Cities in South Carolina and West Virginia
(PG-51-: dp. 2,000; l. 328'6"; b. 41'3"; dr. 14'10"; s. 20 k.; cpl. 236' a. 4 6"; cl. Erie)
The fourth Charleston (PG-51) was launched 25 February 1936 by Charleston Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. C.L.B. Rivers; commissioned 8 July 1936, Captain R.K. Awtrey in command; and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.
Charleston sailed from Norfolk, Va., 24 February 1937 to join Squadron 40T, the special force in the Mediterranean created during the Spanish Civil War to patrol and guard American interests. With this squadron she visited Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia; Trieste and Naples, Italy; and Algiers before returning to Charleston, S.C., for overhaul 24 April. On 9 July, she left Charleston for Balboa, C.Z., where she became flagship of the Special Service Squadron, carrying out a varied program of exercises and battle practice in the Panama area until 1 March 1938, when she stood north for Charleston.
Returning to the Caribbean again between 21 April and 3 October 1938, and between 4 January 1939 and 27 June 1940, Charleston joined in Army-Navy maneuvers, conducted off-shore patrols, and created good will by visits to Central American and Mexican ports. During the second of these cruises, she again served as flagship. On 8 September 1490 Charleston cleared Norfolk, Va., for Seattle, Wash., and duty as flagship for Commander, Alaskan Sector, 13th Naval District. From 6 November 1940 to 27 November 1941, she made five cruises from Seattle north to Aleutian and Alaskan waters, to guard this long section of American coastline.
Upon the entry of the United States into World War II, Charleston intensified the schedule of patrol and convoy escort duties necessary to protect this far-northern region, and except for four voyages to west coast ports for maintenance, she operated from Dutch Harbor or Kodiak throughout the war. Along with her escort and patrol duties, she carried out such missions as landing reconnaissance parties, aiding stricken ships, and taking part in the operations at Attu, which was assaulted 11 May 1943. Two days later, Charleston arrived to bring her fire power to support Army troops ashore, bombarding Chichagof Harbor, and screening the transports lying off the island. During the attack of Japanese bombers on 22 May, she evaded aerial torpedoes by radical maneuvering, while splashing one enemy plane and helping to drive off the others. She provided call fire until the island was secured, and supported its occupation through convoy escort runs between Attu and Adak.
At the close of the war, Charleston prepared for Far Eastern duty, and on 25 November 1945 arrived at Hong Kong. She also visited Shanghai before returning to San Francisco 4 March 1946. Here she was decommissioned 10 May 1946 and transferred to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy 24 March 1948.
Charleston received one battle star for World War II service.