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Conceived in the 1920s and early 1930s, the US Navy's Lexington- and Yorktown-class aircraft carriers were built to conform to the restrictions set forth by the Washington Naval Treaty. This agreement placed limitations on the tonnage of various types of warships as well as capped each signatory's overall tonnage. These types of restrictions were confirmed through the 1930 London Naval Treaty. As global tensions increased, Japan and Italy departed the agreement in 1936. With the collapse of the treaty system, the US Navy began developing a design for a new, larger class of aircraft carrier and one which incorporated the lessons learned from the Yorktown-class. The resulting design was wider and longer as well as incorporated a deck-edge elevator system. This had been used earlier on USS Wasp (CV-7). In addition to carrying a larger air group, the new class possessed a greatly enhanced anti-aircraft armament. The lead ship, USS Essex (CV-9), was laid down on April 28, 1941.
USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) - A New Design
With the US entry into World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Essex-class became the US Navy's standard design for fleet carriers. The first four ships after Essex followed the type's original design. In early 1943, the US Navy made modifications to improve future vessels. The most noticeable of these was the lengthening the bow to a clipper design which allowed for the addition of two quadruple 40 mm mounts. Other alterations included moving the combat information center below the armored deck, installation of improved aviation fuel and ventilation systems, a second catapult on the flight deck, and an additional fire control director. Though known as the "long-hull" Essex-class or Ticonderoga-class by some, the US Navy made no distinction between these and the earlier Essex-class ships.
- Nation: United States
- Type: Aircraft Carrier
- Shipyard: Newport News Shipbuilding Company
- Laid Down: February 1, 1943
- Launched: February 7, 1944
- Commissioned: May 8, 1944
- Fate: Scrapped 1974
- Displacement: 27,100 tons
- Length: 888 ft.
- Beam: 93 ft.
- Draft: 28 ft., 7 in.
- Propulsion: 8 × boilers, 4 × Westinghouse geared steam turbines, 4 × shafts
- Speed: 33 knots
- Complement: 3,448 men
- 4 × twin 5 inch 38 caliber guns
- 4 × single 5 inch 38 caliber guns
- 8 × quadruple 40 mm 56 caliber guns
- 46 × single 20 mm 78 caliber guns
- 90-100 aircraft
The first ship to move forward with the revised Essex-class design was USS Hancock (CV-14). Laid down on Feb. 1, 1943, the new carrier's construction commenced at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. On May 1, the US Navy changed the ship's name to USS Ticonderoga in honor of Fort Ticonderoga which had played a key role in the French & Indian War and American Revolution. Work quickly moved forward and the ship slid down the ways on Feb. 7, 1944, with Stephanie Pell serving as sponsor. Construction of Ticonderoga concluded three months later and it entered commission on May 8 with Captain Dixie Kiefer in command. A veteran of Coral Sea and Midway, Kiefer had previously served as Yorktown's executive officer prior to its loss in June 1942.
For two months after commissioning, Ticonderoga remained at Norfolk to embark Air Group 80 as well as needed supplies and equipment. Departing on June 26, the new carrier spent much of July conducting training and flight operations in the Caribbean. Returning to Norfolk on July 22, the next several weeks were spent correcting post-shakedown issues. With this complete, Ticonderoga sailed for the Pacific on August 30. Passing through the Panama Canal, it reached Pearl Harbor on September 19. After aiding in tests on the transfer of munitions at sea, Ticonderoga moved west to join the Fast Carrier Task Force at Ulithi. Embarking Rear Admiral Arthur W. Radford, it became flagship of Carrier Division 6.
Fighting the Japanese
Sailing on Nov. 2, Ticonderoga and its consorts commenced strikes around the Philippines in support of the campaign on Leyte. On November 5, its air group made its combat debut and assisted in sinking the heavy cruiser Nachi. Over the next few weeks, Ticonderoga's planes contributed to destroying Japanese troop convoys, installations ashore, as well as sinking the heavy cruiser Kumano. As operations continued in the Philippines, the carrier survived several kamikaze attacks which inflicted damage on Essex and USS Intrepid (CV-11). After a brief respite at Ulithi, Ticonderoga returned to the Philippines for five days of strikes against Luzon beginning on Dec. 11.
While withdrawing from this action, Ticonderoga and the rest of Admiral William "Bull" Halsey's Third Fleet endured a severe typhoon. After making storm-related repairs at Ulithi, the carrier began strikes against Formosa in January 1945 and helped cover the Allied landings at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon. Later in the month, the American carriers pushed into the South China Sea and conducted a series of devastating raids against the coast of Indochina and China. Returning north on Jan. 20-21, Ticonderoga began raids on Formosa. Coming under attack from kamikazes, the carrier sustained a hit which penetrated the flight deck. Quick action by Kiefer and Ticonderoga's firefighting teams limited damage. This was followed by a second hit which struck the starboard side near the island. Though inflicting around 100 casualties, including Kiefer, the hit proved not to be fatal and Ticonderoga limped back to Ulithi before steaming to Puget Sound Navy Yard for repairs.
Arriving on Feb. 15, Ticonderoga entered the yard and Captain William Sinton assumed command. Repairs continued until April 20 when the carrier departed for Alameda Naval Air Station en route to Pearl Harbor. Reaching Hawaii on May 1, it soon pushed on to rejoin the Fast Carrier Task Force. After conducting attacks on Taroa, Ticonderoga reached Ulithi on May 22. Sailing two days later, it took part in raids on Kyushu and endured a second typhoon. June and July saw the carrier's aircraft continue to hit targets around the Japanese home islands including the remnants of the Japanese Combined Fleet at the Kure Naval Base. These continued into August until Ticonderoga received word of the Japanese surrender on Aug. 16. With the end of the war, the carrier spent September to December shuttling American servicemen home as part of Operation Magic Carpet.
Decommissioned on Jan. 9, 1947, Ticonderoga remained inactive in Puget Sound for five years. On Jan. 31, 9152, the carrier re-entered commission for a transfer to the New York Naval Shipyard where it underwent a SCB-27C conversion. This saw it receive modern equipment to allow it to handle the US Navy's new jet aircraft. Fully re-commissioned on Sept. 11, 1954, with Captain William A. Schoech in command, Ticonderoga commenced operations out of Norfolk and was involved in testing new aircraft. Dispatched to the Mediterranean a year later it remained abroad until 1956 when it sailed for Norfolk to undergo a SCB-125 conversion. This saw the installation of a hurricane bow and angled flight deck. Returning to duty in 1957, Ticonderoga moved back to the Pacific and spent the following year in the Far East.
Over the next four years, Ticonderoga continued to make routine deployments to the Far East. In August 1964, the carrier provided air support for USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. On August 5, Ticonderoga and USS Constellation (CV-64) launched attacks against targets in North Vietnam as a reprisal for the incident. For this effort, the carrier received the Naval Unit Commendation. Following an overhaul in early 1965, the carrier steamed for Southeast Asia as American forces became involved in the Vietnam War. Assuming a position at Dixie Station on November 5, Ticonderoga's aircraft provided direct support for troops on the ground in South Vietnam. Remaining deployed until April 1966, the carrier also operated from Yankee Station further north.
Between 1966 and mid-1969, Ticonderoga moved through a cycle of combat operations off Vietnam and training on the West Coast. During its 1969 combat deployment, the carrier received orders to move north in response to the North Korean downing of a US Navy reconnaissance aircraft. Concluding its mission off Vietnam in September, Ticonderoga sailed for Long Beach Naval Shipyard where it was converted to an anti-submarine warfare carrier. Resuming active duty on May 28, 1970, it made two further deployments to the Far East but did not take part in combat. During this time, it acted as the primary recovery ship for the Apollo 16 and 17 Moon flights. On September 1, 1973, the aging Ticonderoga was decommissioned at San Diego, CA. Struck from the Navy List in November, it was sold for scrap on September 1, 1975.
- DANFS: USS Ticonderoga (CV-14)
- USS Ticonderoga (CV-14)
- NavSource: USS Ticonderoga (CV-14)