USS Intrepid (CV-11) Conventionally-Powered Aircraft Carrier
The USS Intrepid survived the perils of World War 2 to fight on through the Vietnam War, eventually to retire as a floating museum.
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The USS Intrepid served the United States Navy throughout World War 2 and beyond. The vessel was designed from the new Essex-class of aircraft carriers and was officially added to the navy inventory in 1943. The Intrepid would go on to see extensive combat (known best for its involvement in the Battle of Leyte Gulf) and would become a pivotal piece for American victory in the Pacific Theater. The vessel survived the rigors of war for over 30 years and would eventually be saved as a floating museum - an honorable fate not shared with the other great American carrier - the USS Enterprise.
The Intrepid was a result of the Fiscal Year 1940 program to which a total of five of these Essex-class carriers emerged (beginning with the USS Essex itself). The Intrepid became the third Essex-class ship in the family and was joined by six more of this initial group in 1941. A total of 27 Essex-class carriers would eventually be built with many available for the final death blow on Japan by mid-1945. The Intrepid herself would finish construction in April of 1943 and be pushed off for her sea trials and "shake down" voyage on April 26th. With the pressures of war, the Intrepid would only have to wait a short few months before official commissioning.
Design followed standard fare, with the island located to the starboard side and the flightdeck to the port running from stern to bow. A total of three wood-planked elevators serviced the flight deck (one port-side deck-edge and two centerline, port and aft of the island superstructure). The port-side elevator was actually pioneered in the Wasp design and was liked so much that senior officers began requesting its presence in all future carrier designs. Two vertically-oriented launch catapults were provided at the bow of the ship (a third - somewhat useless - horizontally-oriented catapult was removed early on). Total aircraft assortment varied between 90 to 100 depending on type. Some 240,000 gallons (US) of aviation fuel was carried along with an extensive amount of ammunition and ordnance for the air group.
Armament consisted of self-defense weaponry in the form of 8 x 5" cannons (4 in single mountings and 4 in dual-mountings), 8 x 40mm cannons in quadruple mountings and no fewer than 46 20mm cannons in single mountings (later up to 52 such cannons) scattered about the ship. As a whole, the Essex-class of carriers were well-built and well-protected, being able to sustain heavy damage and continually stay in action and have that damage repaired rather quickly in turn. Armor was adequate for the most part, reaching some 4 inches at its thickest. In a testament to its design and abilities, none of the Essex-class carriers were lost in all of World War 2.
The island superstructure sat on the starboard side and directed all all operational functions. The island was defended by eight of the 40mm cannons for anti-aircraft defense. Additionally, the island was home to the search radar and radar directors for the 5-in cannon. Radio communications were handled via two lattice masts joined by wiring connecting the two structures which were fitted off to the right of the forward portion of the flight deck. This position was aptly-protected by a collection of 40mm and 20mm cannon.
Propulsion for the USS Intrepid was handled by 8 x Babcock & Wilcox oil-fired boilers driving 4 x Westinghouse-brand steam turbines which powered 4 x propeller shafts for a total output of 150,000 shaft horsepower. Some 6,161 tons of oil was carried for the engines. A crew of 2,600 enlisted sailors and officers called the USS Intrepid "home".
Throughout early 1944, the Intrepid took part in preparations for the invasion of the Marshall Islands, raiding Japanese-held positions and destroying enemy aircraft and providing air cover for US Marines in the inevitable amphibious landings. Following the invasion, the Intrepid was involved in action against Japanese surface ships and assisted in the sinking of two destroyers along with thousands of tons of enemy shipping. An enemy torpedo eventually struck her in the starboard side which resulted in flooding and alignment issues with her rudder forcing the crew to operate on full port-side power and lesser starboard power. By this time, the improvised method was abandoned as she made her way back to Pearl Harbor and then California for full repairs. By mid-1944, the Intrepid was back in action after two months away.
Next for the vessel was attacks on Palaus and the Philippines during a period encompassing September through November of 1944. Her air wing struck at Japanese targets of opportunity and airfields whenever possible, hoping to cripple any measure of an aerial counter attack and force the occupiers from the collection of islands. In October, Intrepid planes offered up air support for US Marine landings at Leyte eventually becoming embroiled in the "Battle of Leyte Gulf" as no fewer than three Japanese forces converged on in the region. On October 24th, elements of Intrepid and Cabot attacked Center Force, crippled the battleship Yamato and sank the Musashi in an entire day of fighting. The following day, Intrepid aircraft damaged the carriers Zuiho and Zuikaku and sank the Chitose. Between October and November, the Intrepid would fall victim to no fewer than three successful Kamikaze attacks, all causing damage and fires and the loss of dozens of lives yet the vessel still stayed in the game and pushed forward.
In April of 1945, the Intrepid took part in the invasion of Okinawa, flying support for the amphibious landings by US Marines. Another kamikaze attack followed, killing eight more of the Intrepid crew but the stellar work of the damage control crews ensured that the flight deck was ready for friendly aircraft to land in a matter of hours. On August 15th, the USS Intrepid officially received word to cancel any remaining offensive operations - the Second World War was over. By December of 1945, the Intrepid returned to California and eventually settled off of San Francisco.
The USS Intrepid was initially laid down at the end of 1941 and launched by mid 1943. She was officially commissioned in August of that year and served until decommissioning in 1974. During this time, she underwent a classification change from "CV" to "CVA" on October 1st, 1952 and another classification change from "CVA" to "CVS" on March 31st, 1962. Upon becoming the CVA-11, the Intrepid also received work to strengthen her flight deck and catapults and a redesigned island. Upon becoming the CVS-11, she received an angled flight deck and enclosed bow and pushed into service as an anti-submarine carrier. During these Cold War years, her primary role was operations undertaken around Europe with a light attack air group before coming into play as a "special attack carrier" for the Vietnam Conflict. In support of US Navy operations in Vietnam, the USS Intrepid saw action from the South China Sea.
Appropriately, the USS Intrepid carried the nicknames of "Evil I" and "Dry I" from her time spent in dry dock. But because of her major role in World War 2, she also carried the nickname of "The Fighting I". Today, the USS Intrepid serves as a museum ship, harbored as a floating museum in New York City waters. The Intrepid also served in the recovery of the Mercury and Gemini space capsules during the 1960's.