Friday, October 19, 2007

But Not Forgotten

It's not uncommon, even in reading reputable sources on the Pacific part of World War II, to encounter this:

The only American carrier to survive the war was USS Enterprise.

I don't know how that ever took root. It ignores "Stripe-Stacked Sara," the USS Saratoga.

The Saratoga (above) was one of the sleeker-looking carriers in the old fleet (if you can stand the top-heavy profile). That's because her keel had been laid during World War I as a battle cruiser, but after postwar armaments treaties limited that class of ships, the Navy switched it over and made an aircraft carrier out of it. Aircraft carriers turned out to be the major punishing weapon in the next war, and battle cruisers played a relatively small part. The Japanese Kaga (begun as a battleship) and Akagi (battle cruiser) underwent the same conversion, for the same reason, and their planes led the attack on Pearl Harbor. So much for creating peace by restricting armaments.

The Saratoga dealt a lot of pain and took a lot of harm during the war, but she came through it in one piece (unlike her twin the "Lady Lex", which went to the bottom at Coral Sea).

Here's what the Saratoga looks like today:

In relatively shallow waters off Bikini atoll. After the war, the government was curious what nuclear bombs would do to warships, so they parked a bunch of them at Bikini and set off a few bombs. Saratoga actually survived the first blast, but the second one did her in on July 25, 1946.