The second Cleveland (CL-55) was launched 1 November 1941 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. H. Burton; and commissioned 15 June 1942, Captain E. W. Burrough in command.
Clearing Norfolk 10 October 1942 Cleveland joined a task force off Bermuda bound for the invasion of North Africa. Her firepower supported the landings at Fedhala, French Morocco, on 8 November and she remained on patrol until 12 November, returning to Norfolk, 24 November.
Cleveland sailed for the Pacific 5 December 1942, and arrived at Efate 16 January. Her first mission in the consolidation of the Solomon Islands was with TF 18 to guard a troop convoy to Guadalcanal from 27 to 31 January, Cleveland fired on the enemy as she came under heavy air attack in the Battle of Rennell Island on the 29th and 30th.
Joining TF 68 Cleveland steamed up "the slot" 6 March 1943 to bombard Japanese airfields at Vila, then joined in the attacks which sank two Japanese destroyers in Kula Gulf. Still with TF 68, "Merrill's Marauders," Cleveland fired in the bombardment of the Short-land Islands on 30 June and provided gun support for the invasion landings at Munda, New Georgia on 12 July. Following a short repair period at Sydney, Australia, Cleveland sailed for the preinvasion bombardment of the Treasury Islands on 26 and 27 October. Her task force steamed to blast Buka and Bonis on 1 November in support of the troops invading Bougainville, dashed south the same day to neutralize bases in the Shortlands, and that night intercepted a. Japanese force off Empress Augusta Bay in the action which was to win her a Navy Unit Commendation. Cleveland poured her radar-controlled fire into the four Japanese cruisers for over an hour, aiding in sinking Sendai, then chased the fleeing ships until daybreak. An air attack followed and one stick of bombs severely rocked Cleveland, who answered by splashing several of the enemy planes. She returned to Buka for another bombardment on 23 December, then patrolled between Truk and Green Island from 13 to 18 February 1944 while American forces captured the latter.
After supporting the capture of Emirau Island from 17 to 23 March 1944, Cleveland sailed for replenishment and repairs at Sydney, Australia, then returned to the Solomons 21 April to prepare for the Marianas operation. One practice bombardment on 20 May brought return fire unexpectedly which straddled the ship, but unharmed, she quickly silenced the shore batteries.
From 8 June to 12 August 1944 Cleveland participated in the Marianas operation. She conducted softening-up bombardments and then gave fire support for invading troops until she joined TF 58 for the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19 and 20 June. Although few enemy aircraft penetrated the screen of American carrier planes, Cleveland was credited with splashing at least one enemy aircraft and assisting in downing another of the few which did get through.
From 12 to 29 September 1944 Cleveland fired in the invasion of the Palaus, then sailed from Manus 5 October for a stateside overhaul. She arrived in Subic Bay 9 February, and sailed on to bombard Corregidor on 13 and 14 February, effectively neutralizing the fortress before the landings there. Continuing to support the consolidation of the Philippines, she covered the landings at Puerto Princesa, the Visayans, Panay, and the Malabang-Parang area on Mindanao.
Cleveland put out from Subic Bay 7 June 1945 to act as part of the covering force and provide fire support for the invasion landings at Brunei Bay, Borneo on 10 June. She returned to Subic Bay 15 June, then sailed to Manila to embark General of the Army Douglas Mac-Arthur, USA, and his staff as observers of the assault on Balikpapan. Arriving 30 June, she fired in a pre-landing bombardment the next morning, and after General MacArthur had made an inspection tour of the landing area, got underway for Manila, arriving 3 July.
With a new cruiser task force, Cleveland sailed 13 July 1945 to Okinawa, arriving 16 July. From this base the force made a series of sweeps against Japanese shipping until 7 August to insure Allied control of the East China Sea. Cleveland got underway from Okinawa 9 September to support the occupation of Japan by covering the evacuation of Allied prisoners of war from Wakayama, then serving as part of a naval occupation group until the 6th Army made its landings on Honshu. After a short stay in Tokyo Bay (28 October-1 November), Cleveland sailed for Pearl Harbor, San Diego, the Panama Canal, and Boston, arriving 5 December for overhaul. She operated out of Newport on various training exercises, including a Naval Reserve training cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Quebec in June 1946, before reporting to Philadelphia for inactivation. Cleveland was placed out of commission in reserve there 7 February 1947, until sold 18 February 1960.
In addition to her Navy Unit Commendation, Cleveland received 13 battle stars for World War II service.
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