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.
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.
USS SAIPAN (CVL-48)
The first Saipan (CVL-48) was laid down on 10 July 1944 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
and sailed for duty with the 6th Fleet. Deployed for three months
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
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
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
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
through the 24th
remained in Japanese waters. On the
she got underway to return to Norfolk via the Suez Canal. On 20 July
she completed her round the world cruise.
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
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
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
she sailed for Bayonne
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
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
the site of one of the Navy's first wireless test station
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
she sailed for the Bay of Biscay and exercises off northern Europe. At the end of March
she returned to Norfolk
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
and Subic Bay
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
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
she arrived at Yokosuka
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
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
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
17 January 1969
she resumed direct communications support for naval units in Tonkin Gulf. On 6 February
she departed "Yankee Station
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
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
she departed Pearl Harbor on 11 May and steamed for the Apollo 10 recovery area
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
on the 9th
she sailed west.
On 27 June
the communications ship returned to the Vietnamese coast. On 7 July
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
for the first time
at her homeport
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]