Wasp file photo

USS Wasp (Wasp-class)

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassWasp-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderBethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts, United States
Laid Down1 Apr 1936
Launched4 Apr 1939
Commissioned25 Apr 1940
Sunk15 Sep 1942
Displacement14700 tons standard; 19116 tons full
Length688 feet
Beam81 feet
Draft20 feet
Machinery6 boilers, steam turbines, 2 shafts
Power Output75000 SHP
Speed29 knots
Range12,000nm at 15 knots
Crew1800
Armament8x5in, 4x quad 1.1in machine gun mounts, 24x0.50 cal machine guns
Armor3.5in side
Aircraft80
Elevator2
Catapult2 in flight deck, 2 in hangar deck

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Wasp was the lead and only ship in her class. She was the eighth American ship to bear that name. After radio direction finder calibration, her shakedown cruise took her to the Caribbeans, conducting carrier qualification tests for pilots while en route. She spent 4 Jul 1936, United States' Independence Day, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. At end of Jul, she was in Boston Navy Yard for post-shakedown repairs. Her final trials were not completed until 26 Sep 1940. She joined Carrier Division 3's Patrol Force on 11 Oct 1940, operating out of Norfolk, Virginia, United States. While with Carrier Division 3 she provided Army aircraft the opportunity to test taking off from an aircraft carrier. She served in the Caribbeans and off the US east coast until the outbreak of WW2.

On 23 Jul 1941, Wasp loaded up 33 Army aircraft and sailed for Iceland five days later. She was escorted by destroyers O'Brien and Walke, and later joined by cruiser Vincennes. She delivered the aircraft to Iceland, and returned to Norfolk for more carrier qualifications and other flight training. On 24 Aug, Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt broke her flag on Wasp. She anchored in Trinidad on 2 Sep after a rumored hunt for German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. On 6 Sep, she began her patrol "to enforce the neutrality of the United States in the Atlantic." However, the United States was nowhere near neutral at this period of time. Wasp, along with many other American warships, escorted British merchant ships in convoys.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941, Wasp was at Grassy Bay, Bermuda. After the tension with French forces in the Caribbeans lessened, she sailed for Norfolk Navy Yard to commence an overhaul that lasted until 14 Jan 1942. She sailed for Newfoundland and Maine on 16 Mar then returned to Norfolk. On 26 Mar she sailed for Britain to reinforce the Royal Navy. After stops at Scapa Flow and Glasgow, she took on the mission to ferry 47 aircraft to the British island of Malta in the Mediterranean; she was escorted by Force W of the Royal Navy and two American destroyers. The mission was successful as she delivered the British Spitfire aircraft to Malta, though many of the Spitfires were later destroyed by German Luftwaffe on the ground. On 3 May 1942, she delivered another group of Spitfire aircraft to Malta along side of British carrier Eagle that did the same.

During the Malta missions, Battles of Coral Sea and Midway rendered American naval aviation weaker in the Pacific, and it was decided Wasp was to be transferred. After hastened repairs at Norfolk Navy Yard, Captain John Reeves who had been with the ship since commissioning was relieved by Captain Forrest Sherman on 31 May (Reeves was being promoted to flag rank), and Wasp departed for Panama Canal, where she became the flagship of Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes. She arrived in San Diego on 19 Jun, loaded up additional aircraft, and headed for the South Pacific. Her aircraft attacked Japanese positions at Tulagi and Guadalcanal to assist in the landing of the two islands by more than 10,000 American Marines.

On 15 Sep 1942, Wasp was in a group of warships that escorted transports bound for Guadalcanal. While in the process of spotting and launching combat air patrol fighters, she was struck by two out of a spread of four torpedoes launched from Japanese submarine I-19. Amidst aircraft launching and recovering operations, the abundance of fuel and ammunition quickly turned Wasp into an inferno. The water mains were also heavily damaged during the explosions, which left firefighters aboard no choice but to form bucket brigades. After a conference with his executive officer Commander Fred Dickey, Captain Sherman ordered abandon ship at 1520 after confirming the order with Rear Admiral Noyes. Strangely, however, those who served in the engineering spaces did not realize the seriousness of the fire when they heard the order. Engineering officer Lieutenant Commander Ascherfeld noted after the war that his men had no idea of the uncontrollable fires until they made their way above. After ensuring an orderly abandonment, Sherman left the ship at 1600. By nightfall, Wasp had proven to be unwilling to go down, and destroyer Lansdowne was ordered to fire torpedoes to scuttle the ship. Five torpedoes were fired, but only three exploded. She sank at 2100. Of the 2247 men on her at the time, 193 were killed, and 366 were wounded. All but one of her aircraft made a safe trip to carrier Hornet nearby before Wasp sank. I-19 escaped safely after her strike to report the good news to Tokyo.

Sources: the Struggle for Guadalcanal, Wikipedia.

Aircraft Carrier USS Wasp (Wasp-class) Interactive Map

USS Wasp (Wasp-class) Operational Timeline

25 Apr 1940 Wasp (Wasp-class) was commissioned into service.
17 Mar 1942 USS Wasp collided with destroyer USS Stack in foggy weather at 0650 hours off the east coast of the United States, causing flooding in the boiler room of the destroyer.
13 Apr 1942 USS Wasp took on British Spitfire fighters at Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom in preparation for an aircraft ferrying mission to Malta.
14 Apr 1942 USS Wasp departed the Clyde Estuary, Scotland, United Kingdom with 52 Spitfire fighters of No. 601 and No. 603 Squadrons RAF on board for Malta; she was escorted by destroyers USS Lang and USS Madison.
18 Apr 1942 USS Wasp passed through the Strait of Gibraltar en route to Malta.
29 Apr 1942 USS Wasp arrived at Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, completing Operation Calendar.
3 May 1942 USS Wasp departed Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom with 47 Spitfire fighters aboard, embarking on Operation Bowery aiming to resupply Malta.
1 Jul 1942 Wasp departed San Diego, California for Tonga Islands, escorting transports carrying men of the US 5th Marine Regiment.
18 Jul 1942 USS Wasp arrived at Tongatapu, Tonga.
15 Sep 1942 Japanese submarine I-19 sank USS Wasp (3 torpedo hits; 194 were killed, 1,969 survived) in the Coral Sea at 1444 hours; USS North Carolina and USS O'Brien were also damaged in the attack.

Photographs

USS Wasp (Wasp-class) in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, 27 Oct 1940Wasp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, 27 Oct 1940Lieutenant Harold Kelly (standing with pipe) and other officers playing cards aboard USS Wasp, date unknownLanding signal officers Lieutenant David McCampbell and Ensign George E. Savage bringing in aircraft for landing aboard carrier Wasp, circa late 1941 or early 1942
See all 29 photographs of Aircraft Carrier USS Wasp (Wasp-class)



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Len Reed says:
    6 Jul 2006 07:49:25 AM

    Prior to the sinking a destruyer came alongside to rescue survivors. The OOD inquired How many men can you take?
    The Capt of the DD inquired How much ice cream you got?
  2. Anonymous says:
    18 Dec 2007 02:22:43 PM

    During June-August 1944, the Wasp participated in the Marianas Campaign, followed by support for the September assault on the Palaus, and in October, by attacks on Okinawa, Formosa and the Philippines, and in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. For the rest of 1944 and into January 1945 Wasp sent her planes against the Japanese in the Philippines, the South China Sea area and as far north as the Ryukyus. She also supported the Iwo Jima invasion...
  3. C. Peter Chen says:
    19 Dec 2007 08:14:55 AM

    To the previous poster that mentioned the Marianas and Leyte Campaigns, sorry, you got the wrong Wasp! The one you are thinking about is the Essex-class carrier designated CV-18. This page is about CV-7.
  4. Alan Chanter says:
    1 Aug 2009 01:53:30 AM

    Following Wasp's second delivery of fighters to Malta, Prime Minister Winston Churchill would comment(in typical Churchillian style)"Who says that a Wasp can't sting twice?".
  5. Speight says:
    22 Aug 2009 05:05:28 AM

    My late father was a Gunners Mate on the Wasp CV-7 from 1938 until her sinking.
    After he was put on an LST and served during several McArther landings.It was later damaged so bad by the Japanese it was towed out to sea and sunk.
    Then he was put on a Destroyer stationed in Charelston,SC (where he met my late mother) until the end of the War.
    I,along with my two older brothers (my little brother chose Boomers) also (like father) had as our first sea-going Naval duty station a Norfolk-based carrier--the USS Independence CV-62.
    When my son entered the USN,the Independence was already decommissioned,so he ended up a plank crewman aboard the USS Ronald Reagan CVN-76.First at Newport then at Norfolk then sent to homeport in San Diego.
    My future grandson,I suppose,will serve aboard the USS Sarah Palin if the Navy keeps naming carriers only after patriot presidents )
  6. Anonymous says:
    29 Jan 2010 05:42:34 AM

    During her launch in 1939 at The Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, two planes collided overhead killing both pilots.
  7. Darlene Hunt says:
    6 Mar 2010 03:27:28 PM

    My dad George Hunt was a gunners mate on the Wasp. His nickname was "Monkey". I would love to know of anyone who knew him or has pictures of him. He passed away in 1985.
  8. Anita Youngs says:
    9 Jun 2010 07:15:13 PM

    My dad was Victor Youngs and he was 1st gunners mate on the Wasp during World War II. I do not have any photos of him on the Wasp but if anyone has any photos of Victor Youngs I would appreciate it.
  9. April Hadden says:
    5 Aug 2010 07:46:02 PM

    I am looking for any information on William (Bill) Frances Hadden. He was on the WASP when it sank. Anything would be wonderful!! Thanks!
  10. Melanie says:
    2 Sep 2010 05:23:11 AM

    To those of you looking for photos, I have a photo you might want to view. I have no idea if it is taken on The Wasp or another ship, but my great-uncle, who is in the photo, was on The Wasp when it sunk.
    Go to Ancestry.com, do a search for Harold Kelly b. 1907. When the results come up, click Pictures in the left hand menu. This photo will show up in the results.
    I am looking for information about his first wife and twin boys. He married her while stationed in CA and then divorced prior to WWII.
  11. CV-7 Wasp says:
    18 Nov 2010 11:48:11 AM

    Making scale model, of undetermined scale, would like links to blueprints/info, E-mail me at BB_22minnesota@live.com
  12. James J. Rotschafer says:
    22 Nov 2010 11:50:12 AM

    WASP was built to the same standards as YORKTOWN class, but smaller ment to take up the remaining tonnage from the carrier alot ment
  13. Chris Hagerty says:
    15 Jan 2011 03:19:14 PM

    I am seeking information about my uncle Joseph F Kirwin, a pilot aboard the Wasp who was said to have saved a number of sailors during the sinking. Any information would be of interest.
  14. Andrea Moorehead says:
    22 Feb 2013 01:15:24 AM

    My grandfather Charles Donathan, Jr. was a First Gunnars' mate on the USS WASP. He is now deceased and I was wondering if anyone had any pictures or info on him. If so you can email me at amoorehead@frontier.com Thanks a bunch. God Bless You all.
  15. Bruce Elliott says:
    19 Apr 2013 02:44:46 PM

    Film of crippled Wasp:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l9RONxTzUg
    http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675054325_USS-Wasp_smoke-rises-up_destroyer-ship_survivor
  16. Anonymous says:
    24 Apr 2013 07:47:18 PM

    My grandfather Clarance Fred Horak was on this ship when it sunk .. He survived and later passed in 1998
  17. Sokar says:
    11 Nov 2013 09:25:27 AM

    How many torpedoes did, actually, hit USS Wasp (CV-7)? 2 or 3?
  18. Bob says:
    25 Nov 2013 08:32:24 PM

    My uncle Joe Kirwin who had just landed his SBD a few minutes before the attack, said there were two torpedoes. But Wikipedia and other sources say there were three, all fired from the same submarine.
  19. Virginia Snyder says:
    31 Mar 2014 11:04:01 PM

    Was the ship's bottom sealed in an effort to take the ship back for repairs? Were some men sealed inside? Who were the radio operators? (One died in the attack)
  20. Anonymous says:
    18 Jul 2014 11:01:35 PM

    My dad ,Noble L. Graves , was an electrician on the wasp when she was sunk. He passed away 1995 .
  21. IAN WARREN says:
    27 Aug 2014 07:02:29 AM

    I'm trying to find out what medel's my uncle recived his name was Repurt Frank Durance and he seved on the wasp and then tranfered to Panamar before the ship sunk can anybody help.?
  22. Christina Clemons says:
    14 Oct 2014 10:49:43 PM

    I have a newspaper article about CommanderJohn Shea's letter he wrote to his son. I found it in a very old family bible. The letter in the article is addressed to Jackie and dated June 9. I know this will probably never be seen, but I would love to get this to his family. If anybody has any info, please let me know. Thank you.

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Event(s) Participated:
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Aircraft Carrier USS Wasp (Wasp-class) Photo Gallery
USS Wasp (Wasp-class) in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, 27 Oct 1940
See all 29 photographs of Aircraft Carrier USS Wasp (Wasp-class)



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