USS Belleau Wood
|Ship Class||Independence-class Light Carrier|
|Builder||New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey, United States|
|Laid Down||11 Aug 1941|
|Launched||6 Dec 1942|
|Commissioned||31 Mar 1943|
|Decommissioned||13 Jan 1947|
|Displacement||11000 tons full|
|Machinery||General Electric geared turbines with four screws|
|Power Output||100000 SHP|
|Armament||26x40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns, 22x20mm anti-aircraft guns|
|Transferred to France||Sep 1953|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Originally laid down as New Haven, the hull was renamed Belleau Wood on 16 Feb 1942. She was commissioned in early 1943 with Captain A. M. Pride in command. After shakedown cruise, Belleau Wood joined the Pacific Fleet and arrived in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, United States on 26 Jul 1943. On 1 Sep, she supported the occupation of Baker Island, which was situated about halfway between Hawaii and Australia in the Central Pacific. On 18 Sep, then again in the latter part of 1943, she assisted in the Gilbert Islands campaign. On 5 and 6 Oct, her aircraft raided Wake Island. Between 29 Jan and 3 Feb 1944, she supported the invasion of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls in the Marshall Islands, then sailed to Truk of the Caroline Islands and then to the Northern Mariana Islands to conduct raids against Japanese defenses in those locations. In Mar and Apr 1944, her aircraft struck Japanese-held islands in the Palau Islands, Caroline Islands, and off New Guinea. In Jun, she supported the invasion of Saipan in the Mariana Islands, where she was engaged in the Battle of the Philippine Sea; during that battle, her aircraft sank the Japanese carrier Hiyo.
Between 29 Jun and 31 Jul 1944, Belleau Wood underwent an overhaul at Pearl Harbor.
In Aug 1944, Belleau Wood supported the Guam, Mariana Islands campaign. Between 6 Sep and 14 Oct, she supported the Palau Islands campaign. In Sep 1944, she conducted several raids against the Philippine Islands. On 15 Sep, she supported the landings on Morotai Island between New Guinea and the Philippine Islands. On 10 Oct, her aircraft raided Okinawa, Japan, followed immediately by striking Taiwan and Luzon, Philippine Islands. On 13 Oct, her task force came under attack by four G4M Type 1 Bombers, but the anti-aircraft fire contributed by the fleet, to no small contribution by the gunners of Belleau Wood, prevented her from being damaged. Between 24 and 26 Oct, she participated in the Battle of Cape Engaño. On 30 Oct, the task force was targeted by kamikaze special attack aircraft. After one of them struck USS Franklin, the pilot of an A6M Zero fighter decided Belleau Wood, thus far undamaged, presented a better target; he was able to crash into Belleau Wood's fantail despite being hit by Belleau Wood's anti-aircraft weapon repeatedly, killing 92 men and destroying 12 aircraft, though the damage was able to be contained.
Between 2 and 11 Nov, Belleau Wood received temporary repairs at Ulithi in the Caroline Islands. Between 29 Nov and Jan 1945, she received permanent repairs in California, United States.
On 7 Feb 1945, Belleau Wood rejoined Task Force 58. On 15 Feb, she took part in the raids on the Japanese home island of Honshu, and then southern Japanese islands, including Iwo Jima. From 17 May until the end of the war, she conducted various strikes against the Japanese home islands.
Belleau Wood's aircraft took flight during the surrender ceremonies in Tokyo Bay. She remained in Japanese waters until 13 Oct for occupation duties before being assigned to Operation Magic Carpet that brought American servicemen from Mariana Islands back to the United States. She returned to San Diego, California on 31 Jan 1946, and was placed in reserve one year later.
On 5 Sep 1953, Belleau Wood was transferred to the French Navy, which changed the spelling of her name to the French counterpart Bois Belleau. In Apr 1954, she set sail from the Toulon, France arsenal for French Indochina, where she remained until Jul. She was sold for scrapping in 1960.
Sources: Inferno, United States Navy Dictionary of American Fighting Naval Ships.
USS Belleau Wood Operational Timeline
|31 Mar 1943||Belleau Wood was commissioned into service.|
|13 Jan 1947||Belleau Wood was decommissioned from service.|
» Gilbert Islands Campaign
» Marshall Islands Campaign
» Attack on Truk
» Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot
» Battle of Morotai
» Preparations for Invasion of Japan
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Winston Churchill, 1935