What Eventually Happened to America’s First Aircraft Carriers

Even though some of our eight aircraft carriers were based at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, not one of them was there that day.

I’ve wondered whether that was one of the reasons that we didn’t lose the Pacific war during that first year.

In researching those early ships, I was amazed to learn that one was scuttled during World War II and that three of them survived the war.

But half of those first eight carriers were sunk in battle, one of them only a year old.

CV-1: USS Langley

1922-1942. Scuttled and sunk in 1942.

CV-2: USS Lexington

1927-1942. Sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea.

CV-3: USS Saratoga

1927-1946. Sunk as a target for a nuclear test near Bikini Atoll.

CV-4: USS Ranger

1934-1946. Survived the war, scrapped in 1947.

CV-5: USS Yorktown

1937-1942. Sunk at the Battle of Midway, not quite 5 years old.

CV-6: USS Enterprise

1938-1947. Survived the war, scrapped in 1960. The USS Enterprise (CV-6) was the most decorated US ship in World War II, receiving a Presidential Unit Citation, a Navy Unit Commendation, and 20 Battle Stars.

CV-7: USS Wasp

1940-1942. Sunk in the Battle of Guadalcanal, just over 2 years old.

CV-8: USS Hornet

1941-1942. Sunk in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, 1 year old.


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