USS Montpelier CL-57 Project

War Diary, USS Montpelier, CL-57: September 1942-March 1943

Assembled by Village Hiker from original sources obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration Southwest Region, Fort Worth, Texas.

Birth of a Warship

Powered by four props driven by steam turbines, the USS Montpelier could cruise at 31 knots while accurately firing her main six-inch batteries, plus her five-inch and 40mm antiaircraft guns. While radar sights and mechanical computers blessed her large weapons—making them death for standing, walking and running targets—an onboard force of 40 US Marines regularly disappointed close-in marks from their manually-operated 20mm machine guns mounted on her deck.

USS Montpelier CL-57

Taking her name from the capital city of Vermont—a New England State in the United States of America (USA)—the Montpelier was given life at the New York Shipyards in Camden, New Jersey. She received commissioning September 9, 1942, as a United States Navy warship. After passing some leakage and combat tests, the Montpelier steamed through the Panama Canal into the Pacific fleet. Her wartime travels would take her from sea battles in the Solomon Islands to peacemaking in the land of Japan.

She sailed as a Cleveland Class Light Cruiser—long, narrow, fast, quick and lethal—plus a few tons top heavy.

A Post Treaty Ship

As a Cleveland Class Light Cruiser, the Montpelier was a post-treaty warship, redesigned for combat firepower once war muted the naval treaties formed during the 1920's and 1930's. Her displacement was 11,800 tons, more than 14,000 tons fully loaded. The Clevelands steamed fast and turned quick for their 600-plus foot length. They sailed to war heavily armed for land, sea and anti-aircraft combat.

The Mighty Monty—so named by her crew— went to war in 1942 carrying 12 six-inch guns, 12 five-inch guns, 16 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns, 23 20mm machine guns and two 30 caliber automatic weapons. During her refitting at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in 1944, 13 of her 20mm machine guns were replaced with 12 additional 40mm Bofors, possibly saving her life while fighting suicide plane attacks in the Philippines and Marianas.

Where She Went, What She Did

The officers of the Montpelier kept a log of her activities. For her first six months at sea, the Montpelier logs were recorded in pencil on lined writing pads. These are reproduced here. Starting in April 1943, the Montpelier began using standard US Navy forms. These pages reproduce only the original War Diary.

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