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NavSource Online: Cruiser Photo Archive

USS HELENA (CL 50)

CLASS - BROOKLYN (Modified Brooklyn's Sometimes Called St. Louis Class.)
Displacement 10,000 Tons, Dimensions, 608' 4" (oa) x 61' 8" x 25' 10" (Max)
Armament 15 x 6"/47, 8 x 5"/38AA, 8 x 0.5" 4 Aircraft.
Armor, 5" Belt, 6 1/2" Turrets, 2" Deck, 5" Conning Tower.
Machinery, 100,000 SHP; Geared Turbines, 4 screws
Speed, 32.5 Knots, Crew 868.
Operational and Building Data
Keel laid 09 DEC 1936 by the New York Navy Yard.
Launched 27 AUG 1939
Commissioned 18 SEP 1939
Fate: Torpedoed and sunk 06 JUL 1943 during the Battle of Kula Gulf.

Click On Image
For Full Size Image
Size Image Description Contributed
By And/Or Copyright
Helena
0405026
86k 24 June 1937 - Helena being built at New York Navy Yard. This photo is looking forward and one bulkhead is visible, along with many of her frames, but very little of her hull plating is in place. Her inner bottom is being plated up and rises along her sides. Mike Green
Helena
0405027
86k 24 June 1937 - Helena being built at New York Navy Yard. This photo is looking aft and two bulkheads are visible, along with many of her frames, but very little of her hull plating is in place. Her inner bottom is being plated up and rises along her sides. Mike Green
Helena
0405028
41k

27 August 1938 - Helena had an armor belt below the waterline; her magazines were well below the waterline forward and she had a strake of side armor to cover them. The two belts met at about the middle of the photograph.

Mike Green
Helena
0405025
85k The transom stern of the Helena, which reduced her resistance in the water is clearly visible here the day before her launching. The design had actually been adopted in order to provide space for a large aircraft hanger aft. Mike Green
Helena
0405030
48k Looking forward, the pipe framework extending from the side of the ship is a propeller guard to protect the outboard propeller by fending the ship away from obstructions. The bright stripes on her rudder and rudder post are probably cathodic protection against fouling. Mike Green
Helena
0405034
147k Miss Elinor Guder christening Helena at the New York Navy Yard on 28 August 1938. S. Dale Hargrave
Helena
0405035
321k Helena sliding down the ways on 28 August 1938 S. Dale Hargrave
Helena
0405029
89k The bulbous bow, prominent in this view of Helena's launching on 28 August, 1938, was characteristic of most large U. S. warships built from 1910 on. Mike Green
Helena
0405031
65k Helena is seen outfitting across the dock from a completed Bagley class destroyer. Her high directors were the MK34 type which were employed in all WW2 U.S.cruisers. The anti-aircraft directors are not in place; the device forward of and below the forward MK34 director is a rangefinder, intended as a back-up for the turret and director instruments. Mike Green
Helena
0405043
549k USS Helena (CL 50) commissioning ceremony, Sept. 1939 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Steve Singlar
ETCS USNR (Ret)
Helena
0405042
1.2m I have also enclosed a scan of three of my HELENA ship's envelopes, mailed aboard HELENA on her Shakedown Cruise. One of them is postmarked FEB-2-1940, the day HELENA passed the wreckage and Ensign Sampson took the picture of Admiral Graf Spee. Between the killer bars of the postmark you can read the ship's location (JAN-27-1940: BUENOS AIRES / ARGENTINA, FEB-2-1940: MONTEVIDEO / URUGUAY, FEB-10-1940: SANTOS / BRAZIL). Wolfgang Hechler
Helena 57k

USS Helena (CL 50) Photographed circa 1940. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute Photograph Collection, Annapolis, Maryland.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 95812.

USNHC
Helena
0405041
1m I have also enclosed a picture of the wreck of German battle cruiser Admiral Graf Spee at the mouth of the River "Rio de la Plata" between Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The picture was taken 02 February1940 by Ensign Sampson from aboard the USS Helena (CL 50). ENS Sampson additionally made a drawing of the wreckage to document the most important physical characteristics of the German navy ship including the (then) world's best and precisest optical distance-measuring instrument.
Admiral Graf Spee was sunk on order from Captain Hans Langsdorff by the ship's crew on 17 December 1939 to prevent a big battle with British navy ships with probably loss of some thousands young lives. Captain Langsdorff commited suicide 2 days later to send a signal to Germany and Hitler that he made the decision not to fight was not afraid to lose his own life. Langsdorff was a brave and knightly leader. That's why all Captains and Officers of the ships he had sunk or captured took part at his burial and laid down wreaths. During this deployment Langsdorf sunk nine British merchant ships with no loss of life.
Wolfgang Hechler
Helena 82k

USS Helena (CL 50) At anchor in President Roads, Boston, Massachusetts, 15 June 1940. Taken by a USS Wasp (CV 7) photographer. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute Photograph Collection, Annapolis, Maryland.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 95816.

USNHC
Helena 106k

USS Helena (CL 50) Anchored in President Roads, Boston, Massachusetts, 15 June 1940. Taken by a USS Wasp (CV 7) photographer. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute Photograph Collection, Annapolis, Maryland.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 95815.

USNHC
Honolulu
0405033
54k View from Pier 1010, looking toward the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard's drydocks, with USS Shaw (DD 373) in floating drydock YFD 2 and USS Nevada (BB 36) burning at right, 7 December 1941. In the foreground is the capsized USS Oglala (CM 4), with USS Helena (CL 50) further down the pier, at left. Beyond Helena is Drydock Number One, with USS Pennsylvania (BB 38) and the burning destroyers Cassin (DD 372) and Downes (DD 375).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (#80-G-474789).

National Archives
BB-38 Pennsylvania
013847
64k

View looking down Pier 1010 toward the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard's Drydock Number One, in center, which holds the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB 38) and the burning destroyers Cassin (DD 372) and Downes (DD 375). Alongside Pier 1010, in the center middle distance, are the light cruiser Helena (CL 50), listing slightly from a torpedo hit, and the capsized minelayer USS Oglala (CM 4).
Taken on 7 December 1941.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (80-G-32953).


Scott Dyben
BB-38 Pennsylvania64k

View looking down Pier 1010 toward the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard's Drydock Number One, in center, which holds the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB 38) and the burning destroyers Cassin (DD 372) and Downes (DD 375). Alongside Pier 1010, in the center middle distance, are the light cruiser Helena (CL-50), listing slightly from a torpedo hit, and the capsized minelayer Oglala (CM-4). Taken on 7 December 1941.

USNHC Photograph #80-G-32953


Scott Dyben.
BB-38 Pennsylvania3.14k

The wrecked destroyers Downes (DD 375) and Cassin (DD 372) in Drydock One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, soon after the end of the Japanese air attack. Cassin has capsized against Downes. USS Pennsylvania (BB 38) is astern, occupying the rest of the drydock. The torpedo-damaged cruiser USS Helena (CL 50) is in the right distance, beyond the crane. Visible in the center distance is the capsized USS Oklahoma (BB 37), with USS Maryland (BB 46) alongside. Smoke is from the sunken and burning USS Arizona (BB 39), out of view behind Pennsylvania. USS California (BB 44) is partially visible at the extreme left. This image has been attributed to Navy Photographer's Mate Harold Fawcett.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph #80-G-19943

Pieter Bakels.
Helena
0405036
256k

Photo of damage from Pearl Harbor Attack. Caption reads:

"U.S.S HELENA - Torpedo damage between frames 69 1/2 and 80 1/2 starboard side below armour belt. Note that bilge keel split along line of rivits.

NAVY YARD. PEARL HARBOR, T.H. P.H. #615-41 12/13/41"

NARA San Francisco, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, General Correspondence Files 1941-46

Tracy White
Helena
0405037
253k

Photo of damage from Pearl Harbor Attack. Caption reads:

"U.S.S HELENA - Torpedo damage between frames 69 1/2 and 80 1/2 starboard side below armour belt.

NAVY YARD. PEARL HARBOR, T.H. P.H. #616-41 12/13/41"

NARA San Francisco, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, General Correspondence Files 1941-46

Tracy White
Helena
0405038
282k

Photo of damage from Pearl Harbor Attack. Caption reads:

"U.S.S. HELENA - Torpedo damage between frames 69 1/2 and 80 1/2 starboard side. Note propellor shaft, H.P. turbine to left. At right center floor plates were driven into teeth of reduction gear by force of explosion.

NAVY YARD, PEARL HARBOR, T.H .P.H. #621-41 12/14/41"

NARA San Francisco, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, General Correspondence Files 1941-46

Tracy White
Helena
0405039
835k Long range photo of the Mare Island Southern waterfront. Left to right USS Whale (SS 239) on the ways with USS Humphrey (DD 236) just under Whale and USS Helena (CL 50) on the right. Photo taken on 13 March 1942.
Darryl Baker
Helena 149k

USS Helena (CL 50) View of the starboard side amidships, taken at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 27 June 1942, following repair of combat damage and an overhaul. Note the ship's redesigned forward superstructure, including an open bridge and reduced lower bridge wings. Mark 34 main battery gun director, with antenna for an FC gunfire control radar, is immediately in front of the foremast. The other director, just behind the open bridge, is a Mark 33, with antenna for an FD radar mounted on its front. Weight traversing gear on the main deck, between the forward superstructure and 6"/47 gun turret # 3, indicates that Helena is undergoing an inclining experiment to determine her stability.

Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives #19-N-31213.

USNHC
Helena 30k

USS Helena (CL 50) Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, following battle damage repairs and overhaul, 1 July 1942. This image has been retouched to censor radar antennas from the gun directors and masts. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute Photograph Collection, Annapolis, Maryland.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 95813.

USNHC
Helena
0405040
130k

USS Helena (CL 50) Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, following battle damage repairs and overhaul, 1 July 1942.

NARA San Franciscor Photograph #3670-42

Tracy White
Helena 32k

USS Helena (CL 50) At a South Pacific base, between battles, circa 1943. This image has been retouched to remove radar antennas from the gun directors and masts. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute Photograph Collection, Annapolis, Maryland.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 95814.

USNHC
Helena 51k

Munda-Vila Bombardment, 13 May 1943 - USS Helena (CL 50) firing during the night bombardment, as seen from USS Honolulu (CL 48). Gunfire causes wavy pattern of tracers. Collection of Vice Admiral Walden L. Ainsworth.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center #NH 76496.

USNHC
Helena 79k

Central Solomons Campaign, 1943 - Light cruisers maneuvering off Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, during exercises on 20 June 1943, ten days before the invasion of New Georgia. Ships are USS Saint Louis (CL 49), at left; USS Helena (CL 50), at right; and USS Honolulu (CL 48) in the center distance.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives #80-G-57074.

National Archives
Helena 34k

Battle of Kula Gulf, 5-6 July 1943 - USS Helena (CL 50), in the center, firing during the Battle of Kula Gulf, just before she was torpedoed and sunk. The next ship astern is USS Saint Louis (CL 49). Photographed from USS Honolulu (CL 48).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives #80-G-54553.

National Archives

Commanding Officers
Name/Rank Final Rank Dates
Johnston, Donald Hendry, LCDR (temporary)   1939 - until CAPT DeMott arrived
DeMott, Max Burke, CAPT   09/18/1939 - 07/14/1941
English Jr., Robert Henry, CAPT RADM 07/14/1941 - 03/06/1942
Linke, Gerald D., CDR   03/06/1942 - 03/29/1942
Read, Oliver Middleton, CDR   03/29/1942 - 09/25/1942
Hoover, Gilbert Corwin, CAPT   09/25/1942 - 11/23/1942
Cecil, Charles Purcell, CAPT RADM 11/23/1942 - 07/06/1943

(Courtesy of Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves - Photos courtesy of Bill Gonyo)


USS HELENA (CL 50) History
View This Vessels DANFS History Entry
(Located On The Hazegray & Underway Web Site, This Is The Main Archive For The DANFS Online Project.)

Crew Contact And Reunion Information
CL 50 - CA-75 - SSN-725

Contact Name: Mr. Gene Alexander
Address: 7732 Firehorn Ln Las Vegas, NV, 89123-2001
Phone: 702-361-3742
E-mail: None


Note About Contacts.

The contact listed, Was the contact at the time for this ship when located. If another person now is the contact, E-mail me and I will update this entry. These contacts are compiled from various sources over a long period of time and may or may not be correct. Every effort has been made to list the newest contact if more than one contact was found.


Additional Resources
Hazegray & Underway Cruiser Pages By Andrew Toppan.
Pearl Harbor Attack - USS Helena Action Report from the Naval Historical Center.
USS Helena webpage

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Last updated 07/10/05