FDR aboard USS Tuscaloosa CA-37 - WWII heavy cruiser FDR aboard the Tuscaloosa

FDR portrait given to CPOs Below are summaries of the three cruises FDR had aboard Tuscaloosa.  To the right is an image of a signed photograph from FDR.  Although it is unclear when FDR gave this photgraph, it hung in the Petty Officers' mess and was removed prior to the ship's decommissioning.  The inscription reads:  "For the Chief Petty Officers, USS Tuscaloosa, from their shipmate, Franklin Delano Roosevelt."   Click on the picture or click here for a larger view.


First Cruise

In August of 1939, Tuscaloosa boarded President Franklin D. Roosevelt, bound for New Brunswick.  Near Portsmouth, N.H., the President viewed salvage operations for the USS Squalus (SS-192).  After a series of test dives, the Squalus had sunk on 12 May because of flooding in her aft engine room.  The use of a newly-developed rescue chamber saved 33 men although 26 were lost.  Squalus was refloated by using cables passed beneath her, and was towed to Portsmouth on 13 September.  Nine months later she was recommissioned as USS Sailfish, serving through most of the war in the Pacific.

Tuscaloosa visited Campobello Island as well as several ports in Newfoundland before disembarking the President at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, on 24 August.

USS Squalus afloat The raising of USS Squalus naval cover - FDR's 1st cruise
Here is a picture of the Squalus afloat. Here is a picture of the Squalus being salvaged. Here is a naval cover commemorating the cruise.  See the Naval Covers page for more.


Second Cruise

Tuscaloosa spent several days at the Norfolk (Virginia) Navy Yard in January and February of 1940 for alterations in anticipation of the next presidential visit.  She boarded President Roosevelt at Pensacola, Florida, on 15 February for a cruise to Panama and the west coast of Central America.  Roosevelt discussed defense issues with several leaders of Latin American countries and inspected the Pacific defenses of the Panama Canal.  The President fished during the cruise, later lamenting that he caught "damned few fish."  Returning through the canal, FDR met with US military leaders on 27 February to discuss the defense of the canal.  FDR disembarked Tuscaloosa in Pensacola.

FDR speech aboard TuscaloosaFDR aboard TuscaloosaDispatch to FDR
Click here to view the speech delivered by FDR at the close of this cruise. Click here to view a photograph of FDR aboard Tuscaloosa during this cruise. Click here to view a dispatch received by FDR during this cruise.

Third Cruise

It was on 3 December 1940 in Miami that President Roosevelt embarked Tuscaloosa for the third time.  During this cruise, Tuscaloosa visited ports including Kingston, Jamaica; Santa Lucia, Antigua; and the Bahamas.  FDR was visiting many of the base sites obtained from Great Britain in the recently negotiated "destroyers for bases" deal.  In that transaction, the United States had traded 50 old flush-decked destroyers for 99-year leases on bases in the western hemisphere. 

Roosevelt desired to help alleviate Britain's desperate need for war materiel, but he was constrained by US neutrality laws limiting sales to belligerents to cash transactions.  It was during this cruise that FDR formulated the "lend-lease" program.  President Roosevelt disembarked Tuscaloosa on 16 December in Charleston, S.C., where he returned to Washington, D.C., to implement "lend-lease."  The Lend-Lease Act, enacted in 1941, permitted the president to sell, lend, lease, and transfer such material to allies of the United States under whatever terms he deemed proper.

In August 1941, Tuscaloosa accompanied USS Augusta (CA-31) which carried FDR to Newfoundland for talks with Winston Churchill leading to the Atlantic Charter.

In early May 1943, Tuscaloosa escorted RMS Queen Mary as she transported Winston Churchill to New York to meet with FDR.

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