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Worcester Class Light Cruiser

Worcester in the Med, 1950
Worcester in the Med, 1950
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Ship Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
CL144 Worcester New York Sbdg 29 Jan 45 4 Feb 47 26 Jun 48 Stricken 1 Dec 1970
CL145 Roanoke New York Sbdg 15 May 45 16 Jun 47 4 Apr 49 Stricken 1 Dec 1970
CL146 Vallejo New York Sbdg not laid Cancelled 12 Aug 1945
CL147 Gary New York Sbdg not laid Cancelled 12 Aug 1945
Displacement: 14,700 tons/14,935 tonnes (standard); 17,997 tons/18,284 tonnes (full load).
Length: 679ft 6in/207.11m (oa); 664ft/202.39m (wl).
Beam: 70ft 8in/21.54m; Draught: 24ft 9in/7.92m (mean).
Machinery: 4-shaft General Electric geared turbines; 4 Babcock & Wilcox boilers.
Performance: 120,000shp=33kts; Bunkerage: 2,400 tons oil fuel.
Range: 8,000nm at 15kts.
Protection: 3in-5in main belt; 3.5in main deck; 1in upper deck; 8in barbettes; turrets, 6.5in front, 4in roof, 2in-3in sides.
Guns: twelve 6in (6x2); twenty-four 3in (11x2, 2x1); twelve 20mm (6x2).
Torpedoes: nil.
Aircraft: four, two catapults.
Complement: 1,401.

Design

The origins of this class lay in the development of the 6in/47 DP gun, allied with the requirement, in 1941, for a ship capable of defending the fleet against attack by high-altitude bombers, possibly as a result of British experiences off Norway and Crete, and particularly the latter. While it quickly became evident that conventional bombers (as opposed to dive-bombers) could not manoeuvre fast enough to succeed against fast ships, the project continued as a vehicle for the new gun. Later, the justification was to include defence against guided bombs and missiles of the type encountered off Salerno in 1943.

The initial staff requirement, raised in May 1941, was for a ship armed with twelve 6in DP, having no side armour but with a heavily armoured deck 6in to 7in thick. Between August 1941 and the summer of 1943 at least seven sketch designs were examined, ranging from 11,500 tons to 14,200 tons and armed with eight to twelve 6in guns. None carried 5in guns. Despite the original premise of no side armour, five of the designs did have a waterline belt, this being 5in thick in the maximum instance. In only one case was the deck thickness of 6in achieved, and the schemes varied from a l.5in upper deck plus 5in over the magazines, to a 1in upper deck with 3.5in over the machinery. Most of the early schemes also had the aircraft installations amidships, which was contemporary practice, but war experience had shown that it was better placed aft. Hence this demand impinged on the design process; now the hull could be flush-decked.

The final design had a twin-funnel layout, although interim designs had envisaged one trunked funnel, as in Fargo and Oregon City, and the length of the ship had been increased over that of the Cleveland Class light cruisers because of the space demands of the magazines to feed six quick-firing twin turrets. The protective scheme included a 370ft-long, 5in-thick waterline belt, 4ft 11in deep, tapered at its bottom edge to 3in and having a total depth of 9ft 6in. Forward of this it was 2in thick and reduced in depth to 4ft 6in. The upper deck was given 1in over the armoured box, and the main armoured deck was 3.5in thick. The total weight of armour was 2,119 tons, or 14.3 per cent of the standard displacement. This was some 14,797 tons, considerably greater than that of Cleveland with her twelve 6in and twelve 5in, illustrating the demands of automatic weaponry and the space economy of the triple turret.

The main machinery was arranged on the well-tried unit principle, with each boiler in its own space. As in Des Moines, armoured transverse bulkheads in the machinery spaces divided the armoured box into six main compartments. The installed power was increased to 120,000shp after wartime experience had shown that the standard 100,000shp installation was not giving the desired speeds.

The 6in guns were 47cal semi-automatic, with separate hoists for AP and AA ammunition. The mountings were electro-hydraulic and capable of 78° elevation. Each turret weighed 208 tons, compared with 173 tons for a triple turret in Cleveland. Four HA directors were provided, one each on the centreline fore and aft, and another pair sided amidships. The secondary battery was to have comprised eleven quad and two twin 40mm, with twenty single 20mm. While under construction, this was altered to ship twin 3in/50 in place of the quad 40mm and singles in lieu of the twin 40mm. The 20mm outfit was amended to ten twin, but Worcester completed with only six and Roanoke with eight. Two catapults and four floatplanes were to have been carried, but those in Worcester were landed before commissioning and her sister never had them. Like the Des Moines Class, these ships were originally projected as Clevelands, CL144 to CL147, part of a batch ordered from New York Shipbuilding on 15 June 1943. The four ships were to form one division, but the second pair were cancelled before laying down.

Service

Neither of the completed units had been launched before the end of the war. Worcester saw service off Korea and spent a considerable time in the Mediterranean before decommissioning on 19 December 1958. She remained in reserve until stricken on 1 December 1958, and was sold on 5 July 1972 to Zidell Explorations Inc. of Portland, Oregon, for breaking up. Roanoke served in the Pacific and Mediterranean, but did not deploy to Korea. She was paid off on 31 October 1958, then stricken at the same time as her sister. She, too, was sold to Zidell Explorations, on 22 February 1973, and broken up at Portland.

a superb photo - Worcester in icy seas in the North Atlantic, 1949-50, NH97338
a superb photo - Worcester in icy seas in the North Atlantic, 1949-50, NH97338
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