The History Of The Mighty I

The fourth Independence (CV-22), begun as Amsterdam, (CL-59), was launched as CV-22 on the 22nd of August 1942 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. Rawleigh Warner; and commissioned on the 14th of January 1943, Captain G. R. Fairlamb, Jr., in command.   

The first of a new class of carriers converted from cruiser hulls, Independence conducted shakedown training in the Caribbean. She then steamed through the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet, arriving in San Francisco on the 3rd of July 1943. Independence got underway for Pearl Harbor on the 14th of July, and after 2 weeks of vital training exercises sailed with the carriers Essex and Yorktown for a devastating raid on Marcus Island. Planes from the carrier force struck on the 1st of September and destroyed over 70 percent of the installations on the island. The carrier began her next operation, a similar strike against Wake Island on the 5th and 6th of October as CVL-22, redesignated on the 15th of July 1943.

Independence sailed from Pearl Harbor for Espiritu Santo on the 21st of October, and, during an ensuing carrier attack on Rabaul on the 11th of November, the ship's gunners scored their first success - six Japanese planes shot down. After this operation the carrier refueled at Espiritu Santo and headed for the Gilberts and prelanding strikes on Tarawa from the 18th to the 20th of November 1943. During a Japanese counterattack on the 20th of November,  Independence was attacked by a group of planes low on the water. Six were shot down, but the  planes managed to launch at least five torpedoes one of which scored a hit on the carrier's starboard quarter. Seriously damaged, the ship steamed to Funafuti on the 23rd of November for repairs. With the Gilberts operation, first step on the mid-Pacific road to Japan, underway, Independence returned to San Francisco on the 2nd of January 1944 for more permanent repairs .

The veteran carrier returned to Pearl Harbor on the 3rd of July 1944. During her repair period the ship had been fitted with an additional catapult, and upon her arrival in Hawaiian waters, Independence began training for night carrier operations. She continued this pioneering work from the 24th to the 29th of August out of Eniwetok. The ship sailed with a large task group on the 29th of August to take part in the Palaus operation, aimed at securing bases for the final assault on the Philippines in October. Independence provided night reconnaissance and night combat air patrol for Task Force 38 during this operation.

In September the fast carrier task force regularly pounded the Philippines in preparation for the invasion. When no Japanese counterattacks developed in this period, Independence shifted to regular daytime operations, striking targets on Luzon. After replenishment at Ulithi in early October, the great force sortied on the 6th of October for Okinawa. In the days that followed the carriers struck Okinawa, Formosa, and Philippines in a striking demonstration of the mobility and balance of the fleet. Japanese air counterattacks were repulsed, with Independence providing day strike groups in addition to night fighters and reconnaissance aircraft for defensive protection.

As the carrier groups steamed east of the Philippines on the 23rd of October, it became apparent, as Admiral Carney later recalled, that "something on a grand scale was underfoot." And indeed it was, as the Japanese fleet moved on a three pronged effort to turn back the American beachhead on Leyte Gulf. Planes from Independence's Task Group 38.2, under Rear Admiral Bogan, spotted Kurita's striking force in the Sibuyan Sea on the24th of October and the carriers launched a series of attacks. Planes from Independence and other ships sank giant battleship MUSASHI and disabled a cruiser.

That evening Admiral Halsey made his fateful decision to turn Task Force 38 northward in search of Admiral Ozawa's carrier group. Independence's night search planes made contact and shadowed the Japanese ships until dawn of the 26th of October, when the carriers launched a massive attack. In this second part of the great Battle for Leyte Gulf, all four Japanese carriers were sunk. Meanwhile American heavy ships had won a great victory in Suriago Strait; and a light carrier force had outfought the remainder of Kurita's ships in the Battle Off Samar. After the great battle, which virtually spelled the end of the Japanese Navy as a major threat, Independence continued to provide search planes and night fighter protection for Task Force 38 in strikes on the Philippines. In these operations the ship had contributed to a major development in carrier group operations.

Independence returned to Ulithi for long-delayed rest and replenishment from the 9th to the 14th of November, but soon got underway to operate off the Philippines on night attacks and defensive operations. This phase continued until the 30th of December 1944, when the great task force sortied from Ulithi once more and moved northward. From the 3rd to the 9th of January the carriers supported the Lingayen landings on Luzon, after which Halsey took his fleet on a daring foray into the South China Sea. In the days that followed the aircraft struck at air bases on Formosa and on the coasts of Indo-China and China. These operations in support of the Philippines campaign marked the end of the carrier's night operations, and she sailed on the 30th of January 1945 for repairs at Pearl Harbor.

Independence returned to Ulithi on the 13th of March 1945 and got underway the next day for operations against Okinawa, last target in the Pacific before Japan itself. She carried out preinvasion strikes from the 30th to the 31st of March, and after the assault on the 1st of April remained off the island supplying Combat Air Patrol and strike aircraft. Her planes shot down numerous enemy planes during the desperate Japanese attacks on the invasion force. Independence remained off Okinawa until the 10th of June when she sailed for Leyte.

During July and August the carrier took part in the final carrier strikes against Japan itself, attacks which lowered enemy morale and had much to do with the eventual surrender. After the end of the war on the 15th of August, Independence aircraft continued surveillance flights over the mainland locating prisoner of war camps, and covered the landings of Allied occupation troops. The ship departed Tokyo on the 22nd of September 1945, arriving San Francisco via Saipan and Guam on the 31st of October.

Independence joined the "Magic-Carpet" fleet beginning on the 15th of November 1945, transporting veterans back to the United States until arriving San Francisco once more on the 28th of January 1946. Assigned as a target vessel for the Bikini atomic bomb tests, she was placed within one-half mile of ground zero for the 1st of July explosion. The veteran ship did not sink, however, and after taking part in another explosion on the 25th of July was taken to Kwajalein and decommissioned on the 28th of August 1946. The highly radioactive hulk was later taken to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco for further tests and was finally laid to rest by weapons tests off the coast of California  the 29th of January 1951.

Independence received eight battle stars for World War II service.

Stats

Fast carrier of Admiral Halsey's third fleet and name ship of her class
Built by New York Shipbuilding Corp, Camden New Jersey
Commissioned Jan, 14th 1943
First U.S. night carrier, Aug 16th, 1944 to Jan 26th 1945 - Later A Day Carrier.
Length 619 Feet Overall     Beam (Flight Deck) 109 Feet
Tonnage 14,751 Tons     Speed 32 knots maximum
Cruising range 12,100 miles at 15 knots
Miles traveled 199,000

The Crew and Plane Compliment
86 Officers 1235 Enlisted men 41 Marines Not including Air Group of 114
36 Fighters or 24 Fighters and 9 Torpedo Bombers

Engagements
1943 Marcus, Wake, Rabaul and Tarawa (ship was torpedo on Nov 20th, 1943)
1944 Palau, Philippines, Okinawa, Formosa, Battle for Leyte Gulf
1945 Formosa, Indo-China, China Coast, Okinawa Invasion, Japan
Declaration and Occupation of Japan

Box Score
Enemy Planes Shot Down by Planes 101 - By Ship Anti-Aircraft Guns 12


Shipping Sunk
9 Merchant Vessels The Cruiser Oyoda And a destroyer escort


Shipping Damaged
Battleships Nagato and Haruna
Heavy Cruiser - Tone    Carrier Ryuho    3 - Destroyer Escorts

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