THE FLYING "O"
Thanks to Gene Bales MM1(SW) U.S. Navy for reproducing this document for the USS OAKLAND
Taken from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
|OAKLAND (CL-95) was laid down by
Bethlehem Steel Co., San Francisco, Ca., 15
July 1941; launched 23 October 1942; sponsored by Dr. Aurelia H. Reinhardt;
and commissioned 17 July 1943, Capt. William K. Phillips in command.
Following a shakedown and training cruise off San Diego in the summer of 1943, OAKLAND sailed for Pearl Harbor arriving 3 November 1943. Joining with three heavy cruisers and two destroyers, she linked up with carrier Task Group 50.3 near Funafuti in the Ellice Islands to help pave the way for operation "Galvanic", the amphibious push into the Gilberts. The carriers launched initial air strikes 19 November, and in retaliation, a wave of Japanese torpedo-bombers attacked the formation on the afternoon of the 20th. In her first action against the enemy. OAKLAND scored two kills and two assists in beating off the raiders.
On 26 November northeast of the Marshall Islands, OAKLAND again fought off strong coordinated torpedo plane attacks. At 2332 on 4 December the OAKLAND was assigned "down moon" picket station, detached temporarily from her group. While driving off raids, the ship possibly shot down one attacker. The Lexington (CV16) was hit by a torpedo and OAKLAND covered her with-drawal, arriving Pearl Harbor 9 December.
OAKLAND departed Pearl Harbor 16 January 1944 with the carriers of TG 58.1 headed for the Marshalls. The task group launched strikes against Maloelap on 29 January and against Kwajalein on the 30th. An amphibious assault was made on Kwajalein 1 February. OAKLAND with her carriers supported American operations ashore until they entered Majuro Lagoon on 4 February.
Weighing anchor 12 February; the ships of TG 58.1 sailed from Majuro and launched air strikes against Truk 16 and 17 February, greatly damaging the important Japanese naval base there.
Then, despite a night-long series of Japanese aerial attacks, 21-22 February, to hit the Marianas with damaging blows, OAKLAND's gunners bagged two more enemy planes and assisted in splashing two others before returning to Majuro.
OAKLAND sortied with TG 58.1, 7 March, bound for Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. The group skirted the Solomons and covered the occupation of Emirau Island, north of New Britain, on the 20th. On the 27th, the task group swept on to the western Carolines. Heavy air attacks greeted the carriers, but OAKLAND and her partners in the screen beat them off before any damage was incurred. They pounded Palau on 30 March, Yap on the 31st and Woleai 1 April, before returning to Majuro on 6 April.
Through April the group carried out similar operations at Wake and Sawar. They again hammered Truk on the 29th and 30th, as well as hitting Satawan on the later date. Allied surface and aerial bombardment battered Ponape on 1 May, before OAKLAND retired to Kwajalein on 4 May.
Following antiaircraft training, OAKLAND helped to attack Guam 11 June, then steamed north to hit the Volcano and Bonin Islands by the 14th.
West of the embattled Marianas, TF 58 sped to intercept a large Japanese surface force approaching from the Philippines. In the ensuing Battle of the Philippine Sea, the famed "Turkey Shoot" took place as the U.S. carrier planes decimated the trained air groups of three Japanese carrier divisions, almost eliminating Japanese naval aviation.
Toward the end of the battle, as darkness was creeping in, the returning American pilots were desperately attempting to locate their aircraft carriers. Admiral Mitscher, on the bridge of his flagship, concerned for his men, gave the order to "Turn on the lights". In response, OAKLAND's 36-inch searchlights were flicked on helping light up the Philippine Sea like a motion picture premier.
TG 58.1 next struck at Pagan on 23 June and Iwo Jima the 24th. On the 27th the units gathered at Eniwetok Atoll for replenishment and on the 30th nosed northwest to the Bonins. The group delivered a withering air-sea bombardment against Iwo and Chichi Jima 3 and 4 July, and by the 5th was speeding south for a return engagement in the Marianas.
The carriers then began launching, on 7 July, a series of alternating strikes against Guam and Rota. OAKLAND and HELM (DD-388) teamed up to recover downed pilots off Guam, and fired at targets on Orote Peninsula.
At 0800 4 August, search planes reported a Japanese convoy zig-zagging out of Chichi Jima Bonin Islands. Two hours later, the carrier's planes reported they were attacking enemy vessels. A Naval assault team was quickly formed, consisting of the light cruisers OAKLAND (CL-95), SANTA FE (CL-60), MOBILE (CL-63) and BILOXI (CL-80), plus Destroyer Division 91.
Detached from the task group at 1241, the killer band raced at 30 knots between Ototo and Yome Jima and arrived on the scene at about 1730. The desroyers formed an attack group ahead of the cruisers and, at 1845, sank a small oiler. Another straggler from the convoy, later identified as the destroyer MATSU, was sighted at 1924 and subsequently sunk.
At 2145 OAKLAND and company contacted a 7500-ton supply ship and sank her, before turning south to rake Chich Jima. OAKLAND made three runs shelling shipping in Chichi's harbor of Funtami Ko, and helped to silence an irksome shore battery before she retired at 1119 on 5 August. Several Japanese ships had been sunk, a seaplane base damaged, and fires started among the wharves and warehouses. The OAKLAND fired so fast and so long that the paint melted off the 5 inch 38 cal. gun barrels. All you could see was the red lead paint undercoating.
From 6 to 8 September, OAKLAND's task group hit the Palau Islands, Peleliu being the main target. On the evening of the 8th they steamed west to raid enemy airfields in the Philippines through the 22nd.
On 6 October, OAKLAND departed Ulithi shepherding her own carriers toward the Ryukyus and hit Okinawa on the 10th. They attacked installations on Formosa and the Pescadores on 12 October and, at 1835, as they were withdrawing, fought off Japanese air counter attack.
They hit Formosa again on 13 October, and again the Imperial Air Force lashed out in full fury as the task force withdrew at nightfall. OAKLAND assisted in turning back the aerial opponents but, at 1835, CANBERRA (CA-70) in TG 38.1 was damaged by a torpedo, and on the 14th, HOUSTON (CL-81), received a torpedo hit. OAKLAND then covered the withdrawal of the two damaged ships, before participating in the strikes against Luzon 17-19 October and supporting the landings on Leyte the 20th.
Enroute to Ulithi on the 24th, OAKLAND received orders to backtrack at once to help stop the Japanese Fleet which was converging on Leyte Gulf. By the time she arrived on the scene the enemy had been repulsed, and the carriers began long range strikes against the retreating enemy. The Battle for Leyte Gulf wrote a fiery finish to the Imperial Navy as an effective fighting force.
During November and December, OAKLAND operated with various task groups of TF 38 supporting the Philippine liberation campaign. On 18 December she rode out a raging typhoon in the Philippine Sea escaping without serious damage.
OAKLAND returned to San Francisco 11 January 1945. She remained for repairs and trial runs until sailing for Hawaii 4 March. Arriving Pearl Harbor on the 9th, OAKLAND began additional training south of Oahu. She received movement orders on the 15th and sailed for Ulithi, the staging area for Okinawa.
Reaching Ulithi 30 March, she sailed again with other units the following day. On tap was the most ambitious amphibious assault of the Pacific war. On 2 April the group separated, OAKLAND going ahead to TG 58.4. For five days she engaged in hitting Sakashima Gunto in the southern Nansei Shoto and then proceeded to Okinawa.
On 10 April OAKLAND was reassigned to TG 58.3 for the remainder of the Okinawa campaign. She came under air attack again on 11 April with her AA gunners splashing a dive bomber.
With other groups of TF 58, OAKLAND moved northward on 15 April to launch strikes against airfields at Kyushu. Enemy planes tried time and again to pierce the task force's protective fighter umbrella. Twice OAKLAND's guns cut loose, aiding in the destruction of one "Frances" and driving off another.
Okinawan defenses were struck again on the 17th. Kamikazes evaded the combat air patrol in the morning and OAKLAND took two under fire as they passed over the ship. Both were dropped within the formation, with OAKLAND scoring one. On the 29th OAKLAND drove away another enemy aircraft. TG 58.3 had taken the best the Japanese Imperial Air Force had to offer during 11 days of April. The rest of the month was utilized in making additional strikes against Okinawa and conducting gunnery exercises with drones and towed sleeves.
Snooper planes began flying near the group early in the morning of 11 May. After breakfast the OAKLAND crew scrambled to General Quarters but an attack failed to materialize at that time. When they did strike, it was like a bolt of lightning. Two kamikazes plummeted into the flight deck of BUNKER HILL (CV-17) 2000 yards from the cruiser. A trio of life rafts were cut loose from OAKLAND to aid in the rescue of BUNKER HILL survivors sighted ahead.
The task force struck again at airfields on Kyushu on 13 May. On the 14th the Japanese reciprocated. Shortly after breakfast a lone "Zero" was spotted circling through the clouds and OAKLAND's guns quickly opened fire, but their quarry just as quickly disappeared from view. Then he came back like a comet. ENTERPRISE (CV-6) bore the brunt of his crash-dive as he blew up in a blossom of flame on her flight deck.
Shortly a flock of kamikazes appeared and within the space of fifteen minutes OAKLAND took four separate suicide planes under fire. OAKLAND's claim of two assists was substantiated by the task group commander.in BLUE
For the duration of May, OAKLAND remained with the task group off Okinawa. On the 29th she shifted back to TG 38.1 under Admiral Halsey and made for Leyte Gulf, anchoring in San Pedro Bay on 1 June.
On 10 July, TG 38.1 commenced raids on the Japanese mainland beginning with Honshu and then thundering north to Hokaido. 17-20 July, OAKLAND participated in strikes against Tokyo and 24-27 July against Kure and Kobe. Tokyo was hit again on the 30th along with Nagoya. On 7 August the ships turned north to strike the Honshu-Hokaido area for a second time. August 15th brought the long awaited "cease all offensive operations" order. Oakland then proceeded to her assigned operating area for the occupation of Japan.
Sailing on 30 August to the most important rendezvous of her career,OAKLAND dropped anchor in Tokyo Bay the next day, outside the breakwater of the Yokosuka Naval Base. Berthed several thousand yards away from MISSOURI (BB-63), OAKLAND provided a box seat for her sailors to witness the unforgetable climax to their war.
While OAKLAND lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay, on the night of 27 September, a typhoon swept close to the harbor entrance. A tanker dragged anchor and struck OAKLAND's bow, causing minor damage.
On 1 October, OAKLAND sailed for Okinawa to embark homeward bound veterans for a "magic carpet" voyage to San Francisco. Leaving Okinawa on the 3rd, she arrived at San Francisco on the 20th. Navy Day (27 October) observances at Oakland, Ca. were highlighted by the presence of OAKLAND. "Magic carpet" duty in November and December took OAKLAND back to the Pacific twice, first to Eniwetok and then to Kwajalein. At the year's end the Navy turned the task of bringing home the veterans solely over to its transportation service, and OAKLAND was ordered to an inactivation area at Bremerton, Wa.
Reprieve came in the form of a change in orders and, instead of inactivation, OAKLAND was slated to continue as an active postwar fleet unit. A thorough overhaul was afforded her at the Puget Sound Navy Yard to erase the effects of long months of battle.
From July 1946 through January 1947, OAKLAND operated in and around San Diego as a Fleet Gunnery Training Ship. From 6 January to 8 September she participated in a Western Pacific training cruise.
On 18 March, OAKLAND was reclassified CLAA-95. Oakland was decommissioned at Mare Island NSY 1 July 1949. On 6 July, she was towed to Hunter's Point NSY (San Francisco) by the aux. tug Cahokia. She remained at Hunter's Pt. until late 1958, when she was transferred to the Stockton (CA) Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet. This is where she remained until she was sold for scrapping at Alameda. Struck from the active list,on 1 March 1959, she was sold to Louis Simons on 1 December for scrapping. This was received from Joseph Lewis <email@example.com> on 5 /11/98.
OAKLAND earned 12 battle stars for service in World War II.
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