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:
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.
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Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steampunk navies of the 1866-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.
– Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, October 24
Here we see a mock up of the 1912 type US Navy battle cruiser CC-1 as mocked up by Robert Pawling. In 1911, battlecruisers were the rage in the modern navies of the world. Great Britain had the Invincible class and was designing the HMS Hood. Japan was looking at the Kongo class. The Kaiser of Imperial Germany had the Moltke-class and looking to build the Derrflinger class.
With all of the peer pressure, the United States decided they needed a half-dozen of their own. Original designs included ships with as many as 24 boilers to keep them fast enough (35-knots) to outrun battleships, and a heavy armament up to 10 14-inch guns to destroy anything too fast to outrun. By 1916 it had been decided to fit these monsters with powerful diesel-electric power-plants that created an amazing 130,000 kW of power. This is impressive when you consider today that the 1000+ foot USS Nimitz class super carriers of today only generate 64,000 kW of power and have to use two nuclear reactors to accomplish that feat. Eight 16-inch/50cal guns, just one fewer than those carried by the Iowa class battleships, was the final armament chosen. They would have been the most impressive six warships of their era.
World War One ended before the battle-cruisers were laid down and only two hulls, Lexington and Saratoga, were finally started in 1921. While under construction the two were a victim of the 1922 Naval Treaty. Battle cruisers were limited but aircraft carriers were allowed. This led the two huge batttlecruisers to be redesigned as large carriers. At over 800-feet long, they were only surpassed in size by the 1945-era Midway supercarriers more than two decades later. They also carried some of the largest guns of any aircraft carrier: eight 203mm (8-inch) naval rifles…making the pair every bit as powerful as a heavy cruiser. In many ways they were ahead of their time.
The Lexington and Saratoga were commissioned in 1927 and for most of the pre-WWII era were the primary training and development carriers of the US fleet (the Yorktown class didn’t appear until 1937). During WWII the Lexington was lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea. The Sara won seven battle-stars, had a lifetime total of 98,549 aircraft landings in 17 years and was finally sunk in 1946 as a target for the Atom bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, where she is a popular dive destination.
Specs (as 1922 aircraft carrier)
Displacement: 36,000 long tons (37,000 t) (standard)
47,700 long tons (48,500 t) (deep load)
Length: 888 ft (270.7 m)
Beam: 107 ft 6 in (32.8 m)
Draft: 32 ft 6 in (9.9 m) (deep load)
Installed power: 180,000 shp (130,000 kW)
Propulsion: 4 shafts, 4 sets turbo-electric drive
16 water-tube boilers
Speed: 33.25 knots (61.58 km/h; 38.26 mph) (made 34 on trials, not broken by another US carrier till 1955)
Range: 10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 2,791 (including aviation personnel) in 1942
Armament: 4 × 2 – 8-inch guns
12 × 1 – 5-inch anti-aircraft guns
Armor: Belt: 5–7 in (127–178 mm)
Deck: .75–2 in (19–51 mm)
Gun turrets: .75 in (19 mm)
Bulkheads: 5–7 in (127–178 mm)
Aircraft carried: 78+
Aviation facilities: 1 Aircraft catapult