The USS PRINCETON (LPH-5), an Essex-class aircraft carrier, was commissioned on 18 NOV 1945, too late for action in world War II. At first with the Atlantic Fleet and then with the Pacific, PRINCETON steam on post-war deployments and then was decommissioned on 20 JUN 1948 and placed in reserve. Twenty six month later, in August 1959, PRINCE was recommissioned and off Korea by December. She made three combat deployments to Korean waters. In the 1950s she was successively classified as CV-37 - CVA-37 - CVS-37 and then LPH-5, a helicopter landing platform ship in March 1959. She first appeared in Vietnam in 1962, and returned for combat deployments through the 1960s. As her twilight approached, PRINCETON recovered Apollo 10 in 1969. USS PRINCETON served her country as LPH-5 for for more than 10 years until decommissioned on 30 JAN 1970.
The USS PRINCETON (LPH-5) deployment history and significant events of her service career follow:
USS PRINCETON (LPH-5)
CV-37 was laid down as Valley Forge at the Philadelphia Navy Yard 14 September 1943
renamed Princeton 21 November 1944; launched 8 July 1945
sponsored by Mrs. Harold Dodds; and commissioned 18 November 1945
Capt. John M. Hoskin
s in command.
Following shakedown off Cuba
with Air Group 81 embarked
remained in the Atlantic and operated with the 8th Fleet until June 1946. Then transferred to the Pacific Fleet
she arrived at San Diego on the 31st
and departed again 3 July
to carry the body of Philippine President Manuel Queson back to Luzon for burial. From Manila Princeton joined the 7th Fleet in the Marianas
becoming flagship of TF 77. During September and October
she operated in Japanese and Chinese waters
hen returned t o the Marianas where she remained until February 1947. Maneuvers in Hawaiian waters preceded her return to San Diego until 15 March. She cruised the west coast
and the western Pacific (1 October-23 December) during 1948.
She then prepared for inactivation and on 20 June decommissioned and joined other capital ships in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
Reactivated with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea fifteen months later
Princeton recommissioned 28 August 1950. Intensive training refreshed her reservist crew and on 5 December she joined TF 77 off the Korean coast
her planes and pilots (A
ir Group 19) making possible the reinstitution of jet combat air patrols over the battle zone. She launched 248 sorties against targets in the Hagaru area to announce her arrival
and for the next six days continued the pace to support marines fighting t
heir way down the long
cold road from the Chosin Reservoir to Hungnam. By the 11th
all units had reached the staging area on the coast. Princeton's planes
with other Navy
and Air Force squadrons
then covered the evacuation from Hungn
am through its completion on the 24th.
Interdiction missions followed and by 4 April Princeton's planes had rendered 54 rail and 37 highway bridges inoperable and damaged 44 more. In May
they flew against the railroad bridges connecting Pyongyang with Sunchon
e trans peninsula line. Next
they combined close air support with raids on power sources in the Hwachon Reservoir area and
with the stabilization of the front there
resumed interdiction. For much of the summer they pounded supply arteries
ing on highways
and in August Princeton got underway for the United States
arriving at San Diego on the 21st.
Eight months later
on 30 April 1952
Princeton rejoined TF 77 in the combat zone. For 138 days her planes flew against the enemy. They sank small craft to prevent the recapture of offshore islands; blasted concentrations of supplies
and equipment behind enemy lines
participated in air-gun strikes on coastal cities
pounded the enemy's hydroelectric complex at Suiho on the Yalu to turn off power on both sides of that river
destroyed gun positions and supply areas in Pyongyan; and
closed mineral processing plants and munitions factories at Sindok
Reclassified CVA-37 (1 October 1952)
Princeton returned to California 3 November for a two month respite from the western Pacific. In February 1953
she was back off the Korean coast and until the end of the conflict launched planes for close ai
"Cherokee" strikes against supply
and troop concentrations in enemy territory
and against road traffic. She remained in the area after the truce
and on 7 September got underway for San Diego.
In January 1954
Princeton was reclassified CVS-37 and
after conversion at Bremerton
took up antisubmarine/ Hunter-Killer (HUK) training operations in the eastern Pacific. For the next five years she alternated HUK exercises off the west coast
with similar operations in the western Pacific and
in late 1957-early 1958
in the Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf area. Reclassified again
2 March 1959
she emerged from conversion as an amphibious assault carrier
LPH-5. Capable of transporting a battalio
n landing team and carrying helicopters in place of planes
Princeton's mission became that of vertical envelopment--the landing of Marines behind enemy beach fortifications and providing logistics and medical support as they attack from the rear t
o seize critic al points
cut enemy supplies
and link up with assault forces landed on the beaches.
From May until January 1960
Princeton trained with Marine units from Camp Pendleton
then deployed to WestPac to train in Okinawan waters. For the next three years she followed a similar schedule
gaining experience in her primary mission. Inte
rruptions came in October 1961 when she rescued survivors of merchantmen Pioneer
Muse and Sheik grounded on Daito Shima and in April 1962 when she delivered Marine Corps advisors and helicopters to Soc Trang in the Mekong Delta area
of the Republic of South Viet Nam.
In October 1964
Princeton exchanged WestPac training for the real thing as she returned to Viet Nam and joined the Pacific Fleet's Ready Group in operations against North Viet-Namese and Viet Cong forces. Combat operations
interrupted in Novemb
er for flood relief work
continued into the new year
and culminated in May off Chu Lai as she carried out her primary mission
for the first time in combat.
Returning to her homeport
after that operation
she transported Marine Air Group 36 to Viet Nam in August
and in February 1966 got underway for another tour in the combat zone. Relieving Okinawa (LPH-3) as flagship for the Amphibiou
s Ready Group
she engaged the enemy in operations "Jackstay"
26 March- 6 April
to clear the Rung Sat Special Zone of Viet Cong guerrillas
27 April-4 May
to protect Viet-Namese in the Phu Loc area from Viet Cong "harassment."
Search and destroy missions against Viet Cong and North Viet-Namese Army units followed as Princeton provided transportation
logistics and communication support for the amphibious operation "Deckhouse I"
in the So
ng Cau district and the Song Cai river valley
then supported 1st Air Cavalry and 101st Airborne units engaged in "Nathan Hale" to the south of the "Deckhouse I" area. "Deckhouse II" and support for "Hastings" followed as Navy
and Army units aga
this time to impede enemy infiltration from the DMZ.
Princeton sailed for home
arriving 2 September. She deployed again to Viet Nam
30 January-19 June 1967
and again ranged along that long embattled
highly indented coast. In March
she assisted in countering an enemy threat t
o the Marine artillery base at Gio Ling and evacuated wounded from Con Thien mountain. In April
she participated in "Beacon Star"
in the Khe Sanh area
and supported search and destroy operations in conjunction with "Shawnee". In May
lifted Marines to the DMZ to block enemy forces withdrawing across the Ben Hai river.
A much needed overhaul followed Princeton's return to the west coast and in May 1968 she again sailed west to Viet Nam. There
as flagship for Amphibious Ready Group Alpha
she provided amphibious assault carrier services for operations "Fortress
Attack" III and IV
and "Eager Hunter." In December
she returned to the United States and in April 1969 she was designated the prime recovery ship for Apollo 10
the lunar mission which paved the way for Apollo 11 and t
he firs t landing on the moon. Completing that mission successfully
Princeton resumed exercises off the west coast.
Princeton received 8 battle stars for service during the Korean Conflict.
[Note: The above USS PRINCETON (LPH-5) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS PRINCETON (LPH-5) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]