The U.S.S. HELENA is named after the city of Helena, the capital of Montana. She is the third ship of this name. The new HELENA is a 13,000-ton 8-inch gun cruiser.

The first U.S.S. HELENA, a light draft gunboat, was launched in 1896. For 35 years the original HELENA enjoyed an honorable position in the ranks of the defenders of our sea frontiers. She participated in attacks upon enemy forces during the Spanish-American War and Philippine campaign. She was later engaged in patrol duty in Chinese waters. She was stricken from the Navy list in 1932.

The second U.S.S. HELENA, a light cruiser, was launched in 1939. Damaged at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, she returned to service for more than a year, trading blows with the Japanese Fleet in the South Pacific. Her guns hurled destruction at the Japanese often enough to earn her the title of "the fightin'est ship". She was sunk by enemy torpedoes in the Battle of Kula Gulf on July 7, 1943. As a result of her brilliant action against the enemy, she was awarded the Navy Unit Citation, the first to be awarded any ship.


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