USS Midway Aircraft Carrier
USS Midway was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class, and the first to be commissioned after the end of World War II. Active in the Vietnam War and in Operation Desert Storm, currently, she is a museum ship in San Diego, California.
She is the only remaining US aircraft carrier of the World War II era that is not an Essex-class ship.
Midway was laid down 27 October 1943 by Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Virginia. Her revolutionary hull design was based on what would have been the Montana class battleships and gave her superior maneuverability over all previous carriers. She was launched 20 March 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Bradford William Ripley, Jr.; and commissioned 10 September 1945, Captain Joseph F. Bolger in command.
After shakedown in the Caribbean, Midway joined in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet training schedule, with Norfolk her homeport. From 20 February 1946 she was flagship for CarDiv 1. In March, she tested equipment and techniques for cold weather operations in the North Atlantic. East Coast and Caribbean training was highlighted by Operation Sandy in September 1947, in which she test fired a captured German V-2 rocket from her flight deck, the first such launching from a moving platform.
On 29 October 1947, Midway sailed for the first of her annual deployments with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. A powerful extension of sea/air power, Midway trained between deployments and received alterations necessary to accommodate heavier aircraft as they were developed. In 1952, she participated in North Sea maneuvers with NATO forces, and on 1 October was redesignated CVA-41.
Midway cleared Norfolk 27 December 1954 for a world cruise, sailing via the Cape of Good Hope for Taiwan, where she joined the 7th Fleet for operations in the Western Pacific until 28 June 1955. During these operations, Midway pilots flew cover for the evacuation from the Quemoy-Matsu crisis from the Tachen Islands of 15,000 Chinese nationalist troops and 20,000 Chinese civilians, along with their pigs, cows and chickens. On 28 June 1955 she sailed for overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Here, she was out of commission until 30 September 1957, while she underwent an extensive modernization program (SCB-110). Midway received an enclosed "hurricane bow," an aft deck-edge elevator, an angled flight deck, and steam catapults.
Home ported at Alameda, California, Midway began annual deployments with the 7th Fleet in 1958, and in the South China Sea during the Laotian Crisis of Spring 1961. During her 1962 deployment, her aircraft tested the air defense systems of Japan, Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Taiwan. When she again sailed for the Far East 6 March 1965, her aircraft were prepared for combat operations, and from mid-April flew strikes against military and logistics installations in North and South Vietnam.
Returning to Alameda on 23 November, Midway entered San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard on 11 February 1966 for a massive modernization (SCB-101.66) which proved to be very expensive and controversial. The flight deck was enlarged from 2.8 to 4 acres (11,300 to 16,200 m²). The elevators were enlarged, relocated, and given almost double the weight capacity. Midway also received new catapults, arresting gear, and a centralized air conditioning plant. Massive cost overruns raised the price of this program from $88 million to $202 million, and thus precluded a similar modernization planned for Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42). Midway finally recommissioned on 31 January 1970. It was also found that the modifications significantly reduced the ship’s seakeeping capabilities and ability to conduct air operations in rough seas, which necessitated further modifications to correct the problem.