Ships Data Section
Office of Public Information
Commodore Edward Preble renamed the rakish ketch with lateen sail INTREPID, earmarked her for danger. Commissioned to destroy USS PHILADELPHIA, which had been captured when she ran aground off Tripoli, INTREPID slipped into the fortified harbor the night of 16 February 1804. Not until PHILADELPHIA had been boarded and blown up did the Bashaw's shore batteries open up on what had been thought a friendly blockade runner. USS INTREPID escaped, having perpetrated, according to British Admiral Lord Nelson, "the most bold and daring act of the age."
Tragedy surrounded the end of this first INTREPID. Tripoli was a seaport of stone walls and gaunt fortifications, bristling with land batteries and a swarm of armed Arab feluccas. To shatter its castle and town and wipe out the shipping it contained, Commodore Preble called for INTREPID. One hundred barrels of powder and 150 fixed shells were packed into the little ship, and slow-burning fuses were led to the magazines so that the three officers and ten seamen (volunteers from CONSTITUTION and NAUTILUS) might make good their escape in two fast rowboats once INTREPID had penetrated to the midst of the anchored enemy fleet.
Under sail the evening of 4 September 1804, INTREPID stood into fog-shrouded Tripoli Harbor with a leading breeze from the east. Officers of the squadron which had accompanied her part way and which was to await the crew's return heard a volley of shots, wild shouts. There was a deep-throated blast as the powder ship let go. Of INTREPID and the Americans aboard there was no trace.
An experimental steam torpedo ram of 438 tons, the second INTREPID was constructed at the Boston Navy Yard and commissioned 31 July 1874. She was brig-rigged, and had an iron hull 170 feet long, 35 feet in the beam, and a draft of 11 feet. From August to November 1874, INTREPID cruised along the North Atlantic coast testing her torpedoes. In 1892 she was stricken from the Navy list and sold.
On 8 October 1904 a third INTREPID was launched at the Mare Island (California) Navy Yard, one of two 1800 ton steel ships built for the training of landsmen and apprentices. She was placed in service at San Francisco on 16 August 1907 and used as a receiving ship, later as a barracks for men of the Pacific Fleet's F-boats. Placed out of commission 30 August 1921, she was sold on 20 December of that year.
Aircraft carrier INTREPID (last of the line and named in commemoration of the historically significant original) was slated to travel with the famed, fast carrier task forces, whose planes, operating far beyond the range of land based bombers, neutralized the enemy's island outposts, leveled defenses in regions marked for invasion, and finally took the war to Japan proper. An army of steel helmeted shipwrights had riveted into INTREPID - destined to become the "most hit" US flattop - the toughness necessary to keep her afloat and fighting in the kamikaze hot corners of the forward area.
Captain Thomas Lamsen Sprague, USN, assumed command of USS INTREPID on 16 August 1943, when the ship was formally accepted by the Navy and placed in commission. Having served aboard several aircraft carriers and a large seaplane tender, and as superintendent of aviation training at Pensacola, Captain Sprague (now rear admiral, chief of aviation training at Pensacola) was well qualified to con the newest, and one of the biggest, as she commenced wartime operations. Commander A. M.C.B. Jackson, USN, made the first landing on the broad INTREPID flight deck 16 September 1943. On 2 October ship and crew were inspected by Vice Admiral P.N.L. Belonged, USN. Air Group EIGHT, led by Commander Jackson, reported aboard on 7 October. On that date INTREPID left the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, bound for Trinidad and shakedown.
In the Gulf of Paria, Trinidad, the ship dropped anchor 12 October. Until the 17th INTREPID worked out of the Gulf worked out of the Gulf, training and exercising beneath the bright Caribbean sun. She then shifted to Trinidad's Port Spain and finished shaking down in that area. With fliers continually rehearsing take-offs and landings, there were the usual spectacular barrier crashes. Sea-seasoned, her crew functioning like the works of a fine Swiss watch, USS INTREPID shoved off 27 October to return home.
Air Group EIGHT was detached when INTREPID put in at Hampton Roads the 19t of November. On 25-26 November INTREPID churned upcoast to Rockland, Maine; there, minus aircraft, she made post commissioning trial runs and tests 27-28 November. By 30 November, the carrier was back in Norfolk, storing and provisioning for the trip to the Pacific. On 3 December 1943, with air Group EIGHT again on board, the trip began.
Passage through the Panama Canal was a close shave for the beamy INTREPID, and not without mishap. Her bow was hard aground in the Canal's steep shoulder on 9 December, resulting in minor damage. At Balboa, Canal Zone, where the ship anchored the same day, a hole in her hull was temporarily patched before she set out for San Francisco 14 December.
Mooring at Alameda Naval Air Station (in San Francisco Bay area) on 22 December, INTREPID shed her planes and entered dry dock at Hunter's Point next day. With the damage incurred in Panama fully repaired, she went to Alameda on 5 January 1944, and picked up Air Group EIGHT. On 6 January, she put to sea.
Upon arrival at Pearl Harbor on 10 January, the INTREPID traded air Group EIGHT (ordered to Naval Air Station on Maui) for the fighters and torpedo bombers of Air Group SIX, under Commander John L. Phillips, USN. On 12 January, INTREPID stood out of Pearl Harbor to conduct qualification landings with her new group, returning the 14th.
Central Pacific Forces aimed their next spearhead at the Marshall Islands, northwest of the invaded Gilberts and extending over six hundred miles of ocean. Kwajalein Atoll was the key assault point, which meant bypassing the strong garrisons at Jaluis and Wotje. Acting under orders of Commander Task Group 58.2, INTREPID set course for the Marshalls on 16 January, accompanied by carriers CABOT and ESSEX plus smaller combatants.
From 29 January Commander Phillips' fliers gave Roi and other sandy studs in the Kwajalein chain a thorough working over, bombing and strafing in support of marine assault forces. Carrier INTREPID had launched her first strike against the Japanese when she dropped anchor in newly seized Majure Lagoon (some 270 miles southeast of Kwajalein) on 4 February 1944.
So overwhelming was American sea and air power in the Marshalls that Task Force 58, with several battleships and carriers, was ordered to execute a carry over foray against the naval fortress of Truk in the central Carolines. INTREPID rendezvoused with Task Force 58, consisting of Task Groups 58.1 and 58.3 on 4 February and bore down on Truk.
Throughout the 16th of February Commander Phillips' fliers gave Roi and other sandy studs in the Kwajalein chain a thorough working over, bombing and strafing in support of marine assault forces. Carrier INTREPID had launched her first strike against the Japanese when she dropped anchor in newly seized Majure Lagoon (some 270 miles southeast of Kwajalein) on 4 February 1944.
Throughout the 16th of February the U.S. Navy's wings reared out in vengeance at the big Caroline bastion. Though the bulk of the enemy fleet had gone elsewhere, many ships and scores of Jap planes were destroyed before the Navy planes flew back to their carriers at sunset.
That night torpedo planes attacked the task force, one of them scoring on USS INTREPID; a "tin fish" exploded portside at the waterline, tearing a huge gash in her hull and killing five enlisted men (six others were missing). INTREPID retired from her second combat operation a cripple, it being necessary for the ship to steer by her engines since the rudder was jammed hard to port.
By speeding up the port and idling the starboard screws, Captain Sprague kept his ship trimmed and on a comparatively controlled course for a couple of days. Then the winds came up. As her skipper described it: "She (the ship) was like a giant pendulum, swinging back and forth. She had a tendency to weather-cock into the wind ... turned her bow toward Tokyo. But right then I wasn't interested in going that direction."
It was at this point, INTREPID traveling in circles with a rudder resembling a "huge potato chip," that Commander Philip Reynolds, USN, damage control officer, collaborated with Chief Bo'sun Frank E. Johnson; together they improvised a makeshift sail of hatch covers, scrap canvas and anything available outside of a burlap sack. Attached to the forecastle, open forward of the hangar deck and on the same level, the sail served to ease the strain on the screws and, with all planes moved forward and all possible cargo weight aft to put the stern low in the water, wind resistance was created.. INTREPID swung about, swayed momentarily, and grudgingly held her course.
Orders which had originally routed INTREPID to Eniwetok had been countermanded, setting Pearl Harbor as her destination.. No speed records were set on that run, and the carrier's course on the chart looked like a seismograph reading gone wild. Her escorts, destroyers STEMBEL and STEPHEN POTTER, were hard pressed to figure what she would do next.
Said Captain Sprague of the trip to Pearl: "No enemy sub could have ever figured out her zigzag plan. As a matter of fact there was no plan; the pattern was created as we went along, and no one knew for sure how long she'd keep on anything like a straight course." But INTREPID made the long haul to Oahu, standing into the navy yard there on 24 February 1944.
"That sail," said Commander Reynolds, "looked pretty rough. I can't say I was proud of its looks. I wanted to take it off before we came into Pearl Harbor but the captain laughed and said 'Nothing doing."' That sail was soon famous.
Workmen labored over INTREPID and repaired her battle damage to the extent that she might steam on to Hunter's Point, completely removing the damaged rudder in the process. On 29 February INTREPID got underway for the West Coast shipyard, but trouble in the form of heavy winds came up from the southwest. All possible combinations of the engines were tried for steering purposes; even heading into the wind the ship yawed as much as ninety degrees. Approximately five to eight knots could be made good in any direction, but control at any given instant was problematical.
Three destroyer escorts, the cruiser BIRMINGHAM, two tugs and a salvage vessel were ordered to assist INTREPID as necessary. Unmanageable and incapable of further steaming, the flat-top was ordered back. With INTREPID taken in tow, the entire group stood off to windward and returned her to Pearl Harbor.
A jury rudder was rigged and the ship released again on 16 March, sailing successfully this time to Hunter's Point, California. Her destination was reached on 22 March 1944, climaxing a series of strenuous efforts to get INTREPID home.
CVG-6 (Air Group SIX) left INTREPID shortly before she entered dry dock. On the credit side of CVG-6's ledger while assigned to INTREPID: (1) fifty-five enemy planes destroyed, twelve in the air and forty-two on the ground; (2) five Jap ships sunk, five probably sunk, and two damaged. On the debit side: (1) nine planes lost, nine pilots dead or missing, and four aircrewmen dead or missing.
His ship laid up at Hunter's Point, Captain Sprague turned over command of USS INTREPID to the executive officer, Commander Richard Kenna Gaines, USN, on 28 March 1944. Only an acting commanding officer, Commander Gaines was in turn relieved on 19 April by Captain William Dodge Sample, USN.
Captain Sample filled the position for a month; directed to take over USS LEXINGTON (CV-16), he left INTREPID in the hands of Commander Gaines on 19 May. INTREPID had been rostered to her peak of fighting trim by 30 May 1944, on which date Captain Joseph Francis Bolger, USN, assumed command.
Post repair trials held 3 June proved satisfactory, and INTREPID was ready to rejoin the fleet when she moored at Alameda Naval Air Station on the 4th Packed with spare aircraft, motorized equipment and miscellaneous cargo, the carrier stood out for Pearl Harbor on 9 June 1944.
Cargo and passengers were discharged when Pearl Harbor was reached on 14 June. Eight days later Air Group NINETEEN, under Commander Karl E. Jung, USN, reported aboard for transportation to Eniwetok Atoll. Task Group 19.7 was formed for the junket to the Marshalls, consisting of INTREPID and destroyers SMALLEY and LEUTZE. On 23 June "19.7" was underway. INTREPID transferred CVG-19 to Eniwetok Air Station on 1 July, the day after her arrival, by catapulting the entire air group at anchor. Hundreds of soldiers, sailors and marines boarded the flat-top on 4 July, some on stretchers to be hospitalized in the rear area, others anticipating transfer to new duty stations. Still playing transport, INTREPID headed back to Pearl Harbor with her two-destroyer screen on the 4th.
Task Group 19.7 was dissolved when its component trio put into Pearl Harbor on 11 July. There the carrier remained for more than a month, her sailors making liberty in Honolulu or at Waikiki Beach with a view to the near day when recreation would be a scarce item.
President Roosevelt's visit to the Oahu naval base brought the men of USS INTREPID to the rail in neat, white ranks on 27 July. A huge, 300-pound anniversary cake, manufactured and artfully embellished by the ship's bakers, was brought forth on 16 August to tastefully mark the end of INTREPID's first year in active service. It also signified termination of a brief breather at Pearl Harbor.
Four destroyers and carriers INTREPID, INDEPENDENCE, and ENTERPRISE formed Task Unit 12.3.2 (Rear Admiral Francis S. Low, USN, as flag) on 16 August, and sortied for Eniwetok. Parked about INTREPID were the planes of Air Group EIGHTEEN, skippered by Commander William Edward Ellis, USN.
On 24 August the task unit made Eniwetok and was dissolved, INTREPID going out on the 25th for training exercises with Task Group 58.2. Continual practice firing during the day put an edge on her gunnery. She returned to Eniwetok 25 August and stood out as a unit of Task Group 36.2 on the 29th.
Unannounced, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air and his aide literally dropped in on USS INTREPID on 4 September. They had luncheon aboard with Captain Bolger, talked over coming operations, and were launched in their plane about 1500 to return to Manus.
INTREPID began her third combat operation on 6 September 1944, CVG-18 its first. Heavy aerial strikes were carried out against the Jap-held Palau Group on 6 and 7 September, Palau Island being the primary target. Airfields were neutralized anti-aircraft and coastal gun positions shattered, all in preparation for the assault and capture which were to follow on 15 September. On the evening of the 8th the task force moved west to raid enemy airfields on the big Philippine island of Mindanao.
U.S. Task Groups 38.1, 38.2 and 38.3 struck Mindanao on the 9th and 10th, destroying airfields that might launch support for the defenders of Palau. Carrier planes next attacked island bases in the Visayan Sea area, on the 12th, 38th, and 14th of September.
Task Group 38.2 was diverted on the 17th to aid the marines who were fighting a stiff, slow battle among the hillside caves and mangrove swamps of Pelaelius. When it was certain that INTREPID and her sister "fighting ladies" were no longer needed in the Palaus they were ordered back to the Philippines.
Manila, Pearl of the Orient, felt the crushing power of Navy aircraft for the first time on 21 September, and again on the 22nd; INTREPID's CVG-18 also hit air installations on Luzon and shipping in the vicinity. On the 24th, "38.2" commenced more strikes in the Visayan area.
Search planes reported a heavy concentration of Jap shipping, principally tankers, at remote, rocky Coron Island. Cognizant of the three hundred miles which lay between "38.2" and Coron (southwest of Mindoro in the Calamian Group), the task group commander nevertheless had no hesitation in sending a heavy strike against this important target on 24 September. CVG-18 was in the big force of raiders, which employed masthead level bombing to sink five vessels and fire three. Despite the extreme range for carrier aircraft, none ran dry of fuel.
Stopping 28 September at captured Saipan for replenishment and rearming, INTREPID and Company proceeded to Ulithi in the western Carolines. Ulithi was reached on 1 October, at which time Commander Task Group 38.2 shifted his flag to USS INTREPID. An approaching typhoon two days later sent the ships hurrying out of the atoll anchorage; material damage incurred in riding out the storm 2-4 October was insignificant. Preliminary to American reentry into the Philippine Islands the highly successful strikes of September were resumed, this time farther north. From Ulithi on 6 October 1944, the flagship and her carrier task group headed northwest, rendezvousing with the bulk of Task Force 38 on the 7th. Submarines and long range aircraft ran interference, destroying reconnaissance planes and picket boats so that the heavies achieved total tactical surprise when they arrived south of Okinawa on 10 October.
After a day of pounding Okinawan airfields and shipping facilities, the planes were retrieved and the surface units retired for fuel. Formosa caught it heavily 12 to 14 October, the seaplane base at Tansui and airfield at Shinchiku getting special attention from Air Group EIGHTEEN. On the 18th INTREPID's Task Force 38.2 shifted its attacks to northern Luzon.
"Sho No. 1," the Japanese operational plan for defense of the Philippines, was about to be put to the test. At 0800 on 17 October 1944 and an advance party of Rangers began planting themselves on islets in the mouth of Leyte Gulf. In support of Sixth Army troops battling to sustain the Leyte beachhead, INTREPID and the others sent strikes winging over the Visayan area on 21 October.
Reports of the approaching Japanese fleets trickled in from U.S. submarines operating off Borneo, Palawan and Manila on the 23rd of October. The entire combatant strength of the Japanese Navy was converging on Leyte Gulf. On Leyte Island, MacArthur's men pulled in their battle lines, consolidated their positions and awaited the outcome of the battle in which they were the pawns. There ensued the three almost simultaneous naval actions (the Battle of Surigao Strait, the Battle off Samar, the Battle off Cape Engano) which have been collectively dubbed the "Battle for Leyte Gulf," as the myriad ships of America's Third and Seventh Fleets were welded together to meet the oncoming foe.
Quickly "38.2" refueled and committed itself to the demolition of the Japanese central force, which spotters had located in the Sibuyan Sea. Throughout the 24th of October the central force was badly mauled, losing one YAMATO Class Battleship. Then electrifying news came through: search planes reporting contact with the Empire's northern force (1 large carrier, 3 light carriers, 2 battleships with flight decks, 5 cruisers, 6 destroyers) off the northeastern tip of Luzon. Task Force 38 mustered its units and surged north to intercept.
That night, farther down the Philippine Archipelago, Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf ranged his old battleships across the mouth of Leyte Gulf, carried out the classic crossing of the "T," and crushed the huge Jap southern force as it glided in rough column up Surigao Strait.
Shortly before dawn on the 28th Admiral William F. ("Bull") Halsey, overall boss of Task Force 38, sent his planes swooping in on the northern force near Cape Engano. While the strong collection of enemy surface units was being hacked apart, word came at noon that the central force, which INTREPID's outfit had hit in the Sibuyan Sea on the 24th, had pushed through San Bernardino Strait, turned south and was flailing Rear Admiral C.A.F. Sprague's thin-skinned escort carriers off Samar.
Detached, Task Group 38.2 steamed at top speed to the rescue. But the central force unaccountably broke off contact and back tracked through San Bernardino; it was not in evidence when INTREPID and her carrier cohorts arrived off Samar. On the morning of 26 October, "38.2" renewed strikes against that force as it passed through the Sibuyan Sean, west of Panay Island and inflicted extensive damage.
MacArthur's return to the Philippines had survived the major threat of an all out Jap attack seaward. In the Battle for Leyte Gulf, the U.S. Navy wrote a fiery finis to the Nipponese Navy as an effective fighting unit, also garroted Sho No. 1 in its embryo.
Luzon fields were full of Japanese aircraft and Manila Harbor was choked with their ships. INTREPID launched several strikes against the Clark Field area in central Luzon on 29 October and only momentarily halted flight operations at noon when an enemy suicide plane, hit and burning from anti-aircraft fire, crash dived a port 20mm gun tub. Ten enlisted men (including several Negro steward's mates - volunteer gunners) died in the action of the 29th. Meanwhile the carrier blows continued, and in a few days the harbor bottom was paved with shipping, the hills littered with wrecked planes.
Macabre, effective, supremely practical under the circumstances (few planes, fewer pilots), sparked by a powerful propaganda campaign, the suicidal tactics which the Imperial Air Force initiated in the Philippines, and which were to play hob with the U.S. Navy until the war's end, constituted the last concerted effort of a nation facing suicide. Desperate men loose in the sky replace fighting tops on the horizon. Southern Luzon was pummeled again on 5 and 6 November, where upon INTREPID and task group retired on the 7th to Ulithi. All hands worked hard shipping aboard tons of food and provisions at Ulithi from 10 to 14 November, after well over a month at sea. On the 14th Task Group 38.2 went back toward in the Philippines.
Taking up where she left off, INTREPID began pounding southern Luzon and the Visayan area on 19 November 1944. Flight operations were still in progress on 25 November, when INTREPID experienced the blackest day in her hazard- filled career.
Swarms of suicide-bent Jap planes were in evidence that day, the flattops presenting a fine target against the placid Philippine Sea. At 1228, thirteen minutes after INTREPID went to general quarters, one of her planes sighed three Vals (single engine dive bombers) high over the formation. Two attempted suicide dives came, one at HANCOCK and one at CABOT and each resulted in near misses.
No more enemy aircraft were contacted until 1252, when the after director picked up what appeared to be two Zeroes at 8000 feet, gliding in toward INTREPID from about eight miles out. Existing conditions were almost hopeless from a gunnery stand point, there being so many friendly planes orbiting within gun range that each plane had to be carefully examined before it was fired upon. At 1253 INTREPID's after batteries opened fire on the left hand plane of the two Zeroes, exploding it just above the water 1500 yards astern.
At this time Captain Bolger issued a "hold fire" order to prevent the guns from firing into an Avenger and a Hellcat which were orbiting protectively astern. Starboard 40mm and 20mm guns turned back another diving Jap. Then the second of the two Zeroes originally detected came sweeping in low from the stern, dodged a Hellcat and dove through flak from the after 40s and 20s, which continued to fire despite the "hold fire" order.
It went into a power stall when some 1000 yard astern, did a wingover from an approximate altitude of 500 feet and rocketed into INTREPID's flight deck at 1255. The bomb it carried penetrated to, and blew apart, the pilot's ready room, which was fortunately empty. Not so fortunate where the thirty-two men killed in an adjoining compartment.
Immediately the task group commander began performing right hand turns for INTREPID's benefit, the turns spilling water and flaming gasoline over the port side, away from critical systems in the island structure on the starboard side. Fire-fighting parties were met with a hail of exploding .50 caliber and 20mm ammunition as they sought to extinguish raging fires on the hangar deck.
Meanwhile men in the gun galleries continued fending off further attack. At 1257 two more Zeroes were spotted flying about 100 feet from the surface. The relative wind was from the port bow and was blowing smoke from the burning hangar deck across the flight deck, obscuring the view of all starboard and after island mounts.
These two planes were taken under fire by port 40s and 20s, the left hand attacker being splashed at 1500 years' range. Making violent evasive moves, the second Zero drove through a blizzard of traces, power-stalled and went into a wing over to crash on the flight deck at 1259. Its' missile detonated on the hangar deck.
For three trying hours, during which time INTREPID looked to the other carriers like a distant smudge-pot, sailors struggled to bring roaring gasoline fires under control. That part of Air Group EIGHTEEN which was airborne, returning from strikes to find their carrier's deck an inferno cluttered with charred, tattered fuselages was directed to land on various other ships in the task force; those for which there was no room were ordered to set down on Leyte.
Six officers and fifty-nine enlisted men were killed or listed as missing as a result of this dual kamikaze thrust. INTREPID had taken it, and badly. Her flight deck ripped apart, her hangar deck a place of twisted steel, blackened and wetted down, US INTREPID withdrew on 26 November 1944.
Three days after Captain Bolger brought the battered carrier into Ulithi, Admiral Halsey on 30 November embarked to inspect damage. To the surprise of the INTREPID crew, elements of CVG-18 returned from their emergency bases and landed on Ulithi's airstrip the 30th. Commander Ellis' pilots, who never expected to see INTREPID again, reported aboard the same day. There is an old saying: "Pilots like to sleep in their own beds." On 1 December Air Group Eighteen was officially detached. Losing 66 planes, 31 pilots and 27 aircrewmen, CVG-18 had: (1) downed 154 enemy planes, ruined 169 on the ground, damaged 240, for a total of 563; (2) sunk 53 ships, probably sunk 30, damaged 135, for a total of 218.
Destroyer escorts FAIR and MANLOVE formed Task Unit 30.9.12 with INTREPID and sortied for Pearl Harbor 2 December. Captain Bolger held meritorious mast coincident with the arrival 11 December, officially commending his men for their gallantry when the chips were down.
At Pearl Harbor the task units were dissolved. Hunter's Point was INTREPID's destination when she set out on 16 December; she arrived there on 20 December 1944 and went into dry dock. Hunter's Point personnel, who sheared away the damaged part of her flight deck and went to work repairing battle damage, began to think of INTREPID as their own.
USS INTREPID was underway for post repair trials on 11 February 1945. Moored at Alameda Naval Air Station on 13 February, she made ready to embark Air Group TEN, under Commander John J. Hyland, USN.
A veteran of the war against Nazi submarines in the Atlantic, (onetime commander officer of the sub hunting escort carrier BOGUE), Captain Giles E. Short, UNS, relieved Captain Bolger as skipper of INTREPID on 15 February 1945.
CVG-10 reported aboard next day, and after subsequently flexing her new air arm, INTREPID weighed anchor. On 2 March 1945, the veteran CV made Pearl Harbor, where fliers of Fighter Squadron EIGHTY-SIX embarked for transportation to the forward area. Task Group 12.2, composed of INTREPID, FRANKLIN, BATAAN, battle cruiser GUAM and eight destroyers and commanded by Rear Admiral Francis S. Low, USN, left for Ulithi the 3rd.
Seat of the swift U.S. carrier groups which were regularly raiding in and around Japanese home island, Ulithi was a familiar sight to INTREPID sailors when their ship stood into the coral reefed, heart shaped lagoon on 13 March. With the disbanding of "12.2", INTREPID was assigned to Task Group 58.4. Movement orders took Tin out of Ulithi 14 March to resume the Pacific chase.
Occupying an area east of Okinawa Jima on 18 March, INTREPID's task group commenced launching powerful strikes against airfields on Kyushu. Bogies (unidentified aircraft; "bandits" are planes definitely established as enemy) appeared on INTREPID's radar at 0730 that day, and subsequent aerial retaliation was frequent and fierce. At about 0806 a gleaming twin engine "Betty" whipped through the concentrated anti-aircraft fire of the entire formation, past a screening cruiser 3000 yards for INTREPID, and turned in.
Its approximate altitude was 450 feet when it started a shallow glide, apparently aiming at INTREPID's waterline. All starboard 5 inch and 40mm batteries peppered the Betty, the 20s holding their fire until about 1500 yards. With every starboard gun brought to bear, the suicider still could not be stopped. Just when it appeared that INTREPID would be tagged again, a direct 5 inch hit chopped for the bomber's tail. The plane upended and splashed 50 to 100 feet off the ship at the forward boat crane.
Geysers of water accompanied the explosion of its bombs, while fragments of the plane showered the forward end of the hangar deck. Flaming gasoline and plane parts caused minor fires and burned fabric off the control surfaces of two aircraft. No injury was incurred by INTREPID personnel as a direct result of the crash, but a ship to port accidentally put a 5 inch burst too close during the action. The shell struck INTREPID's fantail and killed one seaman.
Attacks continued 19-20 March, with Jap fleet remnants anchored at Kure getting CVG-10's special attention on the 19th. Three days later strikes were initiated against Okinawa itself, with the southern Rkukyus also absorbing punishment on the 26th, Amami and Minami the 27th, and Kyushu airfields on 29 March - results negative.
Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945, brought the invasion of Okinawa Jima, most difficult U.S. undertaking in the Pacific, also the most ambitious amphibious assault of the Pacific war (1,213 ships; 564 carrier-based support aircraft; 451,866 Army-Marine ground forces). Successful seizure of Okinawa became INTREPID's main concern.
Beginning 1 April INTREPID and the others of "58.4" flew an extended series of support missions at Okinawa and neutralizing raids against Kyushu, Shikoku and southern Honshu. Sakashima Gunto, a key plane base in the Nansei Shoto, was also a prime target. Suiciders were persistent. Provisioning, rearming and refueling were done from ships of the train while underway in the open sea. Ability of the "fleet that came to stay" to sustain itself in the operational theater proved a critical factor in wearing down Japanese resistance, denying them sufficient time to prepare adequate defenses.
On 7 April 1945 a Japanese cruiser-destroyer force, cynosure of which was the new super battleship YUAMATO, boldly ventured into the inland sea. They were sunk. Carrier aircraft, including planes of Air Group TEN, did the job efficiently and without delay.
Several serious enemy attacks were pressed home on 16 April, 1945, one Jap plane managing to penetrate the task force screen at about 1336. He had his choice. He chose INTREPID.
Hit and trailing smoke, the kamikaze plunged into the flight deck in a near vertical angle, forcing engine and part of the fuselage right on through. So great was the plane's impact that the exact imprint of its wings was smashed into the deck. A large hole was blown in the hangar deck by its bomb. Because of the crew's thorough experience in fighting fire, the gasoline conflagration was putout in a record fifty one minutes. Eight enlisted men were killed, one was missing, and twenty one wounded in this suicide blow, the fourth such attack USS INTREPID had endured.
Repairs to the flight deck were rushed, and three hours later INTREPID landed her planes. Commander Task Force 53 directed INTREPID to retire to the fueling area and investigate her damage and determine its extent. After a thorough examination next day, the 17th, it was decided that INTREPID could only continue in action at greatly reduced efficiency. She was ordered to proceed to Ulithi for temporary repairs by an advance service squadron.
Funeral services for the INTREPID dead were held 18 April on number two elevator. On 20 April the carrier reached Ulithi, and on the 215' service squadron technicians commenced tidying up the "Tough Old Lady",. INTREPID's sobriquet in the fleet. That she required more than temporary treatment was sadly apparent when previously undiscovered damage to the elevators came to light.
Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, upon being apprised of this additional difficulty, ordered that INTREPID move to Pearl Harbor for onward routing to Hunter's Point. With destroyer GERGORY escorting, INTREPID left Ulithi on 4 May and steamed across the Pacific to make Pearl the 11th.
To INTREPID sailors, it was a repetition of an old story: the brief period spent at Pear Harbor shipping aboard cargo and passengers, the departure on 14 May, the cruise home, the glad sight of Golden Gate Bridge on 19 May, 1945.
Her air group detached at Alameda for temporary duty ashore, INTREPID went to Hunter's Point Naval Dry Docks on the 20th. Alongside the laid up INTREPID a sign was constructed for the benefit of those who tended her: "This Fighting Lady has a date in Tokyo. DON'T MAKE HER LATE!."
Captain Giles E. Short, USN, still in command, USS INTREPID left for Pearl Harbor with Air Group TEN on 29 June, 1945. She stood into Pearl S July, took on stores and went out on training exercises the 8th, returned the 11th, went out again the 13th, and settled down for the remainder of July on the 18th. USS COTTNE (DD-669), USS ROSS (DD-563) and US INTREPID made up Task Unit 12.5.5, departed Pearl Harbor for Eniwetok on 30 July 1945.
Bypassed Wake Island, already a point of historical significance, was leveled by the bombs and rockets of CVG-10 on 6 August. One by one the planes went snarling into the wind, chasing each other to the rendezvous point, executing a combat mission for the last time. On 7 August the task force unit arrived at Eniwetok and was dissolved.
Halsey's Third Fleet planes conducted the spectacular "Month of Fire" raids on the Japanese mainland during July, beginning their skyward siege of Honshu on the 10th and then thundering north to hit Hokkaido. Delivery of the Potsdam Ultimatum on 16 July, Soviet Russia's eleventh hour decision to march on Japan in Manchuria, the awesome atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan was ready to give up the divine ghost. August 15th brought the long awaited "cease offensive operations" message to USS INTREPID at Enewetok. Commander Third Fleet ordered the formation of Task Unit 30.3.9 on 21 August, consisting of INTREPID, ANTIETAM, CABOT and seven destroyers. Scheduled to join the fleet east of Japan, the task unit shoved off from Eniwetok that date. ANTIETAM discovered structural damage on route and had to head for Guam the 23rd. Two days later the remaining ships of "30.3.9" joined Task Force 38 for duty in connection with the occupation of defeated Japan.
INTREPID was sent with CABOT to Okinawa on 28 August, there joining Task Force 72 on the 30th. Operations kept INTREPID on the move in the general area of the Japanese home islands, touching at Jinsen, Korea and Taku, China in September, until 8 October, on which date she left the Gulf of Pohai, China bound for Saipan.
From 14 to 22 October the carrier was moving in the Mariannas, departing Guam the 21st for a return to Japan. She was located at shattered Yokosuka Naval Base from 25 October through 2 December. Anchor was hoisted December 2nd, and the long, trans Pacific voyage home began.
Relegation to an inactive status awaited INTREPID when she put in at San Pedro, California on 15 December 1945. On 4 February 1946, under the command of Captain Robert E. Blick, USN, (he relieved Captain Short in January 1946) she moved up cost to San Francisco.
A designated unit of the San Francisco Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet, USS INTREPID was placed "in commission in reserve" on 15 August 1946. With her guns and machinery weather proofed and rust proofed, the carrier's status was changed on 22 March 1946 to "out of commission in reserve."
USS INTREPID earned five engagement stars for service as outlined:
1 star Occupation of Kwajalein & Majure Atolls 29 January to 8 February, 1944 1 star Truk Attack 16-17 February, 1944 1 star Capture and Occupation of Southern Palau Islands Assaults on the Philippine Islands 9-24 September, 1944 1 star Third Fleet Supporting Operations Okinawa Attack 10 October, 1944 Northern Luzon & Formosa Attacks 13-14 October, 1944 Luzon Attacks 13 October, 1944 17-19 October, 1944 Visayas Attacks 21 October, 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf 24-26 October, 1944 Luzon Attacks 5-6 November, 1944 19-25 November, 1944 1 star Fifth & Third Fleet Raids in support of Okinawa Gunto Operation 17 March to 16 April, 1945
Air Group TEN's record included one hundred enemy planes shot down and another eighty-six destroyed on the ground, eleven ships sunk, two probably sunk, and forty-one damaged. It lost eighty-eight of its own aircraft, with twelve pilots, and three aircrewmen dead or missing..
Standard displacement 27,100 tons Length overall 855 feet, 10 inches Beam 93 feet Speed 30 knots plus Complement 2500 plus Armament Twelve 5 inch .38 calibre dual purpose guns, plus 40mm and 20mm AA guns
Copyright © US Navy Department - Office of Public Information
Special thanks to Anne Newsome Kenny, daughter of WWII Navy Pilot
James M. (Buck) Newsome Jr., for providing this text.
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