USS ORISKANY CV 34
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USS Oriskany (CVA 34), an attack aircraft carrier, was laid down May 1, 1944 by the New York Naval Shipyard, launched October 13, 1945; and sponsored by Mrs. Clarence Cannon. While still incomplete, her construction was suspended August 12, 1947. She remained in a state of preservation until after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea in June 1950, then was rushed to completion. She commissioned in the New York Naval Shipyard September 25, 1950, Capt. Percy H. Lyon in command.
USS Oriskany departed New York December 6, 1950 for carrier qualification operations off Jacksonville, Fla. followed by a Christmas call at Newport, R. I. She resumed operations off Jacksonville through January 11, 1951, when she embarked Carrier Air Group One for shakedown out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
After major modifications at New York Naval Shipyard March 6th through April 2, 1951, she embarked Carrier Air Group Four for training off Jacksonville, then departed Newport May 15, 1951 for Mediterranean deployment with the 6th Fleet.
For the next few months she added her far-reaching air arm to the strength of the 6th Fleet, the silent, flexible, and controlling weapon of deterrence to overt Soviet aggression in the Mediterranean and the Near East. The mobile 7th Fleet was deeply committed to a shooting war to help restore the independence and freedom of South Korea. USS Oriskany was part of the affirmative answer to the crucial question as to whether the Korean War would have an affect upon the Navy's ability to maintain the status quo in the Mediterranean
Having swept from ports of Italy and France to those of Greece and Turkey, thence to the shores of Tripoli, USS Oriskany returned to Quonset Point, R. I. October 4, 1951. She entered Gravesend Bay, New York, November 6, 1951 to offload ammunition and to have her masts removed to allow passage under the East River Bridges to the New York Naval Shipyard. Overhaul included the installation of a new flight deck, steering system, and bridge. Work was complete by May 15, 1952 and the carrier steamed the next day to take on ammunition at Norfolk May 19-22th. She then got underway to join the Pacific Fleet, steaming via Guantanamo Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Horn, Valparaiso, and Lima, arriving San Diego, Calif. July 21.
Following carrier qualifications for Air Group 102, USS Oriskany departed San Diego September 15, 1952 to aid UN forces in Korea. She arrived Yokosuka October 17 and joined Fast Carrier Task Force 77 off the Korean Coast October 31. Her aircraft struck hard with bombing and strafing attacks against enemy supply lines and coordinated bombing missions with surface gunstrikes along the coast. Her pilots downed two Soviet-built MIG-15 jets and damaged a third, November 18th.
Strikes continued through February 11, 1953, heaping destruction upon enemy artillery positions, troop emplacements, and supply dumps along the main battlefront. Following a brief upkeep period in Japan, USS Oriskany returned to combat March 1, 1953.
March 6, 1953 A bomb dislodged from a plane after a combat mission over Korea bounces twice across the deck of the USS Oriskany and explodes, killing two and injuring 15.
She continued in action until March 29th, called at Hong Kong, then resumed air strikes April 8. She departed the Korean coast April 22, touched at Yokosuka, and then departed for San Diego May 2, arriving there May 18th.
Following readiness training along the California coast, USS Oriskany departed San Francisco September 14, 1953 to aid the 7th Fleet watching over the uneasy truce in Korea, arriving Yokosuka October 15. Thereafter she cruised the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea, and the area of the Philippines. After providing air support for Marine amphibious assault exercises at Iwo Jima, the carrier returned to San Diego April 22, 1954. She entered San Francisco Naval Shipyard for modernization overhaul; completed October 22 when she stood out to sea for the first of a series of coastal operations.
USS Oriskany arrived at Yokosuka from San Francisco April 2, 1955, and operated with the Fast Carrier Task Force ranging from Japan and Okinawa to the Philippines. This deployment ended September 7th and the carrier arrived Alameda, Calif. September 21st.
The attack carrier Oriskany cruised the California coast while qualifying pilots of Air Group 9, then put to sea from Alameda, February 11, 1956, for another rigorous Westpac deployment. She returned to San Francisco June 13, and entered the shipyard for overhaul, October 1. She decommissioned there January 2, 1957 for modernization work that included a new angled flight deck and enclosed hurricane bow. New, powerful steam catapults were installed by the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash.
USS Oriskany recommissioned at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, March 7, 1959, Capt. James Mahan Wright in command. Four days later, she departed for shakedown out of San Diego with Carrier Air Group 14 embarked. Operations along the west coast continued until May 14, 1960, when she again deployed to WestPac, returning to San Diego December 15. She entered San Francisco Naval Shipyard March 30, 1961 for a five-month overhaul that included the first aircraft carrier installation of the Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS).
USS Oriskany departed the shipyard September 9th for underway training out of San Diego until June 7, 1962 when she again deployed to the Far East with Carrier Air Group 16 embarked. She returned to San Diego December 17, 1962 for operational readiness t raining off the west coast.
The carrier again stood out of San Diego August 1, 1963 for Far Eastern waters, with Carrier Air Group 16 embarked. She arrived Subic Bay August 31, 1963; thence to Japan. She stood out of Iwakuni, Japan, the morning of October 31, enroute the coast of South Vietnam. There, she stood by for any eventuality as word was received of the coup d'etat taking place in Saigon. When the crisis abated, the carrier resumed operations from Japanese ports.
USS Oriskany returned to San Diego March 10, 1964. After overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, she steamed for refresher training out of San Diego, followed by qualifications for Carrier Wing 16. During this period her flight deck was used to test the E-2A Hawkeye, the Navy's new airborne early warning aircraft. She also provided orientation to senior officers of eight allied nations.
USS Oriskany departed San Diego April 5, 1965 for Westpac, arriving Subic April 27th. By this time more United States troops had landed in South Vietnam to support Vietnamese troops against increased Viet Cong pressure to destroy the independence of that nation. Oriskany added her weight to the massive American naval strength supporting the freedom of South Vietnam. In combat operations that brought her and embarked Carrier Wing 16 the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service between May 10 and December 6, 1965, she carried out over 12,000 combat sorties and delivered nearly 10,000 tons of ordnance against enemy forces. She departed Subic Bay November 30 and returned to San Diego December 16.
USS Oriskany again stood out of San Diego for the Far East May 26, 1966, arriving Yokosuka June 14. She steamed for "Dixie Station" off South Vietnam June 27. Wearisome days and nights of combat shifted to "Yankee Station" in the Gulf of Tonkin July 8th. In the following months there were brief respites for replenishment in Subic Bay. Then, back into the action that saw her launch 7,794 combat sorties.
The carrier was on station the morning of October 27, 1966 when a fire erupted on the starboard side of the ship's forward hanger bay and raced through five decks, claiming the lives of 44 men. Many who lost their lives were veteran combat pilots who had flown raids over Vietnam a few hours earlier. USS Oriskany had been put in danger when a magnesium parachute flare exploded in the forward flare locker of Hanger Bay 1, beneath the carrier's flight deck. Her crewmen performed fantastic feats in jettisoning heavy bombs which lay within reach of the flames. Other men wheeled planes out of danger, rescued pilots, and helped quell the blaze through three hours of prompt and daring actions. Medical assistance was rushed to the carrier from sister aircraft carriers USS Constellation and USS Franklin D. Roosevelt.
USS Oriskany steamed to Subic Bay October 28, 1966, where victims of the fire were transferred to waiting aircraft for transportation to the United States. A week later, the carrier departed for San Diego, arriving November 16. San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard completed repairs March 23, 1967 and USS Oriskany, with Carrier Air Wing 16 embarked, underwent training. She then stood out of San Francisco Bay June 16 to take station in waters off Vietnam. Designated flagship of Carrier Division Nine in Subic Bay July 9, she commenced "Yankee Station" operations July 14. While on the line, on 26th, she provided medical assistance to the fire-ravaged attack carrier USS Forrestal.
USS Oriskany returned to the Naval Air Station pier at Alameda Calif., January 31, 1968, and entered San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard February 7 for an eight month overhaul. Upon completion of work, the carrier underwent refresher training and flight qualifications before deploying to the Far East April 16, 1969.
June 28, 1972 USS Oriskany and the USS Nitro (AE 23) are in a minor collision during an underway replenishment, 150 nautical miles east of Da Nang.
July 20, 1972 USS Oriskany losed a propeller and a section of the propeller's tail shaft while operating in the Pacific, thus limiting the carrier to three engines.
Following twenty-five years of service, USS Oriskany was decommissioned September 30, 1975. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in July 1989, and sold for scrapping on September 9, 1995. The contractor defaulted and the ship was repossessed by the Navy, with the contract terminated July 30, 1997. The ship is at the Beaumont Reserve Fleet in Beaumont, Tex., and will be scrapped.
March 22, 2006 The decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Oriskany is towed from the Intracoastal Waterway to Allegheny Pier on board Naval Air Station Pensacola. The ship is scheduled to be sanked 22 miles south of Pensacola in approximately 212 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico May 17, where it will become the largest ship ever intentionally sunk as an artificial reef. After the Oriskany reaches the bottom, ownership of the vessel will transfer from the Navy to the State of Florida. Known as the "Big O," the 32,000-ton, 888-foot aircraft carrier was built at the New York Naval Shipyard and delivered to the Navy in 1950 where it later became a highly decorated veteran during conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.