Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
USS PORTLAND (CA-33)
The first PORTLAND (CA-33), a heavy cruiser, was authorized
13 February 1929; laid down by Bethlehem Steel Co., Shipbuilding
Div., Quincy, Mass. 17 February 1930; launched 21 May 1932;
sponsored by Mrs. Ralph D. Brooks of Portland; and commissioned
23 February 1933, Captain H. F. Leary in command.
Departing Boston 1 April 1933, the cruiser arrived Gravesend
Bay, N.Y., the evening of 3 April. The next night, she received
word that dirigible AKRON was down at sea. Thirty-six minutes
after receipt of the message the ship was underway. Racing
seaward, she was the first naval vessel at the scene of the
disaster, and the task of search and rescue coordination was
thus hers. Seventy-three lives were lost in the disaster
including that of Admiral William Moffett, Chief, Bureau of
PORTLAND steamed from San Diego, Calif. 2 October 1935
astern HOUSTON (CA-30) which carried President Franklin D.
Roosevelt. The following days the President and his party
fished. After calling at Panama and several other ports, the
two ships steamed to Charleston, S.C. where the President
During Pacific Fleet maneuvers, PORTLAND crossed the equator
for the first time 20 May 1936. From thence until the outbreak
of war, she was engaged in peacetime training and goodwill
missions as a unit of Cruiser Division 5, Scouting Force.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, PORTLAND was two
days out, enroute Midway with a carrier group. Through the
remainder of December and until 1 May 1942, she operated
between the west coast, Hawaii, and Fiji.
PORTLAND served in Rear Admiral T. C. Kinkaid's Attack Group
4-8 May when a Japanese invasion force was turned back from Port
Moresby, New Guinea during the two-day battle of the Coral Sea.
When LEXINGTON (CV-2) was lost, the cruiser took on 722
survivors. She was in Rear Admiral F. J. Fletcher's TF 17
carrier screen during the Battle of Midway (2-6 June) when the
Japanese lost four of their carriers. PORTLAND provided cover
and support for the Marine landings at Tulagi and Guadalcanal,
the Solomons, 7 through 9 August. She then remained in the area
to support the Guadalcanal operations and to protect Allied
The cruiser participated in the Battle of the Eastern
Solomons, 23-25 August, when Allied forces prevented
reinforcement of Japanese units in the Solomons by a large naval
armada under Admiral Yamamoto. She then steamed south to take
part in the Battle of Santa Cruz, 26-27 October, as one of the
escorts for ENTERPRISE (CV-6). Two weeks later, she
participated in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (12-15 November)
which resulted in heavy damage to both forces but broke up the
determined Japanese effort to disrupt the landing of 6,000
American troops on Guadalcanal, to bombard Henderson Field, and
to land reinforcements.
During this action, 13 November 1942, PORTLAND took a
torpedo hit at 0158 on the starboard quarter, which blew off
both inboard propellers, jammed the rudder five degrees right,
and jammed number three turret in train and elevation. A four
degree list was quickly corrected by shifting ballast, but the
steering casualty could not be overcome and the ship was forced
to steam in circles to starboard.
At the end of the first circle, a Japanese battleship,
illuminated by nearby burning ships and flares, was taken under
fire by PORTLAND's forward turrets. The enemy returned the
fire, but all salvos passed over the cruiser. In the four six-
gun salvos returned by PORTLAND, she succeeded in starting fires
in the Japanese heavy. Then again at 0630, still circling,
PORTLAND opened fire on an enemy destroyer at a range of six
miles. On the sixth salvo the destroyer exploded, rolled over,
and sank within five minutes.
With the assistance of Higgins boats, a YP, and a tug,
PORTLAND anchored at Tulagi 14 November. From there she was
towed to Sydney, Australia for preliminary repairs prior to
overhaul in the United States. Following short stops at Samoa
and Pearl Harbor, the ship arrived Mare Island Navy Yard 3 March
After operational training in southern Californian waters,
PORTLAND steamed for the Aleutians late in May, arriving 11 June
and bombarding Kiska 26 July. After covering a reconnaissance
landing on Little Kiska 17 August, she called at Pearl Harbor 23
September, thence to San Francisco in early October, then back
to Pearl Harbor in mid-October.
From November 1943 through February 1944, PORTLAND
participated in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaigns. She
next screened carriers during air strikes against Palau, Yap,
Ulithi, and Woleai, 30 March-1 April.
The ship then steamed with a carrier force assigned to cover
the landing in the Hollandia-Tanahmerah area of New Guinea, 21-
24 April. Cruising northward again the force struck at Truk
and, in company with five other cruisers and destroyers,
PORTLAND bombarded Satawan in the Nomei Group.
Following this series of operations, PORTLAND steamed for
Mare Island for overhaul, completed in time for her return to
the western Pacific for pre-landing bombardments of Peleliu,
12-14 September. The cruiser supported the landing on Peleliu
15 September, and, for the four following days, her guns blasted
enemy positions that threatened the advance of allied forces.
She provided gunfire support at Peleliu through 29 September and
then steamed for Seeadler Harbor, Manus, the Admiralties.
PORTLAND next joined a powerful force in the first heavy
surface strike on the central Philippines. She arrived off
Leyte 17 October, entering the Gulf the next day--two days
before A-Day. For those two days her guns softened up enemy
held positions in preparation for the landing.
The night of 24 October, a strong Japanese force consisting
of two battleships, one heavy cruiser, and four destroyers
headed for Surigao Strait with the apparent intent of raiding
shipping in Leyte Gulf. The Japanese force advanced in rough
column up the narrow strait during darkness, while PORTLAND and
her sisters steamed across the top of the strait, crossing the
enemy's T. The Japanese were first met by PT boats, then in
succession by three coordinated destroyer torpedo attacks, and
finally by devastating gunfire from American battleships and
cruisers disposed across the northern end of the strait. The
Japanese force was utterly defeated, losing two battleships and
From 3 January through 1 March 1945, PORTLAND participated
in the operations at Lingayen Gulf and Corregidor. Arriving off
Lingayen Gulf 5 January and bombarding the vicinity of Cape
Bolinao, she entered the Gulf the same day and commenced
bombardment of the eastern shore but discontinued immediately
when a heavy suicide air attack came in.
PORTLAND entered Manila Bay 15 February and bombarded the
south shore of Corregidor in preparation for landings there.
She returned to Leyte Gulf 1 March for her first availability
for repairs, and replenishment of general stores in five months.
From 26 March through 20 April, while conducting operations
in support of the Okinawa campaign, PORTLAND underwent twenty-
four air raids, shot down four enemy aircraft and assisted in
downing two others. From 8 May until 17 June, she participated
in the bombardment and capture of Okinawa, departing 17 June for
upkeep at Leyte. At Buckner Bay, 6 August, she commenced upkeep
With the termination of hostilities, PORTLAND was designated
flagship of Vice Admiral George D. Murray, Commander, Marianas,
who was to accept the surrender of the Carolines. The ship
steamed to Truk Atoll and there Admiral Murray, acting for Fleet
Admiral Nimitz, accepted the formal capitulation of the senior
Japanese military and civilian officials in ceremonies on
PORTLAND called at Pearl Harbor 21-24 September, there
embarking 600 troops for transportation to the United States.
Transiting the Panama Canal 8 October, she continued to the
U.S., calling at Portland, Maine for Navy Day celebrations 27
October. She reported 11 March 1946 to the Philadelphia Naval
Shipyard for inactivation and assignment to the Reserve Fleet.
She decommissioned at Philadelphia 12 July 1946 and was
maintained in reserve status until struck from the Navy List 1
March 1959. The cruiser was sold to Union Mineral and Alloys
Corp., New York, N.Y. 6 October 1959 and scrapped.
PORTLAND received sixteen battle stars for World War II