Korean War: USS Antietam (CV-36)

USS Antietam (CV-36), 1953. US Naval History & Heritage Command

USS Antietam (CV-36) - Overview:

  • Nation: United States
  • Type: Aircraft Carrier
  • Shipyard: Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
  • Laid Down: March 15, 1943
  • Launched: August 20, 1944
  • Commissioned: January 28, 1945
  • Fate: Sold for scrap, 1974

USS Antietam (CV-36) - Specifications:

  • Displacement: 27,100 tons
  • Length: 888 ft.
  • Beam: 93 ft. (waterline)
  • Draft: 28 ft., 7 in.
  • Propulsion: 8 × boilers, 4 × Westinghouse geared steam turbines, 4 × shafts
  • Speed: 33 knots
  • Complement: 3,448 men

USS Antietam (CV-36) - Armament:

  • 4 × twin 5 inch 38 caliber guns
  • 4 × single 5 inch 38 caliber guns
  • 8 × quadruple 40 mm 56 caliber guns
  • 46 × single 20 mm 78 caliber guns


  • 90-100 aircraft

USS Antietam (CV-36) - A New Design:

Conceived in the 1920s and early 1930s, the US Navy's Lexington- and Yorktown-class aircraft carriers were intended to meet the limitations laid out by the Washington Naval Treaty. This placed restrictions on the tonnage of various types of vessels as well as installed a ceiling on each signatory’s overall tonnage. This system was further extended by the 1930 London Naval Treaty. As the global situation began to deteriorate, Japan and Italy departed the treaty structure in 1936. With the collapse of this system, the US Navy commenced efforts to design a new, larger class of aircraft carrier and one which utilized the lessons learned from the Yorktown-class.

The resulting product was longer and wider as well as utilized a deck-edge elevator system. This had been employed earlier on USS Wasp (CV-7). In addition to embarking a larger air group, the new class carried a greatly enhanced anti-aircraft armament. Construction began on the lead ship, USS Essex (CV-9), on April 28, 1941.

With the US entry into World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Essex-class soon became the US Navy's standard design for fleet carriers. The initial four ships after Essex followed the type's original design. In early 1943, the US Navy ordered multiple alterations to improve future vessels. The most visible of these changes was the lengthening the bow to a clipper design which permitted the addition of two quadruple 40 mm mounts. Other alterations included moving the combat information center below the armored deck, enhanced ventilation and aviation fuel systems, a second catapult on the flight deck, and an additional fire control director. Colloquially known as the "long-hull" Essex-class or Ticonderoga-class by some, the US Navy made no distinction between these and the earlier Essex-class ships.

USS Antietam (CV-36) - Construction:

The first ship to move forward with the revised Essex-class design was USS Hancock (CV-14) which was later re-named Ticonderoga.  It was followed by additional carriers including USS Antietam (CV-36).  Laid down on March 15, 1943, construction on Antietam commenced at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.  Named for the Civil War Battle of Antietam, the new carrier entered the water on August 20, 1944 with Eleanor Tydings, wife of Maryland Senator Millard Tydings, serving as sponsor.

  Construction rapidly advanced and Antietam entered commission on January 28, 1945, with Captain James R. Tague in command. 

USS Antietam (CV-36) - World War II & Occupation:

Departing Philadelphia in early March, Antietam shifted south to Hampton Roads and commenced shakedown operations.  Steaming along the East Coast and in the Caribbean until April, the carrier then returned to Philadelphia for an overhaul.  Leaving on May 19, Antietam began its voyage to the Pacific to join in the campaign against Japan.  Stopping briefly in San Diego, it then turned west for Pearl Harbor.  Reaching Hawaiian waters, Antietam spent the better part of the next two months conducting training in the area.  On August 12, the carrier left port bound for Eniwetok Atoll which had been captured the previous year.

  Three days later, word arrived of the cessation of hostilities and Japan's impending surrender.  

Arriving at Eniwetok on August 19, Antietam sailed with USS Cabot (CVL-28) three days later to support the occupation of Japan.  Following a brief stop at Guam for repairs, the carrier received new orders directing it to patrol along the Chinese coast in the vicinity of Shanghai.  Largely operating in the Yellow Sea, Antietam remained in the Far East for most the next three years.  During this time, its aircraft patrolled over Korea, Manchuria, and northern China as well as conducted reconnaissance of operations during the Chinese Civil War.  In early 1949, Antietam completed its deployment and steamed for the United States.  Arriving at Alameda, CA, it was decommissioned on June 21, 1949 and placed in reserve.

USS Antietam (CV-36) - Korean War:

Antietam's inactivity proved short as the carrier was re-commissioned on January 17, 1951 due to the outbreak of the Korean War.  Conducting shakedown and training along the California coast, the carrier made a voyage to and from Pearl Harbor before departing for the Far East on September 8.  Joining Task Force 77 later that fall, Antietam's aircraft began mounting attacks in support of United Nations forces.  Making four cruises during its deployment, the carrier generally would resupply at Yokosuka.  Completing its final cruise on March 21, 1952, Antietam's air group flew nearly 6,000 sorties during its time off the Korean Coast.  Earning two battle stars for its efforts, the carrier returned to the United States where it was briefly placed in reserve.


USS Antietam (CV-36) - A Groundbreaking Change:

Ordered to the New York Naval Shipyard that summer, Antietam entered dry dock that September for a major alteration.  This saw the addition of a sponson on the port side which permitted the installation of an angled flight deck.  The first carrier to possess a true angled flight deck, this new feature permitted aircraft that missed landings to take off again without hitting aircraft further forward on the flight deck.  It also greatly increased the efficiency of the launch and recovery cycle.  Re-designated an attack carrier (CVA-36) in October, Antietam rejoined the fleet in December.  Operating from Quonset Point, RI, the carrier was a platform for numerous tests involving the angled flight deck.  These included operations and testing with pilots from the Royal Navy.  The result from the testing on Antietam confirmed thoughts on the superiority of the angled flight deck and it would become a standard feature of carriers moving forward.

USS Antietam (CV-36) - Later Service & Training Carrier:

Re-designated an anti-submarine carrier in August 1953, Antietam continued to serve in the Atlantic.  Ordered to join the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean in January 1955, it cruised in those waters until early that spring.  Returning to the Atlantic, Antietam made a goodwill voyage to Europe in October 1956.  While abroad, it was ordered to the Mediterranean during the Suez Crisis and aided in the evacuation of Americans from Alexandria, Egypt.

  Returning to Rhode Island, Antietam resumed peacetime training operations.  On April 21, 1957, the carrier received an assignment to serve as a training carrier for new naval aviators at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  

Home ported at Mayport, FL as its draft was too deep to enter Pensacola harbor, Antietam spent the next five years educating young pilots.  In 1959, following dredging at Pensacola, the carrier shifted its home port.  In addition, Antietam served as a test platform for a variety of new equipment as well as embarked US Naval Academy midshipmen each summer for training cruises.  In 1961, the carrier twice provided humanitarian relief in the wakes of Hurricanes Carla and Hattie.  On October 23, 1962, Antietam was relieved as Pensacola's training ship by USS Lexington (CV-16).  Steaming to Philadelphia, the carrier was placed in reserve and decommissioned on May 8, 1963.  In reserve for eleven years, Antietam was sold for scrap on February 28, 1974.          

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Your Citation
Hickman, Kennedy. "Korean War: USS Antietam (CV-36)." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2016, thoughtco.com/korean-war-uss-antietam-cv-36-2360357. Hickman, Kennedy. (2016, August 29). Korean War: USS Antietam (CV-36). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/korean-war-uss-antietam-cv-36-2360357 Hickman, Kennedy. "Korean War: USS Antietam (CV-36)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/korean-war-uss-antietam-cv-36-2360357 (accessed March 18, 2018).