Brooklyn-class Light Cruiser, St. Louis-subclass, USS St. Louis (CL-49) - The "Lucky Lou," Setting New Standards

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USS St. Louis
As Outfitted in 1945
USS St. Louis at sea, 1944, wearing Measure 32, Design 2C camouflage.

USS St. Louis was the eighth ship of the Brooklyn-class of light cruisers, and the first ship of her own two-ship subclass. She was laid down on the 10th of December, 1936, launched on the 15th of April, 1938, and commissioned into the US Navy on the 19th of May, 1939.

The St. Louis-subclass were modified from the progenitor Brooklyn-class, with higher pressure boilers, and importantly, a unit system of machinery that alternated boiler and engine rooms, to prevent total immobilization by one lucky hit. This subclass included St. Louis herself, and also USS Helena, and these two were also among the first US cruisers to be fitted with twin 5"/38s. Later US cruisers can all trace their roots back to the St. Louis-subclass, as all cruisers going forward were equipped with the newer unit system of machinery along with twin 5"/38 mounts. St. Louis herself was the predecessor to the Cleveland-class, the Baltimore-class, USS Wichita, and others; she would form a standard cruiser layout that would be repeated in following cruisers.

St. Louis served throughout the Second World War, being awarded 11 battle stars for actions during the war. She was transferred to Brazil in 1951, sinking while under tow in 1980.

Service History

Initially based at Norfolk, Virginia, St. Louis was on her shakedown during the start of WW2 in Europe. Due to the outbreak of war, she was soon assigned to the Neutrality Patrols, as part of the Atlantic Fleet. As part of this patrol, on September 3rd, 1940, she embarked a group of officers that were to survey the bases provided in the “Destroyers for Bases” deal with the UK, returning on the 27th of October.
In November, St. Louis departed Norfolk to join the Pacific Fleet, arriving in Pearl Harbor on the 12th of December, 1940. She participated in exercises until she and some other cruisers embarked on a journey to the Western Pacific, ultimately ending up at Manila. They returned to Pearl Harbor in September, after which St. Louis would go into drydock in Pearl Harbor for repairs. By December 7th, 1941, repairs had been completed and she was back in the water, moored at the Southeast Loch.

On December 7th, 1941, at 7:56am, men on St. Louis reported Japanese aircraft overhead, as they were beginning the attack on Pearl Harbor. General Quarters was ordered, and St. Louis entered the war weapons blazing. By 8:06am, the engine room had begun preparations to get underway, and by 9:00am, anti-aircraft crews reported 3 aircraft shot down. St. Louis slipped from her mooring at 9:31am, headed for the South Channel and preparing her 6" guns for a possible surface action.

USS St. Louis underway, passing the burning USS California, December 7th, 1941.

Reportedly a midget submarine that had snuck into the harbor attempted to torpedo St. Louis as she was departing; in fact the “torpedo” was a minesweeping float being towed by the destroyer USS Boggs. Before being identified as such, however, the captain of the Boggs ordered his ship to turn into the path of the oncoming “torpedo,” and soon after destroyers with depth charges attempted to root out the imagined submarine, allowing St. Louis to get to sea without interruption.

A message responding to the question “is the channel clear?” denoting the first ship, St. Louis, having just passed through and cleared the channel.

Once at sea, she was joined by USS Phoenix, USS Detroit, and several destroyers, in an impromptu task force that unsuccessfully looked for the Japanese carriers, returning by December 10th. St. Louis would then escort transport ships evacuating wounded to California, and again on the return journey with reinforcements for Hawaii.

Afterwards, St. Louis joined Task Force 17, centered on the carrier USS Yorktown. TF 17 ferried troops and supplies to American Samoa, then launching an attack, in concert with the nearby TF 8, on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, soon after detaching from TF 17 for more convoy escort. Of note, St. Louis escorted the ocean liner SS President Coolidge, which at the time was carrying the Manuel L. Quezon, the President of the Philippines, to the United States. St. Louis was then attached to Task Force 8, sailing north with reinforcements for the Aleutian Islands. At the time, the unit included half-sisters Honolulu and Nashville, heavy cruisers Indianapolis and Louisville, and fourteen destroyers.

Task Force 8 arrived on the 31st of May, and St. Louis was off for patrol duty, which she performed until August, when she shelled Japanese positions on Kiska Island and subsequently took part in the recapture of Adak Island. St. Louis left the Aleutians on the 25th of October for an overhaul at Mare Island, completed by early December, 1942.

St. Louis left San Francisco on the 4th of December, escorting a convoy to New Caledonia. She would separate from this convoy after their arrival, to join the Solomon Islands campaign. She embarked on her first offensive operation in January of 1943, to bombarded Japanese positions and predominantly airfields on the islands of Munda and Kolombangara, joining Task Force 67. For the next five months, St. Louis would patrol “the Slot,” otherwise known as the New Georgia Sound, to block Japanese reinforcement missions, themselves soon to be called the “Tokyo Express.”

St. Louis (left) underway with sister ship Helena (right) and half-sister Honolulu (center, behind Helena) in June 1943.

Allied planners had planned for a landing on New Georgia, and so a task force was dispatched to shell the island and cover landing ships. St. Louis would be with sister ship Helena and half sister Honolulu, along with four Fletcher-class destroyers. Honolulu opened fire at 00:28 on the 5th of July, at Japanese positions in Vila, quickly followed by the rest of the ships. Fifteen minutes later, the force would move towards Rice Anchorage, to the east, and shell targets there. Three Japanese destroyers had arrived in the Kula Gulf while the American ships were still shooting, and identified them from 6nmi (11km; 6.9mi) away as American.
Soon after, the American transport fleet arrived, and began to land Marines on the island. Niizuki, the only radar-equipped destroyer of the three, directed the aim of all three Japanese destroyers; altogether launching fourteen Type 93 torpedoes at an estimated distance of 11nmi (20km; 12.6mi), before withdrawing at high speed. The destroyer USS Strong was hit by a torpedo, believed to be the longest torpedo strike of the war, alerting the US force to a Japanese force in the area. Such was the distance of the shot that the American radar had not picked up the destroyers, and the American commander assumed the torpedo came from a submarine. The destroyers O’Bannon and Chevalier were detached to pick up survivors from Strong, with the force beginning the return to Tulagi at 02:15. At 07:00, the destroyer Jenkins joined the squadron, which reached Tulagi in the early afternoon. Soon afterwards, they would be ordered back to the Kula Gulf, as a reconnaissance aircraft had spotted Japanese destroyers departing Bougainville to attempt the planned reinforcement run that had been inadvertently disrupted the previous night. Jenkins replaced Strong, and the destroyer Radford replaced Chevalier, which had been damaged in an accidental collision with the Strong while she was sinking; the force had departed by 19:30.

The American ships passed Visuvisu Point early on the morning of the 6th of July. Visibility was poor due to heavy cloud cover, and there was no information on the composition or location of the Japanese force. By this time, the Japanese force had already to unload their cargo of troops and supplies, and Niizuki spotted the American ships on radar at 01:06 at a range of 13nmi (24km, 15mi). Niizuki, Suzukaze, and Tanikaze were to observe the Americans at 01:45, while the other destroyers continued to unload. American radar had spotted the three destroyers at 01:36, the Japanese recalled their destroyers in preparation for action around this time.
At about 01:57, on the 6th of July, the Americans opened fire with radar guided gunnery, beginning the Battle of Kula Gulf. Between the three cruisers, St. Louis, Helena and Honolulu, they fired close to 1,500 shells from their 6" guns in the span of 5 minutes. Niizuki was the recipient of heavy fire and sank rapidly, taking the Admiral in charge of the formation with her. Meanwhile, Suzukaze and Tanikaze had just launched torpedoes and smoked up for cover, retreating to the northwest. Soon after, Helena would be hit by three torpedoes and rapidly sank. St. Louis, on the other hand, was hit by a torpedo that turned out to be a dud, and the ship escaped unscathed. This lucky escape, combined with her seeming immunity from fire in previous missions, would earn her the nickname “Lucky Lou.” The battle ended with only minor damage to St. Louis and Honolulu, and no other American ships sank.

St. Louis and Helena in action in the Kula Gulf, from Honolulu.

By the 12th of July, St. Louis and Honolulu were joined by the light cruiser HMNZS Leander, embarking on another patrol at 17:00 that day, being sent to General Quarters at around 23:00. The Japanese supply convoy that was in the area was equipped with radar detection equipment, and had already detected the radar emissions of the Allied ships, which encountered the Japanese force at 01:00 on the 13th of July, with the light cruiser Jintsuu and five destroyers escorting four destroyer-transports. Despite the Japanese spotting the Allied force first, the American destoyers launched the first torpedo salvo. Jintsuu and the escorting destroyers launched torpedoes and turned away, but the three Allied cruisers focused fire on Jintsuu, as she was the largest radar contact. She would soon be hit by a torpedo from one of the destroyers, and sank.
While the initial torpedo salvo missed, the Japanese retreated into a rain squall and soon reemerged to launch another attack, this one being more successful. Leander was hit and fell out of line, while St. Louis and Honolulu chased the fleeing destroyers, soon opening fire on the destroyer Mikazuki and likely the still-burning and still-sinking wreck of Jintsuu, but lost contact with the Japanese ships soon after.
At 01:56, Honolulu picked up radar contacts 26,000yd (24,000m) away. Unwilling to fire, as they might be Allied destroyers, the Americans did not open fire until 02:03, when they fired star shells; in the process revealing the contacts to be the now-fleeing Japanese destroyers, who had just launched another torpedo salvo. Honolulu was hit but sustained minor damage, and St. Louis’s luck ran out when she was hit by a torpedo in the bow at 02:08, before she properly opened fire. The destroyer USS Gwin was also hit, and rapidly sank.
Despite sinking Jintsuu and driving off the destroyers, the Allies had failed to prevent the Japanese from landing an additional 1,200 troops and equipment on Kolombangara.
The Allied ships returned to Tulagi on July 13th, and St. Louis was detached to the US for repairs; first stopping at Espiritu Santo for temporary repairs to make the journey to Mare Island. During these repairs, St. Louis was reequipped with 40mm Bofors guns, in place of her 1.1" “Chicago Pianos,” along with her worn-out main guns being replaced.

The torpedo hit caused the bow of St. Louis to be 12ft off of where it should be, along with removing a sizable chunk of the area along the waterline.

St. Louis returned to the Solomons in mid-November of 1943. She assisted in further bombardment missions, all of these to capture islands to isolate the Japanese base at Rabaul. On the 14th of February, an air attack of six D3A dive bombers was directed against the American formation. Of the six, two target St. Louis, and one bomb of the six dropped would hit. It passed through a shell handling room before exploding amidships, starting a fire that was quickly suppressed by damage control efforts. She remained on station, but with reduced speed. The next day she weathered another attack, and was detached for repairs that lasted until the end of February, returning by March.
She left the Solomons on the 4th of June, 1944, bound for the Marianas. She was assigned to the shore bombardment group of Task Force 52, consisting of the battleships Pennsylvania, Idaho, and New Mexico, five other cruisers, nine destroyers, and several support vessels. The fleet departed on the 10th of June, arriving at Saipan four days later. St. Louis provided support to American troops landing on the island, and, following a quick trip to Guam for the preparatory bombardment, she was attached to the anti-aircraft screen of the Task Force’s refueling group throughout the Battle of the Philippine Sea. She returned to Guam in July, before departing for the US for an overhaul in late July. She returned to the main fleet in Leyte Gulf in November.

She would patrol Leyte and the Surigao Strait for the rest of November. On the 27th of November, a major Japanese counter-attack was launched, and St. Louis was struck by a kamikaze attack at 11:38, along with a near miss from a second at 11:39. She would be targeted by two planes again at 11:51, and despite shooting one aircraft down, the second crashed into the port side of the ship, tearing a large hole in the belt armor and causing a list to port. Another attempted kamikaze was shot down at 12:10, and at 12:20 a group of torpedo bombers launched an attack on St. Louis, but she avoided them all despite her damaged state. By 12:36, an even keel had been restored, and by 13:00, the fires were suppressed. The attacks had killed fifteen men, injured forty-three, and resulted in one man missing. The majorly wounded were transferred to a hospital ship the next day, and the ship would undergo temporary repairs before sailing for California for permanent fixes.

St. Louis hit by a kamikaze strike, 27th of November, 1944, off of Leyte.

She returned to the fleet in March, 1945, assigned to the escort screen of the fast-carrier strike force. She escorted the carriers Yorktown, Intrepid, and Langley, in company with the battleships Missouri, Wisconsin, and New Jersey, the cruisers Alaska and Guam, three other cruisers, and eighteen destroyers. She would provide anti-air cover for a series of airstrikes on the Japanese Home Islands, and she did not endure damage in the following Japanese retaliatory attack. She would then be assigned to the bombardment fleet at Okinawa, where she remained until mid-May. After returning to Ulithi, she returned to Okinawa in mid-June, near the end of the campaign.

In mid-July, she began to operate with Task Force 95, patrolling the area around Okinawa and the East China Sea. She returned to Okinawa in early August, remaining there through the announcement of the Japanese Surrender, and the end of the war in the Pacific. Throughout the war, St. Louis earned eleven battle stars.

St. Louis remained in East Asia for a further 2 months after the end of the war, taking part in an operation to move elements of the Chinese Army to Taiwan. She was also used for Operation Magic Carpet, making three Magic Carpet trips across the Pacific before arriving in Philadelphia in February of 1946. She would be decommissioned on the 20th of June, 1946, and moored at League Island in the Delaware River, where she remained until the 1950s.

St. Louis’s career would not end there, because in the early 1950s, when the US Navy was reducing the number of vessels in its inventory, St. Louis was transferred to the Brazilian Navy, being stricken from the US Naval Vessel Register on the 22nd of January, 1951. She was commissioned into the Brazilian Navy on the 29th of January, as the cruiser Almirante Tamandaré, named after Joaquim Marques Lisboa, the Marquis of Tamandaré.
In 1955, Tamandaré was caught up in the Preventative Coup of November 11th, also known as the 1955 Brazilian Coup. Carlos Luz briefly seized power from the acting president, Café Filho, after the latter fell ill on the 8th of November. Luz was deposed three days later, and he fled aboard Tamandaré, at the time moored off Rio de Janeiro awaiting work on boilers. Luz sought to flee to Santos, in São Paulo. As the cruiser left the bay, coastal fortifications opened fire on the ship, but no hits were scored. Luz was formally removed from power, and the government of São Paulo barred him from entering; Tamandaré returning to Rio de Janeiro on the 13th of November, where Luz disembarked.
Tamandaré also served as the fleet flagship, being deployed as part of the task force in the Lobster War between Brazil and France.

Almirante Tamandaré leading a task force of four Fletcher-class destroyers, during the Lobster War.

Almirante Tamandaré was stricken from the Brazilian Naval Vessel Register in 1973, and laid up until 1980. She was sold to ship breakers in Taiwan, and while being towed, on August 24th, 1980, she floundered off South Africa, and sunk.

Plan and profile of St. Louis showing the camo she was given in 1944.


General Information
Displacement 13,327 tons (full load)
Length 608ft 8in (185.52m)
Beam 61ft 5in (18.72m)
Draft 19ft 10in (6.05m)
Speed 32.5 knots (60.19 km/h)
Complement 1188 officers and enlisted
SK-2 Air Search
SG Surface Search
Mk 34 with Mk 8 Radar Fire Control (Main Battery)
Mk 33 with Mk 24 Radar Fire Control (Secondary Battery)
Mk 51 Director Fire Control (Anti-Air Battery)
Weapon Turret/Mount
15 × 6"(152mm)/47 Mk 16 5 x Triple
8 × 5"(127mm)/38 Mk 12 4 x Mk 29 Twin
28 x 40mm/60 Bofors Mk 1/2 4 x Quad, 6 x Twin
18 x 20mm/70 Oerlikon Mk 2 18 x Single
4 x SOC-1 Seagull Floatplanes 2 x Stern Catapults

St. Louis is a ship I would really like to see in game. She would provide a really good analogue to her sister ship, Helena, by virtue of being practically the same. Compared to Helena, St. Louis was fitted with more advanced radar systems and would have a boost to target acquisition, but otherwise would play very similar. She would be a step up from the current Brooklyn, as she has the full compliment of 5"/38 turrets, and also a step up from Cleveland and Fargo, as she still retains the 5th main turret. Her additional anti-air armament over Brooklyn means she would have a rather nice spot in the tech tree, in my opinion foldered with Brooklyn, with Fargo moved to be foldered with Cleveland.


Wikipedia - Brooklyn-class cruiser, St. Louis-subclass
Wikipedia - USS St. Louis (CL-49)
navweaps - 6"/47 Mk 16
navweaps - 5"/38 Mk 12 - USS St. Louis - USS St. Louis IV (CL-49)


Like +1

an usual battleship. ok