USS Hancock CV19

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CV-19 U.S.S. Hancock
(CV-19: dp. 27,100- 1. 888': b. 93', ew. 147'6", dr. 28'7"; s. 33 k. ;
cpl. 3,448; a. 12 5", 44 40mm., 59 20mm., ac 80 plus; cl. Essex)

The fourth Hancock (CV-19) was laid down as Ticonderoga 28
January 1943by the Bethlehem Steel Co. Quincy, Mass. ; renamed
Hancock 1 May 1943; launched 24 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs.
DeWitt C. Ramsey, wife of Rear Admiral Ramsey, Chief of the
Bureau of Aeronautics, and commissioned 15 April 1944, Captain
Fred C. Dickey in command.

After fitting out in the Boston Navy Yard and shakedown training
off Trinidad and Venezuela, Hancock returned to Boston for
alterations 9 July. She departed Boston 31 July en route to Pearl
Harbor via the Panama Canal and San Diego, and from there sailed 24
September to join Admiral W. F. Halsey's 3d Fleet at Ulithi 5
October. She was assigned to Rear Admiral Bogan's Carrier Task
Group 38.2.

Hancock got underway the following afternoon for a rendezvous point
375miles west of the Marianas where units of Vice Admiral
Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force 38 were assembling in preparation
for the daring cruise to raid Japanese air and sea bases in the Ryukyus,
Formosa, and the Philippines. Thus enemy air power was paralyzed
during General MacArthur's invasion off Leyte.

When the armada arrived off the Ryukyu Islands 10 October 1944,
Hancock's planes rose off her deck to wreak destruction Okinawan
airfields and shipping. Her planes destroyed 7 enemy aircraft on the
ground and assisted in the destruction of a submarine tender, 12
torpedo boats, 2 midget submarines, 4 cargo ships, and a number of
sampans. Next on the agenda were Formosan air bases where 12
October Hancock's pilots downed six enemy planes and destroyed
nine more on the ground.

She also reported one cargo ship definitely sunk, three probably
destroyed, and several others damaged. As they repelled an enemy air
raid that evening, Hancock's gunners accounted for a Japanese plane
and drove countless others off during 7 hours of uninterrupted general
quarters. The following morning her planes resumed their assault,
knocking out ammunition dumps, hangars, barracks, and industrial
plants ashore and damaging an enemy transport. As Japanese planes
again attacked the Americans during their second night off
Formosa, Hancock's antiaircraft fire brought down another raider
which splashed about500 yards off her flight deck. On the morning of'
the third day of' operations against this |enemy stronghold Hancock
lashed out again at airfields and shipping before retiring to the
southeast with her task force. As the American ships withdrew a heavy
force of' Japanese aircraft roared in for a parting crack.

One dropped a bomb off Hancock's port bow a few seconds before
the carrier's guns splashed her into the sea. Another bomb penetrated
a gun platform but exploded harmlessly in the water. The surviving
attackers then turned tail, and the task force was thereafter
unmolested as they sailed toward the Philippines to support the
landings at Leyte.

On 18 October she launched planes against airfields and shipping at
Laaag, Aparfi, and Camiguin Island in Northern Luzon. Her planes
struck the islands of' Cebu, Panay, Negros, and Masbate, pounding
enemy airfields and ships.

The next day she retired toward Ulithi with Vice Admiral John
S. McCain's Carrier Task Group 38.1. She received orders 28
October to turn back to the area off Samar to assist in the search for
units of the Japanese fleet reportedly closing Leyte to challenge the
American fleet and to destroy amphibious forces which were struggling
to take the island from Japan. Hancock did not reach Samar in time to
assist the heroic escort carriers and destroyers of' "Taffy 3" during the
main action of the Battle off Samar but her planes did manage to lash
the fleeing Japanese Center Force as it passed through the San
Bernardino Straits. Hancock then rejoined Rear Admiral Bogan's Task
Group with which she struck airfields and shipping in the vicinity of
Manila 29 October 1944. During operations through 19 November,
her planes gave direct support to advancing Army troops and attacked
Japanese shipping over a 35~mile area. She became flagship of Fast
Carrier Task Force 38,17 November 1944 when Vice Admiral
McCain came on board.

Unfavorable weather prevented operations until 25 November when
an enemy aircraft roared toward Hancock in a suicide dive out of' the
sun. Antiaircraft fire exploded the plane some 300 feet above the ship
but a section of' its fuselage landed amidships and a part of the wing
hit the flight deck and burst into flames. Prompt and skillful teamwork
quickly extinguished the blaze and prevented serious damage Hancock
returned to Ulithi 27 November and departed from that island with her
task group to maintain air patrol over enemy airfields on Luzon to
prevent enemy suicide attacks on amphibious vessels of the landing
force in Mindoro. The first strikes were launched14 December against
Clark and Angeles airfields as well as enemy ground targets on
Salvador Island. The next day her planes struck installations at
Masinloc, San Fernando, and Cabatuan, while fighter patrols kept the
Japanese airmen down. Her planes also attacked shipping in Manila

Hancock encountered a severe typhoon 17 December and rode out
the storm in waves which broke over her flight deck, some 55 feet
above her waterline. She put into Ulithi 24 December and got
underway 6 days later to attack airfields and shipping around the
South China Sea. Her planes struck hard blows at Luzon airfields 7
and 8 January and turned their attention back to Formosa 9 January
hitting fiercely at airfields and the Tokyo Seaplane Station. An enemy
convoy north of Cam Rahn Bay, Indochina, was the next victim with 2
ships sunk and 11 damaged. That afternoon Hancock launched
strikes against airfields at Saigon and shipping on the northeastern
bulge of French Indochina. Strikes by the fast and mobile carrier force
continued through16 January, hitting Hainan Island in the Gulf of
Tonkin, the Pescadores Islands, and shipping in the harbor of Hong
Kong. Raids against Formosa were resumed 20 January 1945. The
next afternoon one of her planes returning from a sortie made a normal
landing, taxied to a point abreast of the island, and disintegrated in a
blinding explosion which killed 50 men and injured75 others. Again
outstanding work quickly brought the fires under control in time to land
other planes which were still aloft. She returned to formation and
launched strikes against Okinawa the next morning.

Hancock reached Ulithi 25 January where Vice Admiral MCcain left
the ship and relinquished command of the 5th Fleet. She sortied with
the ships of her task group 10 February and launched strikes against
airfields in the vicinity of Tokyo 16 February. During that day her air
group downed71 enemy planes, and accounted for 12 more the next.
Her planes hit the enemy naval bases at Chichi Jima and Haha Jima 19
February. These raids were conducted to isolate Iwo Jima from air
and sea support when marines hit the beaches of that island to begin
one Of the most bloody and fierce campaigns of the war. Hancock
took station oft this island to provide tactical support through 22
February, hitting enemy airfields and strafing Japanese troops ashore.

Returning to waters off the enemy home islands, Hancock launched
her planes against targets on northern Honshu, making a diversionary
raid on the Nansei-shoto islands 1 March before returning to Ulithi 24

Back in Japanese waters Hancock Joined other carriers in strikes
against Kyushu airfields, southwestern Honshu, and shipping in the
Inland Sea of Japan, 18 March 1945. Hancock was refueling
destroyer Halsey Powell 20 March when suicide planes attacked the
task force. One plane dove for the two ships but was disintegrated by
gunfire when about 700 feet overhead. Fragments of the plane hit
Hancock's deck while its engine and bomb crashed the fantail of the
destroyer. Hancock s gunners shot down another plane as it
neared the release point of its bombing run on the carrier.

Hancock was reassigned to Carrier Task Group 58.3 with which she
struck the Nansei-shoto islands 23 through 27 March and Minami
Daito Jima and Kyushu at the end of the month.

When the 10th Army landed on the western coast of Okinawa 1 April
Hancock was on hand to provide close air support. ~ suicide plane
cartwheeled near her flight deck 7 April and crashed into a group of
planes while its bomb hit the port catapult to cause a tremendous
explosion. Although 62 men were killed and 71 wounded, heroic
efforts doused the fires within half an hour enabling her to be back in
action before an hour had passed.

Hancock was detached from her task group 9 April and steamed to
Pearl Harbor for repairs. She sailed back into action 13 June and
leaving lethal calling cards at Wake Island 20 June en route to the
Philippines. Hancock sailed from San Pedro Bay with the other
carriers 1 July and attacked Tokyo airfields 10 July. She continued to
operate in Japanese waters until she received confirmation of Japan's
capitulation 15 August 1945 when she recalled her planes from their
deadly missions before they reached their targets. However planes of
her photo division were attacked by seven enemy aircraft over Sagami
Wan. Three were shot down and a fourth escaped in a trail of smoke.
Later that afternoon planes of Hancock's air patrol shot down a
Japanese torpedo plane as it dived on a British task force. - Her
planes flew missions over Japan in search of prison camps, dropping
supplies and medicine, 25August. Information collected during these
flights led to landings under command of Commodore R. W. Simpson
which brought doctors and supplies to all Allied prisoner of war

When the formal surrender of the Japanese Imperial Government was
signed on board battleship Missouri Hancock's planes flew overhead.
The carrier entered Tokyo Bay 10 September 1945 and sailed 30
September, embarking1,500 passengers at Okinawa for
transportation to San Pedro, California, where she arrived 21
October. Hancock was fitted out for "Magic Carpet" duty at San
Pedro and sailed for Seeadler Harbor, Manus Admiralty Islands, 2
November. On her return voyage she carried 4,000 passengers who
were debarked at San Diego 4 December. A week later Hancock
departed for her second "Magic Carpet" voyage, embarking 3,773
passengers at Manila for return to Alameda, Calif., 20 January 1946
She embarked Air Group 7 at San Diego 18February for air
operations off the coast of California. She sailed from San Diego 11
March to embark men of two air groups and aircraft at Pearl Harbor
for transportation to Saipan, arriving 1 April 1946. After receiving two
other air groups on board at Saipan, she loaded a cargo of aircraft at
Guam and steamed by way of Pearl Harbor to Alameda, Calif.,
arriving23 April 1946. She then steamed to Seattle, Wash., 29 April
to await inactivation. The proud ship decommissioned and entered the
reserve fleet at Bremerton, Wash.

Hancock commenced conversion and modernization to an attack
aircraft carrier in Puget Sound 15 December 1951 and was
reclassified CVA-19, 1 October1962. She recommissioned 15
February 1954, Captain W. S. Butts in command. She was the first
carrier of the United States Fleet with steam catapults capable of
launching high performance jets.

She was oft San Diego 7 May 1954 for operations along the coast of
California that included the launching 17 June of the first aircraft to
take off a United States carrier by means of a steam catapult. After a
year of operations along the Pacific coast that included testing of
Sparrow I and Regulus missiles and Cutlass jet aircraft, she sailed 10
August 1955 for 7th Fleet operations ranging from the shores of Japan
to the Philippines and Okinawa. She returned to San Diego 15 March
1956 and decommissioned 13 April for conversion that included the
installation of an angled flight deck.

Hancock recommissioned 15 November 1956 for training out of San
Diego until 6 April 1957 when she again sailed for Hawaii and the Far
East. She returned to San Diego 18 September 1957 and again
departed for Japan 15February 1958. She was a unit of powerful
carrier task groups taking station off Taiwan when the Nationalist
Chinese islands of Quemoy and Matsu were threatened with
Communist invasion in August 1958. The carrier returned to San
Diego 2 October 1958 for overhaul in the San Francisco Naval
Shipyard, followed by rigorous at sea training out of San Diego. On 1
August 1969, she sailed to reinforce the 7th Fleet as troubles in Laos
demanded the watchful presence of powerful American forces in water
off southeast Asia. She returned to San Francisco 18 January 1960
and put to sea early in February to participate in a new demonstration
of communications by reflecting ultra-high frequency waves oft the
moon. She again departed in August to steam with the 7th Fleet in
waters off Laos until lessening of tension in that area permitted
operations ranging from Japan to the Philippines.

Hancock returned to San Francisco in March 1961, then entered the
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul that gave her new
electronics gear and many other improvements. She again set sail for
Far Eastern waters 2February 1962, patrolling in the South China Sea
as crisis and strife mounted both in Laos and in South Vietnam. She
again appeared off Quemoy and Matsu in June 1962 to stem a
threatened Communist invasion there, then trained along the coast of
Japan and in waters reaching to Okinawa. She returned to San
Francisco 7 October 1962, made a brief cruise to the coast of
Hawaii while qualifying pilots then again sailed 7 June 1963 for the Far

Hancock joined in combined defense exercises along the coast of
South Korea, then deployed off the coast of South Vietnam after the
coup which resulted in the death of President Diem. She entered the
Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard 16 January 1964 for modernization that
included installation of a new ordnance system, hull repairs, and
aluminum decking for her flight deck. She celebrated her 20th birthday
2 June 1964 while visiting San Diego. The carrier made a training
cruise to Hawaii, then departed Alameda 21 October1964 for
another tour of duty with the 7th Fleet in the Far East.

Hancock reached Japan 19 November and soon was on patrol at
Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. She remained active in
Vietnamese waters fighting to thwart Communist aggression until
heading for home early in the spring of 1966.

November found the carrier steaming back to the war zone. She was
on patrol off Vietnam 16 December; and, but for brief respites at
Hong Kong, the Philippines, or Japan, Hancock remained on station
launching her planes for strikes at enemy positions ashore until
returning to Alameda, Calif., 1 August, 1966. Her outstanding record
during this combat tour won her the Navy Unit Commendation.

Following operations off the West Coast, Hancock returned to
Vietnam early in 1967 and resumed her strikes against Communist positions. After fighting during most of the first half of 1967, she returned to Alameda22 July and promptly began preparations forreturning to battle.

Aircraft from Hancock, along with those from USS Ranger (CV 61) and USS Oriskany (CV 34), joined with other planes for air strikes against North Vietnamese missile and antiaircraft sites south of the 19th parallel in response to attacks on unarmed U. S. reconnaissance aircraft on 21-22 November 1970. Hancock alternated with Ranger and with USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) on Yankee station until 10 May 1971 when she was relieved by USS Midway (CV 41).

Hancock, along with USS Coral Sea (CV 43 ), was back on Yankee station by 30 March 1972 when North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam. In response to the invasion, Naval aircraft from Hancock and other carriers flew tactical sorties during Operation Freedom Train against military and logistics targets in the southern part of North Vietnam. By the end of April, the strikes covered more areas in North Vietnam throughout the area below 20 25'N. Between 25 and 30 April, aircraft from Hancock's VA-55, VA-164, and VA-211 struck enemy-held territory around Kontum and Pleiku.

Hancock was again deployed to the waters off South Vietnam again in 1975. Departing Subic Bay, R.P., 23 March, she, along with the carriers Coral Sea, Midway, USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and the amphibious assault ship USS Okinawa (LPH 3 ), stood by for the possible evacuation of refugees after North Vietnam overran two-thirds of the south. Nearly 9,000 were evacuated: 1,373 U. S. personnel and 6,422 of other nationalities. On 12-14 May, she was alerted, although not utilized, for the recovery of SS Mayaguez, a U. S. merchantman with 39 crew, seized in international waters on 12 May by the Communist Khmer Rouge.

Hancock was decommissioned 30 January 1976. She was stricken from the Navy list the following day, and sold for scrap by the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) 1 September 1976.

Hancock was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation and received four battle stars for service in World War II.
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