USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN CV 39
The second Lake Champlain (CV 39) was laid down in drydock by the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth Va., March 15, 1943; launched by float November 2, 1944; sponsored June 3, 1945 by Mrs. Warren Austin, wife of Senator Austin of Vermont, and commissioned the same day, Capt. Logan C. Ramsey in command.
After shakedown and visits to New York and Philadelphia, USS Lake Champlain was assigned to "Magic Carpet" duty, departed Norfolk for England October 14, 1945, and arrived Southampton the 19th where she embarked veterans and returned them to New York.
She set a speed record for crossing the Atlantic November 26, 1945 when she arrived at Hampton Roads, Va., having completed a run from Cape Spartel, Africa, in 4 days, 8 hours, 51 minutes. This record stood until surpassed by SS United States in the summer of 1952.
USS Lake Champlain retired to the "Mothball Fleet" at Norfolk, Va., February 17, 1947. After the United States had allowed her active military strength to shrink to the danger point, the Communists struck in Korea. Fortunately, the U.S. had ships in reserve, though it took time to obtain and train crews and provide materiel. Lake Champlain was reactivated and modernized at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., and recommissioned September 19, 1952, Capt. G. T. Mundroff in command.
After shakedown in Cuban and Haitian waters, from November 25th-December 25, 1952, the carrier departed Mayport, Fla., for Korea April 26, 1953 via the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and China Sea, becoming the largest ship to transit the Suez Canal up to that time. She moored at Yokosuka, Japan, June 9, 1953.
As flagship of Carrier Task Force 77, she sailed from Yokosuka June 11, 1953 and arrived off western Korea June 14. The carrier's air group immediately launched sorties cratering runways; assaulting enemy troops; attacking trenches, bunkers, gun positions; and giving close air support to hard pressed ground forces. Her planes also escorted B-29 bombers on their way to enemy targets. USS Lake Champlain continued to strike at the enemy until the truce was signed July 27. Relieved by USS Kearsarge (CVA 33) on October 11th, Lake Champlain headed toward the South China Sea arriving Singapore October 24. Bidding farewell to the Pacific Ocean 27th, she steamed toward home touching at Columbo, Port Said, Cannes, and Lisbon before arriving Mayport, Fla., December 4, 1953.
In the years that followed, USS Lake Champlain made several cruises to the Mediterranean, participating with NATO forces. On April 25, 1957 she joined elements of the fleet in a high-speed run to the scene of tension in the Middle East, cruising in the vicinity of Lebanon and backing Jordan's stand against the threat of Communism. The swift and firm reaction averted a near catastrophe in the Middle East. Tension eased and USS Lake Champlain returned to Mayport July 27.
Converted to an antisubmarine carrier and reclassified (CVS 39) on August 1, 1957, Lake Champlain trained off the eastern seaboard to master her new role. She departed Bayonne, N.J., September 5, 1957 for a Mediterranean cruise. While in the Mediterranean, she arrived October 16 at Valencia, Spain, and provided aid to thousands made homeless by a flood. Lake Champlain returned October 30 to Mayport, Fla. After yard overhaul, she again departed for the Mediterranean June 10, 1958 and visited Spain, Denmark, and Scotland, before returning to Mayport August 9.
The carrier operated off Florida and in the Caribbean until June 15, 1959 when she sailed on another Mediterranean cruise returning to her newly assigned home port, Quonset Point, R.I., September 4.
The carrier operated out of Quonset Point, R.I., until June 29, 1960 when she made a midshipmen cruise to Halifax, returning August 12th. Beginning February 7, 1961, she made a cruise to the Caribbean, returning March 2.
USS Lake Champlain was selected as the prime recovery ship for the first manned space flight. She sailed for the recovery area May 1, 1961, and was on station on 5th when Cmdr. Alan Sheppard splashed down in spacecraft Freedom 7, some 300 miles down range from Cape Kennedy. Helicopters from the carrier visually followed the descent of the capsule and were over the astronaut two minutes after the impact. They skillfully recovered Astronaut Sheppard and Freedom 7 and carried them safely to Lake Champlain's flight deck.
For the next year the ship operated along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean. In June 1962, she embarked Naval Academy midshipmen for a summer cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Kingston, Jamaica, where she represented the United States at the island's celebration of its independence, August 3.
On October 24, 1962, USS Lake Champlain joined in a classic exercise of seapower - the quarantine of Cuba, where the Soviet Union was constructing bases for offensive missiles. To block this grave threat, U.S. warships deployed throughout the western Atlantic, choking off the flow of military supplies to Cuba and enforcing American demands for the withdrawal of the Russian offensive missiles.
After the American demands were substantially complied with, Lake Champlain sailed for home November 23rd, via St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and arrived Quonset Point, December 4, 1962. For the next few months the carrier was in New England waters for operations and overhaul. In mid-October 1963, four Navy ships, including USS Lake Champlain and the amphibious assault ship USS Thetis Bay (LPH 6), aided by Navy and Marine Corps cargo aircraft from east coast stations, delivered nearly 375 tons of food, clothing and medical supplies donated by relief agencies to the people of Haiti after that country was devestated by Hurricane Flora. USS Lake Champlain returned to Quonset Point November 9, 1963 for operations in New England waters.
January 10, 1964 Lake Champlain loses 41 feet of its catwalk in a storm in Virginia Capes area.
May 6, 1964 CVS 39 and USS Decatur (DD 936) collide in the Atlantic, 150 miles east of Cape Henry, Va. The Decatur sustains heavy damage to its superstructure, but there are no personnel injuries.
June 3, 1964 Lake Champlain collides with the Norwegian freighter Skauvaag in Chesapeake Bay, Va. There were no injuries.
She visited Bermuda briefly in spring of 1964 and steamed to Spain in the fall for landings near Huelva. She sailed November 6 from Barcelona for the United States, touched at Gibraltar and arrived at Quonset Point November 25, 1964..
On January 19, 1965, USS Lake Champlain recovered an unmanned Project Gemini space capsule launched from Cape Kennedy, Fla., after a suborbital flight 1,879 miles down the Atlantic Missile Range and to within 16 miles of the carrier.
The last major duty of her career occurred on August 5, 1965 when she served as the primary recovery ship for Gemini 5. Gemini 5 spalshed down into the Atlantic 90 miles off target after a record-breaking eight-day space flight, and 45 minutes later, Navy frogmen helped astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad out of their space capsule and aboard a helicopter for the ride back to Lake Champlain. Soon after this duty was completed, she sailed to Philadelphia, where she commenced inactivation. She was decommissioned May 2, 1966.
The 24-year-old USS Lake Champlain was stricken from the Navy List on December 1, 1969, and sold by the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) for scrapping on April 28, 1972.