Utah History to Go
The USS Salt Lake City Made History
From War to war


World War I and Utah
Utah's Capitols
Herbert S. Auerbach, Renaissance Man
Utah's "Ugly Duckling" Salt Flats
Publicizing Bryce Canyon
The Last Indian Uprising
Home Industry 20th Century Style
Some 80 Utah Nurses Served in World War I
World War I Heroine Maud Fitch Lived in Eureka, Utah
Mexican Families and the Sugar Industry in Garland
The Development of Zion National Park
The Twenties
Artist John Held, Jr. Created Cultural Icons, 1920's
Media Development in Weber County
Silent Films Intrigued & Occasionally Offended
Coal Production Amid the Wars
Sheep Fueled 1920's Economy
Military Installations
Boxcars and Section Houses
Jack Dempsey Loved Fighting, Mining, and Cowboying
Radio in Utah Began in May 1922 on Station KZN
The Cigarette Ban of the 19020's Caused an Uproar
Prohibition Failed to Stop the Liquor Flow in Utah
Lawyer Ran For President on the Farmer-Labor Ticket
George Sutherland Served on the U.S. Supreme Court
Alice Stratton Feared and Made Fun of "Kaiser Bill"
Klansmen at a Funeral and a Terrible Lynching
President Harding's 1923 Visit to Utah
Growing Crops For the Cannery
Dinosaur National Monument
The Fathers of Capitol Reef National Park
Ogden's the Bigelow-Preserves a Historic Area
Philo T. Farnsworth's Invention
The Beginnings of Commerical Aviation
The White Book Road Guide
The Great Depression
Depression Memories
"Even Grasshoppers Were Starving" During Drought
New Deal Agencies Built 233 Buildings in Utah
"Alphabet" Agencies in Utah County
The Civilian Conservation Corps Was a Boon to Utah
The Civilian Conservation Corps
Marriner S. Eccles Helped Design FDR's New Deal
Reed Smoot and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 1930
Reed Smoot & America's Natural Resources, 1903-33
Children in the 1930's Hoped to Become Nurses & Pilots
Arches National Monument
A Labor Inspector During the Great Depression
Clean Clothes Blowing in the Breeze
Utah's Rosies in the War
Garfield County Airport Has Unusual Hangar
Marie Ogden Led Spiritual Group in San Juan County
Uinta Basin Group Trekked to the 1933 World's Fair
Helen Hofmann Bertagnole-"Utah's Queen of Swing"
World War II in Utah
How Trains Helped Win a War
The War Effort at Home
Topaz Relocation Center
Topaz: Japanese American Interned in UT During WWII
Japanese Agricultural Colony at Keetley
Utahn Survives the Attack at Pearl Harbor
The USS Salt Lake City Made History
Utah Naval Officer Died a Hero's Death at Pearl Harbor
Rhymes Filled Children's Autograph Books
Utah's Rosies Upshot
Women Workers and Housing Issues
World War II Claimed the Lives of Four Utah Brothers

Jeffrey D. Nichols
History Blazer July 1995

The cruiser USS Salt Lake City, also called the "Swayback Maru," helped gain revenge for the sinking of the USS Utah at Pearl Harbor. In fact, before the war was over, the Salt Lake City would be unofficially credited with taking part in more naval engagements than any ship in the fleet. The "one-ship fleet," another of her nicknames, survived everything, including its own nation's most destructive weapons.

The Salt Lake City was one of eight modern cruisers authorized under the Washington Arms Limits agreement of 1921. When she was launched on January 23, 1929, she was one of the most powerful and high-speed vessels in the U.S. fleet. By 1941, however, the cruiser had been extensively modified and was considered near the end of its useful life. By good fortune the Salt Lake City was accompanying the carrier USS Enterprise as it delivered aircraft to Wake Island on December 7, 1941, and so avoided the disaster at Pearl Harbor.

The cruiser was part of Admiral Halsey's force that retaliated for Pearl Harbor with a raid on the Marshall Islands in February 1942. The Salt Lake City apparently opened fire on Wotje Island a few seconds before other American vessels, and it is credited with being the first ship to fire on Japanese-held territory. In April she helped escort the Doolittle raid that bombed Tokyo. Wartime secrecy dictated that ships' real names not be used, so war correspondent Robert J. Casey nicknamed the old ship the "Swayback Maru" (maru is Japanese for "ship") in his dispatches home.

The Salt Lake City continued to be in the thick of the action, including the fierce fighting near the Solomon Islands. In the Battle of Esperance on October 11, 1942, the cruiser took so many hits and delivered so many in return that she was nicknamed "the one-ship fleet." In the battle of the Komandorskie Islands, part of the effort to block the Japanese occupation of the Aleutians, the Salt Lake City was so badly damaged that her crew shook hands and prepared to die when she went down. The ship was ultimately saved, however, by near-suicidal attacks on the powerful Japanese cruisers by lightly armed American destroyers.

The American offensive island-hopped across the Pacific, meeting desperate resistance from the Japanese. The Salt Lake City participated in fierce battles for the Gilberts, Marshalls, Philippines, and Iwo Jima. Its final action included the bombardment of Okinawa in March 1945.

The immense atomic explosions that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war and inaugurated a new and frightening chapter in modern warfare. The Salt Lake City played a role in the further development of these powerful weapons. In 1946 the Swayback Maru and other obsolete vessels served as part of the atomic bomb test fleet near Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. Although the ship survived, she was deemed highly radioactive and on May 25, 1948, ships and aircraft sank the Salt Lake City off the southern California coast.

See: Robert Anthony Sumbot, "The Utah Fleet: A History of Ships in the United States Navy that Bore Utah Place Names and Personality Names.


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