USS Midway (CVB/CVA/CV-41)

USS Midway (CVB/CVA/CV-41) was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class. Commissioned a week after the end of World War II, Midway was the largest ship in the world until 1955, as well as the first U.S. aircraft carrier too big to transit the Panama Canal. She operated for 47 years, during which time she saw action in the Vietnam War and served as the Persian Gulf flagship in 1991's Operation Desert Storm.

The Midway-class aircraft carrier was one of the longest-serving aircraft carrier designs in history. First commissioned in late 1945, the lead ship of the class, USS Midway, was not decommissioned until 1992, shortly after service in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The USS Franklin D. Roosevelt was decommissioned in 1977. The USS Coral Sea (CV-43) was decommissioned in 1990.

Decommissioned in 1992, she is now a museum ship at the USS Midway Museum, in San Diego, California, and the only remaining U.S. aircraft carrier commissioned right after World War II ended that was not an Essex-class aircraft carrier.

Service History

Midway after commissioning in September 1945

Midway was laid down 27 October 1943 by Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Virginia; launched 20 March 1945, sponsored by Mrs. Bradford William Ripley, Jr.; and commissioned on 10 September 1945 (eight days after the Surrender of Japan) with Captain Joseph F. Bolger in command.

After shakedown in the Caribbean, Midway joined the U.S. Atlantic Fleet training schedule, with Norfolk as its homeport. From 20 February 1946, it was the flagship for Carrier Division 1. In March, it tested equipment and techniques for cold-weather operations in the North Atlantic. In September 1947, a captured German V-2 rocket was test-fired from the flight deck in Operation Sandy, the first large-rocket launch from a moving platform, and the only moving-platform launch for a V-2. While the rocket lifted off, it then tilted and broke up at 15,000 feet (4,600 m).

On 29 October 1947, Midway sailed for the first of its annual deployments with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Between deployments, Midway trained and received alterations to accommodate heavier aircraft as they were developed.

In June 1951, Midway operated in the Atlantic off the Virginia Capes during carrier suitability tests of the F9F-5 Panther. On 23 June, as Cdr. George Chamberlain Duncan attempted a landing in BuNo 125228, a downdraft just aft of the stern caused Duncan to crash. His plane's forward fuselage broke away and rolled down the deck, and he suffered burns. Footage of the crash has been used in several films, including Men of the Fighting Lady, Midway, and The Hunt for Red October.

In 1952, the ship participated in Operation Mainbrace, North Sea maneuvers with NATO forces. On 1 October, the ship was redesignated CVA-41.

Midway cleared Norfolk 27 December 1954 for a world cruise, sailing via the Cape of Good Hope for Taiwan, where it joined the 7th Fleet for operations in the Western Pacific until 28 June 1955. During these operations, Midway pilots flew cover for the evacuation from the Quemoy-Matsu crisis from the Tachen Islands of 15,000 Chinese nationalist troops and 20,000 Chinese civilians, along with their livestock. On 28 June 1955, the ship sailed for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where Midway underwent an extensive modernization program (SCB-110, similar to SCB-125 for the Essex-class carriers). Midway received an enclosed hurricane bow, an aft deck-edge elevator, an angled flight deck, and steam catapults, returning to service on 30 September 1957.

Home ported at Alameda, California, Midway began annual deployments with the 7th Fleet in 1958, and in the South China Sea during the Laotian Crisis of spring 1961. During the 1962 deployment, the ship's aircraft tested the air defense systems of Japan, Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Midway again sailed for the Far East 6 March 1965, and from mid-April flew strikes against military and logistics installations in North and South Vietnam.

Returning to Alameda on 23 November, Midway entered San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard on 11 February 1966 for a massive modernization (SCB-101.66), which proved expensive and controversial. The flight deck was enlarged from 2.8 to 4 acres (11,300 to 16,200 square meters (122,000 to 174,000 sq ft)), and the angle of the flight deck landing area was increased to 13.5 degrees. The elevators were enlarged, moved, and given almost double the weight capacity. Midway also received new steam catapults, arresting gear, and a centralized air conditioning plant. Cost overruns raised the price of this program from $88 million to $202 million USD, and precluded a similar modernization planned for Franklin D. Roosevelt. After Midway was finally recommissioned on 31 January 1970, it was found that the modifications had hurt the ship's sea keeping capabilities and ability to conduct air operations in rough seas, which required further modifications to correct the problem.

Final Cruise and Museum Ship

In August 1991, Midway departed Yokosuka and returned to Pearl Harbor. Here, it turned over with Independence which was to replace Midway as the forward-deployed carrier in Yokosuka. RADM Joseph Pruher and the staff of Carrier Group ONE cross decked from Independence. RADM Pruher was the last admiral to break his flag on Midway. Midway then sailed to Seattle for a port visit. The ship then embarked "tigers", guests of crew members for the final voyage to San Diego. Midway was decommissioned at Naval Air Station North Island on 11 April 1992 in a ceremony in which the main speaker was Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. The ship was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 17 March 1997. During decommissioning, Midway, its sailors, and their families were filmed for the movie At Sea, a documentary on carrier life shown only at the Navy Museum in Washington, D.C.

On 30 September 2003, Midway began its journey from the Navy Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington, to San Diego, California, in preparation for use as a museum and memorial. The aircraft carrier was docked in early October at the Charles P. Howard Terminal in Oakland, California, while work proceeded on the Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego. On 10 January 2004, the ship was moored at its final location, where it was opened to the public on 7 June 2004 as a museum. In the first year of operation, the museum had 879,281 visitors, double the expected attendance.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

All photos on these pages were taken from the internet.