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USS Boxer (CV/CVA/CVS-21, LPH-4) was one of 24 s built during World War II for the United States Navy. She was the fifth US Navy ship to bear the name, and was named for a British ship captured by the Americans during the War of 1812. Boxer was commissioned in April 1945, too late to serve in World War II, but saw extensive service in the Korean War, for which she received eight battle stars. She was reclassified in the early 1950s as an attack carrier (CVA), then to an antisubmarine carrier (CVS), and finally to an amphibious assault ship (LPH), carrying helicopters and marines. Unlike most of her sister ships, she received no major modernization, and thus throughout her career retained the classic appearance of a World War II ship. As an LPH she served the Atlantic/Caribbean and in the Pacific, sometimes serving as an aircraft transport. She was the prime recovery vessel for the early Apollo AS-201 mission, and would have been the prime recovery vessel for Gemini 8, had the spacecraft not made an emergency landing in the Pacific instead.

She was decommissioned in 1969, and sold for scrap in 1971.

Construction and Commissioning

Boxer was one of the "long-hull" ships. She was laid down on 13 September 1943 by Newport News Shipbuildingmarker and Dry Dock Co. at Newport News, Virginiamarker, . The ship was launched on 14 December 1944 sponsored by Ruth D. Overton (daughter of John H. Overton, Senator from Louisianamarker). She commissioned on 16 April 1945, with Captain D. F. Smith in command.

Service history


Completed too late to take part in World War II, Boxer joined the Pacific Fleet at San Diegomarker in August 1945. From September 1945-23 August 1946, she operated out of Guammarker as flagship of TF 77 in the Western Pacific. During this tour, she visited Japanmarker, Okinawamarker, the Philippinesmarker and Chinamarker. She returned to San Franciscomarker on 10 September 1946 and operated off the west coast engaged in normal peacetime duty. On 10 March 1948, she logged the first landing of (the FJ-1 Fury) aboard an aircraft carrier. She departed for the Far East on 11 January 1950. After service with the 7th Fleet in the Far East during the first half of 1950, she returned to San Diego, arriving on 25 June.

Korean War

With the outbreak of the Korean War, she was pressed into service to carry planes to the fighting. From 14 July–22 July 1950, she made a record crossing of the Pacific, 8½ days, with 150 Air Force and Navy planes and a thousand troops. On her return trip (27 July–4 August), she cut the record to 7 days, 10 hours, and 36 minutes. After fast repairs she departed for the Far East on 24 August, this time to join TF 77 in giving air support to the troops. Her planes supported the landing at Inchonmarker (15 September 1950) and other ground action until November, when she departed for the west coast and overhaul.
Boxer off the coast of Korea, 1953

Boxer departed San Diego for her second Korean tour on 2 March 1951. Again she operated with TF 77 supporting the ground troops. She returned to San Francisco on 24 October 1951. Sailing on 8 February 1952 for her third tour in Korea, Boxer again served with TF 77. On 23–24 June, her planes took part in the heavy strikes against the North Korean hydro-electric complex, and on 5 August, she had nine men killed and two seriously injured in a fire which swept the hangar deck. After emergency repairs at Yokosuka, Japan (11–23 August), Boxer returned to duty off Korea. She arrived at San Francisco on 25 September and underwent repairs until March 1953.

The carrier departed for the Far East on 30 March 1953, and went into action a month later. She took part in the final actions of the Korean conflict and remained in Asiatic waters until November. Since the end of the Korean conflict, Boxer cruised off the west coast and has made three cruises to the Far East. Boxer was reclassified CVA-21 in October 1952.


Converted to an anti-submarine warfare aircraft carrier (CVS) in early 1956, she made a final Western Pacific tour in that role during 1956-57.

Later in 1957, Boxer operated briefly as an experimental assault helicopter aircraft carrier, an indication of things to come for her, the Navy and the Marine Corps. In 1958, she was flagship for Operation Hardtack, a nuclear weapons test program in the Central Pacific. Late in that year, she was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet as an "interim amphibious assault ship" and was formally redesignated LPH-4 on 30 January 1959.
Boxer as a helicopter carrier off Puerto Rico in 1966.

For the next decade, Boxer and her "main battery" of Marines and transport helicopters were vital components of the United States' amphibious warfare capabilities. She mainly operated in the Caribbean area, including participation in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the 1965 Dominican Republicmarker intervention. She deployed to European waters in late 1964 to participate in Operation Steel Pike. In mid-1965, Boxer served as an aircraft transport, carrying more than two hundred Army helicopters and airplanes to Vietnammarker as part of the deployment of the 1st Cavalry Division (Air Mobile). She was the prime recovery vessel for the AS-201 mission, the first flight of the Apollo Command and Service Modules, which was recovered on 26 February 1966. Boxer was also on station in the West Atlanticmarker and scheduled to be the prime recovery vessel for the Gemini 8 mission in March 1966. This opportunity was missed, however, when Gemini 8 had an in-flight emergency and landed in the Western Pacificmarker instead. She then made a second trip to Vietnam, this time carrying Marine Corps aircraft.

Boxer decommissioned in December 1969 and was sold for scrapping in February 1971.


Boxer received eight battle stars for her service in Korea.

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