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On This Day in History, April 23: Navy Yard Back In Business

No ships were launched at the Brooklyn Navy Yard between April 30, 1919 (USS Tennessee), and April 25, 1929. One reason for this was the Washington Disarmament Conference in 1921, which resulted in treaties among U.S., Britain, France, Japan, and Italy that limited naval armament. This restricted the numbers of capital ships a treaty-signing country’s fleet could have and resulted in the scrapping of two battleships then under construction at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Construction resumed at the Yard on the 10,000-ton heavy cruiser USS Pensacola on October 27, 1926. Launching was on April 25, 1929, and she was commissioned on February 6, 1930. The Pensacola was used in delivering troops to Midway Island shortly after the Battle of Midway (June 4-7, 1942).

The Japanese Admiral Raizo Tanaka’s Second Destroyer Flotilla had become known to the U.S. Marines as the “Tokyo Express.” At the Battle of Tassafaronga on November 28, 1942, Tanaka had eight destroyers and our U.S. Admiral Carleton H. Wright had five heavy cruisers, including the Pensacola, and seven destroyers. Although radar helped Wright get off the first shells and torpedoes, the American fire was ineffective, with only one Japanese destroyer sunk. In the Japanese counterattack, one cruiser was sunk and three, including the Pensacola, were damaged.

Following the war, the ocean area off the coast of the Bikini Atoll was used for a series of atomic bomb test explosions. These maneuvers were known as “Operation Crossroads.” In the test of July 1, 1946, the USS Pensacola was one of the ships used. A bomb was exploded 500 feet over the ships in the lagoon. It destroyed the carrier Independence, but there was little damage to the other ships. This test left a Soviet observer so unimpressed he remarked: “Pooh.”

The next test on July 26 cut a wide swath of destruction through a flotilla of abandoned warships. This test inspired a protest in New York against the military development of atomic energy.                
    
— V.P.

April 23, 2012 - 6:00am


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