heavy cruiser Vincennes (CA-44) was laid down on 2 January 1934
at Quincy, Mass., by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company's Fore River
plant, launched on 21 May 1936, sponsored by Miss Harriet Virginia
Kimmell daughter of the mayor of Vincennes, Ind., and commissioned
on 24 February 1937, Capt. Burton H. Green in command.
new heavy cruiser departed from Boston on 19 April 1937 for her
shakedown cruise which took her to Stockholm, Sweden, Helsingfors
(Helsinki), Finland, Le Havre, France, and Portsmouth, England.
in January 1938, Vincennes was assigned to Cruiser Division ( CruDiv)
7, Scouting Force, and steamed through the Panama Canal to San Diego.
In March, the ship participated in Fleet Problem XIX in the Hawaiian
area before returning to San Pedro for operations off the west coast
for the remainder of the year. Following an overhaul at the Mare
Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., which lasted through April 1939,
the cruiser returned east, transited the Panama Canal on 6 June
in company with Quincy (CA-39), Tuscaloosa (CA-37), and San Francisco
(CA-38); and anchored in Hampton Roads on the 13th. For the next
two months, she operated out of Norfolk in the vicinity of the Chesapeake
lightship and the southern drill grounds. On 1 September 1939—the
day on which Hitler's legions marched into Poland and commenced
hostilities in Europe—Vincennes lay at anchor off Tompkinsville,
N.Y. She then began conducting Neutrality Patrols off the east coast,
ranging into the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Yueatan, and continued
these duties through the spring of 1940.
in May, as German troops were smashing Allied defenses in France,
Vincennes steamed to the Azores and visited Ponta Delgada from 4
to 6 June 1940 before she proceeded on for French Morocco to load
a shipment of gold for transport to the United States. While at
anchor at Casablanca, the ship received word of Italy's declaration
of war upon France, the "stab in the back" condemned by President
Roosevelt soon thereafter. Vincennes' commanding officer, Capt.
J. R. Beardall (later to become Naval Aide to the President) noted
subsequently in his official report of the cruise that "it was apparent
that the French bitterly resented this [the declaration of war]
and despised Italy for her actions."