Sunday, November 11, 2012

Repairs to the "Big E"

While the aircraft carrier Enterprise was at Nouméa for repairs in early November, a new Japanese offensive against the Solomons required her presence. With the situation urgent, "Big E" sailed on today's date in 1942, with a repair crew of 56 sailors from the Vestal, including my dad, Frank Dolan, still at work on board at the start of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. An earlier bomb hit on Enterprise had buckled a 30- by 60-foot section of the aft flight deck, bulging it about 4 feet above deck level. The forward elevator was also out of commission, and there was no watertight integrity in some areas of the ship. Dad will have a role in each of these repair jobs over the next few days.

In the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Enterprise was damaged by 2 bomb hits and 2 near misses
Source: USS Enterprise CV-6

 The "Big E" was launched in 1936, and 1 of only 3 carriers to survive WWII. She participated in more major actions of the war against Japan than did any other U.S. ship. She earned 20 battle starsmore than any other ship during the warin addition to the Presidential Unit Citation. These actions included the Battles of Midway, Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz Islands, Guadalcanal, Philippine Sea, and Leyte Gulf. On 3 separate occasions during the Pacific War, the Japanese announced that she had been sunk in battle, earning her the title "The Grey Ghost." The USS Enterprise was decommissioned in 1947, and sold for scrap in 1958. She is one of 6 U.S. Navy ships to bear that distinguished name. The 7th is scheduled for construction and due to be in service by 2025.

Sources: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, V. 7: T-V; USS Vestal War Diary, November 1942; Frank L. Dolan's oral account; Wikipedia

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