CV-39 USS Lake Champlain

(CV-39; dp. 27,100; 1 888'; b. 147'6"; s. 33 k.; cpl. 3,448;

a. 12 5", 72 40mm.; cl. Essex)


The second Lake Champlain (CV-39) was laid down in drydock by the NorfolkNavy Yard, Portsmouth Va., 15 March 1943; launched by float 2 November 1944;sponsored 3 June 1945 by Mrs. Warren Austin, wife of Senator Austin of Vermont,and commissioned the same day, Capt. Logan C. Ramsey in command.


After shakedown and visits to New York and Philadelphia, Lake Champlainwas assigned to "Magic Carpet" duty, departed Norfolk for England14 October, and arrived Southampton the 19th where she embarked veteransand returned them to New York.


She set a speed record for crossing the Atlantic 26 November 1945 whenshe arrived at Hampton Roads, Va., having completed a run from Cape Spartel,Africa, in 4 days, 8 hours, 51 minutes. This record stood until surpassedby SS United States in the summer of 1952.


Lake Champlain retired to the "Mothball Fleet" at Norfolk,Va., 17 February 1947. After the United States had allowed her active militarystrength to shrink to the danger point, the Communists struck in Korea.Fortunately, we had ships in reserve, though it took time to obtain andtrain crews and provide materiel. Lake Champlain. was reactivated and modernizedat Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. and recommissioned 19 September1952, Capt. G. T. Mundroff in command.


After shakedown in Cuban and Haitian waters 25 November through 25 Decemberthe carrier departed Mayport, Fla., for Korea 26 April i953 via the RedSea, Indian Ocean, and Chilla Sea, becoming the largest ship to transitthe Suez Canal. She moored at Yokosuka, Japan, 9 July 1953.


As flagship of Carrier Task Force 77, she sailed from Yokosuka 11 Julyand arrived off western Korea 14 June. The carrier's air group immediatelylaunched sorties cratering runways; assaulting enemy troops; attacking trenches,bunkers, gun positions; and giving close air support to hard pressed groundforces. Her planes also escorted B-38 bombers on their way to enemy targets.Lake Champlain continued to strike at the enemy until the truce was signed27 July. Relieved by Kearsarge (CVA_33) 11 October, Lake Champlain headedtoward the South China Sea arriving Singapore 24 October. Bidding farewellto the Pacific Ocean 27 October, she steamed toward home touching at Columbo.Port Said, Cannes, and Lisbon before arriving Mayport, Fla., 4 December1953.


In the years that followed, Lake Champlain made seven cruises to theMediterranean, participating with NATO forces. On 25 April 1957 she Joinedelements of the fleet in a high-speed run to the scene of tension in theMiddle East, cruising in the vicinity of Lebanon and backing Jordan's standagainst the threat of Communism. The swift and firm reaction averted a nearcatastrophe in the Middle East. Tension eased and Lake Champlain returnedto Mayport 27 July. Converted to an antisubmarine carrier and reclassified(CVS-39) on 1 August, Lake Champlain trained off the eastern seaboard tomaster her new role. She departed Bayonne, N.J., 8 February 1958 for a Mediterraneancruise returning 30 October to Mayport, Fla. After yard overhaul she departedfor the Mediterranean 10 June and visited Spain, Denmark, and Scotland,before returning to Mayport 9 August.


The carrier operated off Florida and in the Caribbean until 10 June 1958when she sailed on another Mediterranean cruise returning to her newly assignedhome port, Quonset Point, R.I., 4 September.


The carrier operated out of Quonset Point, R.I., until 29 June 1960 whenshe made a midshipmen cruise to Halifax, returning 12 August. Beginning7 February she made a cruise to the Caribbean, returning 2 March.


Lake Champlain was selected as the prime recovery ship for the 9 th mannedspace flight. She sailed for the recovery area 1 May and was on stationon the 5th when Comdr. Alan Sheppard splashed down in spacecraft Freedom7, some 300 miles down range from Cape Kennedy. Helicopters from the carriervisually followed the descent of the capsule and were over the astronaut2 minutes after the impact. They skillfully recovered Astronaut Sheppardand Freedom 7 and carried them safely to Lake Champlain', eight deck.


For the next year the ship operated along the Atlantic coast and in theCaribbean. In June 1962 she embarked Naval Academy midshipmen for a summercruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Kingston, Jamaica, where she representedthe United States at the island's celebration of its independence, 3 August.


On 24 October Lake Champlain joined in a classic exercise of seapower-thequarantine of Cuba, where the Soviet Union was constructing bases for offensivemissiles. To block this grave threat U.S. warships deployed throughout thewestern Atlantic, choking off the flow of military supplies to Cuba andenforcing American demands for the withdrawal of the Russian offensive missiles.


After the American demands were substantially complied with, Lake Champlainsailed for home 23 November, via St, Thomas, Virgin Islands, and arrivedQuonset Point 4 December 1962. For the next few months the carrier was inNew England waters for operations and overhaul. In September 1963, whileshe was on a cruise to Guantanamo Bay, her training schedule was interruptedwhen she was ordered to Haiti to relieve distress caused by Hurricane "Jane."Her helicopters located homeless victims and flew them food and medicalsupplies.


Lake Champlain returned to Quanset Point 9 November for operations inNew. England waters. She visited Bermuda briefly in spring of 1964 and steamedto Spain in the fall for landings near Huelva. She sailed 6 November fromBarcelona for the United States, touched at Gibraltar and arrived at QuonsetPoint the 25th. The first half of 1965, found the Lake Champlain performingtraining duties and conducting exercises up and down the East Coast. Thelast major duty of her career occurred on 5 August when she served as theprimary recovery ship for Gemini 5. Soon after this duty was completed,she sailed to Philadelphia, where she commenced inactivation. She was decommissioned2 May 1966.