USS Milwaukee
"Strength and Freedom"
3rd USS Milwaukee

The third USS Milwaukee (CL‑5) was laid down 13 December 1918 by Seattle Construction & Dry Dock Co., Seattle, Wash., was launched by Todd Dry Dock & Construction Co., Seattle, Wash., 24 March 1921 and commissioned 20 June 1923 with Capt. William C. Asserson as the commanding officer.

USS Milwaukee did her shakedown cruise to Australia and participated in the Pan‑Pacific Scientific Congress in Sydney on 23 August 1923. Fitted with the finest sonic depth‑finding equipment, Milwaukee had gathered knowledge of the Pacific during the cruise.

Although she served primarily in the Pacific during the decades between the world wars, the highlights of the USS Milwaukee’s peacetime service came in the Caribbean. On 24 October 1926, USS Milwaukee and USS Goff arrived at the Isle of Pines to assist victims of a fierce hurricane which had devastated the island 4 days before. The American ships established a medical center at the city hall in Nueva Gerone, furnished the stricken area over 50 tons of food and replaced telephone lines which had been swept away.

Over a decade later while steaming north of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico 14 February 1939, Milwaukee recorded the greatest depth yet discovered in the Atlantic, 5,041 fathoms, or 30,246 feet. The spot has thenceforth been designated “Milwaukee Depth.”

On 3 January 1938 Milwaukee got underway from San Diego on a cruise to the Far Fast as part of the U.S. response to the 12 December 1937 Japanese bombing of the U.S. gunboat Panay in the Yangtze River. Milwaukee returned home 27 April after tensions in the area died down.

The Milwaukee was in the New York Navy Yard for overhaul when Japan struck Pearl Harbor in December 7, 1941. Milwaukee departed New York on 31 December and escorted a convoy to the Caribbean and from there escorted eight troop transports to the Society Islands in January 1942. Returning to the Atlantic on 7 March she then joined the South Atlantic Patrol Force.

On 19 May 1942 while steaming from Ascension Island toward Brazil, Milwaukee received SOS signals from the torpedoed Brazilian merchantman SS Commandante Lyra. The Milwaukee rescued 25 crewmen, including the ship’s master. Milwaukee’s salvage party jettisoned cargo on the Commandante Lyra and towed the merchant ship to Fortaleza, Brazil, arriving 24 May. In November 1942 Milwaukee was part of a task force seeking German blockade runners. On 21 November 1942 they encountered the German blockade runner Annaliese Essenberger. Milwaukee challenged the ship who replied with the call letters L‑J‑P‑Y, the international call of Norwegian freighter Sjhflbred. The Allied secret identification signal brought no reply and the game was on. The task force chased the enemy until, at 0651, with smoke and flames pouring from the Annaliese Essenberger the boats lowered. Minutes later the first of three tremendous explosions hurled wreckage hundreds of feet in the air and the freighter started sinking. Then the Norwegian flag was hauled down on Annaliese Essenberger and the German merchant swastika flag was raised. The German motorship heeled over to port and sank by the stern. Milwaukee took aboard 62 prisoners from four liferafts.

Milwaukee continued her South Atlantic patrols until 8 February 1944 when she departed Bahia, Brazil, for the New York Navy Yard. She steamed out of New York 27 February as a unit of the ocean escort for a convoy which reached Belfast, Northern Ireland, 8 March 1944. On 29 March 1944 Milwaukee put to sea, en route to Murmansk, Russia, with British Convoy JW58. On 4 April four escorts of the Russian Navy joined the convoy as it headed for Archangel. On 20 April 1944 Milwaukee was transferred on loan to the Soviet Union under lend‑lease. She commissioned in the Russian Navy as Murmansk and performed convoy and patrol duty along the Atlantic sealanes throughout the remainder of the war. Transferred back to the United States 16 March 1949, Milwaukee, the first of 15 American warships returned by Russia, entered Philadelphia Naval Shipyard 18 March 1949. The Milwaukee was sold for scrapping 10 December 1949 to the American Shipbreakers, Inc., Wilmington, Del.

To see a more detailed history of the third USS Milwaukee.

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