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Ticonderoga IV CV-14

Ticonderoga IV

(CV-14: dp. 27,100; 1. 888', b. 93'0" (wl.), ew. 147'6"

dr. 28'7" s. 83 k., cpl. 3,448, a. 12 5", 72 40mm., ac.

80+; cl.Essex)

The fourth Ticonderoga (CV-14) was laid down as Hancock on 1 February 1943 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.; renamed Ticonderoga on 1 May 1943, launched on 7 February 1944, sponsored by Miss Stephanie Sarah Pell, and commissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 8 May 1944, Capt. Dixie Kiefer in command.

Ticonderoga remained at Norfolk for almost two months outfitting and embarking Air Group 80. On 26 June, the carrier shaped a course for the British West Indies. She conducted air operations and drills en route and reached Port of Spain, Trinidad, on the 30th. For the next 15 days, Ticonderoga trained intensively to weld her air group and crew into an efficient wartime team. She departed the West Indies on 16 July and headed back to Norfolk where she arrived on the 22d. Eight days later, the carrier headed for Panama. She transited the canal an 4 September and steamed up the coast to San Diego the following day. On the 13th, the carrier moored at San Diego where she loaded provisions, fuel, aviation gas, and an additional 77 planes, as well as the Marine Corps aviation and defense units that went with them. On the 19th she sailed for Hawaii where she arrived five days later.

Ticonderoga remained at Pearl Harbor for almost a month. She and Carina (AK-74) conducted experiments in the underway transfer of aviation bombs from carzo ship to aircraft carrier. Following those tests, she conducted air operations-day and night landing and antiaircraft defense drills-until 18 October when she exited Pearl Harbor and headed for the western Pacific. After a brief stop at Eniwetok, Ticonderoga arrived at Ulithi Atoll in the Western Carolines on the 29th. There she embarked Rear Admiral A. W. Radford, Commander, Carrier Division 6, and joined Task Force (TF) 38 as a unit of Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman's Task Group (TG) 38.3.

The carrier sortied from Ulithi with TF 38 on 2 November. She joined the other carriers as they resumed their extended air cover for the ground forces capturing Leyte. She launched her first air strike on the morning of the 5th. The planes of her air group spent the next two days pummeling enemy shipping near Luzon and air installations on that island. Her planes bombed and strafed the airfields at Zablan Mandaluyong, and Pasig. They also joined those of other carriers in sending the heavy cruiser Nachi to a watery resting place. In addition, Ticonderoga pilots claimed six Japanese aircraft shot down and one destroyed on the ground, as well as 23 others damaged.

Around 1600 on the 5th, the enemy retaliated by sending up a flock of planes piloted by members of the suicide corps dubbed kamikaze, or "Divine Wind," in honor of the typhoon that had destroyed a Chinese invasion fleet four centuries previously. Two of the suicide planes succeeded in slipping through the American combat air patrol and antiaircraft fire to crash Lexington (CV-16). Ticonderoga emerged from that airborne kanzai charge unscathed and claimed a tally of two splashes. On 6 November, the warship launched two fighter sweeps and two bombing strikes against the Luzon airfields and enemy shipping in the vicinity. Her airmen returned later that day claiming the destruction of 36 Japanese aircraft and attacks on six enemy ships in Manila Bay. After recovering her planes, the carrier retired to the east for a fueling rendezvous.

She refueled and received replacement planes on the 7th and then headed back to continue pounding enemy forces in the Philippines. Early on the morning of 11 November, her planes combined with others of TF 38 to attack a Japanese reinforcement convoy, just as it was preparing to enter Ormoc Bay from the Camotes Sea. Together, the planes accounted for all the enemy transports and four of the seven escorting destroyers. On the 12th and 13th, Ticonderoga and her sisters launched strikes at Luzon airfields and docks and shipping around Manila. This raid tallied an impressive score: light cruiser Kiso, four destroyers, and seven merchant ships. At the conclusion of the raid, TF 38 retired eastward for a refueling breather. Ticonderoga and the rest of TG 38.3, however continued east to Ulithi where they arrived on the i7th to replenish, refuel, and rearm.

On 22 November, the aircraft carrier departed Ulithi once more and steamed back toward the Philippines. Three days later, she launched air strikes on central Luzon and adjacent waters. Her pilots finished off the heavy cruiser Kumano, damaged in the Battle off Samar. Later, they attacked an enemy convoy about 15 miles southwest of Kumano's not-so-safe haven in Dasol Bay. Of this convoy, cruiser Yasoshima, a merchantman, and three landing ships went to the bottom Ticonderoga's air group rounded out their day of destruction with an aerial rampage which cost the Japanese 15 planes shot down and 11 destroyed on the ground.

While her air group busily pounded the Japanese, Ticonderoga's ship's company also made their presence felt. Just after noon, a torpedo launched by an enemy plane broached in Langley's (CVL-27) wake to announce the approach of an air raid. Ticonderoga's gunners raced to their battle stations as the raiders made both conventional and suicide attacks on the task group Her sister ship Essex (CV-9) erupted in flames when one of the kamikazes crashed into her. When a second suicide plane tried to finish off the stricken carrier, Ticonderoga's gunners joined those firing from other ships in cutting his approach abruptly short. That afternoon, while damage control parties dressed Essex's wounds, Ticonderoga extended her hospitality to that damaged carrier's homeless airmen as well as to Intrepid (CV-11) pilots in similar straits. The following day, TF 38 retired to the east.

TF 38 stood out of Ulithi again on 11 December and headed for the Philippines. Ticonderoga arrived at the launch point early in the afternoon of the 13th and sent her planes aloft to blanket Japanese airbases on Luzon while Army planes took care of those in the central Philippines. For three days, Ticond eroga airmen and their comrades wreaked havoc with a storm of destruction on enemy airfields. She withdrew on the 16th with the rest of TF 38 in search of a fueling rendezvous. While attempting to find calmer waters in which to refuel, TF 38 steamed directly through a violent, but unheralded, typhoon. Though the storm cost Admiral Halsey's force three~destroyers and over 800 lives, Ticonderoga and the other carriers managed to ride it out with a minimum of damage. Having survived the tempest's fury, Ticonderoga returned to Ulithi on Christmas Eve.

Repairs occasioned by the' typhoon kept TF 38 in the anchorage almost until the end of the month. The carriers did not return to sea until 30 December 1944 when they steamed north to hit Formosa and Luzon in preparation for the landings on the latter island at Lingayen Gulf. Severe weather limited the Formosa strikes on 3 and 4 January 1945 and, in all likelihood obviated the need for them. The warships fueled at sea

on the 6th. Despite rough weather on the 6th, the strikes on Luzon airfields were carried out. That day, Ticonderoga's airmen and their colleagues of the other air groups increased their score by another 32 enemy planes. The 7th brought more strikes on Luzon installations. After a fueling rendezvous on the 8th, Ticonderoga sped north at night to get into position to blanket Japanese airfields in the Ryukyus during the Lingayen assault the following morning. However, foul weather, the bugaboo of TF 38 during the winter of 1944 and 1945, forced TG 38.3 to abandon the strikes on the Ryukyu airfields and join TG 38.2 in pounding Formosa.

During the night of 9 and 10 January, TF 38 steamed boldly through the Luzon Strait and then headed generally southwest, diagonally across the South China Sea. Ticonderoga provided combat air patrol coverage on the 11th and helped to bring down four enemy planes which attempted to snoop the formation. Otherwise, the carriers and their consorts proceeded unmolested to a point some 160 to 200 miles off the coast of Indochina. There, on the 12th, they launched their approximately 850 planes and made a series of antishipping sweeps during which they sank a whopping 44 ships, totalling over 130,000 tons. After recovering planes in the late afternoon, the carriers moved off to the northeast. Heavy weather hindered fueling operations on the 13th and 14th, and air searches failed to turn up any tempting targets. On the 15th, fighters swept Japanese airfields on the Chinese coast while the flattops headed for a position from which to strike Hong Kong. The following morning, they launched antishipping bombing raids and fighter sweeps of air installations. Weather prevented air operations on the 17th and again made fueling difficult. It worsened the next day and stopped replenishment operations altogether, so that they were not finally concluded until the 19th. The force then shaped a course generally northward to retransit Luzon Strait via Balintang Channel.

The three task groups of TF 38 completed their transit during the night of 20 and 21 January. The next morning, their planes hit airfields on Formosa, m the Pescadores, and at Sakishima Gunto. The good flying weather brought mixed blessings. While it allowed American flight operations to continue through the day, it also brought new gusts of the "Divine Wind." Just alter noon, a single-engined Japanese plane scored a hit on Langley with a glide-bombing attack. Seconds later, a kamikaze swooped out of the clouds and plunged toward Ticonderoga. He crashed through her flight deck abreast of the No. 2 5-inch mount, and his bomb exploded just above her hangar deck. Several planes stowed nearby erupted into flames. Death and destruction abounded, but the ship's company fought valiantly to save the threatened carrier. Capt. Kiefer conned his ship smartly. First, he changed course to keep the wind from fanning the blaze. Then, he ordered magazines and other compartments flooded to prevent further explosions and to correct a 10-degree starboard list. Finally, he instructed the damage control party to continue flooding compartments on Ticonderoga's port side. That operation induced a 10-degree port list which neatly dumped the fire overboard! Firefighters and plane handlers completed the job by dousing the flames and jettisoning burning aircraft.

Wounded denizens of the deep often attract predators. Ticonderoga was no exception. The other kamikazes pounced on her like a school of sharks in a feeding frenzy. Her antiaircraft gunners struck back with desperate, but methodical, ferocity and quickly swatted three of her tormentors into the sea. A fourth plane slipped through her barrage and smashed into the carrier's starboard side near the island. His bomb set more planes on fire, riddled her flight deck and incured or killed another 100 sailors-including Capt. Kiefer. Yet, Ticonderoga's crew refused to submit. Spared further attacks, they brought her fires completely under control not long after 1400; and Ticonderoga retired painfully.

The stricken carrier arrived at Ulithi on 24 January but remained there only long enough to move her wounded to hospital ship Samaritan (AH-10), to transfer her air group to Gancock (CV-19), and to embark passengers bound for home. Ticonderoga cleared the lagoon on 28 January and headed for the United States. The warship stopped briefly at Pearl Harbor en route to the Puget Sound Navy Yard where she arrived on 15 February.

Her repairs were completed on 20 April, and she cleared Puget Sound the following day for the Alameda Naval Air Station. After embarking passengers and aircraft bound for Hawaii, the carrier headed for Pearl Harbor where she arrived on 1 May. The next day, Air Group 87 came on board and, for the next week, trained in preparation for the carrier's return to combat. Ticonderoga stood out of Pearl Harbor and shaped a course for the western Pacific. En route to Ulithi, she launched her planes for what amounted to training strikes on Japanese-held Taroa in the Marshalls. On 22 May, the warship arrived in Ulithi and rejoined the Fast Carrier Task Force as an element of Rear Admiral Radford's TG 58.4.

Two days after her arrival, Ticonderoga sortied from Ulithi with TF 58 and headed north to spend the last weeks of the war in Japanese home waters. Three days out, Admiral Halsey relieved Admiral Spruance, the 5th Fleet reverted back to 3d Fleet, and TF 58 became TF 38 again for the duration. On 2 and 3 June, Ticonderoga fighters struck at airfields on Kyushu in an effort to neutralize the remnants of Japanese air power—particularly the Kamikaze Corps-and to relieve the pressure on American forces at Okinawa. During the following two days, Ticonderoga rode out her second typhoon in less than six months and emerged relatively unscathed. She provided combat air patrol cover for the 6 June refueling rendezvous, and four of her fighters intercepted and destroyed three Okinawabound kamikazes. That evening, she steamed off at high speed with TG 38.4 to conduct a fighter sweep of airfields on southern Kyushu on the 8th. Ticonderoga's planes then joined in the aerial bombardment of Minami Daito Shima and Kita Daito Shima before the carrier headed for Leyte where she arrived on the 13th.

During the two-week rest and replenishment period she enjoyed at Leyte, Ticonderoga changed task organizations from TG 38.4 to Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan's TG 38.3. On 1 July, she departed Leyte with TF 38 and headed north to resume raids on Japan. Two days later, a damaged reduction gear forced her into Apra Harbor, Guam, for repairs. She remained there until the 19th when she steamed off to rejoin TF 38 and resume her role in the war against Japan. On the 24th, her planes joined those of other fast carriers in striking ships in the Inland Sea and airfields at Nagoya, Osaka, and Miko. During those raids, TF 38 planes found the sad remnants of the once-mighty Japanese Fleet and bagged battleships Ise, Hyuga, and Haruna as well as an escort carrier, Kaigo, and two heavy cruisers. On 28 July, her aircraft directed their efforts toward the Kure Naval Base, where they pounded an aircraft carrier, three cruisers, a destroyer, and a submarine. She shifted her attention to the industrial area of central Honshu on the 30th, then to northern Honshu and Hokkaido on 9 and 10 August. The latter attacks thoroughly destroyed the marshalling area for a planned airborne suicide raid on the B-29 bases in the Marianas. On the 13th and 14th, her planes returned to the Tokyo area and helped to subject the Japanese capital to another severe drubbing.

The two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6th and 9th, respectively, convinced the Japanese of the futility of continued resistance. On the morning of 15 August, Ticonderoga launched another strike against Tokyo. During or just after that attack, word reached TF 38 to the effect that Japan had capitulated.