Essex class aircraft carrier

USS Philippine Sea in 1955

Class overview
Name: Essex
Builders: Newport News Shipbuilding

Fore River Shipyard Brooklyn Navy Yard Philadelphia Naval Shipyard Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Operators: United States Navy
Preceded by: Yorktown class aircraft carrier, Wasp class aircraft carrier
Succeeded by: Midway class aircraft carrier
Cost: 68 – 78 millions USD (1942),

~1 billion USD (2011)

Built: 1941 – 1950
In commission: 1942 – Present
Planned: 56
Completed: 56
Cancelled: 0
Retired: 0
Preserved: 0
General characteristics (all stats as built)
Type: Aircraft carrier
Displacement: Design: 27,100 long tons (27,500 t) std, 33,000 long tons (34,000 t) full

Actual: 30,800 long tons (31,300 t) std, 36,380 long tons (36,960 t) full

Length: 820 ft (250 m) pp

870 ft (270 m) oa (short-bow units);

888 ft (271 m) oa (long-bow units)

862 ft (263 m) flight deck (short-bow units);

844 ft (257 m) flight deck (long-bow units).


93 ft (28 m) wl;

147.5 ft (45.0 m) max

Draught: 23 ft (7.0 m) std; 27.5 ft (8.4 m) fl
Installed power: 150,000 shp
Propulsion: Westinghouse geared turbines connected to 4 shafts; 8 Babcock & Wilcox boilers
Speed: 32.7 knots (60.6 km/h)
Range: 20,000 nmi (37,000 km) at 15 kn (28 km/h)
Crew: ca. 2170 (ship), 870 (air wing), 160 (flag)
Sensors and

processing systems:

  • 1 × SK air-search radar
  • 1 × SC air-search radar
  • 2 × SG surface-search radar
  • 1 × SM fighter-direction radar (later units)
  • 2 × Mk 4 fire-control radar (earlier units)
  • 2 × Mk 12 fire-control radar (later units)
  • 2 × Mk 22 height-finding radar (later units)
  • 10-17 × Mk 51 AA directors
  • 12 × 5 in/38 caliber guns (4 × 2 and 4 x 1)
  • 32 to 72 × 40 mm Bofors cannon (8 to 18 × 4)
  • 55 to 76 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannon
Armor: 2.5 in (64 mm) STS hangar deck; 1.5 in (38 mm) STS 4th deck; 3.5 to 4 in (88 to 100 mm) Class B + .75 in (13 mm) STS belt; 4 in (100 mm) Class B transverse bulkheads
Aircraft carried: 90–100 (Lexington 110 aircraft)
Notes: Basic class design was repeatedly modified, chiefly by additional AA and radar. Transverse hangar-deck catapult in CV-10–12, 17, 18 (later removed). CV-9 commissioned with no flight deck catapults; CV-10–13, 16–18, 20 with one; all others with two. CV-34 completed postwar to much-altered design.

The Essex class is a class of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy, which constituted the 20th century's most numerous class of capital ships with built in both "short-hull" and "long-hull" versions. The Essex-class carriers were the backbone of the U.S. Navy's combat strength during World War II from mid-1943 on, and along with the addition of the three Midway class aircraft carriers just after the war continued to be the heart of U.S. Naval strength until the supercarriers began to come into the fleet in numbers during the 1960s and 1970s. The ships in the class are smaller than any of the communist superpower Soviet Union's aircraft carriers of the Soviet Navy.

Overview Edit

The preceding Yorktown class aircraft carriers and the designers' list of trade offs and limitations forced by arms control treaty obligations formed the formative basis from which the Essex class was developed— a design formulation sparked into being when the Japanese and Italians repudiated the limitations proposed in the 1936 revision of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1925 (as updated in October 1930 in the London Naval Treaty)—in effect providing a free pass for all five signatories to resume the interrupted naval arms race of the 1920s in early 1937.

At the time of the repudiations, both Italy and Japan had colonial ambitions intending or already conducting military conquests and their fascist governments, like the Nazis in Germany, were firmly controlled by military regimes. With the demise of the treaty limitations, and the growing tensions inculcated by the Nazi menace in Europe suggesting war was looming, naval planners were free to apply both the lessons they'd learned operating carriers for fifteen years and those of operating the Yorktown class carriers to the newer design.

Designed to carry a larger air group, and unencumbered by the latest in a succession of the Second London Naval Treaty, USS Essex (CV-9) was over sixty feet longer, nearly ten feet wider in beam, and more than a third heavier. A longer, wider flight deck and a deck-edge elevator (which had proven successful in the one-of-a-kind USS Wasp (CV-7)) facilitated more efficient aviation operations, enhancing the ship's offensive and defensive air power.

Machinery arrangement and armor protection was greatly improved from previous designs. These features, plus the provision of more anti-aircraft guns, gave the ships much enhanced survivability. In fact during the war, none of the Essex-class carriers were lost and two, USS Franklin (CV-13) and USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), came home under their own power even after receiving extremely heavy damage and were successfully repaired. Some ships in the class would serve until well after the end of the Vietnam War as the class was retired by newer build classes.

U.S. carriers had the same amount of deck armor as their British counterparts. While debates raged, and continue to this day, regarding the effect of strength deck location (flight deck level on British ships vs. hangar deck level on American ships), British designers' comments tended to disparage the use of hangar deck armor, but some historians, such as D.K. Brown in Nelson to Vanguard, see the American arrangement to have been superior. Subsequently, the larger size of the first supercarriers necessitated a deeper hull, and shifted the center of gravity and center of stability lower enabling moving the strength deck to the flight deck thus free US Naval designers architects to move the armor higher and remain within compliance of US Navy stability specifications without imperiling sea worthiness. In the late 30s, locating the strength deck at hangar deck level in the proposed Essex-class ships reduced the weight located high in the ship, resulting in smaller supporting structures and more aircraft capacity for the desired displacement.


After the abrogation of disarmament treaties by Empire of Japan in 1936, the U.S. took a realistic look at its naval strength. With the Naval Expansion Act of Congress passed on 17 May 1938, an increase of 40,000 tons in aircraft carriers was authorized. This permitted the building of USS Hornet (CV-8) and USS Essex (CV-9), which became the lead ship of her class.

CV-9 was to be the prototype of the 27,000-ton (standard displacement) aircraft carrier, considerably larger than USS Enterprise (CV-6), yet smaller than USS Saratoga (CV-3) (a battlecruiser converted to a carrier). The Navy ordered the first three of the new design, USS Essex (CV-9), USS Yorktown (CV-10) and USS Intrepid (CV-11), from Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock on 3 July 1940. These were to become known as Essex-class carriers. Under the terms of the Two-Ocean Navy Act, ten more of these carriers were programmed. Eight were ordered on 9 September, USS Hornet (CV-12) through USS Randolph (CV-15) from Newport News, and USS Lexington (CV-16) through USS Hancock (CV-19) from Bethlehem Steel's Fore River Shipyard; the last two, USS Bennington (CV-20) and USS Boxer (CV-21), were ordered eight days after the Attack on Pearl Harbor from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Newport News respectively.

After the US declaration of war Congress appropriated funds for nineteen more Essexes: six were ordered or scheduled from Brooklyn, five from the Norfolk Navy Yard, four from the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and two each from Fore River and Newport News.

The first eight hulls were originally assigned names from historic Navy ships (Essex, Bon Homme Richard, Intrepid, Kearsarge, Franklin, Hancock, Randolph, Cabot). Lexington was originally laid down as Cabot, but was renamed during construction after the original Lexington was lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942. Yorktown, originally to be named Bon Homme Richard, was renamed after the original Yorktown was lost at the Battle of Midway on 7 June 1942. Wasps name was changed from Oriskany after the original Wasp was sunk in September 1942 in the South Pacific near Guadalcanal, and Hornets name was changed from Kearsarge after the original Hornet was lost in October 1942 in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands. The erstwhile Valley Forge was renamed Princeton after the light carrier of that name was sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. The names of the Ticonderoga and the Hancock were swapped while they were under construction. The John Hancock life insurance company had offered to conduct a bond drive to raise money for the Hancock if that name was used for the carrier under construction in the company’s home state of Massachusetts.

At the conclusion of the war, the six ships ordered but never laid down (CV-50 through 55) were canceled. Of the nine still unfinished six were completed and two (Reprisal and Iwo Jima) scrapped; Oriskany was taken in hand for modification to an improved design, completing in 1950. In summary, during World War II and until its conclusion, the US Navy ordered 56 aircraft carriers of the Essex class including the Ticonderoga subgroup, of which 56 were laid down and all were actually commissioned.


In drawing up the preliminary design for Essex, particular attention was directed at the size of both her flight and hangar decks. Aircraft design had come a long way from the comparatively light planes used in carriers during the 1930s. Flight decks now required more takeoff space for the heavier aircraft being developed. Most of the first-line carriers of the pre-war years were equipped with flush deck catapults, but owing to the speed and size of these ships very little catapulting was done except for experimental purposes.

With the advent of war, airplane weights began to go up as armor and armament got heavier; aircrew complements also increased. By the war's end in 1945, catapult launches would become more common under these circumstances, with some carrier commanding officers reporting up to 40% of launches by catapult.

The hangar area design came in for many design conferences between the naval bureaus. Not only were the supporting structures to the flight deck required to carry the increased weight of landing and parked aircraft, but they were to have sufficient strength to support the storing of spare fuselages and parts (50% of each plane type aboard) under the flight deck and still provide adequate working space for the men using the area below.

One innovation in Essex was a portside deck-edge elevator in addition to two inboard elevators. The deck-edge elevator was adopted in the design after it proved successful on the USS Wasp (CV-7). Experiments had also been made with hauling aircraft by crane up a ramp between the hangar and flight decks, but this method proved too slow. The Navy's Bureau of Ships and the Chief Engineer of A.B.C. Elevator Co. designed the engine for the side elevator. It was a standard elevator, 60 by 34 ft (18 by 10 m) in platform surface, which traveled vertically on the port side of the ship. The design was a huge success which greatly improved flight deck operations.

There would be no large hole in the flight deck when the elevator was in the "down" position, a critical factor if the elevator ever became inoperable during combat operations. Its new position made it easier to continue normal operations on deck, irrespective of the position of the elevator. The elevator also increased the effective deck space when it was in the "up" position by providing additional parking room outside the normal contours of the flight deck, and increased the effective area on the hangar deck by the absence of elevator pits. In addition, its machinery was less complex than the two inboard elevators, requiring about 20% fewer man-hours of maintenance.

Ongoing improvements to the class were made, particularly with regards to the ventilation system, lighting systems, and the trash burner design and implementation.

These carriers had better protecting armor than their predecessors, better facilities for handling ammunition, safer and greater fueling capacity, and more effective damage control equipment. Yet, these ships were also designed to limit weight and the complexity of construction, for instance incorporating extensive use of flat and straight metal pieces, and of Special Treatment Steel (STS), a nickel-chrome steel alloy that provided the same protective qualities as Class B armor plate, but which was fully structural rather than deadweight.

The original design for the class assumed a complement of 215 officers and 2,171 enlisted men. However, by the end of World War II most crews were 50% larger than that.

The tactical employment of U.S. carriers changed as the war progressed. In early operations, through 1942, the doctrine was to operate singly or in pairs, joining together for the offense and separating when on the defense—the theory being that a separation of carriers under attack not only provided a protective screen for each but also dispersed the targets and divided the enemy's attack. Combat experience in those early operations did not bear out the theory, and new proposals for tactical deployment were the subject of much discussion.

As the new Essex- and Independence class aircraft carriers became available, tactics changed. Experience taught the wisdom of combined strength. Under attack, the combined anti-aircraft fire of a task group's carriers and their screen provided a more effective umbrella of protection against marauding enemy aircraft than was possible when the carriers separated.

When two or more of these task groups supported each other, they constituted a Fast Carrier Task Force. Lessons learned from operating the carriers as a single group of six, as two groups of three, and three groups of two, provided the basis for many tactics which later characterized carrier task force operations, with the evolution of the fast carrier task force and its successful employment in future operations.


"Sunday Punch"Edit

The pride of the carrier, known as the "Sunday Punch", was the offensive power of 36 fighters, 36 dive bombers and 18 torpedo planes. The F6F Hellcat would be the standard fighter, the SB2C-1 Helldiver the standard scout aircraft and dive-bomber, and the TBF Avenger was designed as a torpedo plane but often used in other attack roles. Later in the war some Essexes, such as USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), also included F4U Corsairs in fighter-bomber squadrons (VBFs), the precursor to modern fighter-attack squadrons (VFAs).

Guns, radar and radiosEdit

The defensive plan was to use radio and radar in a combined effort to concentrate anti-aircraft fire.

The design boasted twelve 5 in (127 mm)/38 caliber gun turrets (4 twin mounts located near the island on the starboard side and 4 single open mounts located on the port side forward and port side aft), seventeen quadruple 40mm Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft guns and 65 single 20 mm Oerlikon close-in defense guns. With a range of ten miles and a rate of fire of fifteen rounds per minute, the 5-inch guns fired the deadly VT shells. The VT shells, known as proximity fuzed-shells, would detonate when they came within 70 feet (21 m) of an enemy aircraft. The 5-inch guns could also aim into the water, creating waterspouts which could bring down low flying aircraft such as torpedo planes. The Bofors 40 mm guns were a significant improvement over the 1.1 in/75 caliber guns mounted in the earlier Lexington class aircraft carrier and Yorktown class aircraft carrier classes.

The Essex class also made use of advanced technological and communications equipment. All units were commissioned with SK air-search and SC and SG surface-search radars. Several of the class received SM fighter-direction radar. Two Mark 37 fire control directors fitted with FD Mark 4 tracking radar for the 5"/38 battery were installed; the Mk4 proved inadequate at distinguishing low-level intruders from surface clutter and was quickly replaced with the improved Mark 12/Mark 22 combination. 40mm AA batteries were controlled by Mark 51 gyro-stabilized optical directors with integrated lead-angle calculators. A Plan Position Indicator (PPI) display was used to keep track of ships and enabled a multi-carrier force to maintain a high-speed formation at night or in foul weather. The new navigational tool known as the Dead Reckoning Tracer was also implemented for navigation and tracking of surface ships. Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) was used to identify hostile ships and aircraft, especially at night or in adverse weather. The four-channel Very High Frequency (VHF) radio permitted channel variation in an effort to prevent enemy interception of transmissions. It also allowed for simultaneous radio contact with other ships and planes in the task force.

The "long-hull" EssexesEdit

Beginning in March 1943, one visually very significant change was authorized for ships then in the early stages of construction. This involved lengthening the bow above the waterline into a "clipper" form. The increased rake and flare provided deck space for two quadruple 40mm mounts; these units also had the flight deck slightly shortened forward to provide better arcs of fire. Of the Essex-class ships laid down after 1942, only USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) followed the original "short bow" design. The later ships have been variously referred to as the "long-bow units", the "long-hull group", or the "Ticonderoga class". However, the U.S. Navy never maintained any institutional distinction between the long-hull and short-hull members of the Essex class, and postwar refits and upgrades were applied to both groups equally. Less immediately visible aspects of the March 1943 design modification included a safer ventilation system, the Combat Information Center moved below the armored deck, two flight-deck catapults and the elimination of that on the hangar deck, and a third Mk 37 fire-control director; some of these changes were also made to short-bow ships nearing completion or as they returned to the yards.

Modifications were made throughout the Essex building program. The number of 20mm and 40mm anti-aircraft guns was greatly increased, new and improved radars were added, the original hangar deck catapult was removed, the ventilation system was substantially revised, details of protection were altered, and hundreds of other large and small changes were executed. In the meantime, earlier ships were continually modified as they returned to the yard for repair and overhaul. For example, USS Intrepid (CV-11), one of the first to be commissioned, by the end of the war had received two H-4B flight deck catapults on place of her original single H-4A; three quad 40mm mounts below the island to starboard, three more on the port side and one additional on both the starboard quarter and the stern; 21 additional 20mm mounts; SM fighter-control radar; FD Mk 4 radar replaced with Mk 12/22; and an enlarged flag bridge. In fact, to the skilled observer, no two ships of the class looked exactly the same.

Post-war rebuildsEdit

The large numbers of new ships, coupled with their larger Midway-class aircraft carrier contemporaries, sustained the Navy's air power through the rest of the 1940s, the Korean War era, and beyond. While the spacious hangars accommodated the introduction of jets, various modifications significantly improved the capability of fifteen of the ships to handle the jets’ increased weight and speed. These modifications included jet-blast deflectors (JBDs); mirror and then Fresnel-lens landing light systems (a British innovation); greater aviation fuel capacity; stronger decks, elevators, and catapults; and ultimately an angled flight deck.

Five of the long-hulls were laid up in 1946–47, along with all of the short-hulls. Eight of the last nine completed stayed on active duty to form, with three Midways, the backbone of the post-war Navy's combat strength. Though the Truman administration's defense economies sent three of the active Essexes into "mothballs" in 1949, these soon came back into commission after the Korean War began. Ultimately, nine short-hulls and all thirteen long-hulls had active Cold War service.

USS Oriskany (CV-34), which had been left unfinished at the end of the war, was completed to an improved design between August 1948 and September 1950, with a much stronger (straight) flight deck and a reconfigured island. Eight earlier ships were thoroughly rebuilt to the USS Oriskany (CV-34) design under the SCB-27A program in the early 1950s. Six more of the earlier ships were rebuilt to an improved 27C design as the last stage of the SBC-27 program; these ships received steam catapults instead of the less powerful hydraulic units. The otherwise unmodified USS Antietam (CV-36) received an experimental 10.5 degree angled deck in 1952. An angled flight deck and enclosed hurricane bow became the distinctive features of the SCB-125 program, which was undertaken concurrently with the last three 27C conversions and later applied to all 27A and 27C ships except USS Lake Champlain (CV-39). USS Shangri-La (CV-38) became the first operational United States angled deck aircraft carrier in 1955. USS Oriskany (CV-34), the first of the modernized ships but the last angled-deck conversion, received a unique SCB-125A refit which upgraded her to 27C standard, and included steam catapults and an aluminum flight deck.

Korean War and subsequent Cold War needs ensured twenty-two of the twenty-four ships had extensive post–World War II service (USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) and USS Franklin (CV-13) had suffered heavy damage and were never recommissioned). All initially carried attack air groups; however by 1955 seven unconverted Essexes were operating under the anti-submarine warfare carrier (CVS) designation established in August 1953. As the Forrestal-class aircraft carrier "supercarriers" entered the fleet, the eight 27A conversions were designated CVS to replace the original unconverted ships; the latter began to leave active service in the late 1950s. Two 27C conversions were designated CVS in 1962 (although USS Intrepid (CV-11) would operate as an attack carrier off Vietnam) and two more in 1969. The seven angle-deck 27As and one 27C received specialized CVS modifications including bow-mounted SQS-23 sonar under the SCB-144 program in the early 1960s. The updated units remained active until age and the growing number of supercarriers made them obsolete, from the late 1960s into the middle 1970s. However, one of the very first of the type, Lexington (CV-16), served until 1991 as a training ship. Essex class is the oldest American aircraft carrier class in the history still in service.

Of the unmodernized Essexes, USS Boxer (CV-21), USS Princeton (CV-37), and USS Valley Forge (CV-45) were redesignated Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) amphibious assault ships for the United States Marine Corps, and remained in commission with their original straight decks until about 1970. The remainder decommissioned in the late 1950s and early 1960s and were promptly reclassified as aircraft transports (AVT), reflecting their very limited ability to operate modern aircraft safely. An unmodernised Essex was offered to the Royal Australian Navy in 1960 as a replacement for HMAS Melbourne but the offer was declined due to the expense of modifications required to make it operationally compatible with the RAN's primarily British-designed fleet. All were recommissioned, most in the 1970s.

Evolution of the air wingEdit

For a typical attack carrier configuration in 1956–57 aboard USS Bennington (CV-20), the air wing consisted of one squadron each of the following: FJ3 Fury, F2H Banshees, F9F Cougars, AD-6, AD-5N, and AD-5W Skyraiders, AJ2 Savages, and F9F-8P photo Cougars.

By the mid to late 1960s, the attack air wing had evolved. USS Oriskany (CV-34) deployed with two squadrons of F-8J Crusaders, three squadrons of A-4E Skyhawks, E-1 Tracers, EKA-3B Skywarriors, and RF-8G photo Crusaders. In 1970, the three A-4 squadrons were replaced by two squadrons of A-7A Corsair IIs. The F-4 Phantom II and A-6 Intruder were considered too heavy to operate from the Essex-class.

Tasked and fitted out as an ASW carrier, the air wing of an Essex such as USS Bennington (CV-20) in the 1960s consisted of two squadrons of S2F Trackers and one squadron of Sikorsky SH-34 ASW helicopters (replaced in 1964 by SH-3A Sea Kings). Airborne early warning was first provided by modified EA-1Es; these were upgraded in 1965 to E-1Bs. A small detachment of A-4B's or A-4C's were also embarked to provide daylight fighter protection for the ASW aircraft.

Landing Platform Helicopter converted ships such as the USS Boxer (CV-21) never had an angled landing deck installed and flew only helicopters such as the UH-34 and CH-46 Sea Knight. Four converted Essex class ships served along side the purpose built Iwo Jima class amphibious assault ships providing floating helicopter bases for US Marines. The LPHs were sometimes also used as aircraft ferries for all branches of the U.S. armed forces. The Hawker Siddeley Harrier AV-8A arrived into Marine Corps inventory too late to see regular fixed wing operations return to these ships. It was possible to launch and recover small aircraft like the OV-10 Bronco without need of catapult or arresting wires, but this was very rarely permitted on these straight-deck ships for safety reasons and to avoid interruption of helicopter operations.

Military contributionsEdit

One author called the Essex class "the most significant class of warships in American naval history", citing the large number produced and "their role in making the aircraft carrier the backbone of the U.S. Navy."

Essex-class ships played a central role in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II from 1943 through the end of the war, beginning with raids in the central Pacific and the invasion of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. The ships successfully performed a number of missions, included air superiority, attacking the Japanese fleet, supporting landings, fleet protection, bombing the Japanese home islands, and transporting aircraft and troops. Along the way, the carriers survived bombs, torpedoes, kamikazes, and typhoons without one ship being sunk.

Eleven of the Essex carriers participated in the Korean War. These ships played a major role throughout the entire war. Missions included attacks on all types of ground targets, air superiority, and antisubmarine patrols.

Thirteen of the 24 carriers originally built participated in the Vietnam War, including the prelude and follow-up.[25] However, their inability to support the latest aircraft constrained some of those ships to specialized roles as helicopter carriers or antisubmarine platforms. The ships still performing an attack mission generally carried older aircraft types than the supercarriers. Yet, the Essex class still made significant contributions to all aspects of the U.S. war effort. In one notable event, during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, aircraft from the Ticonderoga fired at North Vietnamese torpedo boats that had attacked a U.S. destroyer.

The carriers also contributed between the wars, projecting U.S. power around the world and performing antisubmarine patrols. When the Cold War heated up, the Essex carriers were often involved, including Quemoy and the Matsu Islands, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also, from 1957 through 1991 an Essex-class ship served as the Navy's training carrier—the Antietam from 1957 through 1962 and the Lexington for the remainder of the time.

The space programEdit

Several Essex-class ships played a part in the United States' human spaceflight program, as recovery ships for unmanned and manned spaceflights, between 1960 and 1973.

USS Valley Forge (CV-45) was the recovery ship for the unmanned flight of Mercury-Redstone 1A on 19 December 1960. The first spaceflight by an American was on Mercury-Redstone 3, recovered by USS Lake Champlain (CV-39) on 5 May 1961. USS Randolph (CV-15) recovered the next flight, Mercury-Redstone 4, on 21 July 1961, and she was the primary recovery ship for Mercury-Atlas 6. The next manned flight, Mercury-Atlas 7, was picked up by USS Intrepid (CV-11) on 24 May 1962, and USS Kearsarge (CV-33) recovered the last two Mercury spacecraft, Mercury-Atlas 8, on 3 October 1962, and Mercury-Atlas 9, on 16 May 1963.

When the Mercury program's successor, Project Gemini, got underway, Essexes were again closely involved. USS Lake Champlain (CV-39) recovered the second unmanned flight, Gemini 2, on 19 January 1965; and USS Intrepid (CV-11) recovered the first manned flight, Gemini 3. USS Wasp (CV-18) recovered the crew of Gemini IV on 7 June, and on 29 August, USS Lake Champlain (CV-39) picked up Gemini 5 after eight days in space. In December 1965, USS Wasp (CV-18) made history by picking up two spacecraft in just over two days: Gemini VI-A on 16 December, and Gemini 7 on 18 December, after their orbital rendezvous test flight. She also recovered Gemini 9A on 6 June 1966 and the final Gemini spaceflight, Gemini 12 on 15 November.

Ships in classEdit

Hull no. Ship Yard Ordered Keel laid Launched Commission Rebuild(s) Re-designations Recommissioned Fate
CV-09 USS Essex (CV-9) Newport News Shipbuilding Feb 1940 Apr 1941 Jul 1942 Dec 1942Jan 1951 SCB-27A, 1951

SCB-125, 1956 SCB-144, 1962

CVA-9, 1952

CVS-9, 1960

Jan 1947

Jun 1969

In service
CV-10 USS Yorktown (CV-10)

(ex-Bon Homme Richard)

Newport News Shipbuilding May 1940 Dec 1941 Jan 1943 Apr 1943Jan 1953 SCB-27A, 1953

SCB-125, 1955 SCB-144, 1966

CVA-10, 1953

CVS-10, 1957

Jan 1947

Jun 1970

In service
CV-11 USS Intrepid (CV-11) Newport News Shipbuilding May 1940 Dec 1941 Apr 1943 Aug 1943Feb 1952Oct 1954 SCB-27C, 1954

SCB-125, 1957 SCB-144, 1965

CVA-11, 1952

CVS-11, 1961

Mar 1947

Apr 1952 Mar 1974

In service
CV-12 USS Hornet (CV-12)


Newport News Shipbuilding Sep 1940 Aug 1942 Aug 1943 Nov 1943Mar 1951Sep 1953 SCB-27A, 1953

SCB-125, 1956 SCB-144, 1965

CVA-12, 1953


Jan 1947

May 1951 Jun 1970

In service
CV-13 USS Franklin (CV-13) Newport News Shipbuilding Sep 1940 Dec 1942 Oct 1943 Jan 1944 Feb 1947 In service
CV-14 USS Ticonderoga (CV-14)*(ex-Hancock) Newport News Shipbuilding Sep 1940 Feb 1943 Feb 1944 May 1944Oct 1954 SCB-27C, 1954

SCB-125, 1957

CVA-14, 1954

CVS-14, 1969

Jan 1947

Sep 1973

In service
CV-15 USS Randolph (CV-15)* Newport News Shipbuilding Sep 1940 May 1943 Jun 1944 Oct 1944Jul 1953 SCB-27A, 1953

SCB-125, 1956 SCB-144, 1961

CVA-15, 1953

CVS-15, 1959

Feb 1948

Feb 1969

In service
CV-16 USS Lexington (CV-16)


Fore River Shipyard Sep 1940 Jul 1941 Sep 1942 Feb 1943Aug 1955 SCB-27C/125, 1955 CVA-16,1955

CVS-16, 1962 CVT-16, 1969 AVT-16, 1978

Apr 1947

Nov 1991

In service
CV-17 USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) Fore River Shipyard Sep 1940 Sep 1941 Dec 1942 May 1943 Jan 1947 In service
CV-18 USS Wasp (CV-18)


Fore River Shipyard Sep 1940 Mar 1942 Aug 1943 Nov 1943Sep 1951 SCB-27A, 1951

SCB-125, 1955 SCB-144, 1964

CVA-18, 1952

CVS-18, 1956

Feb 1947

Jul 1972

In service
CV-19 USS Hancock (CV-19)*(ex-Ticonderoga) Fore River Shipyard Sep 1940 Jan 1943 Jan 1944 April 1944Feb 1954Nov 1956 SCB-27C, 1954

SCB-125, 1956

CVA-19, 1952

CV-19, 1975

May 1947

Apr 1956 Jan 1976

In service
CV-20 USS Bennington (CV-20) Brooklyn Navy Yard Dec 1941 Dec 1942 Feb 1944 Aug 1944Nov 1952 SCB-27A, 1952

SCB-125, 1955 SCB-144, 1963

CVA-20, 1952

CVS-20, 1959

Nov 1946

Jan 1970

In service
CV-21 USS Boxer (CV-21)* Newport News Shipbuilding Dec 1941 Sep 1943 Dec 1944 Apr 1945 Amphib CVA-21, 1952

CVS-21, 1956 LPH-4, 1959

Dec 1969 In service
CV-31 USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) Brooklyn Navy Yard Aug 1942 Feb 1943 Apr 1944 Nov 1944Jan 1951Sep 1955 SCB-27C/125, 1955 CVA-31, 1952 Jan 1947

May 1953 Jul 1971

In service
CV-32 USS Leyle (CV-32)*(ex-Crown Point) Newport News Shipbuilding Aug 1942 Feb 1944 Aug 1945 Apr 1946 CVA-32, 1952

CVS-32, 1953

May 1959 In service
CV-33 USS Kearsarge (CV-33)* Brooklyn Navy Yard Aug 1942 Mar 1944 May 1945 Mar 1946Feb 1952 SCB-27A, 1952

SCB-125, 1957 SCB-144, 1962

CVA-33, 1952

CVS-32, 1958

Jun 1950

Feb 1970

In service
CV-34 USS Oriskany (CV-34)** Brooklyn Navy Yard Aug 1942 May 1944 Oct 1945 Sep 1950Mar 1959 SCB-27, 1950

SCB-125A, 1959

CVA-34, 1952

CV-34, 1975

Jan 1957

Sep 1976

In service
CV-35 USS Reprisal (CV-35) Brooklyn Navy Yard Aug 1942 July 1944 1946 In service
CV-36 USS Antietam (CV-36)* Philadelphia Navy Yard Aug 1942 Mar 1943 Aug 1944 Jan 1945Jan 1951 Experimental angled deck, 1952 CVA-36, 1952

CVS-36, 1953


May 1963

In service
CV-37 USS Princeton (CV-37)*(ex-Valley Forge) Philadelphia Navy Yard Aug 1942 Sep 1943 Jul 1945 Nov 1945Aug 1950 Amphib CVA-37, 1952

CVS-37, 1954 LPH-5, 1959

Jun 1949

Jan 1970

In service
CV-38 USS Shangri-La (CV-38)* Norfolk Navy Yard Aug 1942 Jan 1943 Feb 1944 Sep 1944May 1951 SCB-27C/125, 1955 CVA-38, 1952

CVS-38, 1969

Nov 1947

Jul 1971

In service
CV-39 USS Lake Champlain (CV-39)* Norfolk Navy Yard Aug 1942 Mar 1943 Nov 1944 Jun 1945Sep 1952 SCB-27A, 1952 CVA-39, 1952

CVS-39, 1957

Feb 1947

May 1966

In service
CV-40 USS Tarawa (CV-40)* Norfolk Navy Yard Aug 1942 Mar 1944 May 1945 Nov 1945Feb 1951 CVA-40, 1952

CVS-40, 1955

Jun 1949

May 1960

In service
CV-45 USS Valley Forge (CV-45)* Philadelphia Navy Yard Jun 1943 Sep 1944 Nov 1945 Nov 1946 Amphib CVA-45, 1952

CVS-45, 1953 LPH-8, 1961

Jan 1970 In service
CV-46 USS Iwo Jima (CV-46) Newport News Shipbuilding Jun 1943 Jan 1945 In service
CV-47 USS Philippine Sea (CV-47)* Fore River Shipyard Jun 1943 Aug 1944 Sep 1945 May 1946 CVA-47, 1952

CVS-47, 1955

Dec 1958 In service