USS Intrepid CV-11
In 2006, Intrepid was taken to Bayonne, New Jersey, for an extended refit that included hull maintenance and repainting but reported back for museum duty in November 2008. USS Intrepid CV-11 museum and the submarine USS Growler are back at Pier 86, near the bottom of 42nd St, on 12th Av, New York. As well as catching up on ship husbandry tasks, the $60 million refit included a comprehensive modern-look redesign of the exhibitions areas and refurbishment of the exhibits, including a BAE Concorde and a Lockheed A-12 Blackbird. USN, RN and other naval aircraft and helicopters, of course, dominate the aircraft displays and aircraft such as an A-4B Skyhawk and F-8 Crusader are popular attractions.
The third launched of the 22 Essex class carriers to be constructed in WW II, Intrepid earned the title “the most hit” (but not sunk) carrier, the hard way. She first commissioned on 16 August 1943, the fourth USN ship to bear that name.
USS Intrepid (CV-11), in the Philippine Sea in November 1944 (left) and with her post WW II angled deck layout.
The virtually brand new carrier was damaged in December 1943 by a minor altercation with a lock gate during her first transit of the Panama Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. After quick repairs in San Francisco she rushed into combat but was damaged again, this time by something a little more lethal, a Japanese aircraft torpedo, on 16 February 1944, off Truk.
This torpedo jammed her rudder hard left and forced her to return to San Francisco once more for repairs. This voyage was interesting in that when steering with main engines (port half ahead, starboard idling) she performed well enough in low wind conditions, but was virtually unmanageable in any medium or stronger blow. The bow swung inexorably towards the wind, no matter what the trim or power configuration. A strong and steady wind started to blow from the direction of Tokyo, not San Francisco, so her captain wisely decided that perhaps additional measures were necessary. She became a little more manageable after fitting a jury rudder.
Sailing again for Pearl Harbour and the sharp end of the spear in early June 1944, she participated in a number of bloody but highly successful actions until 29 October 1944 when, off the Philippines, she attracted the attention of a suicidal Japanese pilot who crashed his aircraft into one of her gun sponsons. After temporary repairs she was again among a fleet of carriers that were attacked by no fewer than 40 kamikazes off Leyte. Having shot down one kamikaze but hit twice more by equally determined suicide aircraft within five minutes on 25 November, Intrepid‘s Gunnery Officer was attributed to exclaim, “For God’s sake, are we the only ship in the ocean?” Alert damage control crews saved the carrier but she was forced to withdraw to San Francisco yet again for major repairs.
By March 1945 Intrepid was back in operations, this time off Okinawa, but within a couple of weeks yet another kamikaze pilot chose her as a target from among the 16 fast carriers and 11 escort carriers in the area, registering a hit on 16 April. This put her out of action until the end of June. By remarkable coincidence, HMS Indefatigable and HMS Illustrious took a similar kamikaze hits about the same time but damage to the British carriers was limited to virtually three-inch dents in their armoured flight decks and both reported back for action within half a day.
Clearly, Intrepid had an affinity for San Francisco dry docks, but she was also in the thick of battle at Kwajalein, Truk, Palau, Okinawa, Luzon, Formosa and the Leyte Gulf.
Her guns shot down 13 aircraft and her own fighters claimed 186 more. Intrepid‘s aircraft were also credited with sinking 11 ships.
Intrepid paid off from her WW II career on 22 March 1947, but recommissioned as a CVA (assault carrier) in February 1952. Serving later as an anti-submarine (CVS) carrier and modernised with an angled deck and improved catapults, she served mainly in the Pacific theatre, including Vietnam, until finally paying off on 22 April 1974 and becoming a museum in 1982.
USS Intrepid may be found together with the submarine Growler and sometimes other ships at Pier 86, near the bottom of 42nd St, Manhattan.
Intrepid houses an amazing variety of about 26 carrier-borne and other aircraft, some on the flight deck, others in the hangar. A British Airways Concorde is sometimes part of the display on barge alongside the same pier. Inside may be found an A6 Intruder simulator cockpit, among other exhibits that attracted nearly 700,000 visitors a year in recent times. The museum pier is open 1000 to 1700, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. Adults used to be charged $14.50 and Seniors had a discounted $10.50 entry fee. Contact the web site http://www.intrepidmuseum.org for additional information.