A Brief History of U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers
Sources: United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1970 [NAVAIR 00-80P-1]
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
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Dec. 7, 1941 - Carrier aircraft of the Japanese Imperial Navy launched a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor and on the military and air installations in the area. The three aircraft carriers of the Pacific Fleet were not present. USS Saratoga (CV 3), just out of overhaul, was moored at San Diego. USS Lexington (CV 2) was at sea about 425 miles southeast of Midway toward which she was headed to deliver a Marine Scout Bombing Squadron. USS Enterprise (CV 6) was also at sea, about 200 miles west of Pearl Harbor, returning from Wake Island where she had delivered a Marine Fighter Squadron. Her Scouting Squadron, launched early in the morning and headed to Ewa Airfield, arrived over Pearl Harbor during the attack and immediately went into action in defense of the naval base. The carrier, meanwhile, launched her remaining aircraft in a fruitless search for the Japanese striking force. She put into Pearl Harbor on Dec. 8 for fuel and supplies and sailed early the next morning to patrol against possible additional attacks on the Hawaiian Islands. While the group did not encounter any surface ships, Enterprise aircraft sunk the submarine I-170 on 10 Dec. This submarine was one of those used to scout the Hawaiian area in conjunction with the attack and was the first Japanese combatant sunk in World War II by U.S. aircraft.
Last Update: 15 June 2009