Tuesday, September 14, 2010
USS Tarawa (CV-40, later CVA-40, CVS-40, and AVT-12)
Figure 1: USS Tarawa (CV-40) goes down the ways at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, after she was christened by Mrs. Julian C. Smith on 12 May 1945. Copied from typescript "History of the Norfolk Navy Yard in World War II," page 169. The original volume is in the collections of the Navy Department Library. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Tarawa (CV-40) circa 1946. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Tarawa (CVA-40) underway in the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Straits of Messina, Sicily, on 18 December 1952. She has F2H "Banshee" jet fighters on her catapults. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Tarawa (CVA-40) underway, probably in the Mediterranean Sea on 18 December 1952. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: A Grumman F8F "Bearcat" fighter landing on board USS Tarawa (CV-40) at sunset, 4 November 1948, during operations in the western Pacific area. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: Vought F4U-5 "Corsair" fighters from USS Tarawa (CV-40) fly in formation over the Mediterranean, 15 December 1952. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Tarawa (CVA-40) approaches the Pedro Miguel Locks, while transiting the Panama Canal on 31 August 1954. The carrier was en route back to the Atlantic in the final stages of her September 1953 - September 1954 world cruise. Note Grumman F9F "Panther" fighter in the right foreground. Most of the other planes visible are swept-wing "Cougar" fighters. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Tarawa (CV-40) circa 1953-1954, location unknown. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: USS Tarawa at Sydney, Australia, 1954. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: Two S2F Trackers of VS-32 "Norsemen" fly by an iceberg during USS Tarawa's August–September 1958 cruise to the South Atlantic. Allyn Howard comments: "I was an air crewman on board one of the S2F's [in this photo]. We were going out on a routine flight and we were directed to fly by the iceberg for pictures. [...] The iceberg was a beautiful blue green color [...]" Tarawa herself can barely be seen in the left background. Courtesy Allyn Howard, VS-32 & VS-22, 1957–1960. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after an atoll in the Gilbert Islands that was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, USS Tarawa was a 27,100-ton Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier that was built by the Norfolk Navy Yard at Portsmouth, Virginia, and was commissioned on 8 December 1945. The ship was approximately 888 feet long and 93 feet wide, had a top speed of 33 knots, and had a crew of 3,448 officers and men. Tarawa was armed with 12 5-inch guns, 32 40-mm guns, and 46 20-mm guns, and could carry approximately 82 aircraft.
After completing her shakedown cruise in early 1946, Tarawa was assigned to the US Pacific Fleet in July. From July 1946 to April 1947, Tarawa was sent to the central and western Pacific, making stops at Saipan, the Mariana Islands, and Japan. Tarawa also visited Tsingtao, China, and Guam before returning to the United States. While based at San Francisco, California, Tarawa patrolled off the west coast of the United States and completed numerous training exercises. On 28 September 1948, Tarawa left San Diego, California, on a cruise that would take her around most of the world. She headed west and made stops at China, Singapore, Ceylon, and the Persian Gulf, and then entered the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. Tarawa made additional stops in Greece, Turkey, and Crete before leaving the Mediterranean and heading for the United States. She arrived at Norfolk, Virginia, in February 1949. Tarawa was placed out of commission in June 1949.
Tarawa was called back to active duty after the start of the Korean War and was re-commissioned on 3 February 1951. She was assigned to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and was re-designated CVA-40 on 1 October 1952. From September 1953 to September 1954, Tarawa steamed around the world, conducting patrols in the Mediterranean and Far East. In December 1954, Tarawa entered the Boston Naval Shipyard at Boston, Massachusetts, for an overhaul and to be converted into an antisubmarine aircraft carrier. On 10 January 1955, Tarawa was re-designated CVS-40 and her conversion was completed by the summer of that year.
For the next five years, Tarawa served as an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) platform carrying helicopters and propeller-driven ASW aircraft. Based primarily at Norfolk, Virginia, Tarawa patrolled along the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean. Tarawa had the important task of conducting barrier patrols against the growing Soviet submarine and surface fleet and she also assisted in the training of new Navy pilots for the Atlantic Fleet. Ships like Tarawa provided a credible defense against Soviet warships at a time when the Cold War could have erupted into a shooting war at any given moment.
But newer and larger aircraft carriers were entering the fleet, so in May 1960 Tarawa was decommissioned for the last time. She was placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was re-classified an aircraft transport (AVT-12) in May 1961. But Tarawa never served as an aircraft transport and on 3 October 1968 she was sold for scrapping. Although too late to serve in World War II, Tarawa and ships like her were the backbone of the fleet during the Cold War and they provided an excellent defense against a growing naval threat emanating from the Soviet Union.
Posted by Remo at 8:36 AM