USS Intrepid (CV-11) WWII History

This 4th named Intrepid (CV-11), Commissioned in August 1943, was also known as The FightingI”, she was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the United States Navy.

Intrepid was launched on 26 April 1943 by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA., and was the fifth Essex-class aircraft carrier to be launched. She was sponsored by the wife of Vice Admiral Joh H. Hoover. On 16 August 1943, she was commissioned with Captain Thomas L. Sprague in command (See Chapter X) before heading to the Caribbean for shakedown and training. Intrepid‘s motto upon setting sail was “In Mare In Caelo“, which means “On the sea, in the sky“, or “In the sea in Heaven“.

Intrepid participated in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations, most notably the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Decommissioned shortly after the end of the war, she was modernized and re-commissioned in the early 1950s as an attack carrier (CVA), and then eventually became an antisubmarine carrier (CVS).

In her second career, she served mainly in the Atlantic, but also participated in the Vietnam War. Her notable achievements include being the recovery ship for a Mercury and a Gemini space mission. Because of her prominent role in battle, she was nicknamed “the Fighting I”, while her often ill-luck and the time spent in dry dock for repairs earned her the nickname “the Dry I”.

Intrepid has one of the most distinguished WWII service records of any Navy ship, seeing active service in the Pacific Theater including the Marshall Islands, Truk, Leyte Gulf, and Okinawa. At war’s end, she was in *Enewetak and soon supported occupation forces providing air support and supply services before heading back to California.

*Enewetak Atoll is a large coral atoll of 40 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its land area totals less than 5.85 square kilometres (2.26 sq mi), surrounding a deep central lagoon, 80 kilometres (50 mi) in circumference. It is the second westernmost atoll of the Ralik Chain, and is located 305 kilometres (190 mi) west from Bikini Atoll. The U.S. government referred to the atoll as “Eniwetok” until 1974, when it changed its official spelling to “Enewetak” (along with many other Marshall Islands place names) to more properly reflect their proper pronunciation by the Marshall Islanders.

Intrepid’s  WWII Service Record

Marshalls, January-February 1944

  • December 3, 1943: Intrepid sailed from Naval Station Norfolk for San Francisco, then to Hawaii.
  • January 10, 1944: She arrived at Pearl Harbor and prepared for the invasion of the Marshall Islands, the next objective in the Navy’s massive island-hopping campaign.
  • January 16th: She left Pearl Harbor with carriers Cabot and Essex.
  • January 29-February 2nd: She raided islands at the NE corner of Kwajalein Atoll and pressed the attack until the last opposition vanished.
  • January 31st: By then, the raids destroyed all of the 83 Japanese aircraft based on Roi-Namur. The 1st landings were made on adjacent islets. That morning, Intrepid’s aircraft (a/c) strafed Ennuebing Island until 10 minutes before the first Marines reached the beaches.
  • Thirty minutes later, that islet – which protected Roi’s SW flank and controlled the North Pass into Kwajalein Lagoon – was secured, enabling Marines to set up artillery to support their assault on Roi.
  • February 2nd: Her work in the capture of the Marshall Islands was now finished. Intrepid headed for Truk, the tough Japanese base in the center of Micronesia.
  • February 17th: Three fast carrier groups arrived undetected at dawn. That night, an aerial torpedo struck Intrepid’s starboard quarter, 15ft below her waterline, flooding several compartments and distorting her rudder. By running her port engines a full power and stopping her starboard engines or running them at 1/3 ahead, Captain Sprague kept her roughly on course. Her crew moved all the a/c on deck forward to increase her headsail to further aid in control.
  • February 18th: The 3 carrier groups sank 2 Japanese destroyers and 200,000 tons of merchant shipping in 2 days of almost continuous attacks in Operation Hailstone. The carrier raid demonstrated Truk’s vulnerability and thereby greatly curtailed its usefulness to the   Japanese as a base.
  • February 19th: Strong winds overpowered the improvised steering and left her with her bow pointed toward Tokyo. Sprague later confessed: “Right then I wasn’t interested in going in that direction.” At this point the crew made a jury-rig sail of wood, cargo nets, and canvas to further increase her headsail, allowing Intrepid to hold her course.
  • February 24th: Intrepid reached Peal Harbor.
  • March 16th: After temporary repairs, Intrepid sailed for the West Coast of the United States.
  • March 22nd: She arrived at Hunter’s Point, CA
  • June: She was back in fighting trim and departed for 2 months of operations out of Pearl Harbor, then to the Marshalls.

 Palaus and Philippines – September-November, 1944

  • September 6-7: Intrepid’s a/c struck Japanese positions in the Palaus concentrating on airfields and artillery emplacements on Peleliu.
  • September 8th: Her fast carrier task force steamed west toward southern Philippines.
  • September 9-10: She struck airfields on Mindanao.
  • September 12-14: She raided bases in the Visayan Sea.
  • September 17th: She returned to the Palaus to support Marines in overcoming opposition from hillside caves and mangrove swamps on Peleliu.
  • When the struggle settled down to rooting Japanese defenders out of the ground man-to-man, Intrepid steamed back to the Philippines to prepare the way for liberation. She struck throughout the Philippines, also pounding Okinawa and Formosa to neutralize Japanese air threats to Leyte.
  • October: Intrepid’s a/c flew missions in support of the Leyte landings. Japan’s Navy, desperately striving to hold the Philippines, was converging on Leyte Gulf from 3 directions.
  • October 12-26: Ships of the U.S. Navy parried thrusts in 4 major actions collectively known as the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
  • October 24th (morning): An Intrepid a/c spotted Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita’s flagship, Yamato. 2 hrs later, a/c from Intrepid and Cabot braved intense antiaircraft fire to begin a day-long attack on Center Force. Wave after wave followed until by sunset American carrier-based a/c sank battleship Musashi and damaged her sister ship Yamato, along with battleships Nagato and Haruna and heavy cruiser Myoko, forcing Myoko to withdraw.
  • Throughout the day, the attack continued and, after 5 more strikes, Japan had lost 4 carriers and a destroyer.
  • The still-potent Center Force, after pushing through San Bernardino Strait, had steamed S along the coast of Samar where it was held at bay by a small escort carrier group of 6 “baby flattops”, 3 destroyers, and 4 destroyer escorts until help arrived and it went back towards Japan.
  • As Intrepid’s a/c hit Clark Field on October 30th, a burning kamikaze crashed into her #10 gun tub killing 10 men and wounding 6. Soon skillful damage control work enabled Intrepid to resume flight Ops.
  • Intrepid a/c continued to hit airfields and shipping in the Philippines.
  • November 25th (shortly after noon): A heavy force of Japanese a/c struck back at the carriers. Within 5 minutes, 2 kamikazes crashed into Intrepid killing 6 officers and 5 crew…(Actual report from Air Group 18 states…”60 were dead, 15 missing, and about 100 wounded”. Intrepid never lost propulsion nor left her station in the task group, and in less than 2 hours had extinguished the last blaze.
  • November 26th: Intrepid headed for San Francisco.
  • December 20th: She arrived for repairs.

 Okinawa & Japan – March-December, 1945 

  • Mid February: Back in fighting trim, Intrepid steamed for Ulithi.
  • March 13th: she arrived at Ulithi.
  • March 14th: She set off eastward.
  • March 18th: She made powerful strikes against airfields on Kyushu. That morning a twin-engined Japanese G4M “Betty” broke through a curtain of defensive fire turned toward Intrepid and exploded only 50’ off Intrepid’s forward boat crane. A shower of flaming gasoline and a/c parts started fires on the hangar deck, but damage control teams quickly put them out.
  • Intrepid’s a/c joined attacks on parts of the Japanese fleet anchored at Kure damaging 18 naval vessels including the Yamato and Amagi. 
  • The carriers turned to Okinawa as L-Day, the start of the most ambitious amphibious assault of the Pacific war, approached.
  • March 26-27: Intrepid a/c attacked the Ryukyus, softening up enemy defensive works.
  • April 1st: The invasion began with a/c flying support missions against targets on Okinawa and made neutralizing raids against Japanese airfields in range of the island.
  • April 16th: During an air raid, a Japanese a/c dived into Intrepid’s flight deck forcing the engine and part of her fuselage right on through, killing 8 men and wounding 21. In less than an hour the flaming gasoline had been extinguished, and only 3 hours after the crash, a/c were again landing on her flight deck.
  • April 16th: Intrepid retired homeward via Ulithi and Pearl Harbor.
  • May 19th: She arrived at San Francisco for repairs.
  • June 29th: Intrepid left San Francisco.
  • August 6th: In passing, her a/c smashed Japanese on bypassed Wake Island.
  • August 7th: Intrepid arrived at Eniwetok.
  • August 15th: She received word to “cease offensive operations.”
  • August 21st: Intrepid supports the occupation of Japan.
  • December 2nd: She departed Yokosuka.
  • December 15th: Intrepid arrived San Pedro, CA.
  • February 4, 1948: Intrepid shifted to San Francisco Bay.
  • August 15th: Her status was reduced to “In commission in reserve.”
  • March 22nd: She was decommissioned and joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

                      Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/uss_intrepid_(CV-11)

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