USS Franklin D. Roosevelt Rotating Header Image

History

  

Midway Class Naming Chart

 


 

DANFS History

Displacement:  45,000 t.
Length:  968'
Beam:  113'
Draft:  35'
Speed:  33 k.
Complement:  4,104
Armament:  18 5"
Class:  Midway

Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42) was launched 29 April 1945 by New York Naval Shipyard as Coral Sea (CVB-42); sponsored by Mrs. John H. Towers, wife of the Deputy Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet; renamed Franklin D. Roosevelt 8 May 1945 following the death of the President; and commissioned 27 October 1945 Captain A. Soucek in command. She was reclassified CVA-42 on 1 October 1952.

During her shakedown cruise, Franklin D. Roosevelt called at Rio de Janeiro 1 to 11 February 1946 to represent the United States at the inauguration of the Brazilian president, Eurico G. Dutra, who came aboard for a short cruise. Fleet maneuvers and other training operations in the Caribbean preceded her first deployment to the Mediterranean, from 8 August to 4 October during which she was a part of a U.S. Navy force which visited Athens to bolster the government of Greece during its successful fight against the Communist. She received thousands of visitors during her calls to many Mediterranean ports, giving Europeans an opportunity to view this impressive addition to America’s seapower for peace.

On 21 July 1946, Lt. Cmdr. James Davidson, flying the McDonnell XFD-1 Phantom, made a series of successful landings and take-offs aboard Franklin D. Roosevelt in the first U.S. test of the adaptability of jet aircraft to shipboard operations. In November, Lt. Col. Marion E. Carl, USMC, flying a jet propelled P-80A made two catapult launches, four free take-offs, and five arrested landings aboard Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of continuing tests into the carrier suitability of the aircraft.

Franklin D. Roosevelt operated off the east coast until July 1947 when she entered Norfolk Naval Ship Yard for a prolonged overhaul, during which she received improvements to her equipment and facilities. On 13 September 1948, the carrier sailed from Norfolk for a second tour of duty with the Mediterranean forces, from which she returned 23 January 1949.

In a demonstration of carrier long-range attack capabilities, a P2V-3C Neptune, with Cmdr. Thomas Robinson in command, took off from Franklin D. Roosevelt off Jacksonville, Fla., and flew over Charleston, S.C., the Bahamas, the Panama Canal, up the coast of Central America and over Mexico to land the next day at San Francisco Municipal Airport. The flight, which covered 5,060 miles in 25 hours 59 minutes, was the longest ever made from the deck of a carrier.

During the next few years, Franklin D. Roosevelt took part in intensive operations off the Virginia Capes, along the east coast, and in the Caribbean, and made four tours of duty in the Mediterranean. Assigned to extensive conversion at Puget Sound Naval Ship Yard, the carrier sailed from Norfolk 7 January 1954. Too large to pass through the Panama Canal, she rounded Cape Horn, and arrived at the shipyard 5 March. She was decommissioned there 23 April 1954.

In February 1957, the recommissioned Franklin D. Roosevelt sailed to the Gulf of Maine for cold weather tests of catapults, aircraft, and other carrier equipment, including the Regulus guided missile. In July, she sailed for the first of three post-conversion cruises to the Mediterranean completed through 1960. Her assignments in the Mediterranean added NATO exercises to her normal schedule of major fleet operations, and found her each year entertaining a distinguished list of guests.

Franklin D. Roosevelt supported the transport USS Kliensmith (APD 134) in the evacuation of 56 U.S. citizens and three foreign nationals from Nicara, Cuba, 24 October 1958, as the Cuban revolution came to a climax.

On 6 March 1965, a Sikorsky SH-3A Sea King helicopter, piloted by Cmdr. James R. Williford, took off from USS Hornet (CVS 12) berthed at North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego, and landed 15 hours and 51 minutes later on the deck of Franklin D. Roosevelt at sea off Mayport, Fla. The flight surpassed the existing distance for helicopters by more than 700 miles.

A new, major development in carrier fire prevention occured on 26 May 1969 when Franklin D. Roosevelt put to sea from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Va., after an 11-month overhaul which included installation of a deck edge spray system using the new seawater compatible fire-fighting chemical, Light Water.

Continuing to serve, Franklin D. Roosevelt, along with USS Independence (CV 62) and USS Guadalcanal (LPH 7) stood by for possible evacuation contingencies during the Yom Kippur War between Israeli and Arab forces during October 1973.

Another first was racked up by Franklin D. Roosevelt when, on 4 October 1976, the first overseas operational commitment on a carrier for the AV-8A Harrier began when VMA-231 embarked aboard for a Sixth Fleet deployment. On 13 January 1977, two other Harriers made bow-on approaches and landing aboard the carrier, marking the first time a fixed wing aircraft had made a bow-on, downwind landing aboard a carrier at sea.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was decommissioned 30 September 1977 [actual ceremony held 1 October 1977], and stricken from the Navy List the following day. She was sold by the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) for scrapping on 1 April 1978.

[From: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships and United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1995, both published by the Naval Historical Center.]

 

  History Up Close

From the Florida coastline near Mayport the distinctive gray hull of the carrier appeared on the horizon and grew larger as she made her way home for the final time. The date was 21 April 1977, a Thursday. Popular in movie theaters was Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and on Broadway the musical Annie opened for the first of 2,377 performances. Billy Martin managed the Yankees, Jimmy Carter was in the White House, and television viewers tuned into such shows as Happy Days and M*A*S*H. For the hundreds of men on board the aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA 42), there were mixed emotions, the joy and happiness of returning to the embrace of loved ones after many months at sea tempered by the realization that their ship would never again put to sea, her scheduled decommissioning in October followed by the unfortunate fate that met many fighting vessels, consignment to the scrap heap.

It was a far cry from the brilliant fall afternoon of 27 October 1945, Navy Day, when beneath sunny skies against the backdrop of the New York City skyline the carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt officially joined the fleet. “Built for war, commissioned under skies for peace, the mighty USS Franklin D. Roosevelt…was dedicated…as a nation’s insurance against aggression,” recounted the New York Times, the official speaker for the event none other than President Harry S. Truman, who called her “a mighty mass of steel…dedicated to the cause of peace.” In contrast to today, when most aircraft carriers are christened with the names of the nation’s Chief Executives, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first flattop named after a U.S. President, one who had once served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the First World War and led the mightiest navy in history during World War II before his death in April 1945. In fact, his passing had changed the course of the ship’s history. She had originally been christened Coral Sea, but her name had been changed to honor FDR. One of the new Midway-class battle carriers, the ship bristled with a combination of 5-inch, 40 millimeter, and 20 millimeter gun mounts, the memory of Japanese kamikaze attacks not lost on her designers as they outfitted her with defensive firepower. Yet, in the coming years Franklin D. Roosevelt would serve on the front lines of a very different war, beginning with her maiden voyage to the Mediterranean in 1946, during which she made a port call in Athens to bolster the Greek government’s efforts to thwart attempts by Communists to seize control. Nearly three decades later, in late-1973, she steamed Mediterranean waters during the Yom Kippur War, her deck serving as an intermediate airfield for A-4 Skyhawks sold to Israel for a time during a tense period in a troubled region of the world.

During her service, Franklin D. Roosevelt was at the cutting edge of the technological advancement of naval aircraft. In 1946, Lieutenant Commander James Davidson and Marine Lieutenant Colonel Marion Carl, USMC, conducted jet suitability tests on the deck of the ship flying an FD Phantom and a P-80 Shooting Star respectively. The following year the first fleet use of a helicopter from a carrier occurred while FDR was underway in the Atlantic Ocean. Franklin D. Roosevelt was also at the center of the Navy’s efforts adapt to the post-World War II tactical environment. In September 1949, the carrier hosted Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, all of the service secretaries, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Omar Bradley for a demonstration of naval power, launching aircraft to thwart a mock attack by a submarine, sending an F2H Banshee to 40,000 ft. to intercept an attacking bomber, and launching a P2V-3C Neptune in a spectacular Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) for a flight across the country to California, demonstrating the range and versatility of carrier-based aircraft in delivering nuclear weapons. Her final cruise, which concluded on 21 April 1977, included the embarkation of AV-8A Harriers of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 231, the historic “Ace of Spades” squadron, marking the first deployment of Vertical Short Take Off and Landing aircraft on board a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.

FDR’s sole opportunity to flex her muscles in combat came in the waters off Vietnam in 1966. Normally an Atlantic Fleet carrier, Franklin D. Roosevelt commenced launching her first strikes against enemy targets on 7 August, completing her final line period on 27 December. All told, she spent ninety-five days on the line launching combat missions, her embarked air wing losing seven aircraft to enemy fire and eight more in operational accidents. Interestingly, the first pilot shot down was Lieutenant Allan R. Carpenter, who was rescued on 21 August 1966 after bailing out of his stricken A-4E Skyhawk. On 1 November 1966, the VA-72 pilot had another unlucky day when his aircraft was hit over Haiphong. This time, he was captured when he parachuted to the ground and held as a prisoner of war until repatriated in 1973.

In her thirty-two years of service thousands of men served in the carrier nicknamed the “Foo D. Roo.” Counted among her skippers were some of the most notable names in naval aviation, including George W. Anderson (future Chief of Naval Operations), John S. Thach (World War II fighter ace and inventor of the “Thach Weave”), “Jig Dog” Ramage, and “Chick” Hayward, both leading figures in the carrier-based heavy attack mission. Others are not individually named in the history books, but collectively they made history. As Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in her My Day newspaper column on 3 December 1945, the eve of the ship’s departure on her shakedown cruise,” Officers and men alike carry a heavy responsibility, for this ship, like many others belonging to our navy, will visit many ports throughout the world, and the men on board can carry a message of good will and foster friendship between our nation and other nations of the world…I hope my husband’s spirit of good will will go with the ship and bring her good luck.” Her hope was indeed fulfilled.

Pictured above, the insignia of Franklin D. Roosevelt featured the torch of the Statue of Liberty in commemoration of her mission to preserve freedom and symbolizing the home state of her namesake. Franklin D. Roosevelt, flying the national flag of Greece, makes a port call in the Bay of Piraeus during September 1946. AV-8A Harriers of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 231 pictured on the deck of the carrier with other Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 19 aircraft during the final deployment of Franklin D. Roosevelt during 1976–1977.

[From: Naval Aviation Museum - April 2008]



AV-8A Harrier Tests:

From June 1976 to April 1977, VMA-231 deployed with 14 AV-8As aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42). This deployment demonstrated that the Harrier could be completely integrated into normal CV air operations. Almost every conceivable takeoff and recovery option was flown: upwind, downwind, crosswind, and before, during, and after re-spots. The Harrier demonstrated not only that VSTOL operations could be conducted within the rigid framework of cyclic operations, but that because of VSTOL’s inherent flexibility, a carrier can launch and recover at any time and steam wherever desired while achieving a combat capability that does not exist when using only conventional aircraft. A STOVL jet is unrestrained by launch/recovery times and mission permitting, could fill in gaps created by the CV cycle.

On 13 January 1977, two other Harriers made bow-on approaches and landing aboard the carrier, marking the first time a fixed wing aircraft had made a bow-on, downwind landing aboard a carrier at sea.


First Fresnal Lens to aid carrier landings:

In 1960, the Control Instrument Company, a Burroughs Corporation sub-sidiary, had installed the first production Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (FLOLS) on board the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42).


Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club:

FDR made one Vietnam War cruise in 1966-67. She spent a total of 95 days “on the line”.

Homeport Departure/Return: Mayport, 21 June 1966 – 21 February 1967

In-Chop/Out-chop: 25 July 1966 – 29 January 1967

On Line Periods:
10 August 1966 – 12 September 1966
1 – 2 October 1966
20 October 1966 – 12 November 1966
23 November 1966 – 27 December 1966

Squadrons:

VF-14 F-4B AB 1xx
VF-32 F-4B AB 2xx
VA-12 A-4E AB 4xx
VA-72 A-4E AB 5xx
VA-172 A-4C AB 3xx
VAH-10 Det 42 A-3B AB 6xx
VFP-62 Det 42 RF-8G AB 9xx
VAW-12 Det 42 E-1B AB 71x
HC-2 Det 42 UH-2A/B HU xx

Air Combat Victories: (0)

Air Combat Losses: (7)

Operational Losses: (8)


F9F Panther Carrier Trials:

The first prototype F9F (the XF9F-2) first flew in 1947. Carrier trials were carried out on board the USS Franklin D Roosevelt in 1949.


Milestone Traps:

Trap Date Pilot Squadron Plane Source
22,000th 10/49 Hildebrand TBM? Photo – NAN
29,000th 10/50 Major J.J. Ferguson USAF VF-61 F9F-2 Photo – NAN