U.S.S. Los Angeles Naval Monument
1977 – Terryle Smeed
John S. Gibson, Jr Park, Harbor Boulevard a 6th Street, San Pedro – map
I wonder if the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission noted the incongruity of the same-day designations of Historic-Cultural Monuments No. 187, the Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship, and No. 188, the monument of the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Los Angeles (CA-135), which, just twenty-five years earlier, was under enemy fire in its second tour of duty in the Korean War.
The bits and pieces which make up Monument No. 188 are from the third of four U.S. Navy ships named the Los Angeles. The first Los Angeles was a 435-foot boat built in San Francisco and commissioned in August 1917. The second was an airship, 2R-3, christened in 1924 and scrapped eight years later. The fourth and current Los Angeles – U.S.S. Los Angeles SSN-688 – is a nuclear-powered submarine.
The U.S.S. Los Angeles (CA-135) memorialized at San Pedro’s L.A. Maritime Museum and Gibson Park was built with war bonds raised by the city and county of Los Angeles (we bought nearly $80.4 million worth of bonds in that drive, enough to pay for this ship plus four destroyers). Built in the Philadelphia Naval Yard, the 675-foot heavy cruiser was launched on August 20, 1944 with Irene Bowron, the wife of L.A. Mayor Fletcher Bowron, acting as the ship’s sponsor. The Los Angeles was commissioned on July 22, 1945, with Captain John A. Snackenberg in command.
The Los Angeles’s mainmast, anchors, mooring bits, and capstan cover.
After its commissioning, the ship had a brief training period near Cuba, returning to San Pedro from Guantanamo Bay in mid-October. It left California on December 8, 1945, and, after a stop at Pearl Harbor, arrived in Shanghai at the beginning of 1945. The Los Angeles, with a few changes of captain, was assigned to the 7th Fleet in the Shanghai and Hong Kong area. It was decommissioned April 9, 1948.
As the Korean War heated up, the Los Angeles, with Captain Robert N. MacFarlane, USN, in command, was recommissioned on January 27, 1951. After more training cruises and a stop at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, the big boat was off again to Pearl Harbor. It arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, at the end of May 1951, seeing action for the first time during the Korean War. The Los Angeles sailed to Inchon in early July, but, by December, the ship was back in Yokosuka where it was relieved by the U.S.S. Manchester. The U.S.S. Los Angeles returned to California on December 5.
See a video of the Los Angeles refueling at sea here.
The U.S.S. Los Angeles made its second Korean War tour of duty on October 9, 1952. In the spring of 1953, she suffered two rounds of hits in which a dozen men were wounded. Watch the men receive their Purple Heart in this film.
For five and a half years beginning in November 1953, the U.S.S. Los Angeles made six more deployments to the Far East on peace-keeping missions. Her last two cruises were in 1961 and 1962, returning to Long Beach in June 1963. The ship was decommissioned there on November 15, 1963, after which it entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet at San Diego.
The U.S.S. Los Angeles was stricken from Navy records in January 1974. She was scrapped the following year.
The U.S.S. Los Angeles bridge.
The U.S.S. Los Angeles Naval Memorial was dedicated on December 1, 1977, to the men and ships of the U.S. Navy. In Gibson Park, along with memorials to the fishing industry, the two longshoremen who were killed in a 1934 strike, and American merchant marine veterans, stands the Los Angeles’s mainmast, anchors, mooring bits, and capstan cover. The monument was laid out by Terryle Smeed.
The ship’s bell, removed during a 1960 overhaul, stands to the left of the L.A. Maritime Museum across the street, while a portion of its bow is to its right. Inside the museum, you’ll find all sorts of artifacts from the Los Angeles, including the boat’s bridge.
Please visit this web page, the work of Mr George Bell, for an extensive history, memorials, visitors’ log, and photograph and video collection of the U.S.S. Los Angeles. It’s where I took the black and white shot here as well as much of the information.
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