Tuesday, November 19, 2013
USS Antietam (CV-36, CVA-36, CVS-36)
Figure 1: USS Antietam (CV-36) off the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2 March 1945. She is painted in camouflage Measure 32, Design 17a. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Antietam (CV-36) at sea on 27 August 1951, shortly before deploying for Korean War duty. Crewmen are in formation on her flight deck, spelling out "The Flying =A= is on the way.” Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Antietam (CV-36) underway off the east coast of Korea while operating with Task Force 77. She has Air Group 15 embarked. Photo is dated 16 October 1951, soon after Antietam's arrival in the Korean War zone. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Antietam (CVA-36) conducting flight operations in the Virginia Capes area on 14 January 1953, "To obtain a critical evaluation of the operational suitability of canted flight decks as a primary means of operating carrier aircraft" (quoted from the original caption). Antietam had just returned to service following installation of the then-experimental angled ("canted") flight deck. A F9F "Panther" jet fighter has just left the angled deck, just forward of her amidships elevator. Other planes (all jet fighters) parked on deck include F9F "Cougars" (forward), F2H "Banshees," and an FJ "Fury" (immediately forward of the ship's island). Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Captain Samuel G. Mitchell, Commanding Officer, and Commander J.D. Blitch, Executive Officer, inspecting the ship's various divisions, while USS Antietam (CVA-36) was at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 31 January 1953. Note Marine guard at left and Grumman F9F "Panther" fighters parked at the bow. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Antietam (CVS-36) operating at sea, circa 1955-1957, with HSS-1 helicopters and S2F airplanes on her flight deck. Note that some of the helicopters are painted in the light gray color scheme introduced in 1955, while others are still painted midnight blue. The original print is dated 31 January 1951, several years before this view was actually taken. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Antietam (CVS-36) operating training aircraft, 19 April 1961. Planes on deck include T2J "Buckeyes" amidships and forward and AD "Skyraiders" parked aft. Note "dayglo" paint on the aircraft and "mothballed" 5-inch guns in the carrier’s port-side sponsons. Official US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Antietam (CVS-36) launches a red-painted F9F "Cougar" jet fighter, during extremely well-lighted night operations, circa 1953-55. Other planes on her flight deck include F9F "Panther" and F3D "Skynight" fighters. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after the famous Civil War battle, the 27,100-ton USS Antietam (CV-36) was a Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier that was built by the Philadelphia Navy Yard at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was commissioned on 28 January 1945. The ship was approximately 888 feet long and 93 feet wide, had a top speed of 32 knots, and had a crew of 2,448 officers and men. Antietam was armed with 12 5-inch guns and 72 40-mm guns, and could carry more than 80 aircraft, depending on their size.
After being commissioned, Antietam steamed south to the Panama Canal. After transiting the Panama Canal, the ship entered the Pacific Ocean in June and was en route to the western Pacific war zone when Japan surrendered in August of 1945. But Antietam remained in the Far East for more than three years. Her primary duty was to support the Allied occupation forces in northern China, Manchuria, and Korea. Throughout this period, though, the ship did leave the coast of China and the Yellow Sea and made occasional visits to Japan, the Philippines, Okinawa, and the Marianas Islands. Early in 1949, Antietam concluded her mission in the Far East and steamed back to the United States, where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve at Alameda, California.
After the Korean War began in June of 1950, there was an urgent need for American aircraft carriers to help stop the flood of communist troops into South Korea. Antietam, therefore, began reactivation preparations on 6 December 1950 and went back into commission on 17 January 1951. Initially, Antietam conducted shakedown training off the coast of California. She then made one voyage to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and back to San Diego, California, from July to August before leaving for the Far East on 8 September. Antietam arrived in the Far East that fall and, by 15 October, began the only combat deployment of her career. The carrier made four cruises with the US Navy’s Task Force 77 off the coast of Korea. Antietam’s air group carried out a variety of missions in support of United Nations forces fighting against North Korean communist troops. Those missions included combat air patrol, ground attack (especially against enemy railroad and highway targets), reconnaissance, and antisubmarine patrols. From 15 October 1951 to mid-March 1952, Antietam’s air group flew nearly 6,000 sorties. The ship went to Yokosuka, Japan, on 21 March 1952 and then returned to the United States.
After arriving back in America, Antietam was placed briefly in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. The ship was re-activated in the summer of 1952 and, in August, transited the Panama Canal and joined the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. In September, Antietam entered the New York Naval Shipyard in New York City for a major overhaul. In October, Antietam was re-classified an attack aircraft carrier and re-designated CVA-36. In December 1952, the ship emerged from the shipyard as the US Navy’s first aircraft carrier equipped with an angled flight deck, making it possible to launch and retrieve aircraft at the same time.
After her extensive modifications, Antietam was based at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and remained there until the beginning of 1955. During those years, the ship participated in numerous naval exercises and in August 1953, Antietam was once again re-classified, this time as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) carrier and re-designated CVS-36. After that, the ship was used primarily for anti-submarine patrol duties. Antietam was assigned to the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean from 1955 to 1957.
Starting in April 1957, Antietam’s next assignment was to serve as a training carrier for flight operations. She usually steamed off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, and continued to be used as an aviation training ship until October 1962. Antietam was decommissioned for the last time on 8 May 1963 and remained in reserve at the Philadelphia Navy Yard until May of 1973, when she was struck from the Navy List. USS Antietam was sold for scrapping on 28 February 1974.