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11,500 Tons (Langley)
13,000 Tons Loaded)
542.3' x 65.3' x 20.7'
4 x 5" guns
Built at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. On October 18, 1911 U.S. President Taft attended the ceremony when her keel was laid down as collier No. 3 fleet oiler as the first surface ship with electr motor propulsion. Launched on August 14, 1912 as USS Jupiter AC-3. Commissioned April 7, 1913 in the U.S. NAvy (USN).
World War I
On April 27, 1914 Jupiter embarked a U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) detachment at San Francisco and joined to the Pacific Fleet at Mazatlán Mexico and remained until October 10 then departed for Philadelphia, passing through the Panama Canal on October 14, 1914 and was the first vessel to transit it from west to east.
During World War I, she cruised the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico attached to the Atlantic Fleet Auxiliary Division. On April 6, 1917 arrived at Norfolk, Virginia and was assigned to NOTS. Next made two trips to France carrying cargo during June 1917, including Naval aviation detachment of 7 officers and 122 men to England. The second voyage was November 1918, afterwards returned to Norfolk January 23 ,1919. On March 8, 1919 departed for Brest, France, for coaling duty in European waters to expedite the return of American personnel. Returning to Norfolk on August 17, 1919 ship was transferred to the west coast.
First Aircraft Carrier
On July 11, 1919 this ship was selected for conversion into the U.S. Navy's first aircraft carrier for the purpose of conducting experiments in seaborne aviation. On December 12, 1919 arrived at Hampton Roads for the conversion. Decommissioned March 24, 1920. Renamed USS Langley (CV-1) April 11, 1920. Recommissioned March 20, 1922.
On October 25, 1936 arrived at Mare Island Naval Shipyard for overhaul and conversion to a seaplane tender. On February 26, 1937 the conversion was completed. On April 11, 1937 redesignated as USS Langley (AV-3) and assigned to Aircraft Scouting Force as a seaplane tender operating between Seattle, Sitka, Pearl Harbor and San Diego. Between February 1, 1939 to July 10, 1939 operated with the Atlantic Fleet then back to the Pacific Fleet. On September 24, 1939 arrived Manila Bay to operate with the Asiatic Fleet.
On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War, Langley was at anchored off Cavite in Manila Bay and immediately departs southward for Balikpapan then southward to Darwin. On January 1, 1942 arrives Darwin Harbor and assigned to the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) fleet. For the next ten days, assists the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with anti-submarine patrols in the vicinity.
At Fremantle and loads 32 P-40E Warhawks on her flight deck assigned to the Far East Air Force (FEAF) 13th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional) plus pilots, ground crews and cargo. On February 22, 1942 departs Fremantle with convoy MS.5 bound for Colombo on Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
On February 27, 1942 enroute Langley an MS Sea Witch leave the convoy bound for Tjilatjap on Java. Roughly 200 miles south of Java, the pair rendezvoused with destroyers USS Whipple DD-217 and USS Edsall DD-219. At 11:40am bombed by nine G4M1 Bettys from the Takao Kokutai (Takao Air Group) led by Lieutenant Jiro Adachi from Denpasar Airfield escorted by fifteen A6M2 Zeros attack roughly 75 miles south of Tjilatjap. The Bettys bomb from medium altitude and Langley was able to evade their first bomb run and second bomb run.
The third bomb the Bettys released bombs the covered every direction the ship could turn and scored at least five hits and three near misses with 250 kg and 60 kg bombs. Aboard, sixteen were killed and the deck caught fire, steering was damaged and developed a 10° list to port and became dead in the water when the engine room flooded. At 1:32pm the crew were ordered to abandon ship. After the crew were safe, the damaged ship was scutteled by 4" gunfire from both destroyers and two torpedoes fired by USS Whipple (DD-217). At 2:20pm sank at roughly Lat 8° 51' 4.2" S Long 109° 2' 2.6"E.
Fates of the Crew
The surviving crew and passengers were rescued by the escorting destroyers with USS Whipple rescues 308 and USS Edsall DD-219 rescues 117. Afterwards, the survivors were transferred to USS Pecos off Christmas Island and returned to Fremantle.
Langley earned two battle stars for her World War II service. The first for Philippine Islands Operation, 8 December 1941–6 May 1942 and the second for Netherlands East Indies Engagements, 23 January–27 February 1942.
NavSource - USS Langley (CV-1) (formerly Jupiter (Collier #3); later AV-3) (photos)
Everyday A Nightmare (2010) by William H. Bartsch pages 246-247 (Fremantle convoy MS-5)
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