USS BENNINGTON CV 20
The second USS Bennington (CV 20) was launched February 28, 1944 by New York Navy Yard, sponsored by Mrs. Melvin J. Maas, wife of Congressman Maas of Minnesota; and commissioned August 6, 1944, Captain J. B. Sykes in command.
On December 15 Bennington got underway from New York and transited the Panama Canal on the 21st. The carrier arrived at Pearl Harbor January 8, 1945 and then proceeded to Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, where she joined TG 58.1, February 8th. Operating out of Ulithi she took part in the strikes against the Japanese home islands (Feb. 16-17 and 25th), Volcano Islands (Feb. 18-March 4), Okinawa (March 1), and the raids in support of the Okinawa campaign (March 18-June 11). On April 7th Bennington's planes participated in the attacks on the Japanese task force moving through the East China Sea toward Okinawa which resulted in the sinking of the Japanese battleship Yamato, light cruiser Yahagi, and four destroyers. On June 5 the carrier was damaged by a typhoon off Okinawa and retired to Leyte for repairs, arriving June 12th. Her repairs completed, USS Bennington left Leyte July 1 and during July 10-August 15 took part in the final raids on the Japanese home islands.
She continued operations in the western Pacific, supporting the occupation of Japan until October 21, 1945. On September 2 her planes participated in the mass flight over USS Missouri (BB 63) and Tokyo during the surrender ceremonies.
Bennington arrived at San Francisco November 7, 1945 and early in March 1946 transited the Panama Canal enroute to Norfolk. Following pre-inactivation overhaul, she went out of commission in reserve at Norfolk November 8, 1946.
The carrier began modernization at New York Naval Shipyard October 30, 1950 and was recommissioned November 13, 1952. Her shakedown lasted until May 1953, when she returned to Norfolk for final fleet preparations.
On April 27, 1953 a downcomer tube in Boiler Room One slipped loose which caused an explosion that killed 11 men, and seriously wounded four others.
Between May 14, 1953 and May 27, 1954 she operated along the eastern seaboard; made a midshipman cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia; and a cruise in the Mediterranean.
At 0811, May 26, 1954, while cruising off Narragansett Bay, the fluid in one of her catapults exploded, setting off a series of secondary explosions which killed 103 crewmen and injured 201 others. USS Bennington proceeded under her own power to Quonset Point, R. I., to land her injured. Moving to New York Naval Shipyard for repairs she was completely rebuilt during June 12, 1954-March 19, 1955. On April 22, 1955 the Secretary of the Navy came aboard and presented medals and letters of commendation to 178 of her crew in recognition of their heroism on May 26, 1954. Bennington served as a platform for innovations in Naval Aviation.
On August 22, 1955, operational testing of the mirror landing system installed on the ship was begun by VX-3. Commanding officer Cmdr. Robvert G. Dose, flying an FJ-3 Fury made the first landing with the device. Bennington stayed with the Atlantic Fleet until departing Mayport, Fla., September 8, 1955 for the Pacific. She steamed by way of Cape Horn and arrived at San Diego one month later.
On May 18, 1966, the XC-142A tri-service V/STOL transport made its first carrier takeoffs and landings during test conducted aboard USS Bennington at sea off San Diego. The tests, including 44 short and six vertical takeoffs were made with wind over the deck varying from zero to 32 knots. Lt. Roger L. Rich Jr., and other pilots from the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army took turns at the controls.
USS Bennington also was involved in the U.S. space program, recovering the unmanned Apollo IV spacecraft about 600 miles northwest of Hawaii, after its 8½-hour orbital flight on November 9, 1967.
Bennington was decommissioned January 15, 1970. She was stricken from the Navy List in 1989 and sold December 1, 1994 by the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) for scapping.