Tag Archives: light carrier

USN Flattop Updates

The Navy has seen several important carrier and carrier-adjacent benchmarks this week that I thought were noteworthy enough to mention “in case you missed it.”

Lightning Carrier No.4

The fourth Wasp-class Gator Supreme, USS Boxer (LHD-4) returned to sea for the first time in more than two years after completing an extensive $207 million planned maintenance availability at BAE Systems in San Diego.

She is now about to be F-35B rated as a “Lightning Carrier” by 2023. Her sisterships USS Wasp, Essex, and Makin Island already have the same capability and Iwo Jima and Bataan are set to be added to the list in 2024-25.

By themselves, the four modded Wasps offer more carrier power than any other current fleet of flattops in the world not flying a U.S. flag.

“The USS Boxer [dry-dock availability] will complete a combination of maintenance, modernization, and repair of the following systems: Hull structure, propulsion, electrical plant, auxiliary systems, and communications and combat systems, as well as alterations to prepare the ship for operations with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF),” according to a statement from Naval Sea Systems command in 2020.

Importantly, Boxer will also be the first Wasp to the Marine Corps to receive a complete F-35 set up for Spot 9 landings.

Boxer is a sweet spot for me, as I was working at Ingalls and am a constructor plankowner of the ship, having gone out on her pre-commissioning cruise before she was handed over. Nice to see her back in the fleet.

Warship78 passes INSURV

Class leader supercarrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) successfully completed her five-day Board of Inspection and Survey special trial, “marking the first time a Ford-class ship executed an inspection of this kind.” Of course, she was commissioned five years ago, so it’s kinda about time, but between weapon elevator issues, EMALS and so many other new systems, it is understandable, and the inspection sets the ship up for her “special deployment” which is just around the corner.

“During INSURV, more than 180 inspectors embarked Ford, observing and assessing more than 300 demonstrations,” noted the Navy.

Damage Controlman Fireman Melissa Alvarado, right, from Dalton, Georgia, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) engineering department, displays equipment during a damage control Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) special trials, June 13, 2022. Ford is in port at Naval Station Norfolk conducting an INSURV assessment to report ship readiness and ensure all spaces and equipment meet Navy standards. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex Timewell)

80K for GHWB

USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77), the tenth and final Nimitz-class supercarrier, celebrated the milestone of 80,000 catapult launches and 80,000 recoveries on the flight deck since she was commissioned in 2009. The 80K bird was an EA-18G Growler from The Patriots of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140 on the trap and the cat was an E-2D Hawkeye from The Bluetails of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, and was part of the certification for the Freedom Fighters of CVW-7.

220615-N-SY758-3033 ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 15, 2022) An E/A-18G Growler, attached to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) for the 80,000th recovery, June 15, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brandon Roberson)

Goodbye ‘Harrier Carrier, welcome to ‘Lightning Carriers’ (CV-Ls)

Tyler Rogoway has an interesting write up on the USMC/USN’s take on using Marine F-35s on the new class of 40,000-ton LHAs, which are basically the same size as WWII fleet carriers.

Under the “lightning carrier” plan, 40 sorties can be fielded in a 14-hour period with 16 F-35Bs from the deck of one of these ersatz flattops, which is arguably more than just about any other carrier afloat not already in U.S. service. Plus, things really get interesting if you add an F-35 tasked LHA to an existing amphibious strike group, bringing both a full Marine expeditionary unit coupled with a baby carrier to the littoral.

From Rogoway:

Some concepts exist where a pair of amphibious assault ships work together within a single, albeit larger, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). One carrying a couple dozen F-35Bs and the other carrying a few dozen helicopters. Such a concept would allow for a continuous F-35B presence over the battlefield, and would even allow for the ESG to mount fixed wing “alpha strikes,” where the majority of the F-35B force prosecutes a set of strategic enemy targets during a single mission, much like a Navy carrier air wing currently is capable of.

Warship Wednesday, May 15 The First Night Carrier

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,  May 15

Here we see the light carrier USS Independence (CV/CVL-22). Began as the light cruiser USS Amsterdam (CL-59) in 1940, she was converted while still at New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J to help fill the urgent and pressing need for fast carriers after Pearl Harbor.  A 30/30 ship, she could make 30+ knots and carry 30+ aircraft while having legs long enough to cross the Pacific and operate on her own for a few weeks before she needed to find an oiler. While she was much smaller than a regular fleet carrier such as the Enterprise that could carry 80-90 aircraft, she could still put a few squadrons in the air.

In effect, she was good-enough.


Above you see a scale model of the USS Duluth (CL-87) compared to the USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) both are directly related to the Indy. The Duluth is a Cleavland-class cruiser and is what the Indy was originally ordered to be. The Belleau Wood underwent to same conversion that Indy did. Notice the similarity in the hull. Both ships only differed above the 01 deck.

When Independence was commissioned on January 14th 1943, the only other carriers in the fleet of the original 8 that started WWII were the Enterprise and Saratoga who were fighting for their lives off the Solomons, and the small USS Ranger which was up to her ass in U-Boats in the Atlantic. The new USS Essex had commissioned just a couple of weeks earlier and was in shakedown. The old carrier Langley, converted to a seaplane tender, had been lost early in the war, the huge Lexington was sent to the bottom at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Yorktown lost at Midway, Wasp and Hornet (stricken literally the day before Independence was commissioned from the Naval List) lost in the Solomons.


In short, the Indy came just in time and she was put to hard work fast. Before the year was out she was conducting raids off Marcus Island, Rabaul, and the Gilberts– tying down Japanese forces needed elsewhere. It was in these raids that the Indy picked up a torpedo (one of a half-dozen fired at her) in her starboard quarter. As this was repaired, she received a new air-group, an additional catapult, and a new mission– that of a night carrier.

uss independence first night carrier

The first full-time night Air Group was Air Group 41, established through the drive and persistence of Lt. Commander Turner F Caldwell. He commissioned VF(N)-79 in January 1944, training at NAAF Charlestown, Rhode Island. While at Charlestown Caldwell sold his idea of an ‘pure’ night air group to anyone who would listen. With the availability of the CVL Independence Caldwell got his wish. VF(N)-75 was dissolved and reformed as VF(N)-41, with an enlarged TBM contingent designated as VT(N)-41. Total size of the Air Group was 14 F6F-5N’s, 5 F6F-5’s and 12 TBM Avengers. Independence sailed for Eniwetok at the end of July 1944 to join Task Force 38. Air Group 41 finished it’s tour in January 1945. In that time it had claimed 46 kills, but lost ten of it’s 35 night fighter pilots in action, A further three were lost to operational causes – a tribute to the high training standards and skill of the group. The CVL Independence was the only light carrier to be completely equipped with a Night Air Group. Later in 1945 several large carriers and even a much smaller Jeep Carrier (CVE-108 Kula Gulf) went to Night Groups including Enterprise, Saratoga and Bon Homme Richard— but the Indy was the first.

By the end of the war she held 8 battlestars.

The Japanese couldn’t sink her, so the Navy decided to use her for testing. Since the USN had dozens of brand new fleet carriers of the Essex types, it didn’t need the old Indy anymore. Therefore, she was only 1/2 mile from ground zero on 1 July 1946 when the A-bomb went off in the Bikini Atoll tests. When she didn’t sink, they used her again for another A-bomb test three weeks later. Still afloat, she was only scuttled in 1951 off the coast of San Fransisco. Five of her remaining sisters pressed on and were used during the Cold War as transports, anti-submarine carriers, and as the first modern carriers that the French and Spanish navies had– one, the former USS Cabot, even tested the first Harriers at sea.

Indy is just to the right of the giant column of water that is much wider than she is long....

Indy is just to the right of the giant column of water that is much wider than she is long….


In the end you can say that the Indy had a hard life in her eight years above water to say the least.

Today, even after being under 3100-feet of seawater for 60 years, she is still on the job. You see ,she took down 70,000 sealed barrels of 1940s radioactive materiel with her which she is guarding in the forever night of the deep ocean and is forbidden to dive on using any means.

In a way, she is still a night carrier, with a very dangerous cargo.

Displacement: 11,000 tons standard; 15,100 tons full load
Dimensions (wl): 600′ x 71′ 6″ x 26′ (max)  /  182.9 x 21.8 x 7.9 (max) meters
Dimensions (max.): 622′ 6″ x 109′ 2″  /  189.7 x 33.3 meters
Armor: no side belt (2″ belt over fwd magazine); 2″ protective deck(s); 0.38″ bridge; 5″/3.75″ bhds; 5″ bhds, 2.25″ above, 0.75″ below steering gear
Power plant: 4 boilers (565 psi, 850°F); 4 geared turbines; 4 shafts; 100,000 shp (design)
Speed: 31.6 knots
Endurance (design): 12,500 nautical miles @ 15 knots
Armament: 2 single 5″/38 gun mounts (soon removed); 2 quad 40-mm/56-cal gun mounts (in place of 5″ mounts); 8 (soon 9) twin 40-mm/56-cal gun mounts; 16 single 20-mm/70-cal guns mounts
Aircraft: 30+
Aviation facilities: 2 centerline elevators; 1 hydraulic catapult
Crew: approx. 1,560

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