USS Philadelphia (CL-41)

USS Philadelphia (CL-41) was a Brooklyn class cruiser that took part in the US occupation of Iceland, Operation Torch, the invasion of Sicily and the landings at Salerno, Anzio and in the south of France. Philadelphia received five battle stars for World War II operations.

The Philadelphia was laid down in May 1935, launched in November 1936 and commissioned on 23 September 1937. Her shakedown cruiser took her to the West Indies, and the same period also saw her host President Roosevelt for a cruiser in the Caribbean. She then joined Cruiser Division 8 in the Battle Force, then based in the Atlantic. In June she became the flagship of Rear Admiral F. A. Todd, commander of the division.

USS Philadelphia (CL-41) in Philadelphia Navy Yard, 7 October 1937
USS Philadelphia (CL-41)
in Philadelphia Navy Yard,
7 October 1937

In June 1939 the Philadelphia and Cruiser Division moved to the Pacific. She operated off the US West Coast until April 1940 when she moved to Pearl Harbor. She was based at Pearl Harbor until May 1941 when she was ordered back to the Atlantic.

The Philadelphia reached Boston in June 1941 and was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol. She also took part in the US occupation of Iceland, when American troops took over from the British. She was undergoing repairs at Boston when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

The Philadelphia spent 1942 operating in the Atlantic. In February she took part in an antisubmarine patrol that reached Argentia. She then escorted two convoys to Iceland. In May-June she took part in an antisubmarine patrol that reached the Panama Canal. In July-September she escorted tow patrols to Greenock in Scotland.

USS Philadelphia (CL-41) at New York
USS Philadelphia (CL-41) at New York

After returning from the second convoy she was assigned to the Western Naval Task Force, part of the fleet being assembled in the United States to take part in Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. This fleet had the task of carrying General Patton's task force across the Atlantic in one of the longest amphibious attacks in history. The Philadelphia was the flagship of Rear Admiral Lyal A. Davidson, commander of the Southern Attack Group, with the task of landing 6,423 men under General Harmon at Safi, 140 miles south of Casablanca.

The Philadelphia left Norfolk on 24 October. In an attempt to fool any watching Germans the fleet headed for Britain. As it approached Africa it headed towards the Straits of Gibraltar, in the hope that the Germans would think they were heading for Malta. They then turned south to attack Morocco.

French shore guns opened fire on the American fleet at 4.28am on the morning of 8 November. Philadelphi and the battleship New York (BB-34) opened fire on the 130mm guns at Batterie Railleuse, then on a battery of three 155mm guns south of Safi.  On 9 November one of her aircraft attacked a Vichy submarine, believed to be the Medeuse, later seen damaged on a beach. The Philadelphia remained off North Africa until 13 November. She then returned to New York to collect the first of two convoys that she escorted to Casablanca between then and March 1943.

Next she was allocated to Task Force 85 (Admiral Alan G. Kirk), part of the fleet allocated to Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. In the build-up to that invasion she escorted a convoy from Norfolk to Oran (8-22 June 1943). She then escorted the invasion convoy and supporting the landings at Scoglitti very early on 9 July. The Philadelphia remained off Sicily until 21 August (with one break), providing gunfire support for the troops fighting on the island.

After Sicily the Philadelphia supported the landings at Salerno, on the Italian mainland. She escorted the invasion fleet and then played a part in the naval bombardment that defeated the heavy German counterattacks that followed. On 11 September she was the target of one of the new German anti-shipping weapons, in this case a glide bomb, but managed to evade the attack. She remained off Salerno until 17 September, fighting off several conventional air attacks during that period.

In November the Philadelphia escorted a convoy back to Hampton Roads, and then went for an overhaul at New York. She returned to the Mediterranean theatre as part of the escort of a convoy that reached Oran on 30 January 1944.

On 14 February the Philadelphia joined the fleet supporting the Anzio landings, and she provided fire support for the troops in the beachhead until 23 May 1944.

Next she formed part of Task Group 85.12 (Admiral C.F. Bryant) for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the South of France. She provided counter-battery fire for the landings at St Tropez on 15 August. She then helped the French as they landed near Toulon on 17 August. On 21 August the fortress islands of Pomeques, Chateau D’If, and Ratonneau in the Bay of Marseilles surrendered to her. She then operated off Nice.

On 20 October she left Naples heading for the US, and reached Philadelphia for another refit on 6 November. This was followed by training that lasted into early June, so she missed the rest of the war in Europe. In July she escorted the Augusta (CA-31) as she carried President Truman to the Potsdam Conference.

The Philadelphia had a short post-war career in American hands. She took part in two 'magic carpet' cruisers, bringing US servicemen back from Europe, late in 1945, and was then inactivated early in 1946. She was decommissioned on 3 February 1947 and struck off the Navy List on 9 January 1951.

On the same day she was sold to Brazil, as part of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. In Brazilian service she became the Barroso (C-11), and she remained in service until she was struck off the Brazilian operational list in 1973. She was scrapped in the following year.

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

28 May 1935


17 November 1936


23 September 1937

Sold to Brazil

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 Philadelphia (CL-41) ,

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