Franklin file photo [4912]

USS Franklin

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassEssex-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderNewport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia, United States
Laid Down7 Dec 1942
Launched14 Oct 1943
Commissioned31 Jan 1944
Decommissioned17 Feb 1947
Displacement27100 tons standard; 38000 tons full
Length872 feet
Beam108 feet
Draft34 feet
MachineryEight Babcock & Wilcox 565psi boilers, four Westinghouse geared steam turbines, two 250kw diesel generators, four shafts
Bunkerage6,330 tons oil
Power Output150000 SHP
Speed33 knots
Range20,000nm at 15 knots
Crew2631
Armament4x2x5in guns, 4x5in guns, 8x4x40mm guns, 46x20mm guns
Armor2.5-4in belt, 1.5in hangar, 4in bulkheads, 1.5in STS top and sides of pilot house, 2.5in top of steering gear
Aircraft90-100
Elevators3
Catapults2

Contributor:

ww2dbaseFranklin was launched at Newport News, Virginia, United States during WW2, sponsored by Director of the WAVES program Lieutenant Commander Mildred H. McAfee. She was commissioned with Captain James Marshall Shoemaker in command. At the commissioning ceremony, Shoemaker delivered a concise speech:

Gentlemen, I have been ordered by the bureau to be the first commanding officer of the USS Franklin. We will put Franklin in commission and bring her to the firing line faster than any carrier in history. Six months from now, you will have seen what your first Jap looks like. Thirteen is my lucky number. Good hunting!

ww2dbaseShoemaker's reference of the number thirteen refers to Franklin's hull number with the US Navy, CV-13.

ww2dbaseAlthough Franklin was technically named after American founding father Benjamin Franklin, this Essex-class carrier was in actuality named for the heritage for the first USS Franklin, a six-gun schooner that served during the American Revolutionary War. The WW2-era Franklin, the fifth to carry the name, departed on 5 May 1944 toward Trinidad for shakedown, and joined Task Group 27.7 for training at San Diego, California, United States, arriving 16 May. At San Diego, the ship was loaded with supplies and the men enjoyed their last shore leave before they were sent to the South Pacific. While the sailors enjoyed their last freedom, the air crews worked furiously to perfect their dive and torpedo bombing skills. On 31 May, Franklin departed with 500 tons of cargo, 90 aircraft, and almost 3,500 men. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 5 Jun, and then Eniwetok in Marshall Islands on 23 Jun, where she joined Vice Admiral Raymond Spruance's 5th Fleet.

ww2dbaseFranklin's island was mounted starboard amidships, extending down into the hangar and holding important spaces such as the bridge, radar and radio control, flight deck control, etc.; like other carriers, the flight deck was built to lean more weight on the port side so to offset the weight of the heavy island structure. The flight deck, made of Douglas fir and white pine, had two expansion joints that allowed the ship to flex as she traveled the waves. Two centerline and one deck-edge elevators allowed the aircraft to reach the flight deck from the hangar. Two hydraulic H-4B catapults were installed to aid with takeoffs, though sometimes the pilots felt more comfortable with their aircraft's own power. The flight deck was not armored; the designers of her opted for an armored hangar deck, instead, which served the function of protecting the machinery below, which includes two Babcock and Wilcox boilers, four 1,250-kilowatt turbo-generators, and two 250-kilowatt backup diesel generators.

ww2dbaseMore than 3,000 men were trained to serve on Franklin at the new Large Ship Pre-Commissioning Training Center at the Naval Training Station at Newport, Rhode Island, United States. They were the first US Navy personnel to enroll in this new training program.

ww2dbaseAt 0437 on 4 Jul 1944, Franklin launched her first strike of the war against Iwo Jima of the Bonin Islands, indirectly supporting the American invasion of the Mariana Islands. It was also the first combat mission for many of her air crew. The aircraft flew as low as they could to avoid Japanese radar detection, and achieved relative surprise. Despite the inexperience, the strike was wildly successful, with pilots reporting the destruction of aircraft on the ground. The Japanese fighters that were able to take off were said to be unprepared, reflecting that by this stage of the war, Japan had run out of their best pilots. On 4 Jul, she repeated a similar attack again, striking Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima, and Ha Ha Jima. On 6 Jul, she attacked targets on Guam and Rota in the Mariana Islands, and remained in the area to strike Guam on 21 Jul, invasion date against that island.

ww2dbaseOn 25 and 26 Jul, Franklin's aircraft conducted a photo reconnaissance and air strike mission in the Palau Islands. On those two days, her aircraft dropped bombs on Japanese defensive structures on the island of Peleliu, while two F6F-5P Hellcat fighters, equipped with cameras, took over 2,000 of various types of photographs which were used to plan the later invasion of Peleliu.

ww2dbaseOn 29 Jul, Franklin was assigned to Task Group 58.1. On 4 Aug, her fighters struck Chichi Jima and dive and torpedo bombers intercepted a convoy north of Ototo Jima after they failed to locate a Japanese light carrier that was reported to be in the area. The aircraft sank several vessels. By the time the surface fleet arrived to finish off the convoy, they found only a tanker in sinking condition and the destroyer Matsu dead in the water. On 5 Aug, with the ammunition store running low, she launched another strike against Chichi Jima; Franklin's aircraft destroyed several hangars, merchant ships, barges, and twin-engined bombers.

ww2dbaseBetween 9 and 28 Aug, Franklin dropped anchor at Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, where the crew rested while maintenance services were conducted on the carrier. Repair ships and supply barges came alongside to perform their work on the carrier.

ww2dbaseBetween 31 Aug and 2 Sep, Franklin's aircraft attacked targets in the Bonin Islands once again, causing ground damage, sinking two cargo ships, and downing several Japanese aircraft; during this three-day strike, over 100 tons of bombs were dropped on and around Iwo Jima. In Sep 1944, she supported the operations in the Palau Islands as the flagship of Task Group 38.4. On 9 Oct, she launched aircraft to support the subsequent invasion of Leyte, Philippine Islands. On 10 Oct, she launched four waves of aircraft against Naha, Okinawa, Japan; the pilots reported that the strike resembled a "target rich" "turkey shoot" after sinking 19 ships, destroying 100 aircraft, and leaving Naha in an inferno. On 11 Oct, the aircraft struck Luzon, Philippine Islands. On 12 and 13 Oct, the aircraft struck Takao, Taiwan, sinking 11 cargo ships, 7 tankers, and a dredge in Takao harbor.

ww2dbaseOn 13 Oct, the task force came under attack by four G4M Type 1 Bombers. Franklin's defensive armaments poured heavy fire on the bombers. The first G4M released her torpedo about 500 yards away, missing Franklin after it ran below her fantail; as the Japanese torpedo bomber tried to pull up, she was hit by Franklin's anti-aircraft guns and struggled to regain control. As the G4M bomber's gunner strafed the carrier, the aircraft struck the flight deck just aft of the island on the port side, ripping up the wooden flight deck as the aircraft slid across. After killing sailor Harold Stancil and wounding ten others, the bomber crashed into the sea and exploded beneath the waves. The second G4M bomber was picked off by Lieutenant (jg) Stan Butryn's F6F Hellcat fighter. The third Japanese bomber was damaged and then shot down by anti-aircraft fire from Enterprise and Belleau Wood. The fourth bomber was shot down by Franklin and Enterprise's gunners after its torpedo was fired and narrowly missed hitting Franklin. A destroyer picked the surviving crew of one of the G4M bombers and delivered them to Franklin. Ensign Jack Lawton, a TBF Avenger pilot, was surprised to find that the Japanese pilot was actually from Ohio, United States. The Japanese pilot had only one wish, which was to sit in Butryn's F6F Hellcat fighter that had shot him down during the fighting, which was granted to the surprise of both the Japanese pilot and the Americans.

ww2dbaseOn 14 Oct, Franklin launched fighters against Aparri airfield in northern Luzon, Philippine Islands, and then on the following day, they struck Nichols airfield near Manila. In retaliation, the Japanese sent aircraft of their own against Franklin. At 1046, two Ki-43 Hayabusa fighters and one D4Y Suisei dive bomber pushed past the destroyer screen and approached the carrier. The two Ki-43 aircraft's bombs missed, one to port and the other to starboard. The bomb released by the D4Y, however, struck Franklin at the outboard corner of the deck-edge elevator, killing three and wounding 22. At 1400, a larger formation of Japanese attacked again, but this time, fighters from Enterprise, San Jacinto, and Belleau Wood intercepted them before they could pose a threat. Despite the light damage sustained on 15 Oct, Franklin remained on the front. On 19 Oct, she launched an attack on Manila Bay, sinking several ships and downing 11 aircraft.

ww2dbaseOn 20 Oct, the aircraft from Franklin struck airstrips on Leyte. On 24 Oct, her aircraft participated in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea in which the battleship Musashi was sunk. "I couldn't believe how enormous they were!", recalled Joe Anderlik, a SB2C Helldiver gunner from Franklin, when he saw the two Yamato-class battleships. Through heavy flak, Franklin's aircraft claimed four bomb hits and three or four torpedo hits on Musashi, but several crews were also lost during the battle. Off Leyte, she was among the carriers taken by William Halsey to chase Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's bait, which resulted in the Battle off Cape Engaño. During that battle, Franklin launched her first of four attack waves at 0641. Together with aircraft from other carriers, all four Japanese carriers were sunk. Franklin's aircraft flew 66 sorties and dropped eighty 1,000-pound and two 2,000-pound bombs during the Battle off Cape Engaño; she had but one torpedo left in her magazines.

ww2dbaseOn 30 Oct, off Samar, Philippine Islands, she was targeted by six Japanese aircraft. Because the Japanese formation was so small, coupled with an untimely radar malfunction, the Japanese aircraft were able to get close. At 1425, three A6M Zero fighters and three D4Y Suisei dive bombers dove at the group from an altitude of 3,000 feet. In the confusion, many officers aboard Franklin thought they might be friendly and refrained from giving the order to fire, especially that only a few days prior they had almost shot down friendly aircraft during a mis-identification episode. But this time, a few gunners were able to make confident identification. Ensign Byron Robinson recalled standing beside a US Marine manned 40-mm gun commanded by Lieutenant Skorich. Skorich requested permission to fire, but it was denied. "No, identified friendly", the bridge responded. "Identified friendly, hell! I can see the meatballs!" Throwing down his headset, he yelled "open fire" to his men against orders. Lou Casserino, who manned another gun, did the same. "In combat, you shoot first and ask questions later", Casserino said. The few seconds delay proved to be fatal, however. Two of the A6M Zero fighters dove straight for Franklin. The first was hit by many 20-mm and 40-mm anti-aircraft rounds and exploded to thousands of pieces. The second was also hit, but the pilot was able to stay on course despite the engine fire, eventually crashing directly onto the flight deck. "Shit flew all over the place", recalled gunner Bob Tice. The aircraft went through the flight deck into the gallery deck. The special attack was followed by another dive by the third A6M Zero, but in the last minute, the pilot of the third aircraft decided Franklin had already suffered serious damage, and chose the nearby carrier Belleau Wood instead; he was able to crash into Belleau Wood's fantail, killing 92 men and destroying 12 aircraft. Fires and gas fume explosions damaged Franklin further, while the 2,344 tons of water used for firefighting flooded compartments belowdecks, including Number 7 and 8 boilers rooms, giving her a three-degree list to starboard. When the fire was extinguished at 1635, the crew counted 56 men killed and 30 wounded. Franklin's crew found the charred remains in the wreckage of the A6M Zero fighter; in one of the odd but yet sadly frequent scenes, some of Franklin's sailors pulled out the pilot's teeth to keep as souvenirs.

ww2dbaseAfter the engagement with the suicide attackers, Franklin and Belleau Wood steamed for Ulithi in the Caroline Islands for repairs, arriving on 2 Nov. On 3 Nov, Halsey arrived personally to inspect Franklin, which was the first major victim of the new suicide tactic deployed by the Japanese. Seeing the flight deck hole was about 30 feet by 40 feet, he ordered the carrier to return to the United States for proper repairs. He personally addressed the crew to tell them not to discuss the reason and the severity of the Japanese attack, so to avoid helping the Japanese confirm the effectiveness of the attack. She sailed to Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton, Washington, United States for permanent repairs that lasted from 28 Nov 1944 until 2 Feb 1945.

ww2dbaseWhen Franklin emerged from repairs, she received a new commanding officer, Captain Leslie Edward Gehres. Although he had an impressive resume, his arrogance made him an unpopular figure with the men. Some men "despised him", recalled US Marine Ray Larson who was a member of the US Marine Corps air group aboard Franklin. Contrastingly, another new member of the crew, Father Joe O'Callahan, was well-liked, making him the person to turn to when the enlisted and junior officers found the new captain unapproachable.

ww2dbaseFranklin returned to action in Mar 1945, operating off Okinawa, Japan by mid-month as part of Task Group 58.2. On 18 Mar, her aircraft struck Kagoshima and Izumi on southern Kyushu, Japan.

ww2dbaseAt 0654 on 19 Mar 1945, Franklin's combat information center recorded a bogie about thirty miles distant while the ship was operating about 50 miles south of Shikoku, Japan. In the next few minutes, bogies were being reported, making it likely that there were some aircraft performing reconnaissance on the American fleet. At 0705, a D4Y3 Suisei aircraft was sighted. At 0708, the Japanese aircraft was only about 1,000 yards forward of the ship. With a final sudden maneuver that corrected the aircraft's bearings for the ship, the Japanese pilot began his dive, then released his bomb when he was about a full carrier length away. The 250-kilogram bomb hit the flight deck on the center line at a 30-degree angle from horizontal, sending pieces of metal and wood everywhere. Reports of a possible second bomb that detonated near the Number 3 elevator also existed, though survivors' accounts on the second bomb contradicted each other. Casualties on the flight deck was high, for that many of the crew were preparing to launch aircraft, and the noise of the engines meant they never heard any of the warnings. "I looked up and saw sections of the wooden flight deck flying in the air", recalled Bob Frank who was working on the flight deck at the moment the bomb hit. "I didn't know what had happened." The bomb wrecked the elevator, penetrated into the hangar deck, and started fires everywhere. The pilot ready room was also destroyed at the moment of detonation. "[T]he center deck of our ready room slammed into the overhead. BLAM!" Recalled US Marine Corps pilot John Vandergrift. "I don't know what happened because so much of it is a blur.... The ready room was ripped and torn... flames and smoke and bodies were all over the place.... There were twenty-eight men in the ready room, and just four of us survived the deck heave." The most critical damage, however, would not be discovered for a few minutes: the hit had knocked out the water lines necessary for firefighting. To make matters worse, most members of the damage control team were killed in the first blast. Making matters worse were the 53 aircraft that were aboard the ship at the time, 31 of which were on the flight deck, loaded with high-octane fuel and fully armed; it was estimated that in the five hours following the attack, as many as 50 of the 66 500-pound bombs and 7 or 8 of the 250-pound bombs on the flight deck exploded. The Corsair fighters' 1,227-pound "Tiny-Tim" rockets were also ignited, resulting in their 500-pound warheads being propelled through the inferno, causing further havoc. Many men were killed or maimed by the bomb blasts, while others were simply blown off the ship by the force of the explosions.

ww2dbaseThe explosions were so violent that nearby ships were also rocked. Admiral Marc Mitscher, whose flagship Bunker Hill was over the horizon, noted that he felt the rumble of the explosions even though he could not see the ship. Seaman 1st Class Ralph Packard of USS Hunt observed the explosions through his 40-power long glass. He recalled seeing things that were "ungodly." "I saw guys flying through the air... and past the Hunt... and we were over a thousand yards away.... I saw men running around on fire, just flaming torches."

ww2dbaseNick Turcic, who was at Franklin's bridge after the explosion out of circumstance, observed Gehres running around rather uselessly. "How dare those guys screw up my ship!" Turcic recalled Gehres screaming, but making only few useful orders to control the damage. "The captain was running around the bridge like a chicken with his head cut off", said Bob Mallgraf, who stood beside Turcic on the bridge. The two men's observations probably were at least slightly biased, however, for records show that by 0725 Gehres had already evaluated the situation and ordered the magazines flooded to reduce fire hazards. What he did not know, though, was that the water mains of Franklin were destroyed, and the flooding was never carried out. Soon after, Admiral Ralph Davison, whose flag was aboard Franklin, decided to transfer his flag to the nearby destroyer USS Miller, and suggested Gehres to abandon ship. Gehres, knowing there were still men belowdecks, refused. As Miller pulled alongside Franklin to transfer Davison's staff, she also pumped tons of water at Franklin to help with the firefighting efforts.

ww2dbaseThe men trapped belowdecks, hindered by smoke and heat, tried to make their ways above. Some survivors reported that the bulkheads were at times so hot that "the steel flashed different colors, changing dark red to yellow to orange to white as the heat moved through the steel." In this ordeal, many heroes emerged. Lieutenant (junior grade) Donald Gary discovered 300 men trapped in a mess compartment and made multiple trips to lead small groups of them to safety until all were safe. O'Callahan, too, rose to the occasion, going deep down into the ship several times to eventually lead 700 men to safety, and also led firefighting efforts on the flight and hangar decks.

ww2dbaseAt 1200, cruiser Santa Fe sent a message to Davison on behalf of Gehres:

CAPTAIN OF FRANKLIN SAYS FIRES PRACTICALLY UNDER CONTROL. SKELETON CREW ABOARD. LIST STABLIZED. IF YOU SAVE US FROM THE JAPANESE, WE WILL SAVE YOU THE SHIP.

ww2dbaseDavison replied "[W]e will do whatever we can." Davison guarded the wounded carrier with all the escorts he could gather, while dispatching five Fletcher-class destroyers from Destroyer Division 104 to search for the over one thousand crewmen floating in the cold Pacific Ocean. Destroyer Hunt alone rescued 482 survivors from the sea.

ww2dbaseAt the conclusion of the attack on 19 Mar, 798 were killed, and at least 487 were wounded. The losses amounted to the third largest naval disaster of the US Navy in WW2 (behind the 1,177 lost aboard Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack in Dec 1941 and the 880 lost aboard Indianapolis when she was sunk by submarine in Jun 1945). Her losses, however, provided the US Navy the hard-earned lessons on improving the future design of carriers.

ww2dbaseIn tow by cruiser Pittsburgh, Franklin slowly moved away from Japan. Shortly after, Gary led a team of engineers to Number 3 fire room, and the group was able to start the boiler. By 0930 the next day, she was sailing under her own power at 6 knots. By 1138, the speed was increased to 14 knots. By 1405, the towline from Pittsburgh was removed as she was able to sail at the speed of 15 knots. Franklin now began her amazing journey home on her own power despite being seriously damaged. She stopped temporarily at Ulithi in the Caroline Islands on 24 Mar, where US Marine Corps mortarman Eugene Sledge called seeing "charred and twisted aircraft on her flight deck, where they had been waiting loaded with bombs and rockets to take off when the ship was hit." The Marines near him commented "[a]in't she a mess! Boy, them poor swabbies musta' caught hell." Franklin eventually sailed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, United States for temporary repairs. Per Pearl Harbor procedures, a civilian harbor pilot came onboard to help navigate the carrier to the dock; Gehres, however, refused, and responded that he would "take her in" himself. Gehres ended up moving the ship into the dock area too fast, crashing her into the dock, sending timber and concrete flying; embarrassed of the situation, he blamed the mooring details for the incident. Departing from Pearl Harbor after temporary repairs, she sailed to Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, United States for permanent repairs.

ww2dbase"Disregarding one of the most superb and ongoing rescue actions in the history of the U.S. Navy, the gallant story of the Franklin was nearly tainted", said historian Joseph Springer. Once the ship got underway, Gehres immediately began a campaign against those who were not aboard the ship when the disaster was calmed. "The Commanding Officer requires an immediate explanation in writing as to when, where and why, you able bodied and uninjured left this vessel while she was in action and seriously damaged when no order had been issued to abandon ship", he inquired. Unjustly, Gehres branded those who had to jump ship due to the intensity of the fires and even those who were simply blown off of the ship by the force of the explosions as cowards. "How many captains would say something like that about his own crew... even if it was true?" Lamented Seaman 2nd Class George Sippel years later. To further add insult to injury, the captain created the "704 Club", granting membership to the 704 who remained on board, and later, deny the honor of medals to those without membership.

ww2dbaseDespite the heavy damage, Franklin was eventually restored to good condition, but participated in no further action after the restoration. She was decommissioned in Feb 1947 at Bayonne, New Jersey, United States. She was redesignated an attack aircraft carrier on 1 Oct 1952, and then to aircraft transport on 15 May 1959, though she saw no reactivation. She was ultimately sold to Portsmouth Salvage Company, Chesapeake, Virginia, United States for scrapping in 1969. At Money Point, Virginia, where the dismantling took place, the last of the human remains from the 19 Mar 1945 attack were found, inside an air duct. Yard workers reported that they heard "eerie sounds of men talking, and laughing, or 'horsing around like guys do.'"

ww2dbaseSources: Inferno, United States Navy Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Wikipedia, With the Old Breed.

Aircraft Carrier USS Franklin Interactive Map

USS Franklin Operational Timeline

31 Jan 1944 Fleet aircraft carrier USS Franklin was commissioned into service with Captain James M. Shoemaker in command.
20 Mar 1944 USS Franklin set sail for Gulf of Paria, Trinidad for her shakedown cruise.
24 Mar 1944 USS Franklin arrived at Ulithi, Caroline Islands.
1 Apr 1944 USS Franklin crossed the International Date Line.
3 Apr 1944 USS Franklin arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
20 Apr 1944 USS Franklin transited through the Panama Canal.
26 Apr 1944 USS Franklin arrived at New York, New York, United States.
28 Apr 1944 USS Franklin entered New York Navy Yard, New York, United States for repairs.
5 May 1944 USS Franklin departed Norfolk, Virginia, United States.
11 May 1944 USS Franklin transited through the Panama Canal.
19 May 1944 USS Franklin arrived at San Diego, California, United States.
1 Jun 1944 USS Franklin departed San Diego, California, United States.
23 Jun 1944 USS Franklin departed Pearl Harbor.
3 Jul 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes against Bonin Islands.
4 Jul 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes against Bonin Islands.
6 Jul 1944 USS Franklin arrived in the Mariana Islands area; she was to remain through 22 Jul 1944 to launch strikes against Japanese position on Rota and Guam islands.
25 Jul 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes against Palau Islands, Yap Island, and Ulithi Atoll through 27 Jul 1944.
31 Aug 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes against Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima through 2 Sep 1944.
6 Sep 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes against Yap Island and Ulithi Atoll through 8 Sep 1944.
10 Sep 1944 USS Franklin provided support for campaign in the Palau Islands through 16 Sep 1944.
20 Sep 1944 USS Franklin crossed the Equator.
10 Oct 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes against Okinawa.
11 Oct 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes Aparri, Luzon, Philippine Islands.
12 Oct 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes against Tainan, Taiwan.
13 Oct 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes against Tainan, Taiwan. A Japanese special attack aircraft caused light damage to the flight deck.
14 Oct 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes against Aparri, Manila, and Legaspi in the Philippine Islands through 19 Oct 1944.
15 Oct 1944 USS Franklin was attacked by Japanese aircraft off of Luzon, Philippine Islands; 1 bomb hit and 2 near misses caused damage.
19 Oct 1944 USS Franklin launched an attack on the Japanese on Manila Bay, Philippine Islands sinking several ships and downing 11 aircraft.
20 Oct 1944 USS Franklin provided support for campaign for the invasion of Leyte, Philippine Islands.
22 Oct 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes in the Manila Bay area at Luzon, Philippine Islands.
23 Oct 1944 USS Franklin launched strikes in the Manila Bay area at Luzon, Philippine Islands.
27 Oct 1944 USS Franklin provided support for campaign at Leyte, Philippine Islands through 30 Oct 1944.
30 Oct 1944 USS Franklin was struck by a special attack aircraft, causing serious damage.
2 Nov 1944 USS Franklin arrived at Ulithi, Caroline Islands for temporary repairs.
3 Nov 1944 Halsey personally inspected USS Franklin at Ulithi, Caroline Islands; she was the first major American ship to be damaged by "kamikaze" special attacks.
7 Nov 1944 Captain L. E. Gehres relieved Captain J. M. Shoemaker as the commanding officer of USS Franklin.
11 Nov 1944 USS Franklin departed Ulithi, Caroline Islands.
21 Nov 1944 USS Franklin arrived at Pearl Harbor.
27 Nov 1944 USS Franklin arrived at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, United States for repairs.
2 Feb 1945 USS Franklin departed Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, United States.
4 Feb 1945 USS Franklin arrived at San Francisco, California, United States.
7 Feb 1945 USS Franklin departed San Francisco, California, United States.
28 Feb 1945 A F4U Corsair fighter of US Marine Corps squadron VMF-214 suffered a belly tank accidental detachment during its landing aboard USS Franklin in the Pacific Ocean between California, United States and the Territory of Hawaii. The tank flew forward into the propeller blades, and the resulting fuel spill was ignited into a fire that would burn for an hour. The pilot Ralph Husted was killed.
3 Mar 1945 USS Franklin departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
6 Mar 1945 USS Franklin crossed the International Date Line.
13 Mar 1945 USS Franklin arrived at Ulithi, Caroline Islands.
18 Mar 1945 USS Franklin arrived in position south of Japan and launched F4U Corsair fighters of US Marine Corps squadron VMF-214 against the targets in Kagoshima Prefecture. USMC pilot John Stodd was shot down over Izumi Airfield and was captured. The US airmen destroyed many Japanese aircraft on the ground at Izumi.
19 Mar 1945 USS Franklin was struck by a 250-kilogram bomb by a Japanese D4Y3 or D3A aircraft, which broke through the fir planks and detonated in the hangar deck; the 22 aircraft in the hangar deck, which were in the process of arming and refueling, burst in blames. A second bomb, ignition of gasoline vapors, or ignition of ammunition destroyed a further 31 aircraft. Damage control teams were able to save the ship. 724 were killed and 265 were wounded.
30 Jun 1945 Commander H. H. Hale relieved Captain L. E. Gehres as the commanding officer of USS Franklin.
17 Feb 1947 Franklin was decommissioned from service.

Photographs

USS Franklin being floated out of drydock for the first time, Newport News, Virginia, United States, 14 Oct 1943. Note Navy WAVES on the dock; WAVES1944 plan for camouflage Measure 3, Design 6a on Essex-class fleet carriers. Of the 17 Essex-class carriers to see service during 1944-45, only 1 was painted according to this plan plus 1 with this only on one side1944 plan for camouflage Measure 31-32-33, Design 3a on Essex-class fleet carriers. Of the 17 Essex-class carriers to see service during 1944-45, 3 were painted according to this plan plus 1 with this only on one sideFranklin in the Elizabeth River, off Norfolk, Virginia, United States, 21 Feb 1944, photo 1 of 4
See all 39 photographs of Aircraft Carrier USS Franklin



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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
16 Sep 2007 01:57:31 PM

I think the Franklin was actually at Ulithi when Sledge and others saw it, because they would keep ships in the protected lagoon
2. Karl Braddick III says:
9 Jan 2009 06:46:24 PM

My Dad always said the captain was a "A Hole" and this proves it. I have never heard the story of what the captain did after they were hit on 3/19...my Dad was one of the men trapped below and transfered to the Santa Fe...I am going to print a copy of this for him to read...Thanks, Karl III
3. happyrob says:
25 Jul 2009 01:38:25 PM

why did america use wooden decks on their aircraft carriers in ww2
4. fred nichols says:
6 Feb 2010 04:50:16 PM

I am trying to see an official publication listing my father Fred Nichols who served on the Franklin - Any Assistance?
5. Anonymous says:
19 Sep 2010 11:00:21 AM

Under operational timeline above, 30 June 1944 did not happen in 1944. Perhaps in 1945 is when Hale replaced Gehres.
6. Anonymous says:
19 Sep 2010 08:08:55 PM

about 11 paragraphs into the body of data above, the one beginning "On 14 Oct, -go to next to last line beginning "sustained on 14 Oct, - make correction to read "sustained on 15 Oct - after all that was the date of the next the day. Thanks.
7. Donna says:
19 Dec 2010 05:58:28 PM

My uncle, Franklin Ory, served on the uss Franklin -- I thought the ship was hit once and he was burned, returned home to heal and the ship repaired, and then the second time he died. Would like to see roster with his name if it's possible. Any help? Thanks
8. Walter Frattin says:
15 May 2011 06:18:15 AM

Did any body on the ship Pittsburg witness the Kamakozi attack on Franklin or was a bomb?10-19-45 off the coast of Okanowa?
9. Joseph A Springer says:
21 Sep 2011 04:28:29 AM

Very well written article. My book "USS FRANKLIN: The Epic Life and Death Struggle of the USS Franklin in WWII" was used as a source for this article. Most of the questions one has about FRANKLIN are likely answered. Moreover, the book is mandatory for anyone who served aboard Big Ben, or anyone with a family member among her crew. Additionally, the book was just reprinted in trade paperback and it is available on-line (Amazon, etc.) and Barnes and Noble stores. (If it is not on the shelf, ask for it.) Or you may order a signed copy from me personally. Just write to me at: gettysburg.springer@gmail.com and we will get things lined up. Furthermore, a new film titled "USS FRANKLIN: HONOR RESTORED" will be released on DVD by Janson Media around mid-October 2011. Narrated by Capt Dale Dye (Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, Band of Brothers, The Pacific) this film details the history of Franklin, events of 19 March 1945, and the captain's subsequent treatment of his crew. ~JS~
10. Anonymous says:
7 Dec 2011 10:33:16 AM

If this isn't a hit piece on the admiral i don't know what is! Those **** s who couldn't take the disipoine should love the Navy of today with all its PC crap! I knew the aDMIRAL WHEN HE WAS RETIRED AND MY dAD WORKED FOR HIM. hE WAS THE MOST DECENT AND COMMENDABLE MAN WHO i ADMIRED! tHESE WERE THE OLD DOGS LIKE pATTON. yOU SURE WOUDN'T SEE ANYMORE LIKE HIM IN THE nAVY OR MILITARY OF TODAY!
11. Zeke Ortiz says:
16 Dec 2011 03:50:48 PM

I had Marine Corps buddies from VMF214 on board Franklin. And have been trying for years to find out who were killed and who survived. If you have or know of a list of names of casualties from VMF214 I wopuld like to know about it. If there is such a list please email me a copy..Thx Zeke
12. MIck Hersey says:
22 Oct 2012 07:47:42 PM

To Zeke Ortiz, There is a granite plaque on the wall of our utility building on the Boardwalk here in Bremerton that list all those killed in the attack on the USS Franklin. I will see about getting you the list if you desire.
13. Jerome Omasta says:
22 Oct 2012 10:49:44 PM

Your ships timeline is incorrect !!!!!
Theses entries are in error - change year to 1945 & they will be correct.
2 Feb 1944 USS Franklin departed Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, United States.
4 Feb 1944 USS Franklin arrived at San Francisco, California, United States.
7 Feb 1944 USS Franklin departed San Francisco, California, United States.
3 Mar 1944 USS Franklin departed Pearl Harbor.
6 Mar 1944 USS Franklin crossed the International Date Line.
13 Mar 1944 USS Franklin arrived at Ulithi, Caroline Islands.
18 Mar 1944 USS Franklin arrived at Okinawa area and launched strikes against Japanese positions in the Japanese home islands.

Thanks !
14. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
23 Oct 2012 06:28:50 AM

Thanks Jerome, the errors had been corrected.
15. Anonymous says:
22 Jan 2013 12:05:10 PM

My father was aboard on the 19th and was blown off the fantail trying to escape the flames from the flight deck. He opted not to get in the chow line because he was late getting up on the flight deck before the first bomb hit. Talk about fate. Anyway I was around a lot of my dads shipmates for many years and the general consensus I heard was that Capt. Gehres was not invited to the ships reunion in New York in 1966 and had been threatened bodily harm if he showed up. My father despised him for the way he treated the men who were not part of the "704" club. My father nearly drowned and had shrapnel wounds to his neck and back and managed to hang on to a life raft with several other seamen and pilots while they waited to be picked up.
16. Carolyn Pape says:
28 May 2014 08:07:54 PM

I believe my mother said my great granduncle, Simon Dlabik (they called him Red) died on the Franklin. He was in the radio room when ship was hit, I think she said. If you could e-mail me a list of those who lost their lives onboard, I would like to see if his name is on that list and if he did, in fact, serve on the Franklin. Thank you if that would be a possibility. I would like to add this to our family tree as he was married but got killed before he could start a family to leave a legacy to.
17. Glenn Gava says:
9 Feb 2015 10:51:44 AM

My father Peter Gava was an Electrician's Mate on the Franklin from 1943 to 1944 . I am trying to find a crew list from that time period . Any help would be helpful .
18. Jim Drosdahl says:
3 Aug 2015 09:26:26 AM

My uncle, ARM3C Orville Drosdal, served on Admiral Davison's staff and worked in the Combat Information Center. It is possible that uncle Orville was the first aboard the Franklin that morning to be aware of the incoming Japanese bomber. He died instantly when the first bomb took out the CIC. RIP uncle Orv.
19. Anonymous says:
27 Mar 2016 02:18:21 PM

Chief Aviation Pilot Stanley Tumosa: He is listed on the Franklin site as being killed in VT-5 18 March 1945. The 19 March attack is when she was almost destroyed. If Tumosa was a TBF pilot shot down by perchance on 18 March there should also show his crewmen on 18 March. Also on I think the Franklin forum Jack Hensel of VT-5 lists those killed in VT-5, CAP Tumosa isn't listed? Any information on Naval Aviation Pilot Tumosa?
20. Joseph A Springer says:
12 Apr 2016 08:30:02 AM

Anonymous (above) - Stanley Tumosa was a F4U Corsair pilot serving in VF-5. Upon return from the March 18, 1945 strike on Japan, Tumosa's aircraft crashed into the sea (inverted) when the aircraft ran out of fuel, just short of Franklin's flight deck. He went down with his aircraft.
~Joe Springer~
(Author of INFERNO)
21. Anonymous says:
21 Apr 2016 10:18:36 PM

Dear Joe Springer, My father in law, Charles W. Harris was a dive bomber pilot on the Franklin. You won't believe this but he raised cattle down the road from your home on the family ranch in Pike County Il just northwest of Pearl off Vin Fiz Road. Charles passed on December 29, 2015 at the VA home in Quincy from Legionnaires Disease. My wife and I would love to meet you and ask your assistance with a few things. Perhaps we could meet in Pittsfield for coffee or dinner sometime soon. Please send me an email and I can give you a call.
22. Anonymous says:
6 Nov 2016 07:20:24 PM

Does anyone know Albert R Horn jr? Was he one of the survivors? I've been looking all over for a list of the USS FRANKLIN survivors.
23. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
6 Nov 2016 08:00:09 PM

To Anonymous above:
The USS Franklin Muster Rolls for 30 Apr 1945 list Seaman 1c Albert Richard Horn, Jr., service number 726 78 96, as being transferred off the ship (along with lots of other sailors) on 9 Apr 1945 to the receiving station at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Being transferred to the receiving station rather than to the hospital or a hospital ship suggests he was able bodied at this time and ready for other service.
24. Anonymous says:
7 Nov 2016 10:21:21 AM

THANKYOU. For information on Mr Albert Horn. I bought an ink pen drawing of the USS FRANKLIN and at the bottom of this work of art the name Albert R Horn Jr. 54c. Is wrote. I thought he may have been the artist. I'm curious if anyone else has such a picture and if they know who the artist was. May God Bless all the men of the USS FRANKLIN.
25. Anonymous says:
8 Nov 2016 04:47:09 AM

Thank you Mr. Stubblebine for the info provided. I bought a pen drawn picture of the USS Franklin with the name of Albert R Horn Jr. 54c -- at the bottom of the drawing. I thought maybe he was the artist. I was wondering Is there anyone who was on the ship who also received a pen drawn picture of the ship. I would love to know the artist who created this work of art. May God Bless ALL VETERANS. They sacrificed so much for us. THANKYOU ALL
26. Anonymous says:
26 Dec 2016 08:10:00 PM

Wondering if Danial Harrison Magill 393 48 41 is on Ships Company List for CV-13, USS Franklin? Thanks.
27. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
26 Dec 2016 09:37:55 PM

Anonymous (above):
Daniel Harrison Magill does not appear in the Franklin’s Muster Rolls (neither does Danial Magill) but he does appear several times in the 1941 and 1942 Rolls of the Pensacola Naval Air Station and of the San Diego Naval Air Station (North Island).
28. JJ Jauregui says:
11 Mar 2017 12:44:28 AM

How can I find the list of names that were wounded on the Franklin? The March 1945 attack I believe. My father: Ismael C. Jauregui received a Purple Heart and would like to know his Naval service history. Thank you.
29. Paul A Kluttz says:
4 May 2017 05:19:52 PM

My father, now diseased served on the Franklin during the attack and a survivor that sailed back to NY and was a plank holder. He retired active duty 1957.

Farrell Leigh Kluttz
He was an FTC

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More on USS Franklin
Personnel:
» Gary, Donald
» Gehres, Leslie
» Jurika, Stephen
» O'Callahan, Joseph

Event(s) Participated:
» Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot
» Palau Islands and Ulithi Islands Campaigns
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 2
» Okinawa Campaign

Related Books:
» Inferno

Aircraft Carrier USS Franklin Photo Gallery
USS Franklin being floated out of drydock for the first time, Newport News, Virginia, United States, 14 Oct 1943. Note Navy WAVES on the dock; WAVES
See all 39 photographs of Aircraft Carrier USS Franklin




Famous WW2 Quote
"I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."

General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944