|USS HELENA CA-75|
The USS HELENA (CA-75), heavy cruiser of the Baltimore class, was launched on 28 April 1945 at Quincy, Massachusetts, and was commissioned on 4 September 1945. The HELENA, named for the capital of the state of Montana, was the third U.S. Navy ship to bear that name.
The first HELENA (FG-9) was a 1400 ton gunboat that served during the Spanish American War and then later in the Far East. When stricken from the Navy Register in 1932, she had over thirty years of distinguished service on her record. The second HELENA (CL-50), a light cruiser, was launched in 1938. Although damaged at Pearl Harbor, she returned to take part in 13 major engagements in the South Pacific and played a decisive role in the Battle for Guadalcanal . Sunk by enemy torpedos in the Battle of Kula Gulf on 7 July 1943, she was posthumously awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for outstanding heroism in action.
Commissioned too late for World War II, USS HELENA CA-75 made up for this with her performance during the Korean War. Although she had just returned from the Far East when the war broke out, she was made ready and returned in a hurry, firing her first round on 7 August, six weeks after the shooting started. Following her support of the Inchon landings on October, she returned home but was back again in four months. During this stay she saw extensive action including a hit by a 105mm shell that tore a 4'x4' hole in her main deck.
Six monts on the firing line brought the HELENA back to Long Beach Naval Station, Long Beach, Calif., but in May she departed for her third trip. In addition to shelling the enemy beaches, HELENA became the first U.S. warship to permit general visiting in Japan since 1945 when she opened her gangways to 42,000 citizens of Nagoya between August 22-25. On her way stateside she took President Dwight D. Eisenhower and several of his cabinet officials from Guam to Pearl Harbor. When she arrived home in December she became the first heavy cruiser to complete three trips to Korean waters. During this time she expended more than 35,000 rounds of ammunition and was awarded the Korean Presidential Unit Citation by Sygman Rhee.
In 1955 the Regulus I guided missile was added to HELENA's armament and since then saw service in both the Seventh and First Fleets. In 1959 and 1960 she was awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" signifying her position as as the number one cruiser in the Pacific Fleet for those years. Prior to becoming the permanent flagship for Commander First Fleet January 1960, HELENA had flown the flags of twenty different admirals.
On 5 January 1960, HELENA departed for the Western Pacific with YORKTOWN (CVS-10) and her escort of Destroyer Squadron 23. Visits to Korea and to Taiwan prefaced her participation in Operation "Blue Star", one of the largest peacetime amphibious exercises in our history.
After a period in Japan, HELENA sailed with RANGER (CVA-61) and SAINT PAUL (CA-73) to Guam. On 24 April 1960, HELENA, in company with destroyers TAYLOR (DDE-468) and JENKINS (DDE-447), set sail for Australia. She then returned to Long Beach and from June until November underwent extensive overhaul.
During 1961 and 1962, HELENA operated in West Coast and western Pacific waters, taking part in several amphibious operations with ships of the 1st Fleet and elements of the 1st Marine Division and 3rd Marine Air Wing. HELENA embarked foreign and staff officers from the Naval War College, March 1962, and two groups of Navy League members on orientation cruises in June and August.
By the end of 1962, HELENA was scheduled for incativation at Long Beach Naval Shipyard. On March 1963, Commander, 1st Fleet shifted his flag to SAINT PAUL. HELENA was placed out of commision in Reserve on 29 June 1963. HELENA was transferred in June 1963 to San Diego, Calif.
Stricken from the Naval Register on 1 January 1974, HELENA was sold for scrap 13 November the same year.
The performance of her officers and men has been surpassed by none, and it is with honor and pride she carries the motto of "Proud and Fearless"
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