World War II: USS Reprisal (CV-35)

USS Reprisal (CV-35)
USS Reprisal (CV-35) under construction at the New York Naval Shipyard. Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command

USS Reprisal (CV-35) - Overview:

  • Nation: United States
  • Type: Aircraft Carrier
  • Shipyard: New York Naval Shipyard
  • Laid Down: July 1, 1944
  • Launched: May 14, 1945
  • Commissioned: N/A
  • Fate: Sold for scrap, 1949

USS Reprisal (CV-35) - Specifications (planned):

  • Displacement: 27,100 tons
  • Length: 872 ft.
  • Beam: 93 ft. (waterline)
  • Draft: 28 ft., 5 in.
  • Propulsion: 8 × boilers, 4 × Westinghouse geared steam turbines, 4 × shafts
  • Speed: 33 knots
  • Complement: 2,600 men

USS Reprisal (CV-35) - Armament (planned):

  • 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

Aircraft (planned):

  • 90-100 aircraft

USS Reprisal (CV-35) - A New Design:

Developed in the 1920s and early 1930s, the US Navy's Lexington- and Yorktown-class aircraft carriers were designed to meet the restrictions enacted by the Washington Naval Treaty. This limited the tonnage of different types of warships as well as placed a ceiling on each signatory’s total tonnage. These limitations were expanded and refined by the 1930 London Naval Treaty. As the international situation deteriorated in the following years, Japan and Italy abandoned the treaty structure in 1936. With the implosion of the treaty system, the US Navy worked to design a new, larger class of aircraft carrier and one which pulled from the lessons learned from the Yorktown-class.

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

In the wake of the US entry into World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Essex-class became the US Navy's standard design for fleet carriers. The first four ships after Essex adhered to the class' original design. In early 1943, the US Navy made several alterations to enhance future ships. The most noticeable of these changes was the lengthening the bow to a clipper design which allowed for the inclusion of two quadruple 40 mm gun mounts. Other alterations included moving the combat information center below the armored deck, improved aviation fuel and ventilation systems, a second catapult on the flight deck, and an additional fire control director. Though referred to 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 Reprisal (CV-35) - Construction:

The initial vessel to begin construction with the revised Essex-class design was USS Hancock (CV-14) which was later re-designated Ticonderoga.  A multitude of additional carriers followed including USS Reprisal (CV-35).  Laid down on July 1, 1944, work on Reprisal began at the New York Naval Shipyard.  Named for the brig USS Reprisal which saw service in the American Revolution, work on the new ship moved ahead into 1945.

  As the spring wore on and the end of the war neared, it became increasing clear that the new ship would not be needed.  During the course of the war, the US Navy had ordered thirty-two Essex-class ships.  While six were eliminated before construction commenced, two, Reprisal and USS Iwo Jima (CV-46), were canceled after work had begun. 

On August 12, the US Navy formally halted work on Reprisal with the ship listed as 52.3% complete.  The following May, the hull was launched without fanfare in order to clear Dry Dock #6.  Towed to Bayonne, NJ, Reprisal remained there for two years until being moved to the Chesapeake Bay.  There it was used for a variety of explosive testing including assessing bomb damage in magazines.  In January 1949, the US Navy inspected the hull with an eye towards completing the ship as an attack aircraft carrier.

  These plans came to nothing and Reprisal was sold for scrap on August 2.      

Selected Sources