USS Omaha (CL-4), Omaha-class Light Cruiser
USS Omaha (CL-4), Omaha-class Light Cruiser by photolibrarian
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For other ships of the same name, see USS Omaha.
Omaha, World War II configuration
USS Omaha (CL-4), in New York Harbor, 10 February 1943.
Namesake: City of Omaha, Nebraska
Ordered: 29 August 1916
26 December 1916
21 February 1919 (supplementary contract)
Builder: Todd Dry Dock & Construction Co., Tacoma, Washington
Cost: ,541,396 (cost of hull & machinery)
Laid down: 6 December 1918
Launched: 14 December 1920
Sponsored by: Louise Bushnell White
Completed: 1 August 1921
Commissioned: 24 February 1923
Decommissioned: 1 November 1945
Struck: 28 November 1945
ICS November.svgICS India.svgICS Sierra.svgICS Lima.svg
awards: Bronze-service-star-3d.png 1 × battle star
Fate: Scrapped in February 1946
General characteristics (as built)
Class & type: Omaha-class light cruiser
Displacement: 7,050 long tons (7,163 t) (standard)
555 ft 6 in (169.32 m) oa
550 ft (170 m) pp
Beam: 55 ft (17 m)
Draft: 14 ft 3 in (4.34 m) (mean)
12 × Yarrow boilers
90,000 ihp (67,000 kW) (Estimated power produced on trials)
4 × Westinghouse reduction geared steam turbines
4 × screws
35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph)
33.7 knots (62.4 km/h; 38.8 mph) (Estimated speed on trials)
Crew: 29 officers 429 enlisted (peace time)
2 × twin 6 in (152 mm)/53 caliber
8 × single 6 in (152 mm)/53 caliber
2 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 caliber guns anti-aircraft
6 × triple 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
4 × twin 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
224 × mines (removed soon after completion)
Belt: 3 in (7.6 cm)
Deck: 1 1?2 in (38 mm)
Conning Tower: 1 1?2 in (38 mm)
Bulkheads: 1 1?2–3 in (38–76 mm)
Aircraft carried: 2 × floatplanes
2 × Amidship catapults
General characteristics (1945)
2 × twin 6 in (152 mm)/53 caliber
6 × single 6 in (152 mm)/53 caliber
8 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 caliber anti-aircraft guns
6 × triple 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
3 × twin 40 mm (1.6 in) Bofors guns
14 × single 20 mm (0.79 in) Oerlikon cannons
USS Omaha (CL-4) was the lead ship of Omaha-class light cruiser, originally classified as a scout cruiser, of the United States Navy. She was the second US Navy ship named for the city of Omaha, Nebraska. She spent most of her career in the Atlantic. At this time her primary mission was training, and she proved to be very capable by consistently winning fleet awards in gunnery and communications. She made many ports-of-call throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean during her peacetime cruises, displaying the Stars and Stripes. Later she was assigned to Neutrality Patrol, during which she captured the German blockade runners Odenwald. She also supported Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France.
1 Construction and design
1.1 Armament changes
2 Inter-war period
2.1 Capture of Odenwald
3 World War II
6 External links
Construction and design
Omaha was laid down on 6 December 1918 by the Todd SB & DD Co. of Tacoma, Washington. The ship was launched on 14 December 1920 and was sponsored by Louise Bushnell White. She was commissioned on 24 February 1923, with Captain David C. Hanrahan in command.
Omaha was 550 feet (170 metres) long at the waterline with an overall length of 555 feet 6 inches (169.32 metres), her beam was 55 feet 4 inches (16.87 metres) and a mean draft of 13 feet 6 inches (4.11 metres). Her standard displacement was 7,050 long tons (7,160 t) and 9,508 long tons (9,661 t) at full load. Her crew, during peace time, consisted of 29 officers and 429 enlisted men.
Omaha was powered by four Westinghouse geared steam turbines, each driving one screw, using steam generated by 12 Yarrow boilers. The engines were designed to produce 90,000 indicated horsepower (67,000 kW) and reach a top speed of 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph). She was designed to provided a range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph), but was only capable of 8,460 nautical miles (15,670 km; 9,740 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Omaha’s main armament went through many changes while she was being designed. Originally she was to mount ten 6-inch (150 mm)/53 caliber guns; two on either side at the waist, with the remaining eight mounted in tiered casemates on either side of the fore and aft superstructures. After America’s entry into World War I the US Navy worked alongside the Royal Navy and it was deceided to mount four six-inch/53 caliber guns in two twin gun turrets fore and aft and keep the eight guns in the tiered casemates so that she would have an eight gun broadside and, due to limited arcs of fire from the casemate guns, four to six guns firing fore or aft. Her secondary armament consisted of two 3-inch (76 mm)/50 caliber anti-aircraft guns in single mounts. Omaha was initially built with the capacity to carry 224 mines, but these were removed early in her career to make way for more crew accommodations. She also carried two triple and two twin, above-water, torpedo tube mounts for 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes. The triple mounts were fitted on either side of the upper deck, aft of the aircraft catapults, and the twin mounts were one deck lower on either side, covered by hatches in the side of the hull.
The ship lacked a full-length waterline armor belt. The sides of her boiler and engine rooms and steering gear were protected by 3 inches (76 mm) of armor. The transverse bulkheads at the end of her machinery rooms were 1.5 inches (38 mm) thick forward and three inches thick aft. The deck over the machinery spaces and steering gear had a thickness of 1.5 inches. The gun turrets were not armored and only provided protection against muzzle blast and the conning tower had 1.5 inches of armor. Omaha carried two floatplanes aboard that were stored on the two catapults. Initially these were probably Vought VE-9s, but the ship operated Curtiss SOC Seagulls from 1935 and Vought OS2U Kingfishers after 1940.
During her career Omaha went through several armament changes, some of these changes were save weight, but others were to increase her AA armament. The lower torpedo tube mounts proved to be very wet and were removed, and the openings plated over, before the start of World War II. Another change made before the war was to increase the 3-inch (76 mm) guns to eight, all mounted in the ship’s waist. After 1940 the lower aft 6-inch (150 mm) guns were removed and the casemates plated over for the same reason as the lower torpedo mounts. The ship’s anti-aircraft armament were originally augmented by three quadruple 1.1 in (28 mm)/75 gun mounts by early 1942, however, these didn’t prove reliable and were replaced by twin 40 mm (1.6 in) Bofors guns later in the war. At about the same time, Omaha also received 14 20 mm (0.79 in) Oerlikon cannons.
Following her commissioning, Omaha joined the Atlantic Fleet in peacetime. At this time, her primary mission was training, and she proved to be very capable by consistently winning fleet awards in gunnery and communications. She made many ports of call throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean during her peacetime cruises, displaying the US flag.
Capture of Odenwald
Just prior to the US entry into World War II, on 6 November 1941, while on neutrality patrol with Somers in the mid-Atlantic near the equator, Omaha sighted a vessel which aroused much suspicion by her actions. Refusing to satisfactorily identify herself, and taking evasive action, the stranger was ordered to heave to. She flew the American flag and carried the name Willmoto of Philadelphia on her stern.
Omaha crew members posing on the deck of the Odenwald
As Omaha’s crew dispatched a boarding party to the freighter, its crew took to lifeboats and hoisted a signal which indicated that the ship was sinking. When their party pulled alongside, they could hear explosions from within the hull, while one of the fleeing crewmen shouted "This is a German ship and she is sinking!" In short order, the men of Omaha – despite the extreme risk – salvaged the vessel, rendered her safe and had her underway for Puerto Rico. The "American freighter Wilmoto", as it turned out, was the German freighter Odenwald carrying a cargo of rubber.
Odenwald was taken to Puerto Rico. An admiralty court ruled that since the ship was illegally claiming American registration, there was sufficient grounds for confiscation. A legal case was started claiming that the crews of the two American ships had salvage rights because Odenwald’s crew attempting to scuttle the ship was the equivalent of abandoning her. The court case – settled in 1947 – ruled the members of the boarding party and the prize crew were entitled to ,000 apiece while all the other crewmen in Omaha and Somers were entitled to two months’ pay and allowances. This was the last prize money awarded by the US Navy.
World War II
After the United States entered the war, Omaha continued her South Atlantic patrol, instructed to stop German blockade runners. While patrolling out of a base in Brazil on 4 January 1944, with Jouett, she spotted a ship which immediately showed signs of being scuttled. The ship’s crew took to the boats and she began settling by the stern. The following day, another ship was sighted and its crew set her afire. Omaha opened fire and the vessel disappeared beneath the waves. Both ships carried cargoes of rubber, which the Germans desperately needed.
In March, Omaha proceeded to Naples to prepare for landings in southern France. On 19 August, she protected the flank of the units bombarding Toulon, and three days later took part in the operations that resulted in the surrender of the German garrison on the island of Porquerolles.
Omaha was present at the surrender of Giens on 23 August, and on 25 August, she delivered a sustained bombardment on targets in the Toulon area. Shortly thereafter, she was detached from the operation and returned to patrol duties. The termination of hostilities (15 August 1945) found her patrolling in the South Atlantic.
Omaha sailed for Philadelphia upon detachment from patrol, arriving on 1 September. By 17 October, she was slated for retirement, and she decommissioned on 1 November. Omaha was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 28 November, and scrapped in February 1946 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.