USS Omaha CL-4

USS Omaha (CL-4) was the nameship of the Omaha class of light cruisers, and spent most of the Second World War operating in the Atlantic, where she stopped three German blockade runners. The Omaha was awarded one battle star for her service during the Second World War.

Although the Omaha class was ordered as part of the 1916 construction programme, none were laid down during the First World War. The Omaha was the first to be laid down, on 6 December 1918. In the post-war world military expenditure was a lower priority and progress was slow. The Omaha was launched on 14 December 1920, two years after being laid down and wasn't commissioned until 24 February 1923, just over two years later.

USS Omaha (CL-4) aground in the Bahamas, 1937
USS Omaha (CL-4)
aground in the
Bahamas, 1937

After being commissioned the Omaha joined the Atlantic Fleet as Flagship (Destroyers). She was used for training and made a number of visits to ports around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, showing the flag. She also took part in the International Patrols off Spain during the Civil War, replacing the Raleigh (CL-7) in 1938.

After the outbreak of the Second World War the Omaha was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol, protecting the western half of the Atlantic. She was part of CruDiv 2, TF3.

On 6 November 1941 the Omaha was patrolling in the mid-Atlantic with the destroyer Somers (DD-381). They encountered a suspicious merchant vessel, identifying herself as the Willmoto of Philadelphia. When the Omaha ordered her to heave to her crew abandoned ship and signalled that the ship was sinking. The ship was actually the German blockade runner Odenwald, and the crew had set off explosive charges in an attempt to scuttle her. A boarding party from the Omaha boarded the ship and prevented her from sinking. She was then taken to Puerto Rico.

Side view of USS Omaha (CL-4)
Side view of
USS Omaha (CL-4)

After the American entry into the war the Omaha remained in the Atlantic, and by the start of 1944 she was based at Recife, Brazil, and was part of TF41. On 4 January 1944, while operating with the destroyer Jouett (DD-396) she spotted a second blockade runner, the Rio Grande. Her German crew abandoned ship and scuttled the Rio Grande. On the following day a third blockade runner, the Burgenland, was spotted. This time the Omaha had to open fire and the German ship was sunk. These last two ships were both carrying rubber to Germany.

In March 1944 the Omaha left the Atlantic and moved to Naples to join the fleet that was preparing for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France. She formed part of TF86 'Sitka' during the invasion, and carried out shore bombardments. On 19 August she protected the flank of the fleet bombarding Toulon. On 22 August she took part in the capture of Porquerollles Island. On 23 August she was present at the surrender of Giens. On 25 August she bombarded targets around Toulon. Soon after this she returned to her patrol duties in the Atlantic, where she remained for the rest of the war.

After the end of the war the Omaha was quickly retired. She returned to Philadelphia on 1 September. By 17 October it had been decided to scrap her. She was decommissioned on 1 November, struck from the Naval Register on 28 November and scrapped in February 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

6 December 1918


14 December 1920


24 February 1923



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 (1 January 2014), USS Omaha CL-4,

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