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  USS Curtiss AV-4
Seaplane Tender

8,671 tons
527' 4" x 69' 3" x 21' 11"
4 × 5 in 38 caliber guns
4 × quad 40mm guns

Click For Enlargement
USN December 7, 1941

Ship History
Laid down at New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey, launched on April 20, 1940. Commissioned on November 15, 1940 with commander S. P. Ginder. Curtiss received seven battle stars for World War II service.

Prewar History
Operated out of Norfolk and in the Caribbean for training and in fleet exercises through the spring of 1941. Curtiss was one of fourteen ships to receive the early RCA CXAM-1 RADAR. On May 26, got underway for Pearl Harbor from which she served on patrol as well as tending two patrol bomber squadrons. From October 15 to November 9 she voyaged to Wake Island carrying aviators, air-crewmen, and cargo to reinforce the garrison there.

Pearl Harbor
On December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor Curtiss immediately got underway firing at enemy planes. At 8:36am spotted by Type A Midget Submarine (Midget B) that opened fire with a torpedo that missed, impacting a dock at Pearl City.

Simultaneously, the submarine's periscope was sighted and targeted with gunfire. Meanwhile, USS Monaghan (DD-354) ran full speed in an attempt to ram the midget submarine. As it surfaced, the destroyer struck the submarine while it fired its second torpedo, which passed harmlessly beneath the destroyer and exploded on shore bank. Damaged, Monaghan dropped two depth charges that sank the submarine.

At 09:05 gunners aboard Curtis scored a hit on an enemy aircraft, causing it to crash into her No. 1 crane and burn. Three minutes later she splashed another plane, then began firing at a D3A1 Val dive bomber. A bomb from this plane crashed Curtiss in the vicinity of her damaged crane and exploded below decks, setting the hangar and main decks and No. 4 handling room on fire, as the plane splashed off her port beam. During the attack suffered 19 dead and many wounded.

Wartime History
On December 28 departed for San Diego for permanent repairs and replacement of the damaged crane with 20mm guns. Her repairs were completed in only four days, she was back in Pearl Harbor on January 13, 1942 to begin the job of ferrying men and supplies to Samoa, Suva, and Nouméa.

On March 28, 1942 five floatplanes arrived from Rossel Island (Yela). These aircraft were from the USS Louisville and USS Astoria that had landed ten days earlier low on fuel. One of the floatplanes hit into USS Curtiss and was abandoned overboard.

During June 1942 returned to Pearl Harbor and served as flagship for Commander, Naval Air, South Pacific, at Nouméa from June 16 to August 4, then served as seaplane tender, flagship, repair and supply ship for destroyers and small craft engaged in the Solomons based at

Part of Task Group "Mike-Three" Comdr. Maurice E. Browder, USN, Curtiss was the flagship, ordered to proceed to Segond Channel off Espiritu Santo, escorted by USS McFarland, three days before the American attack on Tulagi and Guadalcanal. Her PBY Catalinas flew reconnaissance missions from Espiritu Santo, Nouméa and Havannah Harbor to search to the south and east of the Solomons.

As part of Task Group "Mike-Four" Comdr. Joseph L. Kane, USS McFarland and USS Curtiss with attached patrol planes move Graciosa Bay on Ndeni Island in the Santa Cruz Islands. Her PBY Catalinas searched north and east of Guadalcanal.

Afterwards, returned to Espiritu Santo and operated in the South Pacific until July 9, 1943.

Returned to San Francisco for overhaul, then departed for Funafuti with USS Mackinac AVP-13 on November 7, 1943 to serve as flagship for Commander Air, Central Pacific, and remained there until December 29, 1943. Next to Tarawa, based there December 31, 1943 - March 8, 1944. Afterward, to Kwajalein March 10 - June 26. Then Eniwetok June 27 to August 9. Next Saipan August 12, 1944 to January 1, 1945. Finally to Guam January 2 to February 7.

Departed for San Francisco for repairs then departed across the Pacific to return to Okinawa on May 22, 1945 to as flagship for Commander, Fleet Air Wing 1 (FAW-1). On June 21, 1945 a kamikaze armed with a bomb impacted ripping two holes into her hull and exploded in the third deck. Aboard, 35 killed and 21 wounded. Damage control efforts kept her afloat. On June 25, 1945 departed across the Pacific bound for the west coast for repairs and overhaul at Mare Island Navy Yard.

Rejoining the Fleet in the Western Pacific, Curtiss embarked Commander, Fleet Air Wing 1 (who was also Commander Task Force 75) at Okinawa on 5 December 1945. She joined in fleet exercises, operated with patrol squadrons in the Formosa Strait, ferried men and supplies to outlying bases and made several visits to Tsingtao, China, until 8 March 1947 when she headed for the west coast for overhaul.

Modified to store scientific equipment. In 1948, the Curtiss arrived at Eniwetok with atom bombs on board for the exercise "Operation Sandstone", afterwards returning to the West Coast, and soon thereafter was engaged in exercises in Alaskan waters, returning to San Francisco in early 1949.

Curtiss operated off the California coast on a number of fleet and training exercises until early in 1949 when she served as flagship for Commander First Fleet for three weeks of amphibious operations in Alaskan waters to evaluate cold weather equipment. She continued to serve as flagship for this command during amphibious exercises off Seattle during the summer of 1949. Shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War, Curtiss sailed from San Diego to join the 7th Fleet in July 1950 on patrol in the Korea Strait. Sailing out of Iwakuni and Kure, she tended two PBM Mariner squadrons and a squadron of British Sunderlands operating over Korean territory. She returned to San Francisco on 14 January 1951 for further alterations to fit her as a base for scientific work.

From 23 February to 13 June 1951 Curtiss served as flagship for "Operation Greenhouse" and was the base for civilian and military technicians during the atomic tests at Eniwetok. She also provided meteorological information and operated a boat pool. Curtiss served at San Diego in local operations until 29 September 1952 when she again sailed to Eniwetok as flagship during the atomic tests of "Operation Ivy". Returning to San Diego on 4 December, she cruised the west coast, and visited Acapulco, Mexico in 1953. From 10 January to 28 May 1954 she participated in "Operation Castle" during which the first hydrogen bomb was exploded.

Fitted with a helicopter deck during November and December 1954, Curtiss engaged in a large scale amphibious exercise on the coast of California in March 1955. From 21 March to 8 August 1956 she took part in "Operation Redwing", the atomic tests at Eniwetok, during which she was visited by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. As flagship for the First Fleet she was visited by Vice Admiral A. H. Vdel, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Danish Navy on 20 September 1956.

Curtiss departed San Diego on 27 December 1956 for "Operation Deep Freeze II", carrying sailors of the wintering-over party, and scientists to take part in the International Geophysical Year program. Calling at Port Lyttelton, New Zealand, from 12 to 15 January 1957, she entered McMurdo Sound on 19 January and transferred cargo by helicopter to Glacier (AGB-4). From 21 to 28 January she put men and cargo ashore in the same manner as she lay moored to the ice shelf, continuing these operations at Little America from 30 January to 6 February. She carried out ice reconnaissance to Okuma Bay and Sulzberger Bay, then departed McMurdo Sound on 10 February. She called at Port Lyttelton and Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia, before returning to San Diego on 25 March to undergo repairs for ice damage. She continued her local operations until September 24, 1957 when placed out of commission in reserve. On July 1, 1963 Struck from the Naval Vessel Register.

During February 1972 sold for scrap and scrapped sometime afterwards.

USS Curtiss - Report of Pearl Harbor Attack

USS Curtiss Damage Report December 7, 1941 [PDF]
USS Curtiss Association

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Last Updated
August 4, 2020


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