A Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat makes condensation rings as it tries to take off on Yorktown’s flight deck, circa October-December 1943. The carrier is painted in Measure 21 camouflage and shows stowed hangar catapult outriggers and five lattice radio masts on the deck edge. Check this out!
Stern aerial view of Yorktown during her fourth WestPac deployment with Air Task Group 4 (ATG-4, CVG-2) on the 1957 Far East Cruise. Official US Navy photo.
In the 1920s, the Navy began to realize the potential value of aircraft in naval operations. By the end of World War II, aircraft carriers had replaced battleships as their primary strike weapon in the Pacific.
Yorktown was a second-generation Essex-class carrier, first commissioned on April 15, 1943. She was named to honor her predecessor, USS Yorktown (CV-5), which had been sunk at the Battle of Midway in June 1942.
During her initial deployment to the Far East, she earned three Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals. She departed San Diego for the Orient on 1 November and arrived at Yokosuka on 25 November. The next eight months were devoted to normal west coast duties.
The Yorktown was one of the first Essex-class aircraft carriers and served with distinction during World War II. She earned 11 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. She also initiated many technical improvements for the next two dozen Essex carriers.
The aircraft carrier’s keel was laid down on 1 December 1941 at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. The ship was initially named Bonhomme Richard, in honor of Captain John Paul Jones’s flagship, but she was renamed on 26 September 1942 in honor of her older namesake lost at the Battle of Midway.
Soon after her reactivation, Yorktown resumed normal operations along the West Coast. She stopped at Pearl Harbor from 24 March to 9 April before continuing her voyage west. Discover More about Mt Pleasant here.
History of Yorktown
Known as the Fighting Lady, Yorktown is now a popular museum and tourist attraction. It is one of three sites in the Historic Triangle along with Jamestown and Williamsburg, where visitors can see a variety of colonial-era buildings.
Yorktown’s keel was laid down on 1 December 1941 at Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., sponsored by Eleanor Roosevelt. Named for a town defeated by General George Washington’s Army during the Revolutionary War, she was launched on 21 January 1943 and commissioned on April 15th.
After shakedown training in the Caribbean, she departed Norfolk on 21 May and stood out to sea to conduct a month of operations in the Pacific. She earned a Presidential Unit Citation and 11 battle stars in her combat service, helping to turn the tide of the war in the Battles of Midway and Coral Sea. Yorktown also played a crucial role in supporting ground troops at the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.
The museum is open Tuesday & Thursday throughout the week and on Sunday. The exhibits include an 18th-century colonial room, a miniature of railroads and mansions, and an impressive collection of photographs and documents.
The size of Yorktown becomes more apparent as one tour its interior. 2,500-3,000 sailors lived aboard at any given time and every space had its purpose. Narrow corridors and steep ladder-like stairways were interspersed with compact rooms that clearly identified their purposes. Privacy was not an option, and the living quarters were packed with tightly packed bunks.
The ship served during the Korean War and in Vietnam, earning five battle stars for that service. It also served as a recovery ship for Apollo 8. The Essex class carrier was decommissioned in 1970 and is now the centerpiece of the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. The museum was founded in 1966 and moved to its current location in 1975. Read next.
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