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USS Duluth CL-87

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USS Duluth (CL-87), underway in Hampton Roads area, Virginia, 10 October 1944, while enroute to the southern Chesapeake Bay for sea training.  Her camouflage is Measure 32, Design 11a.

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    The first USS DULUTH was one of the 27 CLEVELAND-class Light Cruisers and the first ship in the Navy named after the city in Minnesota.  Commissioned in September 1944, the Duluth served as an Atlantic fleet training platform until transiting to the Pacific fleet to aid in the march to peace with Japan.

    Decommissioned in June 1949, the DULUTH spent the following ten years in the Reserve Fleet.  She was stricken from the Navy list in January 1960 and sold for scrapping in September of that year.  All 27 ships of this class of warships, though worked heavily and damaged in some cases, survived the war. 

    DULUTH's commissioning Commanding Officer was Captain Donald R. Osborn, Jr., USN, US Naval Academy Class of 1920.

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General Characteristics

Awarded:                   September 9, 1940
Builder:                      Newport News Shipbuilding 
                                       & Drydock Co., Newport 
                                       News, VA
Namesake:                 City of Duluth, Minnesota
Type:                          Cleveland Class Light Cruiser
Keel Laid:                   November 9, 1942
Launched:                  January 13, 1944
Sponsored By:           Mrs. Edward H. (Ella) Hatch
                                       Wife of the Mayor of 
                                       Duluth, MN
Commissioned:          September 18, 1944
Decommissioned:      June 25, 1949
Stricken:                    January 1, 1960
Sold:                          November 14, 1960

Propulsion System:   4 - 634 PSI Steam Boilers
                                   4 - Geared Turbines - 
                                        100,000 SHP
                                   4 Screws

Length:                      610.2 Feet
Beam:                        66.3 Feet
Draft:                         24.6 Feet
Displacement:           14,130 Tons - Fully 
Speed:                       32.5 Knots
Range:                       11,000 Miles @ 15 Knots

Aircraft Carried:        Four Float Planes
Aviation Facilities:    Two Stern Catapults

Armament:                Twelve 6-Inch/47 Caliber 
                                        Mark 16 Guns in Four 
                                        Triple Mounts 
                                  Twelve 5-Inch/38 
                                        Caliber Guns in 
                                        Six Twin Mounts 
                                  Four Quad 40MM Bofors Anti-
                                        Aircraft Guns 
                                  Six Dual 40MM Bofors Anti-
                                        Aircraft Guns
                                  Ten Single 20mm Oerlikon 
                                        Anti-Aircraft Cannons

Armor:            Belt:   5 Inches
                      Deck:   2 Inches
              Barbettes:   6 Inches
                  Turrets:   6 Inches
     Conning Tower:   5 Inches

Awards:                    China Service Medal
                                  American Campaign Medal
                                  Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal (2)
                                  World War II Victory Medal
                                  Navy World War II 
                                        Occupation Medal
                                        w/Asia Clasp

Crew:                        70 Officers and 1,285 
Int'l Call Sign:          NUBP

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USS DULUTH CL-87 History

    USS DULUTH was launched 13 January 1944 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Virginia; sponsored by Mrs. Edward H. (Ella) Hatch, wife of the Mayor of Duluth, Minnesota; and commissioned 18 September 1944, Captain D. R. Osborn, Jr., in command.

    From 14 December 1944 to 2 March 1945 DULUTH served as a training cruiser at Newport, Rhode Island.  After brief overhaul at Norfolk, she sailed 7 April, through the Canal Zone, for the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii 29 April 1945.  On 8 May she got underway to join the 5th Fleet and rendezvoused with the fast carriers on 27 May. Severe structural damage to her bow suffered in a typhoon 5 June forced her to return to Guam for repairs, but she rejoined Task Force 38 on 21 July to screen during the final air strikes on the Japanese homeland which continued until the end of the war on 2 September 1945.

    The DULUTH formed part of the cruiser screen for the carrier force during the last few weeks of the war, when the carriers were engaged in a series of attacks on the Japanese home islands.  The DULUTH was awarded two Battle Stars for her brief combat career.

    From 24 August 1945 until she entered Tokyo Bay 16 September 1945, DULUTH operated with Task Force 38, which was providing radar picket and combat air patrol for transport aircraft flying occupation forces into Japan.  On 1 October 1945 DULUTH sailed for the United States, arriving at Seattle, Washington on 19 October 1945 for Navy Day celebrations.

    Based in San Pedro, California, DULUTH served a tour of duty in the Far East between 3 January 1946 and 27 September 1946, and on 24 February 1947 sailed for an extended visit at Pearl Harbor, TH.  Between May and July 1947, she visited Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; Truk, Guam; and Manila.  She served again the Far East patrolling the China coast during the Chinese civil war, between 22 September 1947 and 19 May 1948, when she returned to her new homeport, Long Beach California.  She carried NROTC Midshipmen on a training cruise to British Columbia, Canada in the summer of 1948, and in February 1949 joined in cold-weather operations off Kodiak, Alaska.  She was placed out of commission in reserve 25 June 1949, and sold on 14 November 1960.

    DULUTH received two battle stars for her World War II service.

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Click on the link below to read the journal of S1C Kenneth Priest, who served aboard USS Duluth CL-87 from December 1945 to June 1946


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Commanding Officers

Capt. Donald R. Osborn, Jr.      18 Sep 1944 - 

                                                   21 Sep 1945

Capt. Samuel W. DuBois           21 Sep 1945 - 

Cdr. John J. Hyland, Jr.                   1948

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Click on the link below to view the entire contents of the special 1947 Shellback Cruise Book.

This cruise book was generously provided by 

AOM3 Bob Tankersley, who served aboard 

USS Duluth CL-87 in 1946 & 1947


On February 18th 2020, this message, with attachments, was received by the  USS Duluth Crewmembers Association.  It is our honor and privilege to share this with you:


Hello. I am the daughter in law of Richard G Grant.  He has passed away and his wife shortly thereafter.  I received some of their personal items.  Part of which were letters he wrote to his wife where he asked her to marry him while serving on the Duluth in 1945-1946. 

I also found the attached and below poem he wrote about his time on the ship when they hit the Typhoon and the hull twisted and they ported in Guam. 

I hope you can use this.

He was a wonderful man, a veteran and wanted to get back to marry his "Faye McNeil".

What follows, is the poem, as written by Richard Grant, aboard USS Duluth CL-87.
While this is the typed version of the poem, the original handwritten version is available by clicking on the button below, which will link to the original.

The History of the Dirty "D"  (or Duluth)

The Dirty D went to sea
To Fight the Japanese
The crew was good, knew where they stood
From firing at, done on sleeves (?)  

From dawn to Dark, the Bos'n barked,
"A Sleeve on either beam"
The A. A. Crew, drilled through and through 
Are getting it , it seems.

Those days were rough, the gun Boss tough
For "head 'em dammit",  wasn't strange
As time will tell, when drilled like hell,
They finally got the range.

Were headed west to face the the test
The skipper all smiles too
For he's seen the bars & pretty stars
Our hero's brave & true. 

He has a few but far too few
He's sworn he'll have the rest
He'll kill the crew if he has to 
To adorn his brawny (bony? ) chest. 

Were with the fleet just bare one week
And maybe five days only
While the skippers eyes are in the skies
Those medals won't get lonely.

He little knew the winds that blew
Nor little did he care
the days were bright 
His heart was light.

The weather here is might queer
A hurricane is nigh
We'll change the course to miss the force
And let the thing go by.

The night wore on, t'was almost dawn
We resumed original course
While the Hurricane turned again
This time in double force.

It seems as tho we were in tow
By some strange force unseen.
It shook the "D" there in the sea
The storm was very mean.

At six o'clock right on the dot
or so the records show
the Pittsburg's bow got loose somehow
and went by very slow.

The Warrant  "chips" with grin pressed lips
Say, "Get to hell out now"
That last big crack was this ships back
But t'was really just the bow.

Work night and day to make it stay
For the storm had had its fun
With rags & blocks, & old wool socks
We stopped the water some.

We joined our force and took our course
The speed was very slow
the bow would squeek the cracks would leak
the ship would hardly go.

With speed too high and curses nigh
The skipper vowed to do
"I'll keep my place before disgrace
or tear this ship into"

Says Admiral McCain, "Come back again"
Your ruptured ship aren't worth the trip
Slack speed and drop away.

We started back the long, long, track
To Guam or maybe stateside
The wounded virgin still charging
Will have a rugged ride.

Two days go by, we heave a sigh
We fuel we'll get a rest
"Till word goes round & round & round
"Tis field day & the best.

It goes to show where 'er you go
If you are paint work happy
You scrub& clean & make them gleam
But that don't make you scrappy.

So, I'll still say that when my day
In Navy life is through
The only way to make me stay 
Is just to draft me too.

Yours truly
aboard the 
U.S.S. Duluth
 (CL 87) R. Div 

For the original handwritten version of this poem, click on the button below: