Tuesday, July 27, 2010
USS Sicily (CVE-118, later AKV-18)
Figure 1: USS Sicily (CVE-118) photographed while moored in Hampton Roads, Virginia, 6 June 1948. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Sicily (CVE-118) enters San Diego Bay on her return from her first deployment to the Korean War zone, 5 February 1951. Her crew spells out the ship's name on the flight deck. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Sicily (CVE-118) launches a US Marine Corps OY-2 "Sentinel" spotter plane during operations in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of Korea, 22 September 1950. Sicily was then supporting the campaign to recapture Seoul. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: US Marine Corps F4U-4B "Corsair" fighter-bomber receives final checks to its armament of bombs and 5-inch rockets, just prior to being catapulted from USS Sicily (CVE-118) for a strike on enemy forces in Korea. The original photograph is dated 16 November 1950, but was probably taken in August-October 1950. Note battered paint on this aircraft. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Sicily (CVE-118) launches US Marine Corps HRS-1 helicopters during Operation "Marlex-5" off the west coast of Korea in the Inchon area. This was the first time that Marine Corps landing forces had moved from ship to shore by helicopter. Photo is dated 1 September 1952. Nearest HRS-1 is Bureau # 127798. It wears the markings of squadron HMR-161. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Sicily (CVE-118) photographed at the Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, circa February 1954, with USS Yorktown (CVA-10) at right and eleven LCM landing craft in the foreground. Grumman AF "Guardian" anti-submarine aircraft are parked on Sicily's flight deck. Douglas AD "Skyraider" attack planes are parked aft on Yorktown's flight deck. The original caption, released by Commander Naval Forces Far East on 18 February 1954, reads: "Twins, Almost -- The Essex-class carrier USS Yorktown (CVA-10) and her smaller counterpart, the escort carrier USS Sicily (CVE-118), rest side by side during a recent in-port maintenance period at the Yokosuka, Japan, Naval Base." Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Sicily (CVE-118) underway with F4U aircraft parked aft, April 1954. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Perkins (DDR-877) escorting USS Sicily (CVE-118) off the coast of Korea, 26 August 1951. Perkins was photographed from Sicily. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
USS Sicily (CVE-118) was a 10,900-ton Commencement Bay class escort aircraft carrier that was built by Todd-Pacific Shipyards Inc. at Tacoma, Washington, and was commissioned on 27 February 1946. The ship was approximately 557 feet long and 75 feet wide, had a top speed of 19 knots, and had a crew of 1,170 officers and men. Sicily was armed with two 5-inch guns, 36 40-mm. guns, and 18 20-mm. guns, and could carry roughly 33 aircraft (depending on the size of the aircraft).
After fitting out in Portland, Oregon, and being loaded with supplies at Seattle, Washington, Sicily steamed to San Diego, California, for her shakedown training. On 15 May 1946, Sicily left for New York via the Panama Canal. The escort carrier reached the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City on 6 June and stayed there until 30 September, when she was ordered to Argentia, Newfoundland, for cold weather naval exercises.
For the rest of 1946 and until 3 April 1950, Sicily was assigned to the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet and was based at Norfolk, Virginia. She was then transferred back to the Pacific Fleet and was sent to her new base at San Diego, arriving there on 28 April. After North Korea invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950, Sicily was ordered to join the fight. She received orders on 2 July to steam to the Far East and left port two days later. This was the first of three deployments to Korea during the war there. Sicily initially was sent to provide anti-submarine protection for American ships off the coast of Korea, but this quickly changed as the situation deteriorated rapidly on shore. Marine Corps aircraft that were carried on board the ship soon provided air support for American ground forces defending the famous “Pusan Perimeter” and assisting in the amphibious attack on Inchon on 15 September 1950. During October and November, Sicily’s aircraft temporarily resumed their anti-submarine duties. But in December, her aircraft were once again needed for ground support after China entered the war and launched a major offensive against the United Nations’ forces. Marine Corps aircraft from Sicily also made valiant efforts to assist their fellow Marines during their horrific retreat from the Chosin Reservoir.
Sicily returned to San Diego on 5 February 1951. The ship’s second tour of duty off Korea lasted from 13 May to 12 October 1951. She patrolled off both the east and west coasts of Korea before returning once again to the United States for an overhaul. Sicily’s final tour of duty during the Korean War lasted from 8 May to 4 December 1952. During this deployment, the escort carrier was equipped with Marine Corps helicopters that conducted some of the first experiments in sea-based vertical assault techniques. During Operation "Marlex-5" off the west coast of Korea in the Inchon area, Marines were airlifted from Sicily to shore by helicopter. This was the first time a Marine Corps landing force was transported from ship to shore using helicopters.
After returning to the United States for another overhaul, Sicily was sent back to the Far East for the last time on 14 July 1953 and remained there until 25 February 1954. Sicily was decommissioned shortly after the end of this deployment and spent the rest of her career in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. The escort carrier was reclassified an aircraft transport (AKV-18) in May 1959, but in October 1960 USS Sicily was sold for scrapping. The ship received five battle stars for her service during the Korean War.
Posted by Remo at 9:02 AM