In the final months of WWII, the USS Pittsburgh was on duty in the rough seas of the South Pacific, just off of Japan’s Ryukyu Islands, when a massive storm sent the Baltimore-class heavy cruiser hurtling into waves more than 10 stories tall. The violent sea blasts ripped away more than 100 feet of bow into the ocean, leaving the USS Pittsburgh hobbling to nearby Guam for emergency repairs. It was a harrowing five-day voyage with sailors praying they avoid any more tragedy. This month’s tee club honors the mighty cruiser’s contribution to the American war effort.
There have been a few USS Pittsburghs in the Navy, but it’s the WWII-era ship that we’re paying homage to. I just love that the crew nicknamed the floating section of the ship that was ripped off, the Mighty McKeesport. I feel like it’s the perfect name for a ship that won’t die, kind of embodying the spirit of Pittsburgh, a city that has experienced both unrivaled innovation and the tragedy of losing its main industry and over half of its population. I have family members that served in the Navy so it gives me great pride to tell this story.
The first USS Pittsburgh was an ironclad gunboat in the Civil War that was a key factor in securing the southern section of the Mississippi River from the Confederates, setting up General Grant to attack Vicksburg from the rear. The USS Pittsburgh that sails the seas today is a 360-foot-long nuclear sub, half the size of its WWII compatriot of the same name.