Little Bits of History

Sea Change

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 25, 2014
USS Ranger

USS Ranger

February 25, 1933: The USS Ranger is launched. Also designated at CV-4, the ship was the first US Navy designed and built from the ground up as an aircraft carrier. It was a fairly small ship, as aircraft carriers go and subsequent ships were much larger. The USS Langley was the first ship to be converted to a carrier. The USS Jupiter was decommissioned on March 24, 1920 and renamed to Langley the next month. She was recommissioned on March 20, 1922 as CV-1, the first aircraft carrier. The USS Lexington (CV-2) was also refitted from battlecruiser to aircraft carrier in 1922. The USS Saratoga (CV-3) also began life as a battlecruiser and in 1922 turned into an aircraft carrier. All these former ships were not originally designed for the task, but had to be refitted in order to accommodate the planes.

Between World War I and World War II, eight aircraft carriers were created. Out of these eight ships, only three survived World War II with Ranger being one of them. Also surviving the war was Enterprise and Saratoga. Ranger was considered too slow to work with the Pacific Fleet and spent most of her wartime service in the Atlantic Ocean. Earlier designs were called the Lexington class and Ranger class followed with the USS Ranger being the only ship of this class. With the building of Ranger, much was learned and so with subsequent ships, a new class was named, the Yorktown class. Three ships of this type were built.

USS Ranger was laid down on September 26, 1931 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. in Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on this day sponsored by Lou Henry Hoover, wife of the President of the US. She was commissioned at the Norfolk Navy yard on June 4, 1934 and at that time, Captain Arthur Bristol was in command. Her initial flight operations were carried out off the Virginia Capes on June 21, 1934 and she left Norfolk on August 17. Her first training cruise took the ship to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo. After returning to Virginia, she was placed in drydock for some repairs. She was back in the water soon after and sailed through the Panama Canal, visited Hawaii, and sailed to Alaska, the first cold weather test trials.

USS Ranger was in the Atlantic Ocean, returning from a European tour when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941. Ranger served as flagship for the Atlantic Fleet with two different Rear Admirals at the controls. She ferried planes and pilots across the Atlantic and as the largest carrier, she led four other carriers to Vichy-ruled French Morocco for the Battle of Casablanca. She continued throughout the war with intermittent port calls for repairs and upgrades. She survived the war and returned to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on November 19, 1945. She was decommissioned from the shipyard on October 18, 1946 and was sold for scrap on January 31, 1947.

Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope. – Epictetus

A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm. – Henrik Ibsen

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever. – Thomas Aquinas

There’s this misconception that the Navy is this cruise ship, and you get to go out and sail around, and every now and then, you have to swab the deck. But, no, it is a very impressive group of young people that live at sea, in this place that’s very uncomfortable. They exude a pride that is well-deserved. – Tom Hanks

Also on this day: “Do you feel lucky?” – In 1836, Samuel Colt received a patent for his new revolver.
Gas Tax – In 1919, the first gas tax in the US was instituted.
Cut Off – In 1570, Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I.
Battle Stations – In 1942, Los Angeles was under fire.

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