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Original WW2 Official Use of Stationary for the U.S.S. Astoria

Ca. Mid 1930's - 1942


The second USS Astoria (CL/CA-34) was a New Orleans-class cruiser of the United States Navy that participated in both the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, but was then sunk in August 1942, at the Battle of Savo Island. Astoria was the first Astoria-class cruiser to be laid down but launched after and received a hull number higher than New Orleans, which the class was renamed for after Astoria sank.


Immediately after the months-long Guadalcanal campaign ended in February 1943, the remaining ships of the class would go through major overhauls to lessen top-heaviness due to new electrical and radar systems and advanced anti-aircraft weaponry. In doing so the ships took on a new appearance, most notably in the bridge.


Between the fall of 1934 and February 1937, she operated as a unit of Cruiser Division 7 (CruDiv 7), Scouting Force, based at San Pedro, California. In February 1937, the warship was reassigned to CruDiv 6, though she continued to serve as an element of Scouting Force based at San Pedro. In both assignments, she carried out normal peacetime maneuvers, the culmination of which came in the annual fleet problem that brought the entire United States Fleet together in a single, vast exercise.


Assigned to the Hawaiian Detachment in October 1939, Astoria changed home ports from San Pedro to Pearl Harbor. The following spring, she participated in Fleet Problem XXI, the last of those major annual exercises that brought the entire United States Fleet together to be conducted before World War II engulfed the United States. The maneuvers took place in Hawaiian waters, and, instead of returning to the west coast at their conclusion, the bulk of the fleet joined Astoria and the Hawaiian Detachment in making Pearl Harbor its base of operations.


On 2 April 1941, Astoria departed Pearl Harbor for the west coast of the United States. She reached Long Beach, California, on 8 April and entered the Mare Island Navy Yard on the 13th. During her refit, she received quadruple-mount 1.1 in (28 mm)/75 cal anti-aircraft guns and a pedestal fitted at her foremast in anticipation of the imminent installation of the new air-search radar. Emerging from the yard on 11 July 1941, the heavy cruiser sailed for Long Beach on the 16th. Later shifting to San Pedro, Astoria sailed for Pearl Harbor on 24 July 1941.


Following her return to Hawaii on 31 July, Astoria operated between Oahu and Midway through early September. That autumn, the specter of German raiders on the prowl in the Pacific prompted the Navy to convoy its ships bound for Guam and the Philippines. Astoria escorted Henderson to Manila and thence to Guam, before returning to Pearl Harbor on 29 October. Local patrols and training, alternated with upkeep in port, occupied Astoria during the final five weeks of peace.


After rising tensions in the Pacific intensified his concern over the defenses of his outlying bases at the beginning of December 1941, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet/United States Fleet, ordered reinforcements, in the form of Marine Corps planes, to be ferried to Wake Island and Midway. Astoria put to sea on 5 December in the screen of Rear Admiral John H. Newton's Task Force 12 (TF 12) built around Lexington. Once the task force reached open sea, Lexington's air group and the 18 Vought SB2U-3 Vindicators from Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 231 (VMSB-231) bound for Midway landed on the carrier's flight deck.


When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on the morning of 7 December, Astoria was some 700 mi (1,100 km) west of Hawaii steaming toward Midway with TF 12. At 0900 the following day, the heavy cruiser Indianapolis, flagship of Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, Commander, Scouting Force, joined up with TF 12, and Brown assumed command. Its ferry mission canceled, TF 12 spent the next few days searching an area to the southwest of Oahu, "with