The USS Yorktown (CV-10) was originally planned as the USS Bon Homme Richard. She was ordered for the U.S. Navy before the U.S. entered World War II. Her keel was laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company on December 1, 1941. She was launched on January 21, 1943 and commissioned on April 15, 1943 under the command of Captain Joseph J. Clark.
After shakedown and training exercises, USS Yorktown joined Task Force 15 near Marcus Island on August 31, 1943. She launched air strikes against targets on the island before heading back to San Francisco to load more aircraft and supplies. When she returned to the war zone in October, she conducted strikes against Wake Island.
As part of Fast Carrier Task Force 50, the USS Yorktown joined in operations in the Gilbert Islands, striking targets and covering troop landings at Tarawa, Abemama, Makin, Jaluit, and Mili in November. Her aircraft launched strikes at Wotje and Kwajalein in early December on the way back to Pearl Harbor for air training operations.
USS Yorktown participated in Operation Flintlock in January 1944, the invasion of the Marshall Islands, which secured Majuro Atoll. Along with the other carrier of Task Group 58.1, she struck targets at Taroa, Majuro, and Kwajalein. Over the next few months, she moved on to support operations at Truk, Saipan, the Palau Islands, and Woleai. In April, she headed for New Guinea, striking at Hollandia and Wakde before raiding Truk on her voyage back to Pearl Harbor.
In June, the USS Yorktown joined Task Force 58 for the assault on the Mariana Islands. Her aircraft hit targets at Guam and the Bonin Islands in preparation for the invasion of Saipan. The middle of the month saw her in the middle of the Battle of the Philippine Sea, where her aircraft downed 37 Japanese planes on the first day.
Over the next few weeks, USS Yorktown moved on to Pagan Island, Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima, Yap, Ulithi, and the Palaus. She headed back to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for overhaul from the end of July until early October, returning to Eniwetok on October 31. The aircraft carrier then joined Task Group 38.1 to conduct air strikes in the Philippines in support of the invasion of Leyte. In December, she took part in pre-invasion strikes on Luzon before weathering a typhoon that sank three destroyers from her task force; the carrier was involved in rescue operations for crew members from the lost ships.
The USS Yorktown launched strikes against Formosa and the Philippines in January 1945, supporting the troop landings at Lingayen. She then sailed to the South China Sea to strike at Japanese installations near Saigon, Indochina, Canton, and Hong Kong. Her task force sank 44 enemy ships during these operations. The carrier then moved on to strike at Formosa and Okinawa before heading back to Ulithi for replenishment and upkeep.
During February, USS Yorktown sortied with Task Force 58 to support the invasion and occupation of Iwo Jima. She struck at Tokyo, the Bonins, and Chichi Jima before the troops landed at Iwo Jima on February 19. After performing air support operations there, she headed to the Japanese home islands to raid Tokyo and Kyushu. On March 18, she struck at Kyushu, Honshu, and Shikoku. That afternoon, she was an enemy plane scored a bomb hit on the carrier, killing five men and injuring 26 others. The carrier maintained her position and remained fully operational.
USS Yorktown sailed for Okinawa a few days later, conducting pre-invasion strikes before moving on to the home islands of Japan. She performed support duties off Okinawa from May into June, then struck at Kyushu and Minami Daito Shima. The carrier headed to Leyte for upkeep and recreation until she rejoined Task Force 38.4 at the beginning of July. Her aircraft conducted strikes on Tokyo, Hokkaido, and Kure until the Japanese surrendered in mid-August. The aircraft carrier remained to support occupation forces and to drop supplies to the POW camps. She then participated in Operation Magic Carpet, bringing American servicemen home from World War II.
After the war, USS Yorktown was decommissioned on January 9, 1947. When the Korean War broke out, her reactivation was ordered, and she was recommissioned on February 20, 1953 under the command of Captain William M. Nation. She had undergone conversion as an attack carrier, CVA-10, and arrived at Yokosuka, Japan on September 5. Because the Korean War was already over, she conducted training operations with Task Force 44 until February 1954.
The next year saw more training operations, some repair work, and a film crew for the short subject documentary Jet Carrier, which was nominated for an Academy Award. She helped cover the evacuation of Chinese Nationalists from the Tachen Islands in January 1955, and she went in for an extensive overhaul two months later, in which she received a new angled flight deck.
The USS Yorktown spent the next several years alternating operations off the West Coast with deployments to the Far East with the Seventh Fleet. Her homeport was moved to Long Beach on September 1, 1957, and she was reclassified as an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) carrier, CVS-10. She underwent modifications at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard until February 1958 before resuming normal operations.
During one of her Western Pacific deployments from late 1959 until early 1960, she qualified for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal three times – first in a show of strength to the Communist Chinese, next with contingency forces off Vietnam, and finally for service in the Taiwan Strait. In 1962, she served as the flagship for Carrier Division 19 and participated in fleet exercises like SEATO’s Operation Sea Serpent.
USS Yorktown made several deployments to the South China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. When she wasn’t operating off Yankee Station, she was occasionally involved in antisubmarine warfare exercises like Operation Sea Imp. The aircraft carrier was used in the filming of Tora! Tora! Tora! and served as one of the recovery ships for the Apollo 8 space mission before she was reassigned to the Atlantic Fleet in January 1969.
As part of the Atlantic Fleet, the USS Yorktown made many ports of call to Northern Europe and participated in fleet exercises like Operation Peacekeeper. She was decommissioned on June 27, 1970 and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on June 1, 1973. The aircraft carrier now serves a museum ship in Charleston, South Carolina. She was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The carrier received 11 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for her service in World War II, and five battle stars in the Vietnam War.
Like virtually all other ships from the World War II era, the USS Yorktown was built using asbestos-containing materials. Because asbestos was prized for its resistance to fire, heat, water, and corrosion, it could be found in nearly all areas of the ship and in the aircraft she carried. Anyone who served on or around the USS Yorktown was put at risk of developing serious asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
USS Yorktown 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 Yorktown, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.