That on 1 October
1955, the U.S. Navy commissioned its first supercarrier,
USS Forrestal (CVA-59) in ceremonies at Newport News,
first at anything many times brings its share of
difficulty and such was the case with USS Forrestal
(CVA-59). Though World War II propelled the aircraft
carrier into the forefront as the primary striking arm
of the Navy, to some the mass formation of carrier
planes flying over the battleship Missouri (BB-63)
during the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay was a curtain
call. The atomic age had dawned with the mushroom clouds
over Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Army Air Force leaders
were proclaiming that long-range bombers equipped with
atomic weapons had made conventional forces obsolete.
The National Security Act, signed by President Harry S.
Truman on 18 July 1947, furthered the bomber barons’
clout by, in part, creating an independent U.S. Air
economy a stated policy in postwar America, the military
services engaged in a hotly debated battle over
respective roles and missions, each trying to claim a
larger piece of the defense budget pie. By far the
bitterest struggle pitted the Navy against the upstart
Air Force. The former believed that the atomic mission
could be carried out partially from the decks of
carriers, and managed to obtain funding for a 1,090 ft.
flush deck supercarrier, to be called USS United States
(CVA-58). The Air Force argued that money for the ship
would be better spent on a fleet of giant B-36 bombers.
on Pictures to Enlarge
Undersecretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal (r), whose
name the Navy’s first supercarrier would bear, confers
with ADM Chester W. Nimitz during 1944.
keel for USS United States (CVA-58) was barely laid at
Newport News Shipbuilding when Secretary of Defense
Louis Johnson canceled what was to be the Navy’s first
interservice struggle would consume the better part of
two years, culminating in the "Revolt of the
Admirals." A major casualty was United States,
which was cancelled by Secretary of Defense Louis
Johnson on 23 April 1949, just five days after she was
of a Supercarrier- USS Forrestal (CVA-59) takes shape at
the shipyard in Newport News, Virginia, 1954
push USS Forrestal (CVA-59) away from the pier at
Newport News Shipbuilding prior to the commencement of
the carrier’s sea trials, 29 August 1955.
"Revolt of the Admirals" essentially preserved
naval aviation’s role in the postwar world, yet new
carriers would be needed to implement it. Experience was
demonstrating that existing carriers, designed to
operate propeller-driven aircraft, were having
difficulties handling jet aircraft. On 30 October 1950
the Secretary of the Navy approved a budget that
included provisions for a new, large-deck carrier.
Though initial drawings resembled the design of United
States, in final form the new 1,036 ft., 60,000 ton
flat-top possessed a look all her own, featuring a small
island structure, angled deck, and more powerful steam
catapults capable of operating the Navy’s largest
heavy bombers. Appropriately, the ship carried the proud
name Forrestal after James V. Forrestal, World War I
naval aviator, first Secretary of Defense and key
supporter of United States.
SUPERCARRIER | TO SEA | VIETNAM
and ONE TRAGIC DAY | HERCULES
and the CAT | RETURN
to the MED and the FINAL DAYS