the pre-invasion bombardment.

On 21 November the Brooklyn set off for New York and an overhaul. Between May and September she took part in exercises off the East Coast. As with many pre-war cruisers she had a very short post-war career. She entered the reserve in January 1946 and was decommissioned on 3 January 1947.

On 9 January 1951 the Brooklyn was given to Chile as part of the Mutual Defence Assistance Program. In Chilean service she became the O'Higgins (C 02). She served with the Chilean Navy until she was decommissioned on 14 January 1992, with one break in 1974-78 after she was damaged after running aground. She sank on 3 November 1992 shile being towed to be broken up.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



10,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt

5in on 0.625in STS

 - deck


 - barbettes


 - turrets

6.5in face
2in roof
1.25in side and rear

 - conning tower

2.25in roof


608ft 4in


Fifteen 6in/47 guns (five triple turrets)
Eight 5in/25 guns (/38 on St Louis, Helena) (eight single positions)
Eight 0.5in guns
Four aircraft

Crew complement


Laid down

12 March 1935


30 November 1936


30 September 1937

Sold to Chile

9 January 1951

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 April 2015), USS Brooklyn (CL-40) ,

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