The Cleveland (CL-55) class gun cruiser was derived from an extensively improved Brooklyn (CL-40) class design. They had four triple 6-inch gun turrets as a main battery as opposed to the five turrets in the Brooklyn class. Forty of these cruisers were ordered in all. Of these forty, ten would be completed as Independence (CVL-22) class light aircraft carriers and two were cancelled. Twenty eight cruisers were built, six of these would later be converted to missile cruisers in the late 1950s.
CL-55 thru 58 were laid down in mid to late 1940 by New York Shipbuilding Co. and commissioned mid to late 1942. These four ships would decommission in 1946-47, were stricken in 1959 and scrapped in 1960. CL-59 and 60 were laid down in mid 1941 by NYSB and the former was ordered completed as an aircraft carrier (CVL-22) which commissioned in January 1943 as the USS Independence. CL-60 commissioned in November 1942. CL-60 was decommissioned in 1946 and scrapped in 1960. CVL-22 also decommissioned in 1946 and was used in the Bikini Atoll atomic tests and later sunk as a target in 1951.
CL-61 thru 63 were assigned to Newport News Shipbuilding - and were laid down in early 1941. CL-61 was ordered completed as an aircraft carrier in February 1942 and would commission as Princeton (CVL-23) in Feb 1943. She was lost 24 Oct 1944 in the Leyte Gulf. CL-62 and 63 were commissioned in early 1943 - both were decommissioned in 1947 and scrapped 1959-60.
CL-64 thru 67 were assigned to Bethlehem Shipbuilding, Quincy MA. CL-64 was laid down in Mar 1942 and CL-65 thru 67 in early 1943. The former would join the fleet in January 1944 and the latter three in mid-to-late 1944. These were all completed as gun cruisers. CL-64 was decommissioned in 1946, stricken in Apr 1966 and expended as a target in Oct 1969. CL-65, 66, and 67 were considered for conversion to missile cruisers CLG-6, 7, and 8 respectively. The latter two were carried out but CL-65 was stricken in Dec 1970 and scrapped - CL-82 took her place. These conversions took place 1957-60 and as modified, two 6-inch gun turrets were removed aft and a twin Terrier missile launcher was fitted with a capacity for 120 missiles. CLG-7 (ex CL-66) went out of service in 1974 and was stricken in 1978, then scrapped. CLG-8 (ex CL-67) went out of service in 1969, was stricken in Dec 1973 and scrapped in 1975.
CL-76 thru 79 were assigned to New York Shipbuilding and all four were ordered completed as aircraft carriers (CVL-24, 25, 26 and 28). The first three were laid down mid-to-late 1941 and the fourth in early 1942. These light aircraft carriers were commissioned early to mid 1943 and were decommissioned in early 1947. CVL-24 was transferred to France in June 1951, returned in Sep 1960 and scrapped in 1962. CVL-25 was stricken in Nov 1959 and scrapped in 1962. CVL-26 recommissioned in Sep 1950 as a training carrier, went out of service in Jan 1956, was stricken in 1970 and scrapped. CVL-28 recommissioned in Oct 1948 and was modified for ASW duties, went out of service in Jan 1955 and from 1965-67 was refitted for transfer to the Spanish Navy where she served until 1989. The longest lived of the Cleveland class cruisers, she was sold for scrap in 1995. CL-80 and 81 were assigned to Newport News Shipbuilding, laid down in mid 1941 and commissioned mid-to-late 1943. Both were decommissioned 1946-47 and scrapped 1960-62.
CL-82 and 83 were assigned to Bethlehem Shipbuilding, Quincy MA and were laid down July 1943 and Sep 1944 respectively. CL-82 commissioned in May 1945 and CL-83 in March 1946. CL-82 went to reserve in June 1949 as did CL-83 in June 1956. CL-83 was scrapped in 1960-61. CL-82, which replaced CL-66 as contender for missile cruiser conversion underwent this conversion 1957-59. She was withdrawn from service in Dec 1973 and scrapped in 1978.
CL-84 and 88 were assigned to Federal Shipbuilding, Kearny NJ but were cancelled in December 1940 to allow that shipyard to concentrate on destroyer construction.
CL-85 was assigned to New York Shipbuilding but reordered as a light carrier in Mar 1942 - she joined the fleet as Langley (CVL-27) in Aug. 1943 - went out of service in early 1947 then transferred to France in Jan 1951. Returned in 1963, she was scrapped in 1964.
CL-86 and 87 were assigned to Newport News Shipbuilding, laid down in late 1942 and commissioned mid to late 1944. They went out of service in June 1947 and June 1949, respectively, the former was scrapped 1964-65 and the latter in 1960.
CL-89 thru 94 were assigned to Cramp Shipbuilding. CL-89/90 were laid down in Aug-Sep 1941 and entered service 1943-44, decommissioned 1947-49 and were scrapped in 1962 and 1969, respectively. CL-91 was laid down in Dec 1942 and commissioned Dec 1944 - went to reserve in June 1947 and underwent conversion to a missile cruiser (CLG-5) 1957-60. Two aft 6-inch gun turrets were removed and a Talos missile launcher with 46 missiles fitted aft. She went out of service in Dec 1979 and was last laid up in the NDRF at Suisan Bay CA in 1995. CL-92 was laid down Mar 1943, commissioned in June 1945, decommissioned in June 1949 and converted to a Talos missile cruiser (CLG-4) 1957-60. She went out of service in November 1976 and was preserved as a museum. CL-93 was laid down Aug 1943 and had work suspended in June 1946 when nearly complete. She became the first Talos missile cruiser conversion (1956-58) - went out of service in 1970 and was scrapped in 1973. CL-94 was laid down Sep 1944, cancelled in August 1945, at the end of the war, and scrapped.
CL-99 and 100, both assigned to New York Shipbuilding, were reordered as light carriers (CVL-29 and 30) in June 1942, laid down August and November 1942 and commissioned mid-to-late 1943. Both decommissioned in 1947. CVL-29 recommissioned in May 1950 after refit for ASW duties and went out of service in April 1954 after the Korean War ended. She was scrapped 1959-60. CVL-30 remained in reserve, was stricken in June 1979 and scrapped.
CL-101 and 102 were assigned to Newport News Shipbuilding, were laid down March and June 1943 and joined the fleet in January and June 1945, respectively; they were placed in reserve 1947-49 and scrapped 1970-71.
CL-103 thru 105 were assigned to New York Shipbuilding; laid down between Dec 1942 and March 1943 and commissioned between July 1944 and January 1945. Out of service by 1947-49, CL-103 was scuttled as an artificial reef in May 1972, CL-104 was scuttled October 1970, and CL-105 was scrapped 1961-62.
Atlanta (CL-104) was struck from the Navy list on 1 October 1962, and she was earmarked for disposal. Atlanta's career, however, had not yet ended. Instead, she underwent an extensive modification at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard. Reinstated on the Navy list as IX-304 on 15 May 1964, the vessel was converted to a target ship for studies of the effects of high energy air explosions on naval ships. The changes included cutting her hull down to the main deck level and erecting various experimental superstructures-designed for guided missile frigates and guided missile destroyers-on her deck. In these configurations she was subjected to explosions to determine whether or not the experimental structures could satisfactorily combine essential lightness with equally essential strength and blast resistance.
Atlanta (IX-304), off the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, configured for Operation "Sailor Hat," presented an interesting silhouette to those familiar with her original rig as a Cleveland-class, light cruiser. Converted to a target ship, Atlanta was fitted with two different types of destroyer deckhouses and three mast arrays; representative destroyer communications, fire control, and weapons delivery systems were installed, while an experimental reinforced fiberglass deckhouse was constructed for comparison under air blast forces with aluminum deckhouses then in use on destroyers.
These three tests were conducted off the coast of Kahoolawe, Hawaii, in early 1965. Atlanta was damaged, but not sunk, by the experiments. She was laid up at Stockton, Calif., sometime late in 1965. Her name was again struck from the Navy list on 1 April 1970, and the former light cruiser was sunk during an explosive test off San Clemente Island, Calif., on 1 October 1970.
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