CV-47 USS Philippine Sea - History

CV-47 USS Philippine Sea - History

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USS America CV 66


(CV-66: dp. 80,800 (f.); 1. 1,047'6"; b. 130'; e. w. 249'; dr. 35'7 s.20+ k.; cpl. 4,582; a. 4 Terrier; act 70+; cl. Kttty Hawk)

The third America (CV-66) was laid down on 1 January 1961 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corp., Iaunched on 1 Februarv 1964 sponsored by Mrs. David L. McDonald, wife of Admiral David L. McDonald the Chief of Naval Operations; and commissioned at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 23 January 1965, Capt. Lawrence Heyworth, Jr., in command.

After fitting out there until 15 March 1965, America remained in Hampton Roads for operations off the Virginia capes until getting underway on 25 March. She conducted her first catapult launch on 5 April 1965, with Comdr. Kenneth B. Austin, the carrier's executive officer, piloting a Douglas A 4C "Skyhawk." Proceeding thence to the Caribbean, the carrier conducted shakedown training and concluded it at Guantanamo Bay on 23 June.

Entering the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for post-shakedown availability on 10 July, she remained there until 21 August. She next operated locally through late August and then proceeded to the operating areas off the Virginia capes and to Bermuda arriving back at Norfolk on 9 September. On 25 September, Rear Admiral J. O. Cobb broke his flag as Commander, Carrier Division (CarDiv) 2.

America sailed for her first Mediterranean deployment late in 1965. New Year's Day, 1966, found her at Livorno, Italy. Over the ensuing weeks, the ship visited Cannes, France; Genoa, Italy Toulon, France, Athens, Greece, Istanbul, Turkey, Beirut Lebanon, Valletta Malta, Taranto, Italy, Palma, Majorca, Spain and Pollensa Bay, Spain. She sailed on 1 July for the united States. Early in the deployment, from 28 February to 10 March Amerzca participated in a joint Franco-American exercise "Fairgame IV," which simulated conventional warfare against a country attempting to invade a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Oragnization) ally. She arrived at NOB, Norfolk, on 10 July remaining there for only a short time before shifting to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 15 July for availability.

America operated locally in the Norfolk area from 29 August to 19 September, after which time she proceeded to Guantanamo Bay to carry out training. After Hurricane "lnez" swirled through
the region, her sailors spent an estimated 1,700 man-hours in helping the naval base at Guantanamo to recover and return to normal operations.

The following month, America initiated into carrier service the Ling-Temco-Vought A-7A "Corsair II", conducting its flight qualifications off the Virginia capes, while she also conducted automatic carrier landing system trials which demonstrated the feasability of "no hands" landings of McDonnell-Douglas F-4 "Phantom" and Vought F-8 "Crusader" aircraft

From 28 November to 15 December, America took port in "LANTFLEX 66," gaining experience in the areas of antiair antisubmarine, and carrier strike operations. The ship also participated in a mine drop, missile shoots, and provided air support for amphibious operations. She returned to NOB Norfolk on 15 December, remaining there through the end of the year 1966.

On 10January 1967, America departed Norfolk for her second Mediterranean cruise and relieved Independence (CV-62) at Pollensa Bay on 22 January. While crossing the Atlantic, America conducted: carrier qualifications for her SH-3A crews, missile shoots in the mid-Atlantic, day and night air operations and various other exercises. Upon nearing Gibraltar she received a visit from Soviet long-range reconnaissance aircraft, Tupelov TU-95 "Bears" on 18 January. Two F - B "Phantom" jets met the "Bears" as they approached and escorted them past the ship.

Before anchoring at Athens, on 4 February, America participated with Italian control and reporting centers in an interceptcontroller exercise. Shortly afterwards, America again met with Italian forces in an exercise involving raids upon an attack carrier by fast patrol boats.

The beginning of March found America and her consorts operating as Task Group (TG) 60.1, participating in the United States/United Kingdom Exercise "Poker Hand IV" with the British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. America and Hermes provided raid aircraft to test each other's antiaircraft defenses.

On 1 April, "Dawn Clear," a two-day NATO exercise, commenced with TG 60.1 units participating. During the first day America provided raid aircraft against Greek and Turkish "targets." The following day, the exercise continued as Greek aircraft flew raids against TG 60.1 surface units. Following "Dawn Clear," the ship conducted routine training operations in the Ionian Sea.

America anchored at Valletta at 1000 on 5 April for a five-day visit. Weighing anchor on 10 April, the carrier departed Malta to sail for task group operations m the Ionian Sea. She conducted an open sea missile exercise with the guided missile destroyers Josephus Daniels (DIG-27) and Harry E. Yarnell (DLG-17). Other operational aspects of the at-sea period consisted of routine day/night flight operations and a major underway replenishment with other units of TG 60.1.

The following days saw the threat of civil war in Greece commencing with the military coup that ended parlimentary rule in that country. Although King Constantine II held his throne, the possibility of violence in the streets of Athens loomed as a potential threat to the American citizens suddenly caught up in the turmoil. It seemed that evacuation by ship might be necessary and Commander, 6th Fleet, ordered the formation of a special operations task force. Under the command of Rear Admiral Dick H. Guinn, TF 65, with America as flagship, sailed eastward to standby for evacuation, should that step be necessary. Fortunately, violence never materialized in Greece, and the task force was not called UPon to act. On 29 April, Rear Admiral Lawrence R. Geis relieved~ Rear Admiral Guinn as Commander, CarDiv 4 Commander, TF 60, Commander TF 65, and Commander TF 502 (NATO). With a new admiral on board, and the Greek political crisis behind her, America sailed into Taranto Harbor, Italy on the first day of May for eight days of relaxation. During three days of general visiting in Taranto America hosted 1 675 visitors who came aboard to tour the hangar and flight decks. America departed Taranto on 8 May for routine task group operations in the Ionian and Tyrrheman Seas; she followed these with a port visit to Livorno.

By 25 May, there was evidence that a crisis was brewing in the Middle East. America's crew, from reading the ship's paper, the Daily Eagle, could see that tensions between Israel and the Arab States had been rising fast. As soon as the ship was slated to finish with the last of her "Poop Deck" exercises, she would be heading back to the Sea of Crete.

For the next 48 hours Amerzca steamed east and south from the coast of Spain, through Malta Channel and on to the Sea of Crete to join up with the ships of TG 60.2, the carrier Saratoga (CVA40) and her destroyers. The carrier task force, under the command of Rear Admiral Geis, prepared for any contingency.

For the next week the officers and men of Arn erica listened to the nightly news report over WAMR-TV, the carrier's closed circuit television station, and read every bit of news in the Daily Eagle. Headlines told of a worsening situation. First, Egypt moved troops into the Gaza Strip, demanding that the United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Force be withdrawn. Then, Israel beefed up her forces and, in turn, each of the other Arab countries put her armed forces on alert. As war clouds darkened, the United Arab Republic closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping.

During this time, the carrier conducted normal training operations oh the island of Crete and held two major underway replenishment operations. On 5 June, seven American newsmen
from the wire services, the three major American television networks and several individual newspapers across the country flew on board. These seven were soon joined by others, 29 in all including media representatives from England, Greece, and West Germany.

Their presence was evident everywhere on board the carrier. They lined the signal bridge and the flight deck, their cameras recording the cycle of flight operations, refuelings, and the tempo of shipboard routine. At night, Robert Goralski of NBC News and Bill Gill of ABC News teamed up to present the WAMR "Gill-Goralski Report," a half-hour on the latest developments in the Mideast and around the world.

America's presence was soon noted, and the carrier soon attracted other, less welcome, visitors. A Soviet destroyer had Joined up on the morning of 2 June, armed with surface-to-air guided missiles, the Russian ship constantly cut in and out of the carrier's formation. Shortly afternoon on 7 June Vice Admiral William I. Martin, Commander 6th Fleet, sent the Soviet ship a message, in Russian and English: "Your actions for the past five days have interferred with our operations. By positionung your ship in the midst of our formation and shadowing our every move you are denying us the freedom of maneuver on the high seas that has been traditionally recognized by seafaring nations for centuries. "

"In a few minutes," the message continued "the task force will commence maneuvering at high speeds an] various courses Your present position will be dangerous to your ship as well as the ships of this force. I request you clear our formation without delay and discontinue your interference and unsafe practices." Although that particular Soviet guided missile destroyer left America alone, her sister ships soon arrived to dog them for days, harassing the carrier and her escorting destroyers.

On the morning of 5 June, while America was refueling from the oiler Truckee (AO-147), with the CarDiv 4 band and the "rock 'n' roll" combo of Truckee (A147) playing against one another the word came that the Israelis and the Arabs were at war. That afternoon the bosun's pipe called the crew to a general auarters drill, and the excitement of the moment was evident as all hands rushed to their battle stations. When general quarters was secured, the word was passed over the 1-MC, the ship-wide general announcement system, to set condition three, an advanced state of defensive readiness.

On 7June, the destroyer Lloyd Thomas (DD-761), in company with America, obtained a sonar contact which was class)fied as a "possible" submarine. Rear Admirai Geis immediately dispatched Lloyd Tlzomas and the gruided missile destroyer Sampson (DDG-10) to investigate the contact. Sampson obtained contact quickly and coordinated with Lloyd Thomas in tracking the pos- submarine.

America launched one of her antisubmarine helicopters, a Sikorsky SH-3A "Sea King" of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS) 9, and gained sonar contact. At midnight, the contact was reclassified as a "probable" submarine. At that time, no known or friendly submarines were reported to be in the area of the contact. The destroyers maintained good sonar contact through the night.

At 0530 on 8 June a Lockheed SP-2H Neptune antisubmarine patrol plane of Patrol Squadron (VP) 7, coordinating with the destroyers and helicopters, obtained a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) confirmation over the contact. The MAD equipment allows an ASW aircraft to confirm that a contact detected in the sea by other means is actually a very Iarge metal object.

Rear Admiral Geis announced the "probable" submarine's presence at noon. The newsmen still embarked, dashed off stories to their home offices. Other events, however, would soon overshadow the story about a 'probable' sub lurking near an American carrier task force.

At about 1400 local time, on 8 June 1967, the technical research ship Liberty (AGTR-5) was attacked by Israeli torpedo boats and Jet fighters, approximately 15 miles north of the Sinai port of El Arish, in international waters. She had been in position to assist in communications between United States diplomatic posts in the Mideast and to aid in the evacuation of American dependents from the area if necessary.

However, the first word that reached Amenca and the Department of Defense in Washington gave no indication as to the

identity of the attackers. Amerzca's flight deck came alive. In a matter of minutes, F-4B "Phantom" interceptors were in the air to ward off any possible attack against task force units. At the

same time, bombs and rockets moved from the magazines dee within the ship to the flight deck. Four Douglas A-4 "Skyhawk" attack bombers were loaded and launched together with fighter cover. As the planes sped towards Liberty's position, however word was received from Tel Aviv that the attackers had been Israeli and that the attack had been made in error. The planes outbound from Amerzca were recalled with their ordnance still in the racks.

The attack on Liberty had cost the lives of 34 men, with 75 wounded, 15 seriously. Admiral Martin dispatched two destroyers, Davis (DD-937) and Massey (DD-778), with Lt. Comdr Peter A. Flynn, MC, USN2 one of Amerzca's junior medical officers, and two corpsmen from the carrier on board. The destroyers rendezvoused with Liberty at 0600 on 9 June, and the medical personnel, including a second doctor from one of the destroyers, were transferred immediately to the damaged research ship.

At 1030, two helicopters from America rendezvoused with Liberty and began transferring the more seriously wounded to the carrier. An hour later, about 350 miles east of Souda Bay Crete, America rendezvoused with Liberty. The carrier's crew lined every topside vantage point, silent, watching the helicopters bring 50 wounded and nine dead from Liberty to Amerzca. As Liberty drew alongside, listing, her sides perforated with rockets and cannon shell, nearly 2,000 of the carrier's crew were on the flight deck and, spontaneously moved by the sight, gave the battered Liberty and her brave crew a tremendous cheer.

Amerzca's medical team worked around the clock removing shrapnel, and treating various wounds and burns. Doctors Gordon, Flynn and Lt. Donald P. Griffith, MC, worked for more than 12 hours in the operating room, while other doctors, Lt George A. Lucier and Lt. Frank N. Federico made continuous rounds in the wards to aid and comfort the wounded. Their jobs were not finished that day, for the next week and more, the Liberty's wounded required constant attention.

Since the fighting had started between the Israelis and the Arabs, a weary quiet had settled over the carrier's flight deck Ready, the ship waited for any possible situation, but the planes never left the decks.

However, as the Israeli forces moved to speedy victory in the "Six-Day War," the Arabs charged that 6th Fleet aircraft were providing air cover for Israeli ground forces. As witnessed and reported by the newsmen on board, these charges were completely false. The 6th Fleet, as with all other American forces, had remained neutral.

On Wednesday morning 7 June, Admiral Martin issued a statement to the press: "It would have been impossible for any aircraft from the 6th Fleet to have flown the support missions alleged by various Middle Eastern spokesmen . No aircraft of the 6th Fleet have been within a hundred miles of the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, specifically Israel and the UAR. Furthermore, no 6th Fleet aircraft has entered the territorial airspace of any Middle Eastern or North African nation during the current period of tension."

The admiral gave members of the press copies of both Amerzca's and Saratoga's flight plans for the days in question and a rundown of the task force's position at all times during the conflict. He pointed out that a check of the carriers' ordnance inventory would refute the charges, that both the number of pilots and aircraft embarked had changed only with the return of personnel and planes from the Paris Air Show.

Amerzca conducted a memorial service on 10 June, on the carrier's flight deck. The oft-repeated words of the Navy Hymn, of "those in peril on the sea, echoed across the wind-swept deck, possessing poignant meaning for those who were aware of Liberty's travail

As Israeli forces advanced towards the Suez Canal and the Jordan River, and appeals for a cease-fire came, the tension relaxed aboard shin. The crew took time out for an 11-bout boxing smoker in the~hangar bay. With a running commentary by the Gill-Goralski team, nearly 2,000 crew members crowded around the ring while others watched the action over closed circuit television. America continued on station for several more days, but the tension seemed to have gone. The newsmen left the uninvited Soviet guests called no more, and regular flight operations resumed. During the crisis, the presence of Am.erica and the 6th Fleet had demonstrated once again the power, mobility, and flexibility of sea power.

On a lighter note, during the same period, other activities were happening aboard ship, and in Paris, France. Two squadrons of CVW-6 participated in the 27th Paris Air Show held at the French capital's Le Bourget Airport from 25 May to 5 June. A Fighter Squadron (VF) 33 F-4B "Phantom" and an Early Warning Squadron (YAW) 122 Grumman E-2A "Hawkeye" were on dispIay at the airfield throughout the show.

America next hosted, commencing on 14 June, 49 midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy and Naval Reserve Of ficer Training Corps (NROTC) units across the country. For six weeks the "middies," under the watchful eyes of the ship's officers, filled junior officer billets in all of the departments in the ship. In late July, the second group of 41 "middies" arrived for their six-week cruise.

America transited the Dardanelles on 21 June and arrived at Istanbul, where Rear Admiral Geis Iaid a wreath at the foot of the grave of the Unknown Soldier as a tribute to the Turkish war dead. Three days later, however, a group of angry demonstrators burned the wreath. Then, approximately 600 students, with 1,500 spectators and sympathizers, participated in an antiAmerican/6th Fleet protest march, culminating in speeches in the area of the fleet landing. Liberty for the crew was canceled for most of the afternoon; however by early evening the situation had quieted down enough so that liberty could be resumed. All was peaceful for the remainder of the nsit.

America departed Istanbul on 26 June for five days of operations in the Aegean Sea. On 1 July, the carrier steamed into the port of Thessaloniki, Greece for her first visit to that port. For Independence Day celebrations aboard ship, Rear Admiral Geis and Amerzca's commanding officer, Capt. Donald D. Engen hosted the Prefect of Thessaloniki, the Mayor of Thessalomki the American Consul and approximately 75 Greek Army officers and civilians. On 8 July, Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery, USN (Ret.) arrived on board via "COD" (Carrier Onboard Delivery) aircraft. Admiral Gallery was visiting as many 6th Fleet ships as possible during his month stay in the Mediterranen to gather material for articles and books. He also departed by COD, on 9

On 16 July, America anchored at Athens for her second visit to that port of the 1967 cruise, before she proceeded thence to Valletta on 29 July. On 7 August America anchored in the Bay of Naples. After visits to Genoa and Valencia the carrier sailed into Pollensa Bay and commenced the turnover of her 6th Fleet materials to her relief, the attack carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42).

America moored at Pier 12, Naval Station, Norfolk, on 20 September and entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 6 October. She remained there, undergoing a restricted availability, into early January 1968. From 6 to 8 January, the ship steamed for three days of sea trials in the Virginia capes operating area. After a four-day ammunition onload at anchorage X-ray in ampton Bay and a brief stay at Pier 12, NOB, Norfolk, America departed for a month-long cruise to the Caribbean for the naval technical proficiency inspection (NTPI), refresher training with the Fleet Training Group, Guantanamo Bay, and type training in the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range (AFWR) before she could proceed to the Jacksonville Operating area for carrier qualifications.

America departed Norfolk on 16 January. Upon arrival at Guantanamo Bay soon thereafter, the ship conducted extensive drills and exercises and inspections were conducted in almost all shipboard activities. General quarters was a daily routine as the ship strove to reach the peak of proficiency required in its upcoming combat deployment to the western Pacifc (WestPac).

On 1 February, America departed the Guantanamo area, bound for the AFWR. The next day, 2 February, representatives from the AFWR came on board to brief America representatives and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 6 pilots on forthcoming operations. The training consisted of invaluable and highly successful excercises in environmental tracking, antimissile defense, airborne jamming against radars, emergency aircraft recovery, and simulated PT boat attacks.

With this phase of her combat training completed, America departed the AFWR on 9 February for carrier qualifications in the Jacksonville operating area, and held them from the 12th through the 15th.

On the 17th, America moored at berths 23 and 24 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to prepare for final type training, prior to her upcoming WestPac deployment. On 7 [larch, America again put to sea, back to the AFWR for further type training and Exercise

"Rugby Match." Enroute to the Caribbean, the ship held various exercises in weapons loading, electronic countermeasures (ECM) and general quarters. On 10 March, America flew off the first of eight simulated air strikes. Amerzca's CVW-6 flew "attack" sorties against "enemy" positions on Vieques Island, near Puerto Rico. A search and rescue exercise (SAREX) was conducted to test the ship and air wing response to the distress call of a downed aviator. She also held several missile defense exercises to test the shin's reflexes against a surface threat.

America's planes flew photographic reconnaissance sorties over Vieques and "found" simulated targets on film. Communications exercises simulated conditions in Tonkin Gulf, as a high volume of message traffic similar to that to be experienced in southeast Asia was generated by Commander, CarDiv 2, who was embarked in the ship. On 13 and 14 March, the weapons department also flexed their muscles by firing two Terrier

Exercise "Rugby Match," a major Atlantic Fleet exercise involving approximately eighty ships was held in the AFWR from 7 to 29 March. America and Commander, CarDiv 2 (as commander, Task Group (TG)) 26.1, participated from the 18th to the 20th.

As the "Blue" Force attack carrier, America and her air wing pilots provided close air support (CAS), photo reconnaissance and combat air patrol (CAP) sorties for Task Force (TF) 22 the "Blue" amphibious landing force, during a landing on the island of Vieques. Prior to Amenca's main participation during this period, CVW-6 flew an aerial mining mission in the amphibious operating area on the 15th. D-day was 19 March. On return from their missions as CAS and CAP, several aircraft tested the antiaircraft defenses of the task force by flying raids against America.

America moored at Pier 12 NOB, Norfolk, at 1315, 23 March. Two days later, on the 25th, she put to sea again for a dependents' cruise. Then, on the dark, rainy afternoon of 10 April, America stood out of Hampton Roads, bound for "Yankee Station," a half-a-world away. The next day, the ship's complement of men and machines was brought up to full strength as America recovered the remainder of CVW - 's aircraft off the coast of the Carolinas. En route, she conducted one last major training exercise. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was the next stop enroute to southeast Asia, America's first to that city and continent. Now with her course set almost due east America sailed through waters she had never travelled before. Across the southern Atlantic, around the Cape of Good Hope, past Madagascar and out into the broad expanse of the Indian Ocean towards the Sunda Strait and Subic Bay, Philippine Islands. From Subic the ship sailed northwest through the South China Sea towards "Yankee Station." Enroute, on 26 May, the ship participated ir, exercise "NEWBOY" and the next day held carr~er qualifications. At 1000, 30 May, she arrived at "Yankee Station, and at 0630 the next morning the first aircraft since commissioning to leave her deck in anger was launched against the enemy.

During fourline periods, consisting of 112 days on "Yankee Station, Amerzca's aircraft pounded at roads and waterways, trucks and waterborne logistics craft (WBLCS), hammered at petroleum storage areas and truck parks and destroyed bridges and cave storage areas in the attempt to impede the flow of men and war materials to the south. On 10 July 1968, Lt. Roy Cash, Jr. (pilot) and Lt. (j.g.) Joseph E. Kain, Jr. (radar intercept officer) in an F 4J "Phantom" from VF-33 downed a MiG-21, 17 miles northwest of Vinh, North Vietnam, for the ship's first MiG "ki11" in the Vietnam War. Amerzca and her embarked air wing, CVW-6, would later be awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for their work during that time.

Between line periods, America visited Hong Kong, Yokosuka and Subic Bay. With America's mission on "Yankee Station" nearing completion, she launched the last of her attack aircraft at 1030 on 29 Oetober. The next day, she set sail for Subic Bay and the offload of various "Yankee Station" assets. In addition, a heavy attack squadron, VAH-10, and an electronic countermeasures squadron, VAQ-130, departed the ship on 3 November as they began a transpacifie movement of their entire detachments to Alameda, and 144 aviators along with several members of the ship's company departed for the United States on the "Magic Carpet" fl,ght.

The days the ship spent en route to Australia, New Zealand Brazil, and Norfolk were, of necessity, more relaxed than those of her six months of combat. Nine hundred ninety-three "Pollywogs" were initiated into the realm of Neptunus Rex on the morning of November 7th as the ship again crossed the Equator. On 9 November a flight deck "cookout" was sponsored by the supply department as the entire crew enjoyed char-broiled steaks and basked in the equatorial sun. After mooring at 1330 on 16 December at Pier 12, Norfolk, her "round-the-world" cruise completed, post-deployment and holiday leave began, continuing through the first day of the year 1969.

Shortly thereafter, on 8 January 1969, she headed for the Jacksonville operating area where she served as the platform for carrier qualifications. On 24 January, America arrived at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to begin a nine-month overhaul. Upon completion of the overhaul, the carrier conducted post-repair trials and operated locally off the Virginia capes. During one period of local operations, between 21 and 23 November 1969 America took part in carrier suitability tests for the Lockheed U-2R reconnaissance plane.

On 5 January 1970, the carrier departed the Norfolk area to commence a nine week cruise in the Guantanamo Bay operating area. From 15 to 21 February, America participated in Operation "SPRINGBOARD 70," the annual series of training exercises conducted in the Caribbean. The program was established to take advantage of good weather and the extensive modern training facilities, including targets of all kinds, which are available in order to achieve maximum training during the period. This exercise included submarine operations air operations, and participation by the Marine Corps. At the completion of this testing and traming, America departed the Guantanamo area to arrive at the Jacksonville area on 1 March in order to conduct carrier qualification landings with the various squadrons stationed in and around the Jacksonville/Cecil Field area.

America arrived at NOB, Norfolk, on 8 March, and remained there for approximately one month making last minute preparations for an eight-month depIoyment

On 10 April 1970, with CVW-9 on board, America left Norfolk and paused briefly in the Caribbean Sea for an operational readiness inspection before proceeding on a voyage that took her across the equator to Rio de Janeiro, round the Cape of Good Hope, across the Indian Ocean, into the Pacific Ocean and finally to Subic Bay in the Philippines.

On 26 May, America began its first day of special operations in
he Gulf of Tonkin, when Comdr. Fred M. Backman, commanding officer of VA-165, and his bombardier/navigator, Lt.Comdr. Jack Hawley, in a Grumman A-6C "Intruder" flew the ship's first combat sortie of the 1970 WestPac cruise. On the same day the Navy's newest light attack aircraft, the A-7E Corsair II received its first taste of combat. At 1201, Lt. (j.g.) Dave Lichterman, of VA-146, was catapulted from the deck in the first A-7E ever to be launched in combat. He and his flight leader, Comdr. Wayne L. Stephens, the squadron's commanding officer, subsequently delivered their ordnance with devastating accuracy using the A-7E's digital weapons computer. Shortly after 13W Comdr. R. N. Livingston, skipper of the "Argonauts" of VA-147 and Lt. Comdr. Tom Gravely rolled in on an enemy supply route to deliver the first bombs in combat in an A-7E, reportedly "all on target".

For five line periods, consisting of 100 days on "Yankee Station " America's aircraft pounded at roads and waterways trucks and waterborne logistic craft (WBLC), hammered at petroleum storage areas and truck parks in an attempt to impede the flow of men and war materials to the south.

On 20 August, at Manila, Vice Admiral Frederic A. Bardshar Commander, Attack Carrier Striking Force, 7th Fleet, hosted the President of the Philippines, Ferdinand E. Marcos, on board America. President Mareos was given a 21-gun salute as he and Mrs. Marcos arrived on board from their Presidential yacht to visit the ship. Accompanied by American Ambassador and Mrs. Henry A. Byiade, they were greeted by Vice Admiral Bardshar and America's commanding officer, Capt. Thomas B. Hayward, and were subsequently escorted to the ship's hangar deck where the carrier division band and the ship's marine detachment rendered honors. Following their arrival, the visiting party dined with Vice Admiral Bardshar and Capt. Hayward, and were later given a brief tour of the ship.

On 17 September, America completed her fourth line period and headed for special operations off the coast of Korea and subsequently, the Sea of Japan. On 23 September the carrier entered the Tsushima Straits, remained in the Sea of Japan for approximately five days and exited on 27 September through the Tsugaru Strait.
During this period, America and CVW-9 engaged in three America
exercises: "Blue Sky," with elements of the Chinese Air Force from Taiwan, "Commando Tiger," conducted in the Sea of Japan involving air units of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Air Force (ROKAF), and, after exiting the Tsugara Straits "Autumn Flower," air defense exercises with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) and the United States Fifth Air Force.

On 7 November, America completed her fifth line period and departed for her last visit to Subic Bay. Through five line periods, the carrier had flown off 10,600 sorties (7,615 combat plus combat support), 2,626 actual combat sorties, completed 10,804 carrier landings, expended 11,190 tons of ordnance, moved 425,996 pounds of cargo, handled 6,890 packages and transferred 469,027 pounds of maiL She had accomplished this without a single combat loss and only one major landing accident with, fortunately, no fatalities. Considering sustained combat operations in prevailing immoderate weather and highly successful 7th Fleet exercises without one day's loss in operations due to any material casualty, Amenca left the Pacific Ocean just)fiably proud of her accomplishments.

On the long trip home, America welcomed approximately 500 more "pollywogs" into the realm of "Neptunis Rex." The day before the carrier arrived at Sydney, Australia, for a three day rest and recreation visit, United States ambassador to Australia and his wife, the Honorable and Mrs. Walter L. Rice, flew on board to accompany the ship into Sydney.

With so much to be thankful for, America celebrated two Thanksgivings At exactly 2329 on November 26, America crossed the Tnternational Date Line. Moments later it became Thanksgiving Day again. On both days, erewmembers feasted on turkey, beef, lobster tails, Virginia ham, and roast duckling.

After rounding Cape Horn on 5 Deeember 1970, America headed north, stopped briefly at Rio de Janeiro for fuel, and arrived at Pier 12, NOB Norfolk on 21 December. She remained there until 22 January 1971, when the ship entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a three month restricted availability. She departed the yard, on schedule, on 22 March. Over the ensuing weeks, the ship operated locally in the Virginia capes operating areas. She then carried out exercises in Puerto Rican waters with United States Navy as well as Royal Navy warshipsÑ including HMS Ark Royal (R.09), HMS Cleopatra (F.28), and HMS Bacchante (F.69).

After a return to Norfolk, America stood out of Hampton Roads on 6 July 1971 for the Mediterranean. On 16 July 1971, Amenca dropped anchor at Rota, Spain, in order to receive her turnover information from the ship she was relieving on station Franklin D. Roosevelt. America then entered the Mediterranean for the third time since her commissioning. Between the time the ship left Rota, until she reached Naples, she participated in three major exercises.

Following a port call at Naples, America proceeded on a course toward Palma, Mallorca. While enroute, she participated in "PHIBLEX 2-71 " in which she covered a mock amphibious landing at Capoteulada, Sicily. After a port visit at Palma Mallorca America participated from 16 to 27 August in "National Week X," one of the largest exercises conducted in the Mediterranean. At the termination of the exercise Amerzca proceeded to Corfu Greece, her next liberty port. She then visited Athens shortly thereafter.

After conducting routine operations in the eastern Mediterranean and making a port call at Rhodes, Greece, the ship proceeded to the Aegean Sea to participate in Operation "Deep Furrow 71," America and CVW-8 providing close air support for almost the entire exercise.

Proceeding thence to Thessaloniki, Greece, for a port visit, America then participated in "National Week XI," in the central Mediterranean. The carrier subsequently visited Naples before she steamed into the western Mediterranean to participate in exercises with British, Dutch, Italian and French forces in Exercise "Ile D'Or," completing her part in the evolutions by 19 November. America then conducted port visits to Cannes and Barcelona before proceeding to Rota. There, on 9 December, she was relieved on station by John F. Kennedy (CVA-67).

Arriving back at Norfolk on 16 December, America moored at Pier 12, NOB, Norfolk, for post-deployment standdown before unloading ammunition in preparation for availability at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. After the two-month overhaul, the carrier conducted sea trials. Soon thereafter, America embarked on a program of training accelerated due to the fact that the date of her deployment had been advanced one month, and participated in Exercise "Exotic Dancer V." She returned to Pier 12, NOB, Norfolk, upon conclusion of the exercises.

On 2 June 1972, three days before Amerzca was to sail, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, the Chief of Naval Operations, visited the ship, and explained the reason why her orders had been changed sending her to the Gulf of Tonkin instead of the Mediterranean. Sailing on 5 June, Amerzca crossed the equator on 12 June and held the usual initiation of "pollywogs into the realm of Neptune.

Escorted by Davis (DD-937) and Dewey (DD-937), and accompanied by the fleet oiler Waccamaw (AO-109), America proceeded toward southeast Asia, and rounded Cape Horn on 21 June. Joining the 7th Fleet later in June, America relieved the attack carrier Coral Sea (CVA-43) on station, and commenced combat operations on 12 July. A ruptured main feed pump, however prompted an early return to Subic Bay on 25 July for repairs, the ship arriving in the Philippines during a time of natural devastabonÑfloods and landslides.

The repair work was delayed for two weeks while needed parts were rushed to Subic Bay. America stood out on 9 August to return to the line, and soon resumed carrying out strike operations against communist targets in North Vietnam. On 6 October, bombs from her planes dropped the Thanh Hoa Bridge, a major objective since the bombing of the North had begun years before.

Completing her line period and stopping over briefly at Subic Bay, Amerzca steamed to Singapore, departing that port on 20 October to resume operations on "Yankee Station." Less than a month later, a fire broke out on board Amerzca, at 1410 on 19 November 1972, in the number two catapult spaces. The ship went to general quarters as smoke began to fill the 03 level, and damage control parties soon had the blaze extinguished. Clean-up and repair work ensued, and despite not having the services of one of her catapults, America remained on the line and continued to meet her commitments.

After an extended line period of 43 days, Arnerzca reached Subic Bay on 2 December, where the number two catapult was repaired, and departed the Philippines on 8 December to return to "Yankee Station." A week before Christmas, America learned that the breakdown of peace talks in Paris had led to a resumption of bombing of targets in North Vietnam. America swung into action, and the pace proved hectic until the Christmas ceasefire. "Christmas away from home is never good," Amerzca's historian wrote, "but the men of America made the best of it with homemade decorations." There were services to celebrate the season, "and carolers were noted strolling through the passageways .... "

On 28 December, the carrier anchored in Hong Kong harbor and remained there until 4 January 1973, when she stood out for the Philippines and the period of rest and repairs at Subic Bay that would precede the ship's return to the line. All hands avidly followed the progress of the peace talks as America returned to "Yankee Station," and resumed operations. After two weeks on the line the ship learned that ueace had been secured and that an agreement was to be signed in Paris. At 0800 on 28 Januarv 1973, the Vietnam WarÑat least that stage of itÑwas at an end. Rumors swept the ship that her deployment would be shortened because of the cessation of hostilities, and hope ran high as the ship moored at Subic Bay on 3 February.

America did return to "Yankee Station" one last time, but her time on station proved short, as she returned to Subic Bay on 17 February and sailed thence for the United States three days later, on 20 February 1973. The carrier arrived at Mayport Fla. disembarking men from CVW-8 and embarking the teenaged sons of some of the ship's company officers and men, thus allowing them to ride the ship back to Norfolk with their fathers, something thoroughly enjoyed by all who took part.

On 24 March 1973, Amerzca arrived back at NOB, Norfolk mooring at Pier 12 and bringing to a close her sixth major deployment since commissioning. She immediately began preparations for a 30-day standdown and the restricted availability to follow at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She entered the yard on 11 May, and emerged after that period of repairs and alterations on 10 August.

America conducted local operations out of Norfolk into October and during this period the ship celebrated a sign)ficant milestone in the life of a carrier: she logged her 100,000th landing on 29 August 1973 when her COD aircraft (nicknamed "Miss America"), piloted by Lt. Lewis R. Newby and Lt. Ronnie B. Baker, landed on board. Cake-cuttings on the hangar deck and in the wardroom celebrated the occasion.

On 29 October, America cleared Hampton Roads for Jacksonville and a period of carrier qualifications. She was conducting routine training operations on 1 November 1973 when she went to the assistance of the crippled sailing schooner Harry W. Adams of Nova Scotia. The 147-foot schooner, her engine disabled and without power for her pumps, was taking on water. Helicopters from America sped to the scene, and the ship provided rescue specialists and underwater demolition experts to assist in the effort. The ship's captain and his crew of nine all escaped serious injury, although the carrier's helicopters brought three of the crew on board for medical examinations and a warm meal. America stood by until the late afternoon, when the Coast Guard cutter Port Roberts arrived to assist Harry W. Adams into port at Jacksonville.

After concluding her operations in the Jacksonville area

America paid a port call at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., from 4 to 8 November. She proceeded thence to sea for exercises of various kinds to hone the skills of the ship-air wing team and, following her operational readiness inspection off Mayport, proceeded back to Norfolk, mooring at Pier 12, NOB, on 21 November.

America then steamed south after the Thanksgiving holiday for Atlantic Fleet readiness exercises, returned via Mayport to Norfolk on 13 December, and remained in her home port until sailing for the Mediterranean on 3 January 1974.

Relieving Independence at Rota, Spain, on 11 January, she became the flagship for Rear Admiral Frederick C. Turner Commander, TF 60. America commenced operations in the western Mediterranean that day and, over the next few weeks; divided her time between at-sea periods and port visits to Toulon, Barcelona, and Valencia. From 15 to 19 February, the carrier participated in Exercise "National Week XVI," and upon the conclusion of that evolution anchored in Souda Bay, Crete. She proceeded thence for a port call at Athens.

Standing out of the waters of that Greek port on 1 March

Americaparticipated in "PHIBLEX 9-74," in which the ship's air wing, CVW - , practiced supporting an amphibious landing. The carrier then operated north of Crete on exercises in early April, after which time she put into Athens on 9 April.

America then participated in NATO exercise, "Dawn Patrol " in which units of the navies of the United States, United Kingdom, Portugal, Holland, Franee, Italy, and West Germany participated. During one phase of this exercise, the carrier's marine detachment embarked in El Paso (LKA-117) and stormed ashore from that amphibious ship while America's planes provided close air support.

Upon the conclusion of "Dawn Patrol," the carrier paid another visit to Athens, proceeding thence on 19 May for a four-day period of exercises, after which time she steamed to Istanbui arriving there on 23 May.

Immediately following this port call, the ship returned to Athens and sailed thence for Exereise "SHAHBAZ" to test the air defense capability of NATO ally Turkey early in June. America then anchored off the island of Rhodes, Greece, on 6 June for a four-day port visit after which time she returned to Athens to embark Naval Academy midshipmen for their summer training cruise. America then participated in Exercise "Flaming Lance " off the coast of Sardinia during which time Leahy (DLG-16j controlled over 1,000 intercepts by America's aircraft.

Making her last port eall at Athens for the deployment, the earrier steamed to Souda Bay on 1 July, loading minesweeping equipment that had been used in Operation "Nimbus Star,' the elearanee of the Suez Canal. America then proceeded to Corfu and began the transit out of the eastern Mediterranean on 6 July, arriving at Palma, Mallorca, three days later.

America anchored off Rota on 15 July, for what was scheduled to have been an off-load of the equipment of Commander, TF 60 staff. Clashes between Greek and Turkish forces on Cyprus, however, prompted the Joint Chiefs of Staff to order America to remain at Rota until the arrival of her relief Independence on 28 July. As soon as that attack earrier entered the 6th Fieet operating area, America commenced her homeward voyage, ultimately reaching Pier 12, NOB Norfolk, on 3 August.

A little over a month later, America sailed for the North Sea to participate in a NATO exercise, "Northern Merger," departing Norfolk on 6 September. America joined with HMS Ark Royal in providing air support for a NATO task force and for an amphibious landing. Throughout the exercise, Soviet surface

units, as well as "Bear" and "Badger" aircraft, conducted surveillance missions over and near the NATO force.

Upon the conclusion of "Northern Merger," America steamed to Portsmouth, England, arriving there on 29 September to commence a five-day port visit. The carrier proceeded thence back to the United States, reaching Pier 12, NOB, Norfolk on 12 October, to commence preparations for a major overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Entering the yard on 27 November 1974, America remained there until 27 September 1975, when the ship got underway to conduct post-overhaul sea trials.

America departed Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 16 Oetober 1975 for local operations off the Virginia capes and, after a few weeks alongside her familiar berth, Pier 12, NOB, Norfolk, departed Hampton Roads for Cuban waters and refresher training.

While steaming north of Cuba and preparing for the operational readiness inspection that concludes refresher training America picked up distress calls, immediately deploying helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to search for a disabled motorized sailboat, Ruggentino. One of the carrier's helicopters located a boat in distress and guided a tug to the scene and the tug soon took the disabled craft in tow.

That boat, however, proved to be named Content, so America and her aircraft resumed the searec for Ruggentino. One of her planes located the craft in question soon thereafter, and the ship dispatched a motor whaleboat to assist. America sailors soon had the boat pumped out and headed for port. This effort, two successful search-and-rescue missions in one night under adverse weather conditions earned the ship a "well done."

America completed her schedule of training in Cuban waters and then returned north, arriving back at Norfolk on 16 December 1975. Following the year-end standdown, the earrier resumed local operations out of Norfolk in January 1976 and, in Mareh participated in Exereise "Safe Pass '76" with ships of the Canadian, West German, Dutch and British navies. She ultimately sailed for the Mediterranean on 15 April 1976 with CVW{; and Commander, Carrier Group (CarGru) 4, Rear Admiral James B. Lmder, embarked.

Soon after her arrival in the turnover port of Rota, America participated in a NATO exercise, "Open Gate," before entering the Mediterranean. Passing the Pillars of Hercules on 3 May, the ship entered into the eastern Mediterranean in support of Operation "Fluid Drive," a contingency operation for the evacuation of non-combatants from war-torn Lebanon. For the next three months, the carrier maintained a high state of readiness. In conjunction with "Fluid Drive," the ship and her air wing maintained continuous surveillance of the Soviet Mediterranean fleet, which at that point was at its largest since the Yom Kippur War of

On 24 May, America anchored in Rhodes, Greece, to commence her first liberty of the deployment, but violent antiAmerican demonstrations prevented the carrier's crew from going ashore; and the ship stood out two days later. America conducted a port visit to Taranto, Italy, instead, but the deteriorating situation in the eastern Mediterranean required the ship to sail sooner than scheduled.

The assassination of the United States ambassador to Lebanon Francis E. Meloy, and Economic Counsellor Robert O. Waring as they were on their way to visit Lebanese President Elias Sarkis on 13 June 1976 prompted the evacuation of Americans from that nation a week later, on the 20th. America remained on alert while landing craft from the dock landing ship Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) transferred the evacuees from the beach to safety. Following the successful evacuation, the carrier proceeded westward for a few days of liberty in Italian ports celebrating the country's bicentennial Independence Day, i July 1976, at Taranto.

Proceeding back into the eastern Mediterranean on 11 July to conduct a mussile exercise north of Crete, the ship continued to maintain responsibility for "Fluid Drive." On 27 July, as more Americans were evacuated from Lebanon on board Portland (LSD-37), the carrier provided support. Relieved of her responsibilities in the eastern Mediterranean on 2 August, America reached Naples soon thereafter, and remained in port for two weeks. The carrier returned to sea on 18 August and participated in Exercise "National Week XXI" with other 6th Fleet units.

Upon the termination of "National Week XXI," America proceeded to Palma de Mallorca, whence she proceeded to participate in "Poop Deck 3-76" with Spanish Air Force units and United
off the coast of Spain, arriving at Palma de Mallorca soon thereafter.

Participating in a NATO exercise, "Tridente," in late June, America visited Naples beore she participated in a "National Week" exercise. Subsequently visiting Catania and operating in the central and western Mediterranean the carrier wound up the month of July at Benidorm, Spain, before returning to sea for further operations at sea in that region. Visiting Naples between 11 and 17 August, America spent the rest of her deployment in operations in the western and central Mediterranean before John F. Kennedy relieved her at Rota between 28 and 31 August. America arrived back at Norfolk on 10 September 1986 and after local operations, interspersed with in-port upkeep, entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 20 November 1986 for an overhaul which lasted until 11 February 1988. She spent the remainder of that year operating along the east coast and in the Caribbean.

America received five battle stars for her service in the Vietnam War.
The America was retired in 1996 and spent nearly nine years at the Philadelphia Naval yard. In the spring of 2005 the America became a floating platform for the effects of explosions on Aircraft Carriers. On May 12th she was sunk in the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina.

9 November 1950

Lieutenant Commander William T. Amen, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron VF-111, is congratulated on his air to air victory after returning to the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea (CV-47). (U.S. Navy)

9 November 1950: The first jet vs. jet air-to-air victory which can be confirmed from both sides occurred when Lieutenant Commander William T. Amen, United States Navy, flying a Grumman F9F-2B Panther, Bu. No. 127184, shot down a Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 over Korea.

Captain Mikhail Fedorovich Grachev, 139th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment, led a squadron of MiG-15 fighters from their base at Antung, China to intercept U.S. Navy Douglas AD Skyraiders which were attacking bridges across the Yalu River, which marked the border between China and Korea.

Russian technicians service a MiG-15bis of the 351st Fighter Aviation Regiment at Antung Air Base, China, mid-1952. (Unattributed)

An escorting group of Grumman F9F-2B Panther fighters, assigned to Fighter Squadron 111 (VMF-111, “Sundowners”) aboard the Essex-class aircraft carrier, USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) went after the MiGs as they dove on the Skyraiders. The Soviet flight broke up into single aircraft, or pairs, and did not counterattack with any organization. Visibility was poor, and airplanes would disappear then reappear in the clouds.

Captain Grachev made a quick left turn, then reversed and rolled over into a dive. His two wingmen could not stay with him and visual contact was lost.

Bill Amen saw Grachev’s diving MiG-15 and, following him down, fired his four 20 mm cannon. Amen’s wingman saw the MiG crash into a wooded slope and burn. Grachev did not return from his mission and is presumed to have been killed in the crash.

USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) with Douglas AD Skyraiders and Grumman F9F Panthers on the flight deck, off the coast of Korea. Philippine Sea was a “long-hull” Essex-class ship, sometimes called the Ticonderoga-class. (U.S. Navy)

The Grumman F9F-2 Panther was a single-seat, single-engine turbojet powered fighter designed for operation from the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers. It was 38 feet, 5⅜ inches (11.719 meters) long, with a wingspan of 38 feet, 0 inches (11.528 meters)— not including wing tanks. Its overall height was 11 feet, 4 inches (3.454 meters). The wings could be hydraulically folded to reduce the span for storage aboard ship. The Panther weighed 9,303 pounds (4,220 kilograms) empty, and had a gross weight of 19,494 pounds (8,842 kilograms).

The F9F-2 was powered by a Pratt & Whitney Turbo Wasp JT6 (J42-P-8) turbojet engine which produced 5,000 pounds of thrust (22.241 kilonewtons) at Sea Level. The J42 was a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Nene. The engine used a single-stage centrifugal-flow compressor, 9 combustion chambers and a single-stage axial-flow turbine. The engine weighed 1,715 pounds (778 kilograms).

Interestingly, the MiG-15 was powered by an un-licensed, reverse-engineered version of the Nene, the Klimov VK-1.

The Panther had a maximum speed of 575 miles per hour (925 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level. Its service ceiling was 44,600 feet (13,594 meters), and the range was 1,353 miles (2,177 kilometers).

The Panther was armed with four M3 20 mm autocannon placed in the nose, with 760 rounds of ammunition. It could carry up to 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of bombs or eight 5-inch (12.7 centimeters) rockets on four hardpoints under each wing.

The XF9F-2 prototype first flew 21 November 1947. 1,382 were produced and remained in service with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps until 1958. A swept wing version, the F9F-6 through F9F-9J Cougar, was also produced.

For his service with VF-111 in combat from 5 August 1950 to 1 February 1951, Lieutenant Commander Amen was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

F9F-2 Bu. No. 127184 was part of a group of 28 Grumman F9F panthers that were sold to the Argentine Navy. It was transferred in April 1963.

A Grumman F9F-2 Panther of Fighter Squadron 111 drops bombs over Korea, circa 1952. It is painted overall Glossy Sea Blue with red accents at the nose and tail. This is similar in appearance to the Panther flown by Lieutenant Commander William T. Amen, 9 November 1950. (U.S. Navy)


IJN plan for a decisive battle Edit

From the very start of the conflict in December 1941, the Japanese war plan had been to inflict such severe and painful losses on the US military that its public would become war weary and the American government would be convinced to sue for peace and allow Japan to keep her conquests in east and southeast Asia. [8]

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto had grown wary of this strategy, but he was killed in Operation Vengeance on April 18, 1943. The following day, Admiral Mineichi Koga succeeded Yamamoto as commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet, and Koga wanted the Imperial Japanese Navy to engage the American fleet in the "single decisive battle" in early 1944. On March 31, 1944, Admiral Koga was killed when his aircraft (a Kawanishi H8K) flew into a typhoon and crashed. [9] A new Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet, Admiral Soemu Toyoda, was appointed, and he finalized the Japanese plans known as Plan A-Go or Operation A-Go. [10] The plan was adopted in early June 1944. Within weeks, an opportunity arose to engage the American fleet now detected heading for Saipan. [11]

Advantages for the Americans Edit

Meanwhile, IJN aircrew losses, suffered during earlier carrier battles at Coral Sea, Midway, and the long Solomon Islands campaign of 1942–43, had greatly weakened the Japanese Navy's ability to project force with its carriers. [12] Losses suffered in the Solomons drastically reduced the number of skilled carrier pilots available to fill the carrier air groups. It took nearly a year for the Japanese to reconstitute their groups following the Solomons campaign. [8]

Japan no longer had enough oil tankers to transport the required volume of petroleum from the Dutch East Indies to Japanese refineries. Without adequate supplies of refined residual fuel oil, Japanese aircraft carriers refueled with unrefined Tarakan petroleum in June 1944. This undesalted petroleum damaged boiler tubes, and the unremoved naphtha fraction volatilized to form explosive atmospheres incompatible with aircraft carrier damage control procedures. [13]

Fast Carrier Task Force Edit

Led by this main strike force, in early 1944 the U.S. fleet continued its advance in a steady progression across the islands of the central Pacific. [14]

Different perspectives Edit

While U.S. commanders, particularly Admiral Spruance, were concerned about the Japanese trying to attack U.S. transports and newly landed forces, the Japanese objective was actually to engage and defeat the Fast Carrier Task Force in a decisive battle. [15]

Perceived advantages for the Japanese Edit

The Japanese had a number of advantages they hoped would turn the battle in their favor. Though outnumbered in ships and aircraft, they planned to supplement their carrier airpower with land-based aircraft. [9]

Lastly, the area was dominated by the easterly trade winds. Naval aircraft of the era needed a head wind blowing down the flight deck bow to stern to enable the aircraft to launch. The easterly trade winds that dominated the Central Pacific seas meant that aircraft carriers would necessarily have to be steaming eastward to launch and recover aircraft consequently a fleet located to the west of the Marianas would be in position to initiate and break off the battle, placing the initiative in the hands of the Japanese. [9] [16]

On June 12, 1944, U.S. carriers made air strikes on the Marianas, convincing Admiral Toyoda that the U.S. was preparing to invade. This move came as a surprise the Japanese had expected the next U.S. target to be farther to the south, either the Carolines or the Palaus, and had protected the Marianas with only 50 land-based aircraft. On June 13–15, American carriers made additional airstrikes while surface forces bombarded the Marianas. On June 15, the first American troops went ashore on Saipan.

Since control of the Marianas would bring American strategic bombers within range of the Japanese home islands, the IJN decided it was time for the long-awaited Kantai Kessen (decisive battle). Toyoda immediately ordered a fleet-based counterattack, committing nearly all of the Japanese navy's serviceable ships. [8]

The main portions of the fleet rendezvoused on June 16 in the western part of the Philippine Sea and completed refueling on June 17. Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa commanded this force from his newly commissioned flagship, Taihō. In addition to extensive command facilities, reinforced torpedo blisters, and a large air group, Taihō was the first Japanese carrier with an armor-plated flight deck, designed to withstand bomb hits with minimal damage.

At 18:35 on June 15, submarine USS Flying Fish sighted a Japanese carrier and battleship force coming out of San Bernardino Strait. An hour later USS Seahorse spotted a battleship and cruiser force steaming up from the south, 200 miles east of Mindanao. The submarines were under orders to report sightings before attempting to attack, so Flying Fish waited until nightfall, then surfaced to radio in its report. [17] Fifth Fleet commander Spruance was convinced that a major battle was at hand. After consulting with Admiral Chester Nimitz at Pacific Fleet Headquarters in Hawaii, he ordered Task Force 58, which had sent two carrier task groups north to intercept aircraft reinforcements from Japan, to reform and move west of Saipan into the Philippine Sea. [18]

TF 52's old battleships, cruisers, and escort carrier groups were ordered to remain near Saipan to protect the invasion fleet and provide air support for the landings.

Shortly before midnight on June 18, Nimitz radioed Spruance that a Japanese vessel had broken radio silence. The message intercepted was an apparent dispatch from Ozawa to his land-based air forces on Guam. Radio direction-finding placed the sender approximately 355 miles (560 km) west-southwest of TF 58. [19] Mitscher considered whether the radio messages were a Japanese deception, as the Japanese were known to send a single vessel off to break radio silence, to mislead their adversaries about the actual location of the main force. [20]

Mitscher realized that there was a chance of a night surface encounter with Ozawa's forces. Arleigh Burke, Mitscher's Chief of Staff (a former destroyer squadron commander who had won several night battles in the Solomons), assumed that battle line commander Lee would welcome the opportunity. But Lee strongly opposed such an encounter. [18] Having personally experienced a confused night action off Guadalcanal, Lee was not enthusiastic about a night engagement with Japanese surface forces, believing that his crews were not adequately trained for it. Shortly after learning Lee's opinion, Mitscher requested permission from Spruance to move TF 58 west during the night, to reach a launch position at dawn that would allow for a maximum aerial assault on the enemy force.

Spruance considered for an hour, then refused Mitscher's request. [21] Mitscher's staff was disappointed with Spruance's decision. [22] On the situation, Captain Burke later commented: "We knew we were going to have hell slugged out of us in the morning. We knew we couldn't reach them. We knew they could reach us." [23] Spruance said "if we were doing something so important that we were attracting the enemy to us, we could afford to let him come—and take care of him when he arrived." This was in stark contrast to the Battle of Midway in 1942, where Spruance advocated immediately attacking before his own strike force was fully assembled, as neutralizing enemy carriers before they could launch their planes was the key to the survival of his carriers. [24] [ self-published source? ]

Spruance's decision was influenced by his orders from Nimitz, who had made it clear that the protection of the invasion fleet was the primary mission of Task Force 58. Spruance had concerns that the Japanese would attempt to draw his main fleet away from the Marianas with a diversionary force while slipping an attack force in to destroy the landing fleet. [25] Locating and destroying the Japanese fleet was not his primary objective, and he was unwilling to allow the main strike force of the Pacific Fleet to be drawn westward, away from the amphibious forces. Mitscher accepted the decision without comment. [22] Spruance's decision in this matter, although subsequently criticized, was certainly justified by this point in the war, it was well known that Japanese operational plans frequently relied on the use of decoys and diversionary forces. However, in this particular engagement, and in sharp contrast to the subsequent Battle of Leyte Gulf, there was no such aspect in the Japanese plan.

Before daybreak, Spruance suggested that if the daybreak searches revealed no targets, the bombers could be sent to crater the airfields on Rota and Guam. However, the fleet's contact-fused bombs had been largely used up in the earlier strikes, and Mitscher was left with only the armor-piercing bombs needed to combat the Japanese fleet, so he informed Spruance he could not launch such strikes. [26] As the morning broke, TF 58 launched search aircraft, combat air patrols (CAP), and anti-submarine patrols, and then turned the fleet west to gain maneuvering room from the islands. [27] The U.S. Navy had developed a sophisticated air control system, which vectored CAP fighters by radar to intercept enemy bombers well before they reached the fleet. Any attackers that got through the CAP would then face a "gun line" of screening battleships and cruisers that would put up devastating barrages of VT-fuzed anti-aircraft fire before the attackers reached the aircraft carriers. [28] [ self-published source? ] [N 2] [N 3]

Early actions Edit

The Japanese had already launched their morning search patrols, using some of the 50 aircraft stationed on Guam, and at 05:50 one of these, a Mitsubishi A6M Zero, found TF-58. After radioing his sighting of U.S. ships, the bomb-carrying Zero attacked picket destroyer Stockham but was shot down by the destroyer Yarnall. [29]

Alerted, the Japanese began launching their Guam-based aircraft for an attack. These were spotted on radar by U.S. ships. A group of thirty Grumman F6F Hellcats were dispatched from USS Belleau Wood to deal with the threat. The Hellcats arrived while aircraft were still launching from Orote Field. Minutes later, additional radar contacts were seen, which were later discovered to be the additional forces being sent north from the other islands. A battle broke out in which 35 Japanese aircraft were shot down for the loss of a single Hellcat. It was a pattern that would be repeated throughout the day. At 09:57 large numbers of bogeys were picked up approaching the fleet. Mitscher said to Burke, "Get those fighters back from Guam." The call "Hey, Rube!" was sent out. [27] [N 4] The fleet held steady until 10:23, when Mitscher ordered TF 58 to turn into the wind on course east-southeast, and ordered all fighter aircraft aloft, deployed in several layers of (CAP) to await the Japanese. [30] He then sent his bomber aircraft aloft to orbit open waters to the east rather than leaving them in a hangar deck full of aircraft vulnerable to a Japanese bomb attack. [31]

Japanese raids Edit

The recall had been ordered after several ships in TF 58 picked up radar contacts 150 miles (240 km) to the west around 10:00. This was the first of the raids from the Japanese carrier forces, with 68 aircraft. TF 58 started launching every fighter it could by the time they were in the air the Japanese had closed to 70 miles (110 km). However, the Japanese began circling to regroup their formations for the attack. This 10-minute delay proved critical, and the first group of Hellcats met the raid, still at 70 miles (110 km), at 10:36. They were quickly joined by additional groups. Within minutes, 25 Japanese aircraft had been shot down, against the loss of only one U.S. aircraft.

The Japanese aircraft that survived were met by other fighters, and 16 more were shot down. Of the 27 aircraft which now remained, some made attacks on the picket destroyers USS Yarnall and USS Stockham but caused no damage. Between three and six bombers broke through to Lee's battleship group and attacked one bomb hit the main deck of USS South Dakota, killing or injuring over 50 men, but failed to disable her. South Dakota was the only American ship damaged in this attack. No aircraft of Ozawa's first wave got through to the American carriers.

At 11:07, radar detected another, larger attack. This second wave consisted of 107 aircraft. They were met while still 60 miles (97 km) out, and at least 70 of these aircraft were shot down before reaching the ships. Six attacked Rear Admiral Montgomery's group, nearly hitting two of the carriers and causing casualties on each. Four of the six were shot down. A small group of torpedo aircraft attacked Enterprise, one torpedo exploding in the wake of the ship. Three other torpedo aircraft attacked the light carrier Princeton, but were shot down. In all, 97 of the 107 attacking aircraft were destroyed.

The third raid, consisting of 47 aircraft, came in from the north. It was intercepted by 40 fighters at 13:00, while 50 miles (80 km) out from the task force. Seven Japanese aircraft were shot down. A few broke through and made an ineffective attack on the Enterprise group. Many others did not press home their attacks. This raid therefore suffered less than the others, and 40 of its aircraft managed to return to their carriers.

The fourth Japanese raid was launched between 11:00 and 11:30, but pilots had been given an incorrect position for the U.S. fleet and could not locate it. They then broke into two loose groups and turned for Guam and Rota to refuel.

One group flying toward Rota stumbled upon Montgomery's task group. Eighteen aircraft joined battle with American fighters and lost half their number. A smaller group of nine Japanese dive bombers of this force evaded U.S. aircraft and attacked Wasp and Bunker Hill, but scored no hits. Eight were shot down. The larger group of Japanese aircraft had flown to Guam and were intercepted over Orote Field by 27 Hellcats while landing. Thirty of the 49 Japanese aircraft were shot down, and the rest were damaged beyond repair. Aboard the Lexington afterward, a pilot was heard to remark "Hell, this is like an old-time turkey shoot!" [32]

Including the continued aerial slaughter over Orote Field, Japanese losses exceeded 350 planes on the first day of battle. About thirty American planes were lost, and there was little damage to American ships even the damaged South Dakota was able to remain in formation to continue her anti-aircraft duties.

Most of the Japanese pilots who successfully evaded the U.S. fighter screens were the small number of seasoned veterans who had survived the six-month Japanese advance early in the Pacific War, the Battle of Midway, and the Guadalcanal Campaign. [ citation needed ]

Submarine attacks Edit

Throughout the day, American scout aircraft had been unable to locate the Japanese fleet. However, two American submarines had already spotted Ozawa's carriers early that morning, and were about to provide important assistance to the Fast Carrier Task Force.

At 08:16 the submarine USS Albacore, which had sighted Ozawa's own carrier group, had maneuvered into an ideal attack position Lieutenant Commander James W. Blanchard selected the closest carrier as his target, which happened to be Taihō, the largest and newest carrier in the Japanese fleet and Ozawa's flagship. As Albacore was about to fire, however, her fire-control computer failed, and the torpedoes had to be fired "by eye". Determined to go ahead with the attack, Blanchard ordered all six torpedoes to be fired in a single spread to increase the chances of a hit. [7]

Taihō had just launched 42 aircraft as a part of the second raid when Albacore fired its torpedo spread. Of the six torpedoes fired, four veered off-target Sakio Komatsu, the pilot of one of the recently launched aircraft, sighted one of the two which were heading for Taihō and dived into its path, detonating it. However, the sixth torpedo struck the carrier on her starboard side, rupturing two aviation fuel tanks. The carrier's escorting destroyers made depth charge attacks, but caused only minor damage to Albacore.

Initially, the damage to Taihō seemed minor the flooding was quickly contained and the carrier's propulsion and navigation were unaffected. Taihō quickly resumed regular operations, but gasoline vapor from the ruptured fuel tanks began to fill the hangar decks, creating an increasingly dangerous situation on board.

Another submarine, USS Cavalla, was able to maneuver to an attack position on the 25,675-ton carrier Shōkaku by about noon. The submarine fired a spread of six torpedoes, three of which struck Shōkaku on her starboard side. [33] Badly damaged, the carrier came to a halt. One torpedo had hit the forward aviation fuel tanks near the main hangar, and aircraft that had just landed and were being refueled exploded into flames. Ammunition and exploding bombs added to the conflagration, as did burning fuel spewing from shattered fuel pipes. With her bows subsiding into the sea and fires out of control, the captain gave orders to abandon ship. Within minutes, there was a catastrophic explosion of aviation fuel vapor which had built up between decks, which blew the ship apart. The carrier rolled over and sank about 140 miles (230 km) north of the island of Yap. 887 crew and 376 men of the 601st Naval Air Group, 1,263 men in all, were killed. There were 570 survivors, including the carrier's commanding officer, Captain Hiroshi Matsubara. Destroyer Urakaze attacked the submarine, but Cavalla escaped with relatively minor damage despite near misses from depth charges. [34]

Meanwhile, Taihō was falling victim to poor damage control. Hoping to clear the explosive fumes, an inexperienced damage-control officer ordered her ventilation system to operate at full blast. This action instead spread the vapors throughout Taihō, putting the entire vessel at risk. At approximately 14:30, a spark from an electric generator on the hangar deck ignited the accumulated fumes, triggering a series of catastrophic explosions. After the first explosions, it was clear that Taihō was doomed, and Ozawa and his staff transferred to the nearby Zuikaku. [35] Soon thereafter, Taihō suffered a second series of explosions and sank. From a crew of 2,150, 1,650 officers and men were lost.

U.S. counterattack Edit

TF 58 sailed west during the night to attack the Japanese at dawn. Search patrols were put up at first light.

Admiral Ozawa had transferred to the destroyer Wakatsuki after Taihō was hit, but the radio gear on board was incapable of sending the number of messages needed, so he transferred again, to the carrier Zuikaku, at 13:00. He then learned of the disastrous results of the previous day, and that he had about 150 aircraft left. Nevertheless, he decided to continue the attacks, thinking there were still hundreds of aircraft on Guam and Rota, and started planning new raids for June 21.

The main problem for TF 58 was locating the enemy, who had been operating at a great distance. Early-morning American searches on June 20 found nothing. An extra mid-day search by Hellcat fighter pilots was also unsuccessful. Finally at 15:12 a garbled message from an Enterprise search plane indicated a sighting. At 15:40 the sighting was verified, along with distance, course, and speed. The Japanese fleet was 275 miles out, moving due west at a speed of 20 knots. [36] The Japanese were at the limit of TF 58's strike range, and daylight was slipping away. Mitscher decided to launch an all-out strike. After the first attack group had launched, a third message arrived, indicating the Japanese fleet were 60 miles farther out than previously indicated. [37] The first launch would be at their limits of fuel, and would have to attempt landing at night. Mitscher canceled the second launch of aircraft, but chose not to recall the first launch. Of the 240 planes that were launched for the strike, 14 aborted for various reasons and returned to their ships. The 226 planes that continued consisted of 95 Hellcat fighters (some carrying 500-pound bombs), 54 Avenger torpedo bombers (only a few carrying torpedoes, the rest four 500-pound bombs) and 77 dive bombers (51 Helldivers and 26 Dauntlesses). [38] [ page needed ] The TF 58 aircraft arrived over the Japanese fleet just before sunset. [39]

The fighter cover Ozawa was able to put up would have been good by 1942 standards, but the 35 or so fighters he had available were overwhelmed by the 226 incoming aircraft of Mitscher's attack. While the few Japanese aircraft were often skillfully handled and the Japanese antiaircraft fire was intense, the U.S. planes were able to press in on the attack. [40]

The first ships sighted by the U.S. strike were oilers, thirty miles before the carrier groups. The strike group from the Wasp, more concerned with their low fuel levels than with finding the more important Japanese carriers and battleships, dived on the tankers. [41] [ page needed ] Two of these were damaged so severely that they were later scuttled, while a third was able to put out fires and get underway.

The carrier Hiyō was attacked and hit by bombs and aerial torpedoes from four Grumman TBF Avengers from Belleau Wood. Hiyō was set afire after a tremendous blast from leaking aviation fuel. Dead in the water, she sank stern first, with the loss of 250 officers and men. The rest of her crew, about one thousand, were rescued by Japanese destroyers.

The carriers Zuikaku, Junyō, and Chiyoda were damaged by bombs. Returning American strike pilots generally assessed these carriers as more crippled than they actually were, mistaking for devastating direct hits what Japanese post-war records revealed to have actually been huge geysers caused by near misses. [42] [ page needed ] The battleship Haruna was also hit by two bombs, including one directly on a main battery turret. Damage was contained and she was able to keep station, however, partly due to her captain's prompt decision to flood the turret's magazine to avoid the possibility of an explosion.

Twenty American aircraft in the strike were destroyed by Japanese fighters and anti-aircraft fire that made up for a relative lack of accuracy with high volume of fire. [43] [ page needed ]

After the protracted strike, it became clear that most of the aircraft returning to their carriers were running dangerously low on fuel, and to worsen matters, night had fallen. At 20:45, the first returning U.S. aircraft reached TF 58. Knowing his aviators would have difficulty finding their carriers, Joseph J. Clark of the Hornet decided to illuminate his carrier, shining searchlights directly up into the night, despite the risk of attack from Japanese submarines and night-flying aircraft. Mitscher instantly backed up the decision, and soon every ship in Task Force 58 was lit up, in spite of the risks involved. Picket destroyers fired starshells to help the aircraft find the task groups. [44] [N 5]

Planes were given clearance to land on any available flight deck (not just their home carriers, as usual), and many did land on other carriers. Despite this, 80 of the returning aircraft were lost. Some crashed on flight decks, but the majority ditched into the sea. Some pilots intentionally went down in groups to facilitate rescue, and more ditched individually either in a controlled landing, with a few gallons of fuel left, or in a crash after their engines ran dry. [45] [ page needed ] Approximately three-quarters of the crews were rescued from the sea, either that night from crash locations within the task forces, or over the next few days for those further out, as search planes and destroyers criss-crossed the ocean looking for them. [N 6]

Japanese Edit

That night, Toyoda ordered Ozawa to withdraw from the Philippine Sea. U.S. forces gave chase, but the battle was over.

The four Japanese air strikes involved 373 carrier aircraft, of which 243 were lost and 130 returned to the carriers many of them were subsequently lost when Taiho and Shōkaku were sunk. After the second day of the battle, losses totaled three carriers, more than 350 carrier aircraft, and around 200 land-based aircraft.

In the five major "carrier-on-carrier" battles, from the Battle of the Coral Sea (May 1942) to Philippine Sea, [N 1] the IJN had lost nine carriers, while the USN had lost three. The aircraft and trained pilots lost at Philippine Sea were an irreplaceable blow to the already outnumbered Japanese fleet air arm. The Japanese had spent the better part of a year (following the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands) reconstituting their depleted carrier air groups, and the American Fast Carrier Task Force had destroyed 90% of it in two days. The Japanese had only enough pilots left to form the air group for one of their light carriers. As a consequence, during the Battle off Cape Engaño, four months later, they sent out a decoy carrier group with only 108 aircraft, across six carriers (two were hybrid-carriers), that was sacrificed in an attempt to draw the American fleet away from protecting the troops and supplies being landed for the Battle of Leyte.

The Japanese military, which had hidden the extent of their previous losses from the Japanese public, continued this policy. Though the occurrence of the simultaneous Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Saipan were made known to the public, the extent of the disasters was withheld. [48]

American Edit

Losses on the U.S. side on the first day were only 23 aircraft. The second day's airstrike against the Japanese fleet saw most of the aircraft losses for the U.S. of the 226 aircraft launched on the strike, only 115 returned. Twenty were lost to enemy action in the attack, and 80 were lost when they ran out of fuel returning to their carriers and had to ditch into the sea, or crashed attempting to land at night. [49]

Spruance's conservative battle plan for Task Force 58, while sinking just one light carrier, severely weakened the Japanese naval aviation forces by killing most of the remaining trained pilots and destroying their operational reserves of naval aircraft, a blow that effectively shattered the Japanese naval air arm, from which it never recovered. [50] Without the time or resources to build sufficient aircraft and train new pilots, the surviving Japanese carriers were almost useless in an offensive role, a fact the Japanese acknowledged by using them as sacrificial decoys at Leyte Gulf. With the effective crippling of her best striking arm, Japan chose to rely increasingly on land-based kamikaze suicide aircraft in a last-ditch effort to make the war so costly that the U.S. would offer peace terms better than unconditional surrender.

Spruance was heavily criticized after the battle by many officers, particularly the aviators, for his decision to fight the battle cautiously rather than exploiting his superior forces and intelligence data with a more aggressive posture. By failing to close on the enemy earlier and more forcefully, his critics argue, he squandered an opportunity to destroy the entire Japanese Mobile Fleet. "This is what comes of placing a non-aviator in command over carriers" was the common refrain. [51] Admiral John Towers, a naval aviation pioneer and Deputy Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet, demanded that Spruance be relieved. [52] The request was denied by Admiral Nimitz. Moreover, Spruance was supported in his decision by Nimitz, Kelly Turner, and the top naval commander, Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations. [53]

Spruance's caution (in particular, his suspicion of a diversionary force) can be compared with Halsey's headlong pursuit of an actual diversionary force at Leyte Gulf four months later. Halsey left the American invasion fleet weakly protected during the Battle off Samar, nearly resulting in a devastating attack on the landing force by Japanese heavy surface units. It was prevented only by the heroic and desperate attack of 5 small American surface ships, which put up such an intense fight that the 23 ship strong Japanese fleet thought they were engaging a much larger force and withdrew. In addition, by focusing on defense first, the carrier forces under Spruance at Philippine Sea suffered no significant harm. This was in contrast to Leyte Gulf when Halsey's carriers were trying to neutralize the enemy airfields and attack the enemy fleet simultaneously, such that a Japanese bomber managed to evade the Combat Air Patrols to fatally cripple the light carrier USS Princeton. Likewise, during the carrier-based air raids, U.S. carriers were in a vulnerable position due to readiness to launch strikes, and the low visibility coupled with radar confusion let a Japanese bomber slip through and severely damage USS Franklin. [54]

Although the American carrier aircraft strikes caused less destruction to enemy naval vessels than earlier battles, American submarines made up for it by sinking two of the three Japanese fleet carriers, which left Zuikaku as the only remaining operational IJN fleet carrier.

Welcome to Larry Engels' USS Philippine Sea CVA-47 Memorial Site

The following is a summary, prepared by Lawrence A. &ldquoLarry&rdquo Engels, from various sources including USS Philippine Sea CV-47 (published by Turner Publishing Company, 412 Broadway, PO Box 3101, Paducah, Kentucky 42002-3101, Tel: 270-443-0121) and internet sites. This summary was prepared to answer the inevitable question from former shipmates on the 1954 Cruise, &ldquoWhatever happened to the Phil Sea?&rdquo

It should also be noted that opening and dedication ceremonies were held on March 11, 2002, for the USS Philippine Sea CV-47 &ldquoMemory Room&rdquo on board the USS Hornet Naval Museum located at Pier 3 (former NAS Alameda) in Alameda, California.

Excerpts from USS Philippine Sea CV-47

Message from President of USS Philippine Sea Association:

The USS Philippine Sea as we served it was decommissioned on December 22, 1958, after twelve years of very active service. During these active 12 years, she logged in excess of 82,000 launches, including 33,575 catapult shots and a total of 82,813 landings.

In March 1971, Phil Sea was sold for scrap, and the ship was reduced to a &ldquomemory&rdquo for those who served on board.

The proud name of Philippine Sea was not forgotten, however. In April 1987, the proud name was bestowed on a new ship of the line at its launching - the Guided Missile Cruiser (CG-58). The CG-58 now carries on the proud tradition of the CV-57 - a different mission, a different concept, but with the same sense of accomplishment.

The veterans of the CV-47 are scattered throughout this great country - some doing what they did when they entered Naval Service - some have gone on to diverse fulfilling careers. We have farmers, doctors, lawyers, policemen, firemen, educators, and congressmen, just to name a few.

None of the very active Philippine Sea Association have ever said that they were not damn proud to have served on so great a ship and so great a team.

Both the Association and the Publisher than those contributors who have made this publication possible.

USS Philippine Sea History

On 19 August 1944, the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard at Quincy, Massachusetts, laid the keel for CV-47, the next to last Essex-class aircraft carrier. On 5 September 1945, three days after Japan signed the surrender accords in Tokyo Bay, Philippine Sea was launched. Mrs. Albert B. &ldquoHappy&rdquo Chandler, wife of the Governor of Kentucky, christened the new carrier.

. Philippine Sea reclassified as an attack aircraft carrier, CVA-47, 1 October 1952. On 15 November 1955 she was reclassified CVA-47.

Only 12 years old, Philippine Sea was placed out of commission, in reserve 22 December 1958, and berthed at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Inactivated without an overhaul, she was deemed to have no potential for operating high-performance aircraft without complete modernization. By the same token, because of her size, it was thought that she could only achieve restricted capability after modernization. She was accordingly designated as an auxiliary aircraft carrier transport AVT-11 effective 15 May 1959, along with three of her sisters, Franklin (AVT-8), Bunker Hill (AVT-9), and Leyte (AVT-10).

A decade later, the Navy again looked at Philippine Sea. By that point, however, she was an unimproved World War II axial deck aircraft carrier. To activate, repair, and modernize the ship to fulfill the mission of an antisubmarine warfare carrier would be an unprofitable venture of limited resources. Accordingly, the president of the Board of Inspection and Survey found Philippine Sea unfit for further Naval service, and recommended that she be stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. Deemed not essential to the defense of the United States, Philippine Sea was stricken 1 December 1969 and sold for scrap 23 March 1971 to Zidell Explorations, Inc., of Portland, Oregon.

The name Philippine Sea and the deeds of her men, however, have not been forgotten. On 9 June 1986, Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman, Jr., mindful of not only the significance of the 1944 battle but of the accomplishments of Phil Sea, assigned the name to a Ticonderoga-class (CG-47) guided missile cruiser that had been laid down at Bath Iron Works 8 May 1986. Launched 12 July 1987, the new Philippine Sea (CG-58) was delivered to the Navy early in 1989. The crew of this new warship should derive considerable pride from the accomplishments of her illustrious predecessor and crews who served their country so well.

The Deployments of the USS Philippine Sea (CV/CVA/CVS-47)

Shakedown 15 Oct-20 Nov 46/27 Mar-5 May 1947 CVG-20 (CVAG-9) Caribbean
(Included Antarctic cruise &ldquoOperation High Jump&rdquo 2 Jan-27 Feb 47)
1. 9 Feb-26 Jun 1948 CVAG-9 Mediterranean
2. 4 Jan-31 May 1949 CVG-7 Mediterranean
3. 24 Jul 50-26 Mar 1951 CVG-11 Korea
(3A) 28 Mar-9 Jun 1951 CVG-2 Korea
4. 31 Dec 51- 8 Aug 1952 CVG-11 Korea
5. 15 Dec 52-14 Aug 1953 CVG-9 Korea
6. 12 Mar-19 Nov 1954 CVG-5 WESTPAC
7. 1 Apr-23 Nov 1955 ATG-2 WESTPAC
8. 5 Jan-6 Aug 1957 WESTPAC
9. 13 Jan-15 Jul 1958 WESTPAC

CV-47 USS Philippine Sea - History

USS Philippine Sea , a 27,100-ton Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier, was built at Quincy, Massachusetts. Commissioned in May 1946, she made an initial cruise to the Caribbean, then took part in Operation "Highjump", the 1947 expedition to the Antarctic led by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd. In 1948 and again in 1949, Philippine Sea deployed to the Mediterranean, with a period of Arctic operations intervening in late 1948. Following exercises in the Caribbean and the western Atlantic, in May 1950 the carrier was sent through the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet.

When war erupted in Korea late in June 1950, Philippine Sea was soon ordered to steam westward to support United Nations forces as they attempted to defend the Republic of Korea against Communist aggression. She entered action in early August, and thrust air power into the conflict for ten months as the fighting front retreated, advanced northward, retreated and advanced again, and finally stabilized near where it had started a year earlier. The carrier returned to the U.S. in June 1951, but made two more Korean combat tours, one in January-July 1952 and the last in January-July 1953. During this time, in October 1952, she was redesignated CVA-47.

With the fighting over, Philippine Sea continued her pattern of Far Eastern tours with a deployment in March-November 1954, during which her planes shot down two attacking Chinese fighters off Hainan Island. She returned to the Western Pacific in April-November 1955, and was then converted to an anti-submarine warfare support aircraft carrier and redesignated CVS-47. In that role, Philippine Sea made two more cruises in Asian waters, one in the Spring of 1957 and the last in January-July 1958. She was decommissioned in December 1958. Reclassified as an aircraft transport, with the hull number AVT-11, she spent more than a decade in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. USS Philippine Sea was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in December 1969 and sold for scrapping in March 1971.

This page features selected views of USS Philipine Sea (CV/CVA/CVS-47 and AVT-11).

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Exercising at sea with another carrier and a heavy cruiser, circa 1948. The photograph was received by the Naval Photographic Center on 10 January 1949.
Note: "E" painted on her stack, location of hull number below the after end of her island and HO3S helicopter on her flight deck.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 91KB 740 x 615 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Passes under the Oakland Bay Bridge as she arrives at San Francisco, California, upon her return from the Korean War zone, circa 9 June 1951. Crewmen on the flight deck are spelling out "CVG 2" in honor of her air group.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 107KB 740 x 615 pixels

Makes a sharp turn to starboard, while steaming in the Western Pacific with the Seventh Fleet, 9 July 1955.
Photographed by PH1 D.L. Lash.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 107KB 740 x 610 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Operating in the Western Pacific with the Seventh Fleet, 9 July 1955.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 107KB 590 x 765 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Underway at sea, with eleven S2F aircraft of Anti-Submarine Squadron 37 (VS-37) flying overhead, July 1958.
Six of these aircraft are still painted in the older blue color scheme.
Photographed by Everett.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 93KB 740 x 600 pixels

Vought F4U-4B "Corsair",
of Fighter Squadron 113 (VF-113)

Taxies forward on the flight deck of USS Philippine Sea (CV-47), just before taking off to attack North Korean targets, circa 19 October 1950.
Note small bombs on the plane's wings and flight deck crewman signalling to the pilot.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 88KB 740 x 610 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Grumman F9F-2 "Panther" fighters of Fighter Squadrons 111 and 112 (VF-111 & VF-112) parked on the flight deck, forward, during a snowstorm off the Korean coast, 15 November 1950.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 99KB 595 x 765 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Members of the carrier's Ordnance Department pose with decorated 2000-pound bombs, during Korean War operations, 9 March 1951.
Messages painted on the bombs are: "Greetings from PhilCee" "Happy Easter" and "Listen! To This One it will Kill you".
Among the planes parked in the background are F4U-4Bs of Fighter Squadron 113 (VF-113).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 98KB 740 x 605 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) ,
USS Barton (DD-722) and
USS Iowa (BB-61)

Operating in the Sea of Japan, off Korea, during replenishment operations.
Photo is dated 1 July 1952.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 113KB 740 x 610 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

View looking aft from the carrier's island, showing AD and F9F aircraft parked on the flight deck. Photographed on 19 July 1955, while Philippine Sea was operating with the Seventh Fleet.
Photographed by PH1 J.E. Cook.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 129KB 640 x 675 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Refueling from USS Platte (AO-24), while operating with the Seventh Fleet, 19 July 1955.
USS Watts (DD-567) is also taking on fuel from Platte . Other ships present include two aircraft carriers, a cruiser and several destroyers and replenishment ships.

The Navy was involved with much of the Aleutians flying operations and the R4Ds were subjected to weather conditions of 50 below zero, where salt water exposure caused engine, airframe, skin and hydraulic problems. Oil became as thick as molasses, grease froze, and rubber hoses crystallized, shattering like glass. But the crews learned how to winterize the rugged Douglas and it continued to fly.

All photos are courtesy of the USN via The National Museum of Naval Aviation

Seen during Operation High-jump, the USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) passes through the Panama Canal, 8 – 10 January 1947. Douglas R4D-5 Skytrains are spotted on the flight deck.

The R4Ds kept the supplies flowing to Alaska in spite of severe weather conditions like ten knot winds that blew snow across runways often creating optical illusions of the runway moving. By January 1945, they were operating a shuttle between Fairbanks and Point Barrow, Alaska. In one month they moved a quarter-million pounds of cargo. In another operation R4Ds landed over a million pounds of cargo in a three-month period on a frozen 3,000 foot long and 125 foot wide lake.

A fine inflight view of a Douglas R4D-5 Skytrain – BuNo 17197, during Operation High-jump, 1947.

A few years later the Navy R4Ds landed at “Little America” in Antarctica. They were fully prepared for the frigid weather because of what had been learned in the Aleutians.

A Douglas R4D-5 Skytrain seen on board the USS Philippine Sea (CV-47),30 January 1947, during Operation High-jump.

On January 29, 1947, “Operation High-Jump” launched six ski-equipped, Navy R4Ds from the deck of the U.S.S. Philippine Sea. Since its wing span was wider than the usable flight deck it began the take-off roll forward of the carrier’s island. To help boost the takeoff, they rigged JATO bottles beneath the wing center section. They flew 660 miles to the Naval base at Antarctica, where the R4Ds functioned in a frozen waste land of minus 50 degrees below zero. Since they could not return to the carrier’s deck, when the expedition was over, the R4Ds were consigned to a proper Navy burial at sea on February 21, 1947.

Douglas R4D-5 Skytrains aboard the USS Philippine Sea (CV-47), 8 January 1947.

A Douglas R4D-5 Skytrain – BuNo 39092, a former U. S. Army Air Froce C-47A, seen launching from the USS Philippine Sea (CV-47), 30 January 1947, during Operation High-jump.

A Douglas R4D-5 Skytrain – BuNo 39092. It is seen on the South Pole – February 1947, during Operation High-jump.

Copyright Henry M. Holden 1996, 2013

For the complete story on the Douglas DC-3 see “Legacy of the DC-3”


This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Essex Class Aircraft Carrier
    Keel Laid August 19 1944 as WRIGHT
    Renamed February 13 1945 - Launched September 5 1945

Naval Covers

This section lists active links to the pages displaying covers associated with the ship. There should be a separate set of pages for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Covers should be presented in chronological order (or as best as can be determined).

Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it doesn't take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.


This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
>>> If you have a better example for any of the postmarks, please feel free to replace the existing example.

CV-47 USS Philippine Sea - History

This USS Philippine Sea CV-47 Ships Ball cap is an emblematic, poly, dark under the visor cap. Each has an adjustable strap, and is available as a 5 panel high profile or 6 panel low profile cap. All MilitaryBest caps are fully guaranteed. Some people call them Military Covers or Military Hats. This Military Cap is proudly Made in The U.S.A.

We will be glad to include scrambled eggs, which is an embroidered gold oak leaf added to the brim of the cap. For caps ordered with custom embroidered personalized text please allow an additional 3 to 5 days production time. All custom back text will be embroidered in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Caps with back text or eggs are non-returnable unless there is a material defect in the cap. If a style is not selected the cap will be made using a high profile style cap as pictured.

A percentage of the sale of each MilitaryBest item is forwarded to the licensing departments of each respective branch of service in support of the MWR (Morale, Wellness, & Recreation) program. These payments are made by either ALL4U LLC or the wholesaler from where the item originated. Our team thanks you for your service and your support of these programs.


5 August 1950

Air Rescue Service Grumman SA-16A Albatross, 51-024, the type that rescued Ensign Glenn T. Farnsworth, USN, standing by during the Korean War. (U.S. Air Force)

5 August 1950: The first rescue of a downed airman by a flying boat during the Korean War occurred when Ensign Glenn T. Farnsworth, United States Navy, a pilot of VF-113 (“Stingers”) from the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) was forced to ditch in the ocean following an air attack on North Korea.

On VF-113’s first combat mission of the war, Ensign Farnsworth’s Vought F4U-4B Corsair, Bureau Number 63018, was damaged in a mid-air collision with another Corsair, Bu. No. 63938, piloted by Ensign John F. Kail, USN. Ensign Kail’s F4U crashed and he was killed. Unable to gain sufficient altitude to bail out, Farnsworth elected to ditch his Corsair into the Yellow Sea, approximately 15 miles south of Kunsan Air Base. Kunsan had been captured by North Korean soldiers just over three weeks earlier.

Other aircraft of VF-113 called for rescue for the downed pilot. The Rescue Coordination Center in Japan contacted a flying boat, call sign “Dumbo”, and directed it to the scene. The Grumman SA-16A Albatross, a twin-engine amphibian of Detachment E, 5th Air Rescue Squadron, under the command of Captain Charles E. Schroeder, United States Air Force, along with an escort of three North American F-51 Mustang fighters, proceeded to the area. Schroeder landed on the water to pick up Ensign Farnsworth.

After his rescue, Ensign Farnsworth said “It was a smooth operation. I was confident all the time I was in the water that I would be picked up, but I was mighty glad to see those U.S. Air Force planes out there.” He returned to duty with VF-113. Glenn Farnsworth was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service with VF-113, 5 August 1950–1 December 1950.

Vought F4U-4B Corsair, Bu. No. 62924, of VF-113, landing aboard USS Philippine Sea (CV-47), December 1950. This is the same type flown by Ensign Glenn T. Farnsworth, USN. (U.S. Navy)

USS Philippine Sea (CV-47)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 01/20/2020 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The highly-decorated American aircraft carrier, USS Philippine Sea (CV-47), was one of the all-important Essex-class group constructed by the United States Navy (USN) during the fighting of World War 2 (1939-1945). The class proved critical to Allied operations, particularly in the hard fought Pacific Theater of War (PTO) where the USN met the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) head-on. The Essex-class was originally envisioned as a 32-strong fleet but ended with 24 ships to its number, Philippine Sea being the last of the class to be inducted into service.

CV-47 was ordered in June of 1943 as World War 2 raged on, saw her keel laid down on August 19th, 1944, and was launched on September 5th, 1945 - in time to see the end of the Japanese surrender (and thus the end of World War 2 as a whole). She was not formally commissioned until May 11th, 1946 and went on to see active service into the next several decades including time spent in the Korean War (1950-1953).

As completed, the warship had a displacement of 27,100 tons under standard load and held a running length of 888 feet with a beam measuring 93 feet and a draught down to 28.6 feet. Power was from 8 x Boiler units feeding 4 x Westinghouse geared steam turbines driving 4 x Shafts under stern. Maximum speed in ideal conditions reached 30 knots and range was out beyond 20,000 nautical miles - giving the vessel good 'legs' in the sea.

Armor protection reached 4" at the belt while the hangar decks were plated over in up to 2.5" of armor. The conning tower was given 1.5" thick protection.

Aboard was a crew complement numbering 3,448 officers and enlisted personnel, each charged with specific functions of the ships operation. In addition to this was an air arm consisting of ninety to one-hundred combat aircraft of various makes and models, these, too, designed to accomplish specific tasks from fighting to torpedo/bomb delivery.

The warship had a point-defense network consisting of 4 x 5" Dual-Purpose (DP) guns in twin-gunned mountings, 4 x 5" DP guns in single-gunned mountings, 10 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns in quadruple-gunned mountings, and 2 x 40mm AA guns in twin-gunned mountings. All this was designed to keep enemy attackers at bay and was in addition to any support given by accompanying fleet ships.

The vessel was named after the Battle of Philippine Sea which took place during World War 2 from June 19th to June 20th in 1944. An American victory in which three Japanese fleet carriers were sunk, the new warship carried the name in honor of the clash of naval powers. Launched too late to see combat service in World War 2 proper, USS Philippine Sea was a major USN contributor to the immediate post-World War 2 world.

Subsequent assignments took the ship to the Mediterranean Sea and on to Antarctica. From there, she was a major player in the Korean War of 1950-1953 where her warplanes were put to good (and extensive) use. Philippine Sea voyaged to the region from Japan by way of Naval Base Pearl Harbor (Hawaii). Once there, she joined the Allied carriers USS Valley Forge and HMS Triumph who made up the only two carriers already on station in the theater.

From August 1950 onwards, Philippine Sea's warplanes were in constant service, attacking enemy ground targets as needed (air superiority was quickly reached by the Allies at this point). Beyond general bombing, strafing, and rocket attacks, combat aircraft were used in close proximity of Allied troops in Close-Air Support (CAS) sorties as the war turned to a defensive battle following the introduction of Chinese troops from October 1950 onwards.

Initially taking on prop-driven types such as the Grumman F6F "Hellcat" and Vought F4U "Corsair" fighters, USS Philippine Sea joined the USN transition to jet-powered mounts including the Grumman F9F "Panther". Douglas AD-4 "Skyraiders" also made up the all-important attack arm.

In June of 1951, the warship arrived in San Francisco waters and undertook refitting and repair work. After this, she was given patrol orders along the American West Coast. A second Korean War deployment followed in 1952 to which point she returned back stateside (San Diego) in August of 1952. At this point, her classification was formally changed from "CV" to "CVA" ("Attack Aircraft Carrier") and added additional warplanes to her traditional stable. The ship was back at work pounding enemy positions and continued in this role until the uneasy Armistice of mid-1953 was signed.

In 1954, Philippine Sea responded to downing of a passenger Douglas D-40 airplane to which two of her Skyraiders were attack by Chinese aircraft in the process. The Chinese aggressors were dispatched without further incident in what marked the "Hainan Incident".

In 1955, her aircraft stable included Grumman F9F "Cougar" jet fighters alongside Panthers which were now relegated to fighter-bomber roles. In November of that year, the warship was reclassified as "CVS" ("Anti-Submarine Warfare Carrier") to denote her new at-sea role. This also meant that some of her warplane arm was succeeded by the submarine-hunting Grumman S2F "Tracker" platform. Training of these types ensued.

On December 28th, 1958, the warship was decommissioned from service and resided at Long Beach, California with the U.S. Reserve Fleet until her future was decided. Taking on the new classification of "AVT-11" ("Auxiliary Aircraft Transport and Landing Training Ship") from May 1959 onwards, the ship was finally struck from the Naval Register on December 1st, 1969, bringing about her formal end. On March 23rd, 1971, her stripped hulk was sold off for scrapping.

The USS Philippine Sea name was resurrected for USN service once more through the new USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser in April of 1987. This warship continues in service today (2020).

For her contributions at sea, USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) was awarded the World War 2 Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Medal, China Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, the Antarctic Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal (9 Battle Stars), the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Korea Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal. For her time at sea, CV-47 was never updated with a more modern flightdeck, instead retaining her "straight-through" flat-top design of World War 2.


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