Oregon City-class Heavy Cruiser, USS Rochester (CA-124) - The Grey Ghost of the Korean Coast

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USS Rochester
As outfitted following refit in 1953

USS Rochester in San Francisco Bay, during a Fleet Review, 1957.
The distinctive single funnel sets the Oregon City-class apart from the very similar Baltimore-class.

USS Rochester was the third ship of the Oregon City-class of heavy cruiser. She was laid down on the 29th of May, 1944, launched on the 28th of August, 1945, and commissioned into the US Navy on the 20th of December, 1946.

The Oregon City-class of cruisers was a follow-on to the Baltimore-class in much the same way that the Fargo-class was a follow on to the Cleveland-class. The Oregon Citys were basically Baltimores but had one large funnel instead of two smaller ones, to allow better arcs of AA fire. Nothing else much was changed, as the ships still used the same powerplant, had the same number of screws, and similar anti-aircraft armament, at least by design.
In 1953, USS Rochester would be refitted with 3"/50RF cannons, supplanting the 20mm Oerlikons and 40mm Bofors the ship had commissioned with. She had previously been fitted with helicopters and a helipad, in 1948, removing the catapults that were to be used by floatplanes. She could carry four helicopters.

Rochester would see service from 1946 and into the 1950s, as part of the Cold War US Navy. She was the only one of her class to fire in anger, during the Korean War. She was decommissioned in 1961, and plans to convert her into an Albany-class guided missile cruiser were, although planned, abandoned as there was not enough funding. She would be stricken from the Navy list in 1973, and sold for scrap in 1974. For her actions in Korea, she would be awarded 6 battle stars.

Service History

Rochester would serve around the world during her time in commission.
In 1948, she joined the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, becoming the flagship of Admiral Forrest Sherman, Commander of 6th Fleet. She waited out the 1948 Arab-Israeli War in Crete, before returning to the US after the Admiral’s flag changed to USS Fargo on the 14th of June. In October, 1948, she would get her first overhaul. Besides minor repairs, her stern aircraft catapults and aircraft were replaced by a helipad and four helicopters, at the time Sikorsky HO3S-1s. She would continue training on the East Coast following the overhaul until being sent to Long Beach to join the Pacific Fleet.

Rochester being shoved by a tug in Philadelphia, 1947.

In April, 1950, she embarked Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, for a tour of the US Trust Territories. Upon completion of this tour, she embarked Vice Admiral Arthur D. Struble, Commander, 7th Fleet, at Guam and became his flagship. She then sailed for the Philippines.
She was in the Philippines when President Truman ordered the 7th Fleet into action, as the Korean War had just broken out. She was operating with Carrier Task Force 77, when the first UN airstrikes against North Korean forces were launched on the 3rd of July. On the 18th and 19th of July, Rochester provided shore bombardment support for Army 1st Cavalry Units landing at Pohang Dong. She stayed with Task Force 77 until the 25th of August.

Three ships in Sasebo conducting resupply, 23rd of August, 1950. Left to right is USS Valley Forge (CV-45), USS Philippine Sea (CV-47), and USS Rochester (CA-124).

Still Vice Admiral Struble’s flagship, Rochester provided more gunfire support for the landings at Inchon on the 13th of September. This operation prompted General McArthur’s signal that “the Navy and Marines have never shone more brightly than this morning.”
At 0550 on the 17th of September, while anchored off the coast, a North Korean Yak-9 and IL-2 made an attack run on the cruiser. They were thought to be friendly aircraft, but this notion was dispelled when they dropped four bombs, three of which missed. The one bomb that did hit struck the ship’s crane, but failed to detonate. There were no casualties during the attack, but Rochester and the nearby HMS Jamacia opened fire on the planes after this. The IL-2 strafed the Jamacia, causing one death and wounding two. At the same time, an anti-aircraft shell from Jamacia struck the IL-2, sending it into the water; the Yak-9 that was with it fled after the IL-2 was shot down. This was the first, and only, shootdown of an attacking plane with naval gunfire during the Korean War. On Rochester, American sailors painted a purple heart on the crane, where the bomb hit, as a reminder of how close they came to disaster.

Rochester operated off of Korea during October, November, and December, continuously, for 81 days. She provided gunfire support, and functioned as a forward helicopter base for minesweeping and rescue helicopters. She also controlled naval air operations in the days leading to the landings at Wonsan.
During 198 days of operations around Korea, she expended 3,265 8-inch projectiles and 2,339 5-inch projectiles. She was recalled to Sasebo, Japan, in January, 1951, and from there proceeded home to the US. Following a scheduled maintenance visit at Mare Island Navy Yard, she assisted in training crews for ships that were coming out of mothball. From there, she steam to Yokosuka, Japan, in November, 1951, in preparations for more operations off of Korea. She would range across both the west and east coasts of the Korean Peninsula, conducting harassment and interdiction missions. She returned to the US for another overhaul in late April, 1952, but was back in the Korean Theater by November. She conducted yet more operations, this time with the Fast Carrier Task Force, before returning to Long Beach on the 6th of April, 1953.

Following her return, she would once again undergo a refit at the Mare Island Navy Yard. This time was more comprehensive, with the ship losing all 20mm and 40mm mounts, in exchange for rapid fire 3-inch guns, and an improved sensor suite. She would be present on and off in the Western Pacific until June, 1957, when she was the flagship of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in San Francisco for a Fleet Review. Following the fleet review, she would return to the Western Pacific three more times, returning to the states for the last time in November, 1960.

Rochester in Mare Island following her 1953 refit.

Plans for converting Rochester into an Albany-class guided missile cruiser were underway, and so the ship stayed in Long Beach for the next few months. Unfortunately, funds were not allocated, and so in April, 1961, she was ordered to Puget Sound for inactivation. She was decommissioned and placed in reserve on the 15th of August, 1961, and remained in Bremerton. She would stay there until stricken from the Navy List in 1973, and sold for scrap the following year. Her actions in Korea earned her 6 battle stars.


General Information
Displacement 13,700 tons
Length 674ft 11in (205.71m)
Beam 70ft 10in (21.59m)
Draft 20ft 7in (6.27m)
Speed 33 knots (61 km/h)
Complement 1142 officers and enlisted
AN/SPS-6 Air Search
AN/SPS-8A Height Finding
Mk 54 with Mk 13 Radar Fire Control (Main Battery)
Mk 37 with Mk 25 Radar Fire Control (Secondary Battery)
Mk 56 with Mk 35 Radar Fire Control (Anti-Air Battery)
Gun Turret/Mount Notes
9 × 8"(203mm)/55 Mk 15 3 × Triple
12 × 5"(127mm)/38 Mk 12 6 × Mk 32 Twin
10 × 3"(76.2mm)/50 Mk 22 5 × Mk 33 Twin
4 x HO3S-1 Helicopter Helipad at Stern, with Hangar HO3S-1 is unarmed. Armed helicopters for consideration: Bell HSL, SH-34G, QH-50A, and some others. These could be armed with Mk 42/43 torpedoes, and were in trials/service during the time Rochester was in commission.
8" (203mm) Ammunition
Designation Mass Bursting Charge Muzzle Velocity Notes
AP Mk 21 335lbs (152kg) 5.03lbs (2.3kg) Exp. D 2,500f/s (762m/s) Super-Heavy Shell
AP Mk 19 260lbs (118kg) 3.64lbs (1.7kg) Exp. D 2,700f/s (823m/s)
SP Common Mk 17 260lbs (118kg) 10.38lbs (4.7kg) Exp. D 2,700f/s (823m/s)
AAC Mk 24 260lbs (188kg) 21.34lbs (9.7kg) Exp. D 2,700f/s (823m/s) HC fuses could be loaded with PD (Point Detonating) or MT (Mechanical Time) fuses, and were considered AAC rounds if using MT. What would ordinarily be called HC Mk 24 is designated AAC Mk 24 here, for this reason.
HC Mk 25 260lbs (188kg) 21.37lbs (9.7kg) Exp. D 2,700f/s (823m/s) Essentially the same as the preceding AAC Mk 24, but instead using a PD fuse.
Belt 4-6" (102-152mm)
Deck 2.5" (64mm)
Turrets 1.5-8" (38-203mm)
Barbettes 6.3" (160mm)
Conning Tower 6.5" (165mm)
Bulkheads 6" (152mm)
Note: Armor not listed, assumed same as Baltimore-class

This is a ship that I think would be nice to add. It’s role is somewhat already filled by the Pittsburgh, but it still has a bit of a place the same way that Cleveland and Fargo are in the same role. Rochester and Pittsburgh would serve as good backups to each other, being practically the same. The helicopters it could carry, if we go a bit semi-historical, can carry 1-2 torpedoes each, giving it a decent strike range against other ships with air power. But these are not really what they are intended for, most helicopters and torpedoes were designed as ASW platforms. This was the only of the Oregon City-class to see combat, and as such I think she deserves a spot in the tree.

Insignia of the USS Rochester, late 1950s-early 1960s.


Wikipedia - USS Rochester (CA-124)
Wikipedia - Oregon City-class cruiser
Wikipedia - Baltimore-class cruiser
Naval-Encyclopedia - Baltimore-class heavy cruiser
CommunityAssociations - USS Rochester
NavSource - USS Rochester (CA-124)
NavWeaps - 8"/55 Mk 15
NavWeaps - 5"/38 Mk 12
NavWeaps - 3"/50 Mk 22
NavWeaps - US Radar WW2

1 Like

+1 for torpedo helicopter refit, I would love to see them n game

Just to be clear, the cruiser herself was not armed with torpedoes at any time. She could carry torpedo-armed helicopters.

Yes that is exactly what I mean