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The USS Kearsarge was commissioned in 1862 as part of the Civil War’s emergency shipbuilding campaign. As soon as the ship was constructed, she was deployed to the European waters where she searched for Confederate raiders for three years. In June of 1864, Kearsarge found the CSS Alabama in France, where she had gone for repair. Together, they fought one of the most memorable naval battles off Cherbourg that only lasted about an hour. In that hour, Kearsarge defeated the Alabama with its superior arsenal, sinking the ship.

Kearsarge was assigned to other search and intercept missions until the Civil War ended. She remained in the same area until the middle of 1866 when she was decommissioned for a short time. In 1868, Kearsarge was returned to active service, and was sent to South America’s Pacific Coast. Then, she cruised to Australia and returned to Peru, followed by a trip to Hawaii and then California.

In 1870, she was again decommissioned and returned to duty within a matter of years. It was in 1888 that the ship was wrecked on the Roncador Reef during a cruise from Haiti to Nicaragua. Salvage efforts were not effective, and she was stricken from the Navy list shortly thereafter.

CV-33 Deployments - Major Events

Add a CV-33 Shellback Initiation Add a CV-33 Deployment - Major Event
Month Year to Month Year Deployment / Event
MAR 1944 - Keel Date: 1 MAR 1944
at New York Naval Shipyard
MAY 1945 - JUN 1945 Commisioning
MAY 1945 - Launch Date: 5 MAY 1945
MAY 1945 - JUN 1945 to okinawa
JAN 1946 - JAN 1947 Commisioning
MAR 1946 - Commissioned: 2 MAR 1946
JAN 1947 - FEB 1947 Guantanamo Bay
JUN 1947 - AUG 1947 Midshipmens Cruise - England - Scotland - Sweden
JUN 1949 - Shellback Initiation - 18 JUN 1949 - Atlantic Ocean
FEB 1952 - FEB 1952 Recommisioned - 15 February 1952
AUG 1952 - FEB 1953 West Pac
JUL 1953 - JAN 1954 Korean War Deployment San Deigo to Yokuska Japan
MAR 1955 - Shellback Initiation - 15 MAR 1955 - Pacific Ocean
JAN 1956 - Shellback Initiation - 27 JAN 1956 - Pacific Ocean
AUG 1957 - APR 1958 West Pac
SEP 1959 - MAR 1960 West Pac
MAR 1960 - MAY 1962 West Pac
MAR 1961 - NOV 1961 Middle Pacific
MAY 1961 - DEC 1961 West Pac
MAR 1962 - JAN 1963 West Pac-Viet Nam
MAR 1962 - JAN 1963 West Pac-Viet Nam
MAR 1962 - JAN 1963 West Pac-Viet Nam
APR 1963 - NOV 1963 West Pac-Viet Nam
JUN 1963 - DEC 1963 West Pac
FEB 1964 - DEC 1966 West Pac-Viet Nam
JUN 1964 - DEC 1964 West Pac
JUN 1964 - DEC 1964 West Pac-Viet Nam
APR 1965 - DEC 1967 West Pac-Viet Nam
JAN 1966 - JUN 1966 West Pac-Viet Nam
APR 1966 - DEC 1966 West Pac-Viet Nam
JUN 1966 - DEC 1966 West Pac-Viet Nam
JUN 1966 - JAN 1967 West Pac
JUN 1966 - Shellback Initiation - 6 JUN 1966 - Pacific Ocean
NOV 1966 - Shellback Initiation - 1 NOV 1966 - Pacific Ocean
NOV 1966 - Shellback Initiation - 4 NOV 1966 - Pacific Ocean
NOV 1966 - Shellback Initiation - 3 NOV 1966 - Pacific Ocean
AUG 1967 - MAY 1968 West Pac
OCT 1967 - APR 1968 West Pac-Viet Nam
JAN 1968 - MAR 1968 West Pac
JAN 1969 - SEP 1969 Viet Nam
MAR 1969 - SEP 1969 West Pac-Viet Nam
MAY 1969 - SEP 1969 West Pac-Viet Nam
SEP 1969 - Shellback Initiation - 24 SEP 1969 - Pacific Ocean
FEB 1970 - Decommissioned: 13 FEB 1970
SEP 2010 - MAY 2011 Mediterranean

CV-33 General Specifications

Class: Essex-class aircraft carrier

Named for: USS Kearsarge (1861)

Complement: 3448 Officers and Enlisted

Length: 888 feet

Draft: 28 feet 7 inches

Flank Speed: 33 knots


The third Kearsarge (CV-33) was launched 5 May 1945 by the New York Naval Shipyard New York; sponsored by Mrs. Aubrey W. Fitch; and commissioned 2 March 1946 Captain Francis J. McKenna in command.

Kearsarge arrived at her homeport Norfolk 21 April 1946 and for the next year engaged in training operations along the East Coast and Caribbean. She cleared Norfolk 7 June 1947 on a midshipmen training cruise to the United Kingdom. Upon her r eturn t o the United States in August the carrier engaged in maneuvers for 10 months before departing Hampton Roads 1 June 1948 for duty with the 6th Fleet. During her tour in the Mediterranean units of the 6th Fleet were placed on alert to insure peac e in the Arab-Israeli area. Kearsarge returned Quonset Point R.I. 2 October and operated along the Atlantic Coast and the Caribbean until 27 January 1950 when she sailed for the West Coast. The carrier arrived Puget Sound Navy Yard 23 February and decommissioned there 16 June 1950 for a modernization overhaul that would enable her to handle new jet aircraft.

Kearsarge recommissioned 15 February 1952 Captain Louis B. French in command. Following shakedown the carrier cleared San Diego 11 August for intensive flight training in the Hawaiian Islands. Her readiness complete she sailed for the Far Eas t to en gage in combat missions in the Korean War. Arriving Yokosuka 8 September Kearsarge joined the fast carrier Task Force 77 off the east coast of Korea 6 days later. For the next 5 months the carrier's planes flew nearly 6 000 sorties again st Communist forces in North Korea unleashing considerable damage on enemy positions. She completed her tour in late February 1953 returning to her homeport San Diego 17 March. While serving in Korea her classification was changed to CVA 33.

Kearsarge sailed again for the Far East 1 July 1953 and operated with the 7th Fleet fast carrier force during the uneasy truce in Korea. The "Mighty Kay" also kept watch over the Formosa Straits to prevent the Communists from interfering with the Chines e Nationalists on Taiwan. Kearsarge returned San Diego 18 January 1954 to resume training operations off California. Clearing San Diego 7 October she steamed toward her third deployment to the Far East. While operating with the 7th Fl eet the carrier stood by to assist the Nationalist Chinese in the evacuation of the Tachen Islands. From 6 to 13 February 1955 Kearsarge supported units of the fleet in the successful evacuation of 18 000 civilians and 20 000 military personnel from the islands. Her cruise ended at San Diego 12 May and for the next 3 years operated on the annual deployment schedule to the Far East and training operations off California.

During the summer of 1958 Kearsarge was fitted out as an antisubmarine warfare support carrier and reclassified CVS-33. Following intensive training in her new role the carrier sailed 5 September 1959 for 7th fleet operations in the Far East. Early in her tour Japan was hit with a violent typhoon and Kearsarge played an important role in providing relief to the victims. Her planes landed parties of medical and supply units while her crew and air group donated clothing and money to t he distressed people. After participating in SEATO exercises and 7th Fleet operations she cleared Yokosuka 3 March 1960 for her homeward voyage. Three days later in stormy waters 1 200 miles off Wake Island four Russians were rescued after drifting 49 days in disabled landing craft. They were flown back to their country after Kearsarge arrived Alameda Calif. 15 March; and the carrier received thanks from the Soviet Union for this gesture.

A year of training operations preceded her next deployment from San Diego which began 3 March 1961. The antisubmarine carrier steamed to Southeast Asian waters as the Communists intensified their effort to overthrow the government in Laos. The power an d determination of the 7th Fleet was observed by the enemy and the crisis eased. Peace prevailed. After 6 months in the Far East Kearsarge arrived Puget Sound 1 November for the second phase of her modernization.

Upon completion of repairs and training Kearsarge departed Long Beach 1 August 1962 to station herself in the Pacific missile range as a recovery ship in the Mercury orbital space flight of astronaut Walter Schirra. In October after a flawles s flight the carrier played her role in the "Space Age" by retrieving Schirra and his capsule and returning him to Honolulu for flight back to the States.

Kearsarge resumed training exercises continuing these for 6 months before arriving Pearl Harbor 29 April 1963 to once again take part in the space program. The carrier repeated her earlier recovery by plucking astronaut Gordon Cooper on 18 May 1 963 after he orbited the earth 22 times in his capsule "Faith 7." She returned the space hero to Pearl Harbor then departed 4 June on her eighth cruise to the Far East. Operations with the 7th Fleet included keeping watch on the unsettled problems in Southeast Asia. Kearsarge returned Long Beach 3 December for training exercises off California.

Six months later 19 June 1964 the antisubmarine carrier was deployed on her ninth Far Eastern cruise. Arriving Yokosuka 30 July Kearsarge was dispatched to the South China Sea following the North Vietnamese patrol boat attack on U.S. destroye rs in t he Gulf of Tonkin. While U.S. Navy planes destroyed North Vietnam oil and supply depots Kearsarge provided antisubmarine protection for the 7th Fleet. The decisiveness of American action persuaded the Communists to delay their objectives for the time being; and Kearsarge returned Long Beach 16 December.

After overhaul during the first half of 1965 Kearsarge operated off the West Coast until sailing for the Far East 9 June 1966. Steaming via Hawaii and Japan she reached "Yankee Station" 8 August and operated off Vietnam through 24 October. The next day she headed for the Kuala Lumpur area and anchored in the Strait of Malacca on the 30th. She returned via Subic Bay to "Yankee Station" 5 November and operated there through the 23d. The next day the carrier started home via Hong Kong and Japa n arriving San Diego 20 December. She operated on the West Coast until departing San Diego 18 August and reached Pearl Harbor 10 days later to prepare for future action.

Kearsarge received two battle stars for Korean War service.

[Note: The above USS KEARSARGE (CV-33) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS KEARSARGE (CV-33) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]