USS Franklin (CV-13)

Franklin in rough shape after being hit on 19 March, 1945. Despite looking like she is about to capsize, Franklin made it back to the US under her own power. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Nation
Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down
1942
Launched
1943
Commissioned
1944
Decommissioned
1947
AD/BC
AD
History

Laid down on the first anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Franklin, nicknamed Big Ben, commissioned in January, 1944. After shakedown, she was sent to the Pacific, and finished working up just too late for the Battle of the Philippine Sea. As a consolation prize, Franklin saw her first combat mission as a series of raids on the Bonin Islands, interspersed with air strikes against Guam and Rota in the Marianas. After resupplying, Franklin was sent to cover the invasion of Peleliu in September, then went into the Philippines in preparation for the invasion. Franklin suffered her first hit on 15 September, when a bomb hit her aircraft elevator. A month later, a Japanese bomber hit Franklin's flight deck before sliding over the side. During the battle of Leyte Gulf, Franklin's aircraft sank the destroyer Wakaba and light carrier Zuihō, while damaging other ships. She was hit by a kamikaze on 30 October, which put her under repair until early February, 1945. She returned to action on 15 March, but was again hit four days later. A dive bomber scored two bomb hits which detonated fueled and armed aircraft in Franklin's hangar and on the flight deck, and set off gasoline lines. Franklin was a wreck, but Big Ben's crew were able to save their ship with tenacious damage control efforts. The bomb hits had left her dead in the water, but she was eventually able to get up steam again. Franklin underwent temporary repairs at Ulithi Atoll, then headed to Pearl harbor for more, before finally making the Brooklyn Navy Yard 28 April. Franklin's war was over. She was repaired, but decommissioned in 1947, and was one of only two Essex class carriers to not see post-War service. Franklin remained in the reserve fleet until sold for scrap in 1966.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: The actions of people trying to save Franklin on 19 March, 1945, resulted in two medals of Honor, twenty-two Navy Crosses, one Gold Star, and twenty-six Silver Star medals.

Bonus Fact: Franklin suffered the second highest number casualties of any US warship during World War II, only behind the USS Arizona.