USS RANGER CV 4
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The sixth USS Ranger (CV 4), the first ship of the Navy to be designed and built from the keel up as an aircraft carrier was laid down September 26, 1931 by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newport News, Va.; launched February 25, 1933, sponsored by Mrs. Herbert Hoover; and commissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard June 4, 1934, Capt. Arthur L. Bristol in command.
The Ranger conducted its first air operations off Cape Henry August 6, 1934 and departed Norfolk on the 17th for a shakedown training cruise that took it to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo. The ship returned to Norfolk October 4 for operations off the Virginia Capes until March 28, 1935, when it sailed for the Pacific. Transiting the Panama Canal on April 7, the carrier arrived in San Diego on the 15th. For nearly four years USS Ranger participated in fleet problems reaching to Hawaii, and in western seaboard operations that took her as far south as Callao, Peru, and as far north as Seattle, Wash. On January 4, 1939, she departed San Diego for winter fleet operations in the Caribbean out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She then steamed north to Norfolk, Va., arriving April 18.
USS Ranger (CV 4) cruised along the eastern seaboard out of Norfolk and into the Caribbean Sea. In the fall of 1939, she commenced Neutrality Patrol operations, operating out of Bermuda along the trade routes of the middle Atlantic and up the eastern seaboard up to Argentia, Newfoundland. She was returning to Norfolk from an ocean patrol extending to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Arriving Norfolk December 8th, she sailed on the 21st for patrol in the South Atlantic. She then entered the Norfolk Navy Yard for repairs on March 22, 1942.
USS Ranger served as flagship of Rear Adm. A. B. Cook, Commander, Carriers, Atlantic Fleet, until April 6, 1942, when she was relieved by Rear Adm. Ernest D. McWhorter, who also broke his flag in Ranger.
Steaming to Quonset Point, R.I., Ranger loaded 68 Army P-40 planes and men of the Army's 33d Pursuit Squadron, put to sea April 22, and launched the Army squadron May 10th to land at Accra, on the Gold Coast of Africa. She returned to Quonset Point May 28 made a patrol to Argentia, then stood out of Newport July 1 with 72 Army P-40 pursuit planes, which she launched off the coast of Africa for Accra the 19th. After calling at Trinidad, she returned to Norfolk for local battle practice until October 1, then based her training at Bermuda in company with four escort aircraft carriers that had been newly converted from tankers to meet the need for naval air power in the Atlantic.
The only large carrier in the Atlantic Fleet, USS Ranger led the task force comprising herself and four Sangamon-class escort carriers that provided air superiority during the amphibious invasion of German dominated French Morocco which commenced the morning of November 8, 1942.
It was still dark at 0615 that day, when Ranger, stationed 30 miles northwest of Casablanca, began launching her aircraft to support the landings made at three points on the Atlantic coast of North Africa. Nine of her Wildcats attacked the Rabat and Rabat-Sale airdromes, headquarters of the French air forces in Morocco. Without loss to themselves, they destroyed seven planes on one field, and 14 bombers on the other. Another flight destroyed seven planes on the Port Lyautey field. Some of Ranger's planes strafed four French destroyers in Casablanca Harbor while others strafed and bombed nearby batteries. The carrier launched 496 combat sorties in the three-day operation. Her attack aircraft scored two direct bomb hits on the French destroyer leader Albatros, completely wrecking her forward half and causing 300 casualties. They also attacked French cruiser Primaugut as she sortied from Casablanca Harbor, dropped depth charges within lethal distance of two submarines, and knocked out coastal defense and anti-aircraft batteries. They destroyed more than 70 enemy planes on the ground and shot down 15 in aerial combat. But 16 planes from Ranger were lost or damaged beyond repair. It was estimated that 21 light enemy tanks were immobilized and some 86 military vehicles destroyed, most of them troop-carrying trucks.
Casablanca capitulated to the American invaders November 11, 1942 and Ranger departed the Moroccan coast on November 12th, returning to Norfolk, Va., on the 23rd.
Following training in Chesapeake Bay, USS Ranger (CV 4) underwent overhaul in the Norfolk Navy Yard from December 16, 1942 to February 7, 1943. She next transported 75 P-40-L Army pursuit planes to Africa, arriving Casablanca on February 23; then patrolled and trained pilots along the New England coast steaming as far north as Halifax, Nova Scotia. Departing Halifax August 11, she joined the British Home Fleet at Scapa Flow, Scotland, on 19th and patrolled the approaches to the British Isles.
USS Ranger departed Scapa Flow with the Home Fleet October 2nd to attack German shipping in Norwegian waters. The objective of the force was the Norwegian port of Bodö. The task force reached launch position off Vestfjord before dawn of October 4 completely undetected. At 0618, the aircraft carrier launched 20 Dauntless dive bombers and an escort of eight Wildcat fighters. One division of dive bombers attacked the 8,000-ton freighter LaPlata, while the rest continued north to attack a small German convoy. They severely damaged a 10,000-ton tanker and a smaller troop transport. They also sank two of four small German merchantmen in the Bodö roadstead. A second Ranger attack group of 10 Avengers and six Wildcats destroyed a German freighter and a small coaster and bombed yet another troop-laden transport. Three Ranger planes were lost to antiaircraft fire. On the afternoon of October 4th, the carrier was finally located by three German aircraft, but her combat air patrol shot down two of the enemy planes and chased off the third.
CV 4 returned to Scapa Flow October 6, 1943. It patrolled with the British Second Battle Squadron in waters reaching to Iceland, and then departed Hvalfjord on November 26, arriving Boston December 4. On January 3, 1944, it became a training carrier out of Quonset Point, R.I. This duty was interrupted April 20 when the ship arrived at Staten Island, N.Y., to load 76 P-38 fighter planes together with Army, Navy, and French Naval personnel for transport to Casablanca. Sailing April 24, it arrived Casablanca on May 4th. There it onloaded Army aircraft destined for stateside repairs and embarked military passengers for the return to New York.
Touching at New York May 16, USS Ranger then entered the Norfolk Navy Yard to have her flight deck strengthened and for installation of a new type catapult, radar, and associated gear that provided her with a capacity for night fighter interceptor training. On July 11, 1944 she departed Norfolk transited the Panama Canal 5 days later, and embarked several hundred Army passengers at Balboa for transportation to San Diego, arriving there July 25th.
After embarking the men and aircraft of Night Fighting Squadron 102 and nearly a thousand Marines, she sailed for Hawaiian waters July 28, reaching Pearl Harbor August 3. During the next 3 months she conducted night carrier training operations out of Pearl Harbor.
USS Ranger departed Pearl Harbor October 18 to train pilots for combat duty. Operating out of San Diego under Commander, Fleet Air, Alameda, she continued training air groups and squadrons along the California coast throughout the remainder of the war.
Departing San Diego September 30, 1945, she embarked civilian and military passengers at Balboa the Canal Zone, and then steamed for New Orleans, arriving October 18. Following Navy Day celebrations there, she sailed on October 30 for brief operations at Pensacola. After calling at Norfolk, she entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard November 18 for overhaul. She remained on the eastern seaboard until decommissioned at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard October 18, 1946. Struck from the Navy list October 29, 1946, she was sold for scrap to Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Chester, Pa., January 28, 1947.