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USS Reno (CL-96)
USS Reno (CL-96) two days after being torpedoed
USS Reno (CL-96) listing two days after being torpedoed
Career (US)
Name: USS Reno
Builder: Bethlehem Steel Company
Laid down: 1 August 1941
Launched: 23 December 1942
Commissioned: 28 December 1943
Decommissioned: 4 November 1946
Struck: 1 March 1959
Honors and
Three battle stars during WW II
Fate: Scrapped in 1962
General characteristics
Class & type: Atlanta-class cruiser
Displacement: 8,600 tons
Length: 541 ft (165 m)
Beam: 53 ft 2 in (16.21 m)
Draft: 26 ft 6 in (8.08 m)
Speed: 31 kn (36 mph; 57 km/h)
Complement: 688 officers and enlisted
Armament: 12 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 cal guns, 16 × Bofors 40 mm
Armor: none

USS Reno (CL-96) was an updated Atlanta-class light cruiser - sometimes referred to as the "Oakland-class" - designed and built to specialize in antiaircraft warfare. She was the second warship to be named for the city of Reno, Nevada. The one other USS Reno was a destroyer named for Lt. Commander Walter E. Reno.

The Reno was laid down by Bethlehem Steel Co., at San Francisco, California on 1 August 1941. She was launched on 23 December 1942, and commissioned on 28 December 1943, with Captain Ralph C. Alexander in command. The USS Reno spent her entire service life in the Pacific War, and its immediate aftermath, during 1944 though 1946.

Service history[edit | edit source]

Following a shakedown cruise off the coast of San Diego, the USS Reno departed from San Francisco on 14 April 1944, steaming west to join the 5th Fleet, under the command of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. As an active unit in Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force (Task Force 58), the sharp spearpoint of the 5th Fleet, the Reno first came in contact with the enemy while supporting minor air raids against Marcus Island on 19–20 May. Three days later, she also supported air strikes on Japanese-held Wake Island.

During the months of June to July 1944, the Reno joined the fast aircraft carriers in sudden air attacks against Saipan on 11 June, Pagan Island on 12–13 June, and against the Volcano Islands and the Bonin Islands - namely Iwo Jima, Haha Jima, and Chichi Jima on 15 – 16 June. Three days later, the Reno aided in repelling a large-scale Japanese Navy aircraft carrier task force attempt to defeat the American invasion of the Marianas Islands (including Guam, Saipan, and Tinian, during the huge Battle of the Philippine Sea - the world's largest carrier vs. carrier battle of all time, and an overwhelming victory by the U.S. Navy. From 20 June to 8 July, the Reno joined in the operations covering the conquest of Saipan. Then She covered amphibious landings on Guam from 17 to 24 July, and two days later, she took part in air strikes against the Palau Islands from 26 to 29 July. The 5th Fleet then became the 3rd Fleet, as Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., rotated in to command this fleet. Doubling back northward again, one more series of air strikes were made on the Bonin Islands on 4–5 August. Then on 7 September, TF 38 (formerly TF 58) returned south to hit the Palaus again.

After steaming west across the Philippine Sea, the Reno and TF 38 carried out some of the first American air raids against the Philippines hitting the southern island of Mindanao, and its adjacent islands, from 9 to 13 September. TF 58 supported the amphibious landings on two of the Palau from 15 to 20 September, and then on 21–22 September, it carrier out air strikes against the Manila area of Luzon in the northern Philippines. While striking the island of Nansei Shoto on 8 October, the Reno and TF 38 came closer to the Japanese Home Islands than any other major units of the U.S. Navy had been during World War II.

During a huge series of air strikes by TF 38 on Japanese airfields on the previously-touched island of Formosa from 12 to 14 October - which brought out large counterattacks of Japanese warplanes, the USS Reno shot down at least six enemy warplanes. At the height of this aerial battle, one Imperial Japanese Navy torpedo plane crashed and exploded on the Reno's fantail. The Reno's turret number six was partially incapacitated by the explosion, but that turret's officer in charge succeeded in maintaining his defensive fire against the attacking Japanese planes.

On 24 October, four days after the amphibious invasion of Leyte, while supporting air strikes against Japanese airfields on Luzon, TF 38 was subjected to a large-scale air attack by land-based warplanes from Clark Field, Luzon. The light aircraft carrier Princeton took the brunt of the attack; she was hit by aerial bomb and forced to withdraw from the Task Force. The USS Reno was assigned to help fight the fires on board the Princeton by bringing her fire hoses to bear, and also to rescue her crewmen. The Reno drew alongside the Princeton five times but she could not remain on station because of the intense heat and smoke from the burning carrier. While the Reno was assisting Princeton, the carrier began listing and her flight deck struck the Reno, crushing one of her 40 mm cannon mounts. The efforts to save the aircraft carrier continued, but when the Princeton's torpedo warhead magazine exploded, the effort became hopeless. The Reno was ordered to sink the Princeton with her own torpedoes. The Princeton was the last major U.S. Navy aircraft carrier ever to be sunk by an enemy attack. On 25 October, having rejoined the TF 38, the Reno and the other warships steamed northwards to engage the Japanese Northern Force, setting off the Battle off Cape Engaño, which was the final engagement of the huge, multipart Battle for Leyte Gulf.

On the night of 3 November, well east of the San Bernardino Strait, as part of Admiral Sherman's Group 3 of TG 38.2, the Reno two torpedoes were fired on her port side by I-41 while the US carrier Lexington that she was escorting, took several torpedoes as well. One torpedo hung in the outer hull of the "Reno" and was later defused. The other torpedo hit and exploded four decks below topside. This was the first time in almost two years that a Japanese submarine successfully attacked a ship operating with fast carriers.[1] Fortunately, casualties were light: 2 dead, 4 injured.

After a night dead in the water, she survived yet another attempt to sink her by an unknown Japanese submarine firing 3 torpedoes that missed, but was rescued by a destroyer left behind to defend her. The Reno was towed 1,500 miles (2,400 km) to the major American base at Ulithi Atoll for some temporary repairs by fleet tug USS Zuni (ATF-95). During this 700 mile voyage, a crew of 242 remained aboard. A total of 1250 tons of seawater was pumped from flooded compartments, a feat noted favorably by Vice Admiral Charles McMorris in his November 1944 endorsement of Reno's report on the torpedoing.[2]

She then she steamed under her own power across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal, and then to the Navy Base at Charleston, S.C., where she steamed to the Charleston Navy Yard on 22 March for heavy repairs. She only emerged seven months later, and then she was orderd to the Texas coast, and then back to Charleston for the addition of hundreds of bunk spaces. She reported for "Operation Magic Carpet," in which she steamed twice to Le Havre, France returning with repatriated U.S. Army troops.

In early 1946, the Reno steamed to Port Angeles, Washington, where she was decommissioned on 4 November 1946, and then entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet, berthed at Bremerton, Washington. Reclassified CLAA-96 on 18 March 1949, she remained at Bremerton until her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 March 1959, and then her hulk was sold on 22 March 1962 to the Coal Export Co., of New York City, for scrapping. One of the USS Reno's 5 inch gun turrets was kept for display at the U.S. Navy Museum, in eastern Washington, D.C..

Awards[edit | edit source]

Reno earned three battle stars for World War II service.

References[edit | edit source]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  1. Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). XII History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. New York, NY, USA: Little, Brown & Co.. pp. 347. 
  2. Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). XII History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. New York, NY, USA: Little, Brown & Co.. pp. 347. 

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