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A Brief History
of U.S. Navy
Aircraft Carriers

Part III — Post War (1945-1949)

Sources: United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1970 [NAVAIR 00-80P-1]

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
All images below are hyperlinked to larger images for better viewing. All images are official Navy photographs.

Sep. 10, 1945 - USS Midway (CVB 41), first of the 45,000 ton class aircraft carriers, was placed in commission at Newport News, Va., Capt. Joseph F. Bolger in command.
Oct. 27, 1945 - USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB 42) commissioned, Capt. Apollo Soucek in command. The ship was launched Apr. 29, 1945, as Coral Sea at the New York Naval Shipyard but was renamed Franklin D. Roosevelt on May 8, 1945, in honor of the 32nd President who had led the country through the war and who had died on Apr. 12, 1945.
Nov. 18, 1945 - USS Princeton (CV 37) commissioned, Capt. John M. Hoskins, commanding. The ship was originally laid down as Valley Forge at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard Sept. 14, 1943, and renamed Princeton Nov. 21, 1944. She was launched Jul. 8, 1945.
Dec. 8, 1945 - USS Tarawa (CV 40) commissioned, Capt. Alvin I. Malstrom, commanding.
Mar. 2, 1946 - USS Kearsarge (CV 33) commissioned at the New York Naval Shipyard, Capt. Francis J. McKenna in command.
Apr. 11, 1946 - USS Leyte (CV 32) commissioned, Capt. Henry F. MacComsey, commanding. The ship was originally laid down as Crown Point Feb. 21, 1944, at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., and renamed Leyte on May 8, 1945.
Apr. 29, 1946 - USS Hancock (CV 19) steamed to Seattle, Wash., 29 April to await inactivation. She was decommissioned and entered the reserve fleet at Bremerton, Wash.
May 11, 1946 - USS Philippine Sea (CV 47) commissioned, Capt. D.S. Cornwell in command. The ship was laid down by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass., Aug. 19, 1944, and launched Sept. 5, 1945.
Jul. 1, 1946 - Operation Crossroads. Tests to determine the effects of atomic bombs on naval targets were conducted at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. In the first test, the bomb was dropped from a B-29 at 30,000 feet on ships anchored in the lagoon. Five sank outright and nine others were heavily damaged. A shallow underwater burst on July 25 raised the number of ships sunk to 32. Among the ships in these tests were USS Saratoga (CV 3) and USS Independence (CV 22). Expanded information
Jul. 14, 1946 - USS Saipan (CVL 48) commissioned, Capt. John G. Crommelin in command.
Jul. 21, 1946 - In the first U.S. test of the adaptability of jet aircraft to shipboard operations, an FD-1 Phantom, piloted by Cmdr. James Davidson made successful landing and take-offs on board USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB 42).
Aug. 6 - Oct. 4, 1946 - USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB 42) deploys to the Mediterranean Sea. The carrier makes a port visit at Athens, reemphasizing U.S. support of the pro-Western Greek government, involved in a civil war against Communist insurgents. This was the earliest example of forward presence.
Nov. 3, 1946 - USS Valley Forge (CV 45) commissioned, Capt. John W. Harris, commanding. The ship, laid down Sept. 7, 1944, by the Philadelphia Navy Yard, was built with money raised by the citizens of Philadelphia in a special war bond drive. She was launched Nov. 18, 1944.
Jan. 9, 1947 - USS Essex (CV 9) was placed out of commission in reserve. The first of the World War II carriers to do so, she then underwent modernization which gave her a new flight deck, and a streamlined island superstructure. She was recommissioned Jan. 16, 1951, Capt. A. W. Wheelock commanding.
Jan. 29, 1947 - From a position 660 miles off the Antarctic continent, USS Philippine Sea (CV 47) launched the first of six R4D transport aircraft to Little America. The first plane off was also the first carrier take off of an R4D. It was piloted by Cmdr. William M. Hawkes with Rear Adm. Richard E. Byrd as a passenger.
Feb. 9, 1947 - USS Wright (CVL 49) commissioned, Capt. Frank T. Ward, commanding. The ship was laid down Aug. 21, 1944, by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J., and launched Sept. 1, 1945.
Feb 11, 1947 - USS Langley (CVL 27) was decommissioned at Philadelphia and transferred to France under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program Jan. 8, 1951. She was renamed La Fayette by the French. She was returned to the U.S. Mar. 20, 1963, and sold to the Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md., for scrapping.
Jun. 4, 1947 - The CNO approved "Project 27A" by which Essex-class carriers were modernized to be able to handle aircraft to 40,000 pounds and included the installation of two H-8 catapults, strengthening the flight deck and clearing it of guns, increasing elevator capacity and adding special provisions for jet aircraft such as blast deflectors. USS Oriskany (CV 34), the first of nine carriers modernized under this project, began conversion at the New York Naval Shipyard on 1 Oct. 1947.
Oct. 1, 1947 - USS Coral Sea (CVB 43) commissioned, Capt. A. P. Storrs III, in command. The ship was launched Apr. 2, 1946, at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, Va.
May 5, 1948 - Fighter Squadron 17-A, equipped with 16 FH-1 Phantoms, becomes the first carrier qualified jet squadron in the U.S. Navy. The squadron qualified during three days of operations aboard USS Saipan (CVL 48).
Jul. 29, 1948 - President Truman approved construction of a "supercarrier", a 65,000-ton ship subsequently named United States (CV 58), for which funds had been provided in the Naval Appropriations Act 1949.
Apr. 23, 1949 - Construction of the United States was halted by order of the Secretary of Defense.

Information & Graphics Courtesy of U.S. Navy


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