Wednesday, May 22, 2013

USS Franklin (CV-13) Going to War, 1944

Shown here is the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV-13) on May 4, 1944 in the Elizabeth River. Steaming upstream towards downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth, the warship had just completed her final check up at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.  She then headed to the Panama Canal and the Pacific Theater. 

Leaving Norfolk Naval Shipyard, February 21, 1944
Launched at Newport News Shipbuilding on October 14, 1943, the Navy commissioned the carrier on January 4, 1944. Franklin spent the next four months conducting shakedown cruises off the Virgina coast and in the West Indies.  After each of these cruises,  the carrier returned to Norfolk Naval Shipyard to fix any flaws discovered during the operation. 

Franklin's combat operations in the Pacific theatre are among the most legendary war cruises in U.S. Naval history.  After she arrived in the Pacific, the carrier participated in several strikes against Japanese-held islands including Guam, Formosa, and the Philippines throughout 1944.   She sustained four major hits from Japanese aircraft during these operations.  It was only on the fourth strike that the carrier returned to a shipyard for repairs. Returned to action on March 3, 1945, Franklin participated in strikes against the Japanese home islands. 

Another view of Franklin in the Elizabeth River on February 21,
1944.  This time the ship is passing downtown Norfolk.
Here she suffered her fifth hit.  According to the ship veteran's website, "On 19 March 1945, off Shikoku, the Franklin was struck by two bombs which passed through the flight deck and detonated in the hangar.  A terrific conflagration fed by gasoline in aircraft fuel tanks, together with detonations of a large number of heavy bombs and rockets loaded on aircraft, demolished a major part of the flight deck and wrecked the hangar and gallery deck spaces.  Flooding from fire-fighting water caused a heavy list.  All machinery spaces were evacuated because of smoke and heat and all power failed.  This is the worst damage which any United States warship has survived."

Franklin's official damage report can be read at our parent command's web site here.

In large part to due her ship's company's company's heroic damage control, Franklin not only made it back to the United States, but made it all the way to New York City for repairs. 

No comments: