Valiant "Swayback" Nears Final Rest
by Robert C. Blair
May 23, 1948 Newspaper Article-Unidentified
Found in SLC Association Memorabilia
This is the obituary of a ship---the Cruiser Salt Lake City, a stout craft that died hard.
They called her Swayback Maru, a friendly jest at her ungainly profile. Wherever she went, men of the fleet, and the squat sailors of Japan, easily recognized the central sag in her silhouette. Both had a healthy respect for the once sleek old lady.
Among other feats, she boasted these: In one battle she took care of two Jap heavy cruisers, a light cruiser, a destroyer and an auxiliary. The destroyer she dispatched with one salvo.
Compared to cruisers of later vintage, the 10,000 ton Salt Lake City was a thin clad. Her protective plates were like tinfoil, but plain luck and a good crew brought her through every scrape.
When those Japs attacked Pearl Harbor the Swayback was splashing 200 miles west of Oahu, steaming back to the Hawaiians with a task group that had delivered a dozen planes to Wake Island.
On Aug. 7 to 9 she covered landings of Marines on Guadalcanal and Tulagi, the first American land counteroffensive. Shortly thereafter, while on patrol in those troubled waters, came her first big slugfest. It was here she accounted for the three cruisers, an auxiliary and destroyer and she was credited with saving the American light cruiser BOISE to boot. After that, men of the Pacific called her "the one ship fleet."
She was hit and badly damaged three minutes after drawing black smoke from one of her adversaries. An 8-inch shell hit below the waterline on the port side, rupturing bulkheads and oil tanks, shaft alleys were flooded and oil from punctured fuel tanks sprayed into the after engine room. A near miss minutes later aggravated the damage but the battle went on.
SALT LAKE Residents still recall Birth of Ship
Memories of three Salt Lakers turned back almost 20 years Saturday following announcement the Navy will shell the cruiser Salt Lake City to the bottom of the Pacific.
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