USS Birmingham (CL-62)

USS "Birmingham" (CL-62), a light cruiser named for the city of Birmingham, Alabama, the "Steel City", was a Cleveland class light cruiser laid down at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Newport News in Virginia on 17 February 1941 and launched on 20 March 1942 by Mrs. C. Green, wife of the president of the Birmingham City Commission. She was commissioned on 29 January 1943. The "Birmingham" was one of the "fightingest" ships of the Navy and suffered heavy damage on at least three occasions.

Following her shakedown cruise the "Birmingham" was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. Departing Norfolk, Virginia on 2 June 1943, she steamed to the Mediterranean and gave gunfire support during the invasion of Sicily (10 July26 July 1943). Returning to the United States 8 August, she was reassigned to the Pacific Fleet and arrived at Pearl Harbor 6 September 1943.

Joining the fast carrier task force screen, she took part in the raids on Tarawa (18 September 1943) and Wake Island (5 October6 October). At the Solomons, she took part in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay (8 November9 November), along with her sister ships "Cleveland", "Columbia", "Montpelier", and "Denver". This was the first major action by the new "Cleveland" class light cruisers that were entering the fleet. During the daytime, Japanese planes hit the "Birmingham" with two bombs and a torpedo, which kept her out of the night surface battle with the IJN fleet that followed. The "Birmingham" retired to Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs which lasted until 18 February 1944, and then she rejoined the Pacific Fleet.Assigned to Task Force 57, she took part in the battle of Saipan (14 June4 August 1944); the Battle of the Philippine Sea (19 June20 June); battle of Tinian (20 July1 August); battle of Guam (21 July); and Philippine Islands raids (9 September24 September). She then served with Task Force 38 during the Okinawa raid (10 October), northern Luzon and Formosa raids (15 October and 18 October19 October), and the Battle of Leyte Gulf (24 October). During the latter she suffered great topside damage from explosions on board the aircraft carrier "USS Princeton" while courageously attempting to aid that stricken vessel. The "Birmingham" retired to Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs which lasted from November 1944 to January 1945.

Rejoining the Pacific Fleet, the cruiser supported the battle of Iwo Jima (4 March5 March 1945) and battle of Okinawa (25 March5 May). On 4 May, after fighting off three attacks, she was damaged for a third time when a Japanese Kamikaze plane hit her forward. Returning to Pearl Harbor, she underwent repairs between 28 May and 1 August 1945.

The USS "Birmingham" rejoined the 5th Fleet at Okinawa on 26 August 1945, and then in November steamed to Brisbane, Australia. She returned to San Francisco on 22 March 1946 and was taken out of commission and placed in reserve there on 2 January 1947. She was then stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 March 1959 and then scrapped at Long Beach in California.

External links

* [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/b6/birmingham-ii.htm history.navy.mil: USS "Birmingham"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/04/04062.htm navsource.org: USS "Birmingham"]
* [http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/cruisers/cl62.txt hazegray.org: USS "Birmingham"]


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