Warship Wednesday, May 15, 2019: Lady Sara Never Looked Better

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, May 15, 2019: Lady Sara Never Looked Better

As I am on the road this week after just getting back from Indy last week, the regular Warship Weds offering is short– but special. We have covered Sara in a past WW, but didn’t have this anniversary spread:

USS SARATOGA (CV-3) 15 May 1945 19-N-84316

NHHC 19-N-84316

Here we see the beautiful Lexington-class aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) in Puget Sound on 15 May 1944 just after a late-WWII refit/repair, 74 years ago today.

“Her flight deck is as it would be seen by a pilot coming in for a landing. Her axial deck is rimmed with gun galleries to both sides and astern; twin 5-inch gun mounts are arranged forward and aft of her prominent island and stack, as in the later Essex-class carriers. Flight decks, at this time, were painted in a dull blue stain with white markings.”

At the time this spread was taken– all of these shots are from the same day– Sara had been the oldest U.S. aircraft carrier since 1942 when both Langley (CV-1) and her sistership Lexington (CV-2) were sunk by the Japanese. Other than Enterprise and Ranger, the latter in the Atlantic, she was the only American flattop to make it through the war.

Laid down on 25 September 1920 as Battle Cruiser #3 by the New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J.; she converted to an aircraft carrier and reclassified CV-3 in accordance with the Washington Treaty and commissioned on 16 November 1927. Along with Lexington, the two ships were literally the seagoing training school for the U.S. Navy’s 1930s carrier program.

When WWII started, she saw much fighting but battle damage often kept her sidelined from pivotal campaigns. Nonetheless, Saratoga earned 7 battle stars the hard way– for instance, she was in Puget Sound because of six Japanese hits off Chichi Jima in February 1945.

As noted by DANFS, after she left Puget Sound, she accomplished a few records and got two A-bombs for her faithful service:

On 22 May, Saratoga departed Puget Sound fully repaired, and she resumed training pilots at Pearl Harbor on 3 June. She ceased training duty on 6 September, after the Japanese surrender, and sailed from Hawaii on 9 September transporting 3,712 returning naval veterans home to the United States under Operation “Magic Carpet.” By the end of her “Magic Carpet” service, Saratoga had brought home 29,204 Pacific war veterans, more than any other individual ship. At the time, she also held the record for the greatest number of aircraft landed on a carrier, with a lifetime total of 98,549 landings in 17 years.

With the arrival of large numbers of Essex-class carriers, Saratoga was surplus to postwar requirements, and she was assigned to Operation “Crossroads” at Bikini Atoll to test the effect of the atomic bomb on naval vessels. She survived the first blast, an air burst on 1 July, with only minor damage, but was mortally wounded by the second on 25 July, an underwater blast which was detonated under a landing craft 500 yards from the carrier. Salvage efforts were prevented by radioactivity, and seven and one-half hours after the blast, with her funnel collapsed across her deck, Saratoga slipped beneath the surface of the lagoon. She was struck from the Navy list on 15 August 1946.

Her name was recycled by CV-60, the second of four 1950s Forrestal-class supercarriers, which carried the proud moniker until she was struck from the Naval List 20 August 1994.

Hopefully, there will be another Sara in the fleet soon.

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

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.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.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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