USS Juneau (CL-52)

USS Juneau (CL-52) was a Atlanta class light cruiser that took part in the Guadalcanal campaign and was sunk by Japanese torpedoes at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Juneau received four battle stars during her short career.

The Juneau was launched on 25 October 1941 and commissioned on 14 February 1942. After a short shakedown cruise she was allocated to the forces blockading the Vichy French islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe, to prevent French warships from escaping. She then spent 1 June-12 August patrolling in the Caribbean and North Atlantic.

The Juneau departed from the Pacific on 22 August, and joined Task Force 18 (Rear Admiral Noyes) on 10 September. This force, which was built around the carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) was joined  by TF 17 (USS Hornet, CV-8), on the following day and the forces combined as Task Force 61. Their task was to ferry desperately needed fighter aircraft to Guadalcanal.

USS Juneau (CL-52), New York, 11 February 1942
USS Juneau (CL-52),
New York,
11 February 1942

On 15 September the Wasp was hit by three torpedoes fired from the submarine I-19. She was mortally damaged and had to be sunk at 21.00. Juneau took part in the rescue efforts, helping to pick up 1,910 survivors from the Wasp. The Juneau then rejoined the fleet, supporting the Hornet during a raid on Shortland Island.

On 24 October the Hornet and Enterprise task forces joined, just in time to deal with an attack by the Japanese Combined Fleet (Battle of Santa Cruz Island, 26 October 1942). This turned into a carrier battle between the two US carriers and four Japanese carriers. Juneau was part of the anti-aircraft screen for the Hornet, but she was unable to prevent the Japanese inflicting fatal damage on the carrier, which sank on the following day. After the attack on the Hornet the Juneau was detached and sent to join the Enterprise group where she was able to help fight off a series of Japanese air attacks.

The Juneau returned to Guadalcanal on 12 November as part of Task Force 67 (Read Admiral R. K. Turner). This force was escorting reinforcements to Guadalcanal, but found itself facing a major Japanese attack (Naval Battle of Guadalcanal). The Japanese sent two strong bombardment forces to attack Henderson Field. These were detected on 12 November, and the Juneautook part in efforts to protect the transports as they were evacuated.

She then formed part of Admiral Callaghan's small Landing Support Group, which attempted to intercept the incoming bombardment group. Just before 2am on 13 November the two forces clashed in a confused night battle. During this fighting the Juneau was hit by a long lance torpedo, which struck on the port side. She was forced to withdraw from the battle, but was still under control and was able to join the rest of the American survivors as they withdrew on 13 November. Just after 11am she was hit by a torpedo from the Japanese submarine I-26. This hit at the same point as the earlier hit, and probably penetrated a magazine. The Juneau blew apart and sank in 20 seconds leaving only ten survivors. Amongst the dead were Captain Swanson and the five Sullivan brothers, who had insisted on serving together. Partly as a  result of their deaths the US War Department instituted the post-war Sole Survivor policy, to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



8,500 nm @ 15kts

Armour – belt


 - bulkheads


 - armour deck


 - gunhouses


 - deck over underwater magazines



541ft 6in oa


Sixteen 5in/38 guns (eight two-gun turrets)
Sixteen 1.1in guns (four four-gun positions)
Sixteen 40mm guns (eight double mountings)
Eight 20mm guns
Eight 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

27 May 1940


25 October 1941


14 February 1942


13 November 1942

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 (28 May 2015), USS Juneau (CL-52) ,

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