USS Galveston, USS Bainbridge and USS Saratoga

USS Galveston, USS Bainbridge and USS Saratoga

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USS Galveston, USS Bainbridge and USS Saratoga

From left to right this picture shows the Denver class cruiser USS Galveston (C17), the Bainbridge class destroyer USS Bainbridge (DD-1) and the armoured cruiser USS Saratoga (ACR-2) (originally named USS New York). Although all three were considered to be quite elderly by 1917, they all played a part in the First World War. This picture is dated to 1914-16.

USS Saratoga (CV-3)

Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited: 05/14/2019 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

USS Saratoga (CV-3) was identical to her sister (and lead ship of the class) the USS Lexington (CV-2). "Sara" was actually commissioned before (one month) than "Lady Lex" due to her keel being laid down some six months earlier, making her the second aircraft carrier to be built by the US Navy. However, the Navy had other plans for the Lexington-class as she was originally originated in a 1916 building program to comprise six battle cruisers - these to be named after the Navy's first six frigates.

The concept of "part-cruiser, part-battleship" was a new idea for the American navy. The six-ship class would have had a main battery of 10x14-inch guns and displace 34,300 tons while able to make 35 knots. The concept was to out-class foreign cruisers and utilize "hit-and-run" tactics against the "super dreadnoughts" of World War 1. On paper, a Lexington-class cruiser could hold its own against super dreadnoughts like the German Bayern-class with her own 8x15-inch-guns, the class itself displacing 32,000 tons and able to make 22 knots. The Lexington C-1 class would be able to run rings around the Bayern-class and could, if built, cross the "T" at will. The negatives for the proposed Lexington C-1 class were reduced armor to make for more inherent speed using no less than five smoke stacks (with their applicable boiler systems) above the armored deck.

By the end of World War 1, and still a vision only realized on paper, the C-1 class gun battery was revised to 8x16-inch guns and more armor meant less speed. Also, the design was trimmed to two smoke stacks and not the original five and the next logical step was to move the boilers below the armored decking. The six C-class ships were laid down starting in August of 1920 into 1921. The Washington Naval Treaty - a treaty agreed upon by major world powers after World War I (ironically to include the Empire of Japan and Germany) - restricted shipbuilding of major warships and, thusly, all construction on the six American cruisers was halted in early 1922.

The Washington Naval Treaty only allowed for the conversion of two aircraft carriers from the Lexington-class cruisers already under construction. The keel that was already laid down in Camden, New Jersey became the USS Saratoga while the USS Lexington was built at Quincy, Massachusetts. The keels for the proposed USS Constellation, USS Ranger, USS Constitution and USS United States were ultimately scrapped. While converting the two carriers and trying to subvert some of the restrictions of the Treaty, the US Navy Department finagled that you could add up to 3,000 tons of anti-aircraft defenses to a capital ship - which carriers were so classified. It was only fitting that the Japanese Empire so too used this clause when constructing their grand navy of World War 2. Being that the Treaty restricted maximum displacement at 33,000 tons, Sara officially displaced no more than that when empty but actually displaced closer to 43,500 tons when under a full combat load. At the time of her construction, the Saratoga cost American taxpayers $43,856,492.59.

In comparison, the only U.S. Navy carrier in service then was launched in 1913 - the 542-foot, 19,360-ton USS Langley (CV-1). Langley was a converted collier (coal) ship that carried 34 aircraft. On the other hand, USS Saratoga (CV-3) had a steel hull and her extended flight deck became 888-feet long. The hull was not changed from the original cruiser's design of 830-feet and benefited both Sara's speed and her maneuverability. The flight deck, as designed, measured 874 feet in length and was welded to the steel hull, covered over with wood planks to reduce overall weight. The deck was 111 feet, 9 inches wide while her draft was 31 feet. The wood planking was sealed with caulk and then painted over.

With the hull partially built under the cruiser guise and to save money on construction costs, the characteristics of the carrier had to conform to the original hull shape (and not the other way around). The dimensions inside the hull had to allow for a large aircraft hanger connected to munitions spaces that all had to fit neatly around the larger turbines and applicable boilers. The original funnel design was scrapped to allow for a starboard side funnel to sit behind a large island superstructure. However, this collection of massive weight all along one side resulted in the ship having a slight list to her starboard. The flight deck was long enough for the aircraft of the day but only wide enough to launch and retrieve one aircraft at a time. By design, Sara could accommodate 90 aircraft but normally carried 83. To move the aircraft to the hanger below and back up to the flight deck, two deck elevators were installed. As the flight deck was shorter than a typical runway, launching aircraft were assisted by a flywheel catapult.

Saratoga was fitted with eight General Electric turbo electric drive engines, two for each propeller shaft. Combined they produced upwards of 180,000 shaft horsepower able to generate 32.25 knots (at least on paper) but, during her trials, she was able to make an impressive 34.99 knots - though it remained unknown if this stat was taken with a full load aboard. To produce that power the ship had 16 x White & Foster oil-burning boilers to produce the required steam. To vent the gas and smoke, the uptakes were routed to one larger flat vent that was 105 feet long making an 80-foot high funnel. She could cruise for 10,000 nautical miles at 10 knots. Her crew consisted of 2,212 officers and enlisted personnel plus aircrew during peace time but, in 1942, she had around 3,300 crew members not including the air wing. As such, crew quarters were improvised and crowded.

The thought at the time was to arm Sara for self-protection as a capital ship. At launching, her main armament was four double mounts of 8-inch, 200 mm / 55 caliber guns and twelve single-mounted 5-inch Mk 10 130 mm / 25 caliber guns. Secondary weaponry was relatively insignificant with eight single mounted .050 caliber guns. This arrangement was thought to sufficient protection against enemy surface ships, the thought being that Saratoga would not require an escort screen at all. However, at their core, aircraft carriers were not designed to engage surface ships head-on so the 8-inch guns were not entirely a practical solution. It was only after some wartime experience that her entire armament platform was reviewed and revised. Additional defense included her belt armor. Along the water line, this was 5-inches-to-7-inches thick. To protect the island, 3-inch flat armor was used and over the steering gear, 4.5-inches of slope armor was mounted.

When Sara was launched the Philadelphia Evening Star wrote: "There is no counterpart for this American first-line carrier in any other navy. ". Sara received her new crew and aircraft squadrons and steamed from Philadelphia on January 6th, 1928 to begin her "shake down" cruise in the Caribbean. The USS Saratoga joined the fleet with USS Lexington and, compared to the USS Langley, they were colossal vessels. According to noted military historian, Norman Friedman, the USS Saratoga and her sister ship were examples of carriers as noteworthy as the British HMS Dreadnought was to battleship classification some 25 years before. The class was the standard that aircraft carrier development in all navies across the world should emulate Sara and her sister ship were faster and carried more aircraft than any aircraft carrier in the world at that time - the Imperial Japanese Navy, of course, took note.

The Navy and her first carrier pilots - "the Langley pilots" as they were called - were developing carrier tactics with the three carriers they had. Their training was being done within a battleship-minded Navy at the time. By now, however, the world was a changing place. What types of ships would a carrier task force comprise of? What positions would they take within the task force and who be placed in command of such a task force? Career officers in the US Navy that went to Annapolis were schooled in battleship naval tactics the dominance of aircraft and carriers seemed a distant second at the time.

Saratoga spent most of her time with fleet training exercises designed to outline a defining role for carriers in future warfare. Both CV-2 and CV-3 joined the fleet with mock attacks on the Panama Canal and Pearl Harbor. Saratoga helped to develop fast-attack carrier tactics that used destroyers and cruisers as a screen though made no use of current battleships for they proved too slow for a mobile force. Officers who understood the carrier knew they were high value enemy targets and fleet exercises continually developed tactics to shield the carriers.

Between 1931 and 1941 Saratoga was stationed at the San Diego Naval Base in California. Her home ocean-side port allowed for families to be housed nearby and normal fueling and replenishment of stores would take place dock side. For normal overhauls, Sara would steam up the coast to Bremerton Navy Yard in Washington State. Saratoga remained in Hawaiian waters until 1933 as Japan had begun to attack ships in Chinese waters. Sara returned to the Caribbean for exercises in 1934 and returned to the Pacific by way of the Panama Canal for fleet problems in that area during 1935. She returned to San Diego and trained back in Hawaiian waters through 1938 and during Fleet Problem XIX she launched a surprise attack against Pearl Harbor from 100 miles off Oahu and caught the fleet unaware, ironically a lesson soon forgotten.

On January 6, 1941 she entered the Bremerton Navy Yard for an overdue modernization. Her flight deck was widened and remolded forward. A torpedo blister was added on the starboard side. She was fitted with an improved first generation RCA CXAM-1 radar system. This radar could be used to detect not only the range of incoming enemy aircraft but the altitude and number of planes in the flight group. To this point, most surface ships were able to detect a single plane at 50 miles and some at 100 miles. Large surface ships could be detected up to 15 miles away. Her refit was completed in April 1941 and she remained in Hawaiian waters until her scheduled dry dock refit in November 1941 at Puget Sound, Bremerton Navy Yard. She returned to San Diego on December 7th, 1941.

Saratoga received word of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl and she was quickly loaded with stores, extra ammunition and bombs along with additional crew members. Key to the Japanese attack was to catch the American carriers at the docks, but this was not so. Additionally, oil stores were left untouched by Japanese airmen. While dealing a major blow to the Pacific fleet, Japan left America's most vital assets - her aircraft carriers - unharmed. She could claim a tactical victory of numbers but not a strategic one of force.

Saratoga got under way on the 8th with a Marine air squadron but these boys would be diverted to reinforce Wake Island which came under attack by Japanese Naval forces. Back at Pearl, the cargo ship Tangier was loaded with supplies and troops and the fleet oilier Neches was made ready. They were joined by a screen of destroyers and headed for Wake. Sara docked at Pearl on December 15th and, after refueling, she left same day. Faster than the cargo ship and the oilier, Sara caught up to the convoy on the 17th and all made way to Wake Island. However, the convoy being slow and the destroyers needing to be refueled delayed the force even more. On the 21st word reached Pearl that Japanese aircraft were attacking the island en masse and troops were coming ashore so Saratoga and the convoy were recalled back to Hawaii and Wake Island fell the next day.

Naval Operations kept Saratoga in Hawaiian waters in anticipation of another Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which was not to be. She was ordered to join USS Enterprise and headed back out to sea. While en route on January 11th, 1942, Saratoga was spotted by Japanese submarine I-6. In command of I-6 was Lt.Cdr. Inaba who fired 3 of his Type 89 torpedoes from 4,700 yards out, striking Sara with one torpedo amidships on her port side. Three boiler rooms took on more than 1,000 gallons of water killing six firemen. The ship listed to starboard with the extra weight and lost headway. Using her pumps to stabilize the ship, the crew was able to make 16 knots heading back to Pearl under her own power. In port, her 8-inch guns were removed to bolster the shore installations across Hawaii - they proved essentially useless against aircraft when onboard the Saratoga.

After minor repairs at Pearl Harbor the Saratoga proceeded to the Bremerton Navy Yard for permanent repairs. It was becoming obvious Sara needed additional anti-aircraft protection so the 12 x 5-inch Mk10 130mm 25 caliber guns and the 2 x quad mounts of 1.1 inch machine guns we replaced by 5 x single-mounted 5-inch, 38 caliber guns along with 9 x quad mounts of 40mm AA Bofors guns. Additionally 5 x quad mounts of 20mm AA guns and single 20mm AA guns were added. She left Washington State and arrived in San Diego in late May 1942 to start training a new group of pilots on take offs and landings from carrier flight decks. Saratoga received information concerning the upcoming Midway action she began to load supplies and armament and wait for her escort screen to assemble. On June 1st the flotilla steamed for Pearl Harbor and arrived on June 7th to fuel, missing the Battle of Midway that had taken place on June 6-7, 1942. USS Hornet and USS Enterprise needed Sara's replacement planes so she transferred 34 of her aircraft and some of her airmen on June 11th and returned to Pearl. Sara took on additional Navy and Army aircraft and ferried them to Midway Island to bolster the defenses.

Saratoga was chosen as the flagship of Rear Admiral F.J. Fletcher and would be the only carrier assigned to the upcoming Guadalcanal campaign. The Fiji islands were chosen to be the staging area and provided a rehearsal beach for the assault troops and the carrier aircraft. Sara's aircraft opened the assault on the Canal at 5am on August 7th, 1942. Her aircraft bombed and strafed the beach along with the airstrip still under construction. Sara's aircraft shot down a number of Japanese planes and, more importantly, kept them from finding the carrier. Admiral Fletcher withdrew the carrier force for refueling east of the Solomon's. That night, a strong Japanese naval force attacked the fleet at Guadalcanal and sunk four US Navy cruisers while the balance of the US ships withdrew, leaving the Marines on Guadalcanal stranded without all the supplies scheduled to be delivered. Sara was stationed in the Solomon's doing what she could and was further supported by USS Enterprise.

The battle developed along a 12-hour line - the Japanese Navy ruled the night, sending ships down the slot while shelling Guadalcanal at will. During the day, the US Navy, with Sara and the Big E in tow and supported by their screen, would patrol the skies and seas, looking for Japanese aircraft and ships to engage, bomb and strafe. On August 23rd, 1942 Sara's dive bombers and torpedo planes sunk the Japanese carrier Ryuio and damaged the seaplane tender Chitose. The Japanese aircraft were desperately looking for Sara but found USS Enterprise instead, slightly damaging her in subsequent attacks. Aircraft from the American force were again launched and found a Japanese troop transport force heading for the Canal. With the Ryuio sunk, enemy air strength in the region was reduced so the Allied presence forced the transports to withdraw.

Two days later while on patrol, Sara was struck by a torpedo along her starboard blister, the torpedo launched by submarine I-26 . This resulted in minimal damage to the hull and flooding was localized in one fire room with no loss of life. However, the turbo electric system was damaged by short circuitry and this left Sara dead in the water. Admiral Fletcher decided to fly most of his aircraft to Guadalcanal while she was towed by the cruiser CA-36 to Tongatabu for minor repairs and then on to Pearl Harbor on September 21, 1942. While she was away, her aircraft landing on Guadalcanal and continued the fight.

Sara completed her repairs and proceeded to the Fiji area, arriving on December 5th, 1942, and operated in the Eastern Solomons for the next 12 months. In July 1943, Sara was joined by the British carrier HMS Victorious arrived and, in October, so too did the light cruiser USS Princeton to help cover the troop landings on Bougainville November 1st . Along with the landing, a secondary mission was to destroy the Japanese Army air field on Buka Island. On November 2th Rear Admiral Sherman received word of a Japanese naval build up at Rabaul that would threaten the beachhead. A plan was devised to strike the stronghold at Rabaul - considered to be Japan's second most heavily defended base in the Pacific next to Truk. The Rabaul attack would be an "Army and Navy" show along with ships from the nations of New Zealand and Australia. Task force 38, with Saratoga screened by Princeton, moved to within striking distance off of Rabaul on November 5th. Using bad weather as cover, Sara launched 90 aircraft some 100 miles out from the target zone. These aircraft eluded Japanese radar and openly begun attacking the enemy ships in the harbor.

Six cruisers and three destroyers were bombed and damaged to different degrees. Dauntless dive bombers dropped 500-lb bombs at the IJN Atago with no direct hits. However, the near-misses caused heavy damage resulting in the death of the ship's Captain and 22 Japanese crewmen The IJN Mogami was also hit by a 500lb bomb and was seen burning, recording 19 crew deaths. IJN Maya was struck by one bomb that caused serious damage near the engine room with 70 total casualties aboard. The IJN Agano was impaired by the attack with one 500lb bomb exploding by the ship, damaging one gun and resulting in the death of one crewman. IJN Takao had taken two direct hits by 500lb bombs resulting in heavy damage and killing 23 sailors. IJN Chikuma was attacked by multiple aircraft that caused some engine damage. The surprise attack was a success and many of the Japanese warships left Rabaul for Truk for much needed repairs. However, the 5th Army Air Force stationed on Green Island, northwest of Bougainville, also struck Rabaul soon after the raid by Saratoga's aircraft. General Kenney sent 27 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers along with 58 P-38 as fighter escort.

To try and eliminate Rabaul as a viable base, on November 11th, the US navy sent additional ships including the carriers USS Independence, USS Essex and USS Bunker Hill. Task Force 38 with Saratoga launched hundreds of aircraft to strike at Rabaul's shipping and port facilities. The cruiser IJN Agano was struck by torpedoes and was left listing. The Japanese Army aircraft stationed at Rabaul launched many sorties with 120 aircraft defending the Atoll against the American planes and searched for the carrier forces in vane, losing 35 aircraft in the process. The outcome of the battles netted the Allies six IJN cruisers heavily damaged and 52 aircraft destroyed. The American navy lost 10 carrier aircraft and 17 land-based bombers. Saratoga had been the primary warship in the battle.

After Rabaul, Sara and the cruiser Princeton were released from Task Force 35 and designated as the "Relief Carrier Group" assigned to the offensive in the Gilberts. The first target for her air wings was the island of Nauru on November 19th 1943. She then provided cover for liberty ships carrying troops to Makin and Tarawa. Saratoga had been on station in the Pacific for a year now and needed an overdue overhaul. Thusly, she arrived in San Francisco in December of 1943. The funnel was reduced by 15 feet to help reduce her profile silhouette and allow for less aircraft traffic obstruction. The bridge was opened up for outside views and an additional 16 x 4 quad Bofors gun mounts were added, giving her a total of 25 x quad anti-aircraft Bofors 40mm gun mounts. The original tripod mast was replaced by a single pole mast with the new RK-1 radar. Six months later, she received additional radar screens for aircraft detection attached to the funnel and two hydraulic catapults replacing the original flywheel catapult. Also a portside torpedo blister was installed.

Leaving San Francisco, Sara arrived back at Pearl on January 7th, 1944 and began a training schedule which included many new crew assignments. It was not long before the Navy called on Sara to assemble with two light carriers, the USS Langley (CVL-27) and USS Princeton (CVL-23), to provide a strong airpower force towards the Marshall Islands. This carrier force had 180 aircraft combined and struck the islands of Wotie and Taroa for 72 hours and then attacked the main island of Eniwetok for five more days ultimately covering the beach landings on January 17th . The Marines had some rough going of it so the carrier force flew CAP (Combat Air Patrol) until February 28th.

Saratoga was classified as the third carrier built but she launched as second in her group. The Navy Department, by 1944, maintained thirty active aircraft carriers and chose the oldest serving carrier for duty with the British Navy in the Far East - the USS Saratoga. With a destroyer screen, Sara rendezvoused with the British Fleet consisting of the carrier HMS Illustrious, four battleships and a force of escorts. On March 31st, 1944, a French battleship joined the fleet and the Saratoga commenced training the force to work as a carrier task force. Sara's pilots passed their war-fighting experiences on to British pilots as much as possible. The force steamed to Sumatra and started the campaign by attacking the port of Sabing. The Japanese were unaware of the fleet and the carriers launched their aircraft, attacking the port and shore installations while the battleships destroyed the ships in port. A second mission was decided upon as the Fleet steamed to Soerabaja in Java and, once again, the Japanese were not prepared - the port was ultimately decimated. Sara's "training" was over and the British fleet continued to operate in Far East waters confronting the enemy - now with newfound knowledge and experience thanks to Sara.

Saratoga returned to the United States on June 10th, 1944, and was in dock for repair and afterwards reported to Pearl in September of 1944 to train carrier night-fighters alongside the carrier USS Ranger (CV-22). In January, Saratoga steamed with USS Enterprise to conduct night flying missions against Iwo Jima. Upon arrival, Saratoga was assigned CAP fleet duties as the other carriers attacked Iwo. Sara continued sorties and was attacked herself on February 21st, 1945, hit by 5 bombs in three minutes and another attack scoring an additional bomb hit. Sara's forward deck and hanger deck were damaged and 123 of her crew were killed. Under her own power, she arrived at Puget Sound on March 16th, 1945. After repairs, she returned to Pearl to train and officially stood down on September 6th, 1945, when Japan officially surrendered to the Allies. USS Saratoga received a total of 7 Battle Stars for service in World War 2 and held the record of total aircraft landings on an aircraft carrier at 98,549 for over 17 years.

After the war, Sara - like most every other USN vessel - was assigned to transport American veterans back to the United States under the "Magic Carpet Service" name. She brought home 29,204 service men and women, more than any other ship in the program. Sara was the oldest carrier in USN service at the time and, thusly, was deemed surplus and assigned as a test ship at the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb test on July 1st, 1946. Sara survived the air burst with only minor damage, showing her sturdy Yankee construction through and through. On July 25th a second underwater blast occurred with Sara battle loaded and just 300 yards away from the lethal blast range. After the blast, Sara's hull was broken and, within 7.5 hours, she sunk by the head and was struck from the active Naval Register list on August 15th, 1946.

After shakedown off the New England coast and in Chesapeake Bay, Grayson joined Gwin, Meredith and Monssen in Destroyer Division 22 and on 28 August became temporary flagship of Destroyer Squadron 11 operating in the Caribbean from Guantánamo Bay. Two months later, she was transferred with her division to the North Atlantic patrol, operating between Argentia, Newfoundland and Hvalfjord, Iceland. Then, after ten months of this dreary duty, the division sailed with Hornet (CV 8) from Norfolk through the Panama Canal, clearing San Francisco on 2 April with Lt. Col. &ldquoJimmy&rdquo Doolittle&rsquos squadron of B-25s to bomb Japan.

Returning with the task force to Pearl Harbor on 25 April, the &ldquoG&rdquo continued on to Mare Island for repairs but was back at Pearl Harbor 15 July to escort Enterprise (CV 6) and Hornet to the South Pacific for the commencement of the Guadalcanal campaign. Thus began eight months of operation in the Solomon Islands area with highlights including the following:

  • On 24 August, operating in Enterprise&rsquos Task Force 16 under RAdm. Kinkaid with North Carolina, Portland, Atlanta and destroyers Balch, Maury, Benham, Ellet and Monssen during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, Grayson shot down two planes and damaged a third.
  • The next day, joining Saratoga&rsquos Task Force 11 under RAdm. Fletcher, Grayson expended all her depth charges and claimed but was not credited with sinking a Japanese submarine.
  • On 18 October, after an extended search with Gwin and Seminole (AT 65), Grayson located and rescued 75 survivors from Meredith and Vireo (AT 144), who had been adrift in the Coral Sea for three days following Meredith&rsquos sinking.
  • In February 1943, Grayson came under night attack from torpedo planes off San Cristobal but was not damaged.

In early 1943, DesDiv 22 survivors Gwin and Grayson were reassigned to depleted Destroyer Squadron 12, In April, however, Grayson again returned to the west coast for overhaul, thus missing much of the New Georgia operation. She arrived back in the Solomon Islands only in time to operate with ships of DesRon 21 in anti-barge sweeps up the &ldquoSlot,&rdquo destroying 4&ndash6 Japanese barges on the evacuation route from Kolombangara on 30 September&ndash3 October.

On 16 December, Grayson returned to Puget Sound Navy Yard for a third overhaul then from March through August 1944 was attached to a reconstituted DesDiv 24 with Wilkes, Nicholson and Swanson, operating in the Solomon, Caroline, and Marshall Islands and supporting General MacArthur&rsquos landings in the Admiralty Islands and jungle campaign in Dutch New Guinea.

On 1 September, Grayson was reassigned to Task Group 38 for carrier strikes against the Palau Islands prior to the landings there. On the 14th, with DesRon 12 flagship Farenholt and McCalla, she bombarded a radar station at Cape San Augustin at the mouth of Mindanao&rsquos Davao Gulf, the first such action against a target in the Philippine Islands.

In October, the task force also struck Okinawa and the Philippines. On the 14th, Grayson was in formation with McCalla escorting cruisers Boston (CA 69) and Houston (CL 81) off Formosa, deep within range of enemy aircraft, when Houston was torpedoed. While Boston took her under tow, Grayson, Cowell and Boyd conducted rescue operations&mdashthe &ldquoG&rdquo picking up 194 men&mdashand escorted the slow-moving &ldquoCripDiv&rdquo or &ldquoBaitDiv&rdquo until relieved two days later.

For seven months thereafter, the &ldquoG&rdquo operated from Saipan on radar picket and lifeguard duty before returning to the West Coast for a fourth time, arriving at Seattle in June 1945.

Overhauled one last time, Grayson took departure again for the war zone but arrived at Pearl Harbor only on 1 September. Then, after only brief training, she sailed for the east coast, passing through the Panama Canal on 8 October and standing into Charleston on 16 October. There on Navy Day, 27 October, she hosted over 5,000 visitors there too she remained until decommissioned 4 February 1947 and placed in reserve in the 16th Fleet. Later she was transferred to Orange, TX, then to Galveston where she was stricken from the navy list on 1 June 1971 and eventually scrapped for $73,000.

Grayson earned 13 service stars for World War II operations, during which she sustained only one fatality (when a 5-inch projectile exploded). She was also named in wording for a Navy Unit Commendation for Task Force 38.

This Day In History: When Israel Attacked The USS Liberty (1967)

During the Six-Day War, between Israel and several Arab nations. Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats mistakenly attack the USS Liberty. They attacked the ship in international waters off Egypt&rsquos coast. The intelligence ship was clearly flagged as an American vessel and was only lightly armed. It was attacked first by Israeli jets that fired napalm and missiles at the ship. The Israeli jets were French-made Mirage jet fighters.

USS Liberty and USS Saratoga

The USS Liberty attempted to call for assistance, but the Israeli were able to block the radio signals. The American crew did not know who was attacking them and some believed that aircraft from the Soviet Union had attacked them. They had been engaged in a routine intelligence gathering mission in the Eastern Mediterranean. Thier mission was a top-secret one and their whereabouts was only known to a select few.

Despite coming under a sustained attack, the Liberty was eventually able to make radio contact with the American carrier, Saratoga. It immediately dispatched a squadron of planes to defend the USS Liberty, which was badly hit by this stage.

It looked as if the American planes would attack the Israeli aircraft, but orders came from Washington, ordering them back to their carrier.

The USS Liberty had sustained nine dead after the Israeli air attacks. The Israeli navy then launched several torpedoes at the ship. Several hit the ship and did a great deal of damage. 34 Americans were killed and 171 were wounded in the attack.

The Liberty under attack (1967)

The Captain managed to save many lives by his heroism and the number of deaths could have been much greater without his brave decisions. The Liberty managed to make it back to a safe port, escorted by the USS Saratoga

The attack on the USS Liberty was kept a secret for many years. It was very embarrassing to both sides. Israel and America were both allies and had a close political relationship. Israel later apologized for the unprovoked attack and offered $7 million in compensation to the survivors and the families of the dead.

Israel claimed that the attack was a mistake and they believed that they USS Liberty had been an Egyptian vessel. The Israelis pointed out that the Americans had not informed them of the presence of the USS Liberty and if they had, the incident would never have happened.

Many of the survivors do not believe the Israelis and argue that the Israelis deliberately sought to sink and destroy the ship. The ship was gathering intelligence on the fighting during the Six-Day War. Some believe that the Israelis had become concerned that the Americans had learned some of their secrets, especially their plan to seize the Golan Heights.

The Israeli&rsquos attack was designed to prevent the American government from stopping the assault on the Golan Heights, which was Syrian territory. Many historians accept the Israeli view and that the attack on the ship was a tragic mistake.

The Captain of the USS Liberty was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour for his heroism during the attack. The Israeli attack on the Liberty did not do any lasting harm to the America and Israeli alliance, which remains strong to this day.

Welcome to the USS Galveston Shipmates Association Website

We are an all volunteer Association dedicated to serving the crews of the USS Galveston CLG3 and their families. We will continually strive to build a internet presence to honor the memory of the sailors who sailed aboard the twelve years the Galveston was in service, and would encourage all who sailed on her to become an association member. This site will never share any information you provide for profit.

Shipmates Association Officers

Earl Fisher

Bob Bakos

Keith Hedley

Frank "Doc" Garrett

Art Tilley
Asst. Charlie Fritz

Gal's Auxiliary Association Officers

Laura Fisher

Jane Bakos

Becky Gober

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Rest in Peace, Soupy

It is with great sadness that I announce that Soupy is gone.

He passed away a little after 4 am (12 -22) and we got the call from Cindy this morning around 4:45.

Yesterday he had a turn for the worse. He was carrying a 103 degree fever, he doctors said that his heart was only working at 10% capacity. They reviewed his living will and in that he had stated that he did not want to be kept alive by artificial means. They removed that vent that was helping him breath and though he could not breath without it for more than 3 hours before, He lasted through the night. I will put out word of the funeral arrangements as soon as they are finalized.

All of us in the USS Galveston CLG-3 Shipmates Association owe him a debt of gratitude because without him this organization would not be what it is. Yes, he dealt us a great blow with his indiscretion near the end, but what great man hasn't had an indiscretion in his life, and he paid for it with his life as I suspected it would.

I have labeled the photo above"Soupy at the helm", he is at his desk in his glory, where he did all of those things for us (his labor of love). This picture was taken just after Joanies memorial.

Stan Shock
December 22, 2015

USS Galveston (Cruiser No. 17, later PG-31 and CL-19)

Figure 1: USS Galveston (Cruiser No. 17) underway soon after completion, circa 1905. Note that her topmasts are partially lowered. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 2: USS Galveston (Cruiser No. 17) in Manila Bay, Philippine Islands, 12 July 1908. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1975. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 3: USS Galveston (Cruiser No. 17) on the target range in Manila Bay, Philippines, in May 1916. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Fred Iverson, 1959. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 4: USS Galveston (Cruiser No. 17) in the Dewey Dry Dock, Olongapo Naval Station, Philippines, circa 1916. Courtesy of Arthur B. Furnas, 1969. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 5: Asiatic Fleet warships off Chefoo, China, circa 1914-1916. Ships present are (from left to right): USS Galveston (Cruiser No. 17), USS Bainbridge (Destroyer No. 1) and USS Saratoga (Armored Cruiser No. 2). Collection of C.A. Shively, 1978. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 6: USS Galveston (Cruiser No. 17) moored in an Italian port, circa 1919-1920. This photograph was mounted in a Christmas calendar for the year 1922, given by Arthur A. Wright to his mother in December 1921. Collection of Arthur A. Wright, 1978. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 7: USS Galveston (now CL-19) at anchor, 1922. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 8: USS Galveston (CL-19) in Central American waters, circa 1924-1927. Collection of John Spector, donated by Mrs. Minnie Spector, 1986. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 9: USS Galveston (CL-19), center, with USS Quail (AM-15), at left, probably at Corinto, Nicaragua, in December 1926 to February 1927, during the Nicaraguan revolution. Collection of John Spector, donated by Mrs. Minnie Spector, 1986. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 10: Rear Admiral Newton A. McCully, USN (center) on board USS Galveston (Cruiser No. 17) at Novorossisk, Russia, in March 1920. Note caissons for 3-inch landing force guns in the foreground. Courtesy of Lieutenant Commander Leonard Doughty, USN, 1929. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 11: USS Galveston (CL-19) view on deck, looking forward from near the stern, probably while she was operating in Central American waters, circa 1924-1927. Collection of John Spector, donated by Mrs. Minnie Spector, 1986. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 12: Members of USS Galveston’s (CL-19) crew with one of her motor launches, probably in Central American waters, circa 1924-1927. Collection of John Spector, donated by Mrs. Minnie Spector, 1986. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Named after a city in Texas, the 3,200-ton USS Galveston (Cruiser No. 17) was the fourth of six Denver class “protected cruisers,” which were ships that possessed armor protection on their main decks but not on their sides. Also known as “Peace Cruisers,” these slow, lightly-armed and armored ships were never meant for fleet actions. They were used as gunboats with the Asiatic Fleet and in the waters off Central America and South America, as well as in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Because they were needed to patrol distant waters with little support, the Denver class ships were furnished with sails to extend their cruising range while economizing on coal, but they also had large coal bunkers, which increased their range and endurance. Their steel hulls were sheathed with pine and coppered for long service in tropical waters and they possessed roomy, well-ventilated quarters for their crews to ease the discomfort of sailing in hot climates. Each Denver class warship had a two-and-one-half-inch-thick armored deck and all of them were armed with ten 5-inch rapid-fire guns. USS Galveston was built by William R. Trigg Company at Richmond, Virginia, and was commissioned 15 February 1905. She was approximately 308 feet long and 44 feet wide, had a top speed of 16 knots, and had a crew of 339 officers and men.

Galveston left Norfolk, Virginia, on 10 April 1905 and made a brief trip to her namesake city, Galveston, Texas, where she was presented with a silver service (a set of cups, dishes and utensils used for formal dinners and occasions) by the citizens of that community. Galveston returned to the east coast on 3 May and then left New York on 18 June for Cherbourg, France. Once there, Galveston participated in ceremonies commemorating the return of the remains of John Paul Jones to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. The ceremonial task force that carried John Paul Jones’ remains back to the United States arrived at Annapolis on 22 July. Galveston then assisted USS Dolphin and USS Mayflower in hosting the Russo-Japanese Peace Conference (4 to 8 August) at Oyster Bay, New York Newport, Rhode Island and finally at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The peace conference, brokered by President Theodore Roosevelt, successfully ended the bloody Russo-Japanese War and earned the President the Nobel Peace Prize.

From 13 August 1905 to 11 September 1905, Galveston carried US State Department representatives to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. After returning to the United States, Galveston left Tompkinsville, New York, on 28 December, sailed to the Mediterranean and briefly served with the US Navy’s European Squadron. She left Europe on 28 March 1906 and went via the Suez Canal to Cavite in the Philippines. As part of the Navy’s Asiatic Fleet, she visited various ports in the Philippines, China, Japan, and even Vladivostok, Russia. Galveston eventually returned to the United States and reached San Francisco, California, on 17 February 1910. She was decommissioned at the Puget Sound Navy Yard on 21 February, but was re-commissioned there on 29 June 1912. After completing a training cruise to Alaska, Galveston left Puget Sound Navy Yard on 19 September 1913 and returned to Cavite on 2 November to begin another tour of duty with the Asiatic Fleet.

While with the Asiatic Fleet, Galveston primarily escorted convoys bringing supplies and Marines from the Philippines to China. After arriving in China, Galveston and the Marines assisted the US Navy’s Yangtze River Patrol, which was used to protect American lives and property in that troubled country. Galveston also visited ports in British North Borneo and Guam. Galveston returned to San Diego on 10 January 1918, but then headed south and transited the Panama Canal 23 January. She then headed north and made a stop at Norfolk, Virginia, before arriving at her final destination of New York on 11 February, just in time to participate in the American war effort in the Atlantic during World War I.

Galveston joined Squadron 2 of the Atlantic Fleet Cruiser Force and was used for convoy escort duties and for training Naval Armed Guard crews. After escorting one convoy from New York to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Galveston escorted several convoys between New York and Norfolk. On 22 September 1918, Galveston left New York and escorted a 19-ship convoy bound for Ponta Delgada in the Azores. On the morning of 30 September, the convoy was attacked by a German submarine, U-152. The cargo ship Ticonderoga was sunk by the submarine with the loss of 213 lives. Galveston, seeing the attack on Ticonderoga, went after the German submarine and began firing her guns at it. Although the submarine got away, Galveston managed to prevent any further attacks on the convoy and the rest of the cargo ships made it safely to Ponta Delgada on 4 October 1918.

Galveston returned to Norfolk on 20 October 1918 and continued her coastal escort duties until the end of the war. In March 1919, she was sent to Europe and was used to transport American troops to northern Russia. From July 1919 to July 1920, Galveston was the station ship at Constantinople. Her primary duties included transporting refugees, Red Cross officials, and senior officers around the Black Sea region.

In July 1920, Galveston was re-classified a gunboat and given the hull number PG-31. She was re-classified again in August 1921 and designated a light cruiser, CL-19. Galveston was assigned to the US Navy’s Special Service Squadron in the Caribbean and served off the coast of Central America during the bulk of the 1920s. One of her most notable missions was landing US troops in Nicaragua during that nation’s revolution in 1926. But the elderly cruiser eventually was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 2 September 1930. USS Galveston remained there until she was sold for scrapping on 13 September 1933.

USS Galveston, USS Bainbridge and USS Saratoga - History

Brief History:

At 1403 on 08 June 1967, the fourth day of the brief Arab-Israeli War, while conducting communications and electronic research operations, U.S.S. Liberty (AGTR-5) was attacked by Israeli jet fighters. A bomb hit portside amidships, and two or more Israeli fighters made repeated strafing, fragmentation bomb, and rocket runs over the ship. As a result, three major fires raged topside.

At 1424, three motor torpedo boats, flying the Israeli flag, approached at high speed and at 1434 attacked. Three (possibly five) torpedoes were fired one passed astern, a second may have passed beneath the ship, and the third exploded on the starboard side, forward, tearing a 39-foot-wide hole in the hull 34 men were killed, 171 were wounded in the aircraft and torpedo boat attacks. Although severely wounded. Comdr. W. L. McGonagle, the commanding officer, remained at the conn to guide the ship out of shallow water.

Liberty arrived at Valletta, Malta 14 June in company with USS Little Rock. CLG 4, USS America (CVA-66), USS Davis (DD-937), and USS Papago (ATF-160). After undergoing repairs, she departed Valletta 16 July for the States in company with Papago.

USS Little Rock CLG 4 (in the distance) stands by USS Liberty.
Photo source unknown.

USS Little Rock CLG 4 (far left) stands by as wounded are airlifted from USS Liberty.
Official U.S. Navy Photo

Life Magazine Article

Click on picture to enlarge.

Life Magazine Cover 23 Jun 67
Life Article Photo of USS Liberty
Life Article regarding USS Liberty

Additional Photos of the USS Little Rock Assisting the USS Liberty

USS Liberty & USS Little Rock from USS America (Note 2.)

USS Liberty & USS Little Rock from USS America (Note 2.)

USS Liberty as seen from the USS Little Rock (Note 1.)

(1) Photo received from O.F. Blaisdell BM3 66-68
(2) Photo is from USS Liberty Web Site

USS Liberty as seen from the USS Little Rock


Underway as before.
Detached from TG 60.1.9 and commenced maneuvering at various courses at 26 Kts to close the USS Liberty (AGTR 5).
Flight Quarters
c/s to 0 Kts when alongside the USS Liberty.
Lowered the number 1 utility boat to the water and commenced transfer of injured personnel
from the USS Liberty to the USS Little Rock.
Received helo from USS America. No passengers
Helo departed for USS Liberty with VADM Martin, LCDR Bradley and LT Scheiner.
Received the following 8 injured personnel by boat transfer

Placed number 3 boiler on the line.
Secured boiler number 4.
CTG 60.1.9 assumed tactical command of the USS Little Rock and directed it to take station
bearing 030° T at 3000 yards from the USS America on base course 120°T, base speed 13 knots.
Recovered the number 1 utility boat with LCDR Bradley aboard. Commenced maneuvering at
various courses and speeds to take station.
c/c to 280° PGC.
Received a helo departed from USS America, passengers VADM Martin and Lt. Scheiner.
c/c to 270° PGC
Helo departed for USS America, passengers CDR Saines, HM2 Biedenboch, and HM2 Shelly.
Received helo from USS America with mail and no passengers.
Helo departed with PH1 Kelly and PH2 Dunivin (Quinn?), for USS America.
Received helo from USS America. No passengers.
Helo departed for USS America with no passengers.
Secured from flight operations.

(*) Note: D.A.Rocker is none other than David A. Rocker, U.S.S. Little Rock Association Member #773. We originally had his name shown as "Rocley". Dave straightened us out however. See his other comments pertaining to this incident.

Rendezvousing with TG 60.1 at 1432 on 8 June 1967, Davis assumed her place in the screen of the attack carriers America (CVA-66) and Saratoga (CVA-60), along with guided missile light cruisers Little Rock CLG 4 and Galveston (CLG-3). At 1719, however, Davis and Massey (DD-778) received verbal orders to proceed at once to the assistance of the technical research ship Liberty (AGTR-5) (Comdr. William L. McGonagle). The two destroyers reached the limping Liberty during the morning watch on 9 June, finding her listing to starboard, while the plethora of shell and fragment holes topside, the burned and scarred paintwork, and the gaping torpedo hole in her hull bore mute testimony to the unbridled ferocity of the attack of the day before.

Davis's motor whaleboat heads toward the damaged technical research ship Liberty (AGTR-5), 9 June 1967. (The Mediterranean Cruise of the USS Davis (DD-937), in Navy Department Library, Cruise Book Collection). Davis rang down "all stop" at 0632 on 9 June 1967 and lay-to, launching her motor whaleboat the boat then made runs between Davis and Liberty, transferring medical and damage control parties, the former including Lt. Comdr. Peter A. Flynn (MC), from America, and Lt. John P. Utz, Jr. (MC), DesRon 12's medical officer, from Davis. Massey contributed a corpsman to help treat the wounded. Davis moored alongside Liberty between 0725 and 0942 to continue the process, transferred men (including in their number "leading petty officers from the damage control, electrician, interior communication, and boilerman groups. ") then cleared the side while helicopters evacuated the seriously wounded, and the bodies of the slain, to America, which, along with Little Rock, arrived shortly thereafter. The cruiser transferred Lt. John C. Cockram, her damage control assistant, in addition to two corpsmen, to Liberty, and took on board some of the less seriously wounded men.

USS Galveston, USS Bainbridge and USS Saratoga - History

Seawolf Park
Galveston, Texas

American Undersea Warfare Center

After the war, the Cavalla wasdecommissioned in 1946. She was brought back to service in 1951 and assigned to the Submarine Squadron 10 in New London, Conn. To meet the Soviet threat, she underwent conversion in 1952 to a new class of American sub--the SSK (hunter/killer).

On January 21, 1971, the U.S. Navy transferred possession of Cavalla to the Texas Submarine Veterans of WWII. The Cavalla was then delivered to her permanent berth in Seawolf Park, Galveston, Texas.

Gulf coast locals usually refer to the Cavalla as the "Seawolf", mistaking the name of the memorial park for that of the submarine on exhibit there. Next to her is the USS Stewart DE-238.

Cavalla is currently enjoying a renaissance volunteer efforts are at an all-time high, the local press has covered her history and renovation, and efforts are underway to bring her back to the proud state her crews maintained.

2006 Photo by Neal Stevens

Cavalla Historical Foundation 2504 Church St. Galveston, TX 77550

Established Jan. 26, 1997 Webmaster: Neal Stevens , Houston, Texas. Last updated 05/27/2019.
The USS CAVALLA WEBSITE and all its contents, photographs, artwork, and text is © 1996 -2017 by Neal Stevens.
Reproduction is freely given with written consent of the author. A main section of THE DEEP DOMAIN


The sixth ship using the name Saratoga was built at the New York Naval Shipyard and commissioned on 14 April 1956. The ship’s name comes from the Revolutionary battle of Saratoga. Her first trip out took her to the Norwegian Sea to participate in NATO exercises.

Her next voyage was the first of eight to the Mediterranean taken annually from 1959 through 1967. In 1967, she was in the area when the Six Day War broke out. In 1968, the ship was sent to Philadelphia for a yearlong modernization and overhaul. By July 1969, she was back in the Mediterranean. She continued visiting this area until her first deployment to the Pacific.

In April 1972, Saratoga was sent to the Pacific to help with Vietnam War efforts. For the next several months, the ship’s aircrew flew hundreds of missions against the enemy. In that time, a few were lost. After her Vietnam visit, the ship went back to operations in the Mediterranean with the Sixth Fleet.

Saratoga was one of two aircraft carriers to challenge Libya in 1986. The early 1990’s saw the ship actively engaged in Operation Desert Storm with over 10,000 active missions. She was decommissioned on Aug. 11, 1994.

Watch the video: USS Saratoga with tour of 4MMR