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U.S. NAVY 4th FLEET IN RECIFE *

50)CL 42 SAVANNAH *



Photo.www.navsource.org


CLASS - BROOKLYN


Displacement 9,475 Tons.


Dimensions, 608' 4" (oa) x 61' 8" x 24' (Max)


Armament 15 x 6"/47, 8 x 5"/38AA, 8 x 0.5"


4 Aircraft.


Armor, 5" Belt, 6 1/2" Turrets, 2" Deck, 5" Conning Tower.


Machinery, 100,000 SHP; Geared Turbines, 4 screws.


Speed, 32.5 Knots.


Crew 868.


Operational and Building Data.


Keel laid on 31 MAY 1934 by the New York Shipbuilding Association, Camden NJ


Launched 08 MAY 1937, Commissioned 10 MAR 1938


Decommissioned 03 FEB 1947


Stricken 01 MAR 1959


Fate: Sold for scrap to Bethlehem Steel Co. 25 JAN 1960.


As the flagship of Cruiser Division 8, Savannah conducted Neutrality Patrol in waters ranging south to Cuba and back up the seaboard to the Virginia Capes. On 25 August 1941, she got underway from Norfolk to patrol in the South Atlantic as far as Trinidad and the Martin Vaz Islands in the screen of aircraft carrier Wasp The task group then swept north from Bermuda to Argentia, Newfoundland, where Savannah arrived on 23 September.


During the next eight weeks, the cruiser helped cover British merchantmen and Allied convoys to within a few hundred miles of the British Isles, replenishing at Casco Bay, Me., or at New York. Savannah was in New York Harbor when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. She sailed that day for Casco Bay, and thence proceeded via Bermuda to Brazil, arriving at Recife on 12 January 1942.


She joined the screen of aircraft carrier, Ranger, in patrolling north of Bermuda. That island became the cruiser's base as she watched over Vichy French warships based at Martinique and at Guadaloupe in the French West Indies. She departed Shelly Bay, Bermuda, on 7 June and entered the Boston Navy Yard two days later for an overhaul completed by 15 August.


Savannah then sailed for readiness exercises in the Chesapeake Bay that would prepare her for the invasion of North Africa. After brief voyage repairs at New York she sailed on 25 December to join the South Atlantic Patrol, arriving at Recife, Brazil, on 7 January 1943. Savannah's primary concern was the destruction of Nazi blockade runners in the South Atlantic.


Teaming with escort carrier, Santee, and a destroyer screen, she put to sea on 12 January on an arduous patrol that brought no results. She put back into Recife on 15 February and again steamed out to search for blockade runners on the 21st. On 11 March, she departed the formation with destroyer, Eberle, to investigate a ship which had been sighted by an aircraft from Santee. The German blockade runner, Kota Tjandi, a former Dutch ship called Karin by her crew, was brought to by shots fired across her bow by the two American warships.


As a boarding party from Eberle arrived alongside, powerful time bombs, planted just before the Karin's lifeboats got underway, exploded. Eleven of the boarding party were killed, but a Savannah boat rescued three from the water. Savannah also received 72 German survivors on board, quartering them below decks as prisoners of war. She returned to New York on 28 March and was overhauled to prepare her for a Mediterranean assignment.


Savannah returned to Algiers on 10 August 1943 in order to train with U.S. Armytroops for the Operation Avalanche amphibious landings to be made at Salerno, Italy. Leaving Mers-el-Kebir Harbor, Algeria, on 5 September, her Southern Attack Force entered Salerno Bay a few hours before midnight of the 8th.

Savannah was the first American ship to open fire against the German shore defenses in Salerno Bay. She silenced a railroad artillery battery with 57 rounds, forced the retirement of enemy tanks, and completed eight more fire support missions that day. She continued her valuable support until the morning of 11 September 1943, when she was put out of action.


A radio-controlled Fritz X glide-bomb had been released at a safe distance by a high-flying German warplane and it exploded 49 ft (15 m) distance from PhiladelphiaSavannah increased her speed to 20 kn (23 mph, 37 km/h) as a KG 100 Dornier Do 217 K-2 bomber approached from out of the sun. The USAAF's P-38 Lightnings and Savannah'anti-aircraft gunners, tracking this warplane at 18,700 ft (5,700 m), failed to stop the Fritz X bomb, trailing a stream of smoke. The bomb pierced the armored turret roof of Savannah's No. 3 gun turret, passed through three decks into the lower ammunition-handling room, where it exploded, blowing a hole in her keel and tearing a seam in the cruiser's port side. For at least 30 minutes, secondary explosions in the turret and its ammunition supply rooms hampered firefighting efforts.


Savannah's crew quickly sealed off flooded and burned compartments, and corrected her list. With assistance from the salvage tugs Hopi and MorenoSavannah got underway under her own steam by 1757 hours and steamed for Malta.

Savannah lost 197 crewmen in this German counterattack. Fifteen other sailors were seriously wounded, and four more were trapped in a watertight compartment for 60 hours. These four sailors were not rescued until Savannah had already arrived at Grand HarborValletta, Malta on 12 September.


After emergency repairs were completed, Savannah departed Malta on 7 December 1943, bound for the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard by way of TunisAlgiers, and Bermuda. She arrived at the Naval Yard on 23 December and underwent heavy repair work for the next eight months. During this period her forward superstructure was remodeled, 4 dual mount 5"/38 caliber turrets replaced her eight single open-mount five-inch naval guns and a new set of up-to-date 20 mm and 40 mm antiaircraft guns were installed. In addition to the new gunnery fit she also received new air-search and surface-search gunnery radars. After this refit she more resembled her half sister St Louis, than her Brooklyn-class sister ships.



Above, archival footage on the USS Savannah hit by a german glider bomb during allied disembark at Salerno Italy in 1943. 


DANFS        DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL FIGHTING SHIPS


 

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