Four Before

A special thank you to the Naval History & Heritage Command (www.history.navy.mil/), the US Navy's official source of historical information.

It’s a bit coincidental that the USS Milwaukee also carries with her the LCS 5 moniker as she is also the fifth U.S. vessel to bear the name of the famed Wisconsin city. The history of the first four Milwaukee vessels includes service in the Civil War, World War II and Vietnam.

 

#1 USS Milwaukee (1864-Monitor) – Commissioned 1864

A double-turreted river monitor, the ship was built for the Union Navy during the Civil War. She was ordered south to join the West Gulf Blockading Squadron arriving there on October 1864. New Year's Day 1865 found Milwaukee in Mobile Bay (Alabama) ready for action. In the following months, with other light-draft Union ships, she swept mines, bombarded Confederate works, removed obstructions and transported Army troops.

On March 28, 1865, she and her sister ship Winnebago steamed up the Blakely River to attack a Confederate transport and forced it to retreat. While returning downriver, Milwaukee struck a mine in an area previously swept. She remained afloat forward, which permitted her crew to escape without loss.

Milwaukee's hulk was raised in 1868 and her material was used in the construction of the bridge across the Mississippi which bears the name of her builder, James B. Eads.

 

#2 USS Milwaukee (C 21) – Commissioned 1906

A St. Louis-class protected cruiser, the second Milwaukee sailed on the coast of San Salvador and Costa Rica protecting American interests. After only a year on the seas, she was given reserve status at Puget Sound Navy Yard in 1907 until decommissioned in May 1910.

Milwaukee recommissioned in June 1913 and was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet. In March 1916, Milwaukee was assigned duty as tender to destroyers and submarines of the Pacific Fleet. Based at San Diego, the cruiser participated in exercises and maneuvers off the coast, patrolled Mexican waters, and transported refugees.

While assisting in the salvaging of a U.S. submarine which had run aground in Humboldt Bay (California), the cruiser became stranded near Samoa Beach. The crew reached shore safely, but attempts to salvage the ship were unsuccessful. Milwaukee decommissioned in March 1917 and a storm in November 1918 broke the ship in two.

 

#3 USS Milwaukee (CL 5) – Commissioned 1923

An Omaha-class light cruiser, the ship served primarily in the Pacific with some duty in the Caribbean during the decades between the world wars.

Milwaukee was in New York Navy Yard when Japan struck Pearl Harbor. Departing New Year’s Eve 1941, the ship escorted eight troop transports to the Society Islands and stopped in Brazil where she joined the South Atlantic Patrol Force to search out German commerce raiders and blockade runners. In November 1942, she intercepted one of the latter, but it scuttled itself and the Milwaukee took aboard 62 prisoners.

Milwaukee continued her South Atlantic patrols until February 1944 when she served as an escort for a convoy which reached Belfast, Northern Ireland. That April, the ship was transferred on loan to the Soviet Union. She commissioned in the Russian Navy as Murmansk and performed convoy and patrol duty along the Atlantic sea lanes throughout the remainder of the war.

The ship was returned by the Soviets in 1949 and sold for scrap in December.

 

#4 USS Milwaukee (AOR 2) – Commissioned 1969

Milwaukee was the second of the Wichita-class multipurpose replenishment ships. During the Vietnam War she participated in operation Vietnam Ceasefire from November 1972 through February 1973.

In September 1976, returning from a routine deployment, the Milwaukee along with the USS Sylvania had the honor of transporting the world famous King Tut exhibit to New York City.

In March 1980, the Malaysian oil tanker Santo Prestige lost power and collided with the Milwaukee which was moored in Norfolk, Virginia, resulting in a 40- by 15-foot gash in the hull.

In January 1994, the Milwaukee was decommissioned and sold for scrap in 2009.