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  USS Randolph (CV-15, CVA-15, CVS-15)
USN
Essex-class aircraft carrier

27,100 Tons (standard)
888' x 93' x 28' 7" (as built)
(Armament 1944-1945)
4 × 2x5" guns
4 × 5" guns
8 × Quad 40mm Bofors
46 × 20 mm cannons
Aircraft: 90-100

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Briganti January 945

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USN March 11, 1945

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USN March 13, 1945

MIA
USN July 7, 1945
Ship History
Built by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA. Laid down May 10, 1943 as a long hull Essex-class aircraft carrier. Launched June 28, 1944 sponsored by Rose Gillette (wife of Guy M. Gillette, a U. S. Senator from Iowa) as USS Randolph (CV-15) after frigate Randolph built 1776 sunk 1778. Commissioned October 9, 1944 with Captain Felix Locke Baker in command. When completed, painted in Measure 32 Design 17A (I).

Wartime History
Randolph had a shakedown cruise off Trinidad then via crossed the Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean. On December 31, 1944 arrived San Francisco and embarked Air Group 87 (detached from Air Group 12), underwent modifications and repainted gray. On January 20, 1945 departed across the Pacific Ocean to Ulithi Lagoon.

On February 10, 1945 departed Ulithi Lagoon with Task Force 58 (TF-58). On February 16, 1945 and February 17, 1945 her aircraft participated in attacks against Tokyo area airfields and the Tachikawa factory. On February 18, 1945 her aircraft attacked Chi Chi Jima. On February 20, 1945 launched three sorties to provide ground support for the U. S. Marines on Iwo Jima plus two strikes against Haha Jima. Over the next four days attacked targets on Iwo Jima and Combat Air Patrols (CAP) were flown over the invasion force. On February 25, 1945 launched aircraft for strikes against Tokyo area airfields and Hachijo Jima then returned to Ulithi Lagoon.

On March 11, 1945 Randolph was anchored in Ulithi Lagoon (Urushi Lagoon) off Sorlen Island. At 8:07pm hit by a kamikaze P1Y Ginga (Francis) in the starboard side to the aft just below the flight deck the bomber had so little fuel aboard it did not burst into flames but the explosion of the bomb caused a fire plus a 40' hole in the flight deck and destroyed 14 aircraft and damaged 10 more. in the vicinity and hanger decks causing damage and killed 26 KIA, 3 MIA and 5 and 105 WIA. Immediately, tugs and three YTB tug boats helped extinguish the fire and render help.

The next day, USS Jason (ARH-1) came along side to begin repairs locally on orders of Admiral Spruance so the carrier could be available for future operations. The repairs performed locally required demolishing 4,000 square feet of damaged flight deck and compartments and required 30 tons of steel plate and 7,500' of lumber and around the clock work to repair the carrier in nineteen days.

On April 7, 1945 returned to duty as the flagship of Task Force 58 (TF-58) off Okinawa with her aircraft providing Combat Air Patrols (CAP) over the invasion force and was under constant aerial attack until the end of the month. On April 14, 1945 her aircraft flew offensive missions against islands in Okinawa and Kyushu. During May 1945 her aircraft hit targets in Okinawa, Amami Islands and southern Japan and remained off Okinawa until withdrawn on May 29, 1945 via Guam to the Philippines.

During early June 1945 at Leyte Gulf, assigned to the 3rd Fleet under the command of Admiral Halsey and her air group was replaced by Air Group 16 (AG-16) and was reprovisioned, bombs and supplies.

On June 7, 1945 while receiving bombs and ammunition from LCT 832 in Leyte Gulf, buzzed by F-5E Lightning 44-24559 that made a low fast past alongside the bow then pulled up to 4,000' made a wing over and shallow dive the crashed and burned on the forward flight deck at the centerline at frame no. 10. The resulting explosion an fire caused a hole in the flight deck 49" in diameter and required replacement of a section 17' 4" spanning from frames 9 1/2 to 13 port centerline. On the deck, 11-13 sailors were killed and eleven aircraft were destroyed including seven F6F Hellcats and 4 TBM Avengers.

Afterwards, departed for strikes against Japan. On July 10, 1945 her aircraft attacked the Tokyo area. On July 14, 1945 attacked shipping at Tsugaru Strait sinking two ferries and three more damaged. On July 18, 1945 her aircraft bombed Nagato camouflaged at Yokosuka Naval Base at Yokosuka. On July 24, 1945 attacked Shikoku and anti-shipping strikes damaging Hyuga plus targets on Kyūshū, Honshū, and Shikoku and sank 25-30 ships during the month. During August 1945, Randolph continued to fly missions over the home islands until the official surrender of Japan.

Postwar
After the surrender of Japan, steamed eastward across the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal arriving at Norfolk October 15, 1945 and converted for Magic Carpet service to transport U. S. personnel back to the United States and made two trips to the Mediterranean Sea area. In 1946 became a training ship and made another Mediterranean Sea cruise. In 1947 made a trip to Caribbean and a voyage to northern Europe. On February 25, 1948 placed out of commission in reserve at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

In 1951, Randolph underwent modernization at Norfolk Naval Shipyard for conversion for jet aircraft with new elevators, hydraulic catapults and arresting gear plus a rebuild of the island and removal of anti-aircraft gun turrets with blisters added to the hull reclassified CVA-15 when completed October 1, 1952.

Recommissioned on July 1, 1953 and had a shakedown cruise to Guantanamo Bay as part of Carrier Air Group 10 (CAG-10) then embarked Carrier Air Group 14 (CAG-14) and departed Norfolk to the Mediterranean Sea. On February 3, 1954 assigned to the 6th Fleet. Between 1954-1955 participated in NATO exercises then returned to Norfolk.

On June 18, 1955 modernized at Norfolk with the installation of an angled flight deck and other upgrades that were completed by January 1956 and operated off the east coast of the United States and was the first carrier to launch a Regulus guided missile from the flight deck. Afterwards, returned to the Mediterranean Sea and was on standby during tensions in the Middle East operating near the Suez Canal with her aircraft flying reconnaissance flights, evacuating U. S. citizens from Egypt and covering surface vessels then returned to U. S. on February 24, 1958.

On September 2, 1958 departed the U. S. for her 5th Mediterranean cruise returning on March 12, 1959. On March 31, 1959 redesignated CVS-15 for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and operated off the east coast of the U. S. Between October 1960 until March 1961 upgraded part of Fleet Rehabilitation and modernization program with a new bow radar and Combat Information Center (CIC).

During July 1961, served as the recovery ship for NASA Mercury Project capsule Liberty Bell 7 astronaut Virgil Grissom from the Atlantic Ocean. In February 1962 recovery ship for NASA Friendship 7 astronaut John Glenn from the Atlantic Ocean who was picked up by USS Noa (DD-841) then flown by helicopter to Randolph.

During 1962 made her 6th Mediterranean and returned at the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis and operated in the Caribbean in October to November 1962, encountering Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine B-59 off Cuba and made a depth charge attack to force the sub to the surface and the captain prepared to fire a nuclear-tipped torpedo at the carrier, but did not.

Afterwards, returned to Norfolk for an overhaul and continued to patrol the Atlantic Ocean for the next five years and made two additional cruises to the Mediterranean Sea and patrolled the east coast of the U. S. and Caribbean Sea. On April 1, 1964 at night off Cape Henry, Virginia the no. 3 elevator failed and tore loose resulting in the loss of a S-2D Tracker and five crew with two lost at sea.

On August 7, 1968 the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that 49 warships including Randolph would be made inactivate to reduce the Navy's costs. On February 13, 1969 decommissioned and placed into reserve status and on June 1, 1973 stricken off the Navy list.

Fate
On May 24, 1975 sold by the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service to Boston Metals for $605,999.99 and broken up at South Kearny, NJ for scrap.

References
Naval History and Heritage Command "From Dam Neck to Okinawa: A Memoir of Antiaircraft Training in World War II" by Robert Wallace pages 13, 21, 51 (photo)
(Page 21) "On the evening of the 11th [March 1945] from the heights of Sky Control where, as a navy buff, I climbed just to enjoy the sights, the lights of great warships stretched out as far as the horizon. It was an awesome spectacle, one to stir even the most unimaginative soul. A bit later that evening, to a young Japanese flyer it must have seemed awesome at first, the great dome of light in the skies over Ulithi, and then the vast sea of brilliantly lighted ships spread out before his gaze. He had come a long way, his navigation impeccable. And he was unexpected. But he had bad luck in his approach to the target he chose, Larry Springer's carrier Randolph. Although great numbers of men were gathered to watch a movie, he crashed toward the rear of the flight deck where there were very few people and relatively little he could damage. While the ensuing explosion was spectacular, it was soon extinguished. When I went on board the next day to check on Larry, the damage was not easy to see. Years later Gus Greanias wrote me, 'You mention the Randolph at Ulithi, I was there visiting Larry Springer and some Dam Neckers when the kamikaze hit. We were at a movie and they never called general quarters.' But it was a warning of Japanese resolve and a harbinger of events at Okinawa."
Naval History and Heritage Command "Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil The Story of Fleet Logistics Afloat in the Pacific During World War II" by Worrall Reed Carter pages 76, 291, 297 (photo), 300, 325-326
(Page 300) "The largest single job undertaken was repair of the flight deck of the carrier Randolph. While the fleet was at Ulithi preparing for another strike, on the evening of 11 March [1945] the Randolph was hit by a large suicide plane carrying bombs. The plane penetrated to the after hangar space, demolishing about 4,000 square feet of flight deck, all shops in the area, the oxygen and carbon dioxide charging stations, made a large hole in the main deck, and damaged the CPO quarters below. As soon as the fires were extinguished, repair personnel started work around the clock. Nest morning the heavy-hull repair ship Jason was ordered alongside. Admiral Spruance had requested that repairs be made at Ulithi because of the likelihood of the urgent need of the carrier. The magnitude of the job is indicated by the amount of materials used: 30 tons of steel plate, 20 tons of 12-inch I beams, 1,500 pounds of welding electrodes, 7,500 feet of flight deck lumber. Some of the steel beams were obtained from a Japanese sugar mill dismantled on Saipan. Nineteen days after the attack of the ship was ready for sea."
NavSource - USS Randolph (CV-15)

The Hook Magazine Fall 2003 article by Jim Sawruk and Bob Cressman
Thanks to Jim Sawruk for additional information

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Last Updated
March 11, 2020

 

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