USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24)

The USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) (originally CV-24) was an American Light aircraft carrier Independence and the third ship of the class, which was created by conversions of existing cruiser hulls of the Cleveland class. The first ship of that name in the United States Navy, it was on duty in the Pacific theater of World War II and was transferred after the war, the reserve fleet. From 1953 to 1960, served as Bois Belleau Belleau Wood in the French Navy and took part in the war in Indochina and Algeria. Board the aircraft Belleau Wood issued the last shots of World War II.


More about the technology can be found under the article to the class  Independence-class

The Belleau Wood was about 190 meters long and 33 meters wide and had a full load displacement of 13,000 ton standard n has a draft of about eight meters. Your ship hull based on the Cleveland-class cruiser and had to be widened to accommodate the massive structures, which it was hoped to reduce substantially the Topplastigkeit. Despite all these constructive measures could never be fully compensated. Although she was only a little larger than the escort carrier as Independence-class carriers, they differed from these mainly by their strong drive, so their mission capabilities of the large fleet aircraft carriers possible. The acquired from the cruisers 100,000 horsepower machinery drove four propellers and brought the vessel to a top speed of 31.6 knots.

That at that time usual rectangular flight deck was about 174 meters long and 22.3 meters wide, and had two deck elevators and a catapult. The island had to be kept small for stability reasons, thus no need for a single, integrated chimney instead and four smaller ones were installed separately. Thus, this striking building housed only the bridge, while the operations center was located below the flight deck. The board squadron consisted mainly during their active service period of two dozen F6F Hellcat fighter planes and torpedo bombers of the type of nine Grumman Avenger.

During the war, the long-wave radar n e SK and SC-2 and the SG were – microwave radar installed on the ship. Mounted on the island and on an additional pole between two of the chimneys, these devices allowed early warnings to up to 180 km away. The defensive armament consisted of Belleau Wood 40-mm-L/60 – 20-mm-L/70 and anti-aircraft guns, their number varied continuously during the war. In 1944, the installed the fuselage and tail 40 mm Vierlingsflak were retrofitted with the Mk 51 fire control system, target the approaching aircraft up to about 3.5 km away and thus could fight more effectively.

In the service of the French Navy air group consisted mainly of Avengers alongside Chance Vought Corsair fighter-bombers. In addition to more modern versions of the said U.S. radar systems, the Bois Belleau was later retrofitted with the French DRBV 22nd

Service in the U.S. Navy

Construction and commissioning

Originally the ship as a light cruiser New Haven (CL-76) was commissioned in September 1940 and commissioned on 11 August 1941 set at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, New Jersey in the U.S., at Kiel. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and thereby following the entry of the United States into the Second World War there was a shortage of aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy. As a result, a report prepared before the war plan was put into effect in January 1942, should be modified according to the existing cruiser hulls to aircraft carriers. On 16 February 1942 the body of New Haven was selected for conversion to aircraft carriers.

After months of intensive reconstruction, the ship was on 6 Be baptized in December 1942 by Mrs. Beatrice Miller Clover, wife of the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, Thomas Holcomb, the USS Belleau Wood (Registration No. CV-24) and left the stack. The name commemorates the Battle of Belleau in the forest in June 1918 during the German Spring Offensive during World War II. With the completion of the final construction the ship was transferred to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where more conversions at 31 March 1943 set as the third carrier of the Independence class to active duty.

Baker and Wake

After completing the final testing and training trips to the Caribbean, the Belleau Wood moved via the Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean, where 26 July 1943 arrived at Pearl Harbor. Previously on 15 July, the re-registration to the Light Aircraft Carrier (ID CVL), which is also their already serving sister ships USS Independence (CVL-22), USS Princeton (CVL-23), USS Cowpens (CVL-25) and USS Monterey (CVL-26) was concerned. There she met on 25 of the month to Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee’s Task Force 11 (TF 11) and was Task Group 11.2 (TG 11.2) assigned. To this association were next to her sister ship USS Princeton (CVL-23) and the destroyer USS Spence (DD-512), USS Trathen (DD-530), USS Boyd (DD-544) and USS Bradford (DD-545), and two transport ships. In the first week of September, the Association provided air security during the occupation and the airfield construction on the Baker and Howland Island. During this backup task, the Belleau Wood crossed the equator, a few kilometers south 32 times. After a brief stop at Pearl Harbor, the Belleau Wood together with its sister ship USS Princeton (CVL-23) and the fleet carrier USS Lexington (CV-16) Rear Admiral Charles A. Pownall’s TF 50 was assumed that 18 and 19 September Japanese positions on the Makin – and the Tarawa Atoll attack. Then was the part of the comprehensive 33 Belleau Wood ships TF 14 under Rear Admiral Albert E. Montgomery, the 5th from the October carried out a two-day air strike against Wake. Well-known ships of this force included the aircraft carrier USS Essex (CV-9), USS Lexington (CV-16), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Independence (CVL-22) and USS Cowpens (CVL-25).

Galvanic operations to Hailstone

After the refresh of fuel, ammunition and provisions in Hawaii, the Belleau Wood participated in the Gilbert Islands operations, where they acted within the United Federation TF 50th Together with the carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Monterey (CVL-26) and the battleships USS Indiana (BB-58) and USS North Carolina (BB-55) and the destroyers USS Radford (DD-446), USS Jenkins (DD-447) and USS Brown (DD-546) supported the Belleau Wood by Rear Admiral Arthur W. Radford (commander of TG 50.2), the landings on Makin Atoll, 24 November could be terminated after several days of fighting. During and after this time the association was exposed to several Japanese air attacks, the Belleau Wood was spared from enemy torpedoes and bombs. After a good turn of the year in Hawaii, she was placed under the TG 58.1 by Marc Mitschers Task Force 58, which was commissioned in the Marshall Islands to conduct amphibious landings. The task force included not only the Belleau Wood and the carrier Enterprise and USS Yorktown (CV-10), the cruiser USS Santa Fe (CL-60), USS Mobile (CL-63), USS Biloxi (CL-80) and USS Oakland ( CL-95), and among other things, the destroyer USS Cotten (DD-669) USS Dortch (DD-670), USS Gatling (DD-671) and USS Ingersoll (DD-652). The majority of the entire army left on 16 January Pearl Harbor and attacked strategic targets. TG 58.1 bombed including the Japanese airfield on the atoll Maloelap before direct fire support for 31 from the January at the invasion of Kwajalein was. After a few days the fighting on the atoll could be declared over, making the obvious and safe Majuro could take food and fuel for the battle of Belleau Wood Association.

After a few days rest TG 58.1 conducted jointly with TG 58.2 (aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CV-11), USS Essex (CV-9) and USS Cabot (CVL-28)) and TG 58.3 (USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), USS Monterey (CVL-26) and USS Cowpens (CVL-25)) as part of Operation Hailstone a massive air strike against the Japanese naval and air base in the Caroline Islands, Truk Atoll. During the two-day bombardment by their carrier aircraft over 30 Japanese cruisers, destroyers and transport ships were sunk and destroyed or damaged more than 200 aircraft. A few days later attacked the fleet on 21 and 22 February 1944 on the northern Mariana Islands, to prepare for the planned for June landing operations. The focus of this action were on the islands of Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam. The 22 February following Japanese counter-attack on the U.S. fleet could be averted, the carrier aircraft of TG 58.1 could shoot at their own 45 losses over 200 enemy warplanes.

After a few days break on the Majuro Atoll, the Belleau Wood ran towards the south and met on 7 March at Espiritu Santo on a larger naval force. In the coming weeks, the carrier aircraft flew raids against Japanese Association of posts on the western Carolines and Palau Islands. On Palau were 30 March 31 ships sunk and 18 ships damaged, while more than 200 Japanese aircraft were destroyed. The warplanes of Belleau Wood contributed with three downed and damaged two aircraft and the sinking of a cargo ship and a minelayer about these statistics. Other objectives were Ngulu, Ulithi, Yap and Woleai. Under Rear Admiral Joseph “Jocko” Clark TG 58.1 and in association with the fleet carrier USS Hornet (CV-12), the sister ships USS Cowpens (CVL-25) and USS Bataan (CV-29), the battleship USS New Jersey (BB- 62) and the other cruisers USS San Juan (CL-54), USS Santa Fe (CL-60), USS Mobile (CL-63) and USS Oakland (CL-95) supported the Belleau Wood in mid-April General Douglas MacArthur’s Army Units see in the landings on the islands and Wakde Sawar and at Hollandia in New Guinea north On the way back to Kwajalein followed by a second attack on Truk on 1 May at the Caroline Islands Ponape.


Planned for mid-June’s Operation Forager should of Admiral Raymond Spruance 5 U.S. fleet be executed, the Mitschers task force was assumed. Like the entire fleet was also TG 58.1 raised, including the fleet carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) instead of the USS Cowpens (CVL-25) and the heavy cruisers USS Baltimore (CA-68), USS Boston (CA-69) and USS Canberra (CA-70). The 15 aircraft carrier left full force on 6 Their June meeting point at Majuro Atoll and opened four days later, the Battle of the Mariana Islands. After air attacks against Japanese positions on the islands of Guam and Rota were four task groups, including the Association of Belleau Wood, was sent north to attack Japanese airfields and ports on the islands bonuses Haha Jima, Chichi Jima and Iwo Jima. The U.S. fleet was recalled as an enemy combat unit was under Admiral Ozawa Jisaburō on the way to the Marianas to destroy the Allies. During the 19th to 20 June continual battle of the Philippine Sea was sunk three Japanese aircraft carriers, including the HIYO be damaged just by the four Avengers Belleau Wood, and other ships. (“The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot at the” German) are known for the fact that the Japanese had to cope with the loss of over 450 of their fighters, this battle was also known as “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”. The Belleau Wood supported the subsequent days through the tough battles on Saipan and Tinian, and returned again to the Bonin. End of the month she was ordered to Pearl Harbor and was thus for over a year through American waters.

After an overhaul in dry dock, which the period between 29 June and 31 July took to complete, the Belleau Wood returned back to the competitive Mariana Islands. Together with the USS Essex (CV-9), USS Langley (CVL-27) and including the battleship USS Indiana (BB-58), USS Alabama (BB-60) USS Iowa (BB-61) and USS New Jersey ( BB-62) it formed TG 58.4 under Rear Admiral William Harrill and gave direct fire support during the last phase of the battle on the island of Guam still competitive. After the end of hostilities, the fleet moved to Eniwetok, where she was rearranged for the upcoming Palau and Philippines operations.


The Belleau Wood was Admiral William “Bull” Halsey’s 3rd Subject to U.S. fleet and stood beside the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6), the newer USS Franklin (CV-13) and its sister ship USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) Rear Admiral Ralph E. Davison’s TG 38.4. The four task groups fleet left on 29 August 1944 Eniwetok towards Palau. The convoy of Belleau Wood made ​​a detour to the Bonin Islands, to again bombard Japanese airfields and ports there before he reached the Palau archipelago. After attacks against, among others, the islands Cebu, Negros and Zamboanga which supported the aircraft carrier from 15 September incipient invasion of Peleliu before TG 38.4 was ordered to Manus to hoard supplies. On 25 September the fleet left the Admiralty Islands and bombed from the 10th October strategic goals in the Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa Main Island, and on Formosa (now Taiwan) and Luzon. It was the Belleau Wood in the night of 12 to 13 October 47 Japanese air raids ward. The Task Groups 38.1 and 38.4 were located east of Leyte Gulf on 20 and gave the October incipient invasion of the Philippine island of Leyte direct air support, while the other two task groups ran bombing of strategic Japanese positions on the other Philippines. On 24 October sighted land-based Allied reconnaissance aircraft a comprehensive four Japanese aircraft carrier fleet patrolling about 200 nautical miles north of Luzon with South direction. Admiral Halsey immediately summoned all available ships of his task force north to intercept the enemy fleet. In a battle lasting several hours, the U.S. aircraft carrier was sunk the next day all four Japanese aircraft carriers, including the Zuikaku, the last of participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor six carriers. Meanwhile, the invasion fleet of Admiral Takeo Kurita’s battleship fleet was attacked, who had approached the night before by the San Bernardino road located north of Leyte Gulf. Halsey’s TF 38 was soon ordered back to support Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague’s defending escort aircraft carriers and destroyers. Although the Japanese fleet was moderately stronger firepower, they withdrew after a few hours, so that the aircraft carrier Belleau Wood on 26 October could sink only three previously damaged enemy cruisers.

The TG 38.4 moved the following day, again east of Leyte on 28 position and could together with the destroyers USS Gridley (DD-380) and USS Helm (DD-388) at position, the Japanese submarine I-46 sunk. Two days later there was the Association of Belleau Wood 90 nautical miles east on patrol when Japanese warplanes attacked. A kamikaze managed to hit the flight deck of the fleet carrier USS Franklin (CV-13). Shortly thereafter, another Japanese aircraft continued to attack on the burning Franklin. When the bombs failed to support it headed for the Belleau Wood and could not be shot down by anti-aircraft. It smashed through the rear flight deck, on the Hellcat fighters and Avenger torpedo bombers were ready to start, and ignited a fire that could be extinguished only after hours. The attack damaged the flight deck of Belleau Wood hard and demanded 92 deaths. Together with the equally difficult battered USS Franklin (CV-13) aircraft carrier, the two were escorted to Ulithi, where the damage was deemed too difficult to repair them on this base. The Belleau Wood was under its own power and drive the west coast on 29 The San Francisco Naval Shipyard reach of November.

Air attacks on the Japanese home islands

After completion of repairs, the Belleau Wood was on 20 Leave California in January 1945 and ran with the new fleet carrier USS Randolph (CV-15) after Pearl Harbor, where she arrived six days later. Three days later she left with four other aircraft carriers and other large the new cruiser USS Alaska (CB-1) Hawaii with target Ulithi. There, the Belleau Wood Task Group was placed under 58.1 of Rear Admiral Joseph Clark, the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Wasp (CV-18) and USS Bennington (CV-20) belonged. Task Force 58 left the Caroline Islands on 10 February Course North to under Operation Jamboree perform the first Allied air raid on Tokyo since the Doolittle Raid in April 1942, the coming weeks. Other objectives were again the Ryukyu and Bonin Islands, focusing on the support of the invasion of Iwo Jima. After refreshing the fuel, supplies and ammunition to the Ulithi Atoll, the Naval Force of Belleau Wood was complemented by her sister ship USS San Jacinto (CVL-30), followed by further air strikes against the Japanese home islands and preparatory attacks and finally the support on 1 April commencing operation Iceberg, the Allied landing on Okinawa. As part of this task the aircraft carrier Belleau Wood was on 24 March a Japanese convoy of three transports and three other destroyers, about 200 nautical miles northwest of Okinawa sink. In a world of Japanese kamikaze attacks time, more air raids concentrated mainly on the main islands of Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu, where airfields and ports, etc. Kure and Kobe, victims of Allied air attacks were. After a reorganization on 27 May the TF 58 was renamed back to TF 38, the operations were continued as before. On 4 June was the Belleau Wood as other vessels in its fleet by the Typhoon Connie only slightly damaged. A week later it was declared over operation Iceberg, Belleau Wood and ran into the Gulf of Leyte, in order to allow the crew a well deserved shore leave.

After completing minor repair work on the ship and after intensive training of the new Air Group 31, the Belleau Wood was the first July, the Philippines leave. Together with her ​​sister ship USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) and the fleet carriers USS Bennington (CV-20), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Lexington (CV-16), and the battleships USS Indiana (BB-58) , USS Massachusetts (BB-59) USS Alabama (BB-60), five cruisers and 21 destroyers in Rear Admiral Thomas Sprague TG 38.1 the commanded by Vice Admiral John “Slew” McCain’s TF 38 was rearrested course Japan. In the weeks leading up to the 15 August 1945 ceasefire was announced, the focus of attacks on airfields and naval bases on Honshu and the hitherto largely spared by Allied air raids northern main island of Hokkaido. On this day, a Japanese Judy dive bomber was Ensign Clarence “Bill” A. Moore, a pilot of fighter squadron VF-31 of Belleau Wood, downed. This launch is considered the last of the Pacific War and therefore the entire Second World War.


After the formal surrender of Japan on 2 September 1945 on board the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay aboard the aircraft of Belleau Wood participated in a mass overflight of Allied naval aircraft. She left on 13 Japanese waters in October and two weeks later ran into the harbor of Pearl Harbor. As early as 31 October broke the Belleau Wood on their first trip as part of Operation Magic Carpet with another 1,248 troops aboard the direction of San Diego. By the end of January 1946 the aircraft carrier shuttled between Saipan / Guam and San Diego to bring more U.S. soldiers to their homeland. The coming months spent Belleau Wood in many ports along the U.S. West Coast, before 13 January 1947 was the Naval Air Station Alameda, Bay of San Francisco, officially set from active service.

During her service in the U.S. Navy, the Belleau Wood put a distance of 216 682 nm (~ 401,295 km) and has been awarded twelve Battlestar s and a Presidential Unit Citation. The four Air Groups aboard the carrier sunk twelve heavy and 36 light enemy warships and 83 could inflict further damage. A total of 502 shot down in aerial combat or destroyed on the ground Japanese warplanes were recorded.

Service in the French Navy

The Belleau Wood remained in the reserve fleet until the 5th September 1953 transferred to France under the Mutual Defense Assistance Act. After repair and modernization work at Norfolk Naval Shipyard on the U.S. east coast, the ship was on 23 Added December as the Bois Belleau (R97) in the active service of the French Navy. After internals of French electronics of the aircraft carrier left Toulon in April 1954 towards French Indochina to replace the there participating in the Indochina War aircraft carrier Arromanches (R 95) (former HMS Colossus). On 20 May drove the Bois Belleau in the Halong Bay, with its carrier aircraft could no longer engage in the already lost battle of Dien Bien Phu. Until the official end of the war on 21 July flew their aircraft carrier mainly attacks against the Viet Minh in the north and around the city of Hue and Dong Hoi. Then evacuated the Bois Belleau and September about 6,000 civilians from the former North Vietnam Cam Ranh and Tourane in the former South Vietnam. On 16 December, she returned to Toulon.

The following year the Bois Belleau participated in the war in Algeria and in numerous maneuvers of NATO. The last months before their recent decommissioning she transported a total of 296 specific for the Armée de l’air aircraft from Norfolk to Brest and Saint-Nazaire. The Bois Belleau was born on 12 Returned September 1960 at the site of her first commissioning, the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, the United States and by the U.S. Navy on 1 October deleted from the Naval Vessel Register. On 21 November 1960, the Belleau Wood was sold for scrapping to the Boston Metals Company. In the seven years of service to the Marine nationale française she had traveled a total distance of 183 216 nm (~ 339,316 km).

Commanding officers

USS Belleau Wood



Start of appeal

End of the appeal

Captain AM Pride 4 January 1943 12th April 1944

Captain John A. Perry 12th April 1944 26th January 1945

Captain  WG Tomlinson 26th January 1945 15th December 1945

Captain  John B. Moss 15th December 1945 1946

Bois Belleau



Start of appeal

End of the appeal

Captain  Louis Mornu  5 September 1953  7 August 1954

Commander Raymond Roumeas  7 August 1954 5 September 1954

Captain André Menvielle 5 September 1954 19th May 1956

Captain Jacques Traub 19th May 1956 31, October 1957

Captain Philippe de Scitivaux de Greische  31, October 1957 19th November 1958

Captain Henri Pacaud  19th November 1958 1 October 1959

Captain Pierre Hurbin  1 October 1959 12th September 1960

Independence-Class (1942)

Ship in the Pacific War

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