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San Juan file photo [3997]

San Juan

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassAtlanta-class Light Cruiser
Hull NumberCL-54
BuilderBethlehem Fore River Shipyard
Laid Down15 May 1940
Launched6 Sep 1941
Commissioned28 Feb 1942
Decommissioned9 Nov 1946
Displacement6,000 tons standard
Length542 feet
Beam53 feet
Draft21 feet
Speed32 knots
Armament16x5in, 16x1.1in, 8x20mm, 8x21in torpedo tubes


ww2dbaseUSS San Juan, with Captain James E. Maher in command, held her shakedown cruise in the Atlantic Ocean in Mar 1942. On 5 Jun, she sailed with carrier Wasp from Hampton Roads, Virginia, United States for the Pacific Ocean; the group sailed from San Diego, California for the Solomon Islands on 30 Jun. She provided gunfire support at Tulagi on 7 Aug 1942, and participated in the Battle of Savo Island in the early morning of 9 Aug. After day break on 9 Aug, she escorted empty transports from Guadalcanal to Nouméa. She sailed with Wasp through most of Aug in anticipation of a Japanese carrier attack, but when the attack came on 24 Aug with the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, she missed the action because she was refueling elsewhere, though she returned to escort carrier Enterprise, damaged in the battle, to Pearl Harbor for repairs. They arrived there on 10 Sep 1942.

ww2dbaseAfter a two-month rest, San Juan sailed for the South Pacific again. She delivered 20mm guns to the United States Marine Corps troops at Funafuti, Ellice Islands, then patrolled in the Gilbert Islands area, sinking two Japanese patrol vessels on 16 Oct. On 23 Oct, she joined Enterprise, and participated in the Battle of Santa Cruz on 26 Oct. In that battle, she was hit by a bomb from a dive bomber that went through the stern, flooding several compartments and damaging her rudder. She received temporary repairs at Nouméa on 30 Oct, then sailed to Sydney, Australia for permanent repairs.

ww2dbaseOn 24 Nov 1942, San Juan joined carrier USS Saratoga at Nadi, Viti Levu Island, Fiji Islands. Between Dec 1942 and Jul 1943, she was based at Nouméa and operated in the Coral Sea. In late Jul, her base of operation was moved to New Hebrides, first Havannah Harbor, Efate, then Espiritu Santo. She escorted Saratoga as her aircraft supported the Bougainville landings in Oct 1943, then supported her again in Nov 1943 during the Gilbert Islands Campaign. In Dec, she escorted Essex on a raid at Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, fighting off persistent torpedo attacks on 4 and 5 Dec. On 6 Dec, she sailed for the United States for overhaul at Mare Island Navy Yard in California.

ww2dbaseReturning to Saratoga's group off Pearl Harbor on 19 Jan 1944, San Juan participated in the Marshall Islands Campaign by covering the Eniwetok operations in Feb. Between 30 Mar and 1 Apr, she escorted carriers Yorktown and Lexington as their aircraft struck Palau, Yap, and Ulithi Islands. On 7 Apr, she escorted Hornet which covered the landings at Hollandia, New Guinea and struck Truk on 29 and 30 Apr. In Jun, she escorted Hornet for raids on Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima as indirect support for the Saipan, Mariana Islands landing. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea, she acted as anti-aircraft screen for carrier Hornet. She escorted carriers Wasp and Franklin as their aircraft struck Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima as indirect support for the Guam operation. She sailed for San Francisco, California for overhaul in Aug 1944.

ww2dbaseSan Juan returned to the South Pacific on 21 Nov 1944 off Ulithi Islands, joining carrier Lexington's task group. In early Dec, she supported carrier operations at Taiwan and Luzon, Philippine Islands. On 18 and 19 Dec, she was battered by Typhoon Cobra. On 30 Dec, she departed from Ulithi with the carriers to launch strikes on Taiwan, Okinawa, and Luzon from 3 to 9 Jan 1945, and then strikes on Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Hong Kong from 10 to 20 Jan. In Feb, she supported Hornet as her aircraft struck Tokyo. In Mar and Apr, she operated with carriers east of Okinawa, during which time aircraft from her task group assisted in the sinking of the Japanese battleship Yamato on 7 Apr. On 13 Jun, she arrived at Leyte Gulf in the Philippine Islands for repairs. On 1 Jul, she joined carrier Bennington for more strikes on the Japanese home islands.

ww2dbaseSan Juan was at sea when Japan surrendered; on 27 Aug, she sailed in the van with the US Navy 3rd Fleet into Sagami Wan, just outside Tokyo Bay. On 29 Aug, she entered Tokyo Bay and landed parties which liberated prisoners of war at Omori camp, Ofuna camp, and Shanagawa hospital; Commodore Rodger W. Simpson of San Juan oversaw the caring of the former POWs until they were evacuated by hospital ships Benevolence and Rescue. She performed similar duties in the Nagoya-Hamamatsu and Sendai-Kamanishi areas. Beginning on 14 Nov, she participated in Operation Magic Carpet and made two runs back to the United States, bringing home American troops. She was decommissioned at Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton, Washington, United States in Nov 1946 after being inactivated for the most part of that year. San Juan was sold to National Metal and Steel Corporation, Terminal Island, Los Angeles, California for scrapping on 31 Oct 1961.

ww2dbaseSource: United States Navy Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

Last Major Revision: Sep 2007

Light Cruiser San Juan (CL-54) Interactive Map


San Juan christened by Mrs. Margarita Coll de Santori, during launching ceremonies at the Bethlehem Steel CompanyUSS San Diego and USS San Juan, Fore River shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts, United States, Jan 1942
See all 5 photographs of Light Cruiser San Juan (CL-54)

San Juan Operational Timeline

28 Feb 1942 San Juan was commissioned into service.
28 Jul 1942 US Navy and Marines began a four-day amphibious landing exercise at Fiji as rehearsals for the Guadalcanal landings set for two weeks later.
26 Oct 1942 At the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, US forces achieved victory but saw USS Enterprise, USS South Dakota, and USS San Juan damaged. Aircraft carrier USS Hornet (Yorktown-class) was badly damaged from aerial bombs and torpedoes and then finally hit by three Type 93 torpedoes launched from Japanese destroyers Akigumo and Makigumo which caused her to sink 30 minutes later. On the Japanese side, carriers Shokaku and Zuiho were damaged by dive bombers from USS Hornet and USS Enterprise, respectively.
19 Jan 1944 USS San Juan arrived off Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii and rejoined USS Saratoga's task group.
18 Dec 1944 Many ships from the United States Third Fleet, Task Force 38 sailed into Typhoon Cobra in the Philippine Sea. Three destroyers and 790 men were lost.
4 Jun 1945 Many ships from the United States Third Fleet, primarily Task Groups 38.1 and 30.8 sailed into Typhoon Connie south of Japan. No ships were lost but 7 men lost their lives.
30 Aug 1945 USS San Juan evacuated Allied prisoners of war in Japan.
9 Nov 1946 San Juan was decommissioned from service.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
31 May 2009 08:48:34 PM

If you served on this ship and remember mu uncle, Eddie Mayo (also served), will you write me something that you remember about your time together for me to put in his memorabilia book? I would so much appreciate it. jmme@sursouth.com
2. Ellen says:
20 Oct 2017 12:00:15 PM

My dad Joe Chvojka served as a gunner on the San Juan from 10/41 to 4/45. He died when I was quite young and would like to know if anyone remembers him?
3. Steven Brous says:
25 Dec 2019 06:27:22 PM

My deceased father served on the USS San Juan at the end of WWII. I am interested in the exact dates and his dutites while aboard ship. His name is Leo Neal Brous. Thank you. Steven L Brous

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More on San Juan
Event(s) Participated:
» Guadalcanal Campaign
» Solomon Islands Campaign
» New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 3
» Gilbert Islands Campaign
» Marshall Islands Campaign
» Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot
» Typhoon Cobra
» Raid into the South China Sea
» Typhoon Connie

Light Cruiser San Juan (CL-54) Photo Gallery
San Juan christened by Mrs. Margarita Coll de Santori, during launching ceremonies at the Bethlehem Steel CompanyUSS San Diego and USS San Juan, Fore River shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts, United States, Jan 1942
See all 5 photographs of Light Cruiser San Juan (CL-54)

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