March 20, 1922: The USS Langley (CV-1) is commissioned by the US Navy. The ship was built by Mare Island Navel Shipyard. Construction began on October 18, 1911 and the USS Jupiter was launched on August 14, 1912 and commissioned on April 7, 1913. The ship was a collier or transport class. Her first official sea voyage was transporting US Marine Corps troops in 1914. She was 542.3 feet long and 65.3 feet at the beam. She was crewed by 163 officers and men. She proved valuable sailing the Atlantic bringing men and supplies to the European theater during World War I.
A refit was authorized on July 11, 1919. Jupiter sailed to Hampton Roads, Virginia. She arrived on December 12 and was decommissioned on March 24, 1920. At the Norfolk, Virginia navy yards an experiment was carried out. Upgrades were placed and the ship’s outline was altered. On April 11, 1920 her name was changed to USS Langley in honor of Samuel Pierpont Langley, an aeronautics pioneer. When commissioned on this date, Langley was the US Navy’s first aircraft carrier. The idea of floating airports was tested as early as 1910, just seven years after the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk.
Commander Kenneth Whiting was in charge of the craft, now crewed by 468 officers and men. On October 17, 1922 Lt. Virgil C. Griffin piloted the first plane launched from the Langley – also launching a new era in the US Navy. With the Langley underway on October 26, Lt. Cmdr. Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier made the first landing. He was flying an Aeromarine 39B – a biplane / seaplane used for training. The next first came on November 18 when the first aviator (Cmdr. Whiting) was catapulted from the flight deck. On February 27, 1942, USS Langley was severely damaged in a Japanese attack. After rescuing survivors, her escorts sank the doomed ship.
Aircraft carriers play a major role in today’s Navy. There are two classes of carriers: Nimitz and Enterprise (Kitty Hawk was decommissioned in May 2009). Nimitz class aircraft carriers are the most modern. They use a nuclear powered propulsion system and cost about $4.5 billion each to build. These ships are 1,092 feet long, 134 feet at the beam, and have a flight deck measuring 254 feet in width. They are crewed by 3,200 with another 2,480 assigned to the Air Wing. They support 85 aircraft and hold varying armaments, depending on assignments.
In principal, having carrier capability is desirable and ditto for nuclear propulsion. An aircraft carrier is all about presence and adds to the navy’s capability. – Uday Bhaskar
A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace. – Theodore Roosevelt
No matter what happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping. – Frank Knox
My only great qualification for being put at the head of the Navy is that I am very much at sea. – Edward Carson
Also on this day:
Shoes – In 1885, Jan Matzeliger patented a shoe lasting machine.
Martha Place – In 1899, Martha was the first woman to be executed via the electric chair.
Iditarod Winner – In 1985, the first woman won the Iditarod.