Tag Archives: uss coral sea

Abbreviated Warship Wednesday: Mount 43, 60 Years Ago Today

(Shorter WW today due to events-Eg.)

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, March 18, 2020: Mount 43, 60 Years Ago This Week

Here we see the Midway-class carrier USS Coral Sea (CVB/CVA/CV-43) as she sits in Vancouver, Britsh Columbia, her haze gray tower lending its own perspective to the majestic North Shore Mountains overlooking the harbor.

Photo by Leslie F. Sheraton, Courtesy of the Vancouver City Archives https://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/aircraft-carrier-in-vancouver-harbour-coral-sea-9 Item 2009-001.153

Coral Sea called in Vancouver only once from what I can tell, for three days from 18 to 20 March 1960. This was immediately after her 33-month SCB-110AB conversion at Bremerton and before she picked up Carrier Air Group (CVG) 15 for her first post-modification WestPac cruise.

Mar 1960 – Newly recommissioned USS Coral Sea entering Vancouver B.C., Canada. Via USS Coral Sea.net https://www.usscoralsea.net/pics1960s1.php

Her crew spells out CANADA on the flight deck. Via USS Coral Sea.net https://www.usscoralsea.net/pics1960s1.php

She was reportedly the largest ship to pass under the city’s famous Lion’s Gate bridge (later dwarfed by USS Ranger‘s 1992 port call) and drew huge crowds.

As noted from a Vancouver historical blog:

Over 100,000 people lined the shorelines to greet the 63,000-ton aircraft carrier, There were traffic jams into Stanley Park as Vancouverites tried to get the best vantage points to see the huge aircraft carrier. The most spectacular moment was when the aircraft carrier went under the Lions Gate Bridge with a few feet to spare. The crew had to take down the “Lollipop”, the 11-foot section of the navigational aid at the top of the mainmast.

According to newspaper articles, thousands of school children skipped school or were permitted to leave to watch the ship come into port. According to one article, one principal said those that played hookey will pay the price with detentions. There were a lot of social events organized while the ship was in port including a huge dance where over 900 local women were invited to meet the sailors.

While in British Columbia the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, commanded by two world war Veteran Lt.Col Ian Malcolm Bell-Irving, paraded alongside the dock and then, coming aboard, down her new-fangled angled flight deck and into her empty hangar deck.

US Navy photo now in the Seattle Branch of the National Archives. # NS024335, via Navsource.

Seaforth Highlanders on the hangar deck of USS Coral Sea

While the Coral Sea, recipient of a dozen Vietnam Service Medals, decommissioned in 1990 and was scrapped by 2000, the Seaforths are still stationed in Vancouver and are set to celebrate their 110th Anniversary in November.

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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.

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Aardvark, arriving

While, if you squint, this beautiful variable geometry warplane seems to be an early Grumman F-14 Tomcat landing aboard a carrier, tail hook down.

That’s where you are as wrong as can be.

The truth is, it is a navalized version of the General Dynamics F-111. The plane above, F-111B Bu. No.151974, made 9 arrested landings on, and 10 catapult-launches from, the carrier USS Coral Sea (CV-43) on 23 June 1968.

The plan was something majestic, like this:

However, that day in June was the only one in which the Aardvark was considered a carrier plane.

Go down the rabbit hole here.

Nothing beats a good cup o’ joe, 70 years ago today

National Museum of the U.S. Navy photo 80-G-707294

Coffee time on board USS Coral Sea (CVB-43). Fireman Apprentice Harold E. Dillahunt enjoying a cup of coffee while checking the boilers in the ship’s fire room, 30 August 1948.

Coral Sea, along with her two sisters FDR and Midway, at the time of Dillahunt’s java intake were the largest aircraft carriers in the world and would remain as such until USS Forrestal was commissioned in 1955, though Coral Sea would remain in the fleet until 1990, putting in an impressive 42-years.

Warship Wednesday: Coral Sea, arriving with a mighty flock, 55 years ago today

A brief WW this week gives us the view of the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) underway in the Pacific, April 18, 1963, just out of Pearl Harbor with various aircraft of Carrier Group Fifteen (CVG-15, NL) spotted on deck.

Would you look at that enormous Douglas A-3 Skywarrior (Whale) from VAH-2 on the center deck!


Other aircraft are F-4B Phantoms from VF-151, A-4C/Es Skyhawks from VA-153 and 155, F-8C Crusaders from VF-154 along with photo birds from VFP-63, and A-1H Vigilantees from VA-165. The radar domes of VAW-11’s E-1B “Stoofs with a roof” are easy to spot.

All of the above aircraft types have long been discarded in U.S service (although Japan, Turkey, Iran and others still fly F-4s in limited numbers and roles).

Of the squadrons, most don’t exist anymore. Two notable exceptions are the Vigilantes of VF-151 that fly F-18E/Fs from CVW-9 (Stennis) while the Knights of VF-154 fly the same type from CVW-11 (Nimitz). In 1968, the VAH-2 was redesignated as Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 132 (VAQ-132) and have been in the jamming game ever since, flying EKA-3Bs, then later EA-6Bs and currently EA-18G Growlers.

As for CVG-15, on 23 Dec. 1963, it became CVW-15 and would deploy on the Coral Sea an amazing 10 times (Vietnam-1964, Vietnam-1967, Vietnam-1968, Vietnam-1969, Vietnam-1970, Eastpac-1971, Vietnam-1972, Vietnam-1973, WestPac-1975, WestPac-1977). After the Coral Sea was retired, CVW-15 spent two decades swapping between Carl Vinson and Kitty Hawk before it was disestablished in 1995 as part of the post-Cold War drawdown.

The Coral Sea, decommissioned in 1990 after 43 years of hard service, was dismantled slowly over a seven-year period and was the largest vessel ever scrapped up until that date. Her sistership, USS Midway, of course, survives as a museum.