USS INTREPID CV 11
The fourth USS Intrepid (CV 11) was launched April 26, 1943, by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.; sponsored by Mrs. John Howard Hoover; and commissioned August 16, 1943, Capt. Thomas L. Sprague in command.
After training in the Caribbean the Intrepid departed Norfolk December 3, 1943 for San Francisco, then to Hawaii. She arrived Pearl Harbor January 10, 1944, and prepared for the invasion of the Marshall Islands, the next objective in the Navy's mighty is land-hopping campaign. She sortied from Pearl Harbor with carriers USS Cabot (CVL 28) and USS Essex (CV 9) January 16 to raid islands at the northeastern corner of Kwajalein Atoll January 29, and pressed the attack until the last opposition had vanished Feb. 2nd. The raids destroyed all of the 83 Japanese planes based on Roi and Namur before the first landings were made on adjacent islets January 31. That morning Intrepid's planes strafed Ennuebing Island until 10 minutes before the first Marines reached the beaches. Half an hour later that islet, which protected Roi's southwestern flank and controlled the North Pass into Kwajalein Lagoon, was secured, enabling Marines to set up artillery to support their assault on Roi.
Her work in the capture of the Marshall Islands finished, USS Intrepid headed for Truk, the tough Japanese base in the center of Micronesia. Three fast carrier groups arrived undetected daybreak of the 17th, sinking two destroyers and 200,000 tons of merchant shipping in 2 days of almost continuous attacks. Moreover, the carrier raid demonstrated Truk's vulnerability and thereby greatly curtailed its usefulness to the Japanese as a base.
The night of February 17, 1944, an aerial torpedo struck Intrepid's starboard quarter, 15 feet below her waterline, flooding several compartments and jamming her rudder hard to port. By racing her port screw and idling her starboard engine, Capt. Sprague kept her on course until two days later strong winds swung her back and forth and tended to weathercock her with her bow pointed toward Tokyo. Sprague later confessed: "Right then I wasn't interested in going in that direction." At this point the crew fashioned a jury-rig sail of hatch covers and scrap canvas which swung Intrepid about and held her on course. Decorated by her crazy-quilt sail, USS Intrepid (CV 11) stood into Pearl Harbor February 24th.
After temporary repairs, Intrepid sailed for the West Coast March 16 and arrived Hunter's Point, Calif., the 22nd. She was back in fighting trim a June and departed for two months of operations out of Pearl Harbor, then to the Marshalls.
Intrepid's planes struck Japanese positions in the Palaus Sept. 6 and 7, 1944, concentrating on airfields and artillery emplacements on Peleliu. The next day her fast carrier task force steamed west toward the southern Philippines to strike airfields on Mindanao Sept. 9 and 10. Then, after raids on bases in the Visayan Sea Sept. 12-14, she returned to the Palaus on 17th to support Marines in overcoming fanatical opposition from hillside caves and mangrove swamps on Peleliu.
When the struggle on that deadly island settled down to rooting Japanese defenders out of the ground on a man to man basis, USS Intrepid steamed back to the Philippines to prepare the way for liberation. She struck throughout the Philippines, also pounding Okinawa and Formosa to neutralize Japanese air threats to Leyte.
As Intrepid's planes flew missions in support of the Leyte landings October 20, 1944, Japan's Navy, desperately striving to hold the Philippines, was converging on Leyte Gulf from three directions. Ships of the U.S. Navy parried thrusts in four major actions collectively known as the Battle for Leyte Gulf.
The morning of October 24, an Intrepid plane spotted Admiral Kurita's flagship, Yamato. Two hours later, planes from Intrepid and Cabot braved intense antiaircraft fire to begin a day-long attack on Center Force. Wave after wave followed until by sunset American carrier-based planes had sunk mighty battleship Musashi with her mammoth 18-inch guns and had damaged her sister ship Yamato along with battleships Nagato and Haruna and heavy cruiser Myoko forcing the latter to withdraw. That night Admiral Halsey's 3d Fleet raced north to intercept Japan's Northern Force which had been spotted of the northeastern tip of Luzon. At daybreak the tireless fliers went aloft to attack the Japanese ships then off Cape Engano. One of Intrepid's planes got a bomb into light carrier Zuiho to begin the harvest. Then American bombers sank her sister ship Chitosi, and a plane from either USS Intrepid (CV 11) or USS San Jacinto (CVL 30) scored with a torpedo in large carrier Zuikaku knocking out her communications and hampering her steering. The Japanese destroyer Ayitsuki went to the bottom and at least 9 of Ozawa's 15 planes were shot down. On through the day the attack continued and, after five more strikes, Japan had lost four carriers and a destroyer. The still potent Center Force, after pushing through San Bernardino Strait, had steamed south along the coast of Samar where it was held at bay by a little escort carrier group of six "baby flattops", three destroyers, and four destroyer escorts until help arrived to send it fleeing in defeat back towards Japan.
As Intrepid's planes hit Clark Field Oct. 30, a burning kamikaze crashed into one of the carrier's port gun tubs killing 10 men and wounding 6. Soon skillful damage control work enabled the flattop to resume flight operations. Intrepid's planes continued to hit airfields and shipping in the Philippines.
Shortly after noon November 25, 1944, a heavy force of Japanese planes struck back at the carriers. Within five minutes two kamikazes crashed into the carrier killing 6 officers and 5 bluejackets. USS Intrepid never lost propulsion nor left her station in the task group; and. in less than two hours, had extinguished the last blaze. The next day, Intrepid headed for San Francisco, arriving December 20 for repairs.
Back in fighting trim in mid-February 1945, the carrier steamed for Ulithi, arriving March 13th. The next day she pushed on eastward for powerful strikes against airfields on Kyushu, Japan, March 18. That morning a twin engine Betty broke through a curtain of defensive fire turned toward USS Intrepid and exploded only 50 feet off Intrepid's forward boat crane. A shower of flaming gasoline and plane parts started fires on the hangar deck, out damage control experts quickly snuffed them out.
Intrepid's planes joined attacks on remnants of the Japanese fleet anchored at Kure damaging 18 enemy naval vessels including super battleship Yamato and carrier Amagi. Then the carriers turned to Okinawa as D-Day of the most ambitious amphibious assault of the Pacific war approached. Their planes lashed the Ryukyus March 26 and 27th, softening up enemy defensive works. Then, as the invasion began April 1, 1945, they flew support missions against targets on Okinawa and made neutralizing raids against Japanese airfields in range of the embattled island.
During an air raid April 16, a Japanese plane dove into Intrepid's flight deck forcing the engine and part of her fuselage right on through, killing eight men and wounding 21. In less than an hour the flaming gasoline had been extinguished, and only three hours after the crash, planes were again landing on the carrier.
The following day, USS Intrepid (CV 11) retired homeward via Ulithi and Pearl Harbor arriving San Francisco May 19 for repairs. Intrepid stood out of San Francisco June 29, 1945 and enlivened her westward voyage August 6 as her planes smashed Japanese on by-passed Wake Island. The next day she arrived Eniwetok where she received word Aug. 15 to "cease offensive operations."
The veteran carrier got underway August 21 to support the occupation of Japan. She departed Yokosuka December 2nd and arrived San Pedro, Calif., December 15, 1945.
The Intrepid shifted to San Francisco Bay February 4, 1946. Her status was reduced to "in commission in reserve" August 15 before decommissioning March 22, 1947, and joining the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
USS Intrepid recommissioned at San Francisco February 9, 1952, and got underway March 12 for Norfolk. She decommissioned in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard 9 April 1952 for conversion to a modern attack aircraft carrier. Reclassified CVA 11 on October 1st, she recommissioned in reserve on June 18, 1954. She became the first carrier in history to launch aircraft with American-built steam catapults October 13. Two days later she went into full commission as a unit of the Atlantic Fleet.
After shakedown out of Guantanamo Bay, USS Intrepid (CVA 11) departed Mayport, Fla., May 28, 1955, for the first of two deployments in the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet, mainstay in preventing Communist aggression in Europe and the Middle East. She returned to Norfolk from the second of these cruises September 5, 1956. The carrier got under way September 29 for a seven-month modernization overhaul in the New York Navy Yard, followed by refresher training out of Guantanamo Bay.
Boasting a reinforced angle flight deck and a mirror landing system, Intrepid departed the United States in September 1957 for NATO's Operation Strikeback, the largest peacetime naval exercise up to that time in history.
Operating out of Norfolk in December she conducted Operation Crosswind, a study of the effects of wind on carrier launches. USS Intrepid proved that carriers can safely conduct flight operations without turning into the wind and even launch planes while steaming downwind.
During the next four years Intrepid alternated Mediterranean deployments with operations along the Atlantic coast of the United States and exercises in the Caribbean.
April 25, 1961 A boiler explosion aboard USS Intrepid injures 11.
On December 8, 1961, The Intrepid was reclassified to an antisubmarine warfare support carrier, CVS 11. She entered the Norfolk Navy Yard March 10, 1962, to be overhauled and refitted for her new antisubmarine warfare role. She left the shipyard April 2, carrying Air Antisubmarine Group 56.
After training exercises, USS Intrepid was selected as the principal ship in the recovery team for Astronaut Scott Carpenter and his Project Mercury space capsule. Shortly before noon on May 24, 1962, Carpenter splashed down in Aurora 7 several hundred miles from Intrepid. Minutes after he was located by land-based search aircraft, two helicopters from Intrepid, carrying NASA officials, medical experts, Navy frogmen, and photographers, were airborne and headed to the rescue. One of the choppers picked Carpenter up over an hour later and flew him to the carrier which safely returned him to the United States.
After training midshipmen at sea in the summer and a thorough overhaul at Norfolk in the fall, the carrier departed Hampton Roads January 23, 1963 for warfare exercises in the Caribbean. Late in February she interrupted these operations to join a sea hunt for Venezuelan freighter, Anzoátegui whose mutinous second mate had led a group of pro-Castro terrorists in hijacking the vessel. After the Communist pirates had surrendered at Rio de Janeiro, the carrier returned to Norfolk March 23, 1963.
USS Intrepid (CVS 11) operated along the Atlantic Coast for the next year from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean perfecting her antisubmarine techniques. She departed Norfolk June 11, 1964 carrying midshipmen to the Mediterranean for a hunter-killer at sea trai ning with the 6th Fleet. While in the Mediterranean, Intrepid aided in the surveillance of a Soviet task group. En route home her crew learned that she had won the coveted Battle Efficiency "E" for antisubmarine warfare during the previous fiscal year.
Intrepid operated along the east coast during the fall. Early in September she entertained 22 NATO statesmen as part of their tour of U.S. military installations. She was at Yorktown, Va., October 18-19, 1964 for ceremonies commemorating Lord Cornwallis' surrender 183 years before.
During a brief deployment off North Carolina, swift and efficient rescue procedures on the night of November 21, 1964 saved the life of an airman who had plunged overboard while driving an aircraft towing tractor.
Early in the next year USS Intrepid began preparations for a vital role in NASA's first manned Gemini flight. On March 23, 1965 Lt. Cmdr. John W. Young and Maj. Virgil I. Grissom in Molly Brown splashed down some 50 miles from Intrepid after history's first controlled re-entry into the earth's atmosphere ended in the pair's nearly perfect three-orbit flight. A Navy helicopter lifted the astronauts from the spacecraft and flew them to Intrepid for medical examination and de briefing. Later Intrepid retrieved Molly Brown and returned the spaceship and astronauts to Cape Kennedy, Fla.
After this mission USS Intrepid (CVS 11) entered the Brooklyn Navy Yard in April for a major overhaul to bring her back to peak combat readiness.
This was the final Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) job performed by the New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, N.Y., slated to close after more than a century and a half of service to the nation. In September, Intrepid, with her work approximately 75 percent completed, eased down the East River to moor at the Naval Supply Depot at Bayonne, N.J., for the completion of her multi-million dollar overhaul. After builder's sea trials and fitting out at Norfolk she sailed to Guantanamo on shakedown.
Mid-1966 found USS Intrepid with the Pacific Fleet off Vietnam. Here her gallant pilots delivered powerful blows for freedom and scored what is believed to be one of the fastest aircraft launching times recorded by an American carrier. Nine A-4 Skyhawks and six A-1 Skyraiders, loaded with bombs and rockets, were catapulted in seven minutes, with only 28-second intervals between launches. A few days later planes were launched at 26-second intervals. After seven months of outstanding service with the 7th Fleet off Vietnam, Intrepid returned to Norfolk having earned her Commanding Officer, Captain John W. Fair, the Legion of Merit for combat operations in Southeast Asia.
In June of 1967, USS Intrepid (CVS 11) returned to the western Pacific by way of the Suez Canal just prior to its closing during the Arab-Israeli crisis. In mid-1970, Intrepid was homeported at Quonset Point, R.I., relieving USS Yorktown (CVS 10) as the flagship for Commander Carrier Division Sixteen. Intrepid was decommissioned for the final time March 15, 1974.
Destined to be scrapped shortly thereafter, a campaign led by the Intrepid Museum Foundation saved the carrier and established it as a floating museum which opened in New York City in August 1982. In 1986, the Intrepid was officially designated as a National Historic Landmark.
December 7, 2006 The ex-Intrepid recently moved from Manhattan, N.Y., to Bayonne, N.J.
November 8, 2008 The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is reopened to the public, in a ceremony at rebuilt Pier 86 in Manhattan, following the carrier's two-year, multimillion-dollar renovation. Improvements to the museum include exterior repairs and an interior full of contemporary exhibits that tell Intrepid's story from commissioning to the present day. Never-before-seen parts of the ship are now open to the public, including the foc'sle, machine shop and junior officer quarters. Sixteen of Intrepid's 30 aircraft boast restored artwork first painted by their pilots decades ago, and a 13,000-square-foot Explorium has interactive displays with a 4-D theater.