“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.


Four General Electric geared turbines.
Four Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 615psi/850f.
Rated 120000 shp (120064 as measured during trials)
Four screws.
Stream jet air conditioning plant.
SSTG: 4- 1500kw
Diesel Generators: 2- 850kw


Guns: 8 inch/55 caliber in three triple turrets
Gun Barrel: Mk 16 Mod 0
Muzzle Velocity: 2,800 ft/sec
Crew: 45 (turret)
Weight: 451 tons (turret)
Rate of fire: 10 rpgpm (rounds per gun per minute)
Projectiles: High capacity (shore bombardment): 260 pounds, Armor Piercing: 335 pounds
Range: 30,100 yards (AP) at 41 degrees 31,350 yards (HC) at 45 degrees
Notes: These guns were the first 8″ guns to use cased (semi-fixed) ammunition instead of bag/shell loading. They were also the world’s first automatic 8″ gun. These guns could be loaded at any elevation from -5 to +41 degrees. They were dual purpose guns (AA and ASuW). The gun houses on all three turrets are quite spacious due to the fact they were designed with room for the installation of optical rangefinders, which were omitted from final plans.


Guns: 5 inch/38 caliber in six dual mounts, Mk 32
Gun Barrel: Mk 12 Mod 1
Muzzle Velocity: 2,500 ft/sec
Crew: 12 (mount)
Weight: approx. 33,00 lbs (mount)
Rate of fire: 12 rpgpm
Projectiles: AA, 7 pounds
Range: 14,041 yards at 45 degrees, 29,367 ft at 85 degrees
Notes: These guns were dual purpose weapons (AA and ASuW)
Light Anti-Aircraft Battery
Guns: 3 inch/50 cal in 11 (originally 12) twin mounts. Both mar 27 and 33 mounts fitted.
Gun barrel: Mk 22
Muzzle velocity: 2,650 ft/sec
Crew: 12 (mount)
Weight: approx. 33,00 lbs (mount)
Rate of fire: 50 rpgpm
Approx. Life: 4,300 shells
Range 14,600 yards at 43 degrees, 29,800 ft at 80 degrees
Notes: Mount 31 was removed from all 3 ships of the class in 1955 due to excessive damage to the mounts, and loss of the mounts, in heavy seas. these ships were originally built with 6 dual 20mm gun mounts, which were removed at the time the ships were commissioned. The two gun directors for the 20mm guns (type unknown) were located on pedestals abeam the forward Mark 54 director.

The 3in/50 cal automatic gun was developed in response from kamikaze attacks on Allied warships during the later part of World War II. A kamikaze pilot, basically turned the aircraft into a guided missile packed with explosives. It was vital that the aircraft be destroyed as far away from its target as possible. Developed from previous 3in/50 into an automatic loading weapon, which was able to fire at a rate four times faster than previously.


2 Mark 54 with Mark 13 radar.
Secondary Battery: 4 Mark 37 GFCS with Mark 25 radar.
Anti-Aircraft Battery: 4 Mark 56 GFCS with Mark 35 Radar and 2 Nark 63 GFCS with Mark 34 radar (Mark 63 for mounts 311 and 312 only).
SG-6 air search
SPS-8A height finding
SPS-12 air search

Turrets 2 and 3 were originally equipped with dual Mark 27 ranging radars, which were ultimately removed.

No sonar equipment.
No ASW weapons systems.
Originally designed for 4 floatplanes, two catapults aft with hanger in hold, accessed by elevator. The aircraft were obsolete by the time the ships were completed. Salem was never fitted with catapults. In service, she carried one utility helicopter.