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CV-41 MIDWAY class

The USS Midway was commissioned on September 10, 1945. Named for the Battle of Midway, the carrier was the lead ship of her class, three of which were completed, with another three ships cancelled. These fleet carrier with heavier armor and armament than contemporary fleet carriers, the class was initially designated Large Carriers (CVB) -- the origin of designation may be "Battle Carrier". These 1,000-foot-long warships were once the largest carriers afloat, though at 45,000 tons they had a displacement about two-thirds that of the largest contemporary battleships. When operating at sea the ships were refueled every three days, burning approximately 100,000 gallons of oil a day. When first built, the USS Midway's bow was open to the sea, and was enclosed in 1957 as part of a major overhaul. The carriers of the Midway class, which eventually displacing more than 67,000 tons fully loaded following modernization, carried a crew of 4,500 and up to 70 aircraft.

During World War II the names of individuals were once again assigned to aircraft carriers. The large aircraft carrier (CVB 42) of the Midway class was named Franklin D. Roosevelt soon after the President's death in the spring of 1945. That name was suggested to then-President Harry S Truman by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal [who would himself later be honored in the naming of our first "supercarrier," Forrestal (CVA 59)]. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first aircraft carrier to be named for an American statesman; Franklin and Hancock, wartime Essex-class fleet carriers, honored the former Navy ships of those names and not, as many think, the statesmen themselves.

In a demonstration of carrier long-range attack capabilities, a P2V-3C Neptune took off from USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB 42) off the coast of Jacksonville, FL on 07 February 1950 . The Neptune flew over Charleston, SC, the Bahamas, the Panama Canal, up the coast of Central America, over Mexico, and landed on Feb. 8, at San Francisco's Municipal Airport. The flight, covering 5,060 miles in 25 hrs. 59 min., was the longest ever made from a carrier deck.

In September 1946 USS Franklin Delano Roosevelt (CVB-42) and 4 escorts visited Greece to underscore U.S. support for the Greek Government which faced a Communist insurgency. Franklin D. Roosevelt operated until July 1947, when she entered Norfolk Naval Ship Yard for a prolonged overhaul, during which she received improvements to her equipment and facilities. She was reclassified CVA-42 on 1 October 1952. In February 1957, Franklin D. Roosevelt sailed to the Gulf of Maine for cold weather tests of catapults, aircraft, and other carrier equipment, including the "Regulus" guided missile. A second rebuild cancelled due to cost, the FDR received an austere overhaul in 1968 to correct some of the ship's most serious deficiencies. The ships was sold for scrapping 11 April 1978 and scrapped at Kearny NJ in 1980.

Coral Sea (CVB-43) was launched 02 April 1946 by Newport News Shipbuilding, and initially featured a smaller gun battery compared to other ships of the class. THe Coral Sea received an extensive reconstruction at Bremerton Navy Yard between 1957 and 1960, though a proposed second modernization was cancelled. In 1975 USS CORAL SEA (CV-43) participated in the rescue operation of the MAYAGUEZ and the Kon Tang Island Operation. In 1986 she supported air strikes against targets in Libya. Beginning in the late 1970's the ship was subject of replacement proposals, but she continued in service until 1989, at the start of the post-Cold War force level drawdown. CORAL SEA had steamed more than 2 million miles in over four decades of active service. Life International, a non-profit organization, obtained CORAL SEA (CV-43) from the Navy in 1990 for 15 dollars under a plan to use the ship as a shelter for homeless residents of Baltimore. The aircraft carrier was scrapped at the Seawitch Marine Salvage Company at the Fairfield Marine Terminal in the outer harbor during 1994. The top of the ship`s mast was removed at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to ensure the carrier would have enough clearance to pass under the Chesapeake Bay bridges as it was towed to Baltimore.

The ability to adapt to new technologies, systems, platforms, and operational needs is nowhere better exemplified than in the design and 50-year operational history of the USS Midway (CV-41). The Navy Research Lab performed tests of captured German V-2 rockets, and launched one from the deck of USS Midway on 06 September 1947. The successful firing was the first launch of a large bombardment rocket from a ship at sea. Test pilots were exposed to a simulated angled deck on the USS Midway in 1952. Midway sailed for overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Ship yard on 28 June 1955, where she was out of commission until 30 September 1957. She was modernized and such new innovations as an enclosed bow and an angled flight deck were installed. She entered San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard 11 February 1966 for extensive modernization, for which she was placed in Reserve on 15 February 1966. She recommissioned in early 1970. During an overhaul in 1986 in Japan new bulges were added to improve freeboard and seakeeping. The bulges actually made the problem worse, making flight operations impossible in 6-10 foot seas. This problem was never corrected.

Designed during World War II, in 1945 this "flattop" initially operated piston-driven propeller aircraft, yet returned from her last deployment in 1991 with the Navy's most modern, multipurpose strike-fighters. Her original axial-deck design was modified to an angled-deck layout, her original hydraulic catapults were replaced with more powerful steam catapults, and the most basic electronics replaced by advanced sensors and communications equipment. Her air wing included four squadrons of F/A-18 Hornets and two squadrons of A-6 Intruders (a strike capability of 68 attack aircraft). While unable to operate either the F-14 Tomcat or S-3 Viking, MIDWAY was still an amazing and powerful national asset over forty years after her commissioning.

Serving her country for 47 years, more than 200,000 American veterans served aboard Midway. In that time, the USS Midway saw service off Vietnam, in the Persian Gulf and in a number of other conflicts and crises. The Independence (CV 62) relieved USS Midway based in Yokosuka, Japan, in 1991 as the Navy's only forward based aircraft carrier. After being the first aircraft carrier forward deployed for 17 years in Yokosuka, Midway returned to North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego for decommissioning in April of 1992.

The former USS Midway, moved to the Navy's mothball fleet in Bremerton, Washington, was available as a donation. Eligible recipients included any US state, possession, municipal government, or non-profit entity. The recipient of the aircraft carrier was required to maintain the ship as a non-moving museum or memorial. The San Diego Carrier Museum refurbished and converted the former USS Midway aircraft carrier into a unique, interactive educational and entertainment complex, featuring the excitement of carrier aviation. Opening in late 2001, it includes exhibits, activities, programs and attractions for all walks of life, and play an important role in the continued revitalization of downtown San Diego. The Midway is located at Navy Pier, at the foot of San Diego's revitalized downtown district.



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