USS Pittsburgh (CA-72) (originally Albany)

USS Pittsburgh (CA-72) was a Baltimore class heavy cruiser that was completed in time to take part in the attacks on Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Japanese Home Islands and that served in the Atlantic and Mediterranean during the Korean War. Pittsburgh received 2 battle stars for World War II service.

CA-72 was laid down on 3 February 1943 as USS Albany. She was renamed Pittsburgh after the original Pittsburg(CA-70) was renamed Canberra to honour HMAS Canberra. She was launched on 22 February 1944 and commissioned on 10 October 1944.

Divers work on bow of USS Pittsburg (CA-72), June 1945
Divers work on bow of
USS Pittsburg (CA-72),
June 1945

The Pittsburgh left for the Pacific in January 1945 and joined TF 58 at Ulithi on 13 February. She was allocated to TG 58.2, which was built around the carrier Lexington (CV-16). Her first combat sortie came a few days later when the task force put to sea in support of the invasion of Iwo Jima. The carrier aircraft hit targets near Tokyo on 16-17 February. On 19 February they attacked Japanese targets on Iwo Jima itself before returning to Tokyo on 25 February and the Ryukyu Islands (or Nansei Shoto) on 1 March.

After a brief period of rest at Ulithi the fleet sailed again on 14 March. Kyushu was the target on 18-19 March, but this time the Japanese response was effective. The carrier Franklin (CV-13) was hit, set on fire and lost power. The Pittsburgh picked up 34 of her men from the sea, the managed to get a tow line onto the carrier. Pittsburghtowed the carrier away from Japan until noon on 20 March, fighting off two Japanese air attacks on the way. After that the carrier had regained enough power to make her own way to safety.

The Pittsburgh's last two sorties of the Second World War were both in support of the invasion of Okinawa. The first lasted from 23 March to 27 April and saw the carriers attack Japanese airfields within range of Okinawa, as well as providing direct support for the troops.

The second sortie began on 8 May, and saw a similar mix of operations. On 4 June the Pittsburgh was hit by a typhoon and early on 5 June the storm wrenched the front of the bow (as far back as the forward 8in turret) off the ship! Nobody was lost in this incident, but it needed skilful sailing to save the ship. The forward bulkhead had to be reinforced to keep the water out of the rest of the ship, and after the storm was over the ship began a long voyage to Guam. She couldn't risk travelling above 6 knots, so she didn't reach Guam until 10 June. Remarkable the bow also stayed afloat, was salvaged, and reached Guam!

USS Pittsburg (CA-72), mid 1950s
USS Pittsburg (CA-72), mid 1950s

The Pittsburgh was given a temporary bow and returned to the United States for full repairs. These weren't completed until September 1945. The Pittsburgh was placed in the reserve on 12 March 1946 and decommissioned on 7 March 1947.

During the Korean War a large number of decommissioned warships were brought back into the fleet. Pittsburghwas recommissioned on 25 September 1951, but despite having been based on the west coast while in the reserve she was sent to join the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. This first tour was brief, lasting from 11 February to 20 May 1952. She then served with the Atlantic Fleet for a spell, before returning to the Mediterranean from December 1952 to May 1953. During this period she served as the flagship of Vice Admiral Jerauld P. Wright, Commander in Chief, Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean during a goodwill tour of the Indian Ocean. Her third and final tour with the 6th Fleet lasted from 19 January to 26 May 1954.

Her final spell of operational duty came in the Pacific. She reached Yokosuka on 26 November and joined the 7th Fleet. She helped protect the Chinese Nationalist evacuation of the Tachen Islands, before returning to the US early in 1955. She entered the reserve on 28 April 1956, was decommissioned on 28 August 1956 and struck off the Navy List in 1973.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



10,000nm at 15kts

Armour – belt


 - armour deck


 - barbettes


 - turrets

8in face
3in roof
2-3.75in sides
1.5 rear

 - conning tower

3in roof

 - underwater magazines

3in side
2.5in deck


673ft 5in oa


Nine 8in guns (three triple turrets)
Twelve 5in/38 guns (six double positions)
Forty eight 40mm guns (11x4, 2x2)
Twenty four 20mm guns
Four aircraft

Crew complement


Laid down

3 February 1943


22 February 1944


10 October 1944


1 July 1973

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 February 2015), USS Pittsburgh (CA-72) (originally Albany) ,

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