Navy “Stuff”…

Anybody recognize this ship???

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo NH 52365 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Commissioned in 1913, she was the first turbo-electric ship in the Navy.

Still not sure? More below the break…

How about now??? She was the USA’s first carrier, and the third in the world…

HMS Furious built by the Brits was actually the first carrier, in 1917, link HERE. The second was the Japanese carrier Hōshō, in 1922, link HERE.

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo NH 93181 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Does CV-1 ring a bell? USS Langley?

Converted in 1921 from a collier to the first Navy Carrier, by the Navy in Norfolk Navy Yard. Note that the bridge is dropped to foredeck level, extended the bridge wings, and they actually are building the flight deck over the TOP of the bridge.

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo NorfolkNS NAN12-70 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Recommissioned in Mar 1922, she was named for aviation pioneer Samuel Pierpont Langley. Her insignia was a covered wagon, based on the way she was converted with the flight deck ‘covering’ the ship…

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo NH 64899-KN from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

On 17 October 1922, LCDR Virgil C. Griffin launched in a Vought VE-7 from her decks. Though this was not the first time an airplane had taken off from a ship, and though USS Langley was not the first ship with an installed flight deck, this one launching was the first from a dedicated carrier. On 26 October, Lieutenant Commander Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier made the first landing in an Aeromarine 39B. On 18 November, Commander Whiting, USS Langley’s CO,  was the first aviator to be catapulted from a carrier’s deck.

Aircraft could fly off by themselves… As this Douglas DT-2 did…

Or be launched by the catapult, as this Douglas DT-2 is readying to be…

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo NH 93110 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Catapults have gotten a lot simpler (relatively speaking) over the years…

In 1936/7, she was reconfigured into a seaplane tender by having the forward 1/3 of her flight deck removed and cranes added to lift seaplanes aboard.

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo NH 63547 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

At the start of WWII, USS Langley was actually anchored off Cavite in the Philippines on 8 Dec 1941. She left there and made her way to Australia. Picking up acft for forward deployment to Java, she was attacked by the Japanese on 27 Feb 1942. Severely damaged, with the loss of sixteen sailors, she was scuttled to prevent her falling into Japanese hands off Tjilatjap, Java on the same day.

We’ve come a long way since those days… And we owe our successes to those who dared to first fly airplanes off a ship. Many were lost, but an irony is that John Towers, Naval Aviator #3 managed to survive the early years and two wars, having a major impact on Naval Aviation through the interwar years and in WWII as an Admiral and deputy to Admiral Nimitz for all Naval Aviation use in the Pacific.


Navy “Stuff”… — 19 Comments

  1. When I looked at the first photo, I didn’t think USS Langley. The concept evolved well beyond what the plank holders of the Langley could have imagined – and still as valid in 2017 as it was when she was converted (a century ago).

  2. That is so cool. I love old military photos etc..

    Senior and I were watching Trump speaking to navy personal in VA on Friday. Then they showed the USS Gerald Ford. It is in the billion dollar range right now, and is going to take over 16 years to complete…CRAZY!!! I said to Senior its hard to believe that in WW11 we were turning ships out like tic tacs, now its taking 16 years…

  3. Thanks for posting, The only reason I’d ever even heard of the Langley was from World of Warships. The real world backstory is cool.

  4. Do I get extra credit for knowing that prior to conversion she was the USS Jupiter?

  5. Hey Old NFO

    As soon as I saw the ship and the name I knew that it was the U.S.S Langley before conversion.

  6. WRT C/G and seakeeping appearances can be deceiving. The way the conversion was done it doesn’t appear that there was armor or lots of heavy equipment on or directly under the flight deck and the turbine/electric drive could not have been light. What were the old coal bunkers converted to? Later Forrestal class boats did have C/G problems I heard. The test was for a known weight to be moved around the flight deck and careful measurement in dead calm water made of the displacement all around the ship. Because carriers tend to acquire more mass over time (don’t we all) and a lot of it is relatively high in the ship there became a real concern for capsizing in hard turns or high seas at the right angles.

  7. LL- That it has! 🙂

    JUGM- That’s the difference between war time (Worry about paperwork later) and peacetime (nothing gets done till the paperwork is signed off)… sigh

    WSF- She was a collier, so she had LOTS of ballast room… 🙂

    Heath- You’re welcome!

    NRW- Yep! 🙂

    Bob- LOL, figures that you would!

    IC- Excellent points!

  8. Makes me wonder what the men of the Navy then would think of the Navy now. I think we need to go back to the Navy where real men served. When Politically Correct meant saying Mr President.

  9. Very cool!! Thank you for my weekly navel history lesson! This is so neat to see, especially compared to new carriers.

  10. Wow – I’m surprised I haven’t seen this pic before.

  11. Feh.

    Talk to me about a ship originally called the See and Bee or the Greater Buffalo that floated around my neck of the woods (Chicago area) under a different name.

    Very interesting Navy vessels.


  12. I knew Jupiter/Langley because I just read a book called “The Fleet the Gods Forgot” about the destruction of our Naval forces in the Philippines and Java Sea in 1941.

  13. I was thinking it was the USS Cyclops. THAT is an odd story. I could swear that I had read a story about it being found near Norfolk, many years later, complete with underwater photo. Found it and then lost it, it seems.

    Now I read that two of it’s 3 sister ships were also lost in the same general area, 20+ years later, also with all hands.

    USS Jupiter/Langley was the 4th ship.