20 March 1922

USS Langley (CV-1) underway, circa 1926. (U.S. Navy)
USS Langley (CV-1) underway, circa 1926. (U.S. Navy)

20 March 1922: USS Langley (CV-1) was commissioned as the first aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. It was a former collier, USS Jupiter (AC-3), which had been converted at the Norfolk Navy Yard, 1921–1922.

The aircraft carrier was powered by General Electric turbo-electric drive, with a total of 7,200 shaft horsepower. 542 feet (165 meters) in length, she could make 15.5 knots (28.7 kilometers per hour). Her full load displacement was 14,100 tons.

As more modern aircraft carriers Lexington and Saratoga came in to service, Langley was once again converted, this time to a sea plane tender, AV-3. She was badly damaged by Japanese dive bombers, 27 February 1942, and was scuttled.

More aircraft carriers would follow and were the key to the United States Navy victory in the Pacific Ocean, bringing World War II to a close.

"Murderers' Row" Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. Official U.S. Navy Photograph #: 80-G-294131
“Murderers’ Row” Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. Official U.S. Navy Photograph #: 80-G-294131

Ninety-five years after USS Langley was commissioned, the aircraft carrier is the center of the American fleet. The Nimitz-class carriers are the most powerful warships ever built.

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). (U.S. Navy)
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). (U.S. Navy)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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3 thoughts on “20 March 1922

  1. Look at the carriers all lined up in a straight line in 1944!
    They didn’t learn their lesson at Pearl Harbor.

  2. Lining up the carriers side-to-side instead of end-to-end as was done as Pearl Harbor’s battleship row would make only the end carriers vulnerable to air dropped torpedoes.

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