MIGHTY NINETY

Chapter 3: Shakedown Cruise



CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
An aerial view of USS ASTORIA CL-90 taken on the first day of her shakedown cruise, 20 June 1944. Her SK air search radar and upper foremast have been removed by a wartime censor in this image.
-U.S. Navy photo from NARA Records Group 19-LCM


20 June 1944

From the Mighty Ninety cruise book:
After the final fitting out at the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, we put out to sea in June for our shakedown cruise and our first taste of the work that lay ahead. The first night at sea was stormy and most of us had a bad case of ‘mal-de-mer’, but since that initiation we have ridden the best the sea has to offer without a qualm.


Although not mentioned in the Mighty Ninety cruise book, during her shakedown USS ASTORIA developed a significant propulsion system problem. A few hours into the cruise, a bearing failed on her number two low pressure turbine causing the engine to fail. ASTORIA would have to complete her shakedown cruise with only partial power.



The burned out bearing. Schnipper later wrote that this shot was "taken while I was going through a bad case of sea sickness. I had to lay down every three minutes to keep my head from spinning. This was the first time I was to use the [Navy-issue] equipment and I had to break it all out of boxes and set it up while I almost heaved my insides out."
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
Schnipper puts his medium-format Speed Graphic camera to use. He shot this seascape off the coast of Florida on 21 June 1944.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





A time-lapse of starshell during ASTORIA CL-90 night gunnery practice, 23 June 1944.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
Starshell from ASTORIA CL-90 during night gunnery practice, 23 June 1944.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
The route taken by USS ASTORIA CL-90 from 20-25 June 1944 en route to Port of Spain, Trinidad.
-manipulation of Google Earth imagery




CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
USS ASTORIA enters the Gulf of Paria, 25 June 1944. This was the staging area for American warships in shakedown before deploying to the Pacific Fleet.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
Herman Schnipper experimenting with a double exposure on a single negative, 25 June 1944.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
ASTORIA's portside amidships 20mm mount during firing practice. Note the degree numbers painted on the inside of the splinter shield--used for quick target acquisition.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
USS ASTORIA Signalmen during the shakedown cruise in June 1944.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
USS ASTORIA Marines during the shakedown cruise on 30 June 1944.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
3 July 1944. Port aft 20mm gunners are held at their stations as 6" guns fire overhead. In this photo, a sailor in shock has run forward from his mount to escape the concussion of the main battery.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
3 July 1944. Gunnery Officer Kenneth Meneke comes down to check on Sailors and Marines from the port aft 20mm guns injured from the concussion of 6" fire overhead.
Herman Schnipper later wrote that "the concussion caused internal injuries, making the men throw up blood. They were bunched together and were actually bouncing around like ten-pins. One man was discharged for a broken ear drum." These gun mounts were removed upon return to Philadelphia.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper


4 July 1944
ASTORIA spent her first Independence Day in Port of Spain, Trinidad:
During the shakedown the ship stopped for a time at Trinidad and we were granted a brief liberty. It was a welcome respite before we once again shoved off.


CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
4 July 1944. Dinner at anchorage, Gulf of Paria, Trinidad.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
Sailors leaving the ship for liberty in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. A Pharmacist's Mate hands out "personal hygiene kits."
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
USS ASTORIA Sailors load aboard a transport to go ashore at Port-of-Spain.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





A main street in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. A "lousy liberty town," according to Mighty Ninety shipmates.
-photo courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
The USS ASTORIA signals aft crew during shakedown, July 1944.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
Firefighting drills starboard side amidships, 9 July 1944. Note ASTORIA's camouflage paint has been carried around all sides of the five-inch mount.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper


From ASTORIA’s Cruise Book: It was drill, drill, drill, day and night; and battle problems, abandon ship, surprise firing and tracking drill. The words, “this will be a dummy run,” were hammered into our brains until we thought there could be no more. We didn’t know much when we started, but we learned fast and continuously.



CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
Damage to a starboard aft 20mm mount from main battery fire, 14 July 1944. Another reason that these mounts were removed following the shakedown cruise.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
ASTORIA Ship's Photographer Herman Schnipper in the USS ASTORIA darkroom, July 1944. A 35mm camera hangs around his neck and he holds a light meter.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




The number 2 OS2U Kingfisher launches from ASTORIA's port catapult, July 1944. These planes ferried officers and carried mail to and from the island of Trinidad.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
Marine Captain Gerard T. Armitage inspects aired bedding with an ASTORIA shipmate, July 1944.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
ASTORIA shipmates chip paint as the ship prepares to return stateside, 15 July 1944.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
USS ASTORIA CL-90 anchored off Port-of-Spain, July 1944.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




                                          Continue to CHAPTER 4: Mouth of the Dragon


CLICK PHOTOS TO ADVANCE TO NEXT CHAPTER



                                                            BACK TO SHIP HISTORY


Sources:

Jones, Brent.  Private document collection.

MIGHTY NINETY: USS ASTORIA CL-90 cruise book, 1946.

Schnipper, Herman.  Private photo collection.

www.archives.gov National Archives and Records Administration WWII photo archive. 

Web Hosting Companies