History of Ships and Navy/CV-30 USS San Jacinto


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CVL-30 USS San Jacinto

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OF THE SAN JACINTO
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(CVL-30: dp. 11,000, 1. 622'6", b. 71'6", ew. 109'6" dr. 26'; s. 31.6 k.; cpl. 1,549; a. 28 40mm, 40 20mm,dct 45; cl. Independence)

The second San Jacinto (CV-30) was laid down as the light cruiser, Newark(CW100), on 26 October 1942 by the New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J.;redesignated CV-30 and renamed Reprisal on 2 June 1942; renamed San Jacintoon 30 January 1943, conversed, while building, to a light aircraft carrierand reclassified as CVL-30; launched on 26 September 1943; sponsored byMrs. Jesse Jones; and commissioned on 15 November 1943, Capt. Harold M.Martin, in command.

After shakedown in the Caribbean, San Jacinto sailed, via the PanamaCanal, San Diego, and Pearl Harbor, for the Pacific war zone. Arriving atMajuro, Marshall Islands, she became part of the growing might of Vice AdmiralMarc A. Mitscher's Task Force 58/38, the fast carrier striking force ofthe Pacific Fleet. There, San Jacinto embarked Air Group 51 whose fightersand torpedo planes would be the ship's chief weapons in battle.

After providing search patrols to protect other carriers striking atWake and Marcus Islands, San Jacinto, by 5 June 1944, was ready to participatein the largest fleet action since the battle of Midway, almost exactly twoyears before. On that day, Task Force 58 sortied from Majuro and headedtoward the Marianas to conduct air strikes preparatory to American seizureof Saipan and to protect the invasion forces from enemy air and naval attack.

This American thrust triggered a strong Japanese reaction; on 19 June,the Japanese Fleet launched more than 400 planes against the invasion fleetand the covering carrier force. In the ensuing air battle, known to Americanpilots as the "Marianas Turkey Shoot " more than 300 enemy planeswere shot down. While San Jacinto's planes were achieving their most one-sidedvictory of the war, her gunners helped to down the few attackers able toget near the American ships. Then, at dusk, Admiral Mitscher dispatchedan all carrier attack after the retreating enemy fleet. The night recoveryof the returning planes was accomplished amid considerable confusion. Reportedly,a Japanese carrier plane attempted a landing approach on San Jacinto, onlyto be waved off by the landing signal officer because its hook wasn't down.

San Jacinto then participated in strikes against Rota and Guam and furnishedcombat air patrol (CAP) and antisubmarine patrol (ASP) for her task group.During these raids, a San Jacinto fighter pilot was shot down over Guamand spent 17 days in a life raft trying to attract attention and 16 nightshiding on the island.

After a refueling and replenishment stop at Eniwetok Atoll, San Jacintojoined in carrier strikes against the Palaus on 15 July. On 5 August, hertargets were Chichi, Haha, and Iwo Jima. A brief stop at Eniwetok precededdawn-to-dusk CAP and ASP duty while other carriers struck at Yap, Ulithi,Anguar, and Babelthunp, pinning down Japanese air forces while the Palauswere being assaulted on 15 September

Following a replenishment stop at Manus, Admiralty Islands, San Jacintojoined in strikes against Okinawa and furnished photographic planes to getinformation necessary for future invasion plans. After refueling at sea,she once again supplied dawn-to-dusk air protection as other carriers sentstrikes against Formosa northern Luzon, and the Manila Bay area from 12to 19 October. During operations on 17 October, a fighter plane made a veryhard landing and inadvertently fired its machine guns into the ship's island structure killing two men;wounding 24, including her commanding officer, and causing considerabledamage to radar. Despite this accident, San Jacinto remained battleworthy.

As American troops landed on Leyte in the central Philippines on 20 October,San Jacinto provided close air support. On 24 October, this mission wasinterrupted by news of the tri pronged approach of the Japanese fleet whichprecipitated the largest fleet battle in naval history.

San Jacinto sent planes against the central force in the Sibuyan Sea,then raced north to launch strikes against the northern force, resultingin heavy damage to the Japanese carriers and surface combatants off CapeEngano. On 30 October, her fighters furnished air protection over Leytewhile her guns shot down two planes attempting suicide attacks on the ship.After a pause at Ulithi, the carrier joined in attacks on the Manila Bayarea, then took a side trip to Guam to exchange air groups, receiving AirGroup 45. She received slight damage during a typhoon in December 1944.

After completing repairs at Ulithi, San Jacinto and the rest of her fastcarrier force entered the South China Sea and launched massive air attackson the airfields of Formosa and against shipping at Cam Ranh Bay, FrenchIndochina, and at Hong Kong. By refueling and replenishing at sea, TaskForce 38 was able to continue its pressure on the enemy and strategic supportfor the American invasion of Luzon by strikes against the Ryukyu Islands.

Next, San Jacinto joined in the first carrier strikes against the homeislands of Japan. During the raids on 16 and 17 February 1945, carrier-basedaircraft downed many enemy planes during fierce dogfights over airfieldsin the Tokyo area. These operations were designed to cover the imminentinvasion of Iwo Jima. Next came air support for the landing marines, followedby further strikes against Tokyo and Okinawa before San Jacinto returnedto Ulithi.

While conducting operations off Kyushu, Japan, she witnessed the conflagrationon Franklin (CV-13); and, on 19 March 1945, narrowly escaped destructionherself when a kamikaze barely missed her. More massive enemy attacks camewith Operation "Iceberg" as the carrier force furnished air supportfor the invasion of Okinawa. On 5 April, more than 500 planes, primarilykamikazes, attacked. Fighter planes and antiaircraft guns shot down about300, but many got through. San Jacinto's gunners shot the wing off a would-besuicide plane, deflecting its dive, and splashed another only 50 feet offher port bow. Her mission of covering the Okinawa invasion entailed heavyair activity and kept the ship almost constantly at general quarters whilesupporting ground forces and repelling frequent attacks by suicide planes.On 7 April, San Jacinto's bombers torpedoed Japanese destroyer, Hamakaze,part of a naval suicide attack in which super battleship, Yamato, was alsosunk. San Jacinto then returned to the dangerous job of defending againstthe suicide plane attacks, striking at the kamikaze airfields on Kyushu,and providing close air support for ground forces fighting on Okinawa. On5 June, she successfully rode out another typhoon and after replenishingat Leyte, sortied for her final raids as part of Task Force 58. Her aircraftstruck at Hokkaido and Honshu, Japan, on 9 July and continued to operateoff the coast of Japan until the end of hostilities on 15 August 1945. Herair missions over Japan then became mercy flights over Allied prisoner-ofwar camps, dropping food and medicine until the men could be rescued. Herwartime mission completed, San Jacinto returned home and tied up at Alameda,Calif., on 14 September 1945.

She was decommissioned on 1 March 1947 and joined the Pacific ReserveFleet berthed at San Diego. Reclassified as an auxiliary aircraft transport(AVT-5) on 15 May 1959; she was struck from the Navy list on 1 June 1970.

San Jacinto earned five battle stars and was awarded the PresidentialUnit citation. Her hull was sold for scrapping on 15 December 1971 to NationalMetal and Steel Co., Terminal Island, Calif.