SALT LAKE CITY — Earning the nickname "One Ship Fleet," the USS Salt Lake City unofficially fought in more battles than any other ship in the World War II Pacific Fleet.
The ship, known as a heavy cruiser, operated with the USS Enterprise task group on Dec. 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States got involved in WWII. It fought in many battles in the Pacific, including the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns, until it was decommissioned in 1946.
In honor of the ship and those who served on it, the University of Utah football program unveiled a new uniform and a hand-painted helmet it will wear on Nov. 20 when it hosts Oregon at Rice-Eccles Stadium in what has been dubbed a "military appreciation" game.
As seen in a video posted on Twitter, the uniform is dark grey with "dazzle-camo accents" on the shoulders and sides of the pants. It also features a single battle star on the right shoulder — 11 altogether when the team is on the field — that represents the 11 battle stars the ship earned in its 19-year history before it was sunk in 1948 as a decommissioned target for weapons.
The helmets are hand painted and depict one of the battles the USS Salt Lake City fought in over its lifetime. And Utah's interlocking U's have been added to the pant leg to tie "the university and the team with the ship."
The USS Salt Lake City was built in Camden, New Jersey, in December 1929 and had CL-25 as its original hull number before switching to CA-25 in 1931. The cruiser, which featured three, 8-inch guns on the bow, spent the first two years in the Atlantic before moving to the Pacific where it spent much of its time.
The cruiser participated in several raids, including the Doolittle raid on Japan in 1942, and escorted the USS Wasp before the Wasp was sunk by a Japanese submarine. It was also used in several battles in the north Pacific from 1943-44 before participating in the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns in 1945.