Warship Wednesday October 16, The Ship that Wouldnt Die

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday October 16, The Ship that Wouldnt Die


Here we see the  USS Franklin (CV-13), one of the 24 Essex class fleet carriers that were completed. Laid down a year to the
day after Pearl Harbor, the 800+ foot long ship was built in just over 400-days, commissioned 31 January 1944.


She rushed out to sea, did her shake down cruise, and was almost immediately in combat. Among her crew was bandleader Horace Kirby “Saxie” Dowell, who had just had one of the largest hits in the country before the War started with “Three Little Fishes”, which was famously covered by the Andrews Sisters. Saxie at 37 was one of the oldest of the 2600 men on the boat.  But like Saxie, most of the rank and file had only a year before been a civilian.


By June 1944 she was neck-deep in Japanese disputed waters, sending sorties into Bonin and Mariana Islands, Peleliu, and other islands on the final push towards the Empire. Then came the Philippines in October where Franklin and her escorts fought in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea in which her planes helped drop ordnance on the Japanese battleships Musashi, Fuso, and Yamashiro. This was followed by the Battle off Cape Engano where her planes helped scratch the Emperor’s carriers Zuiho and Chiyoda.

Then by March 1945, she was the closest US carrier to the Japanese coast, lying just 50 miles offshore. It was then on 19 March that a single Japanese aircraft came in low and slow on Franklin and dropped two 550-pound bombs right on to her deck. There she had 31 fully armed and fueled aircraft ready to take off for strikes against the home islands. The resulting explosions and fires led to an amazing struggle between men and flame. This left the ship dead in the water, charred, and listing at 13-degrees. Suffering 807 killed and more than 487 wounded, half of the ship’s crew had been killed or seriously injured. Cumulatively on the magazine explosion on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor caused more loss of life in US Navy history.




Well within a day she had made enough repairs to make it off to Ulithi Atoll at 14-knots. Within six weeks she had steamed across the Pacific, through the Canal, and into Brooklyn Naval Yard. Her war over, she spent months being restored to near-new condition. Unneeded after the war, she was decommissioned 17 February 1947, having spent just over three years in service. Her condition kept her in mothballs for almost two decades but unlike her sisters, she was never converted to the post war Essex-type pattern with an angled flight deck.

On 1 August 1966 she was sold for scrap.

A monument to the ship is at Bremerton Washington.



Displacement:     As built:
27,100 tons standard
36,380 tons full load
Length:     As built:
820 feet (250 m) waterline
872 feet (266 m) overall
Beam:     As built:
93 feet (28 m) waterline
147 feet 6 inches (45 m) overall
Draft:     As built:
28 feet 5 inches (8.66 m) light
34 feet 2 inches (10.41 m) full load

Propulsion:     As designed:
8 × boilers 565 psi (3,900 kPa) 850 °F (450 °C)
4 × Westinghouse geared steam turbines
4 × shafts
150,000 shp (110 MW)
Speed:     33 knots (61 km/h)
Range:     20,000 nautical miles (37,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)

Complement:     As built:
2,600 officers and enlisted

Armament:     As built:
4 × twin 5 inch (127 mm) 38 caliber guns
4 × single 5 inch (127 mm) 38 caliber guns
8 × quadruple 40 mm 56 caliber guns
46 × single 20 mm 78 caliber guns

Armor:     As built:
2.5 to 4 inch (60 to 100 mm) belt
1.5 inch (40 mm) hangar and protective decks
4 inch (100 mm) bulkheads
1.5 inch (40 mm) STS top and sides of pilot house
2.5 inch (60 mm) top of steering gear

Aircraft carried:     As built:
90–100 aircraft
1 × deck-edge elevator
2 × centerline elevators

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO)

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval lore http://www.warship.org/naval.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval

vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide

information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of

which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

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