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U.S.S. SAIPAN

(CVL-48)

THE CAN DO SHIP

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USS Saipan (CVL-48) was a light aircraft carrier commissioned after the end of World War II. She played a vital role in training student pilots in Pensacola, Florida from the fall of 1946 to the spring of 1947. After taking part in training in the Caribbean, she received an overhaul and returned to Pensacola. She continued to play a key role in training midshipmen.


Korean War

In 1948, she received the distinguished opportunity to ferry the delegation from the U.S. to the Venezuelan Presidential inauguration. After conducting operations off of Virginia, she continued her work with the Operational Development Force.

The Fighter Squadron 17A trained on Saipan, becoming qualified on the FH-1 Phantom jet. After this important training, she returned to Norfolk, where she remained until the spring of 1951. She sailed to the Western Mediterranean and the Western Atlantic. She also continued to participate in training operations, sailing in midshipman cruises during the summers of 1952 and 1953.

In 1953, she began participating in surveillance and reconnaissance missions along the coast of Korea and amphibious missions in the Ryukyus. She even assisted the French during the First Indochina War.

Hurricane Relief and Conversion

Hurricane Hazel allowed Saipan the opportunity to provide relief work along the Greater Antilles, delivering food and medical supplies to parts of Haiti. After she completed this mission, she was decommissioned and converted into a command ship. She was reclassified as a Major Communications Relay Ship in 1964.

Vietnam and Space

During the Vietnam War, she was recommissioned and sent to Subic Bay, where she patrolled the Tonkin Gulf and assisted in communication for combat operations.

Following her role in the Vietnam War, she participated in space missions, taking part the recovery of Apollo 8. For her serve in Vietnam, she earned seven campaign stars. She was sold for scrap in 1976.

CVL-48 Deployments - Major Events

Add a CVL-48 Shellback Initiation Add a CVL-48 Deployment - Major Event
Month Year to Month Year Deployment / Event
JUL 1944 - Keel Date: 10 JUL 1944
at New York Shipbuilding Corporation
JUL 1945 - Launch Date: 8 JUL 1945
JUL 1946 - Commissioned: 14 JUL 1946
AUG 1946 - JUN 1947 Training Pilots in Pensacola
AUG 1947 - SEP 1950 Operational and Development Force
MAY 1948 - MAY 1948 Qualified First Squadron of Navy Jets VF 17A
MAY 1948 - JUL 1948 Venezuelan Presidential Inauguration
JAN 1951 - MAR 1951 Guantanamo Bay
MAR 1951 - JUN 1951 Mediterranean
JUL 1951 - DEC 1951 Second Fleet Operations
JAN 1952 - FEB 1952 Arctic Circle Operations
JUN 1952 - AUG 1952 Midshipman Cruise Northern Europe
SEP 1952 - DEC 1952 Caribbean ASW Operations
JAN 1953 - JUN 1953 Second Fleet Operations
JUN 1953 - SEP 1953 South America
JUN 1953 - Shellback Initiation - 19 JUN 1953 - Atlantic Ocean
OCT 1953 - JUL 1954 Circumnavigation
OCT 1953 - OCT 1953 Panama Canal
NOV 1953 - NOV 1953 International Date Line
NOV 1953 - MAY 1954 Korea Yellow Sea
MAY 1954 - MAY 1954 French Indo-China
MAY 1954 - Shellback Initiation - 31 MAY 1954 - Indian Ocean
JUN 1954 - JUN 1954 Suez Canal
JUN 1954 - JUL 1954 Mediterranean
JUL 1954 - JUL 1954 Completed Circumnavigation of the World
AUG 1954 - SEP 1957 Training Pilots in Pensacola
OCT 1955 - NOV 1955 Tampico Hurricane Rescue Mission
OCT 1957 - OCT 1957 Decommisioning
JAN 1970 - Decommissioned: 14 JAN 1970

CVL-48 General Specifications

Complement: 1721 Officers and Enlisted

Displacement: 14500 tons

Length: 684 feet

Beam: 76.8 feet

Draft: 28 feet

Flank Speed: 33 knots



USS SAIPAN (CVL-48)



The first Saipan (CVL-48) was laid down on 10 July 1944 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp. Camden N.J.; launched on 8 July 1945 sponsored by Mrs. John W. McCormack; and commissioned on 14 July 1946 Capt. John G. Crommelin in command.


Commissioned eleven months after the close of World War II Saipan trained student pilots out of Pensacola from September 1946 to April 1947 when reassigned to Norfolk as homeport she departed the Gulf of Mexico; participated in exercises in the Caribbean; then proceeded to Philadelphia for overhaul. In November she returned to Pensacola; but in late December after training midshipmen steamed back to the east coast to serve with the Operational Development Force.


In February 1948 however her work in jet operational techniques carrier support tactics and electronic instrument evaluation was interrupted briefly. From the 7th to the 24th she was engaged in transporting the United States delegation to the Venez uelan Presidential inauguration and back. On her return she conducted local operations off the Virginia Capes and in April after a visit to Portsmouth N.H. she resumed work for the Operational Development Force. On the 18th she also relieved Mindo ro (CVE-120) as flagship of Carrier Division 17 (CarDiv 17).


On 19 April she departed Norfolk for Quonset Point R.I. where on 3 May she embarked Fighter Squadron 17A. Three days later all squadron pilots had qualified in FH-1 Phantom jets. The squadron had become the first carrier-based jet squadron.


Back at Norfolk by the end of the month Saipan was relieved of flagship duties. In June she returned to New England waters; and in July she commenced overhaul at Norfolk. In December she resumed local operations. On the 24th she was order ed to embark two of the Navy's latest type helicopter the XHJS-1 and three Marine Corps HRP-1 helicopters and proceeded north to Greenland to assist in the rescue of eleven airmen downed on the ice cap. Departing Norfolk on Christmas day the CVL arriv ed off Cape Farewell on the 28th and prepared to launch the helicopters as soon as weather allowed. On the 29th however a C-47 equipped with jet assist takeoff and skis landed on the ice took on the marooned airmen and made it out again.


Saipan then returned to Norfolk arrived on the 31st and sailed again on 28 January 1949. Steaming south she conducted exercises out of Guantanamo Bay into March and returned to Hampton Roads on the 10th. From the 11th to the 19th she conduct ed operations for the development force; then made a reserve training cruise to Canada. At the end of May she again commenced work for the Operational Development Force. Three months later she conducted her second reservist cruise of the year then qu alified Royal Canadian Navy pilots in carrier landings.


From November 1949 to March 1951 Saipan remained on the east coast operating from the Virginia Capes south. On 6 March 1951 she got underway as flagship CarDiv 14 and sailed for duty with the 6th Fleet. Deployed for three months she plied the waters of the western Mediterranean until the end of May then headed for home. On 8 June she was back at Norfolk whence she resumed operations in the western Atlantic from Greenland to the Caribbean.


For over two years Saipan continued 2d Fleet operations interrupting them for midshipman cruises during the summers of 1952 and 1953 and for an overhaul. In October 1953 she departed the east coast and steamed for the Panama Canal and the Paci fic. On 30 October she arrived at San Diego whence she continued on to Pearl Harbor Yokosuka and duty off the coast of Korea in support of the uneasy truce agreement.


Assigned to TF 95 she was primarily engaged in surveillance and reconnaissance missions along the coast and in inspection patrols of the islands just south of the 38th Parallel. In January 1954 she interrupted her patrols to provide air support for Ja panese manned LSTs ferrying former Chinese POWs from Inchon to new homes on Formosa. In early February she participated in amphibious exercises in the Ryukyus then returned to Inchon to stand by in the event she was needed for an evacuation of Indian t roops from Panmunjom. In March amphibious exercises took her to the Bonins. She then returned to Japan but instead of resuming truce patrols she took on 25 AU-type aircraft and five H19A helicopters at Yokosuka and steamed south. On 18 April VMA-32 4 pilots flew the AUs off her flight deck and landed them at Tourane (now Danang) Air Base French Indo-China. There the aircraft were turned over to French forces. Later in the day Saipan entered the harbor offloaded spare parts and maintenanc e personnel and departed for Manila.


On the 20th she delivered the helicopters to Air Force personnel in the Philippines; and at the end of the month she resumed operations off the coast of Korea. On 8 May she put into Sasebo and through the 24th remained in Japanese waters. On the 25th she got underway to return to Norfolk via the Suez Canal. On 20 July she completed her round the world cruise.


In October Saipan again sailed south to the Caribbean. Arriving as hurricane "Hazel" hit the Greater Antilles razing areas of Hispaniola the carrier was immediately assigned to relief work. From the 13th to the 20th she delivered food and me dical supplies and personnel to isolated areas of Haiti; then after being honored by the Haitian government she returned to Norfolk. On 1 November she entered the shipyard there for overhaul and in April resumed operations with a cruise to the Cari bbean. In June she was again attached to the aviation training center at Pensacola; and through the summer conducted qualification exercises. At the end of September she was ordered to Mexico to again assist in hurricane relief work. From 1 to 9 Oc tober her helicopters evacuated survivors flew in rescue personnel and distributed food water and medical supplies primarily in the flooded Tampico area. On 12 October she returned to Pensacola where she remained until April 1957. On the first of that month she sailed for Bayonne N.J. where she began inactivation and was decommissioned on 3 October 1957.


Reclassified AVT-6 on 15 May 1959 Saipan remained in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until March 1963. She then entered the Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Co. yard at Mobile to begin conversion to a command ship. Briefly designated CC-3 she was reclassified a Communications Major Relay ship (AGMR-2) on 1 September 1964 while still undergoing conversion. On 8 April 1965 she was renamed Arlington in honor of Arlington County Va. the site of one of the Navy's first wireless test station s; and on 12 August 1966 she completed her conversion. As Arlington (AGMR-2) she sailed for Norfolk where she was recommissioned on 27 August 1966.


Fitting out occupied the remainder of the year. In January 1967 she conducted shakedown exercises in the Caribbean and in February she sailed for the Bay of Biscay and exercises off northern Europe. At the end of March she returned to Norfolk whe nce in April she again steamed to the Caribbean. On her return to the Hampton Roads area she prepared for deployment to the western Pacific.


Departing Norfolk on 7 July the communications ship transited the Panama Canal and proceeded on to Pearl Harbor Yokosuka and Subic Bay whence with Annapolis (AGMR-1) she rotated on station off Vietnam. During her first patrol in Tonkin Gulf from 2 1 August to 18 September she provided reliable message handling facilities for ships of the 7th Fleet in support of combat operations; and in addition assisted ships in repairing and better utilizing their electronic equipment. On returning to the Philippines after her first patrol Arlington received a new satellite communications terminal; and on 2 October she departed Subic for Taiwan.


There for only three days she continued on to Tonkin Gulf where she resumed her communications relay duties. At the end of the month she shifted south to provide communications support to ships in the "Market Time" area off South Vietnam. After 34 d ays on station she spent five days in Hong Kong then returned to Subic Bay whence she steamed to Tonkin Gulf in early December for her third "Yankee Station" communications patrol. On 27 December she departed the area and headed north. On 4 January 1968 she arrived at Yokosuka and on the 19th she got underway to return to Vietnam.


Arriving back on "Yankee Station" on the 24th she departed again on the 26th participated in exercises in the Sea of Japan; then returned to "Yankee Station."


On station from 13 February to 10 March she returned to Yokosuka on 14 March remained until 3 April and resumed operations in Tonkin Gulf on 10 April. A visit to Sydney followed completion of her April patrol; but by mid-June she was back on statio n. From 20 to 22 July she again visited Hong Kong then sailed for Yokosuka.


Between the end of August and mid-November she completed two more tours on "Yankee Station " and in early December she got underway for Pearl Harbor. There. at mid-month she conducted communications tests; and on the 18th she departed Hawaii in TF 130 the Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force Pacific. Acting as primary landing area communications relay ship she participated in the recovery of Apollo 8 and returned to Pearl Harbor on the 29th. Two days later she sailed for the Philippines and on 17 January 1969 she resumed direct communications support for naval units in Tonkin Gulf. On 6 February she departed "Yankee Station " and after upkeep at Yokosuka conducted operations off southern Japan and in the Ryukyus. Toward the end of March she sailed for Hong Kong whence she returned to Vietnam.


Remaining on station from 6 to 14 April she tested her Apollo communications equipment and on the 15th headed back to Pearl Harbor. On 2 May she arrived in Hawaii and once again joined TF 130. Again assigned as primary landing area communications relay ship she departed Pearl Harbor on 11 May and steamed for the Apollo 10 recovery area some 2 400 miles south of Hawaii. On the 26th the capsule was recovered and the assigned ships returned to Hawaii. From there Arlington proceeded to Mi dway where she provided communications support for the Nixon-Thieu conference on 8 June and on the 9th she sailed west.


On 27 June the communications ship returned to the Vietnamese coast. On 7 July however she was ordered east for her third Apollo recovery mission. Arriving in the recovery area on the 21st she tested her equipment; and on the 22d moved to Johnsto n Island. On the 23d she embarked President Nixon for an overnight visit; and on the 24th supported the recovery of Apollo 11. Crew and capsule successfully recovered Arlington headed for Hawaii whence she steamed to the west coast. On 21 A ugust she arrived for the first time at her homeport Long Beach and four days later shifted to San Diego to begin inactivation. She was decommissioned on 14 January 1970 and berthed with the Inactive Fleet at San Diego where she remains into 1974.

[Note: The above USS SAIPAN (CVL-48) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS SAIPAN (CVL-48) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]