USS Northampton (CL/CA-26) was the lead Northampton-class cruiser in service with the United States Navy. She was commissioned in 1930, originally classified a light cruiser because of her thin armor but later reclassified a heavy cruiser because of her 8-inch guns. During World War II she served in the Pacific and was sunk by Japanese torpedoes during the Battle of Tassafaronga on 30 November 1942. She was named after the city of Northampton, Massachusetts, the home of former President Calvin Coolidge. Northampton next operated with a cruiser-destroyer force, to prevent the Japanese from reinforcing their troops on Guadalcanal. The Battle of Tassafaronga began 40 minutes before midnight on 30 November, when three American destroyers made a surprise torpedo attack on the Japanese. All American ships then opened fire, which the startled enemy did not return for seven minutes. Two of the American cruisers took torpedo hits within the space of a minute, and 10 minutes later, another was hit, all being forced to retire from the action. Northampton and Honolulu, with six destroyers, continued the fierce action. Close to the end of the engagement, Northampton was struck by two torpedoes, which tore a huge hole in her port side, ripping away decks and bulkheads. Flaming oil sprayed over the ship; she took on water rapidly and began to list. Three hours later, as she began to sink stern-first, she had to be abandoned. So orderly and controlled was the process that loss of life was surprisingly light. Most of the survivors were picked up within an hour by destroyers of Task Force 67. About 40 crewmen spent the rest of the night in two life rafts. Those survivors were later rescued by torpedo boat PT 109 and landed on Tulagi Island. U. S. Navy archives contain a photo of PT 109 entering the anchorage at Tulagi, her topside crowded by Northampton survivors, some of them seriously wounded or dying. Five months after this battle PT 109 got a new skipper: Lt.jg John F. Kennedy. It was a tactical defeat, as three cruisers had been severely damaged and Northampton lost in exchange for the loss of only one Japanese destroyer; nevertheless, the Japanese had been denied a major reinforcement. The senior officer killed on Northampton during the battle of Tassafaronga was Chief Engineer, Commander (select) Hilan Ebert of Alliance, Ohio. Ebert was awarded the Navy Cross. In honor of Commander Ebert, the destroyer escort USS Ebert was launched 11 May 1944 by Tampa Shipbuilding Co., Inc., Tampa, Florida; sponsored by the widow of Commander Ebert; Mrs. Hilan Ebert. wiki
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