USS MIDWAY CV 41
The third Midway (CVB 41) was laid down October 27, 1943 by Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Va.; launched March 20, 1945; sponsored by, Mrs. Bradford William Ripley, Jr.; and commissioned September 10, 1945, Capt. Joseph F. Bolger in command.
After shakedown in the Caribbean, USS Midway joined in the Atlantic Fleet training schedule, with Norfolk her homeport. From February 20, 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 which in September 1947, she test fired a captured German V-2 rocket from her flight deck, first such launching from a moving platform.
On October 29, 1947, USS Midway sailed for the first of her annual deployments with the 6th Fleet, mighty peacekeeping force 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.
From May 26-29, 1952, the feasibility of the angled deck concept was demontrated in tests conducted on a simulated angled deck aboard USS Midway by Naval Air Test Center pilots and Atlantic Fleet pilots in both jet and prop aircraft. Midway also participated in North Sea maneuvers with NATO forces, and on October 1st was redesignated CVA 41.
USS Midway cleared Norfolk December 27, 1954 for a world cruise, sailing via the Cape of Good Hope for Taiwan, where she joined the 7th Fleet on February 6, 1955 for operations in the western Pacific. This was the first operation of ships of her class in the western Pacific. USS Midway remained with the 7th Fleet until June 28, 1955 when she sailed for overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Here, she was out of commission until September 30, 1957, while she was modernized and such new innovations as an enclosed bow and an angled flight deck were installed.
Homeported at Alameda, USS Midway began annual deployments with the 7th Fleet in 1958. On December 8, 1958, the first firing of a Sparrow III air-to-air missile by a squadron deployed outside the U.S. was conducted by VF-64, based aboard Midway. The carrier was also on duty 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.
The carrier continued its role as a research and development platform. On June 13, 1963 Lt. Cmdr. Randall K. Billins and Lt. Cmdr. Robert S. Chew Jr., of Naval Air Test Center Patuxent River, Md., piloting an F-4A Phantom II and an F-8D Crusader respectively, made the first fully automatic carrier landings with production equipment on board USS Midway off the California coast. The landings, made "hands off" with both flight controls and throttles ooperated automatically by signals from the ship, highlighted almost 10 years of research and development and followed by almost six years the first such carrier landings made with test equipment.
When USS Midway again sailed for the Far East March 6, 1965 her aircraft were prepared for combat operations, and from mid-April flew strikes against military and logistics installations in North and South Vietnam. On June 17, 1965 while escorting a strike on the barracks at Gen Phu, North Vietnam, Cmdr. Louis C. Page and Lt. Jack E.D. Batson, flying F-4B Phantoms of VF-21, deployed aboard USS Midway, intercepted four MiG-17s and each shot down one, scoring the first U.S. victories over MiGs in Vietnam.
Returning to Alameda November 23, 1965 she entered San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard February 11, 1966 for extensive modernization, for which she was placed in Reserve, in commission special, February 15, 1966. She was recommissioned January 31, 1970 following the four-year conversion-modernization at the shipyard.
USS Midway returned to Vietnam and on May 18, 1971, after relieving USS Hancock (CVA 19) on Yankee Station, began single carrier operations which continued until the end of the month. She departed Yankee Station on June 5, and completed her final line period on October 31st. She returned to her homeport on November 6.
USS Midway, with embarked Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW 5), again departed Alameda for operations off Vietnam on April 10, 1972. On May 11, aircraft from Midway along with those from USS Coral Sea, USS Kitty Hawk, and USS Constellation continued laying minefield in ports of signicance to the North Vietnamese: Thanh Hoa, Dong Hoi, Vinh, Hon Gai, Quang Khe and Cam Pha as well as other approaches to Haiphong. Ships that were in port in Haiphong had been advised that the mining would take place and that the mines would be armed 72 hours later. Midway continued Vietnam operations throughout the summer of 1972.
On August 7, 1972, an HC-7 Det 110 helicopter, flying from USS Midway, and aided by planes from the carrier and USS Saratoga, conducted a search and rescue mission for a downed aviator in North Vietnam. The pilot of an A-7 aircraft from Saratoga had been downed by a surface-to-air missile about 20 miles inland, northwest of Vinh, on August 6. The HC-7 helo flew over mountainous terran to rescue the pilot. The rescue helicopter used its search light to assist in locating the downed aviator and, despite receiving heavy ground fire, was successful in retrieving him and returning to an LPD off the coast. This was the deepest penetration of a rescue helicopter into North Vietnam since 1968. HC-7 Det 110 continued its rescue missions and by the end of 1972 had successfully accomplished 48 rescues, 35 of which were under combat conditions.
October 1972, Crash landing of a plane. The aircraft run into a group of parked aircraft and destroyed eight of them, killed 5 crewmen and injured 23 others. November 1972, Fire aboard the carrier while in port. One crewman died.
On October 5, 1973, USS Midway, with CVW 5, put into Yokosuka, Japan, marking the first forward-deployment of a complete carrier task group in a Japanese port as the result of an accord arrived at on August 31, 1972 between the U.S. and Japan. In addition to the morale factor of dependents housed along with the crew in a foreign port, the move had strategic significance because it facilitated continuous positioning of three carriers in the Far East at a time when the economic situation demanded the reduction of carriers in the fleet.
USS Midway, USS Coral Sea, USS Hancock, USS Enterprise and USS Okinawa (LPH 3) responded April 19, 1975 to the waters off South Vietnam when North Vietnam overran two-thirds of South Vietnam. Ten days later, Operation Frequent Wind was carried out by U.S. Seventh Fleet forces. Hundreds of U.S. personnel and Vietnamese were evacuated to waiting ships after the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese. One South Vietnamese pilot landed a small aircraft aboard USS Midway, bringing himself and his family to safety.
On August 21, 1976, a Navy task force headed by Midway made a show of force off the coast of Korea in response to an unprovoked attack on two U.S. Army officers who were killed by North Korean guards on August 18. Midway's response was in support of a U.S. demonstration of military concern vis-à-vis North Korea.
USS Midway relieved USS Constellation as the Indian Ocean contingency carrier on April 16, 1979. Midway and her escort ships continued a significant American naval presence in the oil-producing region of the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. On November 18, she arrived in the northern part of the Arabian Sea in connection with the continuing hostage crisis in Iran. Militant followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini, who had come to power following the overthrow of the Shah, seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4th and held 63 U.S. citizens hostage. USS Midway was joined November 21 by USS Kitty Hawk, and both carriers, along with their escort ships, were joined by USS Nimitz and her escorts on January 22, 1980. USS Midway was relieved by USS Coral Sea on February 5th.
Following a period in Yokosuka, Midway was again on duty, this time relieving USS Coral Sea May 30, 1980 on standby south of the Cheju-Do Islands in the Sea of Japan following the potential of civil unrest in the Republic of Korea. On August 17, USS Midway relieved USS Constellation to begin another Indian Oean deployment and to complement the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower task group still on contingency duty in the Arabian Sea. Midway spent a total of 118 days in the Indian Ocean during 1980.
In 1980, USS Midway collided with the Panamian freighter Cactus in the Palawan Straits near the Philippines.
On March 16, 1981, an A-6 Intruder from VA-115 aboard Midway sighted a downed civilian helicopter in the South China Sea. USS Midway immediately dispatched HC-1 Det 2 helicopters to the scene. All 17 people aboard the downed helicopter were rescued and brought aboard the carrier. The chartered civilian helicopter was also plucked out of the water and lifted to Midway's flight deck.
USS Midway continued serving in the western Pacific thoughout the 1980s. On March 25, 1986, the final carrier launching of a Navy fleet F-4S Phantom II took place off Midway during flight operations in the East China Sea. The aircraft was manned by pilot Lt. Alan S. Cosgrove and radar intercept officer Lt. Greg Blankenship of VF-151. Phantoms were being replaced by the new F/A-18 Hornets.
On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded its neighbor Kuwait, and U.S. forces moved into Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield to protect that country against invasion by Iraq. On November 1, 1990, USS Midway was again on station in the North Arabian Sea, relieving USS Independence. On November 15, she participated in Operation Imminent Thunder, an eight-day combined amphibious landing exercise in northeastern Saudi Arabia which involved about 1,000 U.S. Marines, 16 warships, and more than 1,100 aircraft. Meanwhile, the United Nations set an ultimatum deadline of January 15, 1991 for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.
President George H.W. Bush addressed the nation on January 16, 1991 at 9 p.m. EST and announced that the libration of Kuwait from Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, had begun. The Navy launched 228 sorties from USS Midway and USS Ranger in the Persian Gulf, from USS Theodore Roosevelt enroute to the Gulf, and from USS John F. Kennedy, USS Saratoga, and USS America in the Red Sea. In addition, the Navy launched more than 100 Tomahawk missiles from nine ships in the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. At 9 p.m. EST on February 27, President Bush declared Kuwait had been liberated and Operation Desert Storm would end at midnight. USS Midway departed the Persian Gulf March 11, 1991 and returned to Yokosuka.
In August 1991, USS Midway departed Yokosuka and returned to Pearl Harbor. Here, she turned over with USS Independence which was replacing Midway as the forward-deployed carrier in Yokosuka. USS Midway then sailed to San Diego where she was decommissioned at North Island Naval Air Station on April 11, 1992. She was stricken from the Navy List on March 17, 1997 and remains at the Navy Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Wash., on hold for use as a museum and memorial.
January 10, 2004 The decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV 41) is moored at it's final resting place at Navy pier, in San Diego, where it will become the largest museum devoted to carriers and naval aviation.