Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays from USS Augusta (CA-31) and Pittsburgh (ACR-4)

This holiday greeting card comes from the Norfolk-based heavy cruiser USS Augusta (CA-31). Built by Newport News Shipbuilding, Augusta was a well-balanced warship that served as a squadron and fleet flagship for most of her career. She was assigned duty as flagship for Commander, Scouting Force, Vice Admiral Arthur L. Willard, on 21 May 1931. During the summer of 1931, she operated with the other warships of Scouting Force carrying out tactical exercises off the New England coast. In August 1931, she was reclassified a heavy cruiser, CA-31. In September, Augusta moved south to Chesapeake Bay, where she joined her colleagues in their normal fall gunnery drills. That employment lasted until mid-November when the cruisers disbanded and retired to their respective home yards. Augusta entered the Norfolk Navy Yard at that time. At the beginning of 1932, she and the other cruisers of the Scouting Force reassembled in Hampton Roads, whence they departed on 8 January on their way to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Augusta conducted training evolutions with the Scouting Force in the vicinity of Guantanamo Bay until 18 February, when the force headed for the Panama Canal on its way to the eastern Pacific to participate in Fleet Problem XIII. She arrived in San Pedro, Calif., on 7 March but returned to sea three days later to execute the fleet problem. During the maneuvers, Augusta and her colleagues in Scouting Force squared off against Battle Force in defense of three simulated "atolls" located at widely separated points on the west coast. The exercises afforded the Fleet training in strategic scouting and an opportunity to practice defending and attacking a convoy.

The second card is from the Newport News Shipbuilding-built armored cruiser USS Pittsburgh (ex-Pennsylvania) (ACR-4). We are not sure when the card was produced, but the ship was renamed Pittsburgh in 1912 to make room for the giant battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38). Our best guess for this card is between 1917 (when she conducted war patrols) and 1922 (when she served as flagship of the U.S. Navy's European Squadron).

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