USS INDEPENDENCE CV 22
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The fourth USS Independence (CV 22), begun as Amsterdam, (CL 59), was launched as CV 22 on August 22, 1942 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. Rawleigh Warner; and commissioned January 14, 1943, Captain G. R. Fairlamb, Jr., in command.
The first of a new class of carriers converted from cruiser hulls, Independence conducted shakedown training in the Caribbean. She then steamed through the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet, arriving San Francisco July 3, 1943. USS Independence got underway for Pearl Harbor July 14, and after 2 weeks of vital training exercises sailed with carriers USS Essex (CV 9) and USS Yorktown (CV 10) for a devastating raid on Marcus Island. Planes from the carrier force struck September 1st and destroyed over 70 percent of the installations on the island. The carrier began her next operation, a similar strike against Wake Island October 5-6th as CVL 22, redesignated July 15, 1943.
Independence sailed from Pearl Harbor for Espiritu Santo October 21, and, during an ensuing carrier attack on Rabaul November 11, 1943, the ship's gunners scored their first success; six Japanese planes shot down. After this operation the carrier refueled at Espiritu Santo and headed for the Gilberts and prelanding strikes on Tarawa November 18-20, 1943. During a Japanese counterattack November 20th, USS Independence was attacked by a group of planes low on the water. Six were shot down, but the planes managed to launch at least five torpedoes one of which scored a hit on the carrier's starboard quarter.
Seriously damaged, the ship steamed to Funafuti November 23 for repairs. With the Gilberts operation, first step on the mid-Pacific road to Japan underway, Independence returned to San Francisco January 2, 1944 for more permanent repairs. The veteran carrier returned to Pearl Harbor July 3, 1944. During her repair period the ship had been fitted with an additional catapult, and upon her arrival in Hawaiian waters, Independence began training for night carrier operations. She continued this pioneering work August 24-29 out of Eniwetok. The ship sailed with a large task group on 29th to take part in the Palaus operation, aimed at securing bases for the final assault on the Philippines in October. USS Independence (CVL 22) provided night reconnaissance and night combat air patrol for Task Force 38 during this operation.
In September the fast carrier task force regularly pounded the Philippines in preparation for the invasion. When no Japanese counterattacks developed in this period, Independence shifted to regular daytime operations, striking targets on Luzon. After replenishment at Ulithi in early October, the great force sortied October 6, 1944 for Okinawa. In the days that followed the carriers struck Okinawa, Formosa, and Philippines in a striking demonstration of the mobility and balance of the fleet. Japanese air counterattacks were repulsed, with USS Independence providing day strike groups in addition to night fighters and reconnaissance aircraft for defensive protection.
As the carrier groups steamed east of the Philippines October 23, it became apparent, as Admiral Carney later recalled, that "something on a grand scale was underfoot." And indeed it was, as the Japanese fleet moved on a three-pronged effort to turn back the American beachhead on Leyte Gulf. Planes from Independence's Task Group 38.2, under Rear Admiral Bogan, spotted Kurita's striking force in the Sibuyan Sea October 24, 1944 and the carriers launched a series of attacks. Planes from Independence and other ships sank giant battleship Musashi and disabled a cruiser.
That evening Admiral Halsey made his fateful decision to turn Task Force 38 northward in search of Admiral Ozawa's carrier group. Independence's night search planes made contact and shadowed the Japanese ships until dawn of October 26th, when the carriers launched a massive attack. In this second part of the great Battle for Leyte Gulf, all four Japanese carriers were sunk. Meanwhile American heavy ships had won a great victory in Suriago Strait; and a light carrier force had outfought the remainder of Kurita's ships in the Battle of Samar. After the great battle, which virtually spelled the end of the Japanese Navy as a major threat, Independence continued to provide search planes and night fighter protection for Task Force 38 in strikes on the Philippines. In these operations the ship had contributed to a major development in carrier group operations.
USS Independence returned to Ulithi for long-delayed rest and replenishment November 9-14th, but soon got underway to operate off the Philippines on night attacks and defensive operations. This phase continued until December 30, 1944, when the great task force sortied from Ulithi once more and moved northward. From January 3-9, 1945, the carriers supported the Lingayen landings on Luzon, after which Adm. Halsey took his fleet on a daring foray into the South China Sea. In the days that followed, the aircraft struck at air bases on Formosa and on the coasts of Indo-China and China. These operations in support of the Philippines campaign marked the end of the carrier's night operations, and she sailed January 30, 1945 for repairs at Pearl Harbor.
USS Independence (CVL 22) returned to Ulithi March 13, 1945 and got underway the next day for operations against Okinawa, last target in the Pacific before Japan itself. She carried out pre-invasion strikes March 30-31st, and after the assault April 1 remained off the island supplying Combat Air Patrol and strike aircraft. Her planes shot down numerous enemy planes during the desperate Japanese attacks on the invasion force. Independence remained off Okinawa until June 10 when she sailed for Leyte.
During July and August the carrier took part in the final carrier strikes against Japan itself, attacks which lowered enemy morale and had much to do with the eventual surrender. After the end of the war August 15, Independence aircraft continued surveillance flights over the mainland locating prisoner of war camps, and covered the landings of Allied occupation troops. The ship departed Tokyo September 22, 1945, arriving San Francisco via Saipan and Guam October 31st.
USS Independence joined the "Magic Carpet" fleet beginning November 15, 1945, transporting veterans back to the United States until arriving San Francisco once more January 28, 1946. Assigned as a target vessel for the Bikini atomic bomb tests, she was placed within one-half mile of ground zero for the July 1st explosion. The veteran ship did not sink, however, and after taking part in another explosion July 25 was taken to Kwajalein and decommissioned August 28, 1946. The highly radioactive hulk was later taken to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco for further tests and was finally sunk in weapons tests off the coast of California January 29, 1951.