Apr 6, 2009

U.S. Navy at Lyttelton 1925

The period following the First World War was conspicuous for the number of warships visiting the port of Lyttelton; state visits, showing the flag exercises, good-will cruises, massed deployments and demonstrations of strategic reach saw extravagant numbers of naval vessels in the harbour during the years after the Great War ended.

One of the more impressive visits occured when a fleet fourteen vessels, including Clemson class destroyers and an Omaha class light cruiser of U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet, visited the port between the 11th and the 21st of August 1925.

After annual manoeuvers near Hawaii and accompanied by eight movie and still photographers aboard the flag ship Seattle, Admiral Robert E. Coontz, Commander in Chief of the United States Navy, led a battle fleet of more than 50 warships and 23,000 men on a cruise via Samoa to Australia and New Zealand. The battleship West Virginia acted as the radio control vessel for the tour and several broadcasts directed to Australasia were relayed to listeners by local stations.

Departing from Melbourne on the 30th of July, the battleships accompanied by divisions of cruisers from the Scouting Fleet and squadrons of destroyers headed for New Zealand, where four sections of the fleet entered the harbours of Auckland, Wellington, Lyttelton and Port Chalmers simultaneously. The officers and men were extensively entertained in our cities and the visit did much to further cement the friendly feeling existing between the United States and New Zealand.

Last of the flush deck, four funnelled Destroyers, the 88 Clemson class vessels were built between 1919 and 1922. With a length of 96.4 metres, a maximum speed of 35 knots and a complement of 122, they were armed with four 4 inch (100 mm) guns and twelve torpedo tubes. The Robert Smith, Yarborough and Stoddert are known to have been among the fourteen to visit Lyttelton. Another fourteen would be sunk in the Second World War.

Also with four funnels, the eleven Omaha class light cruisers looked remarkably similar to the Clemson class destroyers. They were built between 1923 and 1925 to scout for battleships and featured a maximim speed of 35 knots for coöperation with the destroyers. Displacing 7,050 tons, they were 171 metres in length and armed with twelve 6 inch (152 mm) guns. Of this class, the U.S.S. Trenton (1923-1946) is seen moored at Lyttelton's No.3 Wharf in the second photograph.


Inspired by this post is a comprehensively illustrated New Zealand Journal article about the US Navy's Pacific Fleet visit to Wellington in 1925 (which opens in a new tab or window).

1 comment:

kuaka said...

Kindly step over to the New Zealand Journal to view a companion piece, photo essay on the 1925 US Fleet's visit to Wellington.