Friday, March 12, 2010

USS Missouri at Naval Station Norfolk, 1951

This a series of photos showing the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) arriving at Naval Station Norfolk in 1951, shortly after the ship's tour in Korean War. Even with the rise of aircraft carriers, the battleship still knew how to draw a crowd as thousands of sailors stood to watch the famous ship come into port.

Other readily identifiable ships present in the first photo are the escort carriers USS Palau (CVE-122) and Siboney (CVE-112), the heavy cruisers USS Albany (CA-123) and Macon (CA-132) and in front of Missouri are the Greek destroyer escorts HNS Aetos (ex-USS Slater) and Hierax (ex-USS Ebert), which had just been transferred to the Hellenic Navy. There are also one heavy cruiser, two transports, and one escort carrier. Any assistance in identifying them will be most

With assistance from readers, we have identified the unknown heavy cruiser as USS Des Moines (CA-134) and the carrier across the pier from Des Moines is a Commencent Bay-class escort carrier (one of seven in the Atlantic Fleet at the time).  The two transports are not transports, but rather the "amphibious command" ships Pocono (AGC-16) and Taconic (AGC-17).


arp1757 said...

Got some help on this from the folks on I've pasted some of their comments below.

Andrew P
Chesapeake, VA

The Mystery cruiser is likely USS DES MOINES (CA-134):

Fritz Koopman:

The cruiser is most definitely a Des Moines Class. However only Des Moines herself was stationed out of Norfolk in 51, Salem was stationed from Boston. Ergo it is likely the former. …

Not the Newport News as her numbers atop turret two were oriented different than her sisters. Salem and Des Moines had the numbers oriented so that they were read from aft, i.e. the the one was on the port side. Newport News had her numbers oriented so that they were read from the bow, with the one on the starboard side.

In this photo, again, skinny number is to port, suggesting Des Moines or Salem, with likelihood being Des Moines as she was based there.

(Fritz K)

arp1757 said...

Another possible ID from the forum at

Andrew P
Chesapeake, VA

Tim Stoneman:
The escort carrier seen from astern on the southern (left-hand) pier is a USN ship of the Commencement Bay class. She has a tapered solid mast topped by a pole mast, flight deck parallel-sided aft and tapered for'd and two Bofors sponsons aft. DIXMUDE (ex-Royal Navy HMS BITER, but US-built) had a near-rectangular flight deck and a very much shorter polemast (stepped on the flight deck, not the island), whilst the British-built ships had a taper on both ends of the flight deck, lattice mast and a single sponson aft for a twin 4" HA gun (except PRETORIA CASTLE).
Of the Commencement Bay class, BLOCK ISLAND, KULA GULF, SALERNO BAY, BAIROKO, BADOENG STRAIT, POINT CRUZ, and MINDORO are possible candidates - I think all the others were in reserve or in the Pacific in 1951.

Chuck Treese:

A Commemcement Bay. The tubs on the stern are a dead give away.

arp1757 said...

And a third possible ID:
Andrew P
Chesapeake, VA

Possibly USS Pocono (AGC-16) and USS Taconic (AGC-17)

Sully :
Exact same shot 4 years later:

The web site states that the AGCs on the left were Pocano and Taconic. I don't suppose they were sitting there ever since 51 ??

Someone once told me that those flag ships mostly stayed docked.

I wonder...

Gordon Calhoun said...

OK, got it...I will update the post. Thanks for your help!