USS Independence (CVL-22)
Conventionally-Powered Light Aircraft Carrier
USS Independence CVL-22 survived critical operations of World War 2 only to be expended as a target in atomic tests following the conflict.
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USS Independence (CVL-22) was a conventionally-powered aircraft carrier ordered in the build up to World War 2 (1939-1945) and delivered during the conflict itself. She saw her keel laid down on May 1st, 1941 by New York Shipbuilding Corporation and was subsequently launched on August 22nd, 1942. USS Independence was formally commissioned on January 14th, 1943 to begin her wartime career - which spanned the length of the war (1945).
USS Independence headed the Independence-class of carriers which numbered nine total vessels born from the Cleveland light cruiser design. The cruisers were converted to light carriers in response to the growing threat of another war in Europe, the Cleveland design pushed ahead at speed to present the USN with viable carriers until the full effect of the Essex-class could be had on the service going forward.
USS Independence featured its island superstructure set well ahead of midships along the starboard side of the hull. Its flight deck was left largely unobstructed to support the launching and recovery of its fixed=wing stock of aircraft. As originally designed, the vessel was intended to carry some thirty total aircraft made up of fighters, bombers and dive bombers. During war time, its inventory was typically increased to number about 34 aircraft in all. Its design roots in the Cleveland-class were clearly seen in the hull, the sharply pointed bow paying tribute to its cruiser origins. Four smoke funnels were also lined up along the starboard side (aft of the island superstructure). Dimensions included a length of 623 feet, a beam measuring 109 feet and a draught down to 26 feet. Her displacement was 14,750 tons under load.
Power to the vessel was through four boilers coupled to General Electric turbines delivering 100,000 horsepower to 4 x shafts. This allowed the vessel to make headway at 31 knots in ideal conditions with a range out to 13,000 nautical miles (when running at about 15 knots steady). Her complete crew numbered 1,569 officers and enlisted personnel including the air arm. Standard armament was completely Anti-Aircraft (AA) in its approach - 26 x 40mm Bofors guns being fitted to protect the warship.
As part of the Cleveland group of ships, USS Independence was originally laid down as USS Amsterdam (CL-59) but revised with the "CV-22" following her revision and re-categorization. During 1943 she traversed the Panama Canal and made her way West to form part of the Pacific Fleet. From there USS Independence recorded operational contributions to several of the major World War 2 campaigns between the United States and the Japanese: Rabaul, the Gilbert Islands, the Philippines, Okinawa and Japan proper were all eventually tied to her service history. She took an enemy torpedo during actions at Tarawa which required her to be relocated stateside for in-depth repairs. It was at this time that she was given support for night time operations which increased her tactical value considerably from mid-1944 onward. Air strikes against the Japanese mainland marked her last sorties launched against the enemy before she entered Tokyo waters for the Japanese surrender.
Her final contribution to the Grand Conflict was as part of "Operation Magic Carpet", the initiative to bring service personnel back stateside by the thousands. Once this was completed, she served as a target during atomic testing where her radioactive hull was researched at length. USS Independence was decommissioned on August 28th, 1946 and scuttled near the Farallon Islands where her remains contaminated nearby waters - impacting wildlife and industry in the region.