USS WASP (CV-18)
The ninth Wasp (CV-18) was laid down as Oriskany on 18 March 1942 at Quincy
by the Bethlehem Steel Co.; renamed Wasp on 13 November 1942; launched on 17 August 1943; sponsored by Miss Julia M. Walsh
the sister of Senator Davi
d I. Walsh of Massachusetts and commissioned on 24 November 1943
Capt. Clifton A. F. Sprague in command.
Following a shakedown cruise which lasted through the end of 1943
Wasp returned to Boston for a brief yard period to correct minor flaws which had been discovered during her time at sea. On 10 January 1944 the new aircraft carrier departed Bost
on; steamed to Hampton Roads
Va.; and remained there until the last day of the month
when she sailed for Trinidad
her base of operations through 22 February. She returned to Boston five days later and prepared for service in the Pacific. Early in March
the ship sailed south; transited the Panama Canal; arrived at San Diego
on 21 March; and reached Pearl Harbor on 4 April.
Following training exercises in Hawaiian waters
Wasp steamed to the Marshall Islands and at Majuro Rear Admiral Alfred E. Montgomery's newly formed Task Group (TG) 58.6 of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force (TF 58). On 14 M
she and her sister carriers of TG 58.6
Essex (CV-9) and San Jacinto (CV-30)
sortied for raids on Marcus and Wake Islands to give the new task group combat experience; to test a recently devised system of assigning-before takeoff-each p
ilot a specific target
and to neutralize those islands for the forthcoming Marianas campaign. As the force neared Marcus
sending San Jacinto north to search for Japanese picket boats while Wasp and Essex launched strikes o
n the 19th and 20th
aimed at installations on the island. American planes encountered heavy antiaircraft fire but still managed to do enough damage to prevent Japanese forces on the island from interfering with the impending assault on Saipan.
When weather canceled launches planned for the 21st
the two carriers rejoined San Jacinto and steamed to Wake. Planes from all three carriers pounded that island on the 24th and were sufficiently effective to neutralize that base. However
system of pre-selecting targets for each plane fell short of the Navy's expectations
tactical air commanders resumed responsibility for directing the attacks of their planes.
After the strike on Wake
TG 58.6 returned to Majuro to prepare for the Mariana campaign. On 6 June
Wasp-reassigned to TG 58.2 which was also commanded by Rear Admiral Montgomery-sortied for the invasion of Saipan. During the afternoon of the 1
she and her sister carriers launched fighters for strikes against Japanese air bases on Saipan and Tinian. They were challenged by some 30 land-based fighters which they promptly shot down. Antiaircraft fire was heavy
but the American planes braved
it as they went on to destroy many Japanese aircraft which were still on the ground.
During the next three days
the American fighters-now joined by bombers-pounded installations on Saipan to soften up Japanese defenses for American assault troops who would go ashore on the 15th. That day and thereafter until the morning of the 17th
lanes from TG 58.2 and TG 58.3 provided close air support for marines fighting on the Saipan beachhead.
The fast carriers of those task groups then turned over to escort carriers responsibility for providing air support for the American ground forces
and steamed to rendezvous with TG 58.1 and 58.4 which were returning from strikes against Chic
hi Jima and Iwo Jima to prevent Japanese air bases on those islands from being used to launch attacks against American forces on or near Saipan.
Japan-determined to defend Saipan
no matter how high the cost-was sending Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's powerful First Mobile Fleet from the Sulu Islands to the Marianas to sink the warships of Admiral Spruance's 5th Fleet and to annihilate the
American troops who had fought their way ashore on Saipan. Soon after the Japanese task force sortied from Tawi Tawi on the morning of 13 June
American submarine Redfin (SS-272) spotted and reported it. Other submarines-which from time to time mad
e contact with Ozawa's warships-kept Spruance posted on their progress as they wended their way through the Philippine Islands
transited San Bernardino Strait
and entered the Philippine Sea.
All day on the 18th
each force sent out scout planes in an effort to locate its adversary. Because of their greater range
the Japanese aircraft managed to obtain some knowledge of Spruance's ships
but American scout planes were unable to find Ozawa'
s force. Early the following morning
aircraft from Mitscher's carriers headed for Guam to neutralize that island for the coming battle and in a series of dogfights
destroyed many Japanese land-based planes.
During the morning
carriers from Ozawa's fleet launched four massive raids against their American counterparts
but all were thwarted almost completely. Nearly all of the Japanese warplanes were shot down while failing to sink a single American ship.
They did manage to score a single bomb hit on South Dakota (BB-57)
but that solitary success did not even put the tough Yankee battleship out of action.
Mitscher's planes did not find the Japanese ships
but American submarines succeeded in sending two enemy carriers to the bottom. In the evening
three of Mitscher's four carrier task groups headed west in search of Ozawa's retiring fleet
aving only TG 58.4 and a gun line of old battleships in the immediate vicinity of the Marianas to cover ground forces on Saipan. Planes from the American carriers failed to find the Japanese force until mid-afternoon on the 20th when an Avenger pilot repo
rted spotting Ozawa almost 300 miles from the American carriers. Mitscher daringly ordered an all-out strike even though he knew that night would descend before his planes could return.
Over two hours later
the American aviators caught up with their quarry. They damaged two oilers so severely that they had to be scuttled; sank carrier Hiyo
and scored damaging but non-lethal hits on carriers Ryuho
and several other Japanese ships. However during the sunset attack
the fuel gauges in many of tee American planes registered half empty or more
presaging an anxious flight back to their now distant carriers.
When the carriers spotted the first returning plane at 2030 that night
Rear Admiral J. J. Clark bravely defied the menace of Japanese submarines by ordering all lights to be turned on to guide the weary fliers home.
After a plane from Hornet landed on Lexington Mitscher gave pilots permission to land on any available deck. Despite these unusual efforts to help the Navy's airmen
a good many planes ran out of gasoline before they reached the carriers
and dropped into the water.
When fuel calculations indicated that no aircraft which had not returned could still be aloft
Mitscher ordered the carriers to reverse course and resume the stern chase of Ozawa's surviving ships-more in the hope of finding any downed fliers who might
still be alive and pulling them from the sea than in the expectation of overtaking Japan's First Mobile Fleet before it reached the protection of the Emperor's land-based planes. During the chase
Mitcher's ships picked up 36 pilots and 26 crewmen.
At mid-morning of the 21st
Admiral Spruance detached Wasp and Bunker Hill from their task group and sent them with Admiral Lee's battleships in Ozawa's wake to locate and destroy any crippled enemy ships. The ensuing two-day hunt failed
to flush out any game
so this ad hoc force headed toward Eniwetok for replenishment and well-earned rest.
The respite was brief
on 30 June
Wasp sortied in TG 58.2-with TG 68.1-for strikes at Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima. Planes from the carriers pounded those islands on 3 and 4 July and
during the raids
destroyed 75 enemy aircraft
for the most
part in the air. Then
as a grand finale
cruisers from the force's screen shelled Iwo Jima for two and one-half hours. The next day
the two task groups returned to the Marianas and attacked Guam and Rota to begin more than a fortnight's effort
to soften the Japanese defenses there in preparation for landings on Guam. Planes from Wasp and her sister carriers provided close air support for the marines and soldiers who stormed ashore on the 21st.
The next day
Wasp's task group
sortied with two other groups of Mitscher's carriers headed southwest toward the Western Carolines
and launched raids against the Palaus on the 25th. The force then parted
with TG 58.1 and TG 58.3 stea
ming back north for further raids to keep the Bonin and Volcano Islands neutralized while Wasp in TG 582 was retiring toward the Marshalls for replenishment at Eniwetok which she reached on 2 August.
Toward the end of Wasp's stay at that base
Admiral Halsey relieved Admiral Spruance on 26 August and the 5th Fleet became the 3d Fleet. Two days later
the Fast Carrier Task Force-redesignated TF 38-sortied for the Palaus. On 6 September
now assigned to Vice Admiral John S. McCain's TG 38.1-began three days of raids on the Palaus. On the 9th
she headed-with her task group
and TG 38.3-for the southern Philippines to neutralize air power there during the American conquest
and Ulithi-three islands needed as advanced bases during the impending campaign to liberate the Philippines. Planes from these carriers encountered little resistance as they lashed Mindanao airfields that day and on the 10th. Raids a
gainst the Visayan Islands on the 12th and 13th were carried out with impunity and were equally successful. Learning of the lack of Japanese air defenses in the southern Philippines enabled Allied strategists to cancel an invasion of Mindanao which had be
en scheduled to begin on 16 November. Instead
Allied forces could go straight to Leyte and advance the recapture of Philippine soil by almost a month.
D day in the Palaus
found Wasp's TG 38.1 some 50 miles off Morotai
launching air strikes. It then returned to the Philippines for revisits to Mindanao and the Visayas before retiring to the Admiralties on 29 September for repleni
shment at Manus in preparation for the liberation of the Philippines.
Ready to resume battle
she got underway again on 4 October and steamed to the Philippine Sea where TF 38 reassembled at twilight on the evening of 7 October
some 375 miles west of the Marianas. Its mission was to neutralize airbases within operationa
l air distance of the Philippines to keep Japanese warplanes out of the air during the American landings on Leyte scheduled to begin on 20 October. The carriers steamed north to rendezvous with a group of nine oilers and spent the next day
ueling. They then followed a generally northwesterly course toward the Ryukyus until the 10th when their planes raided Okinawa Amami
and Miyaki. That day
TF 38 planes destroyed a Japanese submarine tender
and over 100 planes. But for Lt. Co
l. Doolittle's Tokyo raid from Hornet (CV-8) on 18 April 1942 and the daring war patrols of Pacific Fleet submarines
this carrier foray was the United States Navy's closest approach to the Japanese home islands up to that point in the war.
Beginning on the 12th
Formosa-next on the agenda-received three days of unwelcome attention from TF 38 planes. In response
the Japanese Navy made an all-out effort to protect that strategic island
even though doing so meant denuding its remaining ca
rriers of aircraft. Yet
the attempt to thwart the ever advancing American Pacific Fleet was futile. At the end of a three-day air battle
Japan had lost more than 500 planes and 20-odd freighters. Many other merchant ships were damaged as were hangars
and ammunition dumps. However
the victory was costly to the United States Navy
for TF 38 lost 79 planes and 64 pilots and air crewmen
 while cruisers Canberra and Houston and carrier Frankli
n received damaging
TF 38 shifted its attention to the Philippines. After steaming to waters east of Luzon
Wasp's TG 58.1 began to launch strikes against that island on the 18th and continued the attack the following day
hitting Manila for the first
time since it was occupied by the Japanese early in the war.
On the 20th
the day the first American troops waded ashore on Leyte
Wasp had moved south to the station off that island whence she and her sister carriers launched some planes for close air support missions to assist MacArthur's soldiers
e sending other aircraft to destroy airfields on Mindanao
and Leyte. Task Group 38.1 refueled the following day and
on the 22d
set a course for Ulithi to rearm and provision.
While McCain's carriers were steaming away from the Philippines
great events were taking place in the waters of that archipelago. Admiral Soemu Toyoda
the Commander in Chief of Japan's Combined Fleet
activated plan Sho-Go-1a scheme for brin
ging about a decisive naval action off Leyte. The Japanese strategy called for Ozawa's carriers to act as a decoy to lure TF 38 north of Luzon and away from the Leyte beachhead. Then-with the American fast carriers out of the way-heavy Japanese surface sh
ips were to debouch into Leyte Gulf from two directions: from the south through Surigao Strait and from the north through San Bernardino Strait. During much of the 24th
planes from Halsey's carrier task groups still in Philippine waters pounded Admiral K
urita's powerful Force "A
" or Center Force
as it steamed across the Sibuyan Sea toward San Bernardino Strait. When darkness stopped their attack
the American aircraft had sunk superbattleship Musashi and had damaged several other Japanese warshi
Halsey's pilots reported that Kurita's force had reversed course and was moving away from San Bernardino Strait.
Admiral Nishimura's Force "C"
or Southern Force
attempted to transit Surigao Strait but met a line of old battleships commanded by Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf. The venerable American men-of-war crossed Nishimura's "T" and all but anni
hilated his force. Admiral Shima-who was following in Nishimura's wake to lend support-realized that disaster had struck and wisely withdrew.
late in the afternoon of the 24th-after Kurita's Center Force had turned away from San Bernardino Strait in apparent retreat-Halsey's scout planes finally located Ozawa's carriers a bit under 200 miles north of TF 38. This intelligence promp
ted Halsey to head north toward Ozawa with his Fast Carrier Task Force. However
at this point
he did not recall McCain's TG 68.1 but allowed it to continue steaming toward Ulithi.
Kurita's Center Force again reversed course and once more headed for San Bernardino Strait. About half an hour past midnight
it transited that narrow passage; turned to starboard; and steamed south
down the east coast of Samar. Since Hals
ey had dashed north in pursuit of Ozawa's carriers
only three 7th Fleet escort carrier groups and their destroyer and destroyer escort screens were available to challenge Kurita's mighty battleships and heavy cruisers and to protect the American amphibio
us ships which were supporting the troops fighting on Leyte.
Remembered by their call names
" "Taffy 2
" and "Taffy 3
" these three American escort-carrier groups were deployed along Samar's east coast with "Taffy 3"-commanded by Wasp's first captain
Rear Admiral Clifton A. F. Sprague-in the no
about 40 miles off Paninihian Point. "Taffy 2" was covering Leyte Gulf
and "Taffy 1" was still farther south watching Surigao Strait.
lookouts on "Taffy 3" ships spotted bursts of antiaircraft fire blossoming in the northern sky
as Center Force gunners opened fire on an American anti-submarine patrol plane. Moments later
"Taffy 3" made both radar and visual contact with th
e approaching Japanese warships. Shortly before 0700
Kurita's guns opened fire on the hapless "baby flattops" and their comparatively tiny but incredibly courageous escorts. For more than two hours
"Taffy 3's" ships and planes-aided by aircraft from sis
ter escort-carrier groups to the south-fought back with torpedoes
and consummate seamanship. Then
Kurita-shaken by the loss of three heavy cruisers and thinking that he had been fighting TF 38-ordered his remaining warships to brea
k off the action.
Admiral Halsey had radioed McCain's TG 68.1-then refueling en route to Ulithi-calling that carrier group back to Philippine waters to help "Taffy 3" in its fight for survival. Wasp and her consorts raced toward Samar at flank
speed until 1030 when they began launching planes for strikes at Kurita's ships which were still some 330 miles away. While these raids did little damage to the Japanese Center Force
they did strengthen Kurita's decision to retire from Leyte.
While his planes were in the air
McCain's carriers continued to speed westward to lessen the distance of his pilots' return flight and to be in optimum position at dawn to launch more warplanes at the fleeing enemy force. With the first light of the 2
TG 38.1 and Rear Admiral Bogan's TG 38.2-which finally had been sent south by Halsey-launched the first of their strikes that day against Kurita. The second left the carriers a little over two hours later. These fliers sank light cruiser
Noshiro and damaged
but did not sink
heavy cruiser Kumano. The two task groups launched a third strike in the early afternoon
but it did not add to their score.
Following the Battle for Leyte Gulf
which ended the Japanese Fleet as a serious challenge to American supremacy at sea in the Far East
TG 38.1 operated in the Philippines for two more days providing close air support before again heading for Ulithi o
n the 28th. However
the respite-during which Rear Admiral Montgomery took command of TG 38.1 when McCain fleeted up to relieve Mitscher as CTF 38-was brief since Japanese land-based planes attacked troops on the Leyte beachhead on 1 November. Wasp
participated in raids against Luzon air bases on the 5th and 6th
destroying over 400 Japanese aircraft
for the most part on the ground. After a kamikaze hit Lexington during the operation
McCain shifted his flag from that carrier to Wasp and
a short time later
returned in her to Guam to exchange air groups.
Wasp returned to the Philippines a little before mid-month and continued to send strikes against targets in the Philippines-mostly on Luzon-until the 26th when the Army Air Force assumed responsibility for providing air support for troops on Ley
te. TF 38 then retired to Ulithi. There
the carriers received greater complements of fighter planes and
in late November and early December
conducted training exercises to prepare them better to deal with Japan's new threat to the American warships
mikazes or suicide planes.
Task Force 38 sortied from Ulithi on 10 and 11 December and proceeded to a position east of Luzon for round-the-clock strikes against air bases on that island from the 14th through the 16th to prevent Japanese fighter planes from endangering landings o
n the southwest coast of Mindoro scheduled for the 15th. Then
while withdrawing to a fueling rendezvous point east of the Philippines
TF 38 was caught in a terribly destructive typhoon which battered its ships and sank three American destroyers. The car
riers spent most of the ensuing week repairing storm damage and returned to Ulithi on Christmas Eve.
But the accelerating tempo of the war ruled out long repose in the shelter of the lagoon. Before the year ended
the carriers were back in action against airfields in the Philippines on Sakishima Gunto
and on Okinawa. These raids were intended to smoo
th the way for General MacArthur's invasion of Luzon through  the Lingayen Gulf. While the carrier planes were unable to knock out all Japanese air resistance to the Luzon landings
they did succeed in destroying many enemy planes and thus reduced th
e air threat to manageable proportions.
On the night after the initial landings on Luzon
Halsey took TF 38 into the South China Sea for a week's rampage in which his ships and planes took a heavy toll of Japanese shipping and aircraft before they retransited Luzon Strait on the 16th and ret
urned to the Philippine Sea. Bad weather prevented Halsey's planes from going aloft for the next few days; but
on the 21st
they bombed Formosa
and the Sakishimas. The following day
the aircraft returned to the Sakishimas and the Ryukyu
s for more bombing and reconnaissance. The overworked Fast Carrier Task Force then headed for Ulithi and entered that lagoon on the 26th.
While the flattops were catching their breath at Ulithi
Admiral Spruance relieved Halsey in command of the Fleet
which was thereby transformed from the 3d to the 5th. The metamorphosis also entailed Mitscher's replacing McCain and Clark's resuming co
mmand of TG 68.1-still Wasp's task group.
The next major operation dictated by Allied strategy was the capture of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands. Iwo was needed as a base for Army Air Force fighter planes which were to protect Mariana-based B-29 bombers during raids against the Japanese home
islands and as an emergency landing point for crippled warplanes. Task Force 58 sortied on 10 February
held rehearsals at Tinian
and then headed for Japan.
Fighter planes took off from the carriers before dawn on the 16th to clear the skies of Japanese aircraft. They succeeded in this mission
but Wasp lost several of her fighters during the sweep. Bombing sorties
directed primarily at aircraft fa
ctories in Tokyo
followed; but clouds hid many of these plants
forcing some planes to drop their bombs on secondary targets. Bad weather
which also hampered Mitscher's fliers during raids the next morning
prompted him to cancel strikes scheduled for t
he afternoon and head the task force west.
During the night
Mitscher turned the carriers toward the Volcano Islands to be on hand to provide air support for the marines who would land on beaches of Iwo Jima on the morning of the 19th.
For the next few days
planes from the American carriers continued to assist the marines who were engaged in a bloody struggle to wrest the island from its fanatical defenders. On the 23d
Mitscher led his carriers back to Japan for more raids on Tokyo
. Planes took off on the morning of the 25th
when they reached Tokyo
they again found their targets obscured by clouds. Moreover
visibility was so bad the next day that raids on Nagoya were called off
and the carriers steamed south toward the Ryu
kyus to bomb and reconnoiter Okinawa
the next prize to be taken from the Japanese Empire. Planes left the carriers at dawn on 1 March; and
throughout the day
they hammered and photographed the islands of the Ryukyu group. Then
after a night bombardmen
t by surface ships
TF 58 set a course for the Carolines and anchored in Ulithi lagoon on the 4th.
Damaged as she was
Wasp recorded-from 17 to 23 March-what was often referred to as the busiest week in flattop history. In these seven days
Wasp accounted for 14 enemy planes in the air
destroyed six more on the ground
scored two 500
-pound bomb hits on each of two Japanese carriers
dropped two 1
000-pound bombs on a Japanese battleship
put one 1
000-pounder on another battleship
hit a heavy cruiser with three 500-pound missiles
dropped another 1
000-pound bomb on a big cargo ship
and heavily strafed "and probably sank" a large Japanese submarine. During this week
Wasp was under almost continuous attack by shore-based aircraft and experienced several close kamikaze attacks. The carrier's gunners fired more than 10
nds at the determined Japanese attackers.
On 13 April 1945
Wasp returned to the Puget Sound Navy Yard
and had the damage caused by the bomb hit repaired. Once whole again
she steamed to Hawaii and
after a brief sojourn at Pearl Harbor
headed toward the western Pac
ific on 12 July 1945. Wasp conducted a strike at Wake Island and paused briefly at Eniwetok before rejoining the rampaging Fast Carrier Task Force. In a series of strikes
unique in the almost complete absence of enemy airborne planes
pilots struck Yokosuka Naval Base near Tokyo
and hidden manufacturing centers. On 9 August
a suicide plane swooped down at the carrier
but a Wasp pilot flying above the ship forced the enemy to splash into the sea.
on 15 August
when the fighting should have been over
two Japanese planes tried to attack Wasp's task group. Fortunately
Wasp pilots were still flying on combat air patrol and sent both enemies smoking into the sea. This was the l
ast time Wasp pilots and gunners were to tangle with the Japanese.
On 25 August 1945
a severe typhoon
with winds reaching 78 knots
engulfed Wasp and stove in about 30 feet of her bow. The carrier
despite the hazardous job of flying from such a shortened deck
continued to launch her planes on missions of me
rcy or patrol as they carried food
and long-deserved luxuries to American prisoners of war at Narumi
The ship returned to Boston for Navy Day
27 October 1945. On 30 October
Wasp got underway for the naval shipyard in New York for a period of availability to have additional facilities installed for maximum transportation of troops. This work w
as completed on 15 November 1945 and enabled her to accommodate some 5
500 enlisted passengers and 400 officers.
After receiving the new alterations
Wasp was assigned temporary duty as an Operation "Magic Carpet" troop transport. On 17 February 1947
Wasp was placed out of commission in reserve
attached to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
In the summer of 1948
Wasp was taken out of the reserve fleet and placed in the New York Naval Shipyard for refitting and alterations to enable her to accommodate the larger
and faster planes of the jet age. Upon the completion of thi
the ship was recommissioned on 10 September 1951.
Wasp reported to the Atlantic Fleet in November 1951 and began a period of shakedown training which lasted until February 1952. After returning from the shakedown cruise
she spent a month in the New York Naval Shipyard preparing for duty in dis
On 26 April 1952
Wasp collided with destroyer minesweeper Hobson (DD-464) while conducting night flying operations en route to Gibraltar. Hobson lost 176 of the crew
including her skipper. Rapid rescue operations saved 52 men. Wasp sustained no personnel casualties
but her bow was torn by a 75-foot saw-tooth rip.
The carrier proceeded to Bayonne
for repairs and
after she entered drydock there
the bow of aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-12)-then undergoing conversion-was removed and floated by barge from Brooklyn
and fitted into position on
replacing the badly shattered forward end of the ship. This remarkable task was completed in only 10 days
enabling the carrier to get underway to cross the Atlantic.
On 2 June 1952
Wasp relieved Tarawa (CV-40) at Gibraltar and joined Carrier Division (CarDiv) 6 in the Mediterranean Sea. After conducting strenuous flight operations between goodwill visits to many Mediterranean ports
Wasp was r
elieved at Gibraltar on 5 September by Leyte (CV-32).
After taking part in NATO Exercise "Mainbrace" at Greenock
and enjoying a liberty period at Plymouth
Wasp headed home and arrived at Norfolk early on the morning of 13 October 1952.
On 7 November 1952
Wasp entered the New York Naval Shipyard to commence a seven-month yard period to prepare her for a world cruise which was to bring her into the Pacific Fleet once more. After refresher training in the Caribbean
departed Norfolk on 16 September 1953.
After transiting the Panama Canal and crossing the Pacific
the carrier made a brief visit to Japan and then conducted strenuous operations with the famed TF 77. While operating in the western Pacific
she made port calls at Hong Kong
On 10 January 1954
China's Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek spent more than four hours on board Wasp watching simulated air war maneuvers in Formosan waters. On 12 March
President Ramon Magsaysay of the Republic of the Philippines came on board t
o observe air operations as a guest of American Ambassador Raymond A. Spruance. Wasp operated out of Subic Bay
for a time
then sailed for Japan where
in April 1954
she was relieved by Boxer (CV-21) and sailed for her new hom
e port of San Diego
Wasp spent the next few months preparing for another tour of the Orient. She departed the United States in September 1954 and steamed to the Far East visiting Pearl Harbor and Iwo Jima en route. She relieved Boxer in October 1954 and enga
ged in air operations in the South China Sea with Carrier Task Group 70.2. Wasp visited the Philippine Islands in November and December and proceeded to Japan early in 1955 to join TF 77. While operating with that naval organization
ovided air cover for the evacuation of the Tachen Islands by the Chinese Nationalists.
After the Tachen evacuation
Wasp stopped at Japan before returning to San Diego
in April. She entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard in May for a seven-month conversion and overhaul. On 1 December the carrier returned to duty display
ing a new canter flight deck and a hurricane bow. As 1955 ended
Wasp had returned to San Diego and was busily preparing for another Far Eastern tour.
After training during the early months of 1956
Wasp departed San Diego
on 23 April for another cruise to the Far East with Carrier Air Group 15 embarked. She stopped at Pearl Harbor to undergo inspection and training and then proceeded
to Guam where she arrived in time for the Armed Forces Day ceremonies on 14 May. En route to Japan in May
she joined TF 77 for Operation "Sea Horse
" a five-day period of day and night training for the ship and air group. The ship arrived at Yokosuka on
4 June; visited Iwakuni
then steamed to Manila for a brief visit. Following a drydock period at Yokosuka
Wasp again steamed south to Cubi Point
Philippine Islands for the commissioning of the new naval air station there. Carrier Air Grou
p 15 provided an air show for President Ramon Magsaysay of the Philippines and Admiral Arthur Radford. During the third week of August
Wasp was at Yokosuka enjoying what was scheduled to be a fortnight's stay
but she sailed a week early to aid ot
her ships in searching for survivors of a Navy patrol plane which had been shot down on 23 August off the coast of communist China. After a futile search
the ship proceeded to Kobe
and made a final stop at Yokosuka before leaving the Far East.
Wasp returned to San Diego on 15 October and while there was reclassified an antisubmarine warfare aircraft carrier
effective on 1 November 1956. She spent the last days of 1956 in San Diego preparing for her transfer to the east coast.
Wasp left San Diego on the last day of January 1957
rounded Cape Horn for operations in the South Atlantic and Caribbean Sea
then proceeded to Boston where she arrived on 21 March. The carrier came into Norfolk
on 6 April to embark membe
rs of her crew from the Antisubmarine Warfare School. The carrier spent the next few months in tactics along the eastern seaboard and in the waters off Bermuda before returning to Boston on 16 August.
On 3 September
Wasp got underway to participate in NATO Operations "Seaspray" and "Strikeback
" which took her to the coast of Scotland and simulated nuclear attacks and counterattacks on 130 different land bases. The carrier returned to Boston
on 23 October 1957 and entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for a major overhaul which was not completed until 10 March 1958 when she sailed for antisubmarine warfare practice at Guantanamo Bay
Cuba. Upon returning to Boston on 29 April and picking up air
squadrons at Quonset Point
on 12 May
she became the hub of TF 66
a special antisubmarine group of the 6th Fleet.
The carrier began her Atlantic crossing on the 12th of May and sailed only a few hundred miles when trouble flared in Lebanon. Wasp arrived at Gibraltar on the 21st of May and headed east
making stops at Souda Bay
and Athens. Wasp next spent 10 days at sea conducting a joint Italian-American antisubmarine warfare exercise in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Sardinia. On 15 July
the carrier put to sea to patrol waters off Lebanon. Her Marine helicopter transport squadron left the s
hip five days later to set up camp at the Beirut International Airport. They flew reconnaissance missions and transported the sick and injured from Marine battalions in the hills to the evacuation hospital at the airport. She continued to support forces a
shore in Lebanon until 17 September 1958 when she departed Beirut Harbor
bound for home. She reached Norfolk on 7 October
and then made a brief stop at Quonset Point before arriving in her home port of Boston on 11 October.
Four days later
Wasp became flagship of Task Group Bravo
one of two new antisubmarine defense groups formed by the Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet. Wasp's air squadrons and seven destroyers were supported by shore-based seaplan
e patrol aircraft. She sailed from Quonset Point on 26 November for a 17-day cruise in the North Atlantic. This at-sea period marked the first time her force operated together as a team. The operations continued day and night to coordinate and develop the
task group's team capabilities until she returned to Boston on 13 December 1958 and remained over the Christmas holiday season.
Wasp operated with Task Group Bravo throughout 1959
cruising along the eastern seaboard conducting operations at Norfolk
and Quonset Point
R.I. On 27 February 1960
she entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for overhaul. In mid-July
the carrier was ordered to the South Atlantic where she stood by when civil strife broke out in the newly independent Congo and operated in support of the United Nations airlift. She returned to her home port on 11 August 1960 and spent the remainder of
the year operating out of Boston with visits to Guantanamo Bay
for refresher training and exercises conducted in the Virginia capes operating areas and the Caribbean operating areas. The carrier returned to Boston on 10 December 1960 and remained
in port there into the New Year.
On 9 January 1961
Wasp sailed for the Virginia capes operating area and devoted the first half of 1961 to exercises there
at Narragansett Bay
and at Nova Scotia. On 9 June
Wasp got underway from Norfolk
for a three-month M
editerranean cruise. The ship conducted exercises at Augusta Bay
Spain; San Remo and La Spezia
and returned to Boston on 1 September. The carrier entered the Boston Naval
Shipyard for an interim overhaul and resumed operations on 6 November 1961
After loading food
Wasp spent the period from 11 to 18 January 1962 conducting antisubmarine warfare exercises and submarine surveillance off the east coast. After a brief stop at  Norfolk
the ship steamed on to f
urther training exercises and anchored off Bermuda from 24 to 31 January. Wasp then returned to her home port.
On 17 February
a delegation from the Plymouth Plantation presented a photograph of the Mayflower II to Captain Brewer who accepted this gift for Wasp's "People to People" effort in the forthcoming European cruise.
On 18 February
Wasp departed Boston
bound for England
and arrived at Portsmouth on 1 March. On 16 March
the carrier arrived at Rotterdam
for a week's goodwill visit.
From 22 to 30 March
Wasp traveled to Greenock
thence to Plymouth
England. On 17 April Capt. Brewer presented Alderman A. Goldberg
Lord Mayor of Plymouth
a large picture of Mayflower II as a gift from the people of
Mass. On 5 May
Wasp arrived at Kiel
and became the first aircraft carrier to ever visit that port. The ship made calls at Oslo
before returning to Boston
From August through October
Warp visited Newport
then conducted a dependents' cruise
as well as a reserve cruise
and visitors cruises. The 1st of November gave Wasp a chance to use her capabilities whe
n she responded to a call from President Kennedy and actively participated in the Cuban blockade. After tension relaxed
the carrier returned to Boston on 22 November for upkeep work
on 21 December
she sailed to Bermuda with 18 midshipmen from Bost
on area universities. Wasp returned to Boston on 29 December and finished out the year there.
The early part of 1963 saw Wasp conducting anti-submarine warfare exercises off the Virginia capes and steaming along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in support of the presidential visit. On 21 March
President Kennedy arrived at San Jose for
a conference with presidents of six Central American nations. After taking part in Fleet exercises off Puerto Rico
the carrier returned to Boston on 4 April. From 11 to 18 May
Wasp took station off Bermuda as a backup recovery ship for Major Gord
on Cooper's historic Mercury space capsule recovery. The landing occurred as planned in the mid-Pacific near Midway Atoll
and carrier Kearsage (CVA-33) picked up Cooper and his Faith 7 space craft. Wasp then resumed antisubmarine war
fare exercises along the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean until she underwent overhaul in the fall of 1963 for FRAM (Fleet rehabilitation and modernization) overhaul in the Boston Naval Shipyard.
In March 1964
the carrier conducted sea trials out of Boston. During April
she operated out of Norfolk and Narragansett Bay
R.I. She returned to Boston on 4 May and remained there until 14 May when she got underway for refresher training in waters b
etween Guantanamo Bay
before returning to her home port on 3 June 1964.
On 21 July 1964
Wasp began a round-trip voyage to Norfolk and returned to Boston on 7 August. She remained there through 8 September when she headed
via the Virginia capes operating area
Spain. She then cruised the Mediterranean
visiting ports in Spain
and returned home on 18 December 1964.
The carrier remained in port until 8 February 1965 and sailed for fleet exercises in the Caribbean. Operating along the eastern seaboard
she recovered the Gemini IV astronauts White and McDivitt with their spacecraft on 7 June. During the summer
ship conducted search and rescue operations for an Air Force C-121 plane which had gone down off Nantucket. Following an orientation cruise for 12 congressmen on 20 to 21 August
Wasp participated in joint training exercises with German and French
forces. From 16 to 18 December
the carrier recovered the astronauts of Gemini VI and VII
and then returned to Boston on 22 December to finish out the year.
On 24 January 1966
Wasp departed Boston for fleet exercises off Puerto Rico. En route
heavy seas and high winds caused structural damage to the carrier. She put into Roosevelt Roads
on 1 February to determine the extent of her da
mages and effect as much repair as possible. Engineers were flown from Boston who decided that the ship could cease "Springboard" operations early and return to Boston. The ship conducted limited anti-submarine operations from 6 to 8 February prior to lea
ving the area. She arrived at Boston on 18 February and was placed in restricted availability until 7 March
when her repair work was completed.
Wasp joined in exercises in the Narragansett Bay operating areas. While the carrier was carrying out this duty
a television film crew from the National Broadcasting Company was flown to Wasp on 21 March and stayed on the ship during the
remainder of her period at sea
filming material for a special color television show to be presented on Armed Forces Day.
The carrier returned to Boston on 24 March 1966 and was moored there until 11 April. On 27 March
Doctor Ernst Lemberger
the Austrian Ambassador to the United States
visited the ship. On 18 April
the ship embarked several guests of the Secretary of
the Navy and set courses for Guantanamo Bay
Cuba. She returned to Boston on 6 May.
A week later
the veteran flattop sailed to take part in the recovery of the Gemini IX spacecraft. Embarked in Wasp were some 66 persons from NASA
the television industry
an underwater demolition recovery team
and a Defense D
epartment medical team. On 6 June
she recovered astronauts Lt. Col. Thomas P. Stafford and Lt. Comdr. Eugene Cernan and flew them to Cape Kennedy
Fla. Wasp returned their capsule to Boston.
Wasp participated in "ASWEX III
" an antisubmarine exercise which lasted from 20 June through 1 July 1966. She spent the next 25 days in port at Boston for upkeep. On the 25th
the carrier got underway for "ASWEX IV." During this exercise
oviet intelligence collection vessel
entered the operation area necessitating a suspension of the operation and eventual repositioning of forces. The exercise was terminated on 5 August. She then conducted a dependents' day cru
ise on 8 and 9 August
and orientation cruises on 10
and 22 August. After a two-day visit to New York
Wasp arrived in Boston on 1 September and underwent upkeep until the 19th. From that day to 4 October
she conducted hunter/killer operation
s with the Royal Canadian Navy aircraft embarked.
Following upkeep at Boston
the ship participated in the Gemini XII recovery operation from 5 to 18 November 1966. The recovery took place on 15 November when the space capsule splashdown occurred within three miles of Wasp. Capt. James A. Lovel
l and Maj. Edwin E. Aldrin were lifted by helicopter hoist to the deck of Wasp and there enjoyed two days of celebration. Wasp arrived at Boston on 18 November with the Gemini XII spacecraft on board. After off-loading the special Gemini sup
Wasp spent 10 days making ready for her next period at sea.
On 28 November Wasp departed Boston to take part in the Atlantic Fleet's largest exercise of the year
" in which more than 100 United States ships took part. The carrier returned to Boston on 16 December where she remained through
the end of 1966.
Wasp served as carrier qualification duty ship for the Naval Air Training Command from 24 January to 26 February 1967 and conducted operations in the Gulf of Mexico and off the east coast of Florida. She called at New Orleans for Mardi Gras from
4 to 8 February
at Pensacola on the 11th and 12th
and at Mayport
on the 19th and 20th. Returning to Boston a week later
she remained in port until 19 March when she sailed for "Springboard" operations in the Caribbean. On 24 March
joined Salamonie  (AO-26) for an underway replenishment but suffered damage during a collision with the oiler. After making repairs at Roosevelt Roads
she returned to operations on 29 March and visited Charlotte Amalie
tes Virgin Islands
and participated in the celebration from 30 March to 2 April which marked the 50th anniversary of the purchase of the Virgin Islands by the United States from Denmark. Wasp returned to Boston on 7 April
remained in port four da
then sailed to Earle
to off-load ammunition prior to overhaul. She visited New York for three days then returned to the Boston Naval Shipyard and began an overhaul on 21 April 1967 which was not completed until early 1968.
Wasp completed her cyclical overhaul and conducted post-repair trials throughout January 1968. Returning to the Boston Naval Shipyard on the 28th
the ship made ready for two months of technical evaluation and training which began early in Febru
The 28th of February marked the beginning of almost five weeks of refresher training for Wasp under the operational control of Commander
Fleet Training Group
Cuba. On 30 March
Wasp steamed north and was in Boston from 6
to 29 April for routine upkeep and minor repairs. She then departed for operations in the Bahamas and took part in "Fixwex C
" an exercise off the Bermuda coast. The carrier set course for home on 20 May but left five days later to conduct carrier qualif
ications for students of the Naval Air Training Command in the Jacksonville
On 12 June
Wasp and Truckee (AO-147) had a minor collision during an underway replenishment. The carrier returned to Norfolk where an investigation into the circumstances of the collision was conducted. On 20 June
Wasp got underw
ay for Boston
where she remained until 3 August when she moved to Norfolk to take on ammunition.
On 15 June
Wasp's home port was changed to Quonset Point
and she arrived there on 10 August to prepare for overseas movement. Ten days later
the carrier got underway for a deployment in European waters. The northern European portion of
the cruise consisted of several operational periods and port visits to Portsmouth
England; Firth of Clyde
as part of TG 87.1
joined in the NATO Exercise "Silvertower
" the largest combined
naval exercise in four years. "Silvertower" brought together surface
and subsurface units of several NATO navies.
On 25 October 1968
the carrier entered the Mediterranean and
the following day
became part of TG 67.6. After a port visit to Naples
Wasp departed on 7 November to conduct antisubmarine warfare exercises in the Tyrrhenian Sea
and Ionian Basin. After loading aircraft in both Taranto and Naples
Wasp visited Barcelona
and Gibraltar. On 19 December
the ship returned to Quonset Point
and spent the remainder of 1968 in port.
Wasp began 1969 in her home port of Quonset Point. Following a yard period which lasted from 10 January through 17 February
the carrier conducted exercises as part of the White Task Group in the Bermuda operating area. The ship returned to Quon
set Point on 6 March and began a month of preparations for overseas movement.
On 1 April 1969
Wasp sailed for the eastern Atlantic and arrived at Lisbon
on 16 April. From 21 to 26 April
she took part in joint Exercise "Trilant" which was held with the navies of the United States Spain
and Portugal. One of th
e highlights of the cruise occurred on 15 May as Wasp arrived at Portsmouth
and served as flagship for TF 87
representing the United States in a NATO review by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in which 64 ships from the 11 NATO countri
After conducting exercises and visiting Rotterdam
Wasp headed home on 30 June and
but for a one-day United Fund cruise on 12 August
remained at Quonset Point until 24 August. The period from 29 August to 6 October was de
voted to alternating operations between Corpus Christi
for advanced carrier qualifications
and Pensacola for basic qualifications
with inport periods at Pensacola.
A period of restricted availability began on 10 October and was followed by operations in the Virginia capes area until 22 November. In December
Wasp conducted a carrier qualification mission in the Jacksonville operations area which lasted thr
ough 10 December. The ship arrived back at Quonset Point on 13 December and remained there for the holidays.
The carrier welcomed the year 1970 moored in her home port of Quonset Point but traveled over 40
000 miles and was away from home port 265 days. On 4 January
she proceeded to Earle
and off-loaded ammunition prior to entering the Boston Naval Sh
ipyard for a six-week overhaul on 9 January.
The carrier began a three-week shakedown cruise on 16 March but returned to her home port on 3 April and began preparing for an eastern Atlantic deployment. Wasp reached Lisbon on 25 May 1970 and dropped anchor in the Tagus River. A week later
the carrier got underway to participate in NATO Exercise "Night Patrol" with units from Canada
the United Kingdom
and West Germany. On 8 June
Wasp proceeded to the Naval Station
to embark a group of midsh
ipmen for a cruise to Copenhagen. During exercises in Scandinavian waters
the carrier was shadowed by Soviet naval craft and aircraft. The ship departed Copenhagen on 26 June and
three days later
crossed the Arctic Circle.
On 13 July 1970
Wasp arrived at Hamburg
and enjoyed the warmest welcome received in any port of the cruise. A Visitors' Day was held
and over 15
000 Germans were recorded as visitors to the carrier. After calls at Edinburgh and Glasg
Wasp got underway on 10 August for operating areas in the Norwegian Sea. The carrier anchored near Plymouth
on 28 August and
two days later
sailed for her home port.
Wasp returned to Quonset Point on 8 September and remained there through 11 October when she got underway to off-load ammunition at Earle
prior to a period of restricted availability at the Boston Naval Shipyard beginning on 15 October. T
he work ended on 14 December; and
after reloading ammunition at Earle
Wasp returned to Quonset Point on 19 December to finish out the year 1970.
On 14 January 1971
Wasp departed Quonset Point
CVSG-54 and Detachment 18 from Fleet Training Group
embarked. After refresher training at Bermuda
she stopped briefly at Rota
roceeded to the Mediterranean for participation in the "National Week VIII" exercises with several destroyers for the investigation of known Soviet submarine operating areas. On 12 February
Secretary of the Navy John Chafee
accompanied by Commander
Vice Admiral Isaac C. Kidd
visited the carrier.
Was detached early from the "National Week" exercise on 15 February to support John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) as she steamed toward Gibraltar. Soviet ships trailed Wasp and John F. Kennedy until they entered the Strait of Sicily w
hen the Soviets departed to the east. After a brief stop at Barcelona
Wasp began her homeward journey on 24 February and arrived at Quonset Point on 3 March.
After spending March and April in port
Wasp got underway on 27 April and conducted a nuclear technical proficiency inspection and prepared for the forthcoming "Exotic Dancer" exercise which commenced on 3 May. Having successfully completed the
Wasp was heading home on 8 May when an American Broadcasting Co. television team embarked and filmed a short news report on carrier antisubmarine warfare operations.
On 15 May
the veteran conducted a dependents' day cruise
and one month later
participated in Exercise  "Rough Ride" at Great Sound
which took her to Halifax
Wasp returned to Quonset Point on 2 July 1971 and spent the next two months in preparation and execution of Exercise "Squeeze Play IX" in the Bermuda operating area. During August
the ship conducted exercises with an east coast naval reserve ai
r group while proceeding to Mayport
Fla. She returned to her home port on 26 August and spent the next month there. On 23 September
Wasp got underway for Exercise "Lantcortex 1-72" which terminated on 6 October. For the remainder of the month
er joined in a crossdeck operation which took her to Bermuda
and Norfolk. She arrived back at Quonset Point on 4 November.
Four days later
the carrier set her course for the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. where she was in drydock until 22 November. She then returned to Quonset Point and remained in her home port for the remainder of the year preparing for decom
On 1 March 1972
it was announced that Wasp would be decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list. Decommissioning ceremonies were held on 1 July 1972. The ship was sold on 21 May 1973 to the Union Minerals and Alloys Corp.
of New York City
and subsequently scrapped.
Wasp earned eight battle stars for her World War II service.
[Note: The above USS WASP (CV-18) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS WASP (CV-18) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]