The USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) was originally planned as the USS Hancock. She was ordered for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Her keel was laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company on February 1, 1943. She was launched on February 7, 1944 and commissioned on May 8, 1944 under the command of Captain Dixie Kiefer.
USS Ticonderoga spent June and July 1944 in training and air operations. She headed to Hawaii in September, arriving at Pearl Harbor on September 24. While there, she and the USS Carina conducted experiments in the transfer of bombs from cargo ship to aircraft carrier. After air operations and defense drills, she left Pearl Harbor on October 18 for Ulithi. When she arrived there, she became the flagship for Rear Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander Carrier Division 6. The carrier joined Task Force 38 as part of Task Group 38.3.
In early November, the USS Ticonderoga launched her first air strike at Luzon. Her aircraft sank the Japanese cruiser Nachi and downed six enemy aircraft. The carrier survived an attack by kamikazes on November 5, and her planes went on to destroy 35 Japanese aircraft the next day. The following week, her aircraft struck a Japanese reinforcement convoy at Ormoc Bay, taking out all of the enemy transports and four of their seven destroyers. She then moved on to strike at targets on Luzon and Manila before heading to Ulithi for replenishment.
The USS Ticonderoga headed back to the Philippines on November 22. She launched air strikes on Luzon and took part in the Battle off Samar, part of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf. Her planes were responsible for sinking the Japanese cruisers Kumano and Yasoshima, a merchant ship, three landing ships, downing 15 enemy aircraft, and destroying another 11 planes on the ground. The ship’s guns helped fight off kamikazes during the fighting, and she took aboard pilots from damaged ships.
USS Ticonderoga sailed again with Task Force 38 in December. She struck at Luzon, destroying enemy airfields, until December 16. The carrier and her task force were caught in a violent typhoon, but she survived with only minimal damage. At the end of the month, she sailed north to strike at Formosa and Luzon into the new year.
On January 8, 1945, the USS Ticonderoga moved into position to attack the Ryukyus, but bad weather prevented her from carrying out that order, so she joined in the strikes at Formosa instead. From there, she headed to the South China Sea to provide combat air patrol as Task Force 38 sailed to the coast of Indochina. She moved on to strike at the Chinese coast and Hong Kong before heading back through the Luzon Strait via Balintang Channel.
Along with the rest of Task Force 38, USS Ticonderoga launched strikes at Formosa and Sakishima Gunto. On January 21, she was struck by a kamikaze that crashed through her flight deck with a bomb that exploded just above her hangar deck. Several of her aircraft caught on fire, and some quick thinking by the captain brought everything under control, flooding several of the ship’s compartments to induce a list that dumped the fire overboard. Another kamikaze then crashed into her starboard side near the island, and its bomb set more planes on fire. Over 100 sailors were injured or killed by the attacks, including the captain.
The USS Ticonderoga transferred her injured crew members to the hospital ship USS Samaritan at Ulithi on January 24. Her air group was transferred to the USS Hancock, and she took aboard passengers headed for home before she sailed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard via Pearl Harbor for repairs.
Repair work was finished on April 20, and USS Ticonderoga headed back to the war zone. She embarked Air Group 87 and struck at Taroa before rejoining the Fast Carrier Task Force on May 22. The aircraft carrier headed for the Japanese home islands, striking at Kyushu in support of operations on Okinawa. In early June, she rode out another typhoon.
The remainder of June was spent striking targets on Kyushu, Minami Daito, and Kita Daito before she headed to Leyte for replenishment and recreation. She headed back to the home islands of Japan in July, but needed to stop for repairs in Guam, which were completed by July 19. The carrier then struck at targets in the Inland Sea and at Nagoya, Osaka, Miko, Kure, Honshu, Hokkaido, and Tokyo. She continued her attacks until word came of the surrender in mid-August.
USS Ticonderoga remained to conduct air patrols over Japan, conducting reconnaissance flights and dropping supplies to POW camps. She then took part in several cruises for Operating Magic Carpet, repatriating American soldiers from the war zone. The aircraft carrier was decommissioned on January 9, 1947.
Like many other ships, the USS Ticonderoga was recommissioned after the start of the Korean War. She was recommissioned briefly from January 31, 1952 until April 4 while she sailed from Bremerton to the New York Naval Shipyard. The aircraft carrier then underwent an extensive conversion for 29 months. She was recommissioned on September 11, 1954 under the command of Captain William A. Schoech, and she headed for her new homeport at Norfolk.
The USS Ticonderoga spent the next several months in training and carrier qualifications. She tested three new aircraft in September before being deployed to the Mediterranean for eight months. In August 1956, she headed back to Norfolk for an overhaul that would give her a new angled flight deck. The carrier sailed for Yokosuka for a Western Pacific deployment from October 15 until April 25, 1958, the first of five suck peacetime deployments with the Seventh Fleet.
On May 4, 1964, USS Ticonderoga began another Western Pacific deployment. In August, she sent several of her aircraft to the aid of the destroyer USS Maddox, who was under attack by the North Vietnamese Navy. She helped the USS Turner Joy in a similar situation two days later before launching retaliatory air strikes on North Vietnamese motor torpedo boat bases. The aircraft carrier earned the Navy Unit Commendation for these actions.
After finishing up her deployment in the South China Sea, the USS Ticonderoga headed home in December. She went in for overhaul at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard before sailing back to the Far East on September 28, 1965. The aircraft carrier reached Dixie Station on November 5 to begin combat air operations.
USS Ticonderoga lost one of her A-4 Skyhawks that was carrying a B43 nuclear bomb on December 5, creating a Broken Arrow nuclear accident. No traces of the aircraft, pilot, or payload were ever found. The carrier spent 116 days conducting air operations at both Dixie Station and Yankee Station. Her aircraft flew over 10,000 combat sorties, losing only 16 planes and five pilots. She headed home in April 1966 to receive repairs and conduct training operations.
The USS Ticonderoga would make several more combat deployments to the Vietnam War zone over the next several years. Her air crew scored the carrier’s first MiG kill during their deployment on July 9, 1968. The aircraft carrier finished her last Vietnamese tour of duty on September 4, 1969, which had earned her a third Navy Unit Commendation.
After the Vietnam War, USS Ticonderoga underwent conversion as an antisubmarine warfare carrier, being reclassified as CVS-14 on September 21, 1969. Her conversion was complete in May 1970, and she participated in exercises, training, and carrier qualifications from her new homeport in San Diego. She sailed again for the Far East to conduct training exercises and perform in a ceremonial function. The carrier also aided in the recovery of the astronauts and space capsules from the Apollo 16, Apollo 17, and Skylab 2 space missions.
USS Ticonderoga was decommissioned on September 1, 1973. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on November 16, 1973 and sold for scrap on September 1, 1975. The aircraft carrier earned five battle stars for her service in World War II, and 12 battle stars, three Navy Unit Commendations, and a Meritorious Unit Commendation for her service in the Vietnam War.
Like other ships from the World War II era, the USS Ticonderoga was built using many asbestos-containing components. The toxic substance asbestos was known for its resistance to fire, water, heat, and corrosion, so it could be found in virtually all areas of the ship and in the aircraft she carried. Anyone who served on or around the USS Ticonderoga was put at risk for developing asbestos-related illnesses like asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
USS Ticonderoga workers should monitor their health carefully, and consult a doctor if they experience any symptoms associated with mesothelioma. Anyone who worked on or around the USS Ticonderoga, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.