Last week, an enormous model of a unique cruiser from the Navy’s post-World War II fleet was moved from the main Navy Museum at the Washington Navy Yard, across the parking lot to the Cold War Gallery. The builder’s model of USS Worcester (CL 144) now sits in a prominent position in the center of the South Gallery, opposite the Into the Lion’s Den exhibit. It measures nearly sixteen feet in length.
Worcester had a short but interesting career with the U.S. Navy. She was one of only two ships of her class, along with USS Roanoke (CL 145). Commissioned in 1948, the highly maneuverable cruiser was heavily armed with guns designed to contend with both surface and air targets. She featured twelve 6″/47 guns mounted in six turrets, as well as a huge assortment of 3″/50 and 20mm secondary guns. She was in many ways the culmination of the lessons learned in the Pacific during World War II. In the late summer of 1950, Worcester joined Task Force 77 off Korea. The cruiser provided gunfire support to the Inchon landing, and in support of operations over the course of the following month. Her brief deployment to Korea ended in the fall of that year. Worcester was decommissioned in 1958, struck from the Navy lists in 1970, and later sold for scrap.
The 1/4″ = 1′ scale model of Worcester is impressively detailed, and the dark paint scheme and wooden deck sets it apart visually from the other models on display in the Gallery. It was designed by New York Shipbuilding Corporation as a builder’s model during construction of the ship. It now sits in a fitting spot, surrounded by artifacts from the Korean War, an LCVP, and a model of another ship that participated in the Inchon landing: USS Fort Marion (LSD 22). All of these artifacts are now available for viewing in the Cold War Gallery, which is open to the public Monday through Friday.
Angelo G. Cicolani, LCDR USN (Ret)