Naval Warfare Blog: USS Valley Forge (CV-45)

reblogged from navalwarfare.blogspot.co.at USS Valley Forge (CV-45, CVA-45, CVS-45, LPH-8)

USS Valley Forge (CV-45, CVA-45, …)

USS Valley Forge

Figure 2: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) photographed circa 1947-48. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 3: Four F8F “Bearcat” fighters fly past USS Valley Forge (CV-45), 28 April 1948. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 4: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) steams past Gibraltar in May 1948. Courtesy of the US Naval Institute, James C. Fahey Collection, 1984. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 5: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) underway at sea while transporting aircraft, 26 April 1949. Planes on deck forward include R4D, PV, F7F, SNB/JRB and SNJ types, all normally based ashore. Those aft are carrier types: F4U, F8F and SB2C. Courtesy of the US Naval Institute Photo Collection, 1984. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 6: View of the USS Valley Forge’s (CV-45) island, with members of the American Ordnance Association visiting on board, while the ship was operating near Long Beach, California, 27 April 1949. An F8F-2 “Bearcat” fighter is parked alongside the island. Note large SX radar antenna atop the tripod mast and many onlookers standing on the island walkways. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 7: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) rounds Diamond Head, Oahu, while en route from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to San Diego, California, on 17 May 1949. She was transporting the headquarters of Rear Admiral H.B. Sallada, Commander, Air Force, Pacific Fleet, from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, and carried a deck load of flying boats and land-based planes. Aircraft types visible on her flight deck include one PBM, six PBY and 2 F4U parked aft. Those visible amidships include one R4D, one P2V, seven JRB/SNB and seven SNJ. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 8: Grumman F9F-3 “Panther” of Fighter Squadron 52 (VF-52) taxies forward on USS Valley Forge (CV-45) to be catapulted for strikes on targets along the east coast of Korea, 19 July 1950. Note details of the ship’s island, including scoreboard at left. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 9: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) flight deck crewmen wheel carts of rockets past a Vought F4U-4B fighter, while arming planes for strikes against North Korean targets in July 1950. This plane is Bureau # 97503. Official US Navy Photograph, from the “All Hands” collection at the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 10: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) flight deck tractors tow Grumman F9F “Panther” fighters forward on the carrier’s flight deck in preparation for catapulting them off to attack North Korean targets, July 1950. This photograph was released for publication on 21 July 1950. Valley Forge had launched air strikes on 3-4 July and 18-19 July. Official US Navy Photograph, from the “All Hands” collection at the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 11: Wonsan Oil Refinery, Wonsan, North Korea, under attack by aircraft from Valley Forge (CV-45) on 18 July 1950. Smoke from this attack, which reportedly destroyed some 12,000 tons of refined petroleum products and much of the plant, could be seen sixty miles out at sea. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 12: Wonsan Oil Refinery, Wonsan, North Korea, burning after being struck by USS Valley Forge (CV-45) aircraft on 18 July 1950. Photograph may have been taken on 19 July, when smoke from these fires was visible from the carrier, operating at sea off the Korean east coast. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 13: Korean War Carrier Air Strikes, July 1950. A fuel or ammunition train burns near Kumchon, North Korea, after being hit by planes from USS Valley Forge (CV-45). Photographed on the morning of 22 July 1950. Official US Navy Photograph, from the “All Hands” collection at the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 14: Douglas AD “Skyraider” attack planes from USS Valley Forge (CV-45), fire 5-inch rockets at a North Korean field position. Photo is dated 24 October 1950. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 15: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) leaves San Diego, California, 6 December 1950, to return to the Korean War zone for her second tour of combat duty, following a quick replenishment visit to the US west coast. Acoma (YTB-701) is assisting, from off the carrier’s port quarter. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 16: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) crewmen use flight deck tractors with power brooms to sweep snow from the carrier’s flight deck, during operations off Korea, circa early 1951. Photo is dated 8 May 1951, but Valley Forge ended her second Korean War deployment in late March of that year. Plane parked in the foreground is a F4U-4 “Corsair” fighter. Those on the forward flight deck are an AD “Skyraider” attack plane and a HO3S helicopter.Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 17: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) crewmen participate in a snowball fight, while clearing snow from the carrier’s flight deck during operations off Korea, circa early 1951. Photo is dated 8 May 1951, but Valley Forge ended her second Korean War deployment in late March of that year. Planes parked on deck are F4U-4 “Corsair” fighters. That at left, with rockets on its wing, is Bureau # 81150. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 18: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) taking water over the bow and onto her flight deck while operating in heavy seas off Korea, 21 March 1952. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 19: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) ordnancemen perform maintenance on 20mm aircraft cannon on the carrier’s flight deck, during operations off Korea, 30 March 1952. The ship’s forward 5-inch twin gun mounts are at right. Aircraft parked in the immediate background is a Douglas AD “Skyraider” (possibly AD-2 Bureau # 122251). Note firefighting hose in the lower right. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 20: The first of a flight of eight Bell HTL-3 helicopters rise from USS Valley Forge’s (CV-45) flight deck, off the Japanese coast, circa early January 1953. Valley Forge transported these aircraft to the Far East for use in evacuating Korean War battle casualties. The original photo is dated 3 January 1953. Its caption stated that this “was the largest mass take-off of helicopters in the history of Naval aviation.” Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 21: Commander C.V. Johnson taxies forward after making USS Valley Forge’s (CVA-45) 50,000th landing during operations off Korea on 10 May 1953. His plane is a Douglas AD “Skyraider”. Another AD is flying in the upper right. Note the ship’s arresting gear wires, after elevator and flight deck crewmen. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 22: USS Valley Forge (CV-45) photographed circa 1951-52, following her first Korean War era overhaul. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 23: USS Valley Forge (CVS-45) in harbor, 20 January 1956, with crewmen paraded on her flight deck spelling out the ship’s nickname: “HAPPY VALLEY.” Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 24: USS Valley Forge (CVS-45) operating at sea with a deck load of anti-submarine aircraft, 20 March 1956. Several S2F and at least one AD are parked amidships and aft. A HUP helicopter is parked amidships, and a HSS-1 ASW helicopter is parked at the bow. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 25: USS Valley Forge (CVS-45) operating at sea on 27 August 1958, with a HS-7 HSS-1 anti-submarine helicopter about to land forward. S2Fs of VS-36 are parked on her flight deck. Official US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 26: Damage to the USS Valley Forge’s (CVS-45) port forward flight deck, caused by heavy seas in the Atlantic. Photograph was taken 8 January 1959. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 27: Forward port portion of the flight deck of USS Franklin(CVS-13) is hoisted into place on the Valley Forge, replacing part of the latter’s flight deck after it had been wrecked by heavy Atlantic Ocean seas. Photograph was taken 24 January 1959. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 28: USS Valley Forge (LPH-8) underway in the Pacific Ocean, circa 1962-63, prior to her “FRAM II” overhaul. She has fifteen UH-34 helicopters spotted in take-off positions on her flight deck. Photo was received by “All Hands” magazine on 22 July 1963. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 29: US Marines double-time across USS Valley Forge’s (LPH-8) flight deck on their way to board HUS-1 helicopters during Exercise “Pot Shot,” circa 1961-62. Photograph was received 6 March 1963. Note air crewman standing by the helicopter at right.Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 30: USS Valley Forge (LPH-8) transporting A-4 “Skyhawk” attack planes in addition to her usual complement of UH-34 helicopters, circa 1965. She also has cargo and vehicles stowed on her flight deck, near the island. Photo was received by “All Hands” magazine on 19 April 1965. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 31: USS Valley Forge (LPH-8) with Marine Corps CH-46 helicopters embarked, probably during operations off South Vietnam, circa 1968. USS Thomaston (LSD-28) is in the background, at right. Photo was received by “All Hands” magazine on 30 July 1968. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.

Named after a small town in Pennsylvania made famous during the American Revolutionary War, USS Valley Forge (CV-45) was a 36,380-ton Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier that was built by the Philadelphia Navy Yard at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was commissioned on 3 November 1946. The ship was approximately 888 feet long and 93 feet wide, had a top speed of 32.7 knots, and had a crew of 3,448 officers and men. Valley Forge was armed with 12 5-inch guns and 72 40-mm guns, and could carry 80 aircraft.

After completing her shakedown cruise off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in the Panama Canal Zone, Valley Forge was transferred to the US Pacific Fleet in 1947. In 1948, she completed a trip to Australia and the Far East and steamed completely around the world before returning to San Diego, California. In May 1950, Valley Forge was again sent to the Far East and was anchored in Hong Kong Harbor on 25 June when she received news that North Korea had invaded South Korea. She left Hong Kong the next day and steamed north to Subic Bay, the Philippines, to obtain provisions and fuel. From there, Valley Forge left for Korea. Valley Forge was the only American carrier in the region when the Korean War broke out.

The first carrier air strike of the Korean conflict was launched from the Valley Forge’s flight deck on 3 July 1950. Waves of communist North Korean troops were pouring over the 38th Parallel and into South Korea, overwhelming the lightly armed and disorganized South Korean and American troops. Valley Forge launched Douglas AD “Skyraider” and Vought F4U “Corsair” ground attack planes to slow down the communist advance and also launched Grumman F9F “Panther” jet fighters to prowl the skies for enemy fighters. The Skyraiders and the Corsairs attacked the North Korean airfield at Pyongyang in North Korea, bombing enemy airplane hangars, fuel storage facilities, and Russian-built aircraft that were parked on the ground. At the same time, the Panther jet fighters shot down two North Korean Yak-9 aircraft.

Despite additional carrier-based and land-based aircraft that were sent from the United States and other United Nations countries to join this struggle, American and South Korean forces were steadily forced southward until they were virtually surrounded at Pusan (known as the famous “Pusan Perimeter”). But on 18 September 1950, General Douglas MacArthur launched the brilliant amphibious landing at Inchon. The American landing at Inchon outflanked the communists while the other United Nations forces broke out from the Pusan Perimeter and headed north. During all of this, Valley Forge’s aircraft were making daily attacks against North Korean forces. Aircraft from Valley Forge attacked enemy troop concentrations, defensive positions, and supply lines. More than 5,000 combat sorties were flown and more than 2,000 tons of bombs and rockets were dropped between 3 July and 19 November 1950.

Valley Forge returned to San Diego and arrived there on 1 December 1950. She needed an overhaul, but as soon as the ship arrived it was immediately ordered back to Korea. Communist China had decided to enter the war and Chinese troops were flooding into North Korea. On 6 December, as soon as a new air group and fresh provisions could be put on board the ship, Valley Forge left San Diego. She reached Task Force 77 off Korea on 22 December and her planes began flying air strikes against the Chinese the next day. It was the beginning of three straight months of concentrated air operations against a human tidal wave of Chinese troops. During this second deployment to Korea, Valley Forge flew 2,580 sorties and dropped more than 1,500 tons of bombs on the enemy.

But, by the end of January 1951, the Chinese advance ground to a halt. United Nations forces had succeeded in pushing the communists back north to the 38th Parallel, while suffering heavy casualties. Valley Forge continued flying missions off the ice cold and snowy coast of Korea, its planes assisting in a major effort to stop the Chinese from advancing any further. On 29 March 1951,Valley Forge was finally allowed to return to the United States for its badly needed overhaul. The ship returned to San Diego and her overhaul lasted until the fall. Valley Forge was then ordered to return to Korea, becoming the first American carrier to be sent back there for a third deployment.

On 11 December 1951, Valley Forge launched her first air strikes against communist railway targets. Railway lines, junctions, marshalling yards and rolling stock were decimated by the carrier’s aircraft. By June 1952, Valley Forge’s aircraft had severed communist rail lines in at least 5,346 places. Valley Forge returned to the United States in the summer of 1952, but was sent back to the Far East later that year. In October 1952, the ship was re-classified an attack carrier and was re-designated CVA-45. By 2 January 1953,Valley Forge’s aircraft began bombing communist targets deep behind enemy lines, focusing on supply dumps, troop concentrations, and deadly gun emplacements. During this deployment, Valley Forge’s aircraft dropped approximately 3,700 tons of bombs and rockets on Chinese and North Korean targets. She was sent back to the United States and arrived at San Diego on 25 June 1953.

After returning to the United States, Valley Forge underwent another major overhaul. Because her flight deck remained basically unchanged since the end of World War II, Valley Forgewas unable to handle the much larger high-performance jets that were being introduced to the fleet after the end of the Korean War. So the ship was converted into an antisubmarine support carrier and re-designated CVS-45. Once the conversion was completed at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at Norfolk, Virginia, the ship carried only helicopters and propeller-driven aircraft. After the conversion was completed in January 1954, Valley Forge was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet and remained there for seven years.

In early January 1959, while steaming in the stormy North Atlantic in winter, Valley Forge was smashed by heavy seas which tore away a large section of the port side of its forward flight deck. This damage proved how vulnerable the “open bow” design was for aircraft carriers built during World War II. This problem was solved by installing new enclosed “hurricane bows” on all carriers built during the mid-1950s and later. Valley Forge’s damage was quickly repaired, using a large section of flight deck that was taken from the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CVS-13).

On 6 March 1961, Valley Forge entered the Norfolk shipyard for yet another major overhaul. This time the ship was converted into an amphibious assault ship and was re-designated LPH-8. The conversion was completed on 1 July and the ship carried only helicopters and Marines for amphibious assault missions. Valley Forge spent the rest of her career in the Pacific, making five more deployments to the Far East. The last three of these, from 1965 to 1969, were mostly spent on combat operations off the coast of Vietnam. A typical mission for Valley Forge occurred on 29 January 1966, when an assault was made by Marines off the carrier during Operation Double Eagle. Valley Forge remained off the coast of Vietnam while its Marines were transported by helicopter to assault communist forces on land. Valley Forge provided continuous logistical and medical support to the Marines. Inbound helicopters usually brought supplies to the troops, while choppers returning from the coast brought back casualties for medical treatment. Similar operations that Valley Forge participated in were Operations Fortress Ridge, Beaver Tooth, Badger Catch, Badger Catch II, Badger Catch III, Swift Saber, and Brave Armada, to name just a few of the helicopter assault and logistical supply missions she successfully completed. Valley Forge also occasionally served as a transport for aircraft being brought to South Vietnam.

Valley Forge returned to the United States and docked at Long Beach, California, on 31 October 1969. After being stripped of all her planes, ammunition, and usable equipment, the ship was decommissioned on 15 January 1970. After failing to obtain funds to convert this ship into a naval museum, USS Valley Forge was sold for scrapping on 29 October 1971, a sad end to a brilliant career. This grand warship received eight battle stars for her service during the Korean War, nine battle stars for her work during the war in Vietnam, and three US Navy Unit Commendations.

Posted by Remo at 8:28 AM

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