This CA-37 was the first of two ships named for Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37), a New Orleans-class heavy cruiser, was laid down on September 3, 1931 at Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Company, launched on November 15, 1933, sponsored by Mrs. Jeanette McCann, the wife of Lieutenant Thomas L. McCann and the niece of William Bacon Oliver, the Representative of Alabama's 6th congressional district. She was commissioned on August 17, 1934, and carried a complement of 103 officers and 763 enlisted men.
Her armament included nine 8-inch 55 caliber guns, eight 5-inch 25 caliber anti-aircraft guns, two 47 mm saluting guns and eight 13 mm machine guns. By 1945 the machine guns had been replaced with six quad 40 mm (1.6 in) Bofors anti-aircraft guns and twenty-eight single 20 mm (0.79 in) Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannons.
In December 1939 in the Atlantic, the Tuscaloosa rescued 576 crew of the North German Lloyd liner Columbus, the 13th largest steamship in the world, when it was captured by the British ship HMS Hyperion. The captain of the Columbus scuttled his ship and all but 2 of his crew went over the side into lifeboats. The Hyperion had no room for the Germans and the Tuscaloosa took the survivors to New York, disembarking them at Ellis Island.
The Tuscaloosa was honored to carry President Franklin D. Roosevelt on three different occasions: August 1939, February 1940 and December 1940. Roosevelt fished and entertained British colonial officials—including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor—on board the cruiser.
In November 1942, Tuscaloosa took part in “Operation Torch” off the coast of French Morocco at Casablanca. She, along with the heavy cruiser Wichita, the battleship Massachusetts, the aircraft carrier Ranger and numerous other ships, shelled defensive positions as American troops waded ashore.
On 3 June 1944, Tuscaloosa steamed in company with the rest of Task Force 125 (TF 125) bound for the Normandy beaches. On June 6, she opened fire on Fort Ile de Tatihou, Baie de lan Seine. For the remainder of D-Day, coast defense batteries, artillery positions, troop concentrations, and motor transport all came under the fire of Tuscaloosa's guns, which were aided by her air spotters and by fire control parties attached to Army units on shore. Initial enemy return fire was inaccurate, but it improved enough by the middle of the day to force the cruiser to take evasive action.
In September, when Allied forces had secured footholds in both western and southern France, Tuscaloosa returned to the United States for refitting at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. After a short exercise period, she steamed via the Panama Canal to the west coast and reported to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. After stopping briefly at San Diego, she proceeded on westward to Pearl Harbor, where she conducted various exercises before steaming to Ulithi to join Commander, 3rd Fleet in January 1945.
She joined the bombardment group off Iwo Jima at dawn on February 16. Three days later, as waves of landing craft bore marines shoreward to invade the island, Tuscaloosa's guns pounded Japanese positions inland. Then, after the Americans had reached land, her batteries supported their advances with incessant fire and illumination. This continued from February 19 to March 14, throughout all phases of the bitterly fought campaign to wrest the island from the Japanese.
Tuscaloosa was also part of Task Force 54 in March 1945 participating in the operation at Okinawa. Her gunners shot down two kamikaze planes during this battle. She also reported to the 7th Fleet for duty in Leyte Gulf in June 1945.
Tuscaloosa received seven battle stars for her World War II service. Never damaged in battle, she led a charmed life compared to her six sister ships, three of which were sunk and the other three heavily damaged. USS Tuscaloosa was decommissioned in Philadelphia on February 13, 1946 and scrapped in 1959.
Her mast is the centerpiece of the Tuscaloosa Veterans Memorial Park, which also features one of her five-inch guns.
Source: Wikipedia where you can read more about the USS Tuscaloosa; Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships