Remembering the Chicago that Escaped Pearl Harbor

Remembering the Chicago that Escaped Pearl Harbor
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

As many Americans know, December 7, 1941 is the day that submarines and airplanes of the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In 1994 Congress declared this day as a National Day of Remembrance of the 2,403 military and civilian lives that were lost.

Since I have lived in or around Chicago for my entire life, I always like to try to find local links to national or world events and found it interesting that the second U.S. ship named after the city of Chicago was stationed at Pearl Harbor that day but out at sea on maneuvers.

The second U.S.S. Chicago (CA-29) was launched on April 10, 1930 by Mare Island Naval Shipyard. She was originally designated a light cruiser but was redesignated a heavy cruiser.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 70635

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 70635

In October of 1933 she collided with the British Freighter Silver Palm in a dense fog near Point Sur, California. Three officers were killed in the staterooms and the Chicago took on significant damage but was soon repaired and sent back to service.

On September 29, 1940 she was reassigned and started for her new home at Pearl Harbor.

On December 7th she was out at sea with Task Force 12 when the Japanese Imperial Navy sank four U.S. battleships, damaged or sank three cruisers, three destroyers, a mine layer and destroyed 188 U.S. aircraft.

She immediately started a five day sweep for the enemy in the Oahu-Johnston Palmyra Triangle and returned to Pearl Harbor on December 12th.

The U.S.S. Chicago and its crew served valiantly during World War II but it seemed as though its fate was still in the hands of the Japanese aircraft. She escaped the destruction of Pearl Harbor but on January 29, 1943, as she approached the island of Renell, the Japanese aircraft attacked. Two Japanese planes were shot down and crashed directly behind her which silhouetted the ship making it easier for her to be hit by two torpedoes. Her crew managed to control the damage and she was towed 30 miles away and was eventually sunk by four more torpedoes. The ship was successfully abandoned before she sank on January 30, 1943.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 55141.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 55141.

So let us remember all of the heroes both military and civilian who perished or were severely injured on that fateful Sunday of December 7, 1941 as well as all those who have served before and since.

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