USS Bunker Hill (CV-17)

Bunker Hill is near-missed by a bomb during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, 19 June, 1944. Photo in the collection of the US Navy History & Heritage Command.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

Laid down 15 September, 1941, as one of the new Essex-class aircraft carriers, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) was commissioned 24 May, 1943. Reporting to the Pacific Fleet in late 1943, Bunker Hill was immediately immersed in combat; between raiding Japanese bases and covering amphibious landings she had little down time. This culminated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19-20 June, 1944, where her planes contributed to the destruction of the IJNs air power. Bunker Hill was given a breather in August, before a few more raids, and was sent back to the US for an overhaul on 6 November. Returning to the Fleet in early 1945, Bunker Hill was again heavily employed, covering the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and participating in the sinking of the battleship Yamato. On 11 May, 1945, Bunker Hill was struck by two Kamikazes, and the ship was heavily damaged. With over 600 casualties, she managed to limp back to the US via the Philippines, and was repaired, but missed the end of the War. She participated in Operation Magic Carpet from September, 1945, to January, 1946, before decommissioning and mothballing. Bunker Hill saw no further service post-war, and was stricken from the navy list in 1966. She was used as a stationary electronics testbed for the next seven years, before being sold for scrap in 1973.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Bunker Hill and her sister USS Franklin were the only two Essex carriers not to see service post-WWII.