USS SALEM CA-139
“Pride of the Sixth Fleet”
Ordered by the US Navy on 14 June, 1943, USS Salem (CA 139) was laid down on 4 July, 1945 at the Bethlehem Steel Company’s Quincy Yard in Quincy, MA and launched on 25 March, 1947. She was commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 14 May, 1949.
USS Salem served a distinguished 10 year career as flagship of the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and the Second Fleet in the Atlantic. During her career she served as host to such notables as the US Ambassador to Spain, John D. Lodge; the Honorable Thomas S. Gates, Undersecretary of the Navy; Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN, Chief of Naval Operations; the Shah of Iran; the President of Lebanon and the King and Queen of Greece.
Although Salem never fired her mighty guns in anger, her very presence served as a stimulus for peace during those troubled times that came to be called the Cold War. She served as a Lady of Diplomacy, rather than as a means of exerting brute force. Imagine a small city placed in “mothballs”, stored for 35 years, and then reopened and restored to it’s former glory.
When USS Salem was decommissioned on 30 January, 1959 and joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of the United States and everyone was watching I Love Lucy on their new television.
In October of 1994, Salem once again made her way north to her birthplace in Quincy, where she is now the centerpiece of the United States Naval and Shipbuilding Museum. Bill Clinton was president of the United States, people were watching Murphy Brown and Beverly Hills: 90210 on their big-screen TV’s and “surfing the net”. Now “crewed” by a staff of museum professionals and enthusiastic volunteers, she is being restored to her full glory.
On 14 May, 1995 – 46 years to the day since her original commissioning – Salem was re-commissioned – this time as a member of the Historic Naval Ships Association. She now serves her country once again with her new mission of teaching people of all generations our nation’s rich history of shipbuilding and naval duty.