USS Lake Champlain (CV 39)
- later CVA 39, CVS 39 -
- decommissioned -
USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN was one of the ESSEX - class aircraft
and the second ship in the Navy to bear the name. On October 1, 1952,
the LAKE CHAMPLAIN was redesignated as CVA 39, and on August 1, 1957,
as CVS 39.
Decommissioned on May 2, 1966, and stricken from
the Navy list on December 1, 1969, the LAKE CHAMPLAIN was sold for
scrapping on April 28, 1972.
Awarded: August 7, 1942
Keel laid: March 15, 1943
Launched: November 2, 1944
Commissioned: June 3, 1945
Decommissioned: May 2, 1966
Builder: Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Norfolk, Va.
Propulsion system: 8 boilers
Aircraft elevators: three
Arresting gear cables: four
Length: 888.5 feet (270.8 meters)
Flight Deck Width: 151.9 feet (46.3 meters)
Beam: 101.7 feet (31 meters)
Draft: 30.8 feet (9.4 meters)
Displacement: approx. 40,800 tons full load
Speed: 33 knots
Planes: 80-100 planes
Crew: approx. 3448 as CVS:
Armament: see down below
History of USS LAKE
LAKE CHAMPLAIN was laid down in drydock by the Norfolk Navy Yard,
Portsmouth Va., 15 March 1943; launched by float 2 November 1944;
sponsored 3 June 1945 by Mrs. Warren Austin, wife of Senator Austin
of Vermont, and commissioned the same day, Capt. Logan C. Ramsey in
After shakedown and visits to New York and
Philadelphia, LAKE CHAMPLAIN was assigned to "Magic Carpet"
duty, departed Norfolk for England 14 October 1945, and arrived
Southampton the 19th where she embarked veterans and returned them to
She set a speed record for crossing the Atlantic 26
November 1945 when she arrived at Hampton Roads, Va., having
completed a run from Cape Spartel, Africa, in 4 days, 8 hours, 51
minutes. This record stood until surpassed by SS UNITED STATES in the
summer of 1952.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN retired to the "Mothball
Fleet" at Norfolk, Va., 17 February 1947. After the United
States had allowed her active military strength to shrink to the
danger point, the Communists struck in Korea. Fortunately, the U.S.
had ships in reserve, though it took time to obtain and train crews
and provide materiel. LAKE CHAMPLAIN was reactivated and modernized
at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., and recommissioned 19
September 1952, Capt. G. T. Mundroff in command.
shakedown in Cuban and Haitian waters, 25 November through 25
December 1952, the carrier departed Mayport, Fla., for Korea 26 April
1953 via the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and China Sea, becoming the
largest ship to transit the Suez Canal up to that time. She moored at
Yokosuka, Japan, 9 June 1953.
As flagship of Carrier Task
Force 77, she sailed from Yokosuka 11 June 1953 and arrived off
western Korea 14 June. The carrier's air group immediately launched
sorties cratering runways; assaulting enemy troops; attacking
trenches, bunkers, gun positions; and giving close air support to
hard pressed ground forces. Her planes also escorted B-29 bombers on
their way to enemy targets. LAKE CHAMPLAIN continued to strike at the
enemy until the truce was signed 27 July. Relieved by USS KEARSARGE
(CVA 33) 11 October 1953, LAKE CHAMPLAIN headed toward the South
China Sea arriving Singapore 24 October. Bidding farewell to the
Pacific Ocean 27 October, she steamed toward home touching at
Columbo, Port Said, Cannes, and Lisbon before arriving Mayport, Fla.,
4 December 1953.
In the years that followed, LAKE CHAMPLAIN
made several cruises to the Mediterranean, participating with NATO
forces. On 25 April 1957 she joined elements of the fleet in a
high-speed run to the scene of tension in the Middle East, cruising
in the vicinity of Lebanon and backing Jordan's stand against the
threat of Communism. The swift and firm reaction averted a near
catastrophe in the Middle East. Tension eased and Lake Champlain
returned to Mayport 27 July.
Converted to an antisubmarine
carrier and reclassified (CVS 39) on 1 August 1957, LAKE CHAMPLAIN
trained off the eastern seaboard to master her new role. She departed
Bayonne, N.J., 5 September 1957 for a Mediterranean cruise. While in
the Mediterranean, she arrived 16 October 1957 at Valencia, Spain,
and provided aid to thousands made homeless by a flood. LAKE
CHAMPLAIN returned 31 October to Mayport, Fla. After yard overhaul,
she again departed for the Mediterranean 15 June 1958 and visited
Spain, Denmark, and Scotland, before returning to Mayport 12
The carrier operated off Florida and in the Caribbean
until 15 June 1958 when she sailed on another Mediterranean cruise
returning to her newly assigned home port, Quonset Point, R.I., 4
The carrier operated out of Quonset Point, R.I.,
until 29 June 1960 when she made a midshipmen cruise to Halifax,
returning 12 August. Beginning 7 February 1961, she made a cruise to
the Caribbean, returning 2 March.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN was selected
as the prime recovery ship for the first manned space flight. She
sailed for the recovery area 1 May 1961, and was on station on 5 May
when Cmdr. Alan Sheppard splashed down in spacecraft Freedom 7, some
300 miles down range from Cape Kennedy. Helicopters from the carrier
visually followed the descent of the capsule and were over the
astronaut two minutes after the impact. They skillfully recovered
Astronaut Sheppard and Freedom 7 and carried them safely to LAKE
CHAMPLAIN's flight deck.
For the next year the ship operated
along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean. In June 1962, she
embarked Naval Academy midshipmen for a summer cruise to Halifax,
Nova Scotia, and Kingston, Jamaica, where she represented the United
States at the island's celebration of its independence, 3 August.
24 October 1962, LAKE CHAMPLAIN joined in a classic exercise of
seapower - the quarantine of Cuba, where the Soviet Union was
constructing bases for offensive missiles. To block this grave
threat, U.S. warships deployed throughout the western Atlantic,
choking off the flow of military supplies to Cuba and enforcing
American demands for the withdrawal of the Russian offensive
After the American demands were substantially
complied with, LAKE CHAMPLAIN sailed for home 23 November, via St.
Thomas, Virgin Islands, and arrived Quonset Point, 4 December 1962.
For the next few months the carrier was in New England waters for
operations and overhaul. In mid-October 1963, four Navy ships,
including LAKE CHAMPLAIN and the amphibious assault ship USS THETIS
BAY (LPH 6), aided by Navy and Marine Corps cargo aircraft
east coast stations, delivered nearly 375 tons of food, clothing and
medical supplies donated by relief agencies to the people of Haiti
after that country was devestated by Hurricane Flora.
CHAMPLAIN returned to Quonset Point 9 November 1963 for operations in
New England waters. She visited Bermuda briefly in spring of 1964 and
steamed to Spain in the fall for landings near Huelva. She sailed 6
November from Barcelona for the United States, touched at Gibraltar
and arrived at Quonset Point 25 November 1964.
On 19 January
1965, LAKE CHAMPLAIN recovered an unmanned Project Gemini space
capsule launched from Cape Kennedy, Fla., after a suborbital flight
1,879 miles down the Atlantic Missile Range and to within 16 miles of
The last major duty of her career occurred on 5
August 1965 when she served as the primary recovery ship for Gemini
5. Gemini 5 spalshed down into the Atlantic 90 miles off target after
a record-breaking eight-day space flight, and 45 minutes later, Navy
frogmen helped astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad out of
their space capsule and aboard a helicopter for the ride back to LAKE
CHAMPLAIN. Soon after this duty was completed, she sailed to
Philadelphia, where she commenced inactivation. She was
decommissioned 2 May 1966.
The 24-year-old LAKE CHAMPLAIN was
stricken from the Navy List on 1 December 1969, and sold by the
Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) for scrapping on
28 April 1972.