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USS Antietam (CV/CVA/CVS-36) was one of 24 s built during and shortly after World War II for the United States Navy. The ship was the second US Navy ship to bear the name, and was named for the Civil War Battle of Antietammarker (Maryland). Antietam was commissioned in January 1945, too late to actively serve in World War II. After serving a short time in the Far East, she was decommissioned in 1949. She was soon recommissioned for Korean War service, and in that conflict earned two battle stars. In the early 1950s, she was redesignated an attack carrier (CVA) and then an antisubmarine warfare carrier (CVS). After the Korean War she spent the rest of her career operating in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Mediterranean. From 1957 until her deactivation, she was the Navy's training carrier, operating out of Florida.

Antietam was fitted with a port sponson in 1952 to make her the world's first true angled-deck aircraft carrier. But she received no major modernizations other than this, and thus throughout her career largely retained the classic appearance of a World War II ship. She was decommissioned in 1963, and sold for scrap in 1974.

Construction and Commissioning

Antietam was one of the "long-hull" ships. The keel was laid on 15 March 1943 at the Philadelphia Navy Yardmarker. The ship was launched on 20 August 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Millard E. Tydings, the wife of Senator Tydings of Marylandmarker. Antietam commissioned on 28 January 1945, with Captain James R. Tague in command.

Service history

World War II and Occupation of Japan

The aircraft carrier completed fitting out at Philadelphiamarker until 2 March, when she got underway for her shakedown cruise. The ship arrived in Hampton Roadsmarker on 5 March and conducted operations from Norfolkmarker until 22 March, when she stood out of Chesapeake Bay bound for Trinidadmarker in the British West Indies. At the conclusion of her shakedown cruise, Antietam returned to Philadelphia on 28 April to begin post-shakedown availability. She completed repairs on 19 May and departed Philadelphia that same day. After a three-day stop at Norfolk, the warship resumed her voyage to the Panama Canalmarker in company with , , and . She arrived at Cristóbalmarker on 31 May, transited the Panama Canal the next day, and continued her voyage up the coast to San Diegomarker. She stopped at San Diego from 10-13 June before beginning the first leg of her transpacific voyage. Antietam arrived in Pearl Harbormarker on 19 June and remained in the Hawaiian Islands conducting training missions until 12 August. On that day, she shaped a course for the western Pacificmarker.

Three days out of Oahumarker, she received word of the Japanesemarker capitulation and the consequent cessation of hostilities. Thus, by the time of her arrival in Eniwetok Atoll on 19 August, her mission changed from combat to occupation support duty. On 21 August, she exited the lagoon in company with and a screen of destroyers bound for Japan. En route, she suffered some internal damage which forced her into port at Apra Harbormarker, Guammarker, for inspections. The inspection party deemed the damage minimal; and the carrier remained operational, resuming her course on 27 August. By that time, however, her destination had been changed to the coast of the Asian mainland. She stopped at Okinawamarker between 30 August and 1 September, and arrived in Chinese waters near Shanghai the following day.

The aircraft carrier remained in the Far East for a little more than three years. The Yellow Seamarker constituted her primary theater of operations while her air group provided support for the Allied occupation of North Chinamarker, Manchuria, and Koreamarker. During the latter stages of that assignment, her airmen conducted surveillance missions in that area as a result of the civil war in China between communist and nationalist factions which later resulted in the expulsion of Chiang Kai-shek's forces from mainland China and the establishment of Mao Zedong's communist People's Republic of Chinamarker. Throughout the period, however, she did depart the Yellow Sea on occasion for visits to Japan, the Philippinesmarker, Okinawa, and the Marianas. Early in 1949, she concluded her mission in the Orient and headed back to the United Statesmarker for deactivation.

Korean War

Antietam returning from Korea in March 1952

Antietam remained in reserve at Alameda, Californiamarker until communist forces from the North invaded South Koreamarker in the summer of 1950. She began reactivation preparations on 6 December and went back into commission on 17 January 1951, Captain George J. Dufek in command. Initially, the carrier conducted shakedown training and carrier qualifications along the Californiamarker coast, first out of Alameda and — after 14 May — out of San Diego. She made one voyage to Pearl Harbor and back to San Diego in July and August before departing the latter port on 8 September and heading for the Far East. Antietam arrived in the Far East later that fall and, by late November, began the only combat deployment of her career. During that tour, she made four cruises with Task Force 77 (TF 77), in the combat zone off the coast of Korea. In between fighting assignments, she returned to Yokosuka, Japan. During each of those periods, her air group carried out a variety of missions in support of United Nations forces combating North Korean aggression. Those missions included combat air patrol logistics interdiction-particularly against railroad and highway traffic-reconnaissance antisubmarine patrols, and night heckler missions. From late November 1951 to mid-March 1952, Antietam s air group flew nearly 6,000 sorties of all types. She returned to Yokosuka on 21 March 1952 at the conclusion of her fourth cruise with TF 77 to begin preparations for her voyage back to the United States.

Later years

Night carrier operations on Antietam

The aircraft carrier returned home in April and rejoined the Pacific Reserve Fleet briefly. She was reactivated later that summer and, in August, transited the Panama Canal to join the Atlantic Fleet. In September, the warship entered the New York Naval Shipyardmarker for major alterations. In October, she was redesignated an attack aircraft carrier, CVA-36. In December Antietam emerged from the yard as the world's first angled-deck aircraft carrier, excluding earlier trials with lines painted on an axis deck. She operated out of Quonset Point, Rhode Islandmarker, until the beginning of 1955. During the intervening years, she participated in numerous fleet and independent ship's exercises. After August 1953, during which time she was redesignated an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) carrier, CVS-36 Antietam concentrated up on honing her hunter/killer skills. In January 1955, she embarked upon a voyage to the Mediterranean Sea where she served with the 6th Fleet until March. Resuming duty with the Atlantic Fleet ASW forces, she operated along the eastern seaboard until the fall of 1956. In October of that year, she cruised to the waters of the eastern Atlantic for NATOmarker ASW exercises and goodwill visits to ports in Allied countries. While the carrier was in Rotterdammarker, the Suez crisis broke out in the eastern Mediterranean. Antietam cut short her visit to the Netherlandsmarker and headed for the "middle sea" to bolster the 6th Fleet during the evacuation of American citizens from Alexandriamarker, Egyptmarker. At the end of that assignment, she conducted ASW training exercises with Italian naval officers embarked before returning to Quonset Point on 22 December.
Royal Navy Sea Hawk on Antietam in 1953

After resuming operations along the eastern seaboard early in 1957, Antietam was assigned on 21 April 1957 to training duty with the Naval Air Training Station, Pensacolamarker, Florida. Mayportmarker however, served as her home port because ships of her draft could not then enter port at Pensacola. For almost two years the aircraft carrier operated out of Mayport training new Navy pilots and conducting tests on new aviation equipment-most noteworthy on the Bell automatic landing system during August 1958. She also participated in annual Naval Academymarker midshipmen cruises each summer.

In January 1959, after the deepening of the channel into Pensacola had been completed, Antietam s home port was changed from Mayport to Pensacola. For the remainder of her active career, the carrier operated out of Pensacola as an aviation training ship.

The deck of the Antietam served as the launching pad for the stratospheric balloon flight of Commander Malcolm D. Ross and Lieutenant Commander Victor A. Prather, both of the United States Navy, on 4 May 1961. This flight set an absolute (and still unbroken) official altitude record for manned balloons of 113,740 ft (34,668 m). The flight took place over the Gulf of Mexico. During recovery, Prather slipped from the rescue helicopter's lifting harness, fell into the ocean, and died from his injuries onboard Antietam. Commander Ross was successfully recovered.

On two occasions, she provided humanitarian services to victims of hurricane damage. The first came in September 1961 when she rushed to the Texasmarker coast to provide supplies and medical assistance to the victims of Hurricane Carla. The second came just over a month later when she carried medical supplies, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel to British Honduras to help the victims of Hurricane Hattie. Otherwise, she spent the final four years of her naval career in routine naval aviation training duty out of Pensacola. On 23 October 1962, Antietam was relieved by sister-ship as aviation training ship at Pensacola and was placed in commission, in reserve, on 7 January 1963. Berthed at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she remained in reserve until May 1973 when her name was struck from the Navy List. On 28 February 1974, she was sold to the Union Minerals & Alloys Corp. for scrapping.


Antietam earned two battle stars for service in the Korean conflict.

See also


External links

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