|Ship Class||Essex-class Aircraft Carrier|
|Builder||Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, Newport News, Virginia, United States|
|Laid Down||10 May 1943|
|Launched||29 Jun 1944|
|Commissioned||9 Oct 1944|
|Decommissioned||25 Feb 1948|
|Displacement||27100 tons standard; 36380 tons full|
|Machinery||Eight boilers, four Westinghouse geared steam turbines, four shafts|
|Power Output||150000 SHP|
|Range||20,000nm at 15 knots|
|Armament||4x twin 5in 38 cal guns, 4x5in 38 cal guns, 8x quad 40mm 56 cal guns, 46x20mm 78 cal guns|
|Armor||2.5 to 4in belt, 1.5in hangar and protective decks, 4in bulkheads, 1.5in STS top and sides of pilot house|
|Recommissioned||1 Jul 1953|
|Final Decommission||13 Feb 1969|
Contributor: David Stubblebine
ww2dbaseThe 17th Essex-class carrier to enter production was laid down on 10 May 1943 as the Randolph at Newport News, Virginia, United States. When Randolph was commissioned on 9 Oct 1944, she was the 13th of her class to go into service, all within a two-year period. This was very emblematic of America's prodigious wartime production capacities.
ww2dbaseNamed for Peyton Randolph, a Revolutionary War patriot from Virginia, Randolph sailed directly from her shakedown period in Trinidad in Dec 1944 to the Pacific. She joined the fleet 7 Feb 1945 just in time to sail in support of the Iwo Jima operations. These operations included the first carrier based air attacks on Japan since the Doolittle Raid in 1942. Randolph planes then launched sweeps against Chichi Jima before flying several close air support missions in direct support of the Marines on Iwo Jima.
ww2dbaseAlong with the rest of the fleet, Randolph returned to the Ulithi anchorage on 1 Mar 1945 for maintenance and replenishment. While still at Ulithi on 11 Mar 1945, Randolph fell victim to a well-organized Japanese special attack plan known as Operation Tan No. 2. Twenty-four Yokosuka P1Y Ginga "Frances" medium bombers launched from Kanoya on Kyushu, Japan on a long range, one way special attack mission against the US Navy anchorage at Ulithi, a flight of over 1,500 miles one-way. For a variety of reasons, only 2 airplanes made it to Ulithi, arriving an hour after sunset. One of the attackers crashed on the small island of Sorlen bordering the lagoon, hitting a road next to a signal tower that may have looked like a flight deck in the fading light. The other struck the Randolph in the stern just below the level of the flight deck near where roughly 200 men were watching a movie on the Hangar Deck. Twenty-seven men were killed and 105 were wounded. Randolph was repaired at Ulithi without having to retire further east and so was able to rejoin the fleet in less than a month.
ww2dbaseThe invasion of Okinawa began on 1 Apr 1945 so when Randolph could retake her station, her planes made strikes against targets on Okinawa, Ie Shima, Kakeroma Jima, and airfields on Kyushu, Japan. During May 1945, planes from the task force struck the Ryukyu Islands and southern Japan, the naval base and airfields on Kikai-Amami Island and Kyushu airfields. On 15 May 1945, Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher transferred his flag to Randolph making the carrier the flagship for the carrier task force after his previous flagship, USS Enterprise, was damaged by a special attack aircraft. With the Enterprise retiring for repairs, the carrier task force now included ten fleet carriers and six light carriers; still a formidable striking force. With Mitscher in his new flagship, Randolph's planes flew in support of the occupation of Okinawa until 29 May 1945 when the fleet retired to the Philippines with a brief stop at Guam.
ww2dbaseAt Leyte, Mitscher departed as part of the scheduled shift in command and Admiral Halsey took over the fleet. While at anchor in Leyte, a US Army Air Force F-5E aircraft, the photo reconnaissance variant of the P-38 Lighting, made a mock strafing run on the Randolph but on its second pass, it crashed into a group of planes spotted on the forward flight deck. The pilot was killed along with 14 sailors and ten Randolph aircraft were destroyed.
ww2dbaseIn July 1945 Randolph returned to waters off Japan where her planes made strikes throughout the Tokyo area, including heavy bombing raids on the Yokosuka Naval Yard and the battleship Nagato berthed there. By this stage of the war, Japan's defenses were withering and the American carrier attacks in the second half of July dealt devastating blows to what was left of the Japanese fleet. Randolph continued her strikes through the first half of August. Her first strike of 15 Aug 1945 was returning from the shore of Tokyo Bay after rocketing and strafing the Kisarazu Airfield when word was received to cease all offensive actions - Japan had accepted the Allies' surrender terms.
ww2dbaseRandolph remained off Japan until late Sep 1945 when she sailed back to Norfolk, Virginia. She was outfitted for Operation Magic Carpet and before the end of 1945 she made two trips to the Mediterranean and back with two loads of returning American servicemen. After spending 1946 and 1947 as a training ship, Randolph was placed out of commission on 25 Feb 1948 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. She sat in the Reserve Fleet for four years before being recommissioned as an Attack Carrier on 1 Jul 1953. In 1955, Randolph was modified to receive an angled flight deck and other modernizations. In 1956, Randolph became the first Atlantic Fleet carrier to launch a Regulus guided missile from her flight deck. Randolph stood ready in the eastern Mediterranean during the Suez Crisis of 1956 and again in 1957 during the political turmoil in Syria.
ww2dbaseRandolph was repurposed for anti-submarine warfare in March 1959 and was the primary space capsule recovery ship for the second and third Mercury manned space flight missions (Astronauts Grissom and Glenn). In October 1962, Randolph participated in the Naval blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis and her group was instrumental in removing Soviet attack submarines from the quarantine area.
ww2dbaseDuring the next 5 years, Randolph made two more Mediterranean cruises and a northern European cruise but spent most of her time off the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean. Randolph was taken out of commission for the last time on 13 Feb 1969 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She remained in the reserve fleet until being struck from the Navy list in 1973 and sold for scrap in 1975.
ww2dbaseRandolph earned three battle stars for World War II service.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
US Navy War Diaries
The National Security Archive
Joe Baugher; US Military Aircraft Serial Numbers
Aircraft Carrier USS Randolph (CV-15) Interactive Map
USS Randolph Operational Timeline
|10 May 1943||The keel of carrier Randolph was laid down by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company in Newport News, Virginia, United States.|
|29 Jun 1943||Carrier Randolph was launched at Newport News, Virginia, United States, sponsored by Rose Gillette, wife of Iowa Senator Guy M. Gillette.|
|9 Oct 1944||USS Randolph was commissioned into service with Captain Felix Locke Baker in command.|
|11 Mar 1945||In Operation Tan No. 2, Japanese Navy aircraft conducted a large-scale special attack operation on American warships at Ulithi atoll, Caroline Islands. Closer to the home islands, a P1Y1 Ginga aircraft of 762nd Naval Air Group based in Kanoya, Kagoshima, Japan struck USS Randolph at dusk.|
|25 Feb 1948||USS Randolph was decommissioned from service.|
|1 Jul 1953||USS Randolph was commissioned into service.|
|13 Feb 1969||USS Randolph was decommissioned from service.|
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Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal