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CV / CVA / CVS – 20 USS Bennington

  • Essex class (short-hull) Fleet Carrier:
  • Displacement: 27,100 tons
  • Length: 872′
  • Extreme width: 147′ 6″
  • Beam: 93′
  • Draft: 28’7″
  • Speed: 33 kts.
  • Armament: 12 – 5″/38, 103 planes
  • Complement: 3448
  • Built at New York Navy Yard and Launched 26 February 1944
  • Commissioned 6 August 1944 as CV-20
  • Out of commission in reserve at Norfolk 8 November 1946.
  • Recommissioned 13 November 1952 as CVA-20
  • One of her catapults exploded 26 May 1954
  • New York Naval Shipyard
    repairs & complete rebuild 12 June 1954 – 19 March 1955
  • Departed Mayport Fla., 8 September 1955 for the Pacific
  • Redesignated as CVS-20 an ASW carrier 30 June 1959
  • Decommissioned 15 January 1970
  • Stricken 20 September 1989
  • Sold for scrap 12 January 1994

On August 16, 1777, one of the most historic battles Of the Revolutionary War took place near Bennington, Vermont.

Nearly 170 years later, the keel of a huge aircraft Carrier was laid at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York.
The Carrier was named in commemoration of the battle and Christened the USS BENNINGTON on February 26, 1944.

The Bennington ( CV-20) was Laid down 15 December 1942 and Launched 26 February 1944 by New York NavyYard; sponsored by Mrs. Melvin J. Maus, wife of Congressman Maus of Minnesota;and commissioned 6 August 1944, Captain J. B. Sykes in command.

On 15 December 1944, Bennington got underway from New York and transited the Panama Canal on the 21st. The carrier arrived at Pearl Harbor 8 January 1945 and then proceeded to Ulithi Atoll, Carohne Islands, `There she joined TG 58.1, 8 February. Operating out of Ulithi she took part in the strikes against the Japanese home islands (1

17 and 25 February), Volcano Islands (18 February – 4 March), Okinawa (1 March), and the raids in support of the Okinawa campaign (18 March-11 June). On 7 April Bennington’s planes participated in the attacks on the Japanese task force moving through the East China Sea toward Okinawa which resulted in the sinking of the Japanese battleshipYamato, light cruiser YAHAGI, and four destroyers. On 5 June the carrier was damaged by a typhoon off Okinawa and retired to Leyte for repairs arriving 12 June. Her repairs completed, Bennington left Leyte 1 July and during 10 July-16 August took part in the final raids on the Japanese home islands.

She continued operations in the western Pacific, supporting the occupation of Japan until 21 October. on 2 September her planes participated in the mass flight over Missouri (BB 63) and Tokyo during the surrender ceremonies. Bennington arrived at San Francisco 7 November 1945 and 13-17 March 1946 transited the Panama Canal enroute to Norfolk. Following pre-inactivation repairs, she went out of commission in reserve at Norfolk 8 November 1946.

The carrier began modernization at New York Naval Shipyard 30 October1950 and was recommissioned 13 November 1952. Her shake down lasted until May 1953 when she returned to Norfolk for final fleet preprations. Between 14 May 1953 and 27 May 1954 she operated along the eastern seaboard, made a midshipman cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a cruise in the Mediterranean.

The following information is provided directly from articles, which I’ve researched.
Joe Pires 8-2-1999
The NAVY released the names of the 11 killed and seven injured in an explosion aboard the aircraft carrier BENNINGTON off Cuba. Of those injured, only one was admitted to the Naval Hospital at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. All of the injured were listed as having 1st or 2nd degree burns.
The explosion was caused by a failure of the boiler tubing while the 27,000-ton carrier was on a shakedown cruise off the southeastern part of Cuba.
Reports stated that there was slight damage to the ship in the accident. The explosion occurred at 10:03 AM Norfolk time. Apparently the BENNINGTON was helping another ship at the time of the explosion. A message intercepted by the Headquarters of the Navy’s Atlantic Air Arm in Norfolk stated that the destroyer USS CONE indicated that the carrier BENNINGTON had taken an injured man from the destroyer and performed emergency surgery on him, then transferred him to a hospital by helicopter.

On 26 May 1954, while cruising off Narragansett Bay, the fluid in one of her catapults exploded setting off a series of secondary explosions which killed 103 crewmen and injured 201 others. Bennington proceeded under her own power to Quonset Point, R. I., to land her injured.
Please Read:
Memoirs of the 26 May 1954 Explosion
by Richard S. Pope
former HM1

Moving to New York Naval Shipyard for repairs she was completely rebuilt during 12 June 1954 – 19 March 1955. On 22 April 1955 the Secretary of the Navy came aboard and presented medals and letters of commendation to 27 of her crew in recognition of their heroism on 26 May 1954. Bennington, returned to operations with the Atlantic Fleet until departing Mayport Fla., 8 September 1955 for the Pacific. She steamed by way of Cape Horn and arrived at San Diego one month later. The carrier has since served with the Pacific Fleet making Far Eastern cruises.

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