USS LEYTE CV 32
The third USS Leyte was laid down as Crown Point (CV 32) by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va., February 21, 1944; renamed Leyte May 8, 1945; launched August 23, 1945 sponsored by Mrs. James M. Mead, and commissioned April 11, 1946, Capt . Henry F. MacComsey in command.
USS Leyte joined USS Wisconsin (BB 64) on a good will cruise down the western seaboard of South America in the fall of 1946 before returning to the Caribbean November 18 to resume shakedown operations. The following three years were spent in numerous fleet exercises in the Atlantic and Caribbean, training naval reservists, and four deployments in the Mediterranean: April to June 1947, July to November 1947, September 1949 to January 1950, and May to August 1950. The latter included a demonstration of airpower over Beirut, Lebanon, August 13, supporting the Middle East against Communist pressure. Leyte returned to Norfolk August 24th, and after two weeks of preparation, departed September 6, 1950 to join TF 77 in the Far East to support United Nations Forces in Korea.
USS Leyte arrived Sasebo, Japan, October 8th and made final preparations for combat operations. From October 9 through January 19, 1951, the ship and her aircraft spent 92 days at sea and flew 3,933 sorties against the North Korean aggressors.
On December 4, 1950, Ensign Jesse L. Brown, the Navy's first black pilot, flying a close support mission from CV 32, was forced to make a crash landing near Hagaru-Ri when his plane was hit by enemy ground fire. Observing that Ens. Brown was unable to get out of his cockpit, one of his squadron mates, Lt.(j.g.) Thomas J. Hudner, fearlessly landed to assist. Ens. Brown died before he could be removed from the wreckage. Lt.(j.g.) Hudner was rescued by helicopter and later was awarded the Medal of Honor. Ens. Brown was posthumously decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross.
All told, Leyte's pilots accumulated 11,000 hours in the air while inflicting massive damage upon enemy positions, supplies, transportation, and communications. USS Leyte returned to Norfolk for overhaul February 25, 1951.
After fleet training exercises in the Caribbean terminated August 21, 1951, Leyte departed for her fifth tour of duty with the 6th Fleet, September 3rd. She returned to Norfolk December 21 for operations out of Hampton Roads, and again steamed for the Mediterranean August 29, 1952. Reclassified CVA 32 on October 1, 1952, she returned to Boston February 16, 1953 for deactivation. On August 8th however, she was ordered to be retained in the active fleet, and, redesignated CVS 32 on the same day, work was begun converting her to an ASW support carrier.
On October 16, 1953, at 1515, while still under conversion to an antisubmarine carrier, Leyte suffered an explosion in her port catapult machinery room. Within minutes naval base and city fire trucks were on the scene. After a hard and gallant fight, the fire was extinguished at 1957. As a result of the fire, 37 men died and 28 were injured.
Conversion completed January 4, 1954, USS Leyte departed Boston for Quonset Point, R.I., as flagship of CarDiv 18. CVS 32 conducted anti-submarine operations in the Atlantic and Caribbean over the next five years. She also served briefly as an interim amphibious assault ship in 1957, with her normal air group replaced with Marine Corps transport helicopters.
USS Leyte departed Quonset Point in January 1959 for the New York Navy Yard where she commenced preinactivation overhaul. She was redesignated AVT 10 and decommissioned both on May 15, 1959, and was assigned to the Philadelphia group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet with a berth in New York. She was stricken from the Navy List on June 1, 1969, and was sold for scrapping in September 1970.