USS Reno (CL-96)

USS Reno (CL-96) was part of the second batch of Atlanta class light cruisers, and served with the Carrier Task Force from May 1944 until she was badly damaged during the fighting off Leyte. She earned three battle stars for World War II service.

The Reno was launched on 23 December 1942 and commissioned on 28 December 1943. Her shakedown cruise took place off San Diego, and she left for the fleet on 14 April. She joined Task Force 58 (Admiral Marc Mitscher), and helped support the attack on Marcus Island on 19-20 May and then on Wake Island.

In June she supported the carriers during raids on Saipan (11 June), Pagan Island (12-13 June) and Iwo Jima, Haha Jima and Chichi Kima (15-16 June). The American invasion of Saipan triggered a massive Japanese aerial counterattack, but this ended in a crushing defeat (Battle of the Philippine Sea), after the US carrier fighters and the carrier screen inflicted very heavy losses on the Japanese aviators.

From 20 June to 8 July the Reno supported the invasion of Saipan. From 17-24 July she supported the landings on Guam. She then covered the carriers as they hit the Palau Islands (26-29 July), the Bonin Islands (4-5 August) and the Palau Islands (7 September).

USS Reno (CL-96) at sea, late 1943 or early 1944
USS Reno (CL-96)
at sea, late 1943
or early 1944

In September the Reno supported carrier raids on Mindanao (9-13 September), then the invasion of the Palau Islands (15-20 September). This was followed by raids on the Manila area on 21-22 September and Nansei Shoto (8 October).

On 12-14 October the Reno supported the carriers during their attack on Formosa. The Japanese responded with a major air attack, in which the Reno short down six Japanese aircraft, although one torpedo bomber crashed onto her. The damage was fairly minor - turret six was damaged, but managed to keep firing.

On 20 October US troops landed on Leyte, triggering another determined Japanese response. On 24 October the light carrier Princeton (CVL-23) was hit by aircraft from Clark Field. She was pulled back from the danger zone, and the Renotook part in efforts to save the ship. She was unable to stay alongside the burning carrier for long, and had to make five shorter trips to evacuate the wounded. During one of these efforts one of her 40mm guns was crushed by the flight deck of the listing carrier. When the fire spread to the carrier's torpedo storage area, triggering an explosion, it was clear that she couldn't be saved. The last survivors were evacuated, and Reno then sank her with a torpedo.

She returned to the fleet just in time to take part in the last part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She was part of the force that rushed north to attack the Japanese carriers that were operating as bait (battle of Cape Engano).

USS Reno (CL-96) from the left

Aircraft weren't the only danger. On the night of 3 November the Reno was hit by a torpedo from the submarine I-41. She suffered heavy damage to the aft engine room, 132ft of flooding and oil fires. She had to be towed the 1,500 miles to UIithi for repairs. These allowed her to return to Charleston under her own power for more extensive repairs. She reached Charleston on 22 March 1945, and the repairs took seven months to complete. By then the war was over. She was given extra bunks, and used on two 'Magic Carpet' trips between Le Havre and the US east coast, bringing US Army troops back from Europe.

The Reno was decommissioned on 4 November 1946, struck off on 1 March 1959 and sold for scrap in March 1962.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



8,500 nm @ 15kts

Armour – belt


 - bulkheads


 - armour deck


 - gunhouses


 - deck over underwater magazines



541ft 6in oa


Twelve 5in/ 38 guns (six two-gun turrets)
Sixteen 40mm guns (eight double mountings) - as ordered but modified in some
Up to Eighteen 20mm guns
Eight 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

1 August 1941


23 December 1942


28 December 1943


1 March 1959

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 (9 July 2015), USS Reno (CL-96) ,

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