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USS Salem late 50s (US Navy photo)

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CA-139

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USS Salem photo gallery

50 photos!

The USS Salem is pemanently on display at the former Fore River Shipyard in Quincy. MA just south of Boston.
Click here for visitor information

Vital Statistics

Laid Down: July 4, 1943
Launched:
March 25, 1947

Commissioned: 
May 9, 1949
Length:
716' 6" oa
Extreme Beam: 
76' 4"
Displacement:
17,000 tons standard, 21,500 tons full load

Complement: 109 officers, 1,690 enlisted
Speed:  33.5 knots

Classic Warships has released a 1:350 scale model of the USS Salem. The model may also be built as either of her sister ships, Des Moines and Newport News.
Click here for more information.

Accurate Image Models will be releasing a 1:700 scale waterline model of the USS Salem in mid February 1999.
Click here for a first look.

The USS Salem and her sister ships Des Moines and Newport News were the ultimate in World War II heavy cruiser development. She carried fully automatic 8" guns, 6" 38 caliber secondary armament and a full complement of 3"/50 rapid fire AA guns. Originally designed to carry 4 floatplanes, they were obsolete by the time of her 1949 commissioning and in service she carried a utility helicopter.

Though laid down in 1943 and incorporating the hard earned lessons of the Solomons naval battles, neither Salem nor her sisters saw action during World War II. They were active primarily during the 1950s and early 1960s. Nevertheless the all gun armament, wood plank decks and graceful lines tell you that this is unmistakably a World War II design. We are especially fortunate that she has been preserved. Don't be misled by the peeling paint. The innards of the ship appear to be in excellent condition. And she is big! At 716' in length she is longer than a South Dakota class battleship, not to mention being the only surviving heavy cruiser anywhere in the world.

She is readily accessible from Boston, either by auto or harbor ferry. I thoroughly enjoyed my August 1998 visit and encourage ship modelers and students of naval history to check out this most impressive ship.


Armament
(technical info extracted from the USS Salem web site)

Main Battery:
Guns: 8 inch/55 caliber in three triple turrets
Gun Barrel: Mk 16 Mod 0
Muzzle Velocity: 2,800 ft/sec
Crew: 45 (turret)
Weight: 451 tons (turret)
Rate of fire: 10 rpgpm (rounds per gun per minute)
Projectiles: High Capacity (shore bombardment): 260 pounds, Armor Piercing: 335 pounds
Range: 30,100 yards (AP) at 41 degrees 31,350 yards (HC) at 45 degrees
Notes: These guns were the first 8" guns to use cased (semi-fixed) ammunition instead of bag/shell loading. They were also the world's first automatic 8" gun. These guns could be loaded at any elevation from -5 to +41 degrees. They were dual purpose guns (AA and ASuW). The gun houses on all three turrets are quite spacious due to the fact that they were designed with room for the installation of optical rangefinders, which were omitted from final plans.

Secondary Battery:
Guns: 5 inch/38 caliber in six dual mounts, Mk 32
Gun Barrel: Mk 12 Mod 1
Muzzle Velocity: 2,500 ft/sec
Crew: 27 (mount)
Weight: 120,000 lbs (mount)
Rate of fire: 18 rpgpm (rounds per gun per minute)
Projectiles: AA rounds: 55 pounds, White Phosphorous (WP) illuminating rounds (also known as "star shells".)
Range: 17,036 yards at 45 degrees, 32,250 ft at 85 degrees
Notes: These guns were dual purpose weapons (AA and ASuW).

Light Anti-Aircraft Battery:
Guns: 3 inch/50 cal in 11 (originally 12) twin mounts. Both mark 27 and 33 mounts fitted.
Gun barrel: Mk 22
Muzzle velocity: 2,650 ft/sec
Crew: 12 (mount)
Weight: approx. 33,000 lbs (mount)
Rate of fire: 50 rpgpm
Projectiles: AA, 7 pounds
Range: 14,041 yards at 45 degrees, 29,367 ft at 85 degrees

Notes: Mount 31 was removed from all 3 ships of the Des Moines class in 1955 due to excessive damage to the mounts, and loss of the mounts, in heavy seas. These ships were originally built with 6 dual 20mm gun mounts, which were removed at the time the ships were commissioned. The two gun directors for the 20mm guns (type unknown) were located on pedestals abeam the forward Mark 54 director.


Fire Control

Main Battery: 2 Mark 54 with Mark 13 radar.
Secondary Battery: 4 Mark 37 GFCS with Mark 25 radar.
AntiAircraft Battery: 4 Mark 56 GFCS with Mark 35 Radar and 2 Mark 63 GFCS with Mark 34 radar (Mark 63 for mounts 311 and 312 only).


Radar

SG-6 air search
SPS-8A height finding
SPS-12 air search
Turrets 2 and 3 were originally equipped with dual Mark 27 ranging radars, which were ultimately removed.