World War II: USS Yorktown (CV-10)

USS Yorktown (CV-10) during World War II
USS Yorktown (CV-10). Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command

USS Yorktown (CV-10) - Overview:

  • Nation: United States
  • Type: Aircraft Carrier
  • Shipyard: Newport News Shipbuilding Company
  • Laid Down: December 1, 1941
  • Launched: January 21, 1943
  • Commissioned: April 15, 1943
  • Fate: Museum Ship

USS Yorktown (CV-10) - Specifications:

  • Displacement: 27,100 tons
  • Length: 872 ft.
  • Beam: 147 ft., 6 in.
  • Draft: 28 ft., 5 in.
  • Propulsion: 8 × boilers, 4 × Westinghouse geared steam turbines, 4 × shafts
  • Speed: 33 knots
  • Range: 20,000 nautical miles at 15 knots
  • Complement: 2,600 men

USS Yorktown (CV-10) - 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

Aircraft

  • 90-100 aircraft

USS Yorktown (CV-10) - Design & Construction:

Designed in the 1920s and early 1930s, the US Navy's Lexington- and Yorktown-class aircraft carriers were constructed to conform to the restrictions set forth by the Washington Naval Treaty. This agreement placed limitations on the tonnage of various types of warships as well as capped each signatories’ overall tonnage. These types of restrictions were affirmed through the 1930 London Naval Treaty. As global tensions worsened, Japan and Italy left the agreement in 1936. With the collapse of the treaty system, the US Navy began creating a design for a new, larger class of aircraft carrier and one which drew from the lessons learned from the Yorktown-class.

The resulting design was longer and wider as well as included a deck-edge elevator system. This had been used previously on USS Wasp. In addition to carrying a larger air group, the new design possessed a greatly enhanced anti-aircraft armament.

Dubbed the Essex-class, the lead ship, USS Essex (CV-9), was laid down in April 1941.

This was followed by USS Bonhomme Richard (CV-10), an homage to John Paul Jones's ship during the American Revolution on December 1. This second ship began to take shape at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. Six days after construction began, the United States entered World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. With the loss of USS Yorktown (CV-5) at the Battle of Midway in June 1942, the name of the new carrier was changed to USS Yorktown (CV-10) to honor its predecessor. On January 21, 1943, Yorktown slid down the ways with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt serving as sponsor. Eager to have the new carrier ready for combat operations, the US Navy rushed its completion and the carrier was commissioned on April 15 with Captain Joseph J. Clark in command.

USS Yorktown (CV-10) - Joining the Fight:

In late May, Yorktown sailed from Norfolk to conduct shakedown and training operations in the Caribbean. Returning to base in June, the carrier underwent minor repairs before practicing air operations until July 6. Departing the Chesapeake, Yorktown transited the Panama Canal before arriving at Pearl Harbor on July 24. Remaining in Hawaiian waters for the next four weeks, the carrier continued training before joining Task Force 15 for a raid on Marcus Island.

Launching aircraft on August 31, the carrier's planes pounded the island before TF 15 withdrew to Hawaii. Following a brief voyage to San Francisco, Yorktown mounted attacks on Wake Island in early October before joining Task Force 50 in November for the campaign in the Gilbert Islands. Arriving in the area on November 19, its aircraft provided support for Allied forces during the Battle of Tarawa as well as struck targets on Jaluit, Mili, and Makin. With the capture of Tarawa, Yorktown returned to Pearl Harbor after raiding Wotje and Kwajalein.

USS Yorktown (CV-10) - Island Hopping:

On January 16, Yorktown returned to sea and sailed for the Marshall Islands as part of Task Force 58.1. Arriving, the carrier launched strikes against Maloelap on January 29 before shifting to Kwajalein the next day.

On January 31, Yorktown's aircraft provided cover and support the V Amphibious Corps as it opened the Battle of Kwajalein. The carrier continued in this mission until February 4. Sailing from Majuro eight days later, Yorktown took part in Rear Admiral Marc Mitscher's attack on Truk on February 17-18 before embarking on a series of raids in the Marianas (February 22) and Palau Islands (March 30-31). Returning to Majuro to replenish, Yorktown then moved south to aid General Douglas MacArthur's landings on the north coast of New Guinea. With the conclusion of these operations in late April, the carrier sailed for Pearl Harbor where it conducted training operations for much of May.

Rejoining TF58 in early June, Yorktown moved towards the Marianas to cover Allied landings on Saipan. On June 19, Yorktown's aircraft began the day by mounting raids on Guam before joining the opening stages of the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The following day, Yorktown's pilots succeeded in locating Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's fleet and commenced attacks on the carrier Zuikaku scoring some hits. As fighting continued through the day, American forces sank three enemy carriers and destroyed around 600 aircraft. In the wake of the victory, Yorktown resumed operations in the Marianas before raiding Iwo Jima, Yap, and Ulithi. At the end of July, the carrier, in need of an overhaul, departed the region and steamed for Puget Sound Navy Yard. Arriving on August 17, it spent the next two months in the yard.

USS Yorktown (CV-10) - Victory in the Pacific:

Sailing from Puget Sound, Yorktown arrived at Eniwetok, via Alameda, on October 31.

Joining first Task Group 38.4, then TG 38.1, it attacked targets in the Philippines in support of the Allied invasion of Leyte. Retiring to Ulithi on November 24, Yorktown shifted to TF 38 and prepared for the invasion of Luzon. Striking targets on that island in December, it endured a severe typhoon that sank three destroyers. After replenishing at Ulithi late in the month, Yorktown sailed for raids on Formosa and the Philippines as troops prepared to land at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon. On January 12, the carrier's planes conducted a highly successful raid on Saigon and Tourane Bay, Indochina. This was followed by attacks on Formosa, Canton, Hong Kong, and Okinawa. The following month, Yorktown began attacks on the Japanese home islands and then supported the invasion of Iwo Jima. After resuming strikes on Japan late in February, Yorktown withdrew to Ulithi on March 1.

After two weeks of rest, Yorktown returned north and began operations against Japan on March 18. That afternoon a Japanese air attack succeeded in hitting the carrier's signal bridge. The resulting explosion killed 5 and wounded 26 but had little effect on Yorktown's operations. Shifting south, the carrier began focusing its efforts against Okinawa. Remaining off the island following the landing of Allied forces, Yorktown aided in defeating Operation Ten-Go and sinking the battleship Yamato on April 7. Supporting operations on Okinawa through early June, the carrier then departed for a series of attacks on Japan. For the next two months, Yorktown operated off the Japanese coast with its aircraft mounting their final raid against Tokyo on August 13.

With the surrender of Japan, the carrier steamed offshore to provide cover for the occupation forces. Its aircraft also delivered food and supplies to Allied prisoners of war. Leaving Japan on October 1, Yorktown embarked passengers at Okinawa before steaming for San Francisco.

USS Yorktown (CV-10) - Postwar Years:

For the remainder of 1945, Yorktown crisscrossed the Pacific returning American servicemen to the United States. Initially placed in reserve in June 1946, it was decommissioned the following January. It remained inactive until June 1952 when it was selected to undergo a SCB-27A modernization. This saw a radical redesign of the ship's island and well as modifications to allow it operate jet aircraft. Completed in February 1953, Yorktown was re-commissioned and departed for the Far East. Operating in this region until 1955, it entered the yard at Puget Sound that March and had an angled flight deck installed. Resuming active service in October, Yorktown resumed duty in the western Pacific with the 7th Fleet. After two years of peacetime operations, the carrier's designation was changed to antisubmarine warfare. Arriving at Puget Sound in September 1957, Yorktown underwent modifications to support this new role.

Leaving the yard in early 1958, Yorktown commenced operating from Yokosuka, Japan. The following year, it helped deter Communist Chinese forces during the standoff at Quemoy and Matsu. The next five years saw the carrier conduct routine peacetime training and maneuvers on the West Coast and in the Far East. With the growing American involvement in the Vietnam War, Yorktown began operating with TF 77 on Yankee Station. Here it provided anti-submarine warfare and sea-air rescue support to its consorts. In January 1968, the carrier shifted to the Sea of Japan to as part of a contingency force following the North Korean capture of USS Pueblo. Remaining abroad until June, Yorktown then returned to Long Beach completing its final Far East tour.

That November and December, Yorktown served as a filming platform for the film Tora! Tora! Tora! about the attack on Pearl Harbor. With the end of filming, the carrier steamed into the Pacific to recover Apollo 8 on December 27. Shifting to the Atlantic in early 1969, Yorktown began conducting training exercises and took part in NATO maneuvers. An aging vessel, the carrier arrived in Philadelphia the following year and was decommissioned on June 27. Struck from the Navy List a year later, Yorktown moved to Charleston, SC in 1975. There it became the centerpiece of the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum and where it remains today.

Selected Sources