U.S. Navy - A Brief History of Aircraft Carriers, Part IV

The Carriers header
A Brief History of U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers
Part IV - Korea and the 1950s

Sources: United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1995 [Naval Historical Center]
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

All images below are hyperlinked to larger images for better viewing. All images are official Navy photographs.


  Feb. 7, 1950 - In a demonstration of carrier long-range attack capabilities, a P2V-3C Neptune, Cmdr. Thomas Robinson in command, took off from USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB 42) off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla. The Neptune flew over Charleston, S.C., the Bahamas, the Panama Canal, up the coast of Central America, over Mexico, and landed on Feb. 8, at San Francisco's Municipal Airport. The flight, covering 5,060 miles in 25 hrs. 59 min., was the longest ever made from a carrier deck.
 
  Jun. 25, 1950 - Korean Conflict begins.
 
picture, caption follows   Jul. 3, 1950 - USS Valley Forge (CV 45) launched the first carrier air strikes in Korea.
 
picture, caption follows   Jul. 23, 1950 - With the outbreak of the Korean conflict, USS Boxer (CV 21) was pressed into service to carry planes to the fighting. During 14-22 Jul. 1950 she made a record crossing of the Pacific, 81/2 days, with 150 Air Force and Navy planes and a thousand troops. On her return trip (27 Jul.-4 Aug.), she cut the record to 7 days, 10 hours, and 36 minutes.
 
picture, caption follows   Aug. 5, 1950 - USS Valley Forge (CV 45) and USS Philippine Sea (CV 47) began what was to become almost three years of continuous carrier operation in Korea, with attacks on enemy lines of communication and close support missions.
 
picture, caption follows   Apr. 2, 1951 - Two F9F-2B Panthers of VF-191, each loaded with four 250- and two 100-pound general purpose bombs, flew from USS Princeton (CV 37) for an attack on a railroad bridge near Songjin. This was the first Navy use of a jet fighter as a bomber.
 
picture, caption follows   Aug. 23, 1951 - USS Essex (CV 9) went into combat in Korea. She was the first carrier to launch F2H Banshee twinjet fighters on combat missions. On 16 Sept. 1951 one of these planes, damaged in combat, crashed into aircraft parked on the forward flight deck causing an explosion and fire which killed seven. After repairs at Yokosuka, Essex returned to frontline action on 3 Oct. to launch strikes up to the Yalu River and provide close air support for U.N. troops.
 
  Feb. 1, 1952 - The CNO approved a modification of Project 27A. These changes included more powerful arresting gear, higher performance catapults, and a replacement of the number three center line elevator with a deck-edge type of greater capacity. Three Essex-class carriers incorporating these modifications were completed under Project 27C.
 
  May 26-29, 1952 - Tests proving the feasibility of an angled flight deck were conducted aboard USS Midway (CVB 41) using a simulated angle deck.
 
picture, caption follows   Sept. 1, 1952 - One hundred forty-four aircraft from USS Boxer (CV 21), USS Essex (CV 9) and USS Princeton (CV 37) strike and destroy the oil refinery at Aoji, North Korea. This is the largest carrier raid of the Korean Conflict.
 
  Oct. 1, 1952 - Aircraft carriers designated CV and CVB were reclassified as Attack Carriers and assigned the designation CVA.
 
picture, caption follows   Jan. 12, 1953 - Test operations begin on USS Antietam (CVA 36) which emerged in Dec. 1952 from the New York Naval Shipyard as America's first angled-deck aircraft carrier. The first landing was made by the ship's commanding officer, Capt. S.G. Mitchell, in an SNJ.
 
picture, caption follows   Oct. 16, 1953 - Thirty-seven men killed by an explosion and fire aboard USS Leyte (CVS 32) at the Boston Naval Shipyard. The ship was under conversion to a CVS. The explosion occurred in the port catapult machinery room. Within minutes, shipyard and city fire trucks were on the scene but the fire took four hours to be extinguished. There were also 28 injured.
 
  Apr. 9, 1954 - USS Bataan (CVL 29) decommissioned at San Francisco.
 
picture, caption follows   May 26, 1954 - At 0611, while USS Bennington (CVA 20) was cruising off Narragansett Bay, the fluid in one of her catapults exploded, setting off a series of secondary explosions which killed 103 crewmen and injured 201 others. Bennington proceeded under her own power to Quonset Point, R.I., to land her planes. Moving to the New York Naval Shipyard for repairs, she was completely rebuilt during 12 Jun. 1954-19 Mar. 1955.
 
picture, caption follows   June 1, 1954 - Operational testing of the C-11 steam catapult begin. USS Hancock (CVA 19) had been recommissioned Feb. 15, 1954, Capt. W. S. Butts in command. She was the first carrier of the U.S. Navy with steam catapults capable of launching high performance jets.
 
  Feb. 24, 1955 - The CNO directed that the term "angled" be used describe the deck of aircraft carriers in which the landing runway was offset from the line of the keel. Other terms which had been used were "canted", "slanted", and "flamed".
 
  May 12, 1955 - Classification of Navy ships was revised to provide the designation CVHE for Escort Helicopter Aircraft Carrier and CVU for Utility Aircraft Carrier.
 
picture, caption follows   Oct. 1, 1955 - USS Forrestal (CVA 59), the first of four ships of her class and the Navy's first supercarrier was placed in commission at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Va., Capt. R. L. Johnson in command. The keel was laid Jul. 14, 1952, at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, Va.
 
  Oct. 3-10, 1955 - USS Saipan (CVL 48) with embarked Helicopter Training Unit One (HTU 1) provided disaster relief to the residents of Tampico, Mexico. The helicopters rescued 5,439 people marooned on rooftops and trees and delivered 183,017 pounds of food.
 
picture, caption follows   Jan. 16, 1956 - USS Monterey (CVL 26) decommissioned at Philadelphia. She was reclassified AVT 2 on May 15, 1959.
 
picture, caption follows   Mar. 15, 1956 - USS Wright (CVL 49) decommissioned at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash. She was converted and recommissioned May 11, 1963, as a command ship (CC 2), Capt. John L. Arrington II, in command. She served as a communications ship until May 27, 1970, when she was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
 
picture, caption follows   Apr. 14, 1956 - USS Saratoga (CVA 60) is commissioned, Capt. R. J. Stroh, commanding. The ship was laid down Dec. 16, 1952, by the New York Naval Shipyard and launched Oct. 8, 1955.
 
  May 29, 1956 - The ship designation system was modified to include the suffix "(N)" to identify ships propelled by nuclear power.
 
picture, caption follows   Jul. 20, 1956 - USS Thetis Bay (CVHA-1), first helicopter assault carrier, commissioned at San Francisco, Capt. T. W. South III, commanding. Formerly CVE 90, the ship was reclassified as an Assault Helicopter Aircraft Carrier on July 1, 1955, and converted to operate helicopters and to accommodate 1,000 Marine combat troops to be flown ashore in amphibious assault.
 
picture, caption follows   Oct. 2, 1956 - USS Enterprise (CV 6) was ordered stricken from the Navy list and sold for scrap. Enterprise was in more action in World War II than any other carrier. She had been decommissioned following the war and laid up at Bayonne, N.J.
 
  Apr. 21, 1957 - USS Antietam (CVA 36) reported for duty to the Chief of Naval Air Training at Pensacola, Fla., providing the first angled-deck carrier for use in flight training.
 
picture, caption follows   May 17, 1957 - USS Badoeng Strait (CVE 116), the last escort carrier in service, was decommissioned at Bremerton, Wash.
 
  Jun. 6, 1957 - Two F8U Crusaders and two A3D Skywarriors flew nonstop from USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA 31) off the California coast to USS Saratoga (CVA 60) off the coast of Florida. This was the first transcontinental, carrier-to-carrier flight.
 
picture, caption follows   Aug. 10, 1957 - USS Ranger (CVA 61) is commissioned at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Capt. Charles T. Booth II, in command. The ship was laid down Aug. 2, 1954, at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., and launched Sept. 26, 1956.
 
  Aug. 12, 1957 - An F3D Skyknight, with Lieut. Cmdr. Don Walker aboard, was landed on USS Antietam (CVA 36) at sea off Pensacola, Fla., by the Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS). This landing began the first shipboard test of the ACLS, designed to bring planes aboard in all weather conditions without help from the pilot. By 20 Aug., 50 fully automatic landings were completed.
 
picture, caption follows   Oct. 3, 1957 - USS Saipan (CVL 48), the last of the light carriers, was decommissioned in Bayonne, N.J. She underwent a conversion at the Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Co. She was reclassified a Communications Major Relay ship and designated AGMR 2. On Apr. 8, 1965, she was renamed Arlington in honor of Arlington County, Va., site of one of the Navy's first wireless test stations. Arlington was commissioned Aug. 27, 1966, in Norfolk and served in Vietnam. She was decommissioned Jan. 14, 1970.
 
  Jul. 15, 1958 - Aircraft from USS Essex (CVA 9) flew cover for 1,800 Marines landing on a beach near Beirut to support the Lebanese government and to protect Americans.
 
  Dec. 28, 1958 - USS Philippine Sea (CVS 47) decommissioned at Long Beach, Ca., redesignated AVT 11 on May 15, 1959, and struck from the Navy List on Dec. 1, 1969.
 
picture, caption follows   Jan. 10, 1959 - USS Independence (CVA 62) commissioned, Capt. R. Y. McElroy, commanding. The ship was launched Jun. 6, 1958, by the New York Navy Yard.
 
  May 7, 1959 - The classification of 36 escort carriers, designated CVE, CVU, and CVHE, was changed to AKV, Cargo Ship, and Aircraft Ferry. The change was accompanied by a change in hull numbers and marked the end of the escort carrier as a combatant ship in the U.S. Navy.
 
  May 15, 1959 - The classification of four support carriers, CVS, and seven light carriers, CVL, was changed to Auxiliary Aircraft Transport, AVT. This change removed the CVL designation from the Navy Vessel Register.
 
  May 15, 1959 - USS Leyte (CVS 32) redesignated as AVT-10 and decommissioned at the New York Navy Yard.

Last Update: 15 June 2009