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USS Lake Champlain (CV-39)

Conventionally-Powered Aircraft Carrier [ 1945 ]

USS Lake Champlain, an Essex-class aircraft carrier, was a latecomer to World War 2 but served in the Korean War and beyond.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/14/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

USS Lake Champlain arrived late in the fighting of World War 2 (1939-1945) but, as part of the all-important Essex-class group of aircraft carriers, she went on to have a long service life and saw combat experience in the Korean War (1950-1953). Her career spanned from June of 1945 into May of 1966 and she saw decommissioning twice during that period. Her stripped hulk was sold for scrapping in April of 1972.

As built, USS Lake Champlain displaced 27,100 tons under standard load and held a running length of 888 feet with a beam of 93 feet and a draught of 28.6 feet. Her power was supplied through 8 x boilers feeding 4 x Westinghouse geared steam turbines developing 150,000 horsepower and driving 4 x shafts under stern. The crew complement numbered 3,448 officers and enlisted and armor protection - benefitting from several years of wartime experience by the USN - reached 4" at the belt, 2.5" at the hangar deck, and 1.5" at the conning tower. The carrier was cleared to carry up to 100 aircraft. The island superstructure was offset to starboard and a straight-through flush flight deck took up the center and portside surface area of the ship.

Armament centered on point defense against incoming enemy aircraft. This included 4 x 5" guns in twin-gunned mountings and 4 x 5" guns in single-gunned mountings. Also carried were 8 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) autocannons in quadruple-gunned mountings and 46 x 20mm Oerlikon AA guns in single-gunned mountings.

The Essex-class carrier group numbered twenty-four (32 were originally planned)) and marked a major improvement over previous types used by the USN. "Short" and "Long" hulled versions of the type were made and many of the most famous warships were of the class - USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Intrepid (CV-11), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Lexington (CV-16). Amazingly, none of the class were lost to enemy attacks and series went on to serve as the spearhead of the USN going into the Cold War period (1947-1991).©MilitaryFactory.com
USS Lake Champlain was laid down on March 15th, 1943 and launched on November 2nd, 1944. As she was not commissioned until June 3rd, 1945, she missed out on combat actions in the war altogether. However, she still proved vital in "Operation Magic Carpet", the bringing home of U.S. troops en mass. With no more World War to fight, USS Lake Champlain was decommissioned for the first time on February 17th, 1947.

When war broke out in the Korean Peninsula in August of 1950, USS Lake Champlain was called into action. She underwent a period of modernization (SCB-27 conversion) that placed her back into service on September 19th, 1952. Her revised features included a new island superstructure and flight deck - though she still maintained the straight-through deck unlike some of her sisters having been given angled flight decks.

Once in Korean waters, Lake Champlain serves as part of Task Force 77 (TF77). Her aircraft were charged with general attacks on enemy infrastructure and supply points as well as support of allied ground forces and bomber escort. She served in this role until July 1953 when warring actions ceased. She was returned stateside to Florida waters before the end of the year.

USS Lake Champlain continued in service during the Cold War period, undertaking various deterrent and humanitarian actions. During July of 1957, she was converted to serve as an Anti-Submarine (AS) carrier and thusly reclassified as CVS-39 that August. She recovered the space capsule of "Project Mercury" thereafter and assisted in the Cuban blockade during the "Cuban Missile Crisis" (October 16th - 28th, 1962). She then served as the recovery ship for the "Gemini 5" space mission. An attempt to modernize her for the new age was rebuffed and she was struck from the Naval Register on December 1st, 1969. Her hulk was sold off in April of 1972.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

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United States



SHORT-HULL GROUP: USS Essex (CV-9); USS Yorktown (CV-10); USS Intrepid (CV-11); USS Hornet (CV-12); USS Franklin (CV-13); USS Lexington (CV-16); USS Bunker Hill (CV-17); USS Wasp (CV-18); USS Bennington (CV-20); Bon Homme Richard (CV-31); Oriskany (CV-34) LONG-HULL GROUP: Ticonderoga (CV-14); Randolph (CV-15); USS Hancock (CV-19); USS Boxer (CV-21); USS Leyte (CV-32); USS Kearsarge (CV-33); USS Reprisal (CV-35); USS Antietam (CV-36); USS Princeton (CV-37); USS Shangri-La (CV-38); USS Lake Champlain (CV-39); USS Tarawa (CV-40); USS Valley Forge (CV-45); USS Iwo Jima (CV-46); USS Philippine Sea (CV-47)

National flag of the United States United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Flag Ship / Capital Ship
Serving in the fleet Flag Ship role or Capital Ship in older warship designs / terminology.

888.0 ft
270.66 m
93.0 ft
28.35 m
28.6 ft
8.72 m

Installed Power: 8 x Boilers feeding 4 x Westinghouse geared steam turbines developing 150,000 horsepower to 4 x Shafts.
Surface Speed
33.0 kts
(38.0 mph)
19,999 nm
(23,015 mi | 37,039 km)

kts = knots | mph = miles-per-hour | nm = nautical miles | mi = miles | km = kilometers

1 kts = 1.15 mph | 1 nm = 1.15 mi | 1 nm = 1.85 km
4 x 5" (127mm) /38 caliber guns in twin-gunned mountings.
4 x 5" (127mm) /38 caliber guns in single-gunned mountings.
8 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns in quadruple-gunned mountings.
46 x 20mm Oerlikon AA guns in single-gunned mountings.

Supported Types

Graphical image of an aircraft automatic cannon

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
Between 90 and 100 aircraft of various makes and models.

Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War period
Military lapel ribbon for early warship designs
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2

Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective naval campaigns / operations / periods.

Images Gallery

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Image of the USS Lake Champlain (CV-39)
Image from the Public Domain.


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