“Minnie” seems like such a diminutive name for a 10,000-ton naval cruiser designed to carry up to four airplanes. But that’s exactly what the crew decided to call the USS Minneapolis (CA-36) when she went into service in 1934. The USS Minneapolis was one of the most decorated Navy ships during World War II. It was also the second vessel to carry the name Minneapolis.

Miss Grace L. Newton of Minneapolis, MN christening the ship.

The USS Minneapolis launched from Philadelphia in 1933, with Miss Grace L. Newton of Minneapolis, Minnesota sponsoring the ceremonial launch. The lightweight cruiser received alterations and was reclassified as a heavy cruiser early in its service. Captain Gordon W. Haines commanded the ship when it was commissioned and put into service in 1934.

In 1935, the USS Minneapolis headed for San Diego via the Panama Canal. After maneuvers on the west coast, it reached Pearl Harbor in 1940. During the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the USS Minneapolis was away performing gunnery practice and so did not incur damage at that time. It joined with a carrier task force headed for the Marshalls and Gilberts where they engaged in battle. The USS Minneapolis was also actively engaged during the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway and the Battle of Tassafaronga.

The ship was severely damaged during the Battle of Tassafaronga, sustaining two torpedo hits to the port-side bow and number two fireroom. The crew managed to keep the ship afloat long enough to reach Tulagi, where they camouflaged it with foliage until temporary repairs allowed the cruiser to sail for Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

Heavy damage after the Battle of Tassafaronga.

The USS Minneapolis was repaired and returned for duty in August of 1943. In 1945, the cruiser was flying the flag of Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid when he accepted the Japanese surrender of Korea. After further patrol and the return of veterans to the West coast, the cruiser once again sailed the Panama Canal and headed back to Philadelphia. The USS Minneapolis was decommissioned in 1947 after receiving seventeen battle stars for her service.

Chart of the War Operation Tract, USS Minneapolis.

The museum’s USS Minneapolis archival collection was donated over time by members of the USS Minneapolis Association. The Association was founded in 1984 by former crew members of the USS Minneapolis, who met annually until about 2007. The collection includes manuals and schematics from the ship, a small set of correspondence and ephemera around the ceremonial launching of the ship and a series of photographs depicting the ship at sea, damage from war and the donation of objects to the museum in the 1950s-1960s.

The USS Minneapolis collection is processed with a complete finding aid and is available for research by contacting the museum archivist. Please reference collection B518, USS Minneapolis.

All images are from the Hennepin History Museum archives unless otherwise noted.

This blog post was created by Michele Hagen, Interim Archivist.

This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.