Timeline for the Short Life of the USS Fall River (CA-131)
9 Jul 1942 – Ordered.
12 Apr 1943 – Keel laid down. Builder is New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, New Jersey.
13 Aug 1944 – Launched. Sponsored by Mrs. Alexander C. Murray, wife of the mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts.
1 Jul – Commissioned with Captain David S. Crawford, USN, in command.
8 Aug–27 Sep – Shakedown cruise, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
21–29 Oct – Navy Day celebrations in Boston and Fall River, Massachusetts.
29 Oct–10 Jan – Atlantic Fleet Operational Development Force, Norfolk, Virginia.
31 Jan – New assignment with First Division Cruisers, Pacific Fleet. Departs Hampton Roads, Virginia for Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands and Operation Crossroads, the first postwar atomic bomb tests.
5–8 Feb – Visits Panama Canal Zone.
9–16 Feb – Departs Panama Canal Zone for San Pedro Bay and Port of Los Angeles.
16 Feb–6 Mar – San Pedro Bay, Port of Los Angeles. Underwent alterations to serve as flagship.
6–12 Mar – Departs San Pedro Bay for Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii.
12 Mar-21 May – Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. Underwent numerous training exercises and maneuvers at sea and in port. Embarked RAdm F. G. Fahrion, USN, Commander Naval Task Group 1.2.
21–27 May – Departs Pearl Harbor for Bikini.
27 May–31 July – Arrives at the Bikini Atoll for Operation Crossroads. Fall River is Flagship for the Target Fleet, under the command of RAdm F. G. Fahrion, USN, responsible for positioning the 95 target vessels for two atomic bomb tests: Test Able from the air, 1 Jul; Test Baker from underwater, 25 Jul.
After Operation Crossroads
Aug – Remains in the Marshall Islands for post-tests evaluation and clean-up.
9 Sept – Departs the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands for Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. Drops off RAdm F. G. Fahrion, now promoted to Commander, Advance Echelon, Joint Task Force One.
26 Sept – Departs Pearl Harbor for San Pedro, California.
5–22 Oct – Underwent tender repairs in San Pedro.
22-29 Oct – Navy Day celebrations, Portland, Oregon. According to local media, Fall River is the biggest ship to enter the city’s harbor. She holds open house for three days and an estimated 15,000 persons tour the decks, creating long lines on the dock. There is no talk about the ship’s possible contamination.
Dec – Decontamination operations in the Long Beach-San Pedro area. Includes dry-docking to scrape the ship’s bottom.
12 Jan–17 Jun – Extensive tour of Far East as Flagship of Cruiser Division I. Receives the Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia, for the periods 12 Jan–17 Apr 1947 and 27 Apr–17 Jun 1947. Receives the China Service Medal for the period 18–26 Apr 1947.
17 Jun – Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, for overhaul.
31 Oct – Decommissioned, placed in reserve at the Puget Sound Navy Yard.
1958 – Fall River came close to having a second career as a Guided Missile Cruiser (CG). However the Columbia (CA-74), scheduled for decommissioning in fiscal 1959, was substituted for the Fall River because it was less expensive to convert a decommissioning ship than to bring a mothballed ship out of reserve.
19 Feb 1971 – Struck from the Naval Register. Although the Fall River was positioned 10 miles or more from the target ships and the Able and Baker atomic blasts at Operation Crossroads, she took on so much radiation and was still so “hot,” it is decided to send her to the shipwrecker’s yard.
28 Aug 1972 – Sold for scrap to Zidell Explorations Corp., Portland, Oregon. However, 200 tons of Armor Plate are put to use at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, Illinois.
In her short life, the USS Fall River (CA-131) participated in one of the most important events of the twentieth century — the dawning of the nuclear age
This is what remains today of the once mighty heavy cruiser
From Operation Crossroads, Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account by William L. McGee
Sources: USS Fall River (CA-131) “Command History”; Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. II.