Naval History USS Boston CL-69

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USS Boston CA-69

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A TRADITION OF PATRIOTISM&Mac247;A HISTORY OF EXCELLENCE

Art Hebert, Secretary, USS BOSTON Shipmates


There have been seven ships named BOSTON commissioned as naval vessels of our nation. While there have also been numerous commercial vessels named BOSTON, the history you are reading focuses on BOSTONs manned by military seamen.

It may surprise you to learn that the first and second BOSTONs existed at the same time. The first BOSTON keel was laid in Newburyport, Massachusetts in June of 1776. She was commissioned in 1777. This was a frigate about 114 feet in length, mounting thirty assorted cannon, from 12-pounders down to 4-pounders. She acquitted herself well in the Revolutionary War, capturing or assisting in the capture of 21 British ships. In 1780 a reverse fate befell her when she was captured by the British at Charleston, South Carolina and renamed H.B.M. Frigate Charlestown.

The second BOSTON, a gondola (then gundalow), was built in July and commissioned in August 1776 in Skenesboro, New York, and sailed on Lake Champlain as part of a small fleet under the command of General Benedict Arnold (of later infamy). About 50 feet in length, she was flat-bottomed and double-ended, carrying a modified sloop rig for her single mast and two square sails. She had a crew of 45 and carried one 12-pound bow cannon and a 9-pound cannon off each beam. General Arnold's small fleet&Mac247;including the BOSTON&Mac247;fought the British furiously in the battle of Valcour Island on October 11, 1776. Two days later, in a running battle, the BOSTON was intentionally grounded and burned to prevent her capture by the British.

The Continental Navy was totally disbanded in 1784, an experiment that proved unsuccessful. Just ten years later Congress passed legislation to build naval ships and establish a national navy. The third BOSTON was not funded by this legislation, but was instead financed by citizens of the city of Boston to protect their commercial shipping interests.

Launched in May of 1799, the Continental Frigate BOSTON was 134 feet long, and initially carried twenty-six 12-pounders and twelve 9-pounders. In 1800 the first Marine officer from New England, Lieutenant Jonathan Whipple, was ordered to the BOSTON along with 38 enlisted Marines. The BOSTON's primary duties during this time included protecting American commerce from French privateers during a quasi-war with France. Interestingly, this BOSTON pursued, battled, and captured a French vessel, le Berceau, a few days after we had ended that war and declared peace with France. This was long before single-sideband and satellite communications, of course. In August of 1814, while the British were burning Washington, DC, this BOSTON was intentionally burned at the Washington Navy Yard to prevent her capture.

The Boston Navy Yard built the fourth BOSTON in 1826 as a sloop-of-war with a length of 127 feet and armament that included twenty 24-pounders. She spent her twenty-year life protecting American shipping in many parts of the world, sailing the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific. While en route to Mexico to participate in a blockade of Mexico's east coast in November of 1846, she ran aground on Eleuthera Island during a fierce storm. Her crew was saved but BOSTON was destroyed.

In March of 1883 the U.S. Congress authorized money to build the Navy's first warships that would be steel from the keel up, the ATLANTA, BOSTON, CHICAGO and DOLPHIN, referred to at the time as "the ABCD ships." This was the fifth BOSTON.

Launched in Chester, Pennsylvania, the "protected cruiser" BOSTON was completed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (amidst considerable controversy) and commissioned in May of 1887. She carried both main- and foremast and complete rigging for sails, plus a 4,000 horsepower horizontal compound steam engine driving a single screw. She was 270 feet long, displaced just over 3000 tons, and carried two 8" and six 6" breech-loading gun turrets for main battery, plus assorted smaller guns mounted either high or piercing the hull. The crew included19 officers and 265 men.

In 1893 a successful coup against Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii by U.S. "advisors" was supported by 150 Marines and Sailors from the BOSTON. In 1898 the BOSTON took part in Commodore Dewey's liberation of Manila Harbor. This BOSTON served fify-nine years, although her name was changed to USS DESPATCH in 1940. She served as a receiving (barracks) ship in San Francisco until she was towed to sea and sunk in April of 1946.

Launched in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1942, the sixth BOSTON was commissioned on June 30, 1943. The CA69 was one of the first BALTIMORE-class cruisers to see action in the Pacific in World War II. She was powered by four oil-fired boilers which drove four screws with a total of 120,000 shaft horsepower. With a length of 673 feet and a displacement of over 16,000 tons, she was clearly the most spacious and comfortable BOSTON yet for her crew of 125 officers and 1600 men. Her main battery consisted of nine 8" guns in three turrets. Antiaircraft defense was handled by her secondary battery of twelve twin 5", twelve quadruple 40mm and ten twin 20mm gun mounts. The BOSTON and her sister ships were formidable AA platforms and extremely effective shore bombardment units. These strengths served BOSTON well as she earned ten battle stars in the Pacific, never losing a man to enemy action. The CA69 was placed in mothballs in Bremerton, Washington in 1946.

In 1952 sister ships BOSTON (CA69) and CANBERRA (CA70) were moved from Washington to Camden, New Jersey, where they were extensively renovated and converted to the world's first and second guided missile cruisers, CAG1 and CAG2 respectively. The BOSTON was completed before the CANBERRA and rejoined the fleet in November, 1955. Now armed with two twin supersonic Terrier surface-to-air missile launchers plus an array of six 8", ten twin 5", and ten twin 3" guns, the BOSTON clearly led the U.S. Navy into the missile age, while also retaining conventional weaponry.

The BOSTON's technological edge soon included world-wide communications capabilities, making her ideal as a flagship of cruiser divisions and cruiser/destroyer task forces through the '50s and '60s. During this time the BOSTON quietly carried the sword of freedom across the Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean. BOSTON was part of the Sixth Fleet that Nikita Khrushchev vowed to "sink to the bottom of the sea in molten steel coffins" in 1958. Between 1967 and 1969 the BOSTON served in Vietnam, providing shore bombardment and interdiction and destruction of enemy supply vessels. She earned the Navy Unit Commendation and five more battle stars during her three Vietnam tours. In May 1968 the CAG1 reverted to CA69. She was decommissioned in 1970, and sold for scrap in 1975.
January of 1982 saw the name Boston proudly in service to America for the seventh time when the USS BOSTON SSN703, a LOS ANGELES-class nuclear powered attack submarine was commissioned in Groton, Connecticut. This submarine class has been called the most effective hunter-killer in history. A pressurized water nuclear reactor provides steam to two turbines that are coupled to one propeller shaft to drive the 360-foot, 6,900-ton ship. Armed with Mark 48 torpedoes, mines, Harpoon antiship and Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus some of the most advanced sensors, weapons control systems and computer complexes afloat, the BOSTON carried 12 officers and 115 crew. The BOSTON's home port was Groton, Connecticut. This award-winning ship, in perfect condition, was inactivated on January 19, 1999 and decommissioned on November 19, 1999, halfway through her designed lifetime.
Boston VI

(CA-69: dp. 13,600; 1. 673'5"; b. 71'10"; dr. 26'10";
s. 33 k.; cpl. 1142; a. 9 8", 12 5"; cl. Baltimore)

The sixth Boston (CA-69) was launched 26 August 1942 by Bethlehem Steel aO., Fore Biver, Mass.; sponsored by Mrs. M. J. Tobin, wife of the Mayor of Boston; and commissioned 30 June 1943, Captain J. H. Carson in command.

Boston reported to the Pacific Fleet, arriving at Pearl IIarbor 6 December 1943. She joined TF 58 in January and took part in the raids on the Marshall Islands in support of the invasions of KwaJalein MaJuro' and Entwetok (31 January-28 February 194i); Palaus and Western Carolines (30 March-1 April); Hollandia and Western New Guinea (21-24 April ), Truk, including Satawan Island, bombardment (29 April-l May), invasion of Saipan (11-24 June); 1st Bonins raid (15-16 June); Battle of the Philippine Sea (19-20 June), 2nd Bonins raid (24-26 June); 3rd Bonins raid (3-4 July); invasion of Guam ( 12 July-15 August ); Palau Yap Ulithi raid (25-27 July); Morotai landings (15 September); seizure of the southern Palaus (6 September14 October), and Philippine Islands raids (9 24 September ) . She served with TF 38 during the Okinawa raid (10 October), northern Luzon and Formosa raid (11-14 October), Luzon raids (15 and 24-26 October, 1~14 and 19-20 November, and 14-16 December), Battle for Leyte Gulf (24-26 October); Formosa raids (3-4, 9, 15, and 21 January 1945), Luzon raids (6 7 January), China coast raids (12 and 16 January); Nansei Shoto raid (22 January) Honshu and Nansei Shoto raids (15-16 February and 1 March), in which she bombarded Japan itself.

Boston then returned to the United States for overhaul arriving at Long Beach, Calif. 25 March 1945. Returning to the Western Pacific, via Pearl Harbor and E:niwetok, she joined TF 38 tor the raids on the Japanese home islands (20 July 15 August), including the bombardment off Kamaishi, Honshu (9 August). Following the Japanese surrender Boston remained in the' Far Fast on occupation duty until 28 February 1946. She then returned to the United States and was placed out of commission in reserve at Puget Sound Naval Shiprard 12 March 1946.

Boston was reclassified CAG-1, 4 January 1952. In February 1952 she was towed from Bremerton, Wash., to Philadelphia for conversion to a guided missile heavy cruiser by New York Shiphuilding Corp., Camden, N. J. During conversion her after-8" turret was replaced with anti-aircraft missile launchers and she was otherwise modernized Boston was recommissioned 1 November 1955 and operated along the east coast and in the Caribbean conducting missile e.valuations and participating in fleet exerciResuntil departing for the Mediterranean 23 November 1956. She returned in May 1957.

Boston received ten battle stars for her world War II service.