USS Salem (CA-139)

Salem en route to Italy in June, 1952. Photo in the collection of the US Navy History & Heritage Command.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

This is the USS Salem (CA-139), a Des Moines-class heavy cruiser of the US Navy. Ordered in 1943, Salem wasn't laid down until 1945, and so missed World War II. Commissioned in 1949, she saw no action in the Korean War, instead seeing service with the Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets. Salem was flagship of the US 6th Fleet during her deployments to the Mediterranean, and participated in numerous exercises with NATO and allied navies. In August, 1953, she was the first American ship to arrive and provide aid in the wake of the Ionian earthquake, remaining on station until her own supplies ran low. She was in the Mediterranean when the Suez Crisis broke out in October, 1956, and shifted to Rhodes with the fleet, to help apply pressure on Israel, France, and the UK, to back down. Salem decommissioned in January, 1959, and was mothballed as part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was considered for Reagan's 600-ship Navy program in 1981, but lack of funding ended that prospect. Stricken in 1991, she became part of the United States Naval Shipbuilding Museum in 1994, in Quincy, Massachusetts. Salem was closed from 2017 to 2019 while she was shifted to a new pier, but is again open to the public.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Salem played the role of the German heavy cruiser Admiral Graf Spee in the 1956 movie Battle of the River Plate, despite the two ships looking nothing alike.