The ESSEX (CV 9) Class

The USS INTREPID (CV 11), was the third ship of the ESSEX class fleet carriers. During World War II they became the backbone of the fast carrier task forces which played a decisive role in the Pacific campaigns of 1944 and 1945 and the ultimate destruction of the Japanese Navy.

The INTREPID returns to Hampton Roads 25 November 1943 after her training cruise in the Caribbean. She recieved monor repairs/adjustments to equipment at the Norfolk Navy Yard prior to leaving for the Pacific on 3 December 1943.

Only after five years after WWII Essex class carriers provided the greater part of naval air support in Korea and some were deployed for active service during the war in Vietnam (INTREPID served three tours in Vietnam). Seventeen of the original twenty-four ships were still active as late as 1967 although some had been reclassified for special service i.e., ASW, LPH and CVT. The ESSEX class played a major role in three of the most successful and eventful decades of U.S. Naval aviation.

The design of the CV 9 class was based on operatons in the Pacific and they were expected to be used against Japan. This required different sea-keeping characteristics than if they were intended for operatons in the North Atlantic. One of the most important considerations was endurance – having to be able to steam at least 15,000 nautical miles at 15 knots.

The INTREPID had a moderate bulbous bow to reduce resistance at high speed, a nearly square bilge to provide maximum volume for the side protection system, and a cruiser stern with a single counterbalanced rudder. There was no need for an extensive side protection system well aft, therefore, the twin-skeg arrangement adapted for the new battleships was not necessary. In the battleships, the additional underwater breadth permitted by the twin skegs allowed the side protection system to be carried past the after barbette and magazines.

The main, or hangar deck, formed the top of the hull girder. The gallery and flight decks were actually part of the superstructure and did not contribute to the strength of the girder. The flight deck surface was wood laid over light steel plate which served as a fire break. A large portion of the hangar deck was open along the sides which was the result of the requirement for aircraft to warm up their engines before being lifted to the flight deck. The hangar deck could be closed to the weather and/or made light tight for night operations by large roller curtains.

Within the hull proper, there were four continuous decks numbered from the hangar deck down. the 2nd and 3rd decks were mainly used for accommodation and stores and had nearly free fore and aft access. Access on the 4th deck was limited to within the main watertight transverse bulkheads and covered the eight large machinery spaces in the midships section of the hull.

At the end of WWII in 1945, the Navy had the largest fleet in the world and, without doubt, the most powerful carrier force. Rapid technological developments made during the war produced newer, heavier and more sophisticated aircraft and weapons. Many, such as jet aircraft, guided missiles and atomic devices, threatened the fleet and, in particular, the carrier force with obsolescence.

In mid 1946, the newly formed SCB (Ship’s Characteristics Board) began a series of projects to modenize the existing fleet.

Projects SCB 27 ( http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/usnshtp/cv/scb27cl.htm ), SCB 125 ( http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/usnshtp/cv/scb125cl.htm ) and the FRAM project ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleet_Rehabilitation_and_Modernization ) took place.   FRAM was the final modernization for the INTREPID and seven of her sister ships. the program began in October 1960 and was completed in November 1965. The INTREPID was the last of the ESSEX class, and the only SCB-27C conversion, to receive a FRAM modernization which included the installation of a C-11 steam catapult, under license from the Royal Navy.

The ESSEX class was designed to operate an air group of four squadrons consisting of 18 planes each, with space for a fifth squadron, 9 reserve aircraft and a scout bomber. By the time INTREPID entered service, she carried the full five squadrons.

The original CV 9 class design featured three aircraft elevators, two on the centerline and one on the deck-edge.

The INTREPID was equiped with arresting gear forward as well as aft. This provided for landing aircraft over the bow in the event the after porton of the flight deck was damaged and could not be used to receive incoming aircraft. During overhauls beginning in 1944, the forward arresting gear was removed.

ESSEX Class Data/Name/Hull No./Commissioned/Decommissioned

  1. Essex                                      CV 9               12/31/42               6/30/69
  2. Yorktown                            CV 10               4/15/43               6/27/70
  3. Intrepid                                CV 11                8/16/43               3/30/74
  4. Hornet                                   CV 12             11/29/43               6/26/70
  5. Franklin                                CV 13                1/31/44                       *    
  6. Ticonderoga                       CV 14                  5/8/44                   9/1/73
  7. Randolph                             CV 15               10/9/44                 2/13/69
  8. Lexington                            CV 16               3/17/43                 CVT in 1976
  9. Bunker Hill                          CV 17               5/24/42                        *
  10. Wasp                                      CV 18             11/24/43                  7/1/72
  11. Hancock                               CV 19               4/15/44                1/30/76
  12. Bennington                         CV 20                 8/6/44                1/15/70
  13. Boxer                                     CV 21               4/16/45                12/1/69                                                                                    
  14. Bon Homme Richard       CV 31            11/26/44                  7/2/71 (Recommissioned for Korea in her original form)
  15. Leyte                                      CV 32              4/11/46                 5/15/59
  16. Kearsarge                             CV 33                3/2/46                 2/13/70
  17. Oriskany                               CV 34              9/25/50                 5/15/76
  18. Reprisal                                CV 35                      –                                  –         (Never completed. Hulk used for tests)
  19. Antietam                              CV 36               1/28/45                   5/8/63
  20. Princeton                             CV 37             11/18/45                1/30/70
  21. Shangri-La                           CV 38               11/7/44                7/30/71
  22. Lake Champlain                 CV 39                 6/3/45                 1/19/66 (Rebuilt but never received an angled deck)
  23. Tarawa                                  CV 40               12/8/45                        5/60
  24. Valley Forge                       CV 45               11/3/46                 1/15/70
  25. Iwo Jima                              CV 46                       –                                  –        (Cancelled/broken up on the shipway)
  26. Philippine Sea                    CV 47               5/11/46                      12/58

                                                                           Source: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company

 

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