Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fred D. Haynes - USS Milwaukee CL-5

Fred D. Haynes, a crewmember on the old USS Milwaukee, CL-5, passed away last week, reminding me of how little I know concerning the earlier incarnation of the vessel I served aboard in the 1970's. This article is dedicated to Fred D. Haynes, as well as all of those who sailed that Milwaukee, long before I was even dreaming of going to sea. Fred, this is for you.

Before there was a USS Milwaukee AOR-2, aboard which I served in the 1970's, there was an earlier USS Milwaukee, a light cruiser desiginated as CL-5. A trim and highly maneuverable class of vessels, she was designed for early escort work of the type that would become instrumental in winning the 2nd World War.

The USS Milwaukee has taken on several different incarnations over the years. Milwaukee CL-5 was the 4th ship to bear the name. The CL-5 was laid in Seattle in 1918, launched in 1921 and commissioned in 1923.

The ship then did shakedown cruises and was eventually fitted with the newest sonar gear. She then traversed the Pacific for several years while gathering data about the seafloor, The Milwaukee Seamounts in the Northern Pacific are named for her.

During the 1930's the USS Milwaukee was on duty mainly in the Pacific and would go on a "show of force" voyage to the far east. She was back by January of 1939 and transferred to the Caribbean where, on February 14th, 1939 she located the "Milwaukee Deep", the deepest area of the Atlantic Ocean, 85 miles North of Puerto Rico and having a depth of about 29,000 feet. This "deep" is part of the larger Puerto Rico Trench.

When World War Two broke out the USS Milwaukee transited the Panama Canal and escorted 8 troop transports to the Society Islands in December 1941. By March,1942 she was back in the Atlantic, steaming up and down the coast of South America. For the next 2 years she would ply the waters between Brazil and Africa.

On May 19, 1942 Milwaukee received an SOS from the SS Commandante Lyra, and went to the aid of the Brazilian ship, which had been torpedoed. When she Milwaukee arrived on scene, the ship had been abandoned. The Milwaukee rescued 25 survivors that day.

Late in the war she was briefly transferred to the Russian Navy and renamed the Murmansk. She did escort duty with the Russians and after the war served as a training ship until 1949, when she was returned to the United States Navy. She entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in March of 1949, and sold for scrap in December 1949 to American Shipbreakers, Inc. of Wilmington, DE.

There would be another USS Milwaukee, a fleet oiler, used for replenishment of other ships at sea. I am proud to have served aboard her. And equally proud of the heritage borne by the ship's name.

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