Allied Warships

USS Marblehead (CL 12)

Light cruiser of the Omaha class

NavyThe US Navy
TypeLight cruiser
PennantCL 12 
Built byWilliam Cramp and Sons (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.) 
Laid down4 Aug 1920 
Launched9 Oct 1923 
Commissioned8 Sep 1924 
End service1 Nov 1945 

In 1924 USS Marblehead`s career began with a cruise to the U.K. and the Mediterranean. In 1925 Marblehead paid a goodwill tour to Australia. During 1927-1928 Marblehead was involved in operations on the Yangtse river in China, and then off the Nicaraguan coast before assuming a normal peacetime routine in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. In January 1938 Marblehead was detached to the Philippines, based at Canite, and was still in this region on the outbreak of war in the Pacific.

In December 1941 Marblehead was operating in the Philippines based at Tarakan. On 9 Janaury 1942 Marblehead left Darwin with the cruiser USS Boise and five destroyers to escort the troop transport Bloemfontein to Surabaya. That month in the Dutch East Indies, Japanese troops were landing at Balikpapan (Borneo). Allied reconnaissance located the Japanese forces. Task Force 5, of whom Marblehead was a unit, were detailed to intercept the enemy. On the 20th, after refueling at Koepang Bay they were ordered to make a night attack on a Japanese convoy and set course for the Straits of Macassar. Boise unfortunately struck an underwater obstruction and holed her bottom, however due to engine trouble Marblehead had to retire from any action as she could only steam at 15 kts. Following a reconnaissance report by Allied aircraft about the concentration of Japanese landing forces off Balikpapan, Admiral Hart (USN) ordered an Allied Force under the Dutch Rear Admiral Doorman to make a sortie towards the Maccasar Strait. The force was sighted by 37 bombers and Marblehead (Captain Arthur Granville Robinson) was badly damaged by hits and many near misses and only reached Tjilatjap by steering with her propellers. From March 25-30th, the crippled cruiser sailed for Simonstown, South Africa via Ceylon for temporary repairs, three weeks were spent in the Selborne dry dock before she sailed for the U.S. for more permanent repairs.

In november 1943 Marblehead was involved in blockade patrols in the South Atlantic and was based at Recife and Bahia. In January 1944 Marblehead was transferred to Mediterranean waters. In August she was involved in operation "Dragoon" when Allied forces landed on the French Mediterranean coast between Cannes and Toulon. Fire support was provided by Marblehead, the battleship USS Arkansas and three other Allied cruisers. This was her last active employment as she then returned to home waters to be used as a training vessel. On 1 November 1945 November, the old cruiser was finally decommissioned and on the 28th, she was stricken from the Navy List. On 27 February 1946 Marblehead was sold for breaking up.

There appears upon the Selborne dry dock wall, a badge representing the American warship.


Commands listed for USS Marblehead (CL 12)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Arthur Granville Robinson, USN12 Apr 1940mid 1942 (1)
2T/Capt. Earl William Morris, USNmid 1942Jan 1944
3T/Capt. George Patton Kraker, USNJan 194419 Jan 1945 (1)
4T/Capt. Paul Rowe Coloney, USN19 Jan 1945

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Marblehead include:

4 Feb 1942
At 0130 hours, the Dutch light cruisers HrMs De Ruyter (Cdr. E.E.B. Lacomblé, RNN and flagship of Rear-Admiral K.W.F.M. Doorman, RNN), HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the Dutch destroyers HrMs Piet Hein (Lt.Cdr. J.M.L.I. Chompff, RNN), HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN) and HrMs Van Ghent (Lt.Cdr. P. Schotel, RNN) departed their anchorage to the north of of Gili Raja Island (Pulau Gili Raja) for the Java Sea.

At 0500 hours they made rendes-vous with the US heavy cruiser USS Houston (Capt. A.H. Rooks, USN), the US light cruiser USS Marblehead (Capt. A.G. Robinson, USN) and their escorting destroyers USS Stewart (Lt.Cdr. H.P. Smith, USN), USS John D. Edwards (Lt.Cdr. H.E. Eccles, USN), USS Barker (Lt.Cdr. A.J. Miller, USN) and USS Bulmer (Lt.Cdr. D.A. Harris, USN). These American ships had also been anchored the north of of Gili Raja Island (Pulau Gili Raja) but had left a little earlier then the Dutch ships. The mission of the joint Dutch-US task force was a 'hit and run' raid into Strait Makassar.

Around 0955 hours the task force came under air attack in the by the Japanese in the Bali Sea in approximate position 07°28'S, 115°37'E and USS Houston and USS Marblehead were damaged. Houston was hit on the roof of her rear 8" gun turret heavily damaging it and it could not be repaired. (When USS Houston sank about four weeks later she still had only two operational 8" gun turrets). USS Marblehead was hit twice and also straddled and received serious damage resulting in that she had to be sent to the USA for repairs. The raid into Makassar Stait was now cancelled.

USS Houston had been sent towards Tjilatjap (Cilacap) on the south coast of Java for repairs. USS Tromp was later ordered to give her protection during her passage there and proceeded after her. She caught up with her to the south of Atlas Stait and both ships then proceeded in company until 0000/5 when Tromp left USS Houston again and proceeded to re-join the task force as ordered which she did at 1325/5 when she made rendes-vous with HrMs De Ruyter and the three Dutch destroyers. (2)


  2. Files and (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)

Return to the Allied Warships section