CL-120, CLAA-120
USS SPOKANE following launch on 22 Sep 1945

Based on the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
Updated in November 2001

  The USS Spokane (CL-120) was one of three "Juneau-class" light cruisers ordered by the Navy during the latter part of World War II, at a time when the conflict was marked by highly effective kamikaze and air-launched torpedo attacks on US naval squadrons. Her sister ships were the Juneau and the Fresno. Work had begun on all three by February 1945, but they were not completed until 1946. In the meantime, World War II ended on 2 September 1945. Their post-war commissioning foretold a brief career, as the Navy was down-sizing from its war-time strength. By the war's end, the Navy had 72 cruisers. Within a year it had reduced that number to 36, and within five years to just 15.

  Spokane (CL-120) was laid down on 15 November 1944 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Kearny, N.J.; launched on 22 September 1945; sponsored by Miss Patrice Munsel, and commissioned on 17 May 1946, Capt. L. E. Crist in command.

  Spokane shifted to Bayonne, N.J., and then to Brooklyn, N.Y., whence she sailed on 24 June for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for her shakedown cruise and to conduct battle practice and weapons firing. She returned to New York on 11 September. The cruiser was assigned to the 2nd Fleet (U.S. Atlantic Fleet) for duty in European waters and sailed for Plymouth, England, on 7 October.

US Navy Photograph of the USS SPOKANE

  Spokane operated out of British ports until mid-January 1947. During her tour, she visited Scotland, Ireland, Norway, and Denmark. On 27 January, she stood out of Plymouth and proceeded to the United States via Portugal, Gibraltar, and Guantanamo Bay where [587] she participated in fleet exercises before arriving at Norfolk, Va., on 18 March. Following fleet and bombardment exercises in the Chesapeake Bay during the summer, she had a period of yard availability at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 22 September to 14 October. The cruiser returned to Norfolk for Navy Day, 27 October, and then prepared for another deployment.

  Spokane stood out of Norfolk on the 29th and rendezvoused with other units of the 2nd Fleet for tactical exercises off Bermuda until 8 November when she sailed for England. She arrived at Plymouth on 16 November and was assigned to duty with Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. Four days later, the ship donned "full dress" in celebration of the marriage of Her Royal Highness, Princess Elizabeth of England. The cruiser visited Bremerhaven, Germany, from 24 to 26 November and returned to England for tactical operations. In February 1947, the ship called at Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where she was visited by His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard on the 17th. On 1 March, Spokane stood out of Plymouth en route to the east coast and arrived at Norfolk on 11 March. On the 18th of March, 1948, her designation was changed to CLAA-120.

USS Spokane at Jacksonville, Fla.  1948
USS SPOKANE at Jacksonville, Fla. 1948

  In May 1948 she was on Caribbean operations, making a stop at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba from May 5th to May 8th with the USS Gyatt, DD 712, a Gearing class destroyer. Spokane's operations along the eastern seaboard during the remainder of the year were broken by an overhaul at the New York Navy Yard from 27 May to 15 September. On 4 January 1949, the ship sortied with Philippine Sea (CV-47) and Manchester (CL-83) for the Mediterranean. On 25 January, at Athens, the cruiser was paid a royal visit by King Paul and Queen Fredrika of Greece. Spokane participated in war games with 6th Fleet units and visited ports in Turkey, Italy, France, Sardinia, Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria before returning to Norfolk on 23 May. This heightened activity led to the first issue of the ship's newspaper, "The Spoke." A March 1949 edition of "The Spoke" reported on the ship's planned visit to the port of Tripoli in Libya for a special ceremony to honor US Navy dead from the Barbary Wars of the early 1800s. Click here to view that article.

USS Spokane at Venice, Italy 1949
USS SPOKANE at Venice, Italy 1949

  Spokane acted as a training ship for Naval Reserves of the 4th Naval District during the summer and then participated in training exercises in the Virginia Capes area.

USS SPOKANE, late 1949, with larger numerals on bow.

  On 24 October 1949, Spokane sailed to New York for inactivation. She was placed in reserve, out of commission, on 27 February 1950 and joined the Navy's "mothball fleet" at New York. The last known official picture containing the USS Spokane was taken on 15 April 1953, when she was moored at Bayonne Naval Supply Depot in New Jersey. The Spokane and the USS Fresno (CLAA-121) both appear in this picture. One of them is in the foreground, lashed to the starboard side of the USS Alaska (CB-1), and the other is in the background on the opposite side of the island. [The USS Guam (CB-2) is on the port side of the Alaska.]

USS Spokane the foreground or background?
Click to see larger picture

  On 1 April 1966 she was redesignated AG-191, a miscellaneous Auxiliary designation. The USS Spokane was officially struck from the Navy list on 15 April 1972. She was sold to Luria Bros. & Co. Inc., on 17 May 1973 and scrapped.

  Her sister ships also had brief lives. The Fresno, commissioned in November 1946, was taken out of service by May 1949. The Juneau served the longest, from February 1946 to July 1955, including an active role in the Korean War. Four days after war broke out she was shelling enemy positions ashore. Three days later, in the first naval engagement of the war, she sank three North Korean torpedo boats. During her two tours of duty in Korean waters the Juneau alternated between shore bombardment and carrier fleet protection roles. Her record underscored the effective and versatile capabilities offered by this class of light antiaircraft cruisers.

This Page Was Last Updated in December 2000

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