Standard Displacement: 9050 tons.
Dimensions: 569' (w.1.), 600 1/4' (o.a.), 66' beam, 23' maximum draft
Guns: 9 - 8-inch, 55 caliber
12 - 5-inch A. A.
Torpedo tubes removed
Armor: 3" vertical side, 2" & 1" deck, 1-1/2" gunhouses
Machinery: Parsons geared turbines, 4 shafts. Designed S. H. P.
107,000 = 32.7 knots. 3 White - Foster boilers
Radius: 13,000 miles at 15 knots
Fuel: 1,500 tons
The U.S.S. AUGUSTA, affectionately known by her crew as the "Augie" or "Augie Maru", carries a proud name. She is the fourth ship in United States Naval history to bear this name, The first AUGUSTA was a fourteen gun brig, serving in the war with France as part of Commodore Silas Talbots squadron and capturing the vessels L'Espoir, La Victoire, La Jeanne, Le Republic and Le Mutine. The second AUGUSTA was a paddle steamer, serving in the Civil War. The third vessel of the name was a motor patrol boat, serving in the World War from August 11th, 1917, to December 12th, 1918.
The present U.S.S. AUGUSTA, named for the city in Georgia, was contracted for in 1927 as one of six treaty cruisers displacing less than 10,000 tons. All were designed and fitted out as Fleet Flagships, lightly protected and carrying four seaplanes for scouting. The other five ships in the class were the NORTHAMPTON, CHESTER, LOUISVILLE, CHICAGO, and the HOUSTON. The HOUSTON was lost in the opening days of the present war while serving as Flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. The NORTHAMPTON and the CHICAGO were lost during the grim battles to turn back the Japs at Guadalcanal. The CHESTER and the LOUISVILLE have been badly damaged during Pacific Fighting. The AUGUSTA is the only ship of the six, which has never been damaged in battle, although she has had her share of brushes with the enemy.
The AUGUSTA's keel was laid in the yard of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company on July 2, 1928. Nearly two years later, on the 1st of February 1930, she was launched into the waters of Hampton Roads. A year after that, on the 30th of January, 1931, at the Norfolk Navy Yard at Portsmouth, Virginia, she was turned over to the Navy by her builders and formally commissioned, under the command of Captain J.O. Richardson, who later became Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet.
The AUGUSTA had her shakedown in the Atlantic and Caribbean waters and with the Atlantic Fleet until March, 1932, when she passed thru the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet in San Pedro, California. In February, 1933 she made a cruise to Pearl Harbor and then returned to San Pedro until early fall, when she went to Puget Sound Navy Yard for the Far East and history.
On November 9th, 1933, she dropped her hook in Whangpoo, off the Bund in Shanghai, China, and in colorful ceremonies, proudly hoisted the four star flag of Admiral F.B. Uptam, Commander in Chief of the United States Asiatic Fleet. Her compliment at the time was 64 officers and 760 men. Her armament consisted of three turrets of three 8" guns, four 5" anti-aircraft guns, eight fifty-caliber machine guns and two sets of triple 21" torpedo tubes.
It was the customary routine for the Asiatic Flagship to spend nine months each year in Chinese waters, visiting Shanghai, Tsingtao, Chefoo and Chinwangtao. The remaining three months were spent in the Manila area. So in December of 1933 the AUGUSTA cruised to the Philippines, visiting Manila, Cavite, Subic Bay, Olongapo and Mariveles Bay and returned to her China stations in May 1934.
In the fall of 1934 she made the famous "Long Cruise". The primary purpose of this cruise was to visit Melbourne, Australia, to take part in the Centenary Celebration. Under the command of Captain C.W. Nimitz, the present five-starred Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, she sailed from Shanghai for Guam and then to Sydney, Melbourne, then continued on around Australia to Batavia, Bali, Makassar and back to Zamboanga and Manila, to complete a 73-day cruise of nearly 15,000 miles.
May, 1935 found the AUGUSTA making her first visit to Japan, stopping in Yokahoma and Kobe for official visits and then back to her China station. On the 8th of October, 1935 she sailed from Shanghai to visit Bangkok, Singapore, and British North Borneo and returned to spend the winter in the Philippines.
In May 1936 she again visited China and Japan and in November took another southern cruise. Captain Gygax was her Commanding Officer and Admiral Yarnell was embarked as Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet. Her cruise took her again as far south as Batavia.
The year 1937 brought the "Augie Maru" - now six years old- her baptism of fire. August of that year found her back in China station, with the "China Incident" in full swing and the inter-national situation tense. On "Bloody Saturday", the 14th of August, she moored off the Bund of Shanghai after bucking a typhoon at high speed enroute from Tsingtao. She was hardly secured to her mooring buoy in the Whangpoo when two bombs fell close alongside. Fortunately, no one was killed. During the following hectic week the air was full of screaming Jap shells falling in Shanghai until, on the afternoon of August 20th, a stray shell exploded on the AUGUSTA, killing one seaman and wounding 17 others.
During the next three years she sailed the Asiatic waters, diligently watching the great cauldron of war come to a boil. In 1939 she made a last southern cruise to Bangkok, Singapore, and Saigon. In April 1940, making the passage from Manila to Shanghai, she carried as passengers the Honorable Francis B. Sayre, American High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands, and Mrs. Sayre.
But all was not work. While swinging at her mooring off the Bund, her crew competed in the vast sports program of the Asiatic Fleet, which the Navy encouraged to keep it's men fit. Competition was keen and the standards high. In 1935, 1936, and 1937 she had won the coveted "Iron Man" - the trophy for all around excellence in Athletics. In 1940, at gala ceremonies held on the Quarter Deck, she was presented with the Admiral Anderson Swimming Trophy, the Admiral Washington Wrestling Cup - for the fourth straight year - and as a finale, Admiral Hart, then in Command of the Asiatic Fleet, presented the famous "Iron Man" to Captain Magruder for the "Augie's" fourth win in seven years.
Finally, in November, 1940, after seven years as Flagship of the Asiatic Fleet, she turned over her job to her sister, the U.S.S. HOUSTON, and sailed for the United States, flying a "home-ward bound" pennant over 700 feet long. From December 1940 until early April of 1941, the AUGUSTA was overhauled at the Mare Island Navy Yard. During her stay there many of the men who had served with her in China were transferred to other stations. When she departed for the East Coast in April, many new faces were along. By this time there also were four more five inch guns.
On April 23rd Admiral Ernest J. King, then CinClant, hoisted his flag in the AUGUSTA, riding to her new buoy at Newport, R.I. In Newport the AUGUSTA swung at her mooring eight months, practically unbroken except for the most important mission of her career. In early August, the Presidential yacht Mayflower rendezvoused in Buzzards Bay to transfer President Roosevelt and his party for the journey in the AUGUSTA to meet Prime Minister Churchill at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. It was in the famous admiral's cabin of the AUGUSTA that most of the parlays were held. During that summer, also, trips were made to carry Secretary of the Navy Knox and Secretary of the Treasury Morganthau to Bermuda.
In December of 1941 Admiral King was relieved by Admiral R.E. Ingersol, the new CinClant. Soon after war was declared, CinClant transferred his staff to the CONSTELLATION, and the AUGUSTA joined a carrier task force operating from Bermuda. In February of 1942 a sweep was made around Martinique with the task force to show the local French authorities that we meant business, and then between April and early August, two trips to Africa's Gold Coast were made to guard the carrier loaded with P40's which were headed for Egypt and India. In August, training was started for the invasion of French Morocco.
In October 1942 the AUGUSTA set out carrying the flag of Admiral Henry K. Hewitt, who was in command of Moroccan invasion forces. Major General George S. Patton went along to watch us shoot his way ashore. When the armistice was arranged with the French, the AUGUSTA was the first ship to enter Casablanca Harbor to assist in clearing the way for our troops. "Le D'emon", as she was called by the natives, carries pictures testifying to the ferocity of the resistance put up by the French forces. Two destroyers sunk, one badly damaged and beached, plus an assist in damaging badly one heavy cruiser and one destroyer, had been chalked up by her guns.
In December of 1942 and January of 1943 the Navy Yard New York added most of the present battery of 40MM and 20MM guns to bolster the anti-aircraft battery. And in the spring of 1943 the AUGUSTA went to Argentia, Newfoundland, to acclimate all hands for a visit with the British Fleet. In May a slight detour was made to escort the Queen Mary, carrying Prime Minister Churchill, to New York. Then a troop convoy was escorted to the Clyde and another brought back as far as Halifax. In August, 1943, the AUGUSTA sailed from Halifax with the heavy Cruiser TUSCALOOSA, the carrier RANGER, and an escort of destroyers to join the British Fleet as Scapa Flow. The British had their hands full in the Mediterranean and the Home Fleet was short of cruisers and carriers.
The American ships assumed British code names, learned British signals and British naval tactic with the Home Fleet and joined the watch of the Norwegian coast, where the giant German battleship TIRPITZ and battleships SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU awaited a chance to slip out. Twice the Germans tried it and twice the Home Fleet raced to intercept, but the cautious Nazis hurried back into port too soon. In September, the Secretary of the Navy, visiting American naval forces in Europe, came to Scapa Flow to inspect the American ships turned British.
The AUGUSTA then joined the heavy cruiser H.M.S. LONDON and sailed for Iceland to guard the gate between Iceland and Greenland. Quietly the two cruisers hid in the fjord at Reykjavik, but nothing happened. Early in October the waiting became too monotonous and the two fast ships sailed out. North they went, beyond Bear Island, far above the northernmost tip of Norway. Because a man's life expectancy in the freezing water was no more than twenty minutes, the crew needed no urging to watch the gray seas for the dreaded periscopes. There was now no more destroyer escort, for the were bait in a trap which Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser hoped to spring on the SCHARNHORST. But the Nazis would not bite and the watch in Iceland was resumed. Here the AUGUSTA received her first mail in 57 days. She had been traveling too fast for the Post Office.
In the latter part of October, the trap was again set, baited this time with ships making the deadly run to Murmansk. The AUGUSTA and the LONDON took their stations in the far north, within 800 miles of the North Pole, to wait and watch. Again the Germans were prudent. German patrol bombers were sent out to investigate and the Nazi ships stayed safely under the protection of their own powerful shore batteries and air coverage. The AUGUSTA then sailed southward across the wild northern seas to Scotland for a few days of liberty and recreation.
By the middle of November, other Allied warships came to Scapa Flow to relieve the watch and the AUGUSTA sailed to Iceland for Thanksgiving and then to the United States for overhaul and modernization. In April of 1944, refreshed, rearmed, and thoroughly drilled in shore bombardment techniques, the AUGUSTA set sail for Europe. Down the Irish Sea, into the English Channel, and into the shattered port of Portsmouth she sailed. In simple ceremonies, Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk hoisted his flag as Commander of the Western Task Force - that group of determined Americans who had vowed to breach the walls of Fortress Europe. For weeks there were conferences of admirals and generals, while couriers hurried between the AUGUSTA and LONDON. Twice the Germans bombed Plymouth, but the ship was unhit. No mail arrived, for the location of the AUGUSTA was a secret even to the Post Office.
The stay in Plymouth was saddened by the news of the death of the Secretary of the Navy. The ranking officers of the British and American forces in Plymouth gathered aboard AUGUSTA for a simple and beautiful memorial service. Late in April the AUGUSTA carried Admiral Harold R. Stark, Commanded of Naval Forces in Europe, out to participate in practice landings on a secluded beach of southern. Diligently she practiced for the great day. A month later, as May was drawing to a close, she steamed up the channel to Portland, were King George VI inspected the ship and stayed for dinner.
The opening days of June saw the ship sealed and waiting. On the night of June 5th she sailed out of Plymouth and headed for the beaches of Normandy. Swiftly and silently she ran into the darkness, past the vast vessels of the Western Task Force and together they crept toward the Norman coast behind heroic little mine sweepers. On her Admiral's bridge, in the dawn, stood Rear Admiral Kirk and his Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Stuble, General Omar N. Bradley, Commanding the Army Forces making the landings, and Brig. General Royce, Deputy Commander of the Ninth Tactical Air Force. Serious and determined, they were prepared to lose one quarter of their forces.
Poised for the blow, the AUGUSTA steamed to within 3,000 yards of the enemy shore and dropped her anchor. Then the mighty fleet roared it's defiance of German might and hurled it's tons of steel against the beach. The events of the next month are history. For twenty-six days the AUGUSTA steamed up and down the invasion beaches. For three days she road out the worst June blow in English Channel History, losing one man washed overboard in the midst of it. By night her 5" guns blazed at the lone German planes which penetrated the air cover and had the satisfaction of shooting one down. On the 14th of June the first mail in ten weeks arrived, brought from England by a destroyer.
Finally on the 30th of June the beachhead was secured beyond a doubt. Admiral Kirk transferred his flag to another ship and the AUGUSTA sailed back to Plymouth. But her stay was short. Five days later she was on her way to the Mediterranean. After stopping at Oran and Palermo, she edged to the crowded harbor of Naples.
The AUGUSTA had not been long in Naples before the Germans flew a night photographic mission over the harbor and dropped tremendous flares. After that night the "Augie Maru" moved each evening across the bay to Castellamare to spend the night and came back the next morning. The flag of Rear Admiral Lyal A. Davidson, who would command the Bombardment Support Group for the invasion of Southern France, was now flying in the AUGUSTA. Again there was much coming and going. Beneath the blacked out docks, the lights burned far into the night.
Finally on the evening of August 12th the AUGUSTA slipped out of the nearly deserted harbor of Naples and ran northward to Corsica, where the landing forces were gathered. On D-1 day, in company with fast attack transports, loaded with American Special Service Troops and Special French Troops, and escorted by destroyers and PT boats, she headed for the French coast east of Toulon. The special force was assigned the task of reducing the large batteries covering the landing beaches before the main force arrived. The AUGUSTA was to standby and reduce the batteries by bombardment if the Special Service Troops failed to do it by stealth.
The operation was a success. H-hour found not a single heavy gun firing at the landing forces. Admiral Davidson now gathered his support group and began to reduce systematically the defenses of the French coast in the path of the Allied forces advancing westward. Only at Toulon, "Big Willie", a fifteen inch coast defense battery remained. "Big Willie", dropped shells around the AUGUSTA too close for comfort when she approached within range. He was finally silenced by the combined guns of the bombardment group, in addition to a few hundred tons of bombs. On D+1 Secretary of the Navy Forrestal came aboard to see how we were getting along.
Around Marseilles the AUGUSTA had more fun, playing hide-and-seek with a battery of 150-mm coast defense guns. Each time these guns opened up on mine sweeping forces, the guns of the AUGUSTA drove the Germans back into their underground shelters. After hours of quiet, the game would recommence. Almost three days were spent in this manner, and the Germans finally admitted they were beaten. Our Marines were landed, together with those of the U.S.S. PHILADELPHIA, to accept the surrender of about 800 Germans.
After the operations in Southern France, the ship was taken to Philadelphia Navy Yard for a further modernization. Four and a half months work was required to complete the task, and the AUGUSTA emerged with a new profile and much new equipment. So today the light and graceful AUGUSTA cuts swiftly through the waters, proud of an historic past, eager for the future, and grateful for the phenomenal good fortune. Her men name with pride her past commanding officers:
Captain James O. Richardson
Captain Royal E. Ingersoll
Captain Chester W. Nimitz
Captain Felix X. Gygax
Captain Harold V. McKitterick
Captain John H. Magruder
Captain Carlton H. Wright
Captain Gordon Hutchins
Captain Tully Shelley
Captain Edward H. Jones
Captain Bryan C. Harper
and the present commanding officer Captain James H. Foskett
The casual reader will note the illustrious line of succession. The present Commanding Officer, Captain James H. Foskett, U.S.N., took command in June 1945, and lives in Chevy Chase, MD. The Executive Officer, Commander C. L. Freeman, U.S.N., Lives in New London, Conn.
The various Heads of Departments are as follows:
Commander H .F. Crist, U.S.N., of Baltimore, MD, Navigator
Commander J .B. Gay, U.S.N. of San Diego, Calif, First Lieutenant and Damage Control Officer
Lieutenant Commander S. H. Grahan, Jr., U.S.N., of Burlington, Mass, Gunnery Officer
Lieutenant Commander N. V. King, U.S.N.R., of New York, Engineering Officer
Lieutenant Commander C. L. Goulland, U.S.N.R., of Brookline, Mass., Communications Officer
Lieutenant Commander J. S. Claypoole, Jr., (SC), U.S.N., of New Born , N.C., Supply Officer
Lieutenant Commander W. F. Berborich, (MC), U.S.N., of Washington, DC., Medical Officer.