Aircraft carriers are large warships and their sinking is a rare event in peacetime.
Since the appearance of this type of ship in 1916, with the launching of HMS Furious, a total of 51 aircraft carriers have ended up at the bottom of the sea, of which 44 were sunk during World War II ( 2 Italian aircraft carriers, 22 Japanese aircraft carriers, 8 British aircraft carriers and 12 American aircraft carriers). The list of aircraft carriers sunk after World War II was expanded to 7 yesterday, with the sinking of the NAe São Paulo. We are now going to briefly review the history of those 7 ships.
USS Saratoga CV-3 🇺🇸 1946
She belonged to the US Navy and was one of two Lexington-class aircraft carriers. Initially designed as a cruiser, she was converted to an aircraft carrier before launching in 1925. She was 270.7 meters long, 32.3 meters wide and a displacement of 37,000 tons. December 1941 was one of the US aircraft carriers of the Pacific Fleet that was absent from Pearl Harbor before the Japanese attack. During World War II she she fought in the Pacific theater of operations, being hit twice by Japanese torpedoes and being damaged by a kamikaze during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.
Already obsolete, she was relegated to the role of training aircraft carrier. She was sunk on July 25, 1946 in the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests. She Withstood the first (air) explosion, but was finally sunk after a second underwater explosion. She was the first aircraft carrier sunk after World War II and is, so far, the only aircraft carrier sunk by an atomic explosion.
Graf Zeppelin 🇩🇪 1947
She was the only aircraft carrier built by Germany in her entire naval history, although she was never completed. She was launched in 1936, three years after Hitler's rise to power, launched in 1938. She was 262.5 meters long, 36.2 meters wide and had a displacement of 34,000 tons. Her Construction was interrupted in 1940. In 1942 she was the target of an Allied bombing raid and in 1943 she was about to be scrapped on Hitler's orders. At the end of the war, she she was captured by the Soviets, who sank her by torpedoes on August 17, 1947 . The wreck of her, discovered in 2006, is located in Polish waters, 55 km north of Władysławowo and at a depth of about 80 meters.
USS Independence CVL-22 🇺🇸 1951
She was a light aircraft carrier of the US Navy , the first of the nine that were built of the Independence class, to which the Spanish aircraft carrier "Dédalo " (former USS Cabot). She was launched on August 22, 1942, originally being designed as a light battlecruiser (her name was to be USS Amsterdam). She was 190 meters long, 21.8 meters wide and had a displacement of 10,622 tons.
In November 1943, she was badly damaged after being hit by a torpedo launched by a Japanese aircraft. Like the USS Saratoga, the USS Independence was the target of the first of the Bikini Atoll atomic tests on July 1, 1946, but the ship did not sink. She also withstood the submarine atomic explosion that sank the USS Independence on July 25, 1946. Finally, her highly radioactive remains were sunk by the US Navy using two torpedoes off the Farallones Islands, 43 km west of San Francisco, on January 29, 1951.
Dixmude A-609 🇫🇷 1966
It was a French escort carrier of the Avenger class, a British version of the American Long Island class. She was launched in 1940 in the United States, being delivered to the British Royal Navy in 1942, which she named HMS Biter. It was 150 meters long, 20.19 meters wide and had a displacement of 8,300 tons. During World War II it was damaged when a Swordfish torpedo plane sank off its stern, with such bad luck that it was fired the torpedo and hit the ship's rudder. In April 1945 she was returned to the US and transferred to the French Navy, which used her in its Indochina campaigns until 1949. She was withdrawn from service in 1951 and returned to the US. The US Navy used her as a naval target, sinking her on June 10, 1966.
USS America CV-66 🇺🇸 2005
She was one of the three great American aircraft carriers of the Kitty Hawk class. She was laid down in 1961 and launched in 1965, being nicknamed "The Big A". She was 300 meters long, 76 meters wide and had a displacement of 61,156 tons. She had the capacity to transport some 90 aircraft. In her 31 years of service in the US Navy, she participated in three deployments in the Vietnam War, in various operations in Lebanon and Libya, and in the Gulf War. She was withdrawn from service on August 9, 1996. She was sunk by the US Navy on May 14, 2005 in the Atlantic Ocean, in a test in which she demonstrated her resistance to attack. Her wreck is located about 400 km southeast of Cape Hatteras, at a depth of more than 5,000 meters. The USS America is the largest aircraft carrier that has been sunk since such ships existed.
USS Oriskany CV-34 🇺🇸 2006
She was a large US Navy aircraft carrier, the 17th of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers. She was 271 meters long, 39 meters wide and had a displacement of 30,800 tons. She was laid down on May 1, 1944 and launched on October 13, 1945, once the Second World War. Due to the end of the war, its construction was interrupted in August 1946 and resumed a year later, being redesigned as one of the first aircraft carriers with an oblique landing strip, unlike the previous ships of the Essex classes.
She was enlisted in the US Navy in 1950, taking part in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. On October 26, 1966, a serious fire broke out on board that killed 44 sailors and naval aviators. She was withdrawn from service on September 30, 1976, a few days after her 26th year in service. She was sunk off the coast of Florida on May 17, 2006 using C-4 military explosive charges, to form an artificial reef.
NAe São Paulo A-12 🇧🇷 2023
She was the second aircraft carrier of the Brazilian Navy. Launched in France in 1959, she was enlisted in the French Navy in 1963 under the name "Foch", serving until November 15, 2000, the same day when she was enlisted in the Brazilian Navy. She was 265 meters long, 51 meters wide and a displacement is 27,300 tons. She was withdrawn from service in 2017 and sold to a private company to be scrapped in Turkey. After an eventful story that you can read here, the ship ended up returning to Brazil. She was sunk by torpedoes this Friday, February 3, 350 km from the Brazilian coast and at an approximate depth of 5,000 meters.
Main photo US National Archives. The USS America CV-66 aircraft carrier in a photo taken on August 25, 1976, when she was in active service.
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