USS Wasp (CV-18)

USS Wasp (CV-18)

USS "Wasp" (CV-18) of the United States Navy was an , while conducting night flying operations en route to Gibraltar. "Hobson" lost 176 of the crew, including her skipper. Rapid rescue operations saved 52 men. "Wasp" sustained no personnel casualties, but her bow was torn by a 75-foot saw-tooth rip.

The carrier proceeded to Bayonne, New Jersey, for repairs and, after she entered drydock there, the bow of aircraft carrier "Hornet" (CV-12)—then undergoing conversion—was removed and floated by barge from Brooklyn, New York, and fitted into position on "Wasp", replacing the badly shattered forward end of the ship. This remarkable task was completed in only 10 days, enabling the carrier to get underway to cross the Atlantic.

On 2 June 1952, "Wasp" relieved USS|Tarawa|CV-40|2 at Gibraltar and joined Carrier Division (CarDiv) 6 in the Mediterranean Sea. After conducting strenuous flight operations between goodwill visits to many Mediterranean ports, "Wasp" was relieved at Gibraltar on 5 September by USS|Leyte|CV-32|2.

After taking part in NATO Exercise Mainbrace at Greenock, Scotland, and enjoying a liberty period at Plymouth, "Wasp" headed home and arrived at Norfolk early on the morning of 13 October 1952.

On November 7, 1952, "Wasp" entered the New York Naval Shipyard to commence a seven-month yard period to prepare her for a world cruise which was to bring her into the Pacific Fleet once more. After refresher training in the Caribbean, "Wasp" departed Norfolk on 16 September 1953.

After transiting the Panama Canal and crossing the Pacific, the carrier made a brief visit to Japan and then conducted strenuous operations with the famed TF 77. While operating in the western Pacific, she made port calls at Hong Kong, Manila, Yokosuka, and Sasebo.

On 10 January 1954, China's Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek spent more than four hours on board "Wasp" watching simulated air war maneuvers in Formosan waters. On 12 March, President Ramon Magsaysay of the Republic of the Philippines came on board to observe air operations as a guest of American Ambassador Raymond A. Spruance. "Wasp" operated out of Subic Bay, Philippines, for a time, then sailed for Japan where, in April 1954, she was relieved by USS|Boxer|CV-21|2 and sailed for her new home port of San Diego.

"Wasp" spent the next few months preparing for another tour of the Orient. She departed the United States in September 1954 and steamed to the Far East visiting Pearl Harbor and Iwo Jima en route. She relieved "Boxer" in October 1954 and engaged in air operations in the South China Sea with Carrier Task Group 70.2. "Wasp" visited the Philippine Islands in November and December and proceeded to Japan early in 1955 to join TF 77. While operating with that naval organization, "Wasp" provided air cover for the evacuation of the Tachen Islands by the Chinese Nationalists.

After the Tachen evacuation, "Wasp" stopped at Japan before returning to San Diego in April. She entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard in May for a seven-month conversion and overhaul. On 1 December the carrier returned to duty displaying a new angled flight deck and a hurricane bow. As 1955 ended, "Wasp" had returned to San Diego and was busily preparing for another Far Eastern tour.


After training during the early months of 1956, "Wasp" departed San Diego on 23 April for another cruise to the Far East with Carrier Air Group 15 embarked. She stopped at Pearl Harbor to undergo inspection and training and then proceeded to Guam where she arrived in time for the Armed Forces Day ceremonies on 14 May. En route to Japan in May, she joined TF 77 for Operation Sea Horse, a five-day period of day and night training for the ship and air group. The ship arrived at Yokosuka on 4 June; visited Iwakuni, Japan, then steamed to Manila for a brief visit. Following a drydock period at Yokosuka, "Wasp" again steamed south to Cubi Point, Philippine Islands for the commissioning of the new naval air station there. Carrier Air Group 15 provided an air show for President Magsaysay and Admiral Arthur Radford. During the third week of August, "Wasp" was at Yokosuka enjoying what was scheduled to be a fortnight's stay, but she sailed a week early to aid other ships in searching for survivors of a Navy patrol plane which had been shot down on 23 August off the coast of mainland China. After a futile search, the ship proceeded to Kobe, Japan, and made a final stop at Yokosuka before leaving the Far East.

"Wasp" returned to San Diego on 15 October and while there was reclassified an antisubmarine warfare aircraft carrier CVS-18, effective on 1 November 1956. She spent the last days of 1956 in San Diego preparing for her transfer to the east coast.

"Wasp" left San Diego on the last day of January 1957, rounded Cape Horn for operations in the South Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, then proceeded to Boston where she arrived on 21 March. The carrier came into Norfolk, Virginia, on 6 April to embark members of her crew from the Antisubmarine Warfare School. The carrier spent the next few months in tactics along the eastern seaboard and in the waters off Bermuda before returning to Boston on 16 August.

On 3 September, "Wasp" got underway to participate in NATO Operations "Seaspray" and "Strikeback", which took her to the coast of Scotland and simulated nuclear attacks and counterattacks on 130 different land bases. The carrier returned to Boston on 23 October 1957 and entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for a major overhaul which was not completed until 10 March 1958 when she sailed for antisubmarine warfare practice at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Upon returning to Boston on 29 April and picking up air squadrons at Naval Air Station Quonset Point, R.I., on 12 May, she became the hub of TF 66, a special antisubmarine group of the 6th Fleet.

The carrier began her Atlantic crossing on the 12th of May and sailed only a few hundred miles when trouble flared in Lebanon. "Wasp" arrived at Gibraltar on the 21st of May and headed east, making stops at Souda Bay, Crete, Rhodes, and Athens. "Wasp" next spent 10 days at sea conducting a joint Italian-American antisubmarine warfare exercise in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Sardinia. On 15 July, the carrier put to sea to patrol waters off Lebanon. Her Marine helicopter transport squadron left the ship five days later to set up camp at the Beirut International Airport. They flew reconnaissance missions and transported the sick and injured from Marine battalions in the hills to the evacuation hospital at the airport. She continued to support forces a shore in Lebanon until 17 September 1958 when she departed Beirut Harbor, bound for home. She reached Norfolk on 7 October, unloaded supplies, and then made a brief stop at Quonset Point before arriving in her home port of Boston on 11 October.

Four days later, "Wasp" became flagship of Task Group Bravo, one of two new antisubmarine defense groups formed by the Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet. "Wasp's" air squadrons and seven destroyers were supported by shore-based seaplane patrol aircraft. She sailed from Quonset Point on 26 November for a 17-day cruise in the North Atlantic. This at-sea period marked the first time her force operated together as a team. The operations continued day and night to coordinate and develop the task group's team capabilities until she returned to Boston on 13 December 1958 and remained over the Christmas holiday season.

"Wasp" operated with Task Group Bravo throughout 1959, cruising along the eastern seaboard conducting operations at Norfolk, Bermuda, and Quonset Point. On 27 February 1960, she entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for overhaul. In mid-July, the carrier was ordered to the South Atlantic where she stood by when civil strife broke out in the newly independent Congo and operated in support of the United Nations airlift. She returned to her home port on 11 August 1960 and spent the remainder of the year operating out of Boston with visits to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for refresher training and exercises conducted in the Virginia Capes operating areas and the Caribbean operating areas. The carrier returned to Boston on 10 December 1960 and remained in port there into the New Year.


On 9 January 1961, "Wasp" sailed for the Virginia Capes operating area and devoted the first half of 1961 to exercises there, at Narragansett Bay, R.I., and at Nova Scotia. On 9 June, "Wasp" got underway from Norfolk, for a three-month Mediterranean cruise. The ship conducted exercises at Augusta Bay, Sicily, Barcelona, Spain; San Remo and La Spezia, Italy, Aranci Bay, Sardinia; Genoa, Italy, and Cannes, France, and returned to Boston on 1 September. The carrier entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for an interim overhaul and resumed operations on 6 November 1961.

After loading food, clothing, and equipment, "Wasp" spent the period from 11 January to 18 January 1962 conducting antisubmarine warfare exercises and submarine surveillance off the east coast. After a brief stop at Norfolk, the ship steamed on to f urther training exercises and anchored off Bermuda from 24 January to 31 January. Wasp then returned to her home port.

On 17 February, a delegation from the Plimouth Plantation presented a photograph of the "Mayflower II" to Captain Brewer who accepted this gift for Wasp's "People to People" effort in the forthcoming European cruise.

On 18 February, "Wasp" departed Boston, bound for England, and arrived at Portsmouth on 1 March. On 16 March, the carrier arrived at Rotterdam, Netherlands, for a week's goodwill visit.

From 22 March to 30 March, "Wasp" traveled to Greenock, Scotland, thence to Plymouth. On 17 April Capt. Brewer presented Alderman A. Goldberg, Lord Mayor of Plymouth, the large picture of "Mayflower II" as a gift from the people of Plymouth, Massachusetts. On 5 May, "Wasp" arrived at Kiel, West Germany, and became the first aircraft carrier to ever visit that port. The ship made calls at Oslo, Reykjavík, and NS Argentia, Newfoundland and Labrador, before returning to Boston, Mass., on 16 June.

From August through October, "Wasp" visited Newport, R.I., New York, and Earle, N.J., then conducted a dependents' cruise, as well as a reserve cruise, and visitors cruises. The 1st of November gave "Wasp" a chance to use her capabilities when she responded to a call from President John F. Kennedy and actively participated in the Cuban blockade. After tension relaxed, the carrier returned to Boston on 22 November for upkeep work, and, on 21 December, she sailed to Bermuda with 18 midshipmen from Boston area universities. "Wasp" returned to Boston on 29 December and finished out the year there.

The early part of 1963 saw "Wasp" conducting anti-submarine warfare exercises off the Virginia Capes and steaming along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in support of the presidential visit. On 21 March, President Kennedy arrived at San José for a conference with presidents of six Central American nations. After taking part in Fleet exercises off Puerto Rico, the carrier returned to Boston on 4 April. From 11 May to 18 May, "Wasp" took station off Bermuda as a backup recovery ship for Major Gordon Cooper's historic Mercury space capsule recovery. The landing occurred as planned in the mid-Pacific near Midway Atoll, and carrier USS|Kearsage|CVA-33|2 picked up Cooper and his Faith 7 spacecraft. "Wasp" then resumed antisubmarine warfare exercises along the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean until she underwent overhaul in the fall of 1963 for FRAM (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization) overhaul in the Boston Naval Shipyard.

In March 1964, the carrier conducted sea trials out of Boston. During April, she operated out of Norfolk and Narragansett Bay. She returned to Boston on 4 May and remained there until 14 May when she got underway for refresher training in waters between Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Kingston, Jamaica, before returning to her home port on 3 June 1964.

On 21 July 1964, "Wasp" began a round-trip voyage to Norfolk and returned to Boston on 7 August. She remained there through 8 September when she headed, via the Virginia Capes operating area, to Valencia, Spain. She then cruised the Mediterranean, visiting ports in Spain, France, and Italy, and returned home on 18 December 1964.

The carrier remained in port until 8 February 1965 and sailed for fleet exercises in the Caribbean. Operating along the eastern seaboard, she recovered the Gemini IV astronauts and their spacecraft on 7 June after splashdown. Gemini IV was the mission of the first American to walk in Space, Ed White. During the summer, the ship conducted search and rescue operations for an Air Force C-121 plane which had gone down off Nantucket. Following an orientation cruise for 12 congressmen on 20 August to 21 August, "Wasp" participated in joint training exercises with German and French forces. From 16 December to 18 December, the carrier recovered the astronauts of Gemini VI and VII after their splashdown, and then returned to Boston on 22 December to finish out the year.


On January 24, 1966, "Wasp" departed Boston for fleet exercises off Puerto Rico. En route, heavy seas and high winds caused structural damage to the carrier. She put into Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, on 1 February to determine the extent of her damages and effect as much repair as possible. Engineers were flown from Boston who decided that the ship could cease "Springboard" operations early and return to Boston. The ship conducted limited anti-submarine operations from 6 February to 8 February prior to lea ving the area. She arrived at Boston on 18 February and was placed in restricted availability until 7 March, when her repair work was completed.

"Wasp" joined in exercises in the Narragansett Bay operating areas. While the carrier was carrying out this duty, a television film crew from the National Broadcasting Company was flown to "Wasp" on 21 March and stayed on the ship during the remainder of her period at sea, filming material for a special color television show to be presented on Armed Forces Day.

The carrier returned to Boston on 24 March 1966 and was moored there until 11 April. On 27 March, Doctor Ernst Lemberger, the Austrian Ambassador to the United States, visited the ship. On 18 April, the ship embarked several guests of the Secretary of the Navy and set courses for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She returned to Boston on 6 May.

A week later, the veteran flattop sailed to take part in the recovery of the Gemini IX spacecraft. Embarked in "Wasp" were some 66 persons from NASA, the television industry, media personnel, an underwater demolition recovery team, and a Defense Department medical team. On 6 June, she recovered astronauts Lt. Col. Thomas P. Stafford and Lt. Comdr. Eugene Cernan and flew them to Cape Kennedy. "Wasp" returned their capsule to Boston.

"Wasp" participated in "ASWEX III", an antisubmarine exercise which lasted from 20 June through 1 July 1966. She spent the next 25 days in port at Boston for upkeep. On the 25th, the carrier got underway for "ASWEX IV." During this exercise, the Soviet intelligence collection vessel, "Agi Traverz", entered the operation area necessitating a suspension of the operation and eventual repositioning of forces. The exercise was terminated on 5 August. She then conducted a dependents' day cruise on 8 August and 9 August, and orientation cruises on 10, 11, and 22 August. After a two-day visit to New York, "Wasp" arrived in Boston on 1 September and underwent upkeep until the 19th. From that day to 4 October, she conducted hunter/killer operation s with the Royal Canadian Navy aircraft embarked.

Following upkeep at Boston, the ship participated in the Gemini XII recovery operation from 5 November to 18 November 1966. The recovery took place on 15 November when the space capsule splashdown occurred within three miles of Wasp. Capt. James A. Lovell and Maj. Edwin E. Aldrin were lifted by helicopter hoist to the deck of Wasp and there enjoyed two days of celebration. "Wasp" arrived at Boston on 18 November with the Gemini XII spacecraft on board. After off-loading the special Gemini support equipment, "Wasp" spent 10 days making ready for her next period at sea.

On 28 November "Wasp" departed Boston to take part in the Atlantic Fleet's largest exercise of the year, "Lantflex-66", in which more than 100 United States ships took part. The carrier returned to Boston on 16 December where she remained through the end of 1966.

"Wasp" served as carrier qualification duty ship for the Naval Air Training Command from 24 January to 26 February 1967 and conducted operations in the Gulf of Mexico and off the east coast of Florida. She called at New Orleans for Mardi Gras from 4 February to 8 February, at Pensacola on the 11th and 12th, and at Mayport, Florida, on the 19th and 20th. Returning to Boston a week later, she remained in port until 19 March when she sailed for "Springboard" operations in the Caribbean. On 24 March, "Wasp" joined USS|Salamonie|AO-26|2 for an underway replenishment but suffered damage during a collision with the oiler. After making repairs at Roosevelt Roads, she returned to operations on 29 March and visited Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, and participated in the celebration from 30 March to 2 April which marked the 50th anniversary of the purchase of the Virgin Islands by the United States from Denmark. "Wasp" returned to Boston on 7 April, remained in port four da ys, then sailed to Earle, New Jersey, to off-load ammunition prior to overhaul. She visited New York for three days then returned to the Boston Naval Shipyard and began an overhaul on 21 April 1967 which was not completed until early 1968.


"Wasp" completed her cyclical overhaul and conducted post-repair trials throughout January 1968. Returning to the Boston Naval Shipyard on the 28th, the ship made ready for two months of technical evaluation and training which began early in February.

The 28th of February marked the beginning of almost five weeks of refresher training for "Wasp" under the operational control of Commander, Fleet Training Group, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On 30 March, "Wasp" steamed north and was in Boston from 6 April to 29 April for routine upkeep and minor repairs. She then departed for operations in the Bahamas and took part in "Fixwex C", an exercise off the Bermuda coast. The carrier set course for home on 20 May but left five days later to conduct carrier qualifications for students of the Naval Air Training Command in the Jacksonville, Florida, operations area.

On 12 June, "Wasp" and USS|Truckee|AO-147|2 had a minor collision during an underway replenishment. The carrier returned to Norfolk where an investigation into the circumstances of the collision was conducted. On 20 June, "Wasp" got underway for Boston, where she remained until 3 August when she moved to Norfolk to take on ammunition.

On 15 June, "Wasp's" home port was changed to Quonset Point, R.I., and she arrived there on 10 August to prepare for overseas movement. Ten days later, the carrier got underway for a deployment in European waters. The northern European portion of the cruise consisted of several operational periods and port visits to Portsmouth, England; Firth of Clyde, Scotland; Hamburg, Germany, and Lisbon, Portugal. "Wasp", as part of TG 87.1, joined in the NATO Exercise "Silvertower", the largest combined naval exercise in four years. "Silvertower" brought together surface, air, and subsurface units of several NATO navies.

On 25 October 1968, the carrier entered the Mediterranean and, the following day, became part of TG 67.6. After a port visit to Naples, Italy, "Wasp" departed on 7 November to conduct antisubmarine warfare exercises in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Levantine Basin, and Ionian Basin. After loading aircraft in both Taranto and Naples, Italy, "Wasp" visited Barcelona, Spain, and Gibraltar. On 19 December, the ship returned to Quonset Point, R.I., and spent the remainder of 1968 in port.

"Wasp" began 1969 in her home port of Quonset Point. Following a yard period which lasted from 10 January through 17 February, the carrier conducted exercises as part of the White Task Group in the Bermuda operating area. The ship returned to Quonset Point on 6 March and began a month of preparations for overseas movement.

On 1 April 1969, "Wasp" sailed for the eastern Atlantic and arrived at Lisbon, Portugal, on 16 April. From 21 April to 26 April, she took part in joint Exercise "Trilant" which was held with the navies of the United States Spain, and Portugal. One of the highlights of the cruise occurred on 15 May as "Wasp" arrived at Portsmouth, England, and served as flagship for TF 87, representing the United States in a NATO review by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in which 64 ships from the 11 NATO countries participated.

After conducting exercises and visiting Rotterdam, Oslo, and Copenhagen, "Wasp" headed home on 30 June and, but for a one-day United Fund cruise on 12 August, remained at Quonset Point until 24 August. The period from 29 August to 6 October was devoted to alternating operations between Corpus Christi, Tex., for advanced carrier qualifications, and Pensacola for basic qualifications, with inport periods at Pensacola.

A period of restricted availability began on 10 October and was followed by operations in the Virginia Capes area until 22 November. In December, "Wasp" conducted a carrier qualification mission in the Jacksonville operations area which lasted through 10 December. The ship arrived back at Quonset Point on 13 December and remained there for the holidays.

The carrier welcomed the year 1970 moored in her home port of Quonset Point but traveled over 40,000 miles and was away from home port 265 days. On 4 January, she proceeded to Earle, N.J., and off-loaded ammunition prior to entering the Boston Naval Shipyard for a six-week overhaul on 9 January.

The carrier began a three-week shakedown cruise on 16 March but returned to her home port on 3 April and began preparing for an eastern Atlantic deployment. "Wasp" reached Lisbon on 25 May 1970 and dropped anchor in the Tagus River. A week later, the carrier got underway to participate in NATO Exercise "Night Patrol" with units from Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and West Germany. On 8 June, "Wasp" proceeded to Rota, Spain, to embark a group of midshipmen for a cruise to Copenhagen. During exercises in Scandinavian waters, the carrier was shadowed by Soviet naval craft and aircraft. The ship departed Copenhagen on 26 June and, three days later, crossed the Arctic Circle.

On 13 July 1970, "Wasp" arrived at Hamburg, Germany, and enjoyed the warmest welcome received in any port of the cruise. A Visitors' Day was held, and over 15,000 Germans were recorded as visitors to the carrier. After calls at Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland, "Wasp" got underway on 10 August for operating areas in the Norwegian Sea. The carrier anchored near Plymouth, on 28 August and, two days later, sailed for her home port.

"Wasp" returned to Quonset Point on 8 September and remained there through 11 October when she got underway to off-load ammunition at Earle, N.J., prior to a period of restricted availability at the Boston Naval Shipyard beginning on 15 October. T he work ended on 14 December; and, after reloading ammunition at Earle, "Wasp" returned to Quonset Point on 19 December to finish out the year 1970.


On 14 January 1971, "Wasp" departed Quonset Point, R.I., with Commander, ASWGRU 2, CVSG-54 and Detachment 18 from Fleet Training Group, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, embarked. After refresher training at Bermuda, she stopped briefly at Rota, Spain, then p roceeded to the Mediterranean for participation in the "National Week VIII" exercises with several destroyers for the investigation of known Soviet submarine operating areas. On 12 February, Secretary of the Navy John Chafee, accompanied by Commander, 6th Fleet, Vice Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, Jr., visited the carrier.

Was detached early from the "National Week" exercise on 15 February to support USS|John F. Kennedy|CVA-67|2 as she steamed toward Gibraltar. Soviet ships trailed "Wasp" and "John F. Kennedy" until they entered the Strait of Sicily when the Soviets departed to the east. After a brief stop at Barcelona, Spain, "Wasp" began her homeward journey on 24 February and arrived at Quonset Point on 3 March.

After spending March and April in port, "Wasp" got underway on 27 April and conducted a nuclear technical proficiency inspection and prepared for the forthcoming "Exotic Dancer" exercise which commenced on 3 May. Having successfully completed the week-long exercise, "Wasp" was heading home on 8 May when an American Broadcasting Company television team embarked and filmed a short news report on carrier antisubmarine warfare operations.

On 15 May, the veteran conducted a dependents' day cruise, and one month later, participated in Exercise "Rough Ride" at Great Sound, Bermuda, which took her to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"Wasp" returned to Quonset Point on 2 July 1971 and spent the next two months in preparation and execution of Exercise "Squeeze Play IX" in the Bermuda operating area. During August, the ship conducted exercises with an east coast naval reserve air group while proceeding to Mayport, Florida She returned to her home port on 26 August and spent the next month there. On 23 September, "Wasp" got underway for Exercise "Lantcortex 1-72" which terminated on 6 October. For the remainder of the month, the carrier joined in a crossdeck operation which took her to Bermuda, Mayport, and Norfolk. She arrived back at Quonset Point on 4 November.

Four days later, the carrier set her course for the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. where she was in drydock until 22 November. She then returned to Quonset Point and remained in her home port for the remainder of the year preparing for decommissioning.

On 1 March 1972, it was announced that "Wasp" would be decommissioned and stricken from the Navy List. Decommissioning ceremonies were held on 1 July 1972. The ship was sold on 21 May 1973 to the Union Minerals and Alloys Corp., of New York City, and subsequently scrapped. "Wasp" earned eight battle stars for her World War II service.

See also

* List of aircraft carriers and list of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy
* List of World War II ships
* Wings of Fury - Video game that centers around the "Wasp"

External links

* [ CV-18 Personnel Roster at]

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