USS Intrepid (CV/CVA/CVS-11), also known as The Fighting “I”, is one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the United States Navy. She is the fourth US Navy ship to bear the name. Commissioned in August 1943, Intrepid participated in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations, including the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Decommissioned shortly after the end of the war, she was modernized and recommissioned in the early 1950s as an attack carrier (CVA), and then eventually became an antisubmarine carrier (CVS). In her second career, she served mainly in the Atlantic, but also participated in the Vietnam War. She was the recovery ship for a Mercury and a Gemini space mission. Because of her prominent role in battle, she was nicknamed “the Fighting I”, while her frequent bad luck and time spent in dry dock for repairs—she was torpedoed once and hit by four separate Japanese kamikaze aircraft—earned her the nicknames “Decrepit” and “the Dry I”.
Decommissioned for the second time in 1974, in 1982 Intrepid became the foundation of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.
The keel for Intrepid was laid down on 1st December 1941 in Shipway 10 at the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Virginia, days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entrance into World War II. She was launched on 26th April 1943, the fifth Essex-class aircraft carrier to be launched. She was sponsored by the wife of Vice Admiral John H. Hoover. On 16th August 1943, she was commissioned with Captain Thomas L. Sprague in command before heading to the Caribbean for shakedown and training. She thereafter returned to Norfolk, before departing on 3rd December, bound for San Francisco. She proceeded on to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, arriving there on 10 January, where she began preparations to join the rest of the Pacific Fleet for offensive operations against the Imperial Japanese Navy.
World War II
Central Pacific operations
Intrepid joined the Fast Carrier Task Force, then Task Force 58 (TF 58), for the next operation in the island-hopping campaign across the Central Pacific: the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign. On 16th January 1944, Intrepid, her sister ship Essex, and the light carrier Cabot left Pearl Harbor to conduct a raid on islands in the Kwajalein Atoll from 29th January to 2nd February. The three carriers’ air group destroyed all 83 Japanese aircraft stationed on Roi-Namur in the first two days of the strikes, before Marines went ashore on neighboring islands on 31st January in the Battle of Kwajalein. That morning, aircraft from Intrepid attacked Japanese beach defenses on Ennuebing Island, up until ten minutes before the first Marines landed. The Marines quickly took the island and used it as a fire base to support the follow-on attack on Roi.
With the fighting in the Kwajalein Atoll finished by 3rd February, Intrepid and the rest of TF 58 proceeded to launch Operation Hailstone, a major raid on the main Japanese naval base in the Central Pacific, Truk Lagoon. From 17th to 19th February, the carriers pounded Japanese forces in the lagoon, sinking two destroyers and some 200,000 GRT of merchant ships. Additionally, the strikes demonstrated the vulnerability of Truk, which convinced the Japanese to avoid using it in the future. Intrepid did not emerge from the operation unscathed, however. On the night of 17–18 February, a Japanese torpedo bomber (given the designation “Raid Easy” by Intrepid’s CIC) scored a hit on the carrier near her stern. The torpedo struck 15 ft (5 m) below the waterline, jamming the ship’s rudder to port and flooding several compartments. Sprague was able to counteract the jammed rudder by running the port side screw at high speed while idling the starboard screw for two days until high winds overpowered the improvised steering. The crew then fashioned a jury rigged sail out of scrap canvas and hatch covers, which allowed the ship to return to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on 24th February. Temporary repairs were effected there, after which Intrepid steamed to Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco for permanent repairs on 16 March, arriving there six days later.
The work was completed by 9th June, and Intrepid began two months of training around Pearl Harbor. Starting in early September, Intrepid joined operations in the western Caroline Islands; the Fast Carrier Task Force was now part of the Third Fleet under Admiral William Halsey Jr., and had been renamed Task Force 38. On 6th and 7th September, she conducted air strikes on Japanese artillery batteries and airfields on the island of Peleliu, in preparation for the invasion of Peleliu. On 9th and 10th September, she and the rest of the fleet moved on to attack airfields on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, followed by further strikes on bases in the Visayan Sea between 12th and 14th September. On 17th September, Intrepid returned to Pelelieu to provide air support to the Marines that had landed on the island two days before.
Intrepid and the other carriers then returned to the Philippines to prepare for the Philippines campaign. At this time, Intrepid was assigned to Task Group 38.2. In addition to targets in the Philippines themselves, the carriers also struck Japanese airfields on the islands of Formosa and Okinawa to degrade Japanese air power in the region. On 20th October, at the start of the Battle of Leyte, Intrepid launched strikes to support Allied forces as they went ashore on the island of Leyte. By this time, Halsey reduced the carriers of TG 38.2 to just Intrepid, Cabot, and the light carrier Independence commanded by Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan aboard Intrepid.
Between 23rd and 26th October, the Japanese Navy launched a major operation to disrupt the Allied landings in the Philippines, resulting in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. On the morning of 24th October, a reconnaissance aircraft from Intrepid spotted Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita’s flagship, Yamato. Two hours later, Intrepid and Cabot launched a strike on Kurita’s Center Force, initiating the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea; this included eight Curtiss SB2C Helldiver dive bombers from Intrepid, which launched their attack at 10:27. One 500-pound (230 kg) bomb struck the roof of Turret No. 1, failing to penetrate. Two minutes later, the battleship Musashi was struck starboard amidships by a torpedo from a Grumman TBF Avenger, also from Intrepid. In return, the Japanese shot down a pair of Avengers. Another eight Helldivers from Intrepid attacked Musashi again at around noon, scoring two more hits, with two Helldivers shot down. Three minutes later, nine Avengers attacked from both sides of the ship, scoring three torpedo hits on the port side. Further strikes from Essex and Lexington inflicted several more bomb and torpedo hits at around 13:30. At 15:25, Musashi was attacked by 37 aircraft from Intrepid, the fleet carrier Franklin and Cabot. These aircraft scored hits with 13 bombs and 11 torpedoes during this attack, for the loss of three Avengers and three Helldivers. In addition to the loss of Musashi, many of Kurita’s other ships, including Yamato, the battleships Nagato and Haruna, and heavy cruiser Myōkō were damaged in the attacks, forcing him to break off the operation temporarily.
After Kurita’s force began to withdraw, Halsey ordered TF 38 to steam north to intercept the aircraft carriers of the Northern Force, commanded by Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa. Bogan correctly perceived that Ozawa’s force was intended to lure TF 38 away from the landing area to allow Kurita to attack it, but Halsey overruled him and several other Task Group commanders who voiced similar concerns. Early on 25th October, aircraft from Intrepid and the other carriers launched a strike on the Japanese carriers. Aircraft from Intrepid scored hits on the carrier Zuihō and possibly the carrier Zuikaku. Further strikes throughout the morning resulted in the sinking of four Japanese aircraft carriers and a destroyer in the Battle off Cape Engaño. Halsey’s preoccupation with the Northern Force allowed Kurita the respite he needed to turn his force back to the east, push through the San Bernardino Strait, where it engaged the light forces of escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts that were directly covering the landing force in the Battle off Samar. Kurita nevertheless failed to break through the American formation, and ultimately broke off the attack.
On 27th October, TG 38.2 returned to operations over Luzon; these included a raid on Manila on 29th October. That day, a kamikaze hit Intrepid on one of her port side gun positions; damage was minimal though ten men were killed and another six were wounded. A Japanese air raid on 25th November struck the fleet shortly after noon. Two kamikazes crashed into Intrepid, killing sixty-six men and causing a serious fire. The ship remained on station, however, and the fires were extinguished within two hours. She was detached for repairs the following day, and reached San Francisco on 20th December.
Okinawa and Japan, March–December 1945
In the middle of February 1945, back in fighting trim, the carrier steamed for Ulithi, arriving on 13th March. She set off westward for strikes on Japan on 14th March and four days later launched strikes against airfields on Kyūshū. That morning a twin-engined Japanese G4M “Betty” broke through a curtain of defensive fire turned toward Intrepid and exploded only 50 ft (15 m) off Intrepid’s forward boat crane. A shower of flaming gasoline and aircraft parts started fires on the hangar deck, but damage control teams quickly put them out. Intrepid’s aircraft joined attacks on remnants of the Japanese fleet anchored at Kure damaging 18 enemy naval vessels, including battleship Yamato and carrier Amagi. The carriers turned to Okinawa as L-Day, the start of the most ambitious amphibious assault of the Pacific war, approached. Between 26th and 27th March, their aircraft attacked the Ryūkyūs, softening up enemy defensive works. The invasion began on 1st April. Intrepid aircraft flew support missions against targets on Okinawa and made neutralizing raids against Japanese airfields in range of the island. On 16th April, during an air raid, a Japanese aircraft dove into Intrepid’s flight deck forcing the engine and part of her fuselage right on through, killing eight men and wounding 21. In less than an hour the flaming gasoline had been extinguished, and only three hours after the crash, aircraft were again landing on the carrier.
On 17th April, Intrepid retired homeward via Ulithi. She made a stop at Pearl Harbor on 11th May, arriving at San Francisco for repairs on 19th May. On 29th June, the carrier left San Francisco. On 6th August, her aircraft launched strikes against Japanese on bypassed Wake Island. Intrepid arrived at Eniwetok on the next day. On 15th August, when the Japanese surrendered, she received word to “cease offensive operations.” Intrepid got under way on 21st August to support the occupation of Japan. On 2nd December, she left Yokosuka and arrived at San Pedro, California, on 15th December.
On 4th February 1946, Intrepid moved to San Francisco Bay. The carrier was reduced in status to “commission in reserve” on 15th August, and she was decommissioned on 22nd March 1947. After her decommissioning, the Intrepid became part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet. On 9th February 1952, she was recommissioned and on 12th March began the voyage to Norfolk, where the carrier would receive SCB-27C modernization to operate jet aircraft as an attack aircraft carrier. On 9th April, the Intrepid was temporarily decommissioned for the modernization at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. On 1st October, she was reclassified as attack carrier CVA-11 and recommissioned in reserve on 18th June 1954. On 13th October, the carrier became the first to launch aircraft with American-built steam catapults. Two days later, the Intrepid became part of the Atlantic Fleet in full commission.
In 1955, Intrepid conducted her shakedown cruise out of Guantánamo Bay. On 28th May, she departed Mayport, Florida, for the first of two deployments in the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet. The Intrepid returned to Norfolk from the second deployment on 5th September. On 29th September, she entered the New York Navy Yard for her SCB-125 modernization, which added an enclosed bow and an angled flight deck. After the end of the modernization in April 1957, Intrepid conducted refresher training out of Guantánamo Bay. In September, she participated in Operation Strikeback, the largest peacetime naval exercise up to that time in history, which simulated a Soviet attack on NATO. In December, operating from Norfolk, she conducted Operation Crosswind, a study of the effects of wind on carrier launches. The study proved that carriers could safely conduct flight operations without turning into the wind and even launch aircraft while steaming downwind. Between 1958 and 1961, Intrepid alternated Mediterranean deployments with operations along the Atlantic coast of the United States and exercises in the Caribbean.
Intrepid was reclassified to an anti-submarine warfare carrier, CVS-11, on 8 December 1961. On 10th March 1962, the carrier entered the Norfolk Navy Yard for overhaul and refit for her new anti-submarine warfare role. After the completion of the overhaul and refit, she departed on 2nd April with Carrier Antisubmarine Air Group 56 embarked. After training exercises, Intrepid was selected as the principal ship in the recovery team for astronaut Scott Carpenter and his Project Mercury space capsule, Aurora 7. Shortly before noon on 24th May 1962, Carpenter splashed down in Aurora 7 northeast of Puerto Rico and several hundred miles from Intrepid. Minutes after he was located by land-based search aircraft, two helicopters from Intrepid, carrying NASA officials, medical experts, Navy frogmen, and photographers, were airborne and headed to the rescue. One of the choppers picked him up over an hour later and flew him to the carrier which safely returned him to the United States. Intrepid spent the summer of 1962 training midshipmen at sea, and received a thorough overhaul at Norfolk in the fall.
On 23rd January 1963, the carrier departed Hampton Roads for warfare exercises in the Caribbean. In late February, she interrupted these operations to join a sea hunt for the Venezuelan freighter Anzoátegui, whose mutinous second mate had led a group of pro-Castro terrorists in hijacking the vessel. After the Communist pirates had surrendered at Rio de Janeiro, the carrier returned to Norfolk on 23rd March. Intrepid operated along the Atlantic Coast for the next year from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean perfecting her antisubmarine techniques. On 11th June 1964, she left Norfolk carrying midshipmen to the Mediterranean for a hunter-killer at sea training with the 6th Fleet. While in the Mediterranean, Intrepid aided in the surveillance of a Soviet task group. En route home her crew learned that she had won the coveted Battle Efficiency “E” for antisubmarine warfare during the previous fiscal year. In the fall of 1964, the carrier operated along the East Coast. In early September, Intrepid entertained 22 NATO statesmen as part of their tour of U.S. military installations. Between 18th and 19th October 1964, the Intrepid was at Yorktown for ceremonies commemorating Lord Cornwallis’s surrender 183 years before. The French Ambassador attended the ceremony and presented the U.S. with 12 cannon cast from molds found in the Bastille, replicas of those brought to American forces by Lafayette.
On the night of 21st November, during a brief deployment off North Carolina, swift and efficient rescue procedures saved the life of an airman Jenner Sanders, who fell overboard while driving an aircraft towing tractor. In early 1965, Intrepid began preparations for a vital role in NASA’s first manned Gemini flight, Gemini 3. On 23rd March, Lieutenant Commander John Young and Major Gus Grissom in Molly Brown (the Gemini 3 spacecraft) splashed down some 50 nmi (90 km) from Intrepid after history’s first controlled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere ended the pair’s nearly perfect three-orbit flight aboard Gemini 3. A Navy helicopter lifted the astronauts from the spacecraft and flew them to Intrepid for medical examination and debriefing. Later, Intrepid retrieved Molly Brown and returned the spacecraft and astronauts to Cape Kennedy.
After this mission Intrepid entered the Brooklyn Navy Yard in April for a major overhaul to bring her back to peak combat readiness. This was the final Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization job performed by the New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, New York, which was scheduled to close. In September 1965, Intrepid, with her work approximately 75% completed, eased down the East River to moor at the Naval Supply Depot at Bayonne, New Jersey, for the completion of her multimillion-dollar overhaul. After builder’s sea trials and fitting out at Norfolk she sailed to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba on a shakedown cruise.
From April 1966 to February 1969, Intrepid made three Vietnam deployments, with Carrier Air Wing 10 embarked. Mid-1966 found Intrepid with the Pacific Fleet off Vietnam. Nine A-4 Skyhawks and six A-1 Skyraiders, loaded with bombs and rockets, were catapulted in seven minutes, with only a 28-second interval between launches. A few days later planes were launched at 26-second intervals. After seven months of service with the United States Seventh Fleet off Vietnam, Intrepid returned to Norfolk having earned her commanding officer, Captain John W. Fair, the Legion of Merit for combat operations in Southeast Asia.
On 9th October 1966 Lieutenant, junior grade William T. Patton of VA-176 from Intrepid, flying a propeller driven A-1H Skyraider, shot down one MiG-17. For the action, Lieutenant (jg) Patton was awarded the Silver Star.
In June 1967, Intrepid returned to the Western Pacific by way of the Suez Canal just prior to its closing during the Israeli-Arab crisis. There she began another tour with the Seventh Fleet.
In 1968, Intrepid won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award for the Atlantic Fleet. For Carrier Air Wing 10’s final cruise aboard Intrepid from 4th June 1968 to 8th February 1969 off Southeast Asia, the wing consisted of VF-111 Detachment 11 (F-8C), VA-106 with the A-4E, VA-66 Waldos (A-4C), VFP-63 Detachment 11 (RF-8G), VA-36 ‘Roadrunners’ (A-4C), VAQ-33 Detachment 11 (EA-1F), VAW-121 Detachment 11 (E-1B), and HC-2 Detachment 11th.
In 1969, Intrepid was home ported at Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island, relieving Yorktown as the flagship for Commander Carrier Division 16. In the fall, the ship was run aground by Captain Horus E. Moore, but was freed within two hours. From April–October 1971, Intrepid took part in NATO exercises, and made calls in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean ports of Lisbon, Plymouth, Kiel, Naples, Cannes, Barcelona, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Greenock, Rosyth, Portsmouth, and Bergen. During this cruise, submarine detection operations were conducted in the Baltic and at the edge of the Barents Sea above the Arctic Circle, under close scrutiny of Soviet air and naval forces. She subsequently returned to her homeport to be refitted.
Beginning in July 1972, Intrepid participated once again in NATO exercises, visiting Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Bergen, Brussels, Portsmouth and Gourock. Intrepid found herself in the Barents and made round the clock flight operations as she was above the Arctic Circle. She cut her North Atlantic cruise short, returning to Quonset Point for a mini-overhaul. She made her final cruise in the Mediterranean, stopping twice in Barcelona and Malaga Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Nice, France; Naples, Italy; Palma, Majorca; and Piraeus, Greece once. Due to fuel limitations Intrepid spent as much time in port as she did underway.
On 15th March 1974, Intrepid was decommissioned for the final time.
Preservation as museum ship
In 1976, Intrepid was moored at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia and hosted exhibits as part of the United States Bicentennial celebrations.
Plans originally called for Intrepid to be scrapped after decommissioning, but a campaign led by real estate developers Zachary and Larry Fisher and the Intrepid Museum Foundation saved the carrier and established it as a museum ship. In August 1982, the ship opened at Pier 86 on the Hudson River in New York City as the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Four years later, Intrepid was officially designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Over the years, Intrepid has hosted many special events including wrestling events, press conferences, parties and the FBI operations center after the 11th September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Throughout the last several years, the Intrepid museum has operated a fund for the restoration, raising over $60 million to refit Intrepid, to improve its exhibits for visitors, and improve Pier 86.
In early July 2006, it was announced that Intrepid would undergo renovations and repairs, along with Pier 86 itself. It closed on 1st October 2006, in preparation for its towing to Bayonne, New Jersey, for repairs, and later Staten Island, New York, for renovation and temporary docking.
On 6th November 2006, an attempt to remove the aircraft carrier from the pier for restoration was temporarily put on hold by the Coast Guard. Despite the use of several tugs with a combined 30,000 hp (22,000 kW), officials said the ship was stuck in 24 years worth of accumulated silt and would not move.
On 11th November 2006, the United States Navy announced that it would spend $3 million to dredge the mud and silt from under Intrepid. The effort was led by the United States Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving with assistance from the United States Army Corps of Engineers, United States Coast Guard, and contractors. The teams operated for three weeks to clear the site of mud and silt.
On 5th December 2006, after the removal of 39,000 cu yd (30,000 m3) of muck from under the ship and around its four giant screws, Intrepid was successfully removed from its pier and was towed to Bayonne.
Intrepid made a D-Day “landing” on Staten Island, 6th June 2007, after being towed from a slip at Bayonne Dry Dock & Repair Corp.
While in Staten Island, Intrepid underwent the next phase of her refurbishment, and received an $8 million interior renovation. Never-before-seen areas of the ship including the forecastle (fo’c’sle, commonly known as the anchor chain room), general berthing quarters and the ship’s machine shop were opened to the public for the first time. The hangar deck features a new layout and design including new interactive exhibits. Around 1,200 tons of her original weight in steel were removed and 339 epoxy-coated steel pilings ranging in length from 60 to 183 feet were installed. Intrepid also received a new coat of paint, using almost 7,000 gallons to re-paint the interior, hull, towers, and decks. Total cost of the renovation was $120 million—$55 million for the ship and $65 million for Pier 86.
The carrier was towed back into place on the Hudson River on 2nd October 2008 and reopened to the public on 8th November.
On 12th December 2011, ownership of the Space Shuttle Enterprise was officially transferred to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. In preparation for the anticipated relocation, engineers evaluated the vehicle in early 2010 and determined that it was safe to fly on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft once again. At approximately 9:40 am Eastern Daylight Time on 27th April 2012 Enterprise took off from Dulles International Airport en route to a fly-by over the Hudson River, New York’s JFK International Airport, the Statue of Liberty, the George Washington and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges, and several other landmarks in the city; in an approximately 45-minute “final tour”. At 11:23 am Eastern Daylight Time Enterprise touched down at JFK International Airport.
The mobile Mate-Demate Device and cranes were transported from Dulles to the ramp at JFK and the shuttle was removed from the SCA overnight on 12th May 2012, placed on a specially designed flat bed trailer and returned to Hangar 12. On 3rd June, a Weeks Marine barge took Enterprise to Jersey City. The Shuttle sustained cosmetic damage to a wingtip when a gust of wind blew the barge towards a piling. It was hoisted by crane barge Weeks 533 on 6th June onto the Intrepid Museum in Manhattan.
The Enterprise went on public display on 19th July 2012, at the Intrepid Museum’s new Space Shuttle Pavilion.
Hobbymaster 1/72nd scale Douglas A-1H Skyraider 412, VA-176, USS Intrepid, 1966
In 1964 Douglas A-1H Skyraider Bu. 135326 was delivered to VA-52 as NF-304 and in early1966 it was transferred to the VA-176 “Thunderbolts”. VA-176 would complete its one and only Vietnam combat tour between April 4, 1966 and November 21, 1966 assigned to the USS Intrepid. On October 19, 1966 Skyraider 135326 flown by Pete Russell was a section leader of 4 VA-176 A-1Hs and is credited with a possible shoot-down of one of 4 MiG-17s that had jumped them. One MiG 17 was confirmed downed, one probably downed, and a third was damaged.
Century Wings , Hobbymaster and JC Wings Military updated photos.
Check out the all latest photos from Century Wings , Hobbymaster and JC Wings Military that have now been added to the Flying Tigers website. Please click on the images / links below to go to the model page to see the full gallery of photos.
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