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World of Warships Final Review: U.S. Tier VIII Premium Cruiser San Diego

8 min read

Ladies and Gentlemen, starting from July 1st, San Diego, the new U.S. tier VIII Premium Cruiser will become available. You will either be able to get the ship as part of consecutive bundles for 11 300 doubloons or alternatively, you will be able to get her in the premium shop. The most basic package should cost 37,17€.

Is she worth it? Are we getting a ship able to show her stars and stripes with pride? Here is my opinion on it.

Historical background

USS San Diego (CL-53) was an Atlanta-class light cruiser of the United States Navy. The ship was laid down in March 1940, launched in July 1941, and commissioned in January 1942. San Diego stands as one of the most decorated ships in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War with a total of 18 battle stars, serving in the Pacific theater.

While the ship would miss the Battle of Midway as she was busy escorting the USS Saratoga, she would dive into action during the Invasions of the Solomons. Sadly, she would be witness to the sinking of USS Wasp and later USS Hornet. Her anti-air would then serve the big sister USS Enterprise during the Battle of Guadalcanal. The ship would then continue to serve for the rest of the war as an anti-air escort. She would also have the occasion to play an artillery support role, shelling the island of Minami Daito Jima.

San Diego, on the 27th of August 1945, was the first Allied warship to enter Tokyo Bay and assisted in the occupation of the Yokosuka Naval Base and the surrender of the battleship Nagato.
Her last action in the Pacific would be as part of Operation Magic Carpet, bringing American troops back home.

After almost 5 years of active service, San Diego was decommissioned in November 1946 and would later be sold for scrap in December 1960.

If you want to know more about the Atlanta-class as a whole, here is a video from Drachinifel about it:

Ship’s preview

Ship’s commemorative flag

The camouflages

The permanent camouflage of the San Diego provides the classic bonuses for tier VIII ships:

  • -3% to surface detectability range
  • +4% to maximum dispersion of shells fired by the enemy at your ship
  • -10% to the cost of ship’s post-battle service
  • +50% to experience earned in the battle

You can also obtain the 1776 permanent camouflage that gives the same bonuses as the normal permanent camouflage except for the Freedom that increases by 1000%:

The Good and the Bad

The Good

  • Heavy broadside of 14 guns
  • Fast reload
  • SAP shells with 36 mm penetration
  • Much better ballistics than most 127 mm guns
  • Good firing angles
  • Tight turning radius
  • Good concealment
  • Strong anti-air thanks to the special Defensive AA Fire
  • Access to the Main Battery Reload Booster consumable
  • Access to the Repair Party consumable
  • Defensive AA Fire and Hydroacoustic Search consumables in separated slots

The Bad

  • Short firing range
  • Weak against angled targets
  • Torpedoes have limited use due to the short firing range
  • Low HP pool
  • 16 mm plating covering most of the ship
  • 32 mm turret armor leading to them getting disabled easily
  • Fragile engines and steering gears
  • Unimpressive maximum speed

Modules

Hull
Engine
Gun Fire Control System
Main battery
Torpedoes

icon_module_Hull_installed

San Diego

icon_module_Engine_installed

Propulsion: 75 000 HP

icon_module_Suo_installed

‎‎Mk8 mod. 1

icon_module_Artillery_installed

127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.29 mount

icon_module_Torpedoes_installed

Mk15 mod. 3

General Characteristics and Playstyle

Tier VIII
Health 27 900 HP
Torpedo Damage Reduction 0 %
Displacement 8 470 tons
Dimensions
Overall length 165.05 m
Beam 16.2 m
Overall height (keel to the highest point on the ship) 23.0 m
Freeboard 5.5 m
Main Armament
Maximum Firing Range 14.820 km
127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.29 mount 8 x 2 127 mm
Torpedo Armament
Maximum Firing Range 4.500 km
533 mm Mk31 2 x 4 533 mm
Maximum speed 32.5 knots
Turning Circle Radius 610 m
Rudder Shift Time 7.3 s
Surface Detectability 11.78 km
Air Detectability 7.16 km
Detectability After Firing Main Guns in Smoke 5.13 km
Consumables
Slot 1
Slot 2
Slot 3
Slot 4
Slot 5
Damage Control Party
consumable_PCY009_CrashCrewPremiumWork time: 5 s
Cooldown: 60 s
Repair Party
Number of charges: 3
Work time: 28 s
Cooldown: 80 s
HP regeneration speed: +0.5%/s
Casemate damage regeneration: 50%
Citadel damage regeneration: 50%
Hydroacoustic Search
consumable_PCY016_SonarSearchPremiumNumber of charges: 3
Work time: 100 s
Cooldown: 120 s
Torpedo spotting range: 3.5 km
Ship spotting range: 5.0 km
Defensive AA Fire

Number of charges: 3
Work time: 30 s
Cooldown: 60 s
Damage from continuous DPS: +100%
Damage from flak explosions: +300%
Main Battery Reload Booster
Number of charges: 2
Work time: 15 s
Cooldown: 180 s
Effect: -33.3% Main battery reload time

Let’s cut straight to the point, Sandy is an absolute blast to play.

In terms of archetype, the closest you get is Atlanta but unlike her, San Diego has to work with SAP shells which is both a blessing and a curse. The 36 mm penetration offers you a much greater range of targets to damage but dealing with heavily angled ships will be a great pain in the ass. In return though, she gets much greater freedom of movement thanks to the addition of a Repair Party consumable which allows her to play a lot more in the open instead of being stuck behind islands. Also, her 127 mm guns have great ballistics, making it easy to hit enemy ships at long range and it won’t be a struggle to deal with kiting targets.
Generally speaking, thanks to her great agility, low concealment, and Repair Party consumable, the ship can actually be played fairly aggressively to support your destroyers or get to advantageous positions. Obviously, it’s still an Atlanta hull and if you aren’t careful enough, you will still explode so keep that in mind.

Outside of her great performances as a DPS source, the ship also brings appreciable utility with the Hydroacoustic Search and a genuinely strong anti-air. As a cherry on top, unlike her sisters, she gets a 7 km range ASW airstrikes instead of depth charges to deal with submarines.

If you want to see the ship in action, here is a commented replay:

Main Armament

8 x 2 127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.29 mount
 Maximum Firing Range 14.820 km
 Reloading Time 5.5 s
180 Degree Turn Time 7.2 s
Optimal firing angles at the front 32°
Optimal firing angles at the rear 31°
Sigma 2.05 sigma
Maximum Dispersion 135 m
Shells
Type of Projectile SAP – 127 mm SC Mk38
Alpha Damage 1 800
Penetration capacity 36 mm
Projectile Speed 792 m/s
Air Drag 0.27
Projectile Mass 25.0 kg
Ricochet Angles 60° – 75°
Type of Projectile AP – 127 mm AP/SC Mk38 Mod 2
Alpha Damage 2 100
Projectile Speed 792 m/s
Air Drag 0.21
Projectile Mass 27.0 kg
Projectile Krupp 2 598
Projectile Detonator 0.01 s
Detonator threshold 21 mm
Ricochet Angles 45° – 60°

San Diego’s firepower is absolutely no joke. With her combined fourteen guns broadside, SAP shells, and fast reload, she can make quick work of enemy ships not angling properly against her. On top of that, the ship was given a Main Battery Reload Booster consumable to give her an extra kick when something needs to die fast. Any destroyer or lightly armored cruiser showing broadside to her will have a very bad day, getting melted away quickly.

Unlike the usual American 127 mm guns with lazy ballistics, the guns on San Diego actually bless you with particularly comfortable shell travel time. This allows you to exploit her firing range to the maximum, even against enemy cruisers. This also leads to her getting decent AP performances, making it a solid ammunition choice when enemy cruisers or battleships offer a lot of broadside below 10 km.

Torpedo Armament

2 x 4 533 mm Quad
Mk15 mod. 3
Reloading Time 87 s
Maximum Distance 4.500 km
Optimal firing angles at the front 32°
Optimal firing angles at the rear 29°
Damage 16 633
Flooding Chance 279%
Speed 65 knots
Surface Detectability 1.3 km

The torpedoes of San Diego are more of an emergency tool than anything else. Because of their very short firing range, the opportunity to use them will be far and few. Obviously, whenever you get in a close-range engagement or have to peek around an island, these torpedoes will be useful and might simply save your bacon.

Anti-air Armament

8 x 2 127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.29 mount
Sector range 0.1 km – 5.8 km
Hit chance 90 %
Sector’s damage 48
Sector’s damage frequency 0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second 168
Flak clouds number 7
Flak cloud damage 1 540
1 x 4 40 mm Bofors on a Mk.2 mount
3 x 2 40 mm Bofors on a Mk.1 mount
Sector range 0.1 km – 3.5 km
Hit chance 90 %
Sector’s damage 26
Sector’s damage frequency 0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second 91
15 x 1 20 mm Oerlikon on a Mk.4 mount
Sector range 0.1 km – 2.0 km
Hit chance 85 %
Sector’s damage 33
Sector’s damage frequency 0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second 116

The anti-air of San Diego is actually surprisingly strong. For starters, her long-range DPS is one of the highest at tier VIII and she also generates one of the best flak barrages at this tier.
However, the medium and close-range auras don’t look anything impressive.

Everything comes down to one specific gimmick, her Defensive AA Fire. She gets the same version as U.S. destroyers which grants +100% constant DPS instead of +50%. Because of this high DPS buff combined with her intense flak barrage to already weaken enemy squadrons, she just shreds tier VI and tier VIII carrier planes. Obviously, for tier X, it’s another story but she is still nothing to ignore.

The Armor

San Diego presents the same armor scheme as Atlanta. The only real differences are that the superstructure goes from 10 mm to 13 mm armor and the hull goes from 13 mm to 16 mm.

External armor protection:

Front and rear armor protection of the middle section:

Citadel armor protection:

Final Opinion

San Diego, even though she went through countless nerfs during testing remains a very strong tier VIII premium. That just says how overpowered she was when she entered testing on the live server. Even after getting sledgehammered, the ship remains an absolute blast, being both fun to play and a strong ship to carry games. Obviously, due to her nature as a small light cruiser, she isn’t something that I would recommend for beginners but other than that, just go for it.

As a side note, alongside the ship, a special commander will be released called Statue of Liberty.

All I can say is, if you can, get that commander. She doesn’t get any special skill or anything but her voiceover is simply amazing and a pleasant change from what we are used to.

Recommended Build

For the San Diego, I recommend the following commander build and upgrades:

When it comes to Focus Fire Training, feel free to pick something else, may it be Priority Target or Consumable Enhancement. San Diego is in my opinion one of the rare ships where having an AA skill is actually fine though. Also, Halsey with his talents or Ovechkin with his improved Survivability Expert are worth picking for this ship.

This concludes my review of the San Diego. Thank you for reading this article!

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Have a good one and see you soon!

Also if you are new to the game or want to get back to it, feel free to use my Recruiting Station code for free goodies such as Premium ships, premium time, and more: https://warships.net/yuzorah

Have a good one and see you soon!